David Stickland Interview with Nick Shucet


What is up, everyone? Welcome to the Million Dollar Sellers podcast. Today we have Dave Stickland on the show. Dave, thanks for coming on and spending some time with us. Where are you at today, man?


I really appreciate the invitation. I'm here in Seattle, Washington. It’s sunny and beautiful today.

So, we don't tell you guys who are not from Seattle that it's sunny and beautiful sometimes. So just assume it's raining. 


Yeah. Nice. We must have your clouds and gray weather here in Virginia Beach today. This time of year is crazy for us, man. It bounces all around. You know, in between winter and summer here. So like yesterday, it was 70 something. Now it's like, you know, 58 or something.

Living Close to Amazon in Seattle


Yeah, it's like sunny today, but yesterday the wind was so bad that I felt like... and it was just stormy. So we'll get... it'll just come and go. And, hopefully, it gets stormy on the weekends when all the tourists are here, so they don't consider moving here. And, it's been pretty crazy. I live in the middle of South Lake Union, where Amazon is. 

You know, like, surrounded by all those buildings and, you know, the Amazon Go is just a couple of blocks down the street—the first one that they open to the public. And, they are all starting to come back to work. So lots of lanyards and people going back and forth. The building’s pretty exciting.


Okay. Nice. Interesting. So have you… how long have you been in Seattle? Have you called that home for a little bit?

Dave: (01:35)

Yeah, I've been in Seattle for about 20 years, so yeah.  


I moved into South Lake Union in the last couple of…. Well, it's just been... it's just been wonderful to be part of kind of, everything going on down here and seeing the growth. And being surrounded by really smart, engaging people. 

Amazon has really lifted… kind of the, you know, the culture in the spirit of everyone around Seattle from being a working-class city built around Boeing to, you know, something that's a lot more forward-thinking And really kind of taking what Microsoft started and 10xing it. It's been great.

How Dave Started Selling on Amazon

Nick: (02:12)

Nice. Yeah. I bet that's been exciting to watch since you've been there for a while. So I know you've done very well on Amazon. You're involved in a couple of things, and I definitely want to dig into that, man. But let's take it back a little bit. I mean, was Dave always meant to be an entrepreneur? Did you kind of go through a phase where you, you know, took on some work and you went back to being a business owner or...?

What does that journey look like for you? 

Dave: (02:41)

Yeah, it's actually… It's actually pretty funny. So I've been working with Tal Moore, who's in our forum, for 12 years now. So I had been going kind of back and forth between some bigger corporate gigs and met Tal through some mutual friends. And he brought me on to start a new company with him called wicker.com.We were actually selling outdoor furniture and kind of turned a lot of that over to me.

And kind of, that was the first place where I really cut my teeth on e-commerce, you know. I was building this brand new website coming out your way to North Carolina, going at that high point to negotiate with all these different furniture companies to get them to drop ship for us. We did that for like three years, and it was an absolute disaster.

You know, furniture companies were not interested in selling online. They didn't know how, and they didn't have anything set up to do that properly. The website was really horrible. We spent a lot of money on the domain name. And so once that came to a close, and we had lost a bunch of money in that endeavor, Tal was like, “You wanna help me run the rest of the business?”

And kind of brought me in. So, you know, I try to be really respectful of the idea of the entrepreneur who's, you know, got $100,000 or $50,000 in his bank account and says, you know, “I'm going for it.” That's fantastic. And I was really... I had a different journey where I had someone really put their arm around me and say, “You can do this.”

And, you know, helped me build those skills in a place that was a little more safe than what a lot of guys in MDS have gone through. And, you know, the more time I spend talking to our colleagues, the more I just realize how brave and strong a lot of those people who take that big step are pretty awesome. So we've been selling on Amazon. We started... I took over an outdoor electronics company called Guardline.

And at that time, I think we were just doing our arbitrage off the website. So we had a website called Gadget Shack and one called Epopcorn.com, and then a couple of other smaller kinds of websites that we're doing, like two or $3,000 a month. We turned Gadget Shack into Guardline, which was our own outdoor security product, and started selling that exclusively on Amazon and our Guardline website.

And then we turned the popcorn into what we're working on now, which is Franklin's Popcorn.

Retail Arbitrage

Nick: (05:21)

Nice, man. And so you said some interesting stuff there. You guys used to, you were selling under Gadget Shack, but you were doing arbitrage from other websites, right? Super cool. I love that business model cuz it's like, cuz I got started in arbitrage, and it's such... it's a little bit safer, you know. Like in the long run, it's... I think everyone changes their mind, right? 

They wanna have a little more ownership over things—a little more control over their supply and stuff like that. But man, without arbitrage, I don't know how much… it probably would've taken me a lot longer to get my foot in the door, you know? So, that’s cool that you guys were doing that. And, what year was it you guys were doing the dropshipping thing?

Dave: (06:06)

That, I mean, we'd been selling like... Tal started selling online, and back off a dial-up. You know, he's been selling online that long. When we first got into Amazon... it’s right after, you know, I wanna say right when I started, we really put our foot to the pedal, which was 2011. Does that sound right? Yeah, that's about right. So I've been working with Tal for over ten years now. 

So we, at that point, had some programmer build like a Scrape Bot that was going through Amazon and trying to find opportunities of places that we could... You know, where there weren't a lot of sellers of other people's products, you could contact the manufacturer if you wanna set up, you know, a reseller account. Or buy a bunch of their stuff and then, you know, compete head-to-head—blood sport against a bunch of other sellers on that ASIN.

Dealing with Competitors and Finding the Right Product to Sell

Dave: (07:04)

And then, you know, because you know, we had enough ASINs, you're willing to put a lot more cash down for supplies. So you're just waiting for the other guy to go out of stock. And so then you could maximize that market. And that’s just a brutal way of doing business. And what we saw is... we just saw way more people getting into the game, right? 

Like there were three or four people on an ASIN, and then there were like ten people on an ASIN. And a lot of those were resellers. I don't know what they're doing with their time, man. They, you know, they're willing to make a nickel. Like, I know they're buying my price and like they're willing to get... as long as they get the sale, they're willing to do it.

And that's when it just became clear to us that we really needed our own stuff—our own product. Something that had a bit of a moat between us, because we had been in that space for a while—especially like outdoor electronics. We knew what the customers wanted.

We'd been... we had in-house customer service for that brand. So we were doing arbitrage, but you know, like we had people buying products from other electronics companies and then calling us for tech support because our guys were that good. So it was just taking all that knowledge and then creating something that's when it became kind of special.

Connecting with the Right People Plays a Role in Your Success

Nick: (08:14)

Yeah, man. That's super interesting. I mean, I know a couple of guys who've done arbitrage. But like having your own support team, that's intense, man. That is... that's super cool. Definitely. It sounds like you guys got in at a good time, and I got in around 2015. So it was all already a little bit... a little bit busy. And just kept getting busier and busier. 

So I'm a little bit behind on the shift, you know, to private label. Although we did make it, and it's moving in the direction we want it to, yeah. So how did you meet Tal? Where did you guys meet?

Dave: (08:53)

We have a mutual friend. We met at an ‘all guys' weekend retreat at my buddy's beach house. And, you know, I'm really lucky to be in a really good group of dudes who just really all care about each other. And, you know, we, every six months or so, it'd be, you know, me, my best friend, and just other various people that would come and go. 

And we'd, you know, enjoy, play music, you know, enjoy the beach and just kinda talk about life. I mean, we were all in our, you know, twenties or early thirties. And it's just having people you could be vulnerable with, and open with, to kind of have that exploration and, really talk about our dreams in a good place like that. And, you know, Tal had some mutual friends with my best friend, and he came along once.

And I mean, I can't think of a better time to like really, you know... like you get to know someone on a very personal level and then to like, decide you wanna work with that person. It was, you know, like not many people have the mind space to do that. They would move away and go, “Oh, well that person's a friend.” They don't want to do that. 

Or they'd have to make a choice. But, you know, one of the cool things is we've been able to balance that. Like the level of... that sense of support and trust that, you know, we built our connection over in the beginning. And carry that over to the way we work together. And it's pretty awesome.

Defining Business Roles

Nick: (10:23)

Nice. Yeah, it's definitely great when you find someone to work with like that, man. I'm always jealous of some of the guys in the group who have these really strong partnerships. Where, you know, people have defined roles, and they really just complement each other really well. And, you know, it can be such an amazing thing when it's done properly. You know, which is something I haven't experienced yet.

I've had some bad business partnerships, some things go wrong. And you know, so I'm still looking for that opportunity. What are some of the things that you guys... some tools or resources you guys use that you think have kind of helped you guys continue to have that relationship? You know, where you have these defined roles, and you really complement each other.

And, how do you guys deal with the problems that pop up, and maybe you guys butt heads or whatever happens? How does that get handled with you guys? 

Dealing with Business Problems as Friends

Dave: (11:25)

Yeah. Well, first of all, I'm really sorry that you went through that with... like you've, I mean, like...I talk to a lot of dudes who have. And a lot of other sellers who have had that kind of experience. And you know, you put a lot of hope and excitement about what you're bringing to your organization. And you really care about what you built. And to, kind of, even a little bit allow someone into that space and then have them not live up to what, you know, was decided.

That's just really hard to continue to do that, especially when it's something that really matters to you. So that's a real bummer that that happened. I was just talking to another guy in the group this morning and was just, you know, sharing some of them. He'd had a really hard week of like, you know, listings going down. Big-time listings going down.

And like issues in the warehouse. And it's, you know, like I just count myself as lucky that I have, at least have someone to share that pain with, you know. That we're like, you know, there are two people really feeling it when the ASIN goes down. Because I mean like, a lower-level employee is just like, “Oh, well, I'm still getting paid. I'll still deal with the problem.

And it's bad that it happened.” But they don't feel it right, you know? And just having someone else really feel it with you can, you know. 

There are lots of people in our group that I watch that have those kinds of relationships—they've formed those bonds. That's great. But, you know, a couple of things that we did, I mean, like there became a point where... and Tal's been doing this for a long time, so you know. I think that once I kind of stepped into the overall... the larger pieces of the business, it was about negotiating a way that Tal felt comfortable letting go.

So he could work on the business a little more and learn what to let go of. And you know, it's one thing to say that, but then task me with creating this space to do that. Right. And it's funny. I think that one of the things that has created a lot of headbutting is just, you know, a vision of how things should be versus a vision of how things are and how things are getting done. 

And like you know, coming together and being able to share that in a way that's, you know... We have our arguments, and we have times when we're just not on the same page, but we always end wherever we are in alignment. Right. And, a lot of that is sometimes I recognize that it's his business and it's... You know, he's writing the big check, and like, my job is to make sure that we're all successful.

And that he feels supported seen and heard.

The Importance of Having a Singular Direction

Dave: (14:08)

And that we are, you know... Sometimes going in one direction together is way more valuable than, you know, doing what I think might be in that moment. We'll always have time to come back to it later. So, you know, it's about both of us giving in when we need to give in to each other. And it's about hearing and respecting where the other person is and continuing to just lean in and trust. 

That's really the hard part. You know, like knowing the other person's gonna be there. Like, you know, I don't have to worry about upsetting this person and not coming to work the next day or sabotaging the situation we're doing. And just because they didn't get what they wanted. It's just at the end of the day, we both wanna be successful. And we trust that.

Following EOS Measures

Nick: (14:52)

Yeah, man, that does... that sounds like a really great relationship. I'm thinking to myself a little bit. And it's like, you know, I think most of us are smart enough to know we don't get everything right. You know, like we're gonna get things wrong. And even when you're facing a challenge and, you know, Tal’s thinking one way, Dave's thinking the other way.

And, you know, Tal is maybe like... maybe he's a little more willing to be like, “You know what? Like I think I'm right, but I know I can't be right all the time. And maybe Dave's on to something. And I'm just gonna let this thing roll and see what happens. And, you know, I imagine some pretty cool things can come from that. Right? Like, cuz I know you guys do EOS, right? Entrepreneurs Operating System. 

Nick: (15:40)

So, you know, they identify those different types—visionary, integrators... and I think you've even... you've even kind of like switched roles a little bit before, right? Is that true? 

Dave: (15:51)

Yeah. So, you know, moving into EOS was really important when Tal wanted to move farther away from the business. And in the beginning, it was, you know, Tal in the visionary role, and me in the integrator role. And that's where we were with Guardline. So, as we built Guardline bigger and bigger, and eventually, you know, we sold and got out of that brand.

That was a really good way to understand who was accountable for what. And, you know, EOS allows you to focus down on the core things that are really important to the business. What are the numbers that are moving it forward and the agreed-upon group of projects that you're doing every quarter? It removes a bunch of that friction, right?

It removes some of the reactiveness that can sometimes cause friction like X, Y, and Z are blowing up right now. What do we do?

Utilizing EOS to Avoid Disputes

Dave: (16:42)

Like, having our core values in place means that there's always something to fall back on. So I'm a real big believer in making one decision to make a hundred decisions. And if you can make that one decision when things aren't insane and blowing up, then you can lean back on that decision when things are insane and blowing up. 

So yeah, putting EOS in place was really helpful for us. It flattened out a lot of our conversation—and kept us on point. You know, when we're doing the VTO, just even being able to talk about what our revenue production is gonna look like in three years. It's just, you know... it brings up a bunch of things in conversation that maybe if you hadn't had that conversation, would've ended up in conflict somewhere down the road.

And just eliminates all that. So after we sold Guardline, yeah, I moved... I took over as president of Franklin's Popcorn and moved into the visionary role. And Tal moved into what EOS is calling the owner's box, which is, you know, a higher-level kind of ownership over the entire business. But, you know, I hired my first integrator and kind of started working with that person. And it's been a completely different shift. But it's been a lot of fun.

The Visionary and Implementer

Nick: (18:00)

So did you guys... it sounds like you guys may have brought on an EOS implementer to help with things. 

Dave: (18:07)

Yeah, we did. 

Nick: (18:08)

Nice. So I imagine that was pretty helpful. Cuz we've self-implemented over here, and I know some guys who have self-implemented. And I tell you what, even just doing the vision traction organizer and having level-10 meetings... Like even if you get it 50% wrong, it still... is just so helpful just to have a couple of targets, you know—a little bit of structure. 

It's definitely, kind of reigned in what I call like my visionary madness, you know with my mind just pinging all over the place with ideas. So, did you guys ever try to self-implement at all, and then go with an implementor? How'd that look like for you guys?

Dave: (18:50)

Yeah, I mean, I’d read traction before we hired the implementer. And you know, I think another person in our forum, Adam Wiler, was just having fantastic results from his EOS experience and had hired an implementer. So that's when we leaned into the implementor idea. 

And, for those of you who’ve self-implemented, and it's the same conversation I've had with Hassan Usmani, who I know self-implemented, is just... You know, if you can get those core principles down, you can really own them. Where I think if there would've been a lot more value, instead of hiring an implementer, would've been to hire a kind of, business coach, who was gonna come in and really hammer the day that you work on the VTO. Right?

Hiring EOS Experts

Dave: (19:42)

So, you know, my implementer was an expert at EOS, but he wasn't an expert at my business and didn't understand the market. He didn't understand the product we were trying to deliver. And I think like a business coach that would've come in and said, you know... Instead of what the EOS implementer did, which was, you know, “Hey guys, what do you wanna do for your three-year revenue target?” 

And just looking at us and us going, “Let's... you know, let's do some rough napkin math, and throw something on the board.” Like having someone who’s been like, “No, no, no guys, like that number is wrong. Let's look at your market. Let me compare this to other businesses I've worked with.” That would've been so much more valuable. Like having traction in our hands, but then really working with someone who could've gotten in deep and blown up our conceptions about what success could be in our market.

Or someone that could've spoken to that. That would've been really valuable because it would've challenged a bunch of internal ideas. And I think that's what I want from an external person—to keep challenging me. Challenge the business so that, you know, it doesn't become an echo chamber that's destined to fail. Like, I don't know what I don’t know. And you know what I mean?

Nick: (21:03)

Yeah. I like that idea, man. Cuz like I kind of think of it this way. It’s like what's really the potential of the niches that we're involved in, in our businesses online? And like it's hard to put a number on that, and I still don't know how to really do it. I mean we can track products, and use all the Amazon software and stuff like that. But it would be great to have like a business coach, like you said, to really dig into the market, the potential. 

And, you know, maybe it's way more than you think it is, or maybe it's a little bit less. So yeah, that's a pretty good tip, man. I will definitely consider that when we're looking at some of this stuff with EOS, cuz I know we kinda of hit a roadblock.

Dave: (21:47)

I mean, I know you're a fitness coach, right? Like you know, if you were a person who was...and I'm gonna pick a... Like, it would be like bringing in the guy who is the best sales rep in the world for Cybex, and like having him work with an individual person who wanted to lose a hundred pounds. That person would be able to tell you what all of those lifting machines did, and about what you could handle.

But that person would not necessarily understand human physiology, or like calorie burn, or diet. Or give the person who wanted to lose that weight all of the tools that they would need internally meant for them to succeed at what they were gonna do. And how to avoid some of the mental failings. And so I think we brought in like a system expert in the structure, which was really good.

But we didn't bring in a person who was gonna challenge us to grow the business.

The Stress of Taking on Too Much at Once

Nick: (22:50)

Yeah, and it just falls back on… it reminds me of just how great the partnership is that you guys have. And like when you have these people that specialize in very certain specific areas, and they know where they can add value, and they just kind of stay in that lane. And you know, when you can get as many people like that in your circle as possible to fill those different roles you have like… and holy crap, man.

It's like mind-blowing what becomes possible. And it just makes me feel so silly back in the day when I used to try to do everything on my own. Did you ever suffer from that, you know, trying to do everything on your own?

Dave: (23:34)

I still suffer from that, man. That's a hard muscle to stop flexing is the ‘I can do it on my own.’ And I think what, you know like Tal is reading that new book of Naval quotes. And you know, one of them in there is like, you know, hiring people to hundred X the business, right? Like, each hire should be, you know, like multiplying what you pay them in value.

And where I've kind of sat down on that is like, look, you know, like there are gonna be people that you hire that are just answering phones, doing whatever. But like some of the… every person above that, a larger and larger percentage of people who... they just need to deliver growth. And I… when I'm holding everything on my own, I can't also grow the business.

Learning to Let Go of some things to Focus on the Bigger Picture

Dave: (24:28)

There are days when you're just doing things that you should be letting go of, to focus on the bigger things that move things forward. And we just don't do enough of that. And I think we all do it because we want to control the end result. We want it done right. There are negative consequences to not getting things done. Like when BA slips, or when someone slips at work—you can feel it. 

But, you know, sometimes I think we forget that the thing that hurts… that maybe the ball they dropped, and there was a problem we have to come, and fix, or not hiring that person to do some of that stuff. You missed the boat on all of the really big things that you could have done with that time that would've… like rippled whatever the downside of the problem that this person could have made a mistake on or whatever. 

  • You could have moved way beyond that
  • You could have brought on a new product
  • You could have opened a new channel
  • You could have negotiated a new rate with your supplier. 

Your brain and your time just start to get infinitely more and more valuable as you go. You know, like, I think, “Yeah, that's where I'm at with that.”

Nick: (25:43)

Yeah, man. It's kinda like how you started off mentioning about, you know, ‘it's a tough muscle to stop flexing.’ And like, it becomes a habit. And even when you're aware of it, you know, you can still catch yourself doing stuff that you really shouldn't be doing. Today, I was dealing with an issue with a GS1 UPC code. And I'm just like, you know, I'm doing it, I'm doing it. 

I'm like, “Dang it, man.” Like, why am I the one doing this still? This should be on someone else's plate. But it's just one of those gaps that, you know, I haven't filled yet. And, you know, one cool thing we did do this week was that we've got a new team member on board.

Nick: (26:28)

And I was like, “Hey, here are some resources on how to create listings on Amazon. You know, we've got our own way of doing it. We've got some processes, you can look that up, but, you know, I want you to take this stuff. I want you to figure it out.” And they did a really good job without my input. From, the copywriting, the title, and the SEO stuff on Amazon. 

But it was when we hit this flat file upload, and there was somebody in the system. You know, back in the day when Amazon was a Wild West, you could hijack a UPC code. And, now they have our UPC code, and we've got the GS1 certificate and everything, but there's still really nothing that Amazon can do about it. Yeah, they've got some weird workaround.

They want to try, and I'm like—all right, yeah, let's do it. But yeah, man, it's great. And you can pass off work to somebody, and they can take it on and finish it really well. But yeah, I still find myself very often doing things that I definitely shouldn't be doing. And it's just like you just have to exercise whatever muscle that is, you know? The ‘Don't do this’ muscle. 

Dave: (27:44)

Yeah. I was listening to... you know, Mike Jackness had a podcast with Dave Bryant—The Ecom Crew podcast. And I was... you know, one of the things that I listen to that often. And I always get little nuggets out of it because, you know, Mike struggled with a lot of the same kind of like, ‘how do I let it go?’ things. 

And you know, one of the things he said that I've kind of held onto is, “I know that when I hire someone, it's going to take 12 times or like 10 times longer for that person to do what I was doing before.” And the pain of sitting through someone… of sitting through it with someone who can't do it as fast as I can, and it's gonna take forever. 

And it's like, “Ah, this is so painful.” And trying to remember that if it takes ten times longer, then like, you know, it's not gonna pay off for you. Until ten times down the road of times, you would've done it. And now it's all free time. Now it's all extra space that you've created. But in that moment, it's so hard to take that energy and put it into someone brand new and raw.

Watching them fail. Watching them get it wrong, which feels in that moment as if it's slowing you down. And always try to remember that it's actually… it's gonna free you up next month. It's gonna free you up in two months, you know? And that's really hard to think about when you're… when everything is moving so fast.

Nick: (29:22)

Yeah. Yeah. I think you hit the nail on the head there, man. That's definitely the ticket right there. For me, it was the same with creating systems and processes and documenting things. Because man, like it's, you know, it reminds me of like writing an essay in school, or something like that. And you know, you hope you get a good grade, and that's really, you know, the benefit, you graduate. Whatever. 

But like on the systems and processes side of things, I just kept telling myself, “Hey, I really only have to do this once. And you know, then I can bring someone else into this role, and they'll have an outline of what to do. And, you know, if you can just focus on what's on the other side of that hurdle man.

It Gets Easier After a While 

Nick: (30:08)

Like, that will definitely… it definitely keep me going. It keeps me pushing through, somewhat with a positive mindset, because man, once you get a taste of it… and I think that's the key. Once you get a taste of it, you know, it's hard at first when you know people around you are saying, “Yeah, you need to do this, you need to do that.”  And you haven't experienced it yet.

But once you do, you kind of get hooked on that a little bit and it becomes a little bit easier. But it's still difficult, you know because I'm not one of those slow-down guys. Like I'm either really slow, you know, like Netflix and chill. Or like, you know, go, go, go, go, go. Like, let's get stuff done. Let's go to the gym. Let's go surfing. Like I want to do high-energy stuff.

So I'm always trying to find that balance, man. Because you know, that's the hard part for me. But that's where I operate really well—is when I can find that balance.

Dave: (31:10)

I think that's what, you know… I think that's what makes Tal and I work too. It’s that, you know, I had gone to grad school, and like my focus was operations and you know, I’d been going into organizations and kind of building out these different teams. Doing turnaround stuff. So like, you know, three straight years of decline becomes, you know, like, how do I rebuild this, right? 

And so when Tal brought me in, it was like… and gave me the keys to everything else. It was like, “Well, what system are you guys using?” Like, “What's the SOP for this?” And people would just look at me. Right. And you know, we'll joke that, like at that time, and still, the gene—the go, go, go gene of like ready-fire-aim. You know—like no, you gotta aim first.

And I think that there's an alchemy where you know… that's where it's come from. Like, here's a lot of… there's a lot of truth to the fact that people who are very systems and process-oriented can get stuck in that space. And then they never sell. Right? Like they spend all their time planning, and then they never execute a project. And sometimes executing will refine the plan for you by seeing where you fail, right? 

And so if that's your model… like meeting in the middle with that, where, you know, like, I want to go, go, go, go. Which is where Tal was, and then... and I'm very like… wait, wait, wait, wait. Like, let's like… how do we sustain go, go, go, go? Cause we can go, go, go right now. But like, how do you sustain that… like three months from now?

How to Sustain Processes

Dave: (32:42)

What is the thing that we're gonna compound, like with a problem that's going to continue to happen? What is the thing that's going to keep that need to continue, to happen that you're gonna want to drop in three months? Cuz there's something else you want to go, go, go on. 

Nick: (32:56)


Dave: (32:57)

You know, and like, how do I put something in place? So you don't have to… you know, we can't run a business like spinning plates on sticks, and I'm gonna spin this plate really fast. Okay, it's good. And I'm gonna move to a different plate. Like, not like that. We can't... we have to, you know, have a system in place that's not a tiny stick. But something much bigger for that plate to spin on. 

And look, there are times when my desire for infrastructure and my desire to build systems and processes have been completely wasted.

Dave: (33:28)

You know, like… you know we'll find something else works that if we’d just moved forward and sold, you would've learned. And that's been a great learning experience for me, that, you know, having been in other corporations, in order to make decisions, you have to go through like—three or four layers of people. Lots of them are dealing with politics. 

It'd be like, I wanna do X. And then having people go, oh no, no, no, no. You can't do X because last year Steve wanted to do Y, and you know, Y didn't work, so X is never gonna work. And then when Tal and I started to work together, it would be, “Hey, I wanna do X.” And the answer is, “Is it gonna make us money?” Yeah. “Well, okay.” Like, that's it.

That's the only layer. The only question is, “Is this going to propel us forward? And that's freeing completely… to experiment a lot more. And I think that's where a lot of our Alchemy has come from. It's gonna give us time together like that. 

Nick: (34:25)

I really like the way you explained that especially, I mean, you just hit it right on the head man. Like, you know, ‘Hey, that's a great idea. Go, go, go, go. But how are we gonna sustain this when the next idea comes around?’ And it just means, I keep falling back on the teamwork here because you can't change the mindset of someone who's go, go, go. 

I mean, you can do a little bit. But they're always gonna be, go, go, go. A couple of months down the road, something new comes along, go, go, go. That's… it’s always gonna be there. And, you know, I realized a long time ago that like, I needed to stop trying to change myself, you know? I need to be more like that person, or that guy, or this guy.

“Like, no—I need to be more myself. What I'm good at, what I'm naturally, you know, the way I naturally operate and then try to find other people that can support me you know, so they be themselves and give them a space where they can be themselves. And it sounds like you guys have really accomplished that, which is just awesome, man. 

It sounds great.

Accept and Learn from your Weaknesses

Dave: (35:32)

Yeah. I mean, I'll be totally honest with you, Nick. I think one of the reasons I learned that lesson about, you know, that I'm not. I think part of it is accepting that you're not invulnerable and you're not knowledgeable in everything. Right? And that you do have weaknesses. And you know, like when I was—when I was a kid, I had bone cancer. I've had like 14 reconstructive operations, you know? 

I've been through a ton in my life. And what I think that caused me to do, is build relationships with people that complimented places that made me stronger. And I think there are a lot of people who, you know, fortunately never have to go through those kinds of things that leave them obviously weak in certain places. And they feel that they can carry everything and they can move things forward.

And that needing other people around them in a real way, and not just... like I need someone to go surfing with on the weekend. Like I really need someone in my life in order to have this holistic kind of feeling of a person. And that, I know what it's like to give up control and let someone care for me, as a friend or, you know—like in the most platonic way possible, often. 

And like cultivating those relationships around me. Like, you know, knowing that I wasn't perfect. And like having to have to learn to accept that vulnerability early in my life has meant that there's not as much ego to feel like, I'm in control of everything all the time. And because I haven't had that narrative, I think it helps us kind of… it helps me in those moments to remember how like, “Oh, Tal is a person who really knows what he's doing here.”

Dave: (37:24)

And like, I can trust that this person knows better than I do because you know, different life experiences—different things have happened. Like you humanize the other person across from you in a different way. And I think it's been really helpful in that way to kind of identity, “Hey, this person is a total go, go, go, go, go-person. I need that person in my world.”

Yeah. Like I need that person in my world to compliment the fact that I am not a go, go, go, go-person. And together we're gonna do great, rather than, you know, just trying to be around like-minded people all the time. And you don't… you start to not see what you’re like—where your weaknesses are.

Nick: (38:04)

Yeah. And, you know, that's one of my favorite things about the group that we're involved in. You just get surrounded by all these people who have clearly been successful. So there's that kind of trust factor right there. Hey, these people know what they're talking about. You're a little more open-minded to what they're saying because, obviously the social media platforms around the world of Amazon, there's a lot of misinformation. 

So, you know, having this group of successful vetted individuals, you know, you kind of have that factor. We're like, all right, these guys should know what they're talking about. Somewhat. And, usually, they do man, and we get together, and we have a good time together. We connect on a different level that's not just business. And it just really kind of becomes this whole other toolbox that you have to look into when your eCommerce business is facing any type of problems. 

That's one of my favorite things about the group.

Dave: (39:10)

You know, I don't think the group... I think the… like I don't look at the group as social media. Like people tell me that, “Oh, you know, it's a Facebook group. You're in a Facebook group.” I can't believe that. I don't wanna spend any time on Facebook.” And it's like, well for one, I just really applaud all of the sellers that come into the forum and, you know, fail in front of all of us, you know? 

Yeah. Like that’s the one thing that most people are not seeing on social media—is our failure. The second is humanizing care for each other, right? Like I think we've all seen on regular social media where, you know, a person will post something that obviously draws a lot of attention, and get a lot of self-internalized support.

Using Connection to Level-Up Your Game

Dave: (39:55)

Like they’re struggling with like, you know, they want to celebrate the fact that they beat addiction, or they're struggling with their weight or… and they're reaching out to their social network to get reinforcement. And I feel like Million Dollar Sellers does not have that in a very fake way at all. There aren't people necessarily reaching for reinforcement, but they're reaching for connection in order to level up their game further.

They're not looking to like, have people artificially tell them they're okay. They're looking for people around them who have failed in the same way and say, “How do I get up from this?” Or if it's been something that's super successful, they're thinking about like, you know, you can come to where I've been. You know, there are people in the forum that have had massive success.

Like, I walk by their products at the store. Yeah. And to have, you know, private conversations with that person. Yeah. And have them, you know, like reach out and, and want to, and wanna bring you along for the ride. That's what makes Million Dollar Sellers a special group of people. It’s that, you know, even the small groups that we've run...

I mean, sitting down weekly with three or four guys, has humanized people who are successful at what they do in a way that I don't think most people on the outside get, right? You could follow, you know, even the most moderately successful person on Twitter, or regular Facebook, and you would get the sense that they're perfect. You know, you may get to a place of almost feeling resentful of how well they've got it.

Everyone has a Unique Story about how they started

Dave: (41:32)

They're posting pictures of themselves. You know, like enjoying life, enjoying all the things that they've built. But when you get underneath the hood with them, they have the same insecurities. They've come from rough places, and they've built themselves up. Everyone has a story that they're not perfect people, and they're all trying to get better. 

And I think what brings us all together is that hunger to level up and to keep going. No one's happy with where they're at, everyone is looking ahead to where they want to go. And, it's been great. So yeah. 

Nick: (42:05)

Man, lots of words of wisdom, Dave, and I really appreciate you sharing all that. I think you're, you know, just I'm really aligned with a lot of the stuff you're saying. And I think a lot of that… that you mentioned is what makes that group so special, man. So, what's on the horizon for you and Tal? What are you guys working on now? What's your big… do you guys have a big, hairy, audacious goal?

Big Plans 

Dave: (42:33)

We do. So, right now, I'm in the middle of like really, you know… like Guardline was getting 90 percent of my energy. And, right now we have, our Franklin Popcorn company, and we have Softy Wipes—our hand sanitizing/wipe company. And then we're kind of building something in the shadows that… I just want to say, like the thing I'm learning from that experience is, you know, hiring really, really good people to do really good work is worth it. 

And like, I think sometimes, you know, like when you're building your company, it's about getting XYZ done, right? Like I need a label for this product. I'm going to hire someone to design a label. And, you know, like I went into a project with one of these companies that like, initially it was just about like, we just need to come up with a label. We need to come up with a target market. 

Dave: (43:05)

And instead, we're getting… we spent way more money than, I think most people would be comfortable with spending, to just get a label. And instead, we're getting a ton back—brand strategy guides. We're getting a real clear idea of where we are. I can't wait to, kind of, launch that new thing. So, what I'm learning out of that is sometimes, you know, take a step back on the project you're working on.

What is the bigger piece that it's connected to? And make sure that whoever you hire also has that connection. It makes a ton of difference. So yeah, I mean, like we did three rounds of market strategy for Franklin's popcorn, which was really exciting. And we're implementing a bunch of that right now into a new web experience. Working on how to build out subscription models on our Shopify store.

New Products

Dave: (44:54)

And then on Amazon, how to launch, like… I think we're launching like 17 new products over the next, like six months to where, you know, we're looking at some of our direct competitors. And, you know, we've been content to hang around, but I think that we're about to get a lot more aggressive. And it's super exciting to kind of raise the submarine out of the water.

And just like, you know, expose yourself and really just like go to town and pounce. And I'm really excited about, going from building, to go to that, go, go, go, sell, sell, sell high-level thing again. So exciting.

Nick: (46:20)

Yeah. I'm excited to see what you guys do, man. I know you guys are gonna crush it with a team like that, and strategy like you guys have—and that synergy. I'm sure it's going to be pretty amazing, man.

Design Thinking and Business Modeling 

Dave: (46:30)

Yeah. It's been really helpful. It's like when you go back to your EOS conversation in the new visionary seat. Like, I was having a hard time coming up with tools to use as a visionary. To like, how am I making these decisions? Like how do I choose the direction of the company? Like EOS assumes that whoever's sitting in that seat has all of that knowledge. 

And one of the things that I've been using is Design thinking and business modeling. I bought this book called Invisible Company. And, I think it's by Alexander Osterwalder or something like that. I'm sorry that I messed that up. But, what it does is really help you build out these business models of how… what's our core deliverable?

What is our strategy to do that? What are our competitors doing? Where do we need to spend our money going forward? How big is the market? Like, answering a bunch of those. And then, you know, obviously putting the company through like Porter's Five Forces. You know, it's one thing to be an Amazon seller and know what the price is you're getting from your supplier.

But if you go one level back out, and you are aware of things like the prices of the product that your supplier is sourcing for you, and know where that market is, it makes it much easier for you to negotiate with your supplier.

And so, understanding the larger macroeconomic pressure that is on the niches that you're in, can sometimes really lead you to key insights about how you market, how you build relationships when it's time to change suppliers, and all kinds of things like that. So, building out some of those tools for the visionary that I don't think you're included in—as you should have been. I think, super helpful in that that's one of the tools that I've really loved.

Nick: (50:10)

Nice. Yeah. That sounds really good, man. I remember somebody talking a little bit about it like they were talking about a light switch or something like that. And they were like—” Yeah, I know how much the screws cost.” You know, that I was like, wow, man, you have really dialed it in. Always room for improvement. It sounds like, you know, when it comes to so many aspects of the business, that sometimes we just don't have the time to give attention to, you know.

And I think that again, falls back on what you've mentioned is when you delegate that work properly. Now your mind has space to think about those things. And, it's great when we can open up that space for ourselves. Definitely a work in progress for me. I'm not sure that’ll ever change. But I know we've all come a long way, man. Dave, thank you so much for coming on, man.

You've shared so much great information today. Is there anything else? Well, you know, one piece of advice that you'd give someone, you know, in the Ecom Space, based on your journey.

Word of Advice

Dave: (51:45)

Uh, delegate, delegate, delegate. 

Nick: (51:47)

Yeah, I wanna make a song about that. 

Dave: (51:48)

I mean, let's focus on the thing we focused on, which is, you know—hire well, hire good people. Expect more out of them than what you hired them to do. Put that in writing that you expect them to achieve greater things than the small little nugget. They may be directly accountable for… focus them on your business growth, and watch them go.

And then fire them quickly if they can't come through for you. You're going to know. And when you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach, that they can't run with you, then it's time to move forward.

Nick: (52:15)

That's a great tip, man. Thank you so much for your time, Dave. I look forward to speaking again with you soon, man. 

Dave: (52:19)

I'll see you soon. Take care.

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