Nick Shucet (00:00)

All right, welcome to the Million Dollar Sellers Podcast. Today we have Sean Chow on the call. Thanks for coming on, Sean. It's always good to see you, man. How are you doing today? ‍

Sean (00:12)

Cheers, Nick. Excited to be here. I'm good, man. How have you been? ‍

Nick Shucet (00:16)

Doing good, man. Staying busy with the family and work stuff is crazy right now. And just trying to keep it all moving in the right direction. But life is good, man. Life is good. ‍ We're excited to have you on. I know we've been talking about getting you on this call for a while now and we finally made it happen. And I know you have a lot of great things going on in the business.

You guys are close. I think you said getting to your eight-figure. You guys are working towards getting it, right? ‍

Sean (00:47)

Yeah, it's trending that way this year. Our run rate is looking like that's going to happen. But fingers crossed, that's what will happen this year. ‍

Nick Shucet (00:57)

Nice. All right, and you said you're trailing 12-month revenue. You guys are about eight million in revenue. ‍

Sean (01:06.129)

Yeah, yeah, that's right. ‍

Nick Shucet (01:07.027)

Nice. Good stuff, man. And I know you were talking to me about how proud you were of just being able to take off some time from work and take a long vacation. And I know we got to spend some time in Japan together recently and I'm excited to dig into that stuff and help people understand what it takes to kind of create that position in your life, right?

It's not like you got lucky or it just happened. There are a lot of decisions you made along the way to be able to put yourself in that position and I'm sure the listeners would love to learn those things. ‍ But for now, man just like start to tell us a little bit about you know you and how you got into Amazon and you know let's dive into that story a little bit. ‍

Sean (01:55)

‍ Cool. So before I was in the Amazon world, I was in university, and I was working as a bartender in high-end cocktail bars in Australia. And I was a regular on the cocktail competition circuit and that side of the industry. And as Australians, we grew up in a culture that places a big emphasis on traveling. And experiencing the world. ‍ So that was like a big thing.

When I was like in college, I wanted to do that. But the cycle that I had was more like work, earn some money, go travel, and come back with nothing. And I did that a couple of times, but then coming back with nothing, it was just a little bit frustrating for me. So I wanted to figure out a way that I could just do that and go and travel and do my backpacker thing and then come back with the same or even more. ‍

And I didn't know how to make that happen. That was the question that I kind of wanted to solve at that point in time because coming back broke and needing to pay for uni textbooks and whatever, was not a good feeling. At the time, my brother had a best friend and they were living in Cebu, Philippines together. And his friend was selling on Amazon.

And he said that he's making pretty decent money online. So I saw that as one of the options that I could take going down that path of figuring out how to have a remote income. ‍ And this was back in 2015. Yeah, when I graduated university, pretty much I already earmarked that as kind of what I was gonna do and be like, okay, I saved up a bit of money, I was working bars, but I had kind of achieved what I wanted to achieve in that world.

And I was like, just saving up money because I knew I probably needed some, some cash to start up. And my plan was to go to Cebu and try and convince this guy to teach me all his ways and teach me, the way of the online moneymaking world. So then, I moved there to Cebu Philippines and, eventually, it took a while we ended up becoming drinking buddies and he was friends with my brother. ‍

Took a while, but we ended up starting a business together and he took me on and agreed to teach me everything. We kind of made this agreement where he would put up the capital and I'd just do all the work. In exchange, he pretty much taught me everything, especially to get started. I didn't have a lot of money, so I was at his house Monday to Friday, and his wife would feed me chicken and it was good.

But it ended up like that venture that we had together didn't end up working out that well. But the experience that I got. I ended up learning the skills to do my own thing. And he and I are still good friends to this day and we keep in contact and talk regularly. Yeah, so that's how I got started. ‍

Nick Shucet (05:08)

Awesome, man. I always love, I just love that story. It reminds me of like when I first started, but just the reflecting on where you were, in that time in your life and like, you know, how awesome it is and, you know, I'm sure there's like so many things to learn from those moments of just like, you know, taking risks, trying to work on something different.

You know, you're working with a partner, you know, someone. Your brother's friend and, I'm sure there's just so much to take away from that. Like what were some of the things you guys went through early on in that relationship? Like what would you do differently? What are some things you do the same? ‍

Sean (05:52)

Yeah, at that time, I would say that there was a lot of luck involved. There was all that stuff like risk and making good decisions, but I would say all these different things fell into place and it was like really lucky. But I guess like at that time, I didn't like to value him as a partner and a mentor and that kind of thing. So I think the way that our business relationship was, I kind of had this chip on my shoulder that I wanted to do it myself. ‍

And even though we kind of worked together, I was kind of like on the side doing my own thing, trying to figure it out on my own as well. So, I mean, I think in hindsight, if I had known the value of like being able to use someone else's capital to grow and grow big and someone that at the time would have had, let's say enough capital to grow and scale it up much faster than me using my internal kind of generation of money for my profits. ‍

I think if I knew the value of that at the time, I would have like put more effort into growing our thing together. And maybe it could have grown a bit lot faster and been a lot further ahead if I had done that. ‍

Nick Shucet (07:05)

Yeah. I think, when you first get into it, it's like. I know I was in a different state of mind, I looked at things differently. I think I had the chip on my shoulder too. I wanted to do things myself and I didn't value the experience of other people, I guess because I didn't have anything to measure it against. But now, when someone asks you to help sell on Amazon or they want to know more. I mean, how many people have you tried to help sell on Amazon? ‍

Sean (07:44)

In the earlier days quite a few because I want to help people. This is cool, you guys can do it too. And then I guess nowadays it's like I've seen so many people go down that path when I try to help them and it just ends up like not working out. So nowadays I keep kind of quiet in my own personal circle about what we do and so I don't take on any of those kinds of requests these days. ‍

Nick Shucet (08:10)

Yeah, yeah, it was always, it was always disappointing when I would like put a lot of energy and effort in towards helping someone and they wouldn't follow up with it or follow through and it's like man, you know, I've been to hell and back to get all this knowledge and I'm trying to hand it over to you for free because I want to help someone and, you know, they just typically didn't take advantage of it.

So what kind of tactics did you guys, take advantage of back then? Is there anything you're still doing that you learned from back then? Or have you completely shifted the way that you guys are operating? ‍

Sean (08:51)

Of course, back then, in 2015, and 2016, we could still do giveaways in exchange for free reviews. And it was like, for free or like pay the platform that connected you a dollar for that. I didn't know the value of that. If I knew that, if I knew what I knew, know now, and I went back then, I would have just bought thousands of reviews instead of like trying to be cheap about it.

But I guess back then, and even more recently. I would say like two, or two and a half years ago, like we've still operated on a more of a spray and pray approach. ‍ For us, we have a great design team and we kind of trust their product development process, how they design the products, and everything. So we'd just be, okay, we've gone through our process.

We think this is a good market to jump into and we just pick products that we think that will work but it was more of a "spray and pray". ‍ Whereas now, I think the trend is going towards, and I'm sure like a few other guests would talk about this, especially on some of the other calls in MDS that I've heard, more being very intentional, intentional about how we choose products and develop them to the point where we want to validate the products before we even put a deposit down on a PO. ‍

So we want to use all the tools available to us for market simulation and polling and all that kind of stuff to validate our products as much as possible before we even put down a deposit on the first purchase order. And through that approach, like the spray and pray approach, we would just be comfortable with products that would sell a few days up to like 50 to 100 a day, that would be fine.

But now like when we go through a product validation process and want to win all those kinds of battles early on. ‍ It takes a long time. It's time-consuming, and it's a lot of effort. So we want to make sure that all that effort is worthwhile. So we could go after products that are a little bit higher value to us these days. However, the turnaround process for product development is much longer. I would say that's the biggest change. ‍

Nick Shucet (11:06)

Yeah. I have a lot to learn when it comes to product development. I came from a reselling background. It took me a while to learn a lot of the things that we do now in the private label business. But one thing we've changed is the hiring process. That's what I'm going through right now. We're doing three interviews with three different executives, including myself.

We've got the scorecard. ‍ You know, we've changed the way we do it. And I think it's similar to the product. It's like if you just wing it and throw up a product and you've put all this money and energy and resources into and it doesn't work out, it's like, man, I wish I would have put that effort in upfront. And that's kind of how we, you know, someone said that to me with hiring and I was like, yeah, I need to change the way that I do that. ‍

Nick Shucet (11:58)

What are some tips you would give out as far as the product discovery process? I know some guys get pretty intense with multiple rounds of polls, they're hiding prices, then they're showing prices and stuff like that. What are some best practices you guys go through? ‍

Sean (12:17.257)

Hmm. I would say being strict with the success parameters that you're choosing. So for example, if you have a poll and there are five items, in a five-horse race or something, what percentage you want to dominate or what's how, how far determines your decision of this is a good product. So for us, it's around 50%.  And then we had a product recently that we're developing and we're going through that initial polling process.i

It was getting like 45% and each iteration was like 47%, 43%. And then my team were pushing me and were like: I don't think we can, you know, change this too much. I think we've maxed out on our potential on this product and I said, well then just keep trying something. It will be something random and just keep looking into why people are making their decisions.  

And it took a few weeks but they eventually ended up with an option that started winning all the polls 60% at the time. So 60% compared to like 45%. Now there's never any guarantee that you're going to succeed once you go through purchase order and launch but I feel like when we can validate it early on, that puts us in the box seat of doing pretty well.

And I've learned that from different MDS members that I've met. It's not my kind of process. It's like that whole knowledge sharing of the community has been pretty valuable.

Nick Shucet (13:54)

Yeah, it's such a great place to get ideas and, I think, we're learning from other people, but then I think there's this cool element that we all bring to the table is that we're iterating on what's already there. And we're kind of pushing the boundaries of something that someone else created, but now we're stacking on top of it. And then we're sharing that with the community. ‍

We're all building on top of each other. And that's one of my favorite things about the group there's just so much good information out there. And we're all like these big risk-takers. So like we'll take an idea and try something new with it. And if it works, we share it with the community. And even if it doesn't work, some people share it. And that's good information too, to know what's not working out there as well. ‍

Sean (14:51)

Totally. ‍

Nick Shucet (14:53)

So what type of stuff do you guys get into, once you get the inventory over, to the States and you send it to Amazon, what does your process look like when you guys are launching? ‍

Sean (15:07)

I mean, similar to how we develop products, how we do that is very similar to our philosophy on the space has changed a lot over time, rather moving away from too many manipulative tactics and being more like making sure that our product is awesome and then all the images, the secondary images, our A plus content is really on point and hitting all the keynotes that we can, to maximize our potential in the market. ‍

And moving towards the philosophy of it being a click-through rate game, a conversion rate game. And then you don't need so many manipulative tactics for things to work. It's just like the natural momentum can take you away. Now we recently launched a product that went through that whole product validation process and then within like a week, we were like going up at the top of kind of the relevant keywords that we were kind of looking at. ‍

And we didn't do any manipulative stuff. It was just more like: maybe we tried, we pushed a few things on socials, but it wasn't like that much and didn't get that much traction. But then on the platform, I think via the effectiveness of like the click-through rate and how good the hero image was, it did most of the work for you. ‍ So I would say for normal people getting into Amazon these days, it's like super hard.

But if you can figure out all these things and how to maximize those variables like click-through rate and conversion rate for your product, it makes it a lot easier. ‍

Nick Shucet (16:49)

Nice, that's definitely some good advice, man. And I see a lot of conversation around, you know, those metrics these days. And, it's interesting to see how things have changed. Just like you mentioned, going from all these manipulative kinds of tactics that we've moved away from and focusing on these metrics now. I don't even really hear a lot about all those manipulative tactics anymore.

And I'm sure they're still, still going on. ‍ But, you know, that stuff seems to have been really pushed underground and, Amazon's done a pretty good job, of kind of combating some of those things. You know, it's always, it's always like, they're always there. Like it's always going to be there as those people figure out new ways to work around the system.

But Amazon's right behind them making it difficult. So it's refreshing to be able to, I think it's refreshing to be able to focus on metrics like click-through rate and conversion rate and just try to run a good business have a good product, run the polls like you mentioned. ‍ Just to try and do a good job, instead of just focusing on the hacks.

And that stuff lasts, it's evergreen. To say it's just a better thing to focus on. ‍Do you guys just do the main image when you're doing a lot of your polling and conversion rate optimization? Or are you guys polling and putting a lot of time into the end of the other images as well? ‍

Sean (18:24)

At first, it was about the first, the hero image, but then now we're moving into the secondary images. How do we optimize those? Because once they get on the page, how do we convert them? So we're just starting and digging deep into that. We haven't got much data on how effective we've been because we haven't had our first run-through of that. But I definitely think it's super important. ‍

Nick Shucet (18:53)

Okay. Okay. And then are you guys using Intellivy or PickFu or another tool? ‍

Sean (19:00.)

Yeah, Intellivy has been really big for us. The way that they can simulate a marketplace situation has been really key and yeah, haven't used PickFu but Intellivy has been the key one for us. ‍

Nick Shucet (19:13)

Okay, cool. Someone in the group yesterday mentioned Dimitri’s tool. Have you checked that one out yet? ‍

Sean (19:24)

I'm not sure what was it called again. ‍

Nick Shucet (19:26)

It was Dimitri Verona's tool. He was talking about it at one of the recent events. Let me see here. ‍ It does the search query optimization, but then I think he added something new to it that does the split testing. It's called Jungle Ace. Jungle Ace is the name of his tool. ‍

Sean (19:50)

Yeah. We are, we're playing around with it at the moment. It’s pretty cool. It's almost intimidating. Not, not the split-testing side of things. We haven't tested that, but we have been going through the search query, performance report kind of tool that they have and it's this big monolithic file that that's a little bit intimidating to look at. But once you know how to kind of like dig into what's showing it's interesting and pretty powerful data that you can use for optimizing your product and getting the most that you can out of what you got.

Nick Shucet (20:26)

Yeah. Yeah. I'm trying to get better at that. Those search query performance reports and the mashups of all the data. I messed around with a Mon Sewers, from Incrementum Digital. I played around with his tool a little bit. And I think I'm going to play around with this Jungle Ace too. But really what I've been doing is just taking a look at the top search term report and the search query performance report.

Just trying to get an idea of what the top three guys are doing, what their click-through rate and conversion rate looks like, and then identifying where we're at and just trying to beat them. So that's what we're doing now, but trying to find some better software solutions just to make it a little more user-friendly. And then are you guys doing anything with customer acquisition cost or customer lifetime value? I see a few people talking about that stuff in the group as well.

Sean (21:28)

Yeah, we don't really. Our lifetime value and repeat customer rates are not super high. Like we're not in replenishable or vitamins or anything like that. So it's more like our strategy is how do we add, like incrementally add more products that create like a bigger and bigger baseline of our performance. ‍

Nick Shucet (21:51)

Right on man, and what does your day-to-day look like right now? What type of stuff are you working on in the business? ‍

Sean (22:01)

At the moment, I'm more like the integrator side of the company. So I put things together and build the systems that we use, that all the team work on. So I'm digging into the search query performance and training people and that whole conversion rate optimization side of things. So a lot of my day-to-day is mostly spent training. And with the ideal scenario being like eventually I don't need to be there and for whatever it is we're working on and That's mostly like my day-to-day. ‍

Nick Shucet (22:39)

Okay. I always find myself bouncing between operations and marketing. And I just want to do marketing stuff. I think marketing stuff just fits me better. It's kind of like, I don't have to stay on top of things. You know, it's kind of just me out there doing my own thing, like having ideas, testing them, seeing how it all plays out on the operations side.

There are so many more people involved, and I got to make sure everyone's staying, staying up on the things they have to do, and stuff like that. ‍ I'm not the best personality fit for that stuff. I love training people. I love doing that. I'm working with a guy we just hired in Africa. So I meet with them every, every day at 8 AM and, uh, get him trained before, uh, he wraps up his day at 9 AM. So that's been, that's been fun. That's what I've been doing recently. ‍

Sean (23:33)

Yeah, totally. For us, training is like a big thing. Even though this doesn't have to be even new stuff, just like a regular cadence of training your team on even just refreshes on certain concepts and, and topics. And, then why? Like getting to the core reason of why we're doing something, in the case of different tactics or things, software or whatever, like change, like if they know the core foundations and frameworks about why things happen.

Like they can make decisions without you. Like that's essentially why I find it so important to have like a regular cadence. ‍

Nick Shucet (24:13)

And I think it helps with the company culture as well. That's something I think a lot of us struggle with. It's hard to build a culture when you're working virtually. You know, how do you stay in touch with people daily? How do you check in with them? And how do you do it in a way that's not seen as annoying? You know, like someone just micromanaging me.

That's something we're kind of finding our way through now. ‍ But I like the idea of having a regular cadence to training to help with that company culture. That seems like a pretty good idea. ‍

Sean (24:52)

Yeah, totally. ‍

Nick Shucet (24:54)

What other type of team stuff are you guys doing? Like, are you guys doing level 10 meetings, running EOS, and stuff like that? ‍

Sean (25:04)

We've been running on an EOS system since like 2018. So pretty early on, it's been a few years. It's been pretty helpful because our team is fully remote. I'm based in Thailand most of the time and I spent my time between Thailand, Australia, and Japan. And then the rest of the team is kind of elsewhere. They're either in Thailand, Pakistan, Canada, and the Philippines. ‍

So it's definitely important to think about what we're doing for our team kind of dynamic and culture. So we do things like level 10s and those kinds of meetings weekly have been mostly like a good way to keep in touch base with everyone and keep that kind of culture and dynamic with the team where they're all feeling like they're part of something and not just like a virtual worker. ‍

We really wanna not to label them as VAs or something, but really like just part of a team. We also, since last year, have been doing annual retreats. Our team is not that big. We have around 10 people. So it's easier to fly everyone out from everywhere to someplace. Last year, because we just can't come out of that pandemic, we did it in Bangkok, which is close to just the next city over from where I live. ‍

Nick Shucet (26:12)

Nice. ‍

Sean (26:30)

And everyone was kind of in Southeast Asia at the time. So we flew them all into Bangkok. And this year we're doing it in Vietnam. So that as well, giving them a bit of a reward for all the hard work that they do. But I can only speak to when your team's kind of small at that level that we're at. I'm not sure how you would do it when you have 10 plus, 50 plus team members, how it would work.

But we found that that has kept our team pretty close and trusted. ‍ So yeah, I think that helps with the motivation and incentive to do their best. ‍

Nick Shucet (27:09)

Okay, nice. It seems like it's been working for you, man. I know you mentioned you took some time off, got to travel for a good chunk of time and you were able to rely on your team, pretty heavily during that time. Why don't you tell us a little bit about that experience and, some of the things you think allowed that to work out the way that it did? ‍

Sean (27:31)

I think first of all, it's the training. Making sure that your regular cadence, and you're focusing on the right things to bring them in and train them on the things that you want them to focus on. And identify to them what's important when you're running a company or running the business, whatever you're getting them to work on. ‍Then next is probably the incentive structure, making sure that whatever work agreement you have them on or contract, there's an incentive for them to do their best and beyond just a nominal percentage increased every year. ‍

Is there some reason for them to be working harder and getting down to the core reason why they would want to work hard? What's the motivation? And in order for us to kind of get a gauge of that we hold regular expectations meetings with the staff. So we kind of like understand what like they're expecting from us as employers or what they're looking for to that would that's motivating them.

That comes through in our interview process, but we also do that regularly every quarter. And it's also a good chance for us to communicate to them that there's an if they're either meeting our expectations or there's something that is not meeting our expectations. ‍ That way we can communicate with them because most of the time it's they just don't know.

So being able to communicate why they're not meeting expectations prevents frustration. And frustration just equals expectations minus reality. So if we can get between that gap and make them understand what is the expectations, they can either rise to meet them or they'll understand why we might be getting frustrated. ‍

Nick Shucet (29:29)

Right. ‍

Sean (29:30)

And then, other than that, just handing over, making, giving them the responsibility to do it. But in the case where I was able to take a couple of months off, I was just checking in once a week to make sure that all the kind of, I was just looking at the like key indicators that we measure how everything's going. I'd have a meeting once a week for 30 minutes.

And that was the kind of way I'd just check in and everything was going okay. ‍ And if they needed any kind of feedback on something, then I'd be there to kind of like help. But most of all, I was away. And just being able to hand over that responsibility was nice. And I think we were really lucky. We brought in, we didn't just hire from outside someone that came in and straight away did an amazing job.

We had someone earmarked for like two years who we had been training and bringing her through, and having her look over the shoulder when we're in like leadership meetings and then training all that stuff. ‍ And then eventually getting some work experience with a little bit of hand-holding and then me looking over the shoulder at the work that they were doing.

And so it wasn't just: you're hired, do your best! We had earmarked her for a year and a half, two years prior and we had been working towards building the skill set to have her take over. ‍ And then taking the leap, especially for someone that built the business themselves, like just taking the leap to hand over responsibility. And that was a big thing too. So those factors were all really important, I think, in being able to let go of the handle, the steering wheel for a bit. ‍

Nick Shucet (31:26)

Nice. And so when you guys had earmarked that employee to fill that role, did you have it in mind, like, you know, the test is going to be me taking this, this big chunk of time off or did it just kind of play out that way? ‍

Sean (31:41)

I mean, six months prior, that was like kind of our experiment. We're like, okay, I'm going to take this time off, do your best. So when this time happens where I'm not going to really like hand hold you and you don't have me as your safety net anymore, just your job is to, um, you know, do what I do and grow the company and take the actions, make sure things don't burn and put out the fires and then also grow the company. ‍

Yeah, so that one, it wasn't something that we started with when we interviewed her, but she was more like someone very motivated to grow and very focused on career growth and trajectory. Combining that motivation and drive with actually having the intellect and critical thinking ability to understand information and decision-making, those kinds of things put together were a really good combination. ‍

So when I saw that and she was motivated, we kept moving her forward and she kept doing well, so we just kept going towards that point where I was like, okay, maybe she could do my job for me and we worked towards that because she eventually just wants to keep rising. ‍

Nick Shucet (33:05)

Nice. Awesome, man. Do you have any advice on incentive plans, like anything you tried that didn't work or anything you tried that worked well? ‍

Sean (33:23)

Good question. I would say, first of all, everyone is different in terms of what they would be incentivized by. So having your regular meetings with your key people and getting an understanding of what motivates them and what are the incentives for them. If it's monetary, like obviously there are things you can do, bonus structures that you can put into place based on performance. ‍

Or if sometimes it's like lifestyle we have a few single moms on our team and it's more about being able to be there for their children when they need them to be there and having the flexibility to say: Hey, I need to step out for a second and not be micromanaged. That is another incentive. I think it's just more like getting into why people get motivated.

Obviously some sort of commission-based structure and knowing what are the benchmarks to hit to unlock whatever commission it is and making sure that it kind of makes sense financially for you.  As for us, I guess this incentive structure needs to make sense. Financially if they hit a certain target, it benefits the business. So the incremental benefit can pay for whatever commission they get rewarded with as long as it makes sense numbers-wise that that's the key.

Nick Shucet (34:53)

Okay. And are you guys checking in? Like do you guys typically do weekly incentives or monthly? How are you guys tracking those? ‍

Sean (35:03)

It's either semi-annually or annually. ‍

Nick Shucet (35:10)

I've had this idea too. I always draw on this experience I had in sales and we were selling like $15,000 plus vacation packages and man, those guys celebrated bonuses every single day. You would come in there and they started, it would be like 8 a.m. in there and it was like you walked into the club, man. I mean, they got the music like pumping.

There are like 20 people in the room. Guys are dancing and then they'd have a hallway in between the two sets of chairs and they would just celebrate everyone and they'd like to walk up the hallway, everybody's like clapping and they're like passing out money to them and stuff like that.  And I always like had this idea in my head, like how can I create that environment in my online business where like people are just so motivated and like excited to come into work and make some extra money.

Just be hyped up about it. I haven't made it happen yet, but.

Sean (36:17)

I would say for me that's like not a strength of mine, but my wife who works in the business, is empathetic and wants to make sure everyone's celebrated. And so I've outsourced that kind of thing. But I definitely would say that it's no way near where I would want it to be. And celebrating your team is super important. I think with us, our company, we definitely could do it better. ‍

Nick Shucet (36:44.010)

Yeah. It just seems like such a great way to just offload some work. If you can get the right people in there, get them focused on the right things, you can hopefully let your hands off the wheel a little bit and, go do whatever it is that you want to do. ‍ So what are some of the stuff that you guys are working on now? What are some of the goals you guys have? What's the rest of the year look like for you and the company? ‍

Sean (37:19)

So I've always built this, all our kinds of growth goals are more lifestyle-based. Cause when I started the company, I wanted it to be a lifestyle company where I could build the business around the way that I wanted to live. And so my goal is to be able to still travel and do that whole thing while building a team and growing a successful business. ‍

And I split my time between three bases: six to seven months in Thailand, a couple of months in Australia, and a few months in Japan, and then business trips here and there. So my challenge and my motivation are how do I keep that lifestyle and elevate it while still being able to enjoy the process of improving your business, improving yourself, and all that good stuff.

I think the big challenge, and I'm still working on it, is we had an experiment like I mentioned before about putting someone in the seat and me taking a bit of time off for the first time since basically it started. And that went pretty well. So I think moving more towards that direction where you can do less and less and still have the business that can still grow without you, like how do you do that? ‍ That's the challenge that kind of excites me and that's what we've been working on. ‍

Nick Shucet (38:49)

Okay. What are some of the things that you've, you've leaned on to, to help you with that is there? What have you leaned on in the past, and what are you leaning on now as a resource to help you navigate that? ‍

Sean (39:05)

Good question. I mean, I would say cliche, but having a multitude of mentors. In our any day everyday life, having any kind of challenging decision that gets put forward to you, having someone there to kind of talk to and that's been there maybe 10, 15 years ahead of you in the game, whatever it is. ‍ Just being able to talk to them and give you additional availability of information so that you can put their feedback into your mental processing and how you make a decision.

This paints the picture a bit more and makes things a little bit more clear, giving you more context. ‍ And they might give you some additional information that you might otherwise have been blind to see. I think, being able to make good decisions that are a key component of that. Like having someone who can point out your blind spots and alert you to them. ‍

And I guess like self-awareness as well, understanding yourself and your strengths and weaknesses, that's been pretty key, and having people in your life or your team that balance out those kinds of your weaknesses so that you can build like a stable base to whatever you're trying to grow. ‍

Nick Shucet (40:31)

What are some things you've had to change within yourself to help get you closer to these goals that you've talked about? ‍

Sean (40:44)

I think as you bring more and more people, the way that you communicate - I think that is something that I've had to learn to be very conscious of, especially for me who wants to be the person that sets a standard and drives performance. And sometimes my delivery of whatever I'm communicating to achieve that goal has been blunt and sharp-tongued and often comes off. ‍

And different people receive things in different ways. So learning how to understand, how to communicate to people while still delivering the message in the best way that they can receive it. I think that's been something challenging for me and I've been working on it for a few years. ‍ And learning how to communicate that and still drive excellence without being too.

I guess soft is not the right word, but like without still setting the standard, but learning how to communicate. Not hurt feelings and not be that jerk that's driving it with negative incentives more like how do you talk to people and get them to move in the direction you want them to and how to communicate better. I think that was a big one for me. ‍

Because systems, operations, that kind of stuff has come naturally for me, but the whole communication, working with other people, I think has been something I've developed over the last few years. ‍

Nick Shucet (42:24)

Yeah, that's such a good point. I think that's such a hard thing in life in general, right? How do I communicate in my relationship better? How do I be a leader to my kids? How do I have a difficult conversation with my best friend? It’s such a hard thing to do. ‍ In my opinion, what you were touching on, it's accountability, is how do I get people to be accountable for what they said they would do, or what their job is without coming across in a very negative manner, but still making it clear.

Like, hey, you're here to do something and I need you to do it. And we've got to maintain that accountability. So hard, it's so hard. And then it's people, we can try to, and then sometimes people make me feel bad. It's like I try to approach the situation in like a nice way, I'm like trying extra hard and maybe I slip up and maybe I do say something wrong or maybe I don't, and like somehow I end up feeling like the bad guy. So yeah, it's such a tough thing to navigate, man. ‍

Sean (43:40)

Yeah, I think the challenge for me in those situations, most of the time I would try to look at it like a learning opportunity. How do I communicate better? How, if someone's not getting it or someone's not doing like what you want them to do or what you think you want them to do, is this a learning opportunity on how do I approach it differently if my current method is not working?

How do I do it? Is there a way that I haven't tried? ‍ And then balancing that kind of mindset with standards and how many chances do you give a person before, you know, you make the call that it's not working out or I haven't had to do it too many times. ‍ Most people like to rise to the occasion, as you mentioned about the hiring process, especially if you've done a lot of the good work upfront.

Good people rise especially when they're told what's wrong and that's the whole thing of expectations. If people don't know what you're expecting, you have to fill the gap in there somehow and once they know what you're expecting, they can rise to meet that. ‍ But that's the challenging thing balancing looking at things like a learning opportunity versus driving standards and putting the foot down when things are just not up to not acceptable. ‍

Nick Shucet (45:04)

Yeah, it's tough, man. And I think one thing I've learned recently through hiring and dealing with people. You have some people like myself and probably a lot of people in the group, we can rise to the occasion when things are tough, you know? Like when we're kind of backed into a corner and I used to always try to hire people like that. And then I realized if there's no pressure, they won't do anything. ‍

They're just kind of laid back and they're not doing things. They're not creating that pressure for themself. I think that one thing I got good at eventually was learning how to create pressure on myself to perform well instead of waiting until something bad happened or something like that to snap into action. ‍

Sean (45:57)

Yeah totally. When I started my business, a lot of my motivation came from like a negative source. I started it and I was telling my dad I had this idea, I think it could work. And his first reaction was: “Oh, you know, that'll never work!”. And “You're gonna fail if you try this!” ‍ So a lot of my motivation was proving him wrong. And then, after a few years of doing it and there was some consistency to doing okay in this kind of business model, I kind of lost that drive.

That negative driver. Because it wasn't about proving him wrong anymore. It was, okay. I approved them wrong, but I don't have anything driving me forward. So I had to figure out how to navigate through that lull in my motivation and try and figure out how to get motivated from a positive source. But negative forces are much more motivating. I would say it drives. ‍

Nick Shucet (47:06)

Yeah, it can be. What's that all of saying? They said it to me in a sales class. It was like, if you were sleeping if you were asleep and there was $50 in the driveway, would you wake up and get it? And I was like, no. And they were like, well if your car was on fire, would you wake up and go put it out? And it's like, yeah, like I would. It was the hope for gain versus the hope for loss.

That's what they were trying to teach. ‍ That fear of loss. Hope for gain versus fear of loss, and how that fear of loss is a much more motivating factor for people. And I think this is similar. It's like you said, you had a chip on your shoulder. For me, it was like I didn't wanna go to college and I didn't wanna be told what to do and I wanted to be in control of my own time.

And that motivated me for a long time. And then it became about the lifestyle business. ‍ Do you ever find yourself? What's the best word? You get too wrapped up in the business and the performance and you kind of lose sight of, hey, the reason why I did this was so I could enjoy life and live it on my terms. Do you ever find yourself getting caught between those two?

Sean (48:32)

I mean, I guess anyone in our world at times experiences that because they get like caught up in the flow of something and it takes you in one direction and then it just puts other pillars of your life out of balance. And I guess if you have good people around you and you're the type of person to be open to listening hopefully you see the signs before it goes too far. ‍

But for sure, I think especially with work, where for the last five years, work has been a major priority in my life to continue to grow. And it's been an outlet as well. It's someone that's always been self-development, growth mindset kind of focused. This business has been kind of an outlet to scratch that itch. ‍ So obviously, wanting to do better and do more kind of has at times put the balance in the wrong direction or too far in one direction.

But I don't think I've ever said I'm decent at identifying the times when the warning signs are there and knowing, okay, kind of step back and reassess what's important in life and what are you doing this for? ‍

Nick Shucet (49:55)

Right on man. Yeah, it's always important to remember that. And it brings the question to mind. What would 2015 Sean say to 2023 Sean now? You know, like reflecting on the journey you've been on. ‍

Sean (50:11)

Yeah, I think about this question a bit. Cause 2015 Sean was single and all he wanted to do was live like a backpack and go to hostels and stuff like that. And just enjoy life. But I think if that guy was looking at me now, he'd be like, damn, it's not bad. So it's like good to kind of like go step into that kind of state and actually like have some gratitude for the kind of like the luck that you've been, you've been lucky enough to receive and the blessings that you kind of got. ‍

Nick Shucet (50:45)

Nice man. Well, I mean, it sounds like you've been on a heck of a journey. I mean, hitting 8 million in revenue. You guys are, feel like you're going to make it to eight figures, here soon. And that's amazing, man. ‍ Is there, is there any advice you would give to anyone listening to who's kind of going through a similar journey as you? ‍

Sean (51:11)

I guess getting, doing whatever it takes to get in the right room. Be surrounded by the right people. I wanted to tell this story because I think enough water has gone under the bridge and I've like been in the space long enough to feel like I've earned my stripes. But when I joined MDS, it was like 2000 and, I forgot what it was in 2017. ‍ Back then all we needed to do was send Ian some screenshots of your sales.

But actually, I sent I was like at 500 and I kind of spliced together a couple of my friends' accounts to get to that 1 million mark. Because my main motivation was: if I get in this room I'm sure by osmosis something's gonna change and we were at like seven figures within like six months and now I can tell that story and be like, okay, you know, I'm not going to get too much trouble for that. Back then, that's all we had to do. ‍

Now the process of onboarding into the group is a lot more strict and a lot more harsh to get there. So I don't think I would pass that at this time. But the lesson is more just like doing whatever you need to do to get in the room get the right information and learn how to make good decisions. ‍ And all those things are done over a long period of time consistently, like that stuff compounds, like knowledge compounds, cash compounds, all that kind of stuff.

And yeah, as long as you're persistent, give yourself a long enough timeline. That's what I would say. ‍

Nick Shucet (52:51)

Yeah, I think that's great advice, man. That's really good advice. it's one of those things you don't know until you know, right? If you haven't had two different groups of close friends, you just won't know how much your circle can impact you in a negative way or a positive way. And MDS, like every time I come to an event, man it's the best motivator. ‍

Motivation usually kind of comes and goes, but like the motivation I leave an event with lasts like a whole month. I'm fired up in a way that I only get from being around, around those people. And the other great thing is we're also doing stuff that we love. And I think in general, what I love about the group is we love our work too. It's a part of our personal life.

it's not just, hey, this is what I do for a few hours a day. It's like this is a part of who I am and allows me to be the best version of myself. So I think that's what I love about being surrounded by those people. ‍

Sean (53:55)

Totally. Some of my really good friends have come out of the group and you know I'm super grateful for it. ‍

Nick Shucet (54:06)

Well, Sean, thanks for coming on, man. It's always good to chat with you. I look forward to our next adventure, wherever in the world that may be. And I'm sure I'll see you again here at an MDS event. Thanks for your time, man. I appreciate you coming on. ‍

Sean (54:24)

Thanks, Nick. I really appreciate it, it was fun.

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