Leaders Podcast

You Need to Pivot

With Vendasta CEO Brendan King

Show notes

$30 Million in Revenue

On this episode, James talks to Brenan King. Son of a beach was his first business out of college, now he’s the founder and CEO of Vendasta Which did about $30 million dollars in revenue last year. Some people have Entrepreneurship in their blood, that’s Brendan King. He’s smart, straightforward, and entertaining. One of my favorite responses from Brandan came after I asked him about failure, so look forward to that, but before we can get there, let’s start with the art of the pivot. As Brendan’s about to share, most start-ups will have to pivot at some point from what they thought their business was going to be, to what the market actually needs. Some startups just pivot more than other. It’s important keep in mind. That’s not a bad thing. Enjoy my conversation with Vendasta CEO, Brenden King.

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Episode Transcript

Quick disclaimer: these transcripts are auto-generated. They are best used in addition to the Podcast audio not instead of. We cannot guarantee 100% accuracy.

James Fratzke: [00:00:00] Brendan how are you?

 

Brendan King: [00:00:02] Fantastic how are you?

 

James Fratzke: [00:00:04] I'm doing well thank you so much for being on the show today. We appreciate it. All right, I want to set the scene really quick. So you founded Vendasta back in 2007 and now in 2017 you're on track to do 30 million dollars in revenue. So how did you grow the company and please be specific.

 

Brendan King: [00:00:21] Well you know it's a windy story. I think most entrepreneurs will tell you that you don't actually get from point A to B in a straight line. It's mostly perseverance. You know and making the right choices along the way and being willing to change, but also ironically being able to you know, pursue the path. So when we started we were going to be a completely different thing. We were going to be a product called My Front Steps and it was going to be a social network for homeowners. You could share your home with your friends and family online to get ideas and inspiration. So kind of like a house or a thumbtack. But you know how. But we thought we were a little early and people didn't want to share their home online. And the other side of the equation we were building a reputation product to try and you know tell the service providers like contractor’s painters landscapers plumbers what their reputation was we were going to connect it together and monetize the transaction and we got a huge amount of reputation management. So we went off in that direction and that's how we you know where we started.

 

James Fratzke: [00:01:21] I think that's such an important point. Like the willingness to pivot or to change your perspective. And I think a lot of entrepreneur’s miss that. So could you kind of explain the importance of the pivot.

 

Brendan King: [00:01:34] Yeah well there's a couple of things. So you know first off what we tell are people with some guiding principles and one of them you know that I'm really passionate about is that we need to fall in love with our customer’s problems in modern technology. You'd be surprised how many companies you know have a solution they think it's the best and they're not understanding that they're not solving a real customer problem. So you know as we in our instances we were rolling out our products you know we found that people didn't want to share their home online that those inspirations that revealed a problem to solve. It's different now I noticed them you know how thumbtack it really is doing a good job but you know there was this huge demand for reputation intelligence and that was the problem that we sort of uncovered so we started to build out the reputation the listings in the social products. So the problem that it was solving for these small businesses were that you know that the Internet has changed the way that people that advertising works. So you know when I interviewed in a previous life I had a computer chain of a couple of stores and all I needed was a yellow page ad is they had radio or TV spot maybe some flyer drops in. The only choice that people have was to call me or come see me if they wanted more information and that's not the way it works anymore.

 

Brendan King: [00:02:44] Now when people are stimulated by some advertising the first thing they do is go to their phone or their computer and they do a search. They can't find that business and then that business is paid for.

 

Brendan King: [00:02:54] Whoever you do finds advertising you know we like to say the best place to hide a dead body is on the second page of the Google search results. Nobody goes nobody goes there.

 

Brendan King: [00:03:05] So you know the listings has been found and then you're found you have to have a good reputation. You know people make a choice whether they're going to come properly before they do. And then you know they leave you know do they like you. The social products you know what they're saying on social Facebook Twitter Instagram and then you convert them either in-store online and then can you keep them CRM loyalty. So we think of out of the marketing stack and that's the pivot that we made. You know into into solving a real problem and you know it's one pivot after another. So you know we pivoted to those points solutions and we didn't want to sell all of those products direct. We wanted to sell through a trusted reseller because it's our belief that you know the small businesses want to buy from somebody local that they trust generally. And so you know and the cost of the acquisition on small businesses is through the roof. So we said hey we're going to have a {B2B} model so we're going to sell to all these resellers and they're going to resell the small businesses and leverage the relationship they already have. So we sold these you know these points solutions and then we realize while they don't have a point machine problems so much. I mean they wanted the products but they really had the sales and marketing problem the distribution problem and delivery problem of proof performance problem.

 

Brendan King: [00:04:19] So we frame everything and problems and that's what makes the pivot happen and then we pivoted to build a platform selflessly so that we can help them sell the products that we made and then we realize the next an analyst that we realized that you know we don't have to just sell our products with the sales and marketing engine that we've built. We can sell any product so we went out and we started negotiating with people who were previously our competitor. So folks like {Yext} are now in our you know one of our listing products on our platform and we've got a marketplace of products to really fill out that marketing stack and so you know we've got to I've got another plan but we're still executing on this one. And when the pivot doesn't mean the accessible. Ironically sometimes a pivot means that you're pivoting to you know expand your market expand your distribution strategy. You know we're not you know so we have as I say B to be the see we have a subscription product that we sell to our 11 hundred resellers worldwide. When we make money when they make money when they sell the second order products you know reputation listings websites Digital Advertising Search Engine Optimization where they make money off our platform and we also make a little bit. So you know it's an interesting thing for us.

 

Brendan King: [00:05:30] So that's sort of a pivot path.

 

James Fratzke: [00:05:33] There is so much useful information there and just that that one statement. So and I want to unpack it so try to stick with me here. I want to start with strategic partnerships and I think a lot of people in the business world don't really like strategic partnerships because a lot of company’s kind of have an ego hey we can do this thing why would we want to bring somebody else in for you and {dastar}. What was that like. Did you have an ego originally that kept you from working with strategic partners and if so why did you change your mind. Or was that always kind of natural for you.

 

Brendan King: [00:06:07] Well you know I have another philosophy and that is like if you can't be the best in the world it's something you should you know flip the tables or if your competitors are beating you you've got to flip the script and you know I don't like to compete head on. I hate competition. The people who know me would tell you that that's not true. They said the most competitive guy around I love competition. But what I'm saying if you hear what I'm saying is it's like I don't like to compete. I'm so so at one point we had a Groupon clone before Groupon was really even a great big thing and we were one of the first guys in you know we have a yellowpages company might ask where one is that count that we had a bunch of guys down in South Carolina. We had two folks in Latin America and we're doing pretty good with making good money but then the whole craze came along and ten companies raised more than 20 million dollars. And there was a hundred other companies raised somewhere you know less than that. And so we made a decision that we're like you know we have a different this was just the thing for us that was making some money it was a point solution pride. So we closed it down and sold it to those customers which is some people. Wow. How did you do that when you're making money on it looks like. Well we only have so many resources.

 

Brendan King: [00:07:12] So the same thing when we switch to become a market place you know we said well we are have been competing head on UTX of this is that example as you might know {Yext} just went public you know there they got a valuation of a billion dollars.

 

Brendan King: [00:07:26] All right. You know out of our 200 and I think we're about to 65 right now. So we're a little off track to hit 300 by the end of the year.

 

Brendan King: [00:07:32] But you know out of our 265 folks from about 105 are software engineers the ACT has 150 software engineers and they're only doing listings. Why wouldn't I partner with you {Yext} to bring that kind of a product into our platform. And you know for our customers or the resellers and for their customers the small business give them the best experience around. So you know we're kind of Switzerland or France we'll bring in other Yext competitors too. We have to oftentimes partners come to us with those kind of agreements already in place. But we know you have to. If there is some ego there I'm not going to lie that sometimes. Like damn I don't want to let that go. But we have to pick our battles and so we pick the things where we w wouldn't give up something that would allow us to be dis intermediated. So you have to take a really close look when you're going to you know work with a competitor or you know a frenemy so to speak and say hey if we use this service is there a possibility that that could dis intermediate us with our customers. And so that's where I would draw the line on that right.

 

James Fratzke: [00:08:32] Well it kind of reminds me of what Walt Disney used to say back in the day his big point was he in no way was a great animator he was a great idea man. So he always hired great animators he hired people with talents greater than his own. So to speak to help build his dream.

 

Brendan King: [00:08:48] And the same thing can be said about companies so I think that's a really good analogy.

 

James Fratzke: [00:08:51] Appreciate. I was working on that one so I'm glad you gave me the one thing that Walt Disney did very well is innovate and it seems like Vin dastar does a really good job of innovating as well. So what is innovation to you and why is it important in the business world.

 

Brendan King: [00:09:06] Innovation is knowing some whiz bang technology. What what innovation is to me is when a piece of when anything becomes easy accessible and affordable. So you know like transistors when the transistor radio came out. And to be fair a lot of this I sold them. CHRISTENSEN You know innovators from that. So the innovation really is is something where you know where something was out of reach for somebody is now affordable to them. They can use i it's accessible and it changes the way they do business. So like the transistor radio for instance the first one that came out you know no one wanted to use it they said two radios were here to stay. Much better quality much better sound but they were big and they were heavy and they were expensive and teenagers started turning around transistor radios listening to the music because it's what they could afford and what they could take with them. And obviously transistors innovated and and totally displaced to you know radios. We didn't even think about them more really so that to me that's what real real innovation is that solves real problems. And this is something that can be used in the mainstream. We've got lots of times engineers that build things that are cool but it's not a true innovation to me until someone is willing to pay for it.

 

James Fratzke: [00:10:23] And that ties into another one of your principles which is build a platform. So you just said it's not innovation until someone's willing to pay you for it because it's cool to get paid to build something. But if you have to keep rebuilding it then you are losing that economies of scale and says kind of what you're touching on there as far as innovation. You guys have team members that are building things {Bennink} tell you can put it into a platform and have multiple people hundreds of people pay for it. You know it's kind of like a one off.

 

Brendan King: [00:10:49] You bet. And a lot of company’s software companies make this mistake it's just that you know before I started in {dowser} you know we had another company where we built Caterpillar is used global trading system were used. Now we have point 2 which was you know 150 5000 people were using it. Those were all truths platforms kind of ahead of their time so they were multitenant platforms where there's only one version of the software like one lifebelt. There's lots of configurations but there's not different versions of the software. And that's what they really mean when you say be a platform and then deliver that in a way where you can you know it really helps you in your speed of development when you have that one platform is not the disadvantage of that tool. But you know you can't have all kinds of some customer comes and says I really need this customization. You have to do this for me and it's completely off your roadmap. You know one of the things that's tempting is to say well we'll just plop this onto a different version put it on different servers and you know we'll make that change and we'll be there. We've w never done that. So he doesn't in my experience that that doesn't work out so that platform is from one angle is one thing. And then from the other angles you keep selling it over and over again you know contract consulting or those types of things. We do work it may only be used by 1 1customer just doesn't help you the leverage scale.

 

Brendan King: [00:12:12] So you know that's why we like to be a platform.

 

James Fratzke: [00:12:16] Let's shift gears and talk about one of the offerings on your platform which is reputation management. Can you give us a high level view of what the heck.

 

James Fratzke: [00:12:25] Reputation Management is for brands.

 

Brendan King: [00:12:28] So reputation management has been around forever before the Internet. You know people are worried about their reputation and it travels slowly because people can just talk to one another and you know you could write a story and put it in the newspaper and that's what it was. And the only way that anyone could contradicted this by word of mouth. But the Internet changed all that and it pushed the power back to the consumer. So now the consumer you know he can write on Yelp and you can write on Facebook and Amazon and he can say he can form your brand without you having any say in it really. And so that's what reputation management is understanding what consumers are saying and trying to you know keep your brand cohesive.

 

James Fratzke: [00:13:08] And it seems like so often for brands it's the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. So it's the negative reviews that get the most attention. But in your experience even dastar are there more negative reviews positive reviews.

 

James Fratzke: [00:13:21] And how do you react to reviews if your brand.

 

Brendan King: [00:13:24] The overwhelming amount of reviews are actually positive. The problem is i those negative reviews are the ones that can really get us I mean they're the ones that can you know call your business a lot of problems. It's all having no reviews. But in general the negative reviews are from someone who had a bad experience in the business didn't detect that. So I think that these issues affect our long before that's why I'm a big advocate of o serving your customers and trying to solve the problems long before we are forced to go to Yelp or Facebook to write a problem you know and air their problem publicly.

 

James Fratzke: [00:14:00] It's like when you go into a restaurant and the meal is not cooked well you call the waiter aside and you say hey this is the problem I had. They're going to do if they're doing their job. Well everything they can to make that experience better. But when it reviews left online it's kind of like well how do you make that experience better. Do you have any kind of responses to that like what does a brand do when they get the negative review?

 

Brendan King: [00:14:25] So I think they sub branches responder reviews both publicly are negative public ones you should say thanks and maybe try to you know say hey we know that and maybe with a little marketing there you can but nnn. Not every positive one but the ones we're obviously some effort went in there I think it's important we respond back and give about possible enforcement of the negative ones.

 

Brendan King: [00:14:44] I think it's important you always respond and you don't respond. And this is what you have to get across to brands and small businesses if they think they're responding only to that customer they're not they're responding to the next thousand customers with a million customers are going to see this post. The second thing is that sometimes you get a troll you know a troll is just somebody who's never going to be happy and they don't make a habit of doing this. And I always again like this say you know you don't wrestle with a pig because you're both going to get dirty and the pigs are going to like it. So you know s.

 

James Fratzke: [00:15:16] You know I've wrestled with a pig.

 

James Fratzke: [00:15:18] You're right. They seem to enjoy it.

 

Brendan King: [00:15:19] They enjoy it. And so they're having fun and you're not. And it's not working out. So it is you know just apologize and take it off line and then the people can see that you've done that. It's you know if it ends that. But the last thing to do is get the president fired back because that's you know this is kind of a story that shows that that just doesn't work.

 

James Fratzke: [00:15:41] All right let's talk about Brendan the entrepreneur in college. You had your own business you were selling short I believe the shorts recalled son of a beach.

 

Brendan King: [00:15:51] You know a lot about me.

 

James Fratzke: [00:15:52] That's why we do our research.

 

Brendan King: [00:15:55] That's fantastic. Yes.

 

James Fratzke: [00:15:57] So tell us a little bit about starting that business when you were in college.

 

Brendan King: [00:16:01] Yeah I was in university. We got these long shorts that are sort of and they were all different colors like crazy colors and they were called {Scent of the bees}.

 

Brendan King: [00:16:11] And we what we did was we sold them to all of the Athletic Club softball clubs you know the beach volleyball clubs and we I did that during the dt school year and then the spring that the band was so big that we ended up opening a small store in a strip mall and you know I'm still going to university 30 or 40 here.

 

Brendan King: [00:16:31] And we decided to put a store in a mall. And that was you know we made ninety thousand dollars the one sort of years’ sort of a summer ish and then we ended up losing it all. Over the course of the next year with a store in a mall. So I was a lot of learning experiences there that's for sure.

 

James Fratzke: [00:16:50] So it sounds like you had some highs and some lows in that experience. What are the one or two lessons that you learned from running your own business so early in life.

 

Brendan King: [00:17:00] Well some of them. So look it's one of the reasons I got other retail dreams a lot of. But you know we signed a lease which I probably shouldn't have signed. And the mall had told me they're going to connect with this other mall that was across the street which was a very busy mall and that actually did happen. But seven years later long after {housecleaner} and I signed a lease for the price I probably didn't too and I had a commitment. And then when {we were we're Brilliant's so we'd lost almost the full year we were bringing} stock in for spring. And we used our money to bring the stock in. And you know I talked with the mall management I said hey we're not we're only a month behind on the rent but we're be able to pay and he said OK you know and then basically they seized the goods in my store with just one month behind and they're able to actually do that. And I learned you know I could have easily avoided that. All I had to do was to you know reach out to some people I know or you know. But I was pretty proud at the time. But now what I've learned this too is in situations you haven't been before to talk to other folks and find out. Obviously that was {naive} not even a long time ago. You know that there was.

 

Brendan King: [00:18:16] it's just that you know that will take away some of your pride and your ego in a hurry. You know I didn't even want to talk to a lawyer about it or anybody else because I would. You know I just was I didn't want to fail. And so I think that today I would you know I would long before any of that happened that would reach out and talk to professionals or you know whoever I could to help me. I think one thing that I really learned early was to w t talk to people. Been there done that.

 

James Fratzke: [00:18:43] I think a lot of young entrepreneur’s fear failure. But then you listen to so many successful leaders and CEOs and they talk about how much they fail. It's such a part of business culture now that failure is a good thing. Would you agree with that. Is that a fallacy.

 

Brendan King: [00:19:00] Well you know some of them I think it is B.S.. I mean come on like you know everyone is glamorizing failure is failure. OK. Now what they're talking about I believe are these many failures and to fail fast along the way. So you don't think the entire ship. So you know I mean you can make mistakes that would you know I think that the massive failure we're you know taking investors money and it's all gone in two years and I don't think that's good for anyone. I think there's been lots of people who've had it and been successful. It's how you fail along the way. If you just kept doing the same thing and ran a hundred miles an hour into a brick wall. I don't think that's smart. I don't think we really learned anything. But if you've tried to adopt along the way you still couldn't and you but you did a lot of things you know you tried try to love different things. You learned along the way I think that would be OK. And I think those kind of failures where you fail fast are can be good for organizations. Can we do it all the time I don't want folks who are making decisions in the organization to feel like a cant because if they fail they're going to be in trouble. No in some ways we kind of celebrate those who say hey we tried this thing here is the resoult didn't work. But here's you know here's what we learned. Those just celebrated. Those are the failures that are able to be celebrated.

 

Brendan King: [00:20:16] But failure is an outcome where your through your entire business. I think that's one option.

 

James Fratzke: [00:20:23] I like that perspective. So basically what you're saying is failure is ok but what's more important is what you learn from it and how you move forward.

 

Brendan King: [00:20:32] Hundred percent.

 

James Fratzke: [00:20:33] So let's talk about if that's failure. What what is success you personally in your life. What does success look like. And what is your guiding light.

 

Brendan King: [00:20:43] No I am not. It's not always revenue and you know or ooeven you know for me I like to build things though when I see the product working in solving a small business or partner's problems. That's where that satisfaction and success for me. Obviously you want to be able to you know run a really good business and make money and give your investors a return on investment.

 

[00:21:08] But perhaps the success is that in building a company that's built to last big Jim called them and asked them. So we you know we really want to build a company that is built colossal and we're not running a sprint it's a marathon. Sometimes you run and sometimes you're jogging. But it's building that company and I think it's you know it's people and culture and the team that you put together that it is going to make it successful.

 

Brendan King: [00:21:35] So it's not that people say oh it's all about culture well culture comes from the people and the people. And you know so it's I get great satisfaction when I see the team that we put together.

 

[00:21:46] So you know that sometimes often what makes me feel most proud is is watching our folks you know talk to customers or teach each other and I'm always amazed that the amazing people that we put together that's a success for me.

 

James Fratzke: [00:22:01] You mentioned Jim Collins. I'm a fan of his as well. My favorite book is good. Great. And one of my favorite concepts in good to great is asking yourself are you a hedgehog or are you a fox. And the difference basically is a Fox is very cunning and they can do lots of different things. OK. But a hedgehog picks one thing and does it really really well. Do you subscribe to that concept in your business?

 

James Fratzke: [00:22:27] And if so are you a fox or a hedgehog.

 

Brendan King: [00:22:31] you picked a you just went and found the t one that we struggle with the most because you know when will people say a hedgehog you know that approach they often think while we're trying to do too many things you know we're w you know. And as your company grows and you know you're not a 20 person company and when you double to the person company you have to do more or you shouldn't have doubled your company. I don't think so. It is it's not it's a moving target on that hedgehog's coach. So what we've when I say we want to be you know a platform for resources to sell products. We've the pope. We realize we realize we can't do everything so we've you know we've pulled back from trying to build every point solution that our that our customers will watch.

 

Brendan King: [00:23:19] So I you know I feel like you know our headstrong approach is beating that platform and not necessarily being all those points solutions so that's one where we've kind of pared back our ambitions but I struggle with that.

 

James Fratzke: [00:23:32] well think that's a really important thing to take away here though is that you're willing to admit that that's a struggle of yours you're willing to face the cold hard facts and that you're working on that and improving it.

 

Brendan King: [00:23:46] And we have actually in the past year. You know what. And the way that we did it I don't know if you have as you grow as a company you know generally companies start as functional so there's you know there's engineering there's marketing sales and then as you grow through 100 people and into you know definitely in the 200 people you probably have to start to division lives. So we've got our platform division we've got our product division and marketing is inside both of those things and sales is inside both of those things. And so you know I think tt that's where those things become more hedgehog's like in that there's a division where we're folksier or more. How are more empowered and they have a smaller set of considerations. There's not people from engineering throwing things over designed engineering to marketing and it's more intuitive and agile. Division wise you know sounds like a big company but it's really just pushing down decision making two to the you know to people to make it that are closer to the customer.

 

James Fratzke: [00:24:51] Let me ask you a personal question real quick. Do you have any kids.

 

Brendan King: [00:24:55] Yeah I have five kids. Twenty-six. You know what they're 26 24 21 19 and 9.

 

James Fratzke: [00:25:04] I love that. So you have a whole basketball team of five kids and this successful business in Vedasta. Is there a such thing as work life balance in your life.

 

Brendan King: [00:25:15] As I've gotten older I've done a better job of it. So the other nine year olds obviously like a decent family. The other ones. But from work life balance perspective. You know again this goes back to we think it's more of a marathon and not a not a you know not a race. I think it took 10 years to build a good company.

 

Brendan King: [00:25:32] Kind of the timeline then if you try to sprint the whole time you're not going to make it. So the other is will we look at it. We did this for all employees I say OK well you know what do we often do we get to sleep. And we've got a we've got family time we got to work and then we have this set of tasks.

 

Brendan King: [00:25:50] So we try to you know end of that we try to get rid of those tasks. We don't want to take away time from family we don't want to take away time from sleep but we do want people to when they're working to be able to give it their full effort so we know we do things like we have you know bring in dry-cleaning and we have no breakfast in the morning and we have noon lunches and we try to you know make it easy for people. We have someone who comes in those haircuts so we really try to make it easier for people to get rid of those things they don't you know that they don't really want to do anyway. The truth is that if you ask my wife I'm sure she'd tell you that I'm working all the time.

 

Brendan King: [00:26:26] But I'm also present when I'm when my youngest daughter is nine and she wrestles I make sure that when I'm there, I’m there you know? You’ve got to be able to be present and not see a lot of people who work really hard and they're not present in the rest of their life and so that's not something that was easy for me to learn and I think I've done that over time.

 

James Fratzke: [00:26:50] Well that's one of the tips that I got from my second youngest brother. He always got straight A's but he didn't show up to school very often which go figure. And so his teacher one time said well you know you just got another hundred percent on your test why don't you share you never hear why don't you share how you do it. And he goes Well you've got to show up when you are here.

 

Brendan King: [00:27:12] That's right. So I think he's my goofing off and plus he's probably when He is there he's working hard.

 

James Fratzke: [00:27:17] Exactly. That's exactly it. So that makes a lot of sense to me that checks out.

 

Brendan King: [00:27:22] Yeah I think he did I you're personally to the point.

 

James Fratzke: [00:27:26] It sounds like working at Vendasta comes with a lot of great perks haircuts lunches breakfasts. I might be reading into this but that sounds like a millennial play right and this super competitive job market with a lot of millennials. You've got to have some of these different special things to attract people to your company.

 

Brendan King: [00:27:44] Yeah I just don't want it just to be just to be heard though. I mean it has to be something that really makes their life better. But yeah of course I mean we're in a competitive environment. You know as you know about 350000 people in the greater area and we've got a university that's about 20000 students in the great Saskatoon area. You know we get recruited against them we're recruiting others. So we do have to have a competitive you know think for end sales of marketing same kind of thing and or lazy folks.

 

Brendan King: [00:28:15] But yeah I mean that it is somewhat appeal to those groups of folks you know like those types of things.

 

James Fratzke: [00:28:25] OK so we talked about work life balance. We talked about being present when you are actually with people you care about. Are there one or two habits that you practice every day that help you do that both at home and at work.

 

Brendan King: [00:28:38] This is probably corny. I don't know if listeners live on a podcast but you know when I go to sleep at night of the thing that I do is there was a time when I used to worry about stuff you know for a long time now probably about 20 years. I take a list of things when I say what are the things that I'm you know I'm thinking about right now that are bothering me. And it can I do anything about them and if I can I just put them out of my head. If I can I say well why haven't I or what do I need to do. And then I make a little mini list of I'm going to do those things and I get them out of the way in in the morning. And oftentimes when I wake up I'm in the shower. I have solutions to some of those problems that I didn't have before. So it's just a little thing I did before I go to bed. I think it's really changed my life and made very much more action oriented. You know like I get stuff done rather than rather than not. So I see people worrying about stuff and not doing anything about it try to not.

 

James Fratzke: [00:29:34] And it reminds me of this week I got a massage. I'm sitting there for an hour and all I'm doing is thinking about what I need to do once I get out of the massage table you know and. But to your point it. And I've and I've heard things like that before if you do those types of things before you go to relax or go to sleep or whatever it is you know you think about them your mind is working subconsciously while you're sleep. And so when you wake up and you hit the shower. Yeah. All of a sudden you start having these solutions to problems that you didn't have before.

 

Brendan King: [00:30:05] That's right. And I think the other thing is is that I always say this if you make a decision before you have 50 percent as much information as you need to make it you've waited too long. And I didn't I didn't make that up. I think that like that might be like Jeff Bezos thing. But you know I totally agree with that. Like you got to make decisions without all the information. Otherwise you will have waited too long and it's more important to make a decision even if it's wrong than no decision so that those kind of things your mind subconsciously helping you process all of this. Chaotic set of information to make a decision about what to do. That I think that happens at night sometimes when you're sleeping.

 

James Fratzke: [00:30:49] Yeah absolutely. I'm going to try it out tonight. You talked about your experience with son of a beach and going through some difficult times and wishing that you had somebody that you could ask questions. Have you ever had a mentor in life that has helped kind of guide you through difficult times?

 

Brendan: [00:31:04] No I mean I think there isn't one that actually stands out. I mean there's you know I have certain things like Yeah I look to my dad for you know the way that he's never heard him tell us {ever} which is amazing.

 

Brendan King: [00:31:22] And you know and never saw the super system not working on anything is like taking some of those things but I had then taken away from you know all kinds of other people so I know I love to a lot of reading. PETER JEPPESEN was there. You know whoever it might be good to great Jim Collins. And then there's people you meet or you where they have a certain skill in a certain area and you take something from them in that area.

 

Brendan King: [00:31:47] But I wouldn't say there's any one person that had all those kinds of things. But I've as many people who have contributed in certain aspects along the way and I think that's probably true with everybody. So it's not a surprise but I don't have one in my head that stands up to say hey you know this is my mentor. It depends on if you ask me if hey I need the legal thing I know who I'd talk to someone with whom you know I really want to know the economic stuff that is like a guide to you know that I would you know David Skok or someone that would be able to help me answer those questions but not any one particular people always ask that question I have never have a good answer.

 

James: [00:32:25] Speaking of the importance of mentorship as the CEO of Vendasta do you open yourself up to those opportunities to mentor people on your team?

 

Brendan: [00:32:33] You know I do. I do and I do and I'd like to be but I think I might actually the problem is I think I'm actually pretty shitty mentor and in some ways because I mean I'm well on there and present but I am hard to get a hold of sometimes we're you know we're working very hard right now.

 

Brendan King: [00:32:48] And so in some ways I feel like when I do that I don't want to let people down. I just don't always have the appropriate amount of time. But yeah we do it all the time. We do it internally as a matter of course too. We do a lot. We spend a lot of time doing education inside our organization probably more than many people and sometimes you like wow just spend a lot of time and money doing that but I think it will get pays off in spades.

 

James Fratzke: [00:33:15] One thing that we really believe in here is brand storytelling of telling their stories whether it's online in person every touch point. You know you really kind of involved it engulfed in that brand story. Can you think of any brands that stick out to you that do that really well and tell the story really well?

 

Brendan: [00:33:34] Yeah you know we look we looked at a lot of different brands to try and see. You know we look at a HubSpot man and they've got a great story and a pretty good brand. You know so or you know there's a number of companies that we kind of look that box or others and we think wow that's a really good brand story. I like the way that you're you know they really thought about their brand and they just didn't carry it through to everything they do. You can you can look to bigger companies like Hilton. I mean they really got that. You know I think their brand is like a tree. That was the golden rule treat others as you'd want to be treated and I think I think that shows through in a lot of these. I wouldn't say again one in particular because you said hey I want one aspect of this brand get out with these guys who really get it. You just see all the way through. Does it really good at you know embodying the spirit of our culture. You know they are different ones. But I mean flip that you have you got any suggestions from me on companies you think of really nailed it on the branding story.

 

James Fratzke: [00:34:39] Yeah. Well thanks I appreciate the dialogue. Hey you know what. I think this will sound counter-intuitive but I think Wal-Mart is doing a better job every day of trying to tell that story I think they're working themselves out of maybe a hole that they've been in for quite some time if you look at some of the things they're doing on TV online and e-mail pickup in store you know buy online pickup in store trying to go head to head with Amazon. So I think they're on the right track if you really like.

 

Brendan King: [00:35:08] I think they may have picked up some ground too.

 

James Fratzke: [00:35:10] Hey yeah I think they have.

 

Brendan King: [00:35:12] I think McDonald's did a good job too. I think they know they changed around their brand a little bit anyway.

 

James Fratzke: [00:35:18] Yeah I think McDonald's is kind of an interesting example that you brought up think about their brand. They've been trying to become very healthy as a restaurant but I think it's more because of outside forces. I don't really think that that's the customers asking McDonald's to change their brand story to be healthier right. Nobody walked in to McDonalds said I'll take the super healthy French fries. Kind of knew what you were getting into when you walked in the door. So I think that's an interesting example of how outside pressures can sometimes encourage brands to change their story when maybe the customers aren't really asking for it. We're kind of going into the talent of the conversation. This is where I like to do some rapid fire questions. So I'm just going to throw some at you and you can kind of respond at will. So here's my first one to ask everybody this question if you could write a postcard to anybody past or present whether it's somebody in your family or a star or an icon that you really respect who would you write a postcard to. And what would it say.

 

Brendan King: [00:36:17] Well I'd probably write one to my mom. She passed away right. I just give her an update.

 

James Fratzke: [00:36:22] Let's go on to the next one you said you liked to read a lot. So what are those top three books. Fiction nonfiction. Business not business that you would recommend.

 

Brendan King: [00:36:31] Ok so I'm having read every Stephen King books. Totally King so I recommend any Stephen King Book Zero to One by Peter Thiel I'd recommend and I would definitely recommend. Oh and google how we do it. I think that's what it's called.[ Smith ]and all and I would not I've got too many Clayton Christensen innovator's dilemma. That's a really good one that every entrepreneur should read.

 

James Fratzke: [00:36:56] Great. Let me ask you this when you went to college I think there is this kind of question out in today's society of entrepreneurs should they go to college or should they just get started and skip college. Some say the college system is broken. Would you do it over again. And what's your opinion on that.

 

Brendan King: [00:37:13] So it can and maybe it's broken in the U.S. and Canada. You know it doesn't cost that much. I really. So my degree is when I realized hey what am I to do that I have to get a second degree in geophysics. I think you learn how to learn. And it separates at least you know we've got to point out though that it's not because of my proclivity but we haven't because we have lots of engineering physics folks too. And you know people that can they can do that whether it's anything whether it's philosophy or math. And they are successful there. I think it just shows that they can be successful and they can learn how to learn. And I definitely would recommend s secondary education to folks. But that said if you've got a good idea and you're driving and you know you're Bill Gates I wouldn't I wouldn't go out of my way to go back and go to university or secondary education. If I had a drive and I was successful. So I don't. So I've been I know I'm not I answered your question as direct I can. But I think most kids at that age don't have that they don't have a place that they want to go to and they don't have a vision and a dream like that go to school. If you have a vision and a dream and you're executing on it by all means do it.

 

James Fratzke: [00:38:30] Now that makes sense I think to your point it's relative. Kind of is based on time and place and where you are. Two more questions here. This one is if you had a big box retailer 5000 locations talking to you and they said listen Brendan reputation management is not important to us. We don't care. Our store is a discount store. People don't expect a whole lot out of us. What would be your quick elevator pitch to say you're wrong or you're right.

 

Brendan King: [00:38:57] Either way I'd be surprised if they got to the 5000 stores thinking that when the first place. But I'm not sure that the real situation. But I mean I would my response would be a lot so I'll tell you what I'll run the test with 20 years to six months and we'll see. We'll see what the difference is and see we think about that.

 

Brendan King: [00:39:18] I do it for free. I have I you know I would that's how I would approach.

 

James Fratzke: [00:39:23] Okay here's my last question. Is there a final thought that you have not been able to share so far in this interview that you want to leave our listeners with before you go today.

 

Brendan King: [00:39:33] you know Maybe just the difference between doing something and not doing something like you know a big if I get a lot of people coming to me all the time with these ideas things they want to do and they want to just go on but they don't you know they don't do anything with them and they're going to have regrets over those. I would say like you know if you have you know the first step towards just start doing some work doing it you don't need all the lights to be green before you drive it.

 

Brendan King: [00:40:01] You know you can just do the first thing towards that you know start moving in and see if what you're talking about is feasible. I mean this seems like program with these ideas and say Here is my idea. Can you do it for me. Not going to work.

 

James Fratzke: [00:40:15] Where can people find you online Brendan.

 

Brendan King: [00:40:18] Well you know probably either follow me on LinkedIn or or Twitter at this point.

 

James Fratzke: [00:40:23] Great. Well Brennan It was a pleasure talking to you. We really appreciate your time and thanks for being on the show.

 

Brendan King: [00:40:28] Well thanks very much. It was great James. Alright Talk to you soon. Have a go one bye.

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