You have an amazing life story. Would you mind sharing it with our readers.
John: I’m an unlikely entrepreneur. Mainly because I don’t have all the things that society traditionally says you need to have in order to be successful. For instance, I don’t have a college degree. I don’t even have a high school diploma! And society really likes to put people into boxes – you know, based on their level of education, their gender, their skin color, etc. I ended up doing exactly what society expected from a tenth grade high school dropout. I found myself working at a General Electric plant as a “custodial engineer” (aka a janitor). I was working paycheck to paycheck and really struggling to live up to what I told family and friends I would accomplish. This all stemmed from my background. As a young person, I had my first felony arrest when I was 15. That was the beginning of a lot of challenges for me. When I was finally released from the juvenile facility, it was right when a crack epidemic struck the country. And it struck my neighborhood pretty hard and I got hooked. At 17 years old, I had a heart attack and it ended up being the biggest blessing of my life. I was forced to go through drug rehabilitation. It was in there that a guy named Dave who began to mentor me. He showed me that everything I blamed – you know, police, teachers, parents – he held the mirror up and said “it’s you. You made the appointment to be here”. But he told me that I could make a new appointment. When I left that facility, I didn’t have anything – I had destroyed all of the relationships I had. But I had something new as well. It was a seed that was planted that entrepreneurship was the way out of my neighborhood and my circumstances.I could never get that seed out of my head. That put me on a lifelong personal development journey to change my life.
This is such a great story. How people respond to challenges is the critical difference between success and failure. Let’s talk about mindset. How do you switch your mindset? Change how you respond to challenges. Change from Employee to Entrepreneur, investor.
John: So I think this is really individual. For me, it was getting fed up enough. I was sick of myself. I couldn’t even look at myself. I think for others it may be not being able to see your kids, begging to go on vacation, a terrible boss, a boring job. So first, ask yourself what you’re fed up with, and then go from there. When I was in my drug rehab program, my friend Dave gave me the book How to Win Friends and Influence People. It made me realize that I was a jerk. That’s how the seeds were planted that put me on the right path and it had a domino effect. Another mentor taught me the slight edge effect. I had never believed that I could be successful. I thought that only a handful of people could be successful, that they had to be born into a certain position. So my mentor taught me that simple disciplines practiced every single day will lead you to success, whereas small bad decisions daily will lead to failure. I really started focusing on this. I began to read 15 pages of a book every day. And eventually, people started communicating with me differently. Every single day you start moving the needle a little bit more. The compounding effect really makes a difference.
Do you think it is easier today to become an entrepreneur?
John: 100%. For instance, my companies have always created ambassador programs which make it enticing for people to join and work for their own success. The barrier for entry is so low, you can get started with one of my companies for under $1,000. We have people making millions of dollars a year who started with a $1,000 investment. There’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur.
Let’s talk about “Build Your Empire” project. I’ve talked to so many wanna-be entrepreneurs but they have no idea how to implement their ideas. How do you personally break down a big project like the one you’re currently working on?
John: The first step is to figure out what you want to do. Find out what it is that you’re willing to lose sleep over, or to sacrifice the daily things you’d otherwise be doing. You’re better off playing in a space that you’re really passionate about. So you look at the big picture and then you look at your strengths. Then you need to look at the other pieces to see where you can get them. If you need capital, you’ll need to figure out if you can raise it yourself, if you want to give a piece of the company away, etc. I think people procrastinate because they don’t have the elements needed. Build Your Empire started as a way for us to give back to young entrepreneurs. We built a machine that was designed to showcase world class entrepreneurs and to raise up a new generation of world class entrepreneurs. Part of our model is putting on big events. For us, there’s nothing like that live conversation in front of an audience. These live events also give us the chance to bring in big name speakers. We make our speakers accessible and make sure that they’re providing a ton of value for our audience members. So right now, we’re working on next year’s events and I’m also launching this health and wellness company I mentioned earlier. The whole concept is changing minds, bodies and bank accounts. We call it “mastering the mundane”. You do the same simple, boring thing over and over in order to become successful.
You can watch the youtube interview here. You can reach John on Instagram @John.malott.