Josh Goodman: “Never do silly math like that again”

Next time you’re getting a coffee or a meal, give the cashier an extra 10 dollars or 20 dollars and tell them to pay for the order of the person behind you. The world needs more random generosity. If someone is having a bad day, that one small act could change their whole day for them. […]

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Next time you’re getting a coffee or a meal, give the cashier an extra 10 dollars or 20 dollars and tell them to pay for the order of the person behind you. The world needs more random generosity. If someone is having a bad day, that one small act could change their whole day for them.

As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Josh Goodman.

Josh grew up in Chester, Virginia. He received a football scholarship to play Linebacker at Shippensburg University, where he set the career solo tackles record. Prior to founding the company in 2009, he worked in Business Development with Modis, an IT Staffing firm. He was responsible for building the Baltimore Metro market for the company. He landed several blue-chip accounts that took that market from non-existent to top producing market in a matter of 24 months. His wife, Janette (Shippensburg University Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee) and their 2 children, Tyler and Brianna, live in Northbrook, Illinois.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

There were 2 events that led to this career path:

  1. Throughout High School & College I had jobs that paid me anywhere from 4.25 dollars to 15.00 dollars per hour. Bagging groceries, painting gym floors, waiting tables, etc. I thought every job had a set hourly wage attached to it. Going into my Senior year of college I had no clue what I wanted to do after college and it didn’t look like playing in the NFL was in the cards, but I hadn’t completely given up on that dream. I’d just gotten home for the summer and my dad said if I didn’t get a job in a week, I was going to be ripping up carpets for him the rest of the summer. I had some bad memories of having to rip up entire homes in a day and the worst ones owned cats that didn’t know where the litter box was. I grabbed the Richmond Times Dispatch and answered an ad that said, “Real Experience for a World Class marketing Company, earn internship credits, etc.”. I called it and they had me come in for an interview. After filling out the application, I found out it was a Direct Sales position selling Cutco Knives through appointments I’d set myself and referrals I’d get from doing those appointments. I would earn commission or a percentage of whatever I sold, but if I didn’t make a sale, I still got paid a base amount for doing the presentation. The more I sold over time, the higher the percentage. By the end of the summer I was making 400 dollars for a day’s work just in commissions. Learning the psychology of selling and being passionate about the product I was selling opened my eyes to the world of sales and entrepreneurship. I sold 18,000 dollars in knives in 2 months and made about 6,000 dollars. That was more money that I’d ever made in every job before that combined.
  2. The 2nd event was after I’d moved on from Cutco management and into a Territory Sales role for a publicly traded IT staffing firm. I became friends with the CEO. He took me to University of Maryland basketball games, we golfed and played pickup basketball at 6 am most mornings. He was more than a boss; he was a mentor. I asked him what he would do to grow the territory and he gave me tips. One being, get in front of the hiring managers that are hiring the most contractors. After following his instruction, I was reprimanded by the HR department of a large energy company in Baltimore for talking to hiring managers directly. I asked him what to do, he told me “Forget about them, you need to get to know the managers and the org chart.” I followed his instruction and did all the grunt work. Then we got the opportunity to earn their business through a formal proposal process. Right before choosing to do business with us, the CEO of our company asked the HR department manager if there was any reason, they wouldn’t do business with us. She said, “Yes, Josh Goodman.” She was mad at me for following his instructions to go around her. The CEO gave this account that was going to be one of the largest accounts in the country to a guy that had never closed a sale and he’d been with the company for 6 months. Upon getting this gift, he won Circle of Excellence within 3 months of the following year and I was mentally done working for that company. That’s where my mind shifted from working for someone to building something on my own.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

I’m not sure how you classify a mental breakdown, burnout or a midlife crisis, but I think I had all 3 of them in 2014. I was only 35 at the time, so I hope it wasn’t a midlife crisis. We had parted ways with some business partners in Ireland that attempted to sue us federally to put us out of business. We had a few locations that hadn’t paid their balance to us but were complaining about the technology not working as their reason for not paying the balance. I was stuck in financial purgatory. I owed 3 of my vendors collectively 117,000 dollars and the guy I started the business with had just taken another job working for a venture backed beverage company. I felt alone with all these problems. On top of all of this, my family (wife, 2 kids under 5 and our Weimaraner, were moving from Baltimore to Chicago for an opportunity my wife had with her company. I call this my “Brittney moment”. I contemplated joining the MMA or UFC to literally fight my way out of debt. I shaved my head as well, to get the full “Britney” meltdown experience. It all worked out, but just thinking about what life was like during that period is stressful.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

Maybe it’s stubbornness, maybe it’s stupidity or a combination of the two, but when I had the idea for self-pour beer, I felt like I had already won the lottery. It was a business that didn’t exist, and I was as confident as anyone could be that it would be a huge success, before I’d even done any work. Like relationships and business, you need a strong foundation for it to have a chance. Having a solid foundation of an unfaltering belief that your idea/ business is a winner is absolutely necessary to push through hard times. It’s been 12 years since I started down this path, but it’s only been 5 years since we built our own technology. I believe as an entrepreneur or early stage company, you need these wins to validate what you’re giving up to pursue a big idea. I was excited in 2010 because I was going to get paid to pursue my dream and I’d gotten a free trip to Ireland. In 2013 I was excited to start PourMyBeer and build the website and business from scratch after learning everything I’d learned prior to then. In 2015 I was excited when I got to see the first prototype of our own technology in Austria and we celebrated its birth by going skiing in the alps for the first time. The last few years, building our team with great people that share my passion to build something has gotten me difficult times as well. Securing big name customers like Caesars, Hilton, Whole Foods, Buffalo Wild Wings and Walk Ons, as well as major regional chains, has kept us focused and motivated too. Announcing the investment we received from Coca-Cola European Partners ensures and reaffirms that we are doing a lot of things right and the future continues to be bright.

So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

I start every day writing down 3 things I’m grateful for in my 5-minute journal. One of those 3 is usually referencing our team or our customers. If you’ve never journaled, I highly recommend it. There’s something that happens in your mind when you practice gratitude on a daily basis. I remember thinking, “Why me?” when things weren’t great, and I didn’t understand that the pain I was going through at the time was the price of admission. The famous basketball coach John Wooden said, “All of life is peaks and valleys. Don’t let the peaks get too high and the valleys too low.” Pain creates those calluses, which translates to grit, but my pain threshold to tough times or difficult situations/ decisions is much better now than it was 10 years ago.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The group I worked with out of Ireland when I first started down the path of self-pour had secured grants from the Irish government for us to “launch” our company at a tradeshow back in March 2010. We had to build a website, sales and marketing literature, price lists, set up a bank account, get an office with an address for all of this, design a booth for the tradeshow and countless other basic business tools. It was January and the Bar & Nightclub tradeshow was in March. The company was just me at the time, so I was doing everything in the US. We’d done the entrepreneurial math that I’m sure everyone does at this stage. We figured since they’d sold 3 million dollars in self pour beer tables in Ireland the prior year, and Ireland has about 5 million people. The US has 300 million people, so logically, that would lead to between 200 million dollars and 260 million dollars in the first year. I went through the trouble to get a credit card processor set up so we could sell beer tables at our booth at 10,000 dollars a pop or an “easy 3 pay program”. After 3 days of 7 (the guys from Ireland flew in to help) of us standing on our feet for 10 hours a day and talking to everyone that came by the booth We sold 0 dollars in tables and over the course of the next 12 months, we tracked 30,000 dollars in sales from the tradeshow that cost us 80,000 dollars in equipment, travel, kegs, transport, etc.

The lessons I learned from that are:

  1. Never do silly math like that again. We only did 200,000 dollars in sales in all of 2010, just 199,800,000 dollars less than we’d thought we’d do.
  2. Trade Shows are not the answer to creating sales

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Besides the fact that what we’re doing is really cool and cutting edge and everyone I’ve ever spoken to or told what I do says, “Wow, I hate waiting for drinks at bars, I had that idea back in college. That’s brilliant! Are you a billionaire?” I’m not a billionaire, but we’re heading in a good direction. I believe our team puts out a consistently positive vibe. We encourage balance and taking long walks or runs or bike rides in nature and we share this with each other through a slack channel dedicated to these adventures.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Be mindful of what you consume, not just what you eat, but what you watch, what you listen to, who you listen to, who you surround yourself with. Schedule time for you. If you aren’t happy with something about your life, do something about it. People forget to schedule this time in for themselves. I’ve felt burnt out, and when I feel like I’m heading in that direction I stop what I’m doing and go play golf or ride my bike or lift weights. It helps with having a clearer picture of the work that you need to focus on that has the most impact on your long-term goals.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I’ve never been a big networking guy. I remember going to those “share your business card” type things when I was in B2B sales and I hated it. You never know who’s going to be your super connector. A super connector is someone that can change your life by introducing to the right people that expects nothing in return. If you’re lucky, you may have several of them in your lifetime. The person that has connected me to the most high-quality people would be John Ruhlin, a speaker and author of Giftology. He sold more Cutco than anyone in the companies, he achieved that level of success in his early 20’s. I never met him when I worked with the company, but everyone knew his name. I met him after I left the company and he’s been so generous with introductions to other entrepreneurs. He nominated me to join a group called “Mastermind Talks” by Jayson Gaynard. Attending a “Mastermind Talk” event can’t be put into words. It’s not a “rah-rah” type of event, it’s an extremely well curated group of 110 entrepreneurs at a variety of levels with the two main prerequisites being you have a business doing over 2M dollars in revenue and you’re a good person. Those introductions have led to more introductions and events that I’d have never known about if I didn’t know him. I’m also grateful for Tim Ferriss, even though I’ve never met him. His books and podcasts have been a big part of my life. Consuming his content has led me to consuming so many other helpful tools along the journey. I’d even say that reading, “4 Hour Work Week” gave me the confidence and motivation to start down the road of entrepreneurship.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Growing up in central Virginia, I attended a camp during the summer called “Work Camp”. There was religion intertwined with rebuilding and fixing people’s homes that were on the verge of being evicted or having their homes condemned. Seeing the impact this had on so many people’s lives, not just the ones receiving, but giving is something I’ll never forget. One older woman especially struck a chord with me when she sat down with us while we were eating lunch the one day. As she’s sitting there, she starts to cry. This was 3 days into a week of fixing up her home. She said, ‘Sweetie, I’ve been going to church my entire life with the hopes that I’d meet angels when I go to heaven. As we are sitting here, it hit me that you are real life angels sent by God to help me.” While I haven’t been as philanthropic over the past decade as I’d like to be, I have tried to share the journey as much as possible to help others that may be dealing with difficult times or challenges. I’ve participated in preparing 400 meals for the homeless and driving around Chicago to deliver those meals + blankets, socks, the meals. The idea of people living in tents under bridges during the coldest part of the winter in Chicago is something I’ll never be okay with or understand. When I’m talking with these people, I look at them in their eyes and listen to them. I brought my kids with me on this and I believe it impacted them as much as it does me. I always donate to any cause that anyone asks me to donate to. As a company, we’ve donated food and toys to animal shelters and will continue to do that. I want to continue to expand these activities as we grow.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Get a firm understanding of accounting and QuickBooks. The only thing I used to determine the businesses financial health the first few years was an excel doc that showed me who owed me, who I owed, credit card debt and money in the bank. It worked, but our books were a mess.
  2. Before you go into business with anyone or hire someone, find out who doesn’t like them or who they don’t like and why. Talk to the people that they don’t like. People that screw people over tend to repeat that process. If they’re an employee or partner of yours, it will happen to you.
  3. Don’t sign a deal with a vendor that has a 3 month or 1-year commitment. If a vendor is confident enough in their services, you should be able to cancel them at any time. I lost 75,000 dollars because 2 vendors wanted to try and hold me to longer contracts than I wanted their services for after I realized their services weren’t good.
  4. Get a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system in place from day 1. For the first few years I used excel spreadsheets, but when you have a proper CRM in place and add automation to it, you can be much more efficient and effective at running the business.
  5. Join Entrepreneur groups and bounce ideas off of the ones you click with. There’s an unwritten rule that you want to help other people going down the path you went down. Seasoned businesspeople aren’t necessarily smarter than younger ones, they’ve just been through so much more. There is so much knowledge that only comes from doing, not just reading.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Next time you’re getting a coffee or a meal, give the cashier an extra 10 dollars or 20 dollars and tell them to pay for the order of the person behind you. The world needs more random generosity. If someone is having a bad day, that one small act could change their whole day for them.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram: @PourMyBeer
Twitter: @PourMyBeer
Facebook: @PourMyBeer

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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