“Nothing beats hard work, time dedicated towards mastering your craft, and continued learning. Our habits shape us. My biggest mistakes were developing an ego, believing I ‘knew it all’(and not continuing to learn), & not prioritizing what makes life enjoyable. If you’re only pursuing money, you’ll hit a wall. If you don’t spend time with family, friends, & loved ones, you’ll get burnt out. If you don’t learn at every opportunity, every position you’re in, life will kick you around. It’s important to have an eagerness for continued learning & never stop even after you’ve reached the level of success you were aiming for. It’s also important to never compare yourself to others, whether they’re above or below you. You can compete with others, just don’t compare yourself. You’re you, they’re them — reach for your dreams nobody else’s. Don’t be an “idea squatter”. If you have a great idea, bounce it off other people & make it it a BRILLIANT idea, then build it.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jake Fowler, Founder of The Exceptional and devoted non-profit volunteer. He ranked in the top 2% of salespeople at Audi and earned his first $1M before he turned 25, which enabled him to pursue his passion in helping others find fulfillment in their work and lives.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
We all have dreams. Growing up, I just dreamt of having money. I was willing to put in any amount of work to get it. Growing up in a small town in Ohio, I helped my mom clean churches when I was 10, delivered newspapers at 12, bailed hay at 13, and eventually went on to deliver pizza, work in retail, as a gas station clerk, and a bus boy — all before college (which I dropped out of after 2 years).
I landed my first sales job at 20 years old, and quickly became “successful”. I made just over $100k in my first year, and by my 3rd year I was making over $200k/yr consistently. I achieved everything I dreamt of having, and more — except I was absolutely miserable, I hated myself and everything about my life. On my way to obtaining “money”, I sacrificed all of the vital pieces of life that make it worth living.
It was this struggle with finding fulfillment and purpose that ultimately pushed me to make major changes to my mindset and priorities, while also motivating and encouraging me to help others get their priorities straight as well as develop a better understanding of the world around us, & sharpen their business skills.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you in the course of your career?
I had such an over-inflated ego after having achieved great success at such a young age, that when I hastily left my high paying sales career at 25 to pursue something else that paid well (recruiting) — I irrationally believed that I would be just as phenomenal at it [despite being (at that time) uncoachable, unwilling to learn, and narcissistic]. Naturally, I fell flat on my face and got fired for the first time in my life because I made ZERO (0) sales. I couldn’t close a candidate! It was a mess, and I was fired in under 6 months.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I’m actively mentoring young professionals in business and entrepreneurship, and something I incorporate is that everyone has inherent potential to be great — it’s just about putting forth the effort & having a positive attitude. I’m also a firm believer in kindness and all of my proteges know it — one of the first tasks I encourage others to accomplish & then make a part of their daily routine is to go out of their way to be kind to others. What may seem like an insignificant act of kindness can turn out to have the most profound impact on a person’s life. I’m also very active in our community, a frequent volunteer at non profits such as the LA Food Bank, Salvation Army, PATH (People Assisting the Homeless) and Tapestry LA.
If someone would want to emulate your career, what would you suggest are the most important things to do?
Nothing beats hard work, time dedicated towards mastering your craft, and continued learning. Our habits shape us. My biggest mistakes were developing an ego, believing I ‘knew it all’(and not continuing to learn), & not prioritizing what makes life enjoyable. If you’re only pursuing money, you’ll hit a wall. If you don’t spend time with family, friends, & loved ones, you’ll get burnt out. If you don’t learn at every opportunity, every position you’re in, life will kick you around.
It’s important to have an eagerness for continued learning & never stop even after you’ve reached the level of success you were aiming for. It’s also important to never compare yourself to others, whether they’re above or below you. You can compete with others, just don’t compare yourself. You’re you, they’re them — reach for your dreams nobody else’s. Don’t be an “idea squatter”. If you have a great idea, bounce it off other people & make it it a BRILLIANT idea, then build it.
Is there a particular person that made a profound difference in your life to whom you are grateful? Can you share a story?
The one man that had the single largest impact on my life wasn’t my Dad, a relative, a friend, a great boss or an incredible mentor — It was actually the worst, most miserable person I’ve ever met or worked for in my life. He was so awful, that he actually completely transformed me as a person.
I went from a scared, timid sales professional without the courage to speak up for myself, terrified of not performing and losing my career, solely dependent on the company I worked for & in the office 60–80 hours a week — to a fearless entrepreneur willing to take risks and bold enough to not only speak up for myself but also to speak up for others and what is right — even when it’s been difficult and will put me in uncomfortable situations or requires confrontation.
It’s January 2015, I had just made more money in one month of sales than at any other point in my life. I was the undisputed leader on the sales board. I was terrified. It always seemed like the better I performed & the more money I made, the worse this manager came down on me for no reason. Sure enough, he pulled me into his office, slammed the door, and began hurling insults and MF’ing me(swearing at me). I didn’t stick up for myself, I just took it. I cried by myself in my back office of the business. “Why is my life like this?”. It was a defining moment that made me reflect both inwards, as well as into my life and the choices I have — I’m in control just like we all are. Being happy is a choice. I didn’t leave that company for 8 more months, but my perspective changed. The way I interpreted this manager and his behavior changed. The way I let it affect me, changed. Life pushed me around and I learned from it. I didn’t fight back, I didn’t continue to take it, I learned from it and I moved on.
So what are the most exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m currently prototyping a mobile app and applying to startup accelerators in Los Angeles. I surveyed over 200 people as part of the product/market fit survey and the results were incredibly positive. I then went on to design the app and now that it’s complete — it’s just a matter of finding the right mentors/advisors & investors.
I also am in the process of prototyping a consumer product which I hope to get on Shark Tank. It’s 90% done & I’m just waiting on patent paperwork. It’d be perfect for “The Queen of QVC”, Lori Greiner
What are your “Top Five Ideas About How Influencers Can Monetize Their Brand” . (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. Promote your own drop shipping / shopify store (for micro influencers) — although this is most popular among micro influencers, former dash doll Durrani Popal has long been criticized for sourcing a large part of her products from China and shipping on-demand/not holding inventory. For micro influencers that don’t want the stigma of promoting a drop shipping store — it’s just as easy for them to pretend they’ve been paid to promote it for someone else (I personally prefer honesty or just not getting involved in DS)
2. Affiliate Marketing (sharing links to other products) — Utilizing clickbank and other websites that source affiliate partners, you can get paid a commission every time one of your followers purchase a product. You should understand your followers best, and what they’re most interested in — so if you have nothing of your own, simply share a valuable affiliate link and let your followers purchase. You’ll collect the commissions. Tai Lopez has been known to do this in all of his youtube video captions.
3. Create your own brand (for mega) — YouTube stars like Jake Paul make more from selling merchandise than the YouTube partner program, which is why they don’t seem to care much when YouTube removes ads from their videos or penalizes them. Maker Studios used to manage the entire merch process for YouTubers, both micro and mega (as low as 10,000 subscribers). Pewdiepie was their largest influencer. Unfortunately Disney shut down Maker Studios about 2 years after their $675 Million acquisition, leaving many influencers without representation and on their own as far as creating and selling merch. It goes without saying, this can be a lot of work if the influencer tries to do it alone.
4. Sell E Learning resources, like courses, ebooks, coaching, & mentoring — This is what I do personally, as it’s so personal to my life & experience. I want to have a positive impact on others and help them achieve their goals, while preventing them from making any of the same mistakes I did early on. There’s so much I learned in my professional career that was never taught in school, or by my parents.
5. Host Events / Meetups — This has been a growing trend. Depending on the influencer and what their follower base is interested in, they may host a value-packed meetup or networking event where they rent out a posh skyscraper office space or a mansion in the hills & hold a sort of mini-seminar. I’ve seen influencers with as little as 10k followers travel around North America, stopping in 5+ cities to host these meetups. Some influencers may prefer to host more of a party, simply putting their face & name on the advertisement to initially attract guests but later not make themselves accessible / approachable during the event.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂
Brandon Maier, Founding Partner of Quake Capital LA
Originally published at medium.com