EP001: Perspectives of a Relevant Business Owner with Shane Snively
Eric: Welcome to the podcast ‘Entrepreneur Perspectives’, building and protecting your business one podcast at a time, a KazSource family production. In this episode, we’re going to talk about selling the Glengarry Glen Ross style, perspectives on running multiple businesses in the Ohio State University Buckeyes.
Eric: Our guest today is Shane Snively, CEO of Abiding Wealth Advisors, COO of KazSource Inc. and Partner at Chestnut Family Medical Practice and most importantly, he is an OSU guy, oh yes and a great friend of mine. Shane is a financial planner, advance market specialist and business planner who was a native of Ohio, served in the Air Force and now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with his wife and four kids. Shane is all about his family and always ready to work on his businesses. When KazSource was created over four and a half years ago, Shane was there. I like to call Shane the CPA or attorney before you need an actual CPA or attorney. I’ve personally witnessed Shane working with windows and business owners and helped them through their toughest time. He has built an incredible wealth management business and parlayed that planning success into the insurance side of the KazSource business. He started as a captive insurance agent before joining a multi-generation broker dealer that he left to start Abiding Wealth Advisors. Shane is focused on giving his time and his expertise. Shane brings perspectives of someone who runs many businesses and he is one of the most valuable people in my business and personal life and I’m honored to welcome Shane to the very first Entrepreneur Perspectives podcast, let’s get into it. Shane, welcome to the Entrepreneur Perspectives podcast, how you doing?
Shane: I’m great, how you’re doing there?
Eric: Good, we’re good, we’re good. So, we’re going to start with ten questions requiring a more thoughtful response and then end with ten rapid fire questions, are you ready to go?
Shane: I am ready.
Eric: Alright, so you heard the intro about you but of course, I can’t do it justice in one opening statement so tell us, tell the audience something about you that we don’t know.
Shane: I’d say the very first thing that most people don’t know, you’re kind of alluded to it- was my time in the service. I basically grew up in Newark, Ohio. I had an unfortunate event happen when I was younger. My brother had cystic fibrosis and I watched him struggle. My sister has cystic fibrosis as well and I was in college, I was doing well at Ohio State, loved it ‘Go Buckeyes’ but I kind of lost my way; my brother had passed away. I was about 21 and just built it until I had the direction I needed and my two friends were in the 82nd airborne, they said, “Shane, you know you’re a wuss, so we’d like you to come in the military with us but go in the Air Force. You love Math, you love to think, you love all these logic games, go in the Air Force, they’ll treat you well, maybe you need somebody to tell you what to do.” And so I went to Air Force and it was exactly what they said it was, it was somebody that put a foot as deep in any way that they possibly could and told you, “Hey, you know your life has to continue,” and I had some amazing mentors in the service and to some degree, they were the pivot on kind of how I got into planning. So I left the service with an MBA and a Masters in Management and with very little debt thankfully but just got a lot of exposure to the world. I was all over the world station in Oman and the UAE and Panama and just saw the world from a different perspective than growing up in Newark, Ohio which I felt I really need to do to grow so I just did some amazing things while being in the service and I think it really helped define me as a person and I’m very thankful for the time I spent in the government but also learnt very quickly that you could be the best E-5 or E-7 or whatever you were but you were always going to be tied to a bureaucratic economy where your time and service and how long you’ve been doing something was a big metric, not necessarily how much value you added to the actual position. So I went up for Airman of the Year while I was in the service which is a big honor but save the military $300,000,0000 worth of you now parts that they had lost and all kinds of stuff through the Gulf War and I didn’t get a pay raise. I was going to get a ribbon which was amazing and I was very thankful for that and I did it because of that but it just was very true telling to say, “Wow, you saved someone $300,000,000 and you didn’t get a pay raise.” So seeing that just really fueled my ideas of building and owning a business that was value-based where you can really impact somebody and somebody didn’t try to define you to tell you how much you’re worth based on how long you’ve been there or these type of events in your life so I think it really impacted me on how I think about business and I’m again very thankful for the amount of time and the mentors in my life, quick shout out Sergeant Soltis, Kevin Partwell. These men, they just came beside me and really helped groom me so I’m very thankful to them.
Eric: Well, it’s an amazing story and I can speak for everyone who has listened to this that we’re thankful for your time that you gave this country with your service and it’s like you said, these events that happened in your life- the events that happen in anybody’s life- they help define them and create who they are and obviously like as you alluded to, it helped you to lead you to this point today where you’re this owner of many businesses. Even when you’re not the owner of the business, you’re a part of so many businesses and helping them through their journey as running these businesses. So it’s an amazing story without a doubt. And as you do your work and you’re working with Abiding Wealth Advisors and also obviously you’re a partner in KazSource, what’s your focus in the business and your ultimate goal really for the business and yourself as it all ties together?
Shane: I think for me, it’s that creating and sharing the past experiences of working with other business and our business so that the learning curve isn’t as steep but ideally it’s more of purposely planning, trying to really dig strategically and understanding kind of why is it we’re doing the things that we’ve been doing, there’s been so much disruption in the marketplace. what I find is maybe a software, maybe a function that we were doing even a year ago because it was the best way to do it, the whole footprint of the environment of what we’ve got going in front of us now has changed so much that that might not be a good way to continue to go and I mean, I don’t want to get out willy-nilly and one day we’re doing this, the next day we’re doing that but being purposefully in how we spend money, steward the resources of the business, have a culture of sharing- the sharing culture that we’ve built here is extremely important me because I love to mentor whether it’s one of our new interns like John or potentially working out a very strategic idea with a Rudy Redmond from the team. I just really enjoy the people we’ve put together and they have a willing to learn and they’re realizing that just as in business, they’re not taking things for granted. So I think I like it that we’re in this kind of fighting for everything environment where we’re not just going to sit back and just hope something comes to you; but I also like that we’re just not so big or overly structured that we can’t be nimble and still position ourselves to where the client really needs us today versus in the future where I think when you can get in these large organizations a lot of times that nimbleness disappears and it becomes about you, not about client. So I would say that’s my biggest thing is: whatever initiatives we’re doing, it’s focusing on the client first; really making sure that the planning we’re doing is getting to them where they really need us whether it’s in content marketing, whether it’s on the insurance side of the business, whether it’s in better planning and then making sure the platforms are scalable enough that we can actually commit and do what we said we were going to do because I think in the marketplace with the amount of communication and social media and that type of thing, you can’t be disingenuous today because someone will call you out in ten seconds on a Twitter feed or something like that and what you don’t want to have happen is that be true. So I run my core business with KazSource and Abiding Wealth just with some very simple values and it’s crazy, I just pulled the same core values right out of the Air Force which was integrity first, service before self, excellence in everything we do and I think the fourth purpose is being purpose-driven. So if you look at that as just an overall arching philosophy integrity is basically just doing what you said you were going to do and doing it to the best of your ability, doing it excellently and putting your client before your own personal needs and I feel like if we can keep that focus, that is our focus and we keep that focus I mean whether it’s into content marketing or something else, we should be very successful.
Eric: Yeah, well and it’s a lot easier to show up to work every day or not even show up to work because you and I were always thinking about this: when you have that purpose, you have your- many like to say your ‘why’- as to why you’re doing it and this journey that you go on in your business life, it’s amazing how when you go and do your work, how much more meaningful it is and how exciting it is to be a part of that process that we’re in as opposed to getting involved and you think it’s these mundane tasks that you have to do and you don’t look forward to it; it’s the opposite when we kind of come to the office or like I said when we’re doing all these different things. It’s just much easier and it’s fun and it’s what we do in our life.
Shane: Totally, agree.
Eric: So now stripping all that away and forgetting what you do at AWA which is Abiding Wealth Advisors and KazSource, what is your passion?
Shane: I mean I love spending time with my kids. I would say I’m a soccer dad but just seating into them, really talking to them about their legacy, just being a part of the family. I don’t want to go through my life and realize that I spent all this time just building businesses and really didn’t have a good life balance so I mean for me and my passion is really living that life balance where my faith, my family, my friendships, the companies I’m trying to steward, all of those things that they’re doing it for the bigger purpose and it’s not just about making money but it’s also then about teaching my kids that there’s no entitlement anymore, there’s no more just showing up and hiding in a business like maybe somebody used to do ten years ago; it’s a totally different environment out there and I feel like for me my passion is preparing my kids as much as I possibly can for the future and then honestly, I really love just to really just relax. I love to read, I read a lot and I think that would be one of my biggest passions like I’m really into pushing myself to learn a lot of new things so… But I mean honestly it’s just enjoying the time that you have and living in the moment so when the kids games are coming out or Sue, my wife wants to build a medical practice, just making sure that I’m there as a part and I’m contributing to them. I love golf. I get my time away to go play in interstate. Sometimes the clubs aren’t my friend but it feels good to get out there and keep perspective because having those times away also impacts the business in such amazing ways but like you had said, keeping an eye on those passions that really matter actually make you more effective in doing your business.
Eric: Yeah, I love it, I love it. I mean a lot of the similarities and that’s I think why we’ve been able to get along so well over the years but you obviously are family first and have a great balance going with so many different things going on. I know a lot of people will ask, “Well how do you do it, how does Shane do it?” It’s like you said: if all those passions kind of lend themselves to one another, it’s amazing what you can do and like I said earlier, it doesn’t feel like work, it’s just what we do every day.
Shane: You make a good point about that too and just that I’ve had to turn a lot of stuff away that I didn’t want to do and I think that was as we took on KazSource and then there’s Sue’s medical practice, and this type of thing, it was the outlying things that really weren’t my passion I’m not doing. So time is there’s not so much time. So like you said, when I can align the priorities as being more cohesive with family and business and this type of thing but yeah, maybe I’m not going to go on that three-day golf trip- maybe I will- but at the same time having that idea of things are for seasons and knowing like oh yeah, I’m going to be busy but I would say the other part of it is that I’ve worked with people like yourself and David Yoder, Jared and these people on the team that see that, “Hey, my contribution isn’t 24/7 to each piece but as I’m learning something on say Abiding Wealth or in some internet retail class or SCO building whatever, that I’m going to cross-pollinate that conversation across all lines of business because I’m a sharer, I don’t keep any of that stuff to myself. I think it’s a short sighted way of looking at business, I think it’s a pay-it-forward type business environment,” and so you surround yourself with people that say, “Oh, I get Shane,” and then I’m not trying to be something I’m really not disingenuously like oh, I’m trying to balance five hats and somebody says, “Oh, where have you been this week?” and go, “Oh, it really doesn’t matter because ultimately whatever he’s building over here I’m going to benefit from it as well.” And I mean to me, that’s a pretty amazing thing because not a lot of other people would allow me to share my time. Some people it’s more like, “I don’t know, I’m more worried about my own stuff.” Well, that wouldn’t work for me, I couldn’t do it.
Eric: Yeah, that’s well said without question and it lends itself I use that before but it’s just your tie in these things so well together the way businesses now versus the way it was ten or even 15-20 years ago, a passion of mine- if we’re to talk about passion- is the marketing side of things and the way marketing is happening in the year 2017 and on 2018 and as we go. As someone who’s been in business for all these years, what is your perspective on marketing today compared to those years passed and do you think- as a follow-up to that part of it- do you think business owners in there say 50’s and 60’s, the business owners that you’re dealing with on a daily basis- the baby boomer generation let’s call it, do you feel like they’re taking advantage of the way marketing is- have they adapted to what’s going on in the marketing world today?
Shane: I think just overall, the marketing has gotten so different but in so many factors, it’s the same. you go out and you’re sourcing data and back in the day, it was buying a list and Johnny would sit down and would call for 24 hours a day very Glengarry Glen Ross.
Eric: That Johnny was you, right?
Shane: Yeah. Well I mean I did it, I did it. I mean I was a pizza delivery guy and people make fun of me but part of my strategy was I wanted to get in front of CPA’s because I felt CPA’s were the trusted advisor in any relationship and now it’s humble enough to realize that the person doing your tax return. The IRS is the only person is going to take your house, they’re going to take your whatever if you don’t pay up. So when you look at the capitol stock and saying who’s being levered the most outside of a pastor, it’s their CPA. So my goal was getting in front of as many CPA’s as I could and I realized that these people were away from their families during tax season and they were tired they were stressed out and they just didn’t have an escape so I would go around and I’d go by five or six Dominos pizzas or whoever Pizza Hut, and ultimately I realized it was I need to so I bring it, I’m knocking it’d be like seven or eight o’clock at night and I’m driving around and I see oh wow, there’s a CPA firm and there are seven people still sitting at CPA firm, maybe they haven’t had dinner so I’d literally just go knock on the door and say, “Hey, I’m Shane Snively, I’m working with this company. Here’s a gift from me to you, here. I know you guys are in the grind and I know you don’t have time to talk to someone like me, at least not right now but after tax season, would you guys let me come in and talk to you?” And it was probably one of the most profound things I did and it got me into the teaching circuit in the CPA market where I could go teach this North Carolina Society of Accountants and different things but I was kind of feeling like, “Hey guys, I’m in the trench with you in your hard time here,” and it was creative and I built some lifelong relationships from it. So I mean marketing to me is just how far you’re going to take yourself out there and then what kind of conviction you have behind it where I would say the big difference is the access to data that you just never had the ability to see it. if I know you’re an Ohio State fan but I also could have assumed you’re a College of Charleston fan because now I can look at your LinkedIn profile, I can look at your Facebook page and I could see love sports or all that data is out there and it’s free and I think that’s the part that’s so unique about today in selling that you have the ability to kind of profile who you really want to work with because if somebody’s got something on there that they hate this group or hate that group or I really can’t stand this and that’s something that you disagree with, well you cannot call them, you can go to the next person that maybe says, “I love Ohio State Buckeyes, I love this, I love that, I love to spend time with my kids and playing soccer.” Well, if you find that on LinkedIn then boy! You could easily go find somebody that now shares your thoughts as opposed to someone that’s not but ultimately, you still got to make the call, you got to still do the activity to get to that person whether it’s inviting them for a cup of coffee or going and seeing them. It’s not still the point where people are just going to show up at your door and say, “Oh, I love your story and now I want to work with you.” You still got to hustle and you still got to go out there and get it done so I think that would be the only thing I would say is where I see there’s a difference in that 50-60 year old, that 50-60 year old is still already out hustling and if they were to embrace the social media aspect of it and saw just how much easier it is to do the things that they’ve been doing for twenty years, it would blow their mind. So yeah, I do think there’s a big gap in there and now for me it’s trying to help my clients and that’s part of the reason why I was so tied to the content marketing company because I look at it and say, “Well, what a blessing. I’ve been working with all these people for all these years and now I have somebody that I’m a part of that I can actually bring it and help them with things that they really just don’t know about.” But it’s not a huge learning curve when they look at it and say, “Wow, this is so much easier than what I was doing before,” and it really gets them the ability for the first time to have a voice without having to go pay an advertising company or public relations company to go out and like hype them up. Well, this is stuff that they really care about that they can in ten seconds now talk to our content writer or you or John or Scott or somebody like that and say, “Hey, you know this is what I’m passionate about, help me find people that are also passionate about that.” It also could be buying my stuff. So I mean it’s way more efficient than it was but ultimately, whoever is at the helm has to understand you still got to work it, you got to still actively go do it; it’s just not going to come to you and if you sit back and say, “All that Facebook,” or, —“I don’t need that. That’s for those young kids.” Well guess what, the young kids are the ones that are going to be buying your products when you’re dead and gone so you better engage with those people or you’re not going to have a business to transfer.
Shane: So I mean partially it’s finding the youngest people in the room and have them help you learn this or just go find somebody that can actually do it for you. Either way, you can’t ignore it.
Eric: Right. Well, speaking of young people and you’ve been someone who’s hired quite a bit and you’ve managed people, that whole arena like marketing has changed and you’ve already alluded to this that the days of hiding in business seem to be over- I don’t know if they seem to be, I think they are over- , the days of creating value in generating revenue to the top line, that’s the way. What’s your take on that? What’s your take on the job market today and what do business owners need to be ready for?
Shane: Well, I think if you’re a kid getting out of college or a young man getting out / young woman getting out of college, you better understand that incentive compensation is here to stay so if you can’t actually show how you’re being incentivize to the bottom line to contribute, then you should think twice about that company and how you want to work there. Do you want to be the person that’s going to make a salary or are you going to see someone like I was talking about earlier where as you add value, that value is recognized and because of that value, you actually have a higher earnings potential than say somebody that comes out that’s not. I mean I would say my issue is where I would’ve been very quick to hire and slow to fire, where over time I’ve really just built up more tolerance for just holding people accountable and that’s why I stick to these core values of integrity first. So I don’t hold my people to any standards I don’t hold l myself to. So if somebody says I’m going to do something and they say they’re going to do it, I’m going to assume it’s getting done. I’m not a micro-manager but what I’ve noticed is that the generations coming in, a lot of them they’re either I don’t want to do this or I don’t feel like that’s something I can do or it’s very confrontational, maybe a lot of it is confidence or maybe somebody’s been doing everything for them. But I’m not going to do your laundry and I’m certainly not going to cook your dinners; you got to come out here and start producing and you having a degree from Columbia or Wake Forest, that’s great but that got you in the door. Now, how actively are you going to continue to pursue these things so I do a lot without Gardner Webb University and one of the things they tell the kids there is: Look, you’re in competition with all the people sitting right next to you whether you like it or not and what are you doing that’s going to make you different than anybody around you? Well, I mean I look at the internet that’s sitting next to me in the next office, this kid’s in here and he’s already hustling. That matters, it matters a lot. When he goes on his next interview or he goes into his next resume or he goes into his next whatever, or he stays here for the rest of his life, I would love it. That’s real world life experience that you just can’t learn in a book and I mean, in some aspects I look at some of the institutional college in a way, it’s been disrupted heavily as well. Not saying that some of the universities are immune to some of this but most of them are not. When my daughter spends more time on you tube learning how to do things than she wants to be in school, you know that industry is being disrupted. So I kind of look at it as I thought for sure the youth coming in would say, “I can learn to do anything,” because they have so much at their disposal and they’ve been in a raised in the technology. Having the knowledge to do it and then physically doing it though are two different things so I would say I’m a lot faster to let someone go because they don’t show the drive or initiative or anything like that that I expect. if somebody’s putting in the effort, I’m willing to tolerate that and you can actually be less successful in the logic processes of finance or math opposed to the heart or desire it is to actually be successful. I’d rather take nine than the other ten days to Sunday.
Eric: I get it and that ties in close to I think a part of what you’re saying is regardless of what position you’re in, but let’s say it’s someone who’s in sales and we’re all in sales to some degree and we can use– you already brought this movie up ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’, right, that’s the extreme example of what it’s all about but it is sales and earlier we talked about marketing. You started to get into sales a little bit but if you take that person who’s coming here and as we talk to the intern for example, we let him know that one of the best places you can be in that company is contributing to that top line to be in the sales, to be the person that’s bringing revenue into the business. You become very valuable to that company if you can do that. As it relates specifically not to marketing but to sales and creating value, creating revenue for the company, what’s your take on the state of sales today and please, please continue to tie in the movie ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’.
Shane: What I would just you say is that people are very ‘let’s fake it and pretend and da-da-da and all that’, I’m definitely not a fan of any of that. I’ve always felt like being genuine and passionate about what you’re selling really matters. So when I really first got in the business, I delivered a death claim very early in my career and I hadn’t written a guy a disability policy and I thought for sure he would just if something happened when he breaks his legs or something, he was a roofer but he actually slipped off the roof and died and he had two little kids, one was like five or six years old, the other kid was like eight years old and I brought a death claim to his wife and it was the first time in my life I had to really check myself to say, “Did I do a great job- did I do an average job or a great job?” Well, this woman she basically could take that money and she paid off her debt and she helped their kids go to college. I mean she’s since remarried and has a whole different life than what she started with but I mean that made me very, very excited about what I was doing even though it was in a very kind of depressing, morbid type of time. But when you’re in our business and you do sell insurance or you sell investments or retirement or whatever, ultimately when the rubber hits the road, there’s going to be a moment in time where what you’ve done is going to really impact the whole bottom line. Well, if you’re selling and you’re not really getting that impact, your passion isn’t there. So you surely shouldn’t be doing it or you should be finding some other thing that actually you’re passionate about to sell. I can sell disability because my dad couldn’t get disability. So I remember when he had his like third open heart surgery, we literally couldn’t make it and we had to go into programs that where it’s like a work rehab. Well, if it wasn’t for those things… So he had a good disability policy, there’s more options he could have done but when you don’t have those options and you see those things first hand, it really impacts you on how you get passionate about what you do. While I find that there’s a gap and disconnect in the sales industry today where people are selling things they’re really not passionate about or they don’t really feel or find a purpose in what they’re doing so there’s such that it’s like a catechism that they got to go, and so yeah, Glengarry Glen Ross, you tie that in, the whole always BBC closing and what’s it take? All those things are overly stated but I mean telling people the truth. I got to tell people, “Hey you spend way too much money. You spend so much money there’s no way you’re going to be able to take care of your wife and kids in retirement,” or, “Hey Mister, your wife needs life insurance to protect you because you’re the only income earner and if something happens to you whatever…” You have to have boldness and honestly, you just can’t care what somebody else is going to say because if you don’t, you’re really not doing your job and when I married Sue, you know she’s a doctor, she’s like, ” I love my patients but I don’t not tell them they have cancer on their neck because I want them to like me. I actually tell them they have cancer on their neck because I like them because I’m going to take care of them.” So this fear of being disliked I think in a weird way gets in the way of just life in general and plug out to Sandler, I was going to a selling coach, this guy’s name was Jim Dunn, and Sandler is a really great school but they tell you point blank day one you walk in: seek to understand before being understood. Oh, that’s a diagnostic check that’s like checking it out saying, “Look am I really a good fit in here, do I really understand the problems that are here and can I solve them? Well if I can’t, don’t waste time; go to the next one, go to the next one,” and so that would be the one thing I would encourage people is if they’re in sales and they’re struggling, go to a good selling school, go to a process that’s around something. But then the other part of it is hold yourself accountable; keep a cookbook, keep your stats the whole how do you know how well you’re doing without keeping your scorecard? On golf, if you don’t track how many parts you have per hole or how you’re hitting the ball on the driving range, I mean you look at the different levels of statistics that you can follow on yourself now. Well if you don’t want that accountability, don’t go into sales because it is a tough racket because if you just think it’s going to come to you, it’s not going to happen so Glengarry Glen Ross aside, you just have to have convictions I think to be in sales or get on a team work as a team and so in selling David Yoder, my business partner, Jared Audette, my other partner here in Abiding Wealth or you in KazSource, we all have our strengths, we all have our weaknesses. Don’t sit there and struggle doing something horrible at doing; get your teammate to do it. So like you’ve said, I’ve let a lot of people go. Well I mean I’m not going to not feel good about myself if I have to tell somebody that they’re not a good fit to work here anymore but for someone who’s never had to do that before, that’s a big deal. So I mean for me, I don’t want to be the hatchet man all the time but at the same time I’m like, “Well, I’m all about accountability myself so it’s not hard for me to hold somebody else accountable,” and I also look at it as a learning curve. So I would say on the sales side of it and in general, technology is helping but ultimately technology without conviction isn’t going to close anything. So you actually have to still be out there. So not unless it’s the pure internet sale and somebody’s buying some product that you’ve sold off the internet and if you have a retail business and you’re not using the internet, well I mean you’ve been disrupted, it’s time to wake up.
Eric: Right, if you’re selling that $10 widget that you can put on Amazon- although Amazon’s the big winner there- but yeah, I get it. Well then you also have to know on the sale side of things, you have to know where to look, right? so you have the technology, you have the sale skills now you have to understand what’s out there and who who’s in pain, who’s got the potential to be disrupted, who’s got the potential to be put out of business and tied to an article we wrote on Sportspreneur and it was titled “Why the Carolina Panthers need a succession plan’ and we’re not here to figure out whether the Carolina Panthers do or do not have a succession plan, we would not be privy to that information but in it we talked about the way the Carolina Panthers could be in danger of losing their franchise and they wouldn’t be the first team to lose their franchise and it could be as a result of business succession issues and of course I think I was stating we use the Panthers as an extreme example much like we use Glengarry Glen Ross as an extreme example. But the idea was that if the business is not protected properly, the future of that business and everything and everyone tied to it could be out. In the Panthers example, it’s understood the owner’s family doesn’t want the business when the owner’s gone so they would likely sell it upon his death and that could go to anybody, could go to an investor in San Antonio or maybe San Diego or maybe LA wants another team and all they would need is to get the approval by the NFL and everyone can be impacted by it from the employees to the fans to the city which is Charlotte and again, extreme example but taking this and expanding upon as it relates to business owners that you deal with on a daily basis in the succession planning that you do for businesses, how do you tie that altogether?
Shane: I mean I get their attention by not selling first and it’s simple because I don’t come in there with the agenda to sell a succession plan or sell a product or sell anything, I come in there to say, “Hey, tell me about your business, what’s your 800-pound gorilla? What is the ugly thing that keeps you up at night?” And I definitely know that succession planning is a critical issue but what happens if in the middle of the conversation, they said, “I just lost the key salesman I’ve had for 25 years and my sales are in the toilet and it’s tanking,” well the conversation might be, “Hey, let’s put that succession planning conversation on the back burner to get this focus on line X-Y-Z. Oh, by the way, time out, once this is fixed, I didn’t forget about this needing done.” And what I find is if you fix the 800-pound gorilla, you build the trust because you weren’t in there on your agenda, you were on their agenda and if you can’t fix what the 800-pound gorilla is, building the team around you that can but no one wants to talk about their business without them being in it. It’s very it’s very normal I think but when you say well, we spent this year’s in time and initiatives and in all these things to actually build a business, I find that ironic the only time people talk about succession planning is you have to die to succeed which is absolutely not what we’re about so let’s talk about how do you develop your peers, how do you develop second generation, the third generation? How do you actually set up to sell the business, how are you going to value the business? So I mean overall, I think the conversation of succession planning has been very insurance focused and I think it’s necessary but on the flip side of it, it’s always about, the only way I know how to solve this is if you die. That’s a horrible succession plan. So I think the investment banking arm and the financial planning and the seed-based planning that we do really opens a different type of that conversation so we kind of disrupted ourselves to say, “Hey, you need a buy/sell. You need all these things if something happened to you but what you really need first is to fix the problem that’s in front of you and what is that problem because no offence your business might not be around for ten years or twenty years because the idea of having this legacy type business that’s going to be existing forty years from now, I’m not planning forty years from now, I’m planning five to ten years if I’m lucky on most businesses because the amount of automation coming down the line or the amount of robotics coming down the line, you know self-driving cars, I mean there’s a myriad of disruptors out here, well how do you continue to keep yourself relevant in the future? Well maybe you don’t have a business that’s going to be a legacy-driven business, maybe you need to capitalize it as much and as fast as you possibly can and sell your business. So I love the idea of a 100-120 year type business. Well that’s possible but you’re going to have to build like a more of an incubator-type business where you have very, very flexible ways to go about things or you have to take like the old school G.E. style and have multiple lines of business that you can actually go and disrupt but I think the one-trick pony type of one slotted type of animal type business, if you don’t have myriads of marketing channels and if you’re not on the front end of those distribution curves, I think you’re going to find yourself obsolete. So succession planning on is a lot about going into the future so I mean we brought a futurist right into our office, Jared Nichols and the Nichols group and he’s spent a ton of time in here and it’s really about working on us and saying well, where’s the ball going again? And we’re not trying to be like everything to everybody but when you see someone that actually is out in that field works with the SBA, works with all these different think tanks and incubators and universities and all these stuff, it makes you take a good pause to say, “Well that’s the type of talent we need in here to make sure that we’re not falling back.” So I’ve seen the work that he’s done with some of our clients and we’re really appreciative it but I appreciate the work that he’s done even for us. So I think that’s the other way of looking at it is: Non-conventionally, are you focusing on building your replacements? Are you focusing on mentoring that next generation but going back to like even a Jim Collins good degree? Did you find the right people that belong on your bus and if so maybe the things that they’re doing here today aren’t going to be actually what you’re going to need them to do tomorrow but the fact that they can learn, train, mentor their ethics, values and all that stuff, create that job for them in the future. Build around your talent opposed to just running off willy-nilly to say, “Oh, I’m going to disrupt the entire investment business.” That’s a hard challenge but saying I got ten good people here that we can fill our niches and ideas and stop where we can still make a living, I’m good with that.
Eric: Yeah, well I want to pull one quick thing out of there that you said is disrupting yourself and we talk about this all the time, right? We realize that we’ve seen the health insurance industry. If you’re an independent health insurance agent and you’re selling Blue Cross Blue Shield let’s say, you were put out of business overnight when they said you can no longer make commissions off of those products in the state of North Carolina- overnight, you’re out. So we talk about what if the administration came in and said all life insurance is now taxable or some other reason or a competitor came in and took us out, we talk about we can be put out of business tomorrow but let’s put ourselves out of business first before someone or some government or something happening put us out of business. Expand on that a little bit more about disrupting yourself.
Shane: Well, it’s like I have a client of mine that he was an inventor and he literally he designed this thing, it was a breakaway telephone wires where the tree would hit the wire and it looked like almost like the breakaway rim from a basketball goal. The rim would go down and it would stop the brace work from breaking. Well, this thing would just unplug itself so the troop could come back in and plug it in. Well, this guy was way out ahead of everybody and he went to AT&T, he went to– I don’t know who else he went to but ultimately everybody said well no, no, no, we’ve already got these adapters and we already got these and those little plugin things are very expensive and we’re not interested. Well, he ended up taking that technology and he went to Vodafone in Germany and they paid for it and they paid him handsomely for it and it was because it was a disruptor of the whole entire way they thought about a process that’s been there forever but they look at it and said well, the labor, the man hours, the whatever… You look at Tesla right now, they’re building a plant that basically doesn’t have a human in it, that’s their goal. Well, that person doesn’t file workers’ comp claims, that person doesn’t pay insurance, you don’t pay 401K benefits, you don’t, you don’t, you don’t and ultimately as a business owner, you surround yourself with people but the minute you find clogs in your wheel where, “Oh wow, that person isn’t happy to do the job that I need them to do,” well don’t make it a challenge for me to try to figure out a way to not need you because I will spend the next six months trying to figure out a way to absolutely eliminate your position through automation. So part of it is I think it’s embracing automation, embracing these things but also then as an employee-employer, trying to make yourselves continually be relevant and so I’ve learned coding. I mean I’m not a coder but I use VBA and I use Power BI and I’m trying to stay ahead of where is the industry going? When you look at the tools, you’re only as good as the people that you surround yourself by and who you get challenged by so I’ve joined a peer group. So I’ve spent a lot of time with a group called C-12. While it’s a Christian business owners group and their whole focus though is how do you integrate your faith and your business but we spend a ton of time talking about the relevance of your business in the future and we do a lot with they’re called Blue Ocean Planning. Okay, where’s the big deep blue ocean? What is it that you’re missing? What is it that you’re not contributing to? What else could you be plugged into? Well, if you’re not willing to have that strategic time with yourself and actually like you said, look at yourself and say how can I be disrupted? Well, that goes back to the integrity of it. If you’re out here charging fees for things that can be automated, don’t think that in ten minutes that somebody is not going to figure that out. And so that’s where I’m going with a lot this is: If you’re not challenging that norm or that standard and you’re not on the front end of those conversations, don’t be shocked when you’re out of a job.
Eric: That’s it, that’s it and disrupting I think is a word we hear a lot and it’s a fear in a lot of the business owners that we talk to and with it being a concern and a fear, I want to dig a little bit with you. I don’t see disruption as a big fear for you but we all have our fears in our business life, what is your greatest fear in your business life?
Shane: Well, I mean I think for me it’s if I got out of balance. So I think I’m pretty much a workaholic, I really love enjoying what I’m doing and I can get very easily unbalanced so I can start getting so lopsided to thinking about business that I’m not really plugged into my family which actually hurts my business. So I mean I think for me the fear would be more of not aligning myself with the right people or the right business units or something to the degree of I get outside of my flow because then I’m actually not as impactful as I could be. And that goes back to stewardship: Am I being a good steward with my time, my talents and those type of things? And I think it’s hard to do you if you’re not cognitive of it and so I’m trying to journal, I’m trying to again find better mentors to mentor me even and that’s why I think I spend a lot of time reading to try to keep the focus. Stepping back on saying, “Okay, well this is how these people have accomplished so much more,” but then you really dig in and most of the time, there’s this underlying truism that they were motivated by something very bigger than themselves and I think my fear would be losing sight of those things over anything else which I think that’s why you have to surround yourself with people that reinforce those things, not take your way.
Eric: Yeah well, it’s an open answer, it’s a very candid answer. I think all of your answers so far to this point have been, and I appreciate it. I think a lot of people can take away how to stay relevant, how to watch out for disruption, how to find the purpose in what you’re doing and how to continue to stay on that track and be balanced with everything that you are doing so I appreciate hearing those thoughts and I know the listeners will as well. Don’t go anywhere because we are going into some rapid fire questions right after we thank our sponsor.
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So that ends the more thoughtful round of questioning. I want to move to a more rapid fire approach; we’re going to move very quick. You’re the goalie, I’m going to shoot packs at you one after the other so try to answer these pretty quickly, a few may be more difficult so if you have to take your time, go for that so you’re ready to get started on that?
Eric: Alright, cool. So you talked about reading before, what book are you reading right now?
Shane: I wish I could say I’m just reading one book but I’m kind of ADD so I’ve picked up multiple books. I would say ‘ The (mis)behavior of Markets’ is a big book I’m reading, it’s by economists that’s basically talking about a new concept in Math that’s been around forever called fractals and I just love it because it’s talking about how when I was growing up, the teacher talked to you about average; you take these ten numbers, you plot them on a chart and these outliers are those are irrelevant numbers. Well, if you look at mathematically from the markets, you can look at those and say, “Oh wow, that was 2002.” That was the times when you had the same statistical probability of seeing a dinosaur as the same amount of numbers the market’s drop. it’s fascinating because it’s an inward-outward approach so now you go to the outliers and you track backwards, try to figure out where you were and it’s a paradigm shift. So I love the fact that you find people and I mean that’s disruptive in itself and I try to gravitate to those type of authors that are really trying to figure out ways to look at things conceptually differently whether I agree or disagree. I’m reading ‘Numbers Rule Your World’. Just again, it’s a stats book, I was a sociology undergrad so they can’t take the stats guy out. I read this ‘Top 10 SEO Tips.’ Just trying to be much diversified in kind of economy reading. I’m really into this NYU professor, Aswath Damodaran and he’s disrupting the valuation business right now which I think is very instrumental so shout out to NYU.
Eric: Yeah, and so all these books that you just listed, are you reading these paperback hardcover, are you on a kindle or listening to them?
Shane: I’m a Google Play guy. I use Google Play and then a lot of it is E-books like I’ve got a couple books I’ve read paperback like ‘Numbers Rule Your World’, it’s kind of really technical reading and so I have to highlight it and kind of go back and re-read concepts of it but I use my Surface and I highlight on it too so I’m a visual learner but I’m kind of kinesthetic so the more things I get involved with the better.
Eric: Yeah, I get it. So I’ll move on the next one and obviously you’re on your phone quite a bit just like me, what’s your favorite social media network?
Shane: I would have to say LinkedIn.
Eric: Okay, and that’s because you have an opportunity to connect with people all over the place that you otherwise would not have been able to connect with?
Shane: I mean I originally started working in LinkedIn when I was really more in a sales role and what I liked about LinkedIn is I could really profile like the groups people joined to see kind of oh, what are they interested in? I like the idea of having an understanding of where somebody went to school before I would approach them. I mean way back in the day there was a lot of recommending this person, recommending that person. I found that a lot of the people that were recommending other people were vendors to my clients that I also wanted to be in front of so very easily it was, “Hey, these three companies just recommended you on LinkedIn.” “Hey do you have somebody in that list that you could refer me to?” And it was a very easy way for me I think to get referrals but over the years, it was just another place for me to kind of spout off and then the securities business, it’s monitored so it’s very easy for me from a compliance standpoint and what I like about it is I can in two seconds re-share something that I’ve been reading that I find interesting and I built a pretty decent network of people that way but I would say learning more. Facebook wasn’t a big part of my life but its there’s a lot more that I’m getting involved with on Facebook, Instagram.
Eric: What social media do you just not get?
Shane: Well, I’d have to tell you my 12-year old daughter is in love with Musical.ly and I mean she lives on that app. I mean I don’t get it for me because I’m tone deaf half the time but I look at her and it’s her entire life half the time, she’s singing to songs or mouthing to songs but I would say I struggle a little bit with Snapchat. I mean, I love this app, it’s called SoloLearn and I mean it’s literally like teach yourself how to code and it’s free. I mean if you’re not using apps that are out there, MileIQ would probably be another big one for me tracking expenses and that kind of thing. There are a lot of great apps out there that have been developed.
Eric: A lot of CPA’s recommend that one. Is there one app right now on your phone that like you just couldn’t live without?
Shane: Well, obviously email and that kind of stuff on my phone. If you’re not on exchange server by now for Email, I feel bad for you. I would say Excel, Power BI is a big one, Dashboarding, I love QuickBooks online- a lot of CPA’s hate it, I love it, it’s automation but I’m not managing huge inventories either so… I just like the data now aspect of seeing things in five seconds where I can get a gist of something so I can move on to the next thing, move on to the next thing. Those are powerful for me.
Eric: Yeah, yeah. Those are good ones for sure.
Shane: I’ll tell you here’s one, it sounds kind of crazy but what’s really good is ‘Bible Gateway’, it’s for anyone that doesn’t– it’s got a voiceover so you can click a button and it can read you a scripture, it can do all kinds of stuff I think it’s kind of cool. Like when you were talking about the audible piece, I found that it’s great when you can hear and so on I’m on a couple podcasts for excel. So I mean I look at my phone as probably one of the most star amazing tools I’m never going to have.
Eric: Yeah, that’s a tough question. I definitely knew before I asked that one that to ask someone kind of like myself that uses the phone as a tool like you just said, that there’s just so many things that you can do within your phone, if I give you your phone in fifteen minutes, I mean you could uncover all sorts of different things to do and who knows what you’re going to come out the other end with but you do have to focus and I tell a lot of young entrepreneurs and young business people to like really hone in on what it is that they want to do, give it a lot of focus and spend a lot of their attention and their time within that. What is the one thing you would tell an up and coming entrepreneur to focus on?
Shane: I mean I’m a storyteller so like my world is go watch the movie ‘The Replacements’. Keanu Reeves is the replacement quarterback and he’s walking off the field and Gene Hackman looks at him and he’s off the field and it’s like a real quarterbacks there and they’re losing the game and the woman’s like, “Well, what do you need to win?” and, “How are you going to do this? “And he says, “You need heart.” The woman is like “Excuse me?” He’s like, “We need someone that’s got heart.” And I think if you’re an entrepreneur today, you really have to have an insane amount of passion and heart about what you’re doing because it can’t be just some kind of by-product of an idea because the iterations of that idea are going to change hundreds of times. You’ve really got a love it or it’s just not going to be successful. You have to have a really firm commitment to it and then you have to have a really amazing support network around you like your spouse like my wife is just amazing. She believes in me. And so if you’re an entrepreneur, first be financially in a position to do what you need to do but if that’s the out to get out of the financial position you’re in, you’ve got to be all in. You can’t be any of this, “Oh I’ll do this on this lie or ten years from now da-da-da…” Well, either you’re going to do it or you’re not. I find the tweener entrepreneur, they really struggle. like I’m going to run this website part time on Saturdays, he just never really gets it and they’re like oh I’m an entrepreneur and I’m like, “Well, okay well you are; you’re trying something but writing that magic phrase isn’t going to cut it; you’re going to have to really get on it.” And so I would say that’s my advice is when you say: well, what is that they need to focus? They need to be focused, not to you know…
Eric: Yeah, I get it. So now, a personal story, quick personal story that got you where you are today. And you’ve talked about a lot of different ones but do you have another short one you could share with us?
Shane: Honestly I would say a lot of it has got to do with the relationship with my father. My dad was my biggest mentor but he was one of my biggest cheerleaders and what he was really amazing at doing was talking to me about being grounded, and being grateful and thankful and when he passed away I was very lost for a while and what I’d say is a great thing is the support system where I was talking about is: if you really show your heart and you really get out there, people really will appreciate it and they give it back, people give it back. So I would say for me, it’s the more I’ve paid it forward, the more I’ve shared, the more I’ve been open about sharing anything I constantly have knowledge, whatever ,the more I get back and I mean it’s a very powerful concept and just staying grateful about it. I mean as difficult as it is losing say your father, or a spouse or somebody like that, I’ve been so inspired by the windows that I minister to and work with because the amount of passion and convictions a lot of them have about going and rebuilding and living and whatever, it’s inspirational and so I try not to get too wrapped up in my head. I try to look at them and say how can I serve these people? So that would be a big one for me is just when you walk through those things and you see the reality of those things play out, being there and accomplishing it, I mean that’s big.
Eric: Yeah, that’s amazing. I mean you’ve talked to me a lot about your father and I know we’ve had conversations soon after he passed away, you used the text with your father during the Ohio State football games and all of a sudden you weren’t able to do that and you and I talk a lot about sports and I’ve talked and I’ve written an article about how sports matters because it doesn’t matter because it’s an opportunity to bring people together and I firmly believe that and sure we can lose our minds when Ohio State doesn’t score a touchdown when they should have and they settled for three, yeah it’s frustrating but it’s the bigger thing; it’s the fact that you had this close connection with your father based around say Ohio State football or some aspect of sports and we become fans of these teams and we follow these organizations and these players or whatever it might be and there’s a lot of deeper meaning to that and that’s what the Buckeyes have become for you. I mean first of all, you’re from Ohio and you have a close connection not just with your father but with other people as it relates and now we have a connection in that world so I think sports then offers that opportunity. It’s a big reason why we created Sportspreneur to talk about these types of stories not for ourselves, but for other people that use as well and I think that took to you a lot because of that connection you had when you and your father are texting back and forth while you’re in different states and you’re talking about the Ohio State Buckeyes, right?
Shane: Oh yeah. I mean we had like a five-second delay or a three-second delay and it was so funny because I could see the play before he would say it and I was like, “Hey dad, guess what, you just intercepted!” He was a Penn State fan ironically but you look at these things and sports in general for me, I played basketball and I loved basketball but it was where it built your character. It was something that I could control, something I could put my time in, somebody didn’t have to tell me what to do. I could go sit at the basketball court and shoot 100 free throws if I wanted to. And when you’re a kid and you’re trying to grow up and everybody’s telling you what to do all the time, yeah you’ve got to listen to your coach and that kind of thing but there’s so many times when you’re by yourself on a basketball court or on a tennis court or wherever, it’s just you and your game and it’s something that you have the ability to try to control and master. Well, it’s no different business. it’s what are you doing in your off-time that matters and so I kind of look at that as where a father and son can build a bond or even a business to business owner when you can start sharing those types of real things or even if it’s when you share rivalry. We’ve got employees here that work for — they’re the big house guys.
Eric: Yeah, you don’t say their name, that’s right, there you go.
Shane: Yeah again, I have more respect for that person because they get the rivalry, you know? So yeah.
Eric: I get it. So now picking that pace up and kind of going into the actual sport of it, now, not for the team that you think will win it but the team you would like to win it. If you could pick- and I probably know the answer to this and so does the audience- but if you could pick one team of yours to win it all this upcoming year, which team would you choose?
Shane: For basketball?
Eric: Any sport, any sport. I’m assuming it’s Ohio State, yeah okay.
Shane: Absolutely. Oh wait.
Eric: So I have to ask because we just like to get a feel for people on here, we’re going to have a lot of this. This is the first episode but we’re going to a lot of people coming on from all over the country and I’d love to know if they only could pick one team, what team is that? Now for some of the people I talk to, I’m going to know the answer before we even start the interview but it’s good to know and hey, you never know what you’re going to get on the other end of it. I know you’re a huge college football fan, you still follow the NFL. We’re going to ask this question to all the people that are on the show as well and we can look back and see who was right and who was wrong but who do you think- if you just had to pick one at random it doesn’t matter- who do you think is going to win the Super bowl this year?
Shane: I want the Steelers to win.
Eric: Okay, I think I know why.
Shane: And basically my dad was a Steelers fan. If you come in here to our office, you’ll see we have a dart board up here and it’s the Steelers dartboard and my grandpa was a coal miner and if you walked into that guy’s house, he’s putting a Parrot’s hat or Steelers terrible towel in your mouth. And it was you’re a Steelers fan chain and that’s how it’s going to be and so we have a tradition, love for my grandpa, my father and that type of thing. Terrible towels baby, Wuhu! Go Steelers!
Eric: Yeah. I love it, this this stuff runs deep. So now we know you’re rooting for Ohio State to win their college football playoff but since you are such a college football fan, who do you think will win the college football playoff this year?
Shane: Man, Clemson was tough.
Eric: You think they’ll repeat or do you think it’s like an Alabama?
Shane: I mean I honestly think we’ve got a shot at it. I still think the Ohio State has got a good shot at it this yeah.
Eric: Hope you’re right. Oh, Jared’s in the office too, he’s a big Georgia Bulldog fan so they have a good team coming back.
Shane: I really think though that I mean I think Clemson has got just the momentum going with them. I wouldn’t be shocked if they did a repeat. I know it’s a hard thing to accomplish but I just like the culture that they built around the people there.
Eric: Yeah, they never replace their quarterback, that’s their one issue but they still have a lot of talent there.
Shane: Well, I just think it goes back to the love that this guy has for his teammates and our first players. I think he’s trying to create a different culture there to kind of look at what Urban Meyer’s done for the Buckeyes and rebuilding culture. The fact that now you can really clearly tell there’s a caring about the athletes over just winning. I mean it’s pretty amazing.
Eric: Yeah, it helps it helps build the culture for sure. So Shane, I know a lot of people are going to want to connect with you after hearing this podcast and I’m going to encourage people to reach out to you, what is the best way for someone to reach out to you? This could be social: Twitter, Email, and phone.
Shane: I’m on LinkedIn, Email. I mean I would say those things are probably my best way of getting me.
Eric: And I would agree with that, knowing you I think LinkedIn is a great way to reach out. So Shane, it’s been awesome having you on this podcast and for those that don’t know, Shane is a major reason why this podcast is happening right now from the encouragement he gives to the ideas he loves to the connections he is able to create to his excitement on the current state of content marketing. The work he does matters and it allows KazSource to do exciting things like this podcast. The perspectives he brings to our business all the time and on this podcast specifically are now perspectives you as a business owner and entrepreneur can use for yourself and for that, Shane thank you. And for any business owner or entrepreneur that needs to set their business up for success now or for the future, I would encourage you to meet with a person like Shane. The bottom line with Shane is he has way of making things happen in a genuine way and if you have questions about anything discussed on this podcast, feel free to reach out to me. You can contact me on Twitter @Eric_kaz or with the same name on Instagram or you can find us at kazsource.com with links to us and the different social networks. Thank you for listening to our podcast ‘Entrepreneur Perspectives’, building and protecting your business one podcast at a time and Shane, thank you very much for being the first person on this podcast, I appreciate it.
Shane: Man, I really appreciate it too, I really do. I thank you for all the opportunities that we’ve had to do what we’re doing. I feel very blessed and I do look forward to talking to anybody that wants to talk about what we’ve discussed today.
Eric: Excellent and that’s it for now until next time, see you later.
Eric: A big thanks to Wes Connor Insurance for their support to the insurance community and for sponsoring this podcast. Thank you so much for listening to this podcast, it’s a big deal to us. We hope you found value in it and if you did, we would be incredibly grateful if you gave us a review on iTunes. Remember to subscribe to this podcast and feel free to share it with anyone you know. More than anything, thank you again for listening, we appreciate it.