45,000,000 designs? Believe it? I have seen it so I know it is real. Mike is a great example of a tech company that enters the ecommerce world to sell. Oh, btw.. he is the tech company. He explains why developing a niche can still help you build out the lifestyle business you want. Even in today’s crowded marketplaces.
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Transcript: (note- this is a new tool I am trying out so it is not perfect- it does seem to be getting better)
Mike: 00:00:00 Probably said, Duh. Yeah, it has, I mean, merchants had a huge impact because it brought like, it brought a lot more sellers to the platform without having to have that printing background experience.
Cool voice guy: 00:00:10 Welcome to the commerce mobile guest. We’ll focus on the people, the products, and the process of incomers selling today. Here’s your host, Steven Peterson.
Stephen: 00:00:24 He wanted to talk a few moments about some sponsors scope from sellerlabs. Um, when’s the last time you created a listing? Right? And when you create that listing, you’ve got to come up with the keywords, right? It’s all key word dependent. I don’t care if it’s a private label or wholesale. You’ve got to get it right. Well, what’s the best way to get it right? And if you’re selling a similar product that’s really successful, you go and you take and use their keywords and that’s what scope does for you. So phenomenal tool brought to you again by seller labs. The leaders in technology when it comes to Amazon, right now, they are just crushing it with all their products, but scope allows you to get that listing right. Get ranked for those key words as fast as possible, therefore you get the sales. So go to sellerlabs.com, forward slash scope.
Stephen: 00:01:13 Use the code word momentum. Save a little bit of money. Get some free key words to test, try it out and see if you see an improvement. If you don’t adjust, what’s cool about what I love about a seller labs is that you then message and say, Hey, I didn’t get this right tyler. Hey Jeff, this isn’t working right. What am I doing wrong? And Boom, you’re going to get the help you need and that’s what you’re going to get from seller Lamson. And it’s a very special group that had been very. I’ve been very fortunate to be connected with them. And again, I look over time they’ve delivered every single time, you know, same thing I can say for Karen from solutions for ecommerce. I mean, she’s been carrying my account for a couple of years now. Um, and our account, my wife and I, and she really does handle things for us.
Stephen: 00:01:54 Um, I mentioned, uh, just last week we created a new listing with, I forget how many variations, but again, all the flat files uploaded done as I needed. I pop in, so she’ll send me a template, I pop in some information and then boom, it’s handled, await. These pictures weren’t done right, blah, blah, blah. This UPC, Nita poom modified adjusted. And again, the communication’s been phenomenal too. I get an email back saying, hey, this was done or this, you’re missing this, Steve. Hey, you got to do this. So, you know, we had those challenges too and that’s why I like working with somebody who’s been doing it. I’ve been doing it for a long time to do, you know, Karen also does listings for Ebay. Yup. Lots of them. So if you want to build out that channel, which of course you should, it’s q four, you should be selling everywhere.
Stephen: 00:02:38 You can, um, Karen can help you with that too. So you gotTa tell her I’ve sent you. So you’re going to go to solutions four ecommerce forward slash momentum. You’re going to save 50 bucks every single month. You’ve got to save that $50, but more importantly, you’re going to get an inventory health report. Um, did you just get hit with monthly longterm storage fees? Well, guess what? If you haven’t, they’re coming. You want them to get that inventory right and she can help you with that. You gotta tell her I sent you again, solutions, the number for ecommerce forward slash momentum will get you into that. Save the 50 bucks. Get that inventory health report though. That’s really, really important. Get that going right away. And I don’t want to miss my coach when it comes to retail arb or online or when I have a question.
Stephen: 00:03:17 And I do not that we don’t, we don’t really do much of it anymore, but when I do have a question, I go to Gaye Lisby because why? Because she’s really gas a coach. I mean, she’s really phenomenal, but she also puts out a daily list and you’re going to get that list five days a week. You’re going to get tons of leads. The number of, uh, agreed to amount that you’re supposed to get. She least, she usually gets to those in the four days and then the fifth day seems to be a bonus most of the time. Phenomenal Group, small amount of buyers where this list is going to. And the best thing is the nuggets that you learn. Hey, why is the red one better than the blue? One Gaye can help you with those questions. I saw. Hey, I got, um, I got to the dreaded letter about a brand.
Stephen: 00:03:57 Here’s the, here’s the way you approach it. Hey, receipts. How do you, what’s the best practice? I saw her leading instructions, teaching me the accountant how to do a better job with it. And it’s phenomenal. So it’s Gaye Lisby. He’s made a million dollars selling. I’ll have the link in here. You’ve got to use the, my, my link and it does help me. I don’t want to say it that way, but um, it’s part of amazing freedom with Andy, slam inslee, Iran, Hirsch corn, and nate’s lamins. So, you know, you can trust. Okay. So come back to the website, take a look at it, and you will get a savings and you can get two weeks free right now only through my link. You get two weeks free. Try it. You don’t like it? I get it back off. But right now is the time to make money.
Stephen: 00:04:40 Get cash flow going right now. And so join you. Get two weeks free. The only way you’re going to get the two weeks for if you use my link, it’s on this episode. Come on out and give it a try. You will not be disappointed again. You’re going to see me in there. So reach out if I can help you too. Let’s get into the podcast. Welcome back to the ECOMMERCE momentum podcast. This is episode 300 and Sixty Mike Perillo. Alright, get ready to have your mind blown. Um, we are going to talk numbers that let’s see, seven, eight, nine digit numbers and you’re gonna. Be Like, oh, no way. I’m telling you, I’ve seen it. It is absolutely true. And you’re gonna. Be like, what? I’m telling you, this will blow your mind. The best part of this conversation is the advice you’re going to get on building, um, and recognizing the value of your team in ways that you wouldn’t think.
Stephen: 00:05:32 It’s interesting. The ways we use to filter resumes is the way that Mike and his team, uh, takes advantage of the way steve’s used to filter resumes by recognizing talent and not excluding talent. Um, and that’s, that’s such different thinking, um, but it’s so valuable and hence the reason he’s able to have retention and, and, and develop team members and help them be the best they can be. And hence the reason they’re having success. So I know that’s kind of cryptic, but it’s absolutely worth listening all the way through because he dropped so many great examples of what you can do to develop people and he realizes the value that they bring. Um, it’s not a technology only business. There are people involved and they can be the best asset you have. So let’s get into the podcast and welcome back to the moment and podcast very excited about today’s guest because it’s so different.
Stephen: 00:06:30 It’s so related, but it’s so different than what we do because it’s self built. What we’ve been told is you need to sell on Amazon or you need to sell on Ebay. Um, those are the marketplaces and you need to take advantage of their market because it’s too hard to build out your own marketplace. Well, my guest is going to say it is hard and it’s a barrier to entry, but it can be done if you have the right mindset. And I’m very excited to hear about this mindset. Mike Perillo. Welcome Michael. All right. How’s it going? Yeah, that’s great to talk to you because it’s been awhile. Last time we were together, we gotta we gotta tell this conversation because it was such a good meal. And it’s funny because, uh, that’s the way the conversation started. This is such a good meal. It was in Vegas.
Stephen: 00:07:17 I’m a as well. I know we weren’t there for asd. I don’t know what we were there for some conference or whatever, but, but we ate at Morimoto’s and I don’t remember which hotel that was in. Uh, mgm, I think that was, believe it was an mgm, the best thing of the meal was like, I forget how much it was, but it was basically the waiter decided what we were going to eat and that was so cool. That was just such a good meal at that time I was a pescatarian, I wouldn’t eat meat, now I eat meat, but at that time, um, you know, he brought all kinds of fish. It was such a great meal. Yeah. I really enjoyed myself that night. How about yourself? Uh, yeah, it was great and it was a lot of good people that were there and we had a lot of good conversation and yeah, like you said, the food was amazing.
Stephen: 00:07:58 So yeah, the conversation, the thing that stuck with me, I mean there were many things that stuck with me. You and I sat next to each other, but um, and there were some, there were some real depth, real large sellers. They’re just smart people. Um, the thing that really struck me in our conversation was when you were describing passionately, I mean, I could see it, I can hear it in your voice about the, I mean, it really is ai technology that you have custom built for you. I mean, it really is because it creates it on the spot. I mean, I don’t, I don’t know how to. I don’t know of a better ai example that I actually know somebody who’s done it just because I know you now. So I actually know somebody who’s done it. It’s so cool to me though that a, you think that way. Um, to me that’s, that’s exceptional that you have that mind capacity to think that way. But the passion in your voice, you weren’t bragging, you were very humble about it. But that is so cool, dude. I, that. Does that stuff sink in for you or is that. It might be hard for you to hear, but I mean, you don’t realize how inspiring that is.
Mike: 00:09:03 I mean, you know, it’s just something that we do and some that we conceptualize and we plan and then we get to kind of get gone and you know, it really, I don’t know, it doesn’t really hit home until you do talk to somebody else about it. And they’re like, wow, that’s crazy that you do that. I’m like, well, yeah, I don’t know. It’s just like what
Stephen: 00:09:21 being cool and you never thought you were going to be cool. Right? All of a sudden you’re the cool kid. Like Mike made the coolest dude. I mean, you made it. All right. So now it’s Steve’s cool. So put it in perspective, but it is cool and I think people will be very excited to hear about it. But, but before we go there, I want to know how and why you got into the shirt business. I mean, why, why shirts? Why, uh, why design? Why Technology? Because you’re a tech company really, aren’t you? I mean, when you say that,
Mike: 00:09:54 I mean, I’m a tech guy, we’re a print on demand company, but yeah, it was a, it’s an interesting story. Um, I started playing with computers when I was probably in like fifth, maybe, probably earlier than that, probably like second or first grade. And I built my own and I was doing all this crazy stuff at the time. I hit like eighth grade and
Stephen: 00:10:13 I mean, what’s the crazy stuff? Give me an example of something that
Mike: 00:10:16 we are trying to figure out how to print tee shirts actually when I was like in eighth grade and none of this technology existed and how to like make stickers and stuff like that that when I was young, that’s what I want to do is like, I always had these funny ideas for sure it’s. But I couldn’t figure out how to do it. And obviously it an eighth grader I failed because I didn’t have a job and I didn’t have money in my, my parents were um, they were putting me through private school. So basically I was like, you know, I was the kid that made it to private school, but all my friends were driving like nice car by the time we get to high school, all my friends with driving the nice cars. And we were just kind of getting by. My Dad worked a lot. Um, he was very supportive of everything and he was actually kind of a
Stephen: 00:10:53 why private school, dumb white private school. What were they? Was it the environment of the public school or did they recognize in you or they have the regular parent expectations? Our son is very bright.
Mike: 00:11:04 Um, my dad actually went to private school and I think it was just kind of like a, like maybe a religious thing to grow up Catholic. So it was kind of just, I don’t know, it was never really a question until I went to college and I went to, like, I didn’t go to a private college. I went to a public college. But yeah, all through grade school and high school was private. Okay.
Stephen: 00:11:25 Alright. So you, you, did you have the, did you have access to technology and private school? Um, that, that was different than maybe public school?
Mike: 00:11:36 It’s funny you asked that actually. Um, yeah, we did. And I became like the computer tech school. I, I swear I was like, you’re a nerd are officially under. I, I, you know, I wasn’t a nerd but I did a lot of sports and stuff too. I was kind of just a chameleon I guess and kind of like fit into a lot of different crowds and you know, I would build a computer and then go out and play basketball with all my friends on the court and you know, do stuff like that. So, um, yeah, we had access to the technology back then it was pretty early on. It was like, you know, the, you know, all the computers were like 40 sixes and it was like 16 or 256 colors on the screen and it wasn’t anything that I don’t even think I backed in. I don’t even think dial up was kind of even coming into popularity yet. Uh, you would detect guy for the school? Yeah, they hired me over the summer to actually rebuild all the computers and like put them in all the classrooms and set them up and make sure all the software and like windows was installed and all that stuff. And how old were you? Uh, let’s see. I was in probably when I was probably in sixth or seventh grade, so what’s, I’ve been like 10 or 11 I think. Oh my goodness.
Stephen: 00:12:39 That’s crazy. That’s cool. Let me get those. Got To be very cool memories. Um, and end, when you look at the path you chose began again, you run a print on demand company and we should call it that. However, my opinion, it’s the tech side that, that’s probably your biggest forte. Yeah, it lead you right there.
Mike: 00:12:59 Yeah. Yeah. And like the t shirt and they want to make tee shirts and stickers and then plus like the kind of a tech growing up and tech and things like that. Kinda did it. It was just many, many, many, many years later before I actually ended up back or maybe even starting in the print world. So
Stephen: 00:13:17 when, when, um, when I think of most tech people, they’re very analytical. They’re very organized. They have a very succinct mindset right there. Very. However, um, people who develop some of the developers are very creative. What would you say you fall on there?
Mike: 00:13:35 Um, I’m probably like, it’s funny you mentioned this, we’re actually going through, um, personality profiles and tests at our company right now to get a better understanding of who’s falls into which category.
Stephen: 00:13:48 Actually, I’m sorry, could you repeat the question? Well, which one would you say you fall into? Are you more creative or are you more analytical and organized in that? Because it went up when I think of a programmer right there, you know, they, they envision where they’re going and they build these steps and everything’s, you know, when I learned to program it was, you know, you numbered them 10, 10 steps between because you were going to add more code later, you know, this, I’m really dating myself way back. But uh, I didn’t have that ability, you know, I’m not. That takes a different mindset.
Mike: 00:14:16 Yeah. I mean I’m probably half and half. Oh, interesting. Yeah, I mean a lot of things we do are analytical, you know, did we look at a lot of data and we make decisions based on that. But you know, we’re in the print on demand space and we largely are a pro, our own products business so we have to be creative too. But I would say that kind of those things go like two fold, like a lot of times you look at a lot of data and you’ll have to come up with something creative for, you know, like a tool that we need to build or something, you know, like thinking outside the box and it’s like I take a look at all these things that everybody’s doing in. A lot of them are like cookie cutter. Um, especially like the print on demand guys, they all kind of follow a lot of the same path.
Mike: 00:14:54 So I’m like, well what if we, you know, used automation to do this or you know, we did a lot of things differently than they were doing and I think that’s where a lot of success came, came from. And then also like kind of building on what’s already out there and seeing what other people have done and taking their ideas and, you know, not stealing them or anything but necessarily like looking at what people did and be like, okay, I can do this differently and I think that we can automate this and make this a little easier.
Stephen: 00:15:20 And that’s allowed you to scale. Uh, I mean, would you say that that if you look at your number one reason for success, it’s scale? Yeah, definitely
Mike: 00:15:28 being able to scale using technology and being able to custom write our own in house tools and applications and things like that, that really just kind of like work with our company. You know, they’re not, I’m not going to, most of them I probably wouldn’t turn around and sell or offer as a service at the moment. But there are a few things that we have worked on the world. Like, you know, this really could actually be beneficial for other printers out there because it’s, it’s interesting, the print world is kind of not techie. Like, there’s a handful of people, but there’s not a whole lot of software applications.
Stephen: 00:15:58 Well, it’s not sexy. It’s not sexy. I mean everybody thinks that, you know, um, well a, the print on demand world is really just starting to get exposed to the masses. Right. I mean, not everybody. I mean, think about it. When you needed a tee shirt, where would you go when you were a kid and you wanted to tee shirt other than creating your own, like you nerd. Where would you go? Where would you get one? Yes. See, here’s the coolest place is if you went to the mall and he went to and they didn’t exist when I was a kid. Was that a, what’s that place? Spencer’s gifts. Oh yeah. My kids. My kids went there and it was, yeah, it was pretty. That was where you would get one of those crazy shirts with a saying on it. There wasn’t a lot, um, you know, way back. So. So I, I think it’s never caught on because it’s not sexy and now it’s, you know, even printing, I think it’s like skipping the printers. It’s going right to the Amazons, which is new, but I mean the tee springs or the red bubbles or whatever. The other company shirts. Yeah. Spreadsheets, right. It’s Kinda skipped everything. However you have it. When, when you thought about, I mean, the idea for the technology. First off, let’s just give people perspective. How many shirt designs do you have? Come on, say it,
Mike: 00:17:08 200,000 shirts.
Stephen: 00:17:10 Now everybody’s going to say bullshit right there. Going to literally say you’re full of Shit. And then I remember you pulled something up on your computer, your phone, because I was, I was, I didn’t call bs, but I remember us and Europe and now I was drinking a little bit. You were drinking a little bit. We were, you know, uh, I do remember seeing it. I’m like, oh my God. I’m like, I was, I had to take a step back. I mean, it was really, it was, it was hundreds of thousands. Yeah.
Mike: 00:17:37 Everybody’s favorite party game with these, uh, dinners that we go to. It’s like how many skews does Mike have on Amazon or how many skews do you have period? Well, on Amazon at at one point in time, I close to 100 million skews and going to say no way. That’s impossible. Yeah. And we, we did it through automation like we’ve Kinda been talking about, uh, as of right now, I’ve got about 45 million Sku’s and I mean, you know, a skew is a design style size and color variation. So, you know, they’re all organized well and like, um, you know, variation relationships and things like that. So it’s not like we’re like overpopulating the masses, but, you know, we built automation that would help us with this because we realized early on that um, for what we were trying to accomplish, which was, you know, make money and grow the company and things like that. We weren’t gonna be able to do it by hand. So
Stephen: 00:18:27 now at this point, the $45 million you that when somebody places an order, the order comes to you, you print the shirt, correct? Yes, correct.
Mike: 00:18:36 So, um, we do, we deny our own design, we do our own listings and we basically do our own distribution direct to consumer. Um, so yeah, it’s, we’re the full gamut even though for the most part we kind of don’t want to be, but it’s just how it worked out and it’s no, I don’t know, I guess we figured out we were good at it all the way through the process.
Stephen: 00:18:55 Yeah. Your infrastructure’s in place and it’s been in place for how long would you say? No.
Mike: 00:18:59 Um, we started, well, I started selling in 2006, but we got on Amazon in 2011. Okay. And since then we’ve been refining our production process, you know?
Stephen: 00:19:10 Yeah, six good years. I mean it’s realistic to say and, and I asked this question and you were of course saying yes. Um, I asked the question, I remember talking about, you know, what is merged onto your bed. Has It affected your business? And you said, of course. Yes. Thank you. Thank you. Call me dumb at that point. Yeah, it does.
Mike: 00:19:29 I probably said A. Yeah, it has. I mean, merchants had a huge impact because it brought, like, it brought a lot more sellers to the platform without having to have that printing background experience. But um, what it didn’t bring was good designers. So what I mean by that, and I’m not putting anybody down, but I mean like, you know, there are, there are certain ways to make designs that only like if you know your equipment, you know what it’s good at and when it’s bad at. So, um, I see a lot of designers out there that I know won’t print very well using the print on demand technology, for example, like large blobs of red on mostly shirts, whatever the problem with a red pigment is, is you know, it just will not come out well and then you mix that in with merchant. Maybe I’m kind of inexperienced printers or you know, whoever works in their facility probably doesn’t know the, the equipment up and down and back and forth.
Mike: 00:20:19 So you kind of end up with two people at that point that don’t know how it works and you can create a lot of bad designs. So I’m merged. Definitely brought visibility to the print on demand world. And then in some ways it actually helped us to. Interesting. Yeah. We had good design, so we were still popular and we’re still relevant and we still continue to be because our designs are, you know, our quality is good, you know, we’ve sold on Amazon, we basically sold on any, on a platform for feedback for, you know, since 2006, so we’re very familiar with, you know, things like the customer wants to get a good product and not a crummy printed product or else you get bad reviews, et cetera. So yeah, we focus on quality over quantity, at least in our production process.
Stephen: 00:21:06 Are you, so you’re not selling the cheapest shirts?
Mike: 00:21:09 No. Um, we, a long time ago we figured out that people, um, people that weren’t really familiar with like the tee shirts and stuff like that, you know, if you sent them a thing shirt, even if it was like a really good quality shirt, they would think it was cheap. So we print on like some heavy duty shirts and generally we don’t get complaints on that end. It’s kind of just that, I don’t know if it’s like a mindset or whatever, but it’s like when they get something that feels like strong and tough and durable, they’re like, wow, this is a good product. Even though it’s cheaper than that thing. Sure. If that we could have sold them. That might’ve fit a little bit better now.
Stephen: 00:21:39 You know, like some people are listening to this and is it possible for somebody to do exactly what you did and do it out of their basement or garage still in this day. I mean, is there a way that somebody could actually earn a living, you know, with the old transfer, the heat transfers or I guess now you can get printers, but, but is it possible to still earn a living doing that as opposed to merge or, you know, using one of these print on demand companies?
Mike: 00:22:06 Absolutely. I mean, honestly, sometimes I miss the days where I did this out of my house and um, I can tell you a little about how I got into it and maybe it’ll inspire somebody else out there. Like we talked about. I, I start early with tech background, I worked for several tech companies. I actually worked for Google for awhile and while I was at Google I realized I had a mountain of debt and um, I wasn’t really making enough money to, you know, pay off my debt. I was Kinda just floating along, so I had this idea, I was like, I need to figure out how to make money while I sleep and because I had no time, I was commuting three hours a day and then I was at work like eight or nine hours and then they always have like, after party events that expect you to go to.
Mike: 00:22:44 So I was like, I gotta figure out how to make money while I sleep. So what I did is I bought a broken, um, large format printer, which is like the ones that print out the giant posters and it was broken and I was like, I’m going to figure out how to make money with this thing. So I took it apart, I figured out how to fix it. And um, I figured out I could do, um, banners and stuff for my friends and you know, I kind of dabbled a little bit in like the um, you know, selling some of the posters on like Ebay. But what ended up happening is, and this just follows suit all the way through to today is my friends would come along and they’d be like, Hey, so you can print on that, can you print it on a mug or can you promote a t shirt or human stickers?
Mike: 00:23:19 And I’d be like, hang on, give me like, well back then it was like, hey, on, give me a couple of weeks now these days it’s more like, hey hang on, give me like six months. But I would go out and find broken equipment and um, I would figure out how it works just by trying like trial and error and fix it and then figuring out a product I could sell with it and, and then go from there and it just kinda like, you know, it just kind of spiraled and kept going and kept going and kept going. So absolutely you do stuff like this out of your basement, I mean there’s plenty of machines on the market right now that you could buy for, you know, a couple thousand dollars, but you have to think on the return, on an investment like these machines can make you tons of money if you are driven, if you work hard, if you, you know, understand and do, you know, do your research on the market and what’s out there and what people are buying and you know, that little $4,000 investment might be able to make like 40,000 bucks and you know, a couple of months if you get it up and running.
Stephen: 00:24:14 I’m hearing, I mean, I love the idea that you’re keeping your infrastructure costs low because you’re doing the hard work, you’re putting in the sweat equity and what you described, right? And an end and my bed is then you understand how to service it because a lot of cost, uh, you know, having come from the print industry myself, you could get, you get sucked up by techies and a, they’re never on your schedule, right? It always breaks it when you need it, always guaranteed and then getting it repaired. So expensive. So by doing what you’re doing, you’re describing that, but how do you drive traffic? Because I think that’s what people are going to sit there and say. But you know, Steve, uh, Amazon is the marketplace, right when you think, if you think about even print on demand, they’re the 800 pound gorilla now, right there, the lead or a print on demand and yet they only started in the last couple of years. So that was a little guy like you or steve in his little town in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. How does he build enough of an audience?
Mike: 00:25:13 Well, it used to be. And how, you know, that party trick we are talking about where you’re answering my ask how many Sku’s I have. It used to be quantity basically, like the more skews you had, the better off you are. But uh, Amazon has in other marketplaces have now done a little bit of refining to their rules and things like that, that it’s not as easy as it was
Stephen: 00:25:38 to make sure I understand. So because you were so large, their algorithm rewarded you back in the day,
Mike: 00:25:44 back in the day. I mean, there wasn’t really an algorithm and it was like, it was more like quantity. Yeah. So you’re,
Stephen: 00:25:50 your store name was on almost all the listings. Okay. And so, yeah.
Mike: 00:25:54 Yeah. And doing things like, you know, putting in those back end keywords even back then and you know, understanding how to catch somebody’s searching for a random key word worked really well for us. But um, the times are changing. I mean we’re getting more into like, uh, you know, now there’s too much stuff on Amazon and so they’re trying to trim their catalog and um, they’re enforcing all kinds of rules and other marketplaces, like I said, are doing this too. So the key these days is really like good quality listings. Maybe like small runs of designs. Like, uh, we, we do 25 or so have like a certain style or theme now. And then we make sure that we have, you know, good quality photographs on the keywords that are spot on and we use, we use a couple of tools out there that are available to help us with the keywords and figure that out, have a good quality listings.
Mike: 00:26:42 And you know, there’s some, there’s some people out there that have done some crazy things like figure out, you know, if you have 19 words in your description that will index and, but if you have this one word in your title, it won’t index. It’s like crazy stuff like that, but the information is out there, you can find it. So what’s kind of coming around now, what we’re starting to do is get more into that niche kind of thing. You know, like a smaller quantities of groupings of shirts. Um, you know, more more blank products that we can print on, um, with customized designs or even our own designs that are unique. Um, you know, things like that, like flash right now are actually like really popular. And then, you know, the wedding market is kind of like blowing up. And when I say wedding, I mean like Bachelorette, bachelor and weddings.
Mike: 00:27:31 You’re diving down on that niche with everything you got. We’re starting to, yeah, not, not everything. Don’t get me wrong. Like one thing that I will say and I want everybody that’s listening to understand is you must diversify. Do not put all your eggs in one basket because I have a lot of stories I could tell you about how that failed me and how, you know, like four or five years ago we almost went bankrupt because we had done that. So we, we learned and you know, they drove this home in business school when I went to college, but I really didn’t realize it until, you know, some of my success got interrupted by an Amazon rule change. So, um, well what lately, let’s just stay there second because I think that that’s valid. Um, so things are gonna change outside of your control. But if you were honest, would you say that you saw it coming and you didn’t act fast enough or your ego didn’t allow you to, or was it just really them just, you know what I mean? [inaudible],
Mike: 00:28:28 you run a big business now yourself. I mean, could you see that they were going to do this and you just to take action? Yeah, I didn’t see it coming because Amazon makes changes all the time, but I should have read the writing on the wall, you know, the, and the writing really is, um, you can’t control that 800 pound gorilla, you know, they can make rule changes and change something that could put you out of business in a month. And uh, we had an experience like that and it was basically we had had like Dunno, three or four years of like really good experience. No problems. Everything was great. We were moving along. We are growing and uh, the timing was actually pretty terrible for us when it happened to us. We put a bunch of money into new equipment, we moved into a bigger facility and that’s about the time that we automated those listings so we can put a lot out there.
Mike: 00:29:16 And they noticed and then they changed the rule. And then over the next three or four years they changed the rule several times. Um, about how many listings you can have and things like that. So it was a rollercoaster, but what we learned was that you can’t, you know, there’s going to be plenty of people listening to this that are probably thinking the same thing, but their ratio is probably 80 percent of Amazon sales and 20 percent everything else. Um, what we’re doing is trying to reduce that down because you should never have like Amazon as your customer, you’re selling to them, you don’t sell to their customers. So you know, you should never have one of your customers be more than 20 percent of your sales as a general rule of thumb. And I know it’s really easy and it’s really hard to get sucked into this because Amazon is just such low hanging fruit that you can literally put something out there and it sells and then you kind of, it’s almost like a drug.
Mike: 00:30:07 You get addicted to those sales and it’s like, wow, if I do more of this, I can do more of this, do more of this. But what you don’t realize is that’s one customer. You were literally custom tailoring to one customer and like I said, if they decide for some reason they don’t like you or they don’t like what you’re doing, it’s like all that infrastructure and things that you’ve built up and all that money and all that, you know, all that stuff that came with that can just suddenly stop. And so what I want people to know is do not put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify as much as you can, even if it means kind of reducing what you’re selling on Amazon to spend the time working on another platform or working on your own websites or working on driving traffic from facebook to your own website or your own funnel. You know, like take the time to diversify because you do not want to end up in a position where Amazon is gone. All of a sudden, whether it’s they’re against you or somebody else came along and you’re sitting there with a payroll of like 15 people, large place warehouse, full of inventory. Maybe if you’re like me, you have a warehouse full of equipment and inventory. So it’s very important to diversify
Stephen: 00:31:13 and so you’re saying put in the hours but limit those hours on Amazon, especially to me, it’s like what I always tell people, like if they’re doing retail arbitrage and they want to move into wholesale or private label, the answer is keep doing what you’re doing. Just fine tune it because you need the cash flow and then put that additional time instead of adding more to that, you build out this other. So you’re saying the same thing here. Keep doing what you’re doing on Amazon, keep building what you’re building but immediately get them off. Are you recommending to other people too to go onto these other pod sites with their same design? So, I mean it seems kind of simple.
Mike: 00:31:51 I’m recommending that they do whatever they feel like is going to make them more money. So if that’s, you know, going on in these other pod sites, so that’s building their own or that’s, you know, figuring out a way to have, you know, a static. Right. I mean there’s a lot of different ways to do pod to, you know, to make it simple. We have static designs which are owned that don’t change, we’ve got a semi customizable where, you know, it’s an element of the design already exists, like a smiley face that you can change the colors on
Stephen: 00:32:21 or like, hey, Steve’s getting married, right where you could change the name. Okay. So that’s an example. Okay. Uh, and
Mike: 00:32:26 then, uh, and then a fully customizable design. So I mean the possibilities for the pod are really endless and the ideas and all that are endless. It’s just where are you going to sell? What’s going to be your niche, how many of those are you going to be in and how many platforms are you going to be on? And what that comes down to is really how much control do you want someone else to have over your business, over your sales, who you’re selling to because those sites like spreadshirt and you know, Amazon merchant, all those, they, they, they still control whatever you do. And like I said, so if you want full control, build your own website, spend the time driving traffic to it, learn about social media marketing and even in person marketing and word of mouth and all of that. It’s still, everything is still strong.
Mike: 00:33:09 And really the, the thing out there is consumers are still looking for, even though it may not seem like a, even though they go to Amazon, they’re still looking for, you know, positive brands that have a good message that have a good product that have good reviews and there’s still a lot of brand loyalty out there. So those little websites and stuff. I mean I know guys that are doing, you know, $100,000 a month on pod with their own website. They don’t even sell on Amazon. And if you go to talk to him and like I don’t want to, you know, I, I don’t, I don’t want somebody else controlling how my stuff appears or controlling my business.
Stephen: 00:33:47 So we have one friend who does a print on demand. Now he does a or a merchant, but he does it on Amazon. But he takes. I’m so clever, his, uh, and I never thought about this is where be like, Duh. Uh, he’s into art on vinyl record albums. Okay. And those artists, right. When you think about it, I mean, you think of some of the, like kiss for example, as a group one, right? Think of the art on their albums, how crazy it is. Oil, Elton John, I’ll date myself way back, but he had the craziest album, but that artist is famous in that genre. If you’re into it, you know who he is. And he knew who are these guys were. So he approached them and he now represents a couple of these artists and he sells them on all the different platforms and so he has a skill set and he matched his skill set up with somebody and then he, he has taken it really, really far.
Stephen: 00:34:36 I mean really, really impressive. I’m a couple of things that I was thinking about. One, your experience at Google and your ability, you know, I know maybe back in the day, I assume it’s changed since you left. Uh, but the thinking of that algorithm, that whole mindset in Google where everything’s searchable and making everything easier to find easy to find, to become the dominant, is that as a huge advantage for you? I mean, when I was sitting there thinking about that, like, oh my God, of course he has a huge advantage, uh, or he thinks this way it. I mean, I would assume the culture is a thought process like that there.
Mike: 00:35:14 That is so funny. I’ve never actually thought about that and nobody’s ever actually said that. But that makes perfect sense because I worked at Google in 2006. They had already gone through like Kinda there. Boom. But I mean, yeah, the, the, the mantra at that point was like index everything, you know, we’re going to have everything searchable everywhere and we want to be in everything. And it is funny how you say that because yeah, I guess, you know, five or seven years later when I start automating things, I guess that that concept was in my head and I was like, yeah, we’re going to launch like millions of products and we’re going to make a lot of money and you know, we’re going to catch keywords and do things like, you know, Google was doing back then with our search engine. I never really thought about that. But yeah, you actually hit it like a really good point. That’s probably, it’s probably like a deep seated idea that was in the back of my brain that, you know, I was like, I can do this, I can do this, I can put all this stuff out there
Stephen: 00:36:10 and people will buy it. But I was a controller am an accountant by trade. And so everything I was done was risk mitigation, right. Minimize risk, right. Everything we ever done, a reduced costs, reduced touchpoints and minimize risk lay people off to eventually. But that’s where I went. So every time I look at something that’s more my mindset goes, it’s so hard to turn it off for me. And so to me it’s a limit in your case, it’s a, it’s a big advantage. Alright, let’s talk about this because I want to continue to blow people’s mind. So I saw the, the millions of skews. It’s not a lie, it’s all true. I’ve seen it. Here’s the next one that I think people are going to, and I kind of alluded to it at the beginning, the ai portion of it where basically you have developed you and your team and all the leaders at your place have developed the ability to take advantage of a, something that happens in the marketplace and have a shirt based on me searching for it. It will automatically create a shirt. Am I doing it justice? Um, sort of. We use a little bit static
Mike: 00:37:16 information for that. So, um, that would be great if you could do that, but it doesn’t necessarily create it on the fly if you’re searching for a snowmobile or something like that. Um, what it is, is we took a very large grouping of words and we figured out how to make designs based on that. I may not have been the first one to do it because there was a, there was some gentlemen a long time ago that did the whole keep calm and blank on, you know, keep, keep calm and smoke on or whatever you wanna call it. Um, but it’s similar to that concept. And so we took that on a very large scale and created it. What we did is instead of having to make all those mockups and photoshop, we automated the ability to take that design. And um, let’s see, how can I put this in non nerd speak?
Mike: 00:38:10 If you go to a certain url, our software will create that product image on the fly with just the things that are in the url. So you know, if you want to share it says keep calm, snowboard on, you know, we’ve got our domain and then you would have those words in it. We created based on that text, that font and that design and whatever it’s going on. Like a men’s tee shirt or a coffee mug and probably again, we probably weren’t the first people to do it, but we were probably the first people to do it in this market space and in this marketplace that weren’t, you know, spreadshirt or Zazzle or something like that. So we took that and we applied it to products on Amazon and that’s how we listed all those products on Amazon has everything was automated and the software created the CSVS that we needed to upload and then our tool that sat on our web server would create, you know, like when Amazon hit our url for that product image, our software on a website, we create that product image, Amazon with download it and then it would delete it immediately.
Mike: 00:39:07 So there was no like huge space constraints or anything like that. It was like dawn originally we were like creating all these markups on the fly.
Stephen: 00:39:15 So that’s why you ended up with hundreds of millions of listings.
Mike: 00:39:18 Yeah, I mean, and then we figured out that our web servers like filling up. So we figured out that we had to modify our software so that it actually deleted the photo after or deleted that, that thumbnail that Amazon grabbed after it had been grabbed because you didn’t want it sitting on the server forever. Um, and we actually had a server crash at some point where we lost all of our images. Again, another thing you learn is like, make sure you back up everything.
Stephen: 00:39:41 But here we are. We’re in the mindblowing phase because this is really. I mean, I, I understand it’s, it’s, you’re going to downplay it and say it’s really not Steve. It’s a calculator. It’s not a ai, but it really is. They are basically, as you say, there’s a whole grouping, but you can take advantage of current, a current trends in that. In those words, as long as you have addressed them already, somebody could technically create something. It gets created one time cells and all that happens behind the scenes without any human intervention. Next thing you know, an, an order comes your way. I mean, I hope people, a, most of us never understood what you just said. Most of it just you, you tried to dumb it down for me and I’m, I’m, I got most of it. Yeah, part of it, but I didn’t get it all. But it’s, it’s, it’s very cool to me again that you’re thinking at that level, how hard is it to gather together a team because it’s not like you’re living in silicon valley anymore doing this stuff. Right?
Mike: 00:40:36 Well, I am in Silicon Valley, but to tell you the truth, California, I’m in northern California and it is very inexpensive out here for people and um, my team has been built through actually friends and referrals. A lot of my employees are like family or friends or friends of our employees. Um, and uh, we have a particular, and this probably comes from doing interviewing at Google. We have a particularly particularly good knack at reading between the lines on resumes and talking to people and figuring out like, you know, like what, what is their real skill set? You know, they might have something on it like, you know, I worked at a restaurant and I was a bartender or something like that. But what that translates to us as you can work at a pace, so if you’re in our production department, if you’re in our production department, you know there are days when orders are slow and like right now we’re going into q four.
Mike: 00:41:29 It’s like it’s going to be crazy, but they know how to work at a pace. So they get all their work done no matter how much you throw them in a day within reason. And that kind of comes the same with project managers, office managers, people like that as like we very much higher to grow our employees and to give them like resume building things maybe they didn’t have before. You know, like somebody might have come in and been, you know, an office manager, but we’ll send them a training for like hr and safety and things like that so that they have these resume building things. But, you know, we look at things on their resume like, um, you know, this person worked in a medical office, medical office. You have to be very detail oriented. You know, there’s a lot to keep track of.
Mike: 00:42:13 You have to, you have to be very friendly because you realize you’re dealing with people that, you know, might be going through something life changing or life altering are really delicate. So when you look at somebody’s resume like that, you go, okay, this person is a good people person, they’re very detail oriented. Um, and you know, I ask questions like how, you know, where the, the processes in that office established before you got there or did you establish them? And it’s Kinda like if they were say, you know, I, I built the process. You’re like, wow, okay, so you’re an outside of the box thinker or you’re somebody that realizes that there was a need for something and that you created it. And so that’s, that’s, that’s a creative way for us to hire and it, it allows us to kind of bring in somebody that maybe doesn’t have necessarily the experience that we would have been excluded by anybody else.
Mike: 00:43:00 And they’re listening to you. Every other company. We used to use those things to filter out resumes to get rid of them. And they’re looking at it as it’s, there’s a dude, you know? Yeah. And it really creates, um, it really creates that loyalty. I mean, there’s several things. And I was gonna mention that that’s one of the things we’ve been working on a lot lately is, um, you know, like it’s competitive out here, you know, there’s a lot of jobs and you know, a lot of people, you know, they want to work somewhere. They’re comfortable, they want to work somewhere where the company cares about them. And so that’s what we’ve really been focusing on this year is, you know, making, uh, we’ve been trying to improve retention because it’s really easy when you have an entry level job to lose certain people. Um, but we’ve been trying to improve retention by giving them better benefits by sending people to training, by, you know, being aware of what they have going on in their personal life.
Mike: 00:43:53 Not necessarily we asked, but you know, just realizing something’s not right and maybe giving them some leeway if there’s something that, you know, we know that they’re going through, but also like I said, giving them that chance, that opportunity, like, hey, you know, we want to bring you into this thing and like, you know, people very much come in and they’re like, wow, this is amazing that you guys are doing this. And it’s in the creative space where even people that aren’t creative like working for us because they feel like they’re doing something fun, which is Kinda Nice. You know, we’re not selling like window shades or something, you know, like automotive parts. I guess that could be interesting too, but you know what I’m trying to say like, oh, I think you’re connecting with. There’s a connection. Somebody, somebody had an idea they want to have
Stephen: 00:44:32 there or let’s, let’s go to the wedding. They’re getting married and so they want bride and groom and then all the groomsmen and all that stuff. Right? Because it’s the whiskey x. my son been doing the wedding scenes. Whiskey flasks are a number one thing. They’re getting or nice or cigar cutters on the guy side. I don’t know what’s going on the ladies side, to be honest with you. I really don’t. I think they get flasks too, which is kind of interesting anyway. Um, but when you get them put together, I imagine as an employee I would feel really cool. Like, oh my God, can you imagine this wedding? They’re going to die when the. I mean, you know what I mean? There’s a pride. There’s something you’re connected in some way to. Um, so I, I, I could see that being very rewarding as opposed to, you know, uh, welcome to a good burger. Can I take your order? You know, that kind of thing, right. Where there’s no connection whatsoever. It’s pretty cool. I mean, that’s, that’s gotta be one of the coolest stories I’ve heard about employee retention because to recognize, again, I would have excluded all those people because they didn’t have the qualifications. Mike, you know, these, you know, and yet you’re saying these as really strong traits. I imagine the employees feel really great when you recognize that. Yeah.
Mike: 00:45:42 Like, everybody deserves a chance and that’s one thing that we look at it and it works out really well in our advantage because like I said, we do get loyal people, we do get people that want to work there. Um, we end up with a lot of different personality types, which is something that we’re currently working on. Understanding it’s good in bed, you know, I came from the tech world so I’m used to people that are data driven and things like that. And now that we’re hiring, we’ve hired like a salesperson and things like that. They’re completely different personality profile. And so even I continue to learn every single day, even through podcasts and other things, um, you know, like, you know, what kind of personality does this person have? How do I connect with them, you know, how much do I need to give them, you know, how much do I need to guide them?
Mike: 00:46:23 Are they more hands off? And that’s all the way up and down the spectrum. I mean, that can go from, you know, the person that’s creating our mugs all the way up to my operations manager. That’s right underneath me that manages multiple staff plus oversees like our production manager who oversees our production department. So it’s a lot of personalities and a lot of this is the experience like we’ve had, um, we’ve had issues where employees got in fights, not fights, like don’t think like physical fistfights but you know, arguments and then somebody was mad at somebody else for like a month and we didn’t realize that, okay, we need to understand what’s happening here because this is a whole other thing. It’s like, okay, this person’s doing this job, but you know, they have their own things going on in their personal life and sometimes those bleed over into work when they don’t mean to. So we kind of need to understand who’s who, how do they function, you know, what makes them tick, what drives them, what makes them motivated, what motivates them. And obviously we want to stay away from that stuff. So, you know, we uh, have done a lot of research on that communication too, is actually huge. Um, I’ve read a lot of books on communication and we’ve done the hardest. Yeah, this place
Stephen: 00:47:26 is right. Most people fail in their periods in it
Mike: 00:47:29 is, it is hard, like sometimes you can’t get people to talk. Um, and it’s almost really bad if you try to assume you know, what the person is thinking, so you have to find creative ways to find out what’s going on or what they do and a lot of people will freeze on the spot, you know, and you’re like, hey, what kind of learner are you? And they’re like, I don’t know. You’re like, oh, okay. Well do you, do you learn by doing it? Did you learn by seeing it? Do you learn by reading it? Do you learn by watching a video? You know, like if you were going to figure out how to change the oil in your car, what would you do? And the person that I’d be like, well I’d probably go to youtube. Like okay, so you’re a visual learner. Some people would be like, well I’d probably just go out there and pull the cap and see what happened, you know?
Mike: 00:48:08 Okay. So you’re actually a doer and some people would be like, well, I’ll, I’d call my dad and asked him to come over and show me, okay, so you need somebody to physically show you, you know, so it’s like that. It’s just like understanding how those people learn how they think and then taking that and applying it. But it doesn’t work for everybody. Every single person on this planet is different. So you kind of get the overview and then you have to like understand where they’re coming from, what their background is and work with them on certain things. And um, I can tell you one of the best things you can do is add humor and he’s, I’m going to add humor to the workplace. You know, you’re, you, you instantly get people to like open up or you know, break that ice that they’re scared of me because I’m the owner of the company. No, it’s, I’m not like that. Like we’re a team, you know, like from the bottom to the top. We’re a team and everybody usually knows what’s going on with the company from the top to the bottom.
Stephen: 00:48:57 So I’m sitting here listening to you and I’m thinking to myself, okay, where does this come from? Because a urine nerd, a, it’d be your creative nerds, so you really shouldn’t have this management skillset. You shouldn’t have the ability, you shouldn’t have this depth, Michael. But I’m sitting here thinking to myself, is this the way you want to be treated in this? Just the way you wish you were treated? Or maybe you were treated that way and you took the best from that and said, this is where I’d like to be. So others must be like that too.
Mike: 00:49:27 You know, I’ve, I’ve had some bad managers and I will say that, um, you know, throughout the years I’ve learned from experience and you know, I saw what some of these managers did and I’ve had some amazing managers too. Like I can think of a few off the top of my head that were absolutely amazing. They were amazing for their own reasons. Like for me on some of these jobs, I just wanted to be left alone and I wanted to be able to free thinking, do what I wanted to manage my time and then usually I would come out as the top performer, but they would stand behind me, you know, they would stand up for me
Stephen: 00:49:57 and then do they had your back regardless, even when, because I can’t imagine you were right every single time you had to fail.
Mike: 00:50:03 Correct. And then, you know, my manager would see it was, it was really easy for him to see it, you know, that if you asked me a question like why did you do that? I’d be like well here’s my thought process, you know? And actually I kind of do that at my company now. Like if somebody comes to me and they, you know, they made a bad decision, the first thing I’ll ask is why did you, why did you do that? And I looked for that answer. You know, like if they had a rational thought process, and I mean rational, not like they were like, well, I thought it was the right thing to do just because that’s not a good answer and that’s not a good reason to make a decision. But if they were like, you know, because point a point b, point c happened, I thought we needed to skip point d and go to point.
Mike: 00:50:43 He like, okay, so you thought through this and you know, it just, you know, it, it wasn’t a mistake, it was just, it didn’t go the way that you thought it would, but you, you took the time to think through that. Um, and that’s the indication. Again, you’re back to communicating communication. So, you know, like, like I said, I, I, growing up in school, like you said, I was a nerd. I mean, I was, I was a nerd. I mean that in a positive way. But yeah, I love facts. I love history. I love concrete things in school. I did terrible in the um, the classes were like, we’ll analyze this book and think what was the author thinking when they were that I’ve always got those questions wrong and I never thought I would be able to do this, but as I got older, as I got wiser is I had a lot more experience.
Mike: 00:51:26 I realized that the way that I was doing things where everything was based analytically and on data, a person doesn’t always think like that. They don’t know. Their brain isn’t a computer. It’s an amazing thing, but it’s gonna have little inferences and influences from other places that are going to make it do certain things. And the best way to do it is to, you know, not categorize people but just understand what their personality type is and how to do it. And yeah, it’s, it’s been an interesting journey with a lot of training. Um, a lot of learning, a lot of understanding, a lot of trial and error. Um, but it has immensely helped our company stay focused, stay on track, point in the right direction and ultimately succeed. I’m on things like retention, hiring the right people, making sure that you’ve got the right team, you know, um, making sure that you don’t have any, um, you know, people that are gonna, um, policemen the bunch, right?
Mike: 00:52:21 One, one bad apple, right? Could, it is a cancer and it happens and when you see that, and that’s part of being aware, spatially aware of what is happening in your company is you have to act on that quickly. But I don’t mean like you come down, you know, and be little the person, I mean you sit down with them and you say, all right, what is going on? What happened? You know, how can we a very, you know, very calming tone. Even, you know, we’ve studied body language, like don’t cross your arms when you’re talking to somebody because you look like you’re in a defensive position. You know, like even hand was like we’ve gone to training for all our management has gone to training for all this stuff so that we can talk to those bad apples, find out what’s going on, figure out if there’s a way that we can fix it or just figuring out what’s going on with them at the company.
Mike: 00:53:07 Like maybe there could be something that they’re just not happy with. It could be something down like somebody handing them a paper sheet when they want an excel sheet, you know, we’ve, we’ve had that happen and they were annoyed but they never said anything about it. So it’s fixed the process, but you have to kind of get down to the root of what’s going on and you know, if you do it, if you come out and with empathy and you know, you know, like, Hey, I understand that as an issue and you know, we’re all really working hard here trying to figure it out. You’re doing a great job but you know, there’s this issue. So you know, let’s, let’s talk about is why did this particular incident occur in your mind? And then they usually open up, so, but yeah, all this management and communication. Yeah, it’s uh, it’s definitely different from anything I ever had to do.
Stephen: 00:53:51 Let me ask this question because I called you a tech company, but man, you got a lot of human, uh, a lot of human development going on there too. Would you say, and I think this is a fair question, when you look at the success of your company, is it technology that’s, had you successful, were people that’s made you successful? Um, it’s
Mike: 00:54:11 probably a little bit of both, but to have the technology you need the people and the people need to be motivated and meet deadlines and be creative. And so you’re not valuing
Stephen: 00:54:21 one over the. I think that’s the answer. You’re not valuing one over the other. You’re saying they’re both necessary. And I think the fact that you’re doing that makes you a great place to work.
Mike: 00:54:30 Yeah. That’s kind of back to that. Yeah. It’s kind of back to that diversified. Yeah. It’s like don’t put all your eggs in one basket and don’t put all your eggs in technology. You’ve got to put your eggs and management, communication technology, you know, production processes, even things down to safety. I mean, we, you know, like, I hate to say that we didn’t know what we were doing, but you know, we’re a small company and um, we moved into an 8,500 square foot facility just over the summer and there’s a lot of, there’s not a lot of ways out of our building trips, Poles everywhere. Yeah. Slips, trips, falls. So we kind of figured out like, Hey, okay, we don’t really know how to do safety. And we got like quotes from people like come out and they’re like really expensive. And like, all right, well let’s send, you know, let’s, let’s do the research herself and let’s take experience that we learned from the past.
Mike: 00:55:17 So we had, you know, we’ve had like people that worked at like grocery stores and things like that where, you know, like they’ve done the research, they know, you know, like you got to have an exit sign or know emergency exit route from these buildings this side of the building. Um, I have a friend in law enforcement that came out and actually evaluated like, you know, what we would do during a natural disaster, where we should go, where we should meet, things like that. So it’s Kinda like it’s a little bit of everything. To get back to your original question, you know, it’s diversified but also take care of the employees.
Stephen: 00:55:48 Well, it’s a respect issue to me. The fact that you respect them, and I think anybody listening to this will say that, oh my gosh, this guy respects the value his employees bring because he understands that he wouldn’t be anywhere without them. I mean the technology that’s cool
Mike: 00:56:04 is your number one asset. I mean anybody that tells you any different is lying. Like your employees are everything and it doesn’t matter what equipment you have, it doesn’t matter what size building you’re in, it doesn’t matter what truck is shipping your stuff, you know, to your, to the Amazon warehouse or whatever. Your, your best asset and your biggest asset is your employees.
Stephen: 00:56:24 One of the cool things that you talked about earlier was diversifying. And then I want to close up with those, the points, because I always ask people, you know, hey, somebody called me out and said, hey, you know, you’re pushing courses, steve, you’re not a, you’re not, um, I’m helping people. Somebody said that about me and I’m like, I, I do have a few people that I do push their stuff, but most of the time, 99 percent of the time I don’t, but okay, fair. So I want to make sure I spend more time on this is really helping people who get stuck. Okay. Because that’s really what the goal of the podcast is, is people get that they’re, they’re not, they’re hampered by the technology. They’re not, they’re not developers or they don’t have the capacity to, to instruct a developer to be able to get what they need, right?
Stephen: 00:57:06 That kind of thing for you, it doesn’t sound it. You’re making it sound, and this isn’t a criticism, but you make it sound like, you know, you’re, we’re only telling the positive side. We’re not talking about all the negatives that, you know, came along, all that trial and error. Right? You know, your 100 time you hit a home run, but we didn’t talk about the 99 times at bat prior. When, when you’re stuck, how do you get past it? How do you, I mean, is it a team effort? Is it a go and think like a bill gates in a cabin in the woods for a week and read white papers or. I mean, how do you get past that?
Mike: 00:57:43 So yeah, it’s funny you asked this. I have to do this a lot. Um, I go for a hike and I listened to podcasts and if I’m really overwhelmed I don’t listen to anything except music. And I work through things in my head
Stephen: 00:57:59 visually. Like you’re seeing this step of IEP moves the ladder this way and then he
Mike: 00:58:04 here. Yeah, I’m literally doing the um, chess moves. Like if I move my piece here, what’s gonna happen there? What’s this guy going to do? But I don’t mean I’m solving the individual problem. I actually mean I’m thinking through how I’m going to utilize people that I already have, you know, resources of and how I can ask this guy for help and then maybe he has an answer and then I’ll take that answer and I’ll go to my developer and I’ll say, hey, you know, who’s one of my best friends? He’s, he’s, he works in my company’s in house. I don’t use outside developers. And I say, how can we do this? You know, my friend over here. So this pretty much I become the messenger and you know, sometimes it’s hard to think about like I, that’s why I have to take a step back and go out into nature and I do some hiking and I’m sitting there and I’m kind of working through things in my head.
Mike: 00:58:51 And um, you know, it’s just, yeah, it’s a thought process. It’s like use your resources. Like you say, like people may not know how to talk to a developer or things like that, but you know, you might have a friend that does or they might have a friend of a friend of. There’s plenty of online forums out there too that you can ask interactive questions. Um, and I mean, dude, that’s maturity because you’re a guy and you’re supposed to know everything. Yeah, I know some people don’t, some people can’t ask for help and won’t. And what I want to say them is don’t be like that, you know, like you need to stand on the shoulders of people that have done the things before you and jump off and get over them and do them better or to, you know, learn from people you know, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, you know, you don’t need to figure out how to do. You don’t need to figure out how to be a coder if you’re a sales guy,
Stephen: 00:59:39 you know what you said, it was a great example. So you’re looking at your safety concerns and you had somebody who worked at a grocery store. Well, they dealt with a zillion aisles. They dealt with a whole bunch of things, right? A lot of, a lot of moving of pallets and all that. So they have skill sets. Um, and most people would put them in a box and say, okay, all you can do is pick up widgets. That’s it because you stock shelves, yet they have all these other skillsets and recognizing it and say, I kind of write these titles for each show as I do, and I’m sitting here looking at it and saying, recognize and utilize skillsets of your team to solve your problems. Now that stat that’s mature, Michael, that’s a very mature I, I’m serious. I sit back and I, I, again, you know, you, you were a guy that worked at Google, you weren’t running some big company and here you are making a big company decisions in a small environment. I mean you’re, you’re, I mean that’s pretty cool with little funding to do, but isn’t that the coolest part to sometimes the bootstrap. I mean, I know you’ve scaled to a larger than that, but doesn’t it? Isn’t it cool that you still get to do that? Isn’t that like part of the fun? Yeah.
Mike: 01:00:51 Yeah. Strap on those booths and figuring out how to do what we can do with little or no funding and little or no time and like you said, we don’t always hit it out of the park. Ninety nine out of 100 times we might strike out or we’ve, we’ve built tools where by the time that we finished them, the rule on Amazon has already changed. So it was pretty much useless, you know?
Stephen: 01:01:10 Yeah. But aren’t those things applicable later on the concepts? Right. I mean, to me that’s the smart thing is you building these mental concepts. Yeah. We’ve,
Mike: 01:01:18 we’ve had to pivot quite a few projects because something changed in the middle, outside our control. Again, going back to that somebody else is controlling your business outside of it like Amazon. It’s like we’ve had to pivot a few times. Um, and uh, you know, we, like I said, we spent a lot of time doing the employee development and things like that. Now we’re actually getting into project management and trying to basically manage our projects because that’s the next thing, you know, like I said, diversify, you know, fixed one thing, move on to the next, don’t just keep going back and working only on that. So our next step is kind of like project management in the House and uh, we just hired a guy to help us. I went to a bunch of training and actually for project management, like, and again, I never thought I’d be doing anything like this because it’s so abstract and not concrete, but it’s really interesting.
Stephen: 01:02:06 Well, when you think about it, if you take that, those, this stuff that you just learned and you went back and applied it throughout your life, you know, mentally, I don’t know if you do those things. I do. I’m always reflective looking back and I think to myself, man, I wish I would have known this or could I been
Mike: 01:02:20 by applying this or I’m able to apply it going forward. And when I see it, I can immediately, like, this is a concept, you know, I think at my mba for example, it gives you the ability to think is what I used to describe it as I was the only, it taught you how to think and so you had that you can break things down and just reassemble them. That was what I learned. So those things that you’re learning or applicable and will, will transfer as you continue to move on again, outside of your control because you don’t know what the future leads. Exactly. I’m a problem solver at heart and the one thing I learned is don’t ever be narrow minded because you really never know what’s going on the other side of the, you know, on the other side of your company, on the other side of that person, on the other side of the world, like in, unless somebody tells you and then you might have to do things that you’re not comfortable with to, you know, move forward.
Mike: 01:03:07 But don’t be afraid, you know? Like I said, there’s plenty of people out there that have come before you even have the same problems, fears, anxiety, and you know, and, and, and you know what I’m saying and so forth. So just every person, I don’t care who they are. Bill Gates has those same anxieties. I know it does. Yeah. Just don’t lock yourself in a box. That’s all you can do it. Don’t lock yourself in a box. And only thing that I’m going to do this forever. Really, you should have, you know, if you have something that hits well in business, you should have three more things on the backburner almost ready to go while that’s going because it, these days it’s like you might have the best product on Amazon for like two or three months and then it’s done. It’s gone. You know, the market or it’s Hazmat or whatever and yeah, exactly.
Mike: 01:03:53 So it’s like you should always have like three or four more things in the can and you should always be learning. You should always be developing. You should always be listening to people around you and pay attention to what’s happening and don’t stay locked in a box. You’ve got to be aware. You’ve got to know what’s going on and you’ve got to be not afraid to dive in, jump in and meet people, talk people, go on a podcast, you know, this is, this is something I would never thought I would’ve been doing. I know how hard I pushed your heart to this because you know, I mean, I guarantee you I’ll get comments from people. They sent me personal notes. They’ll be like, oh my God, that guy was really cool or really made me think because I didn’t think no, but it just wait, wait til they hear this.
Mike: 01:04:30 So I pushed my uncle to say, Hey, do you print on demand for other people? Would you consider that? And he said, yeah, we do consider that we haven’t developed it yet. That might be a pathway. Go on. And so if you’re a merchant designer, a real designer, not a steve designer because I’ve got shirts up, but they’re, you know, I’m not that guy but, but, and you’re looking for another avenue, this might be a very, uh, strong avenue for you. And so I’ve asked like, he’s going to give us an email that you can get on the list now, who knows if it’s going to come to fruition. He isn’t there yet, but it’s something to consider. Again, they might not have considered that until you’ve exposed them to it. Michael, I mean, to me that’s the cool thing is just by listening to you, you just expanded somebodies thought process. I mean, is that, that’s cool. I mean, you know, like I, I really take pride in talking to people these days and just, yeah, it really comes down and I was like, I don’t want people to make the same mistakes. I did it, you know, like stand on my shoulders and say that, oh, that’s so powerful. But that’s, again, we’re back
Stephen: 01:05:29 to maturity. Most people would be like, oh no, this is secret sauce. Steve. I can’t tell anybody I got to keep this to myself. This is me. I’m, you know. But that’s, that’s the mistake. But that’s the truth though. You know what I’m talking about. Yep. All right. So if somebody wants to follow up and they want to maybe get on a list that if, if you possibly do look into printing for others, um, yourself, what emailed could they send a note to?
Mike: 01:05:55 Um, probably. So we’re building a website right now and it’s going to be something similar to, um, like Zazzle or a spreadsheet where you can get all kinds of customized designs and things like that. So, uh, the email address to reach me at that as Mike at Fio. So that’s frank. I what’s the phonetic Fio F as in Frank Igloo. A original Oscar. Oscar. Oscar is good. Yep. Alright, so it’s a frank, you might have to cut this part. This is good. This is exactly, this is where, two notes Mike at fio prints. So it’s P as in Paul, R I n t s.com. That’s going to be the website that were coming up and running. Um, I know this is going air in about two weeks probably, so you share with us if the website doesn’t look good, but you can definitely email me there, ask me any questions you have about anything business related, management, a print on demand, Amazon, whatever, or um, I’m on facebook too, so I’ll put the mic there too. Yeah. So. All right, I’ll put the link there too.
Stephen: 01:07:03 Again, I mean it’s just, it brings this whole conversation back to what we are in Vegas. I remember sitting there saying, Oh my God, you know, and you were so humbled about it. I’m almost not on. Not uncomfortable, but you’re just like, wow, I just don’t think it’s that big of a deal and I’m sitting here like, are you kidding me? I mean to me, you know, and especially somebody who gets to talk to so many great successful people, I just love your perspective. I think the value that you bring to the staff and the value that you recognize in them is just so cool. That gives me the chills as I’m sitting here thinking about it. So man, I, I wish you nothing but success. Thank you so much.
Mike: 01:07:42 Thank you for having me on this
Stephen: 01:07:44 man. What a great guy. What a smart guy. How cool is that? You know, just, just think of that thought process at Google and how they taught him to think that way. And then he comes along and applies that and apply something he’s kind of had a passion for. And then boom. It’s like a magic formula described it. Somebody described like, when I think about my diet, we’re doing that Kito Diet still, right? A group of us and it’s like a recipe. It’s not one thing. It’s like, well, how much magnesium do you need to take? Or how many carbs or how many this. It’s not one thing. It’s recipe. Well, guess what? Your Business is a recipe to, um, sometimes it needs a little bit more of this and a little bit more of that. And yours is different because you’re going this flavor and I’m going to, I mean, that’s what’s so cool about it. Um, but when you figure out that recipe and you start to fine tune it, like you heard Michael describe, man, it’s just amazing the places you can go. ECOMMERCE, momentum.com, ecommerce, momentum.com. Take care.
Cool voice guy: 01:08:42 Thanks for listening to the ECOMMERCE momentum podcast. All the links mentioned today can be found at [inaudible] dot com. Under this episode number, please remember to subscribe and the lake us on itunes.