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The Entrepreneurial Bug

In conversation with Kemal H. Balihodzic

For this episode of E-coffee with Experts, Matt Fraser interviewed Kemal H. Balihodzic, Founder & CEO of UpTrend Marketing Solutions located in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Kemal shares his experiences and challenges, including starting and losing multiple companies. He also talks about his passion for marketing and how he was influenced by books and mentors.

Watch the episode now for some profound insights!

Success is not a destination; it’s a journey. Embrace the challenges, learn from failures, and keep moving forward.

Kemal H. Balihodzic
Founder & CEO of UpTrend Marketing Solutions

Hello everyone. Welcome to this episode of E Coffee with Experts. I am your host, Matt Fraser, and on today’s show, I have with me a very special guest, Kemal B. He is a successful entrepreneur, corporate consultant, and marketing specialist with a proven track record of success in startups, marketing, and.

Business development. He has founded multiple companies, including Uptrend Marketing Solutions. Orior forgive me if I say it wrong. Media

yes, sir. That’s it.

And JR Services. He holds a master’s degree in Marketing Communications and is working towards his Ph.D., his doctorate in integrated marketing communications and organizational performance.

Kemal is an expert at developing marketing strategies that convert campaigns into sales. And he is also a mentor who inspires individuals and teams to achieve their full potential. Kemal, thank you so much for being here. A pleasure to have you on the show.

A pleasure to be here, Matt. And, that’s just a long intro.

Half of that is probably not true,

I was on your LinkedIn profile, so I must Oh yeah. So I was like let’s put someone in there. I’ll just let’s, I’m just joking. Yeah. Thank you so much for that introduction.

You’re welcome. You’re welcome. Hey, this is my signature question. Yeah. How would your university professors describe you as a student?

Upward loud noisy. They probably say that he’s a smart ass. Okay. That’s that. Yeah. He’s a smart ass. He likes to interrupt in class. He likes to say, what he thinks and very so I was the type of student that, the type of student that. Really wanna voice their opinions.

No matter uhhuh, if the professor likes it or not, they like to voice it out and, that’s what usually university professors do not appreciate. So I was that, I was, that I was that student. I was that guy that had good grades but was kind of pain in the ass.

Sorry, my French.

Yeah. Oh, it’s all good. So what, you went to what school again? Sarajevo, yes. A bachelor of science degree from Sarajevo.

Wow. Yeah. So the interesting story about me that goes a long way is that I come from, I’ve come from Bosnia, which is okay. Which is part of Southeast Europe and, there were people you usually know in Bosnia & Herzegovina, like from the nineties war that came on and ended up Yeah, I remember.

Yeah. Very unfortunate stuff going on. So I came from there. But the thing is I lived in Dubai. Came back to Bosnia and went through my university studies there had a, there’s a very backstory, not sure how much time we got, but, the thing is, okay, what I was like I was that kind of guy who’s, I got.

When I finished high school, I went immediately to my university studies. Got married by the age of 20, and by the way, got talked to. Oh, wow. Two beautiful girls right now, and I’m 33 so my older one is 11 years old. I’m pretty much scared of her. That’s awesome. But, I got married but I was 20 and I was like, at the age of 20, 25 by 25 I already had and lost three companies.

So it was, wow. It was something that, had the bin, and then of course when during that period we opened up a company in the UK, we closed it down. That failed up after, during Covid, we started a company in the United States by teaming up with a partner of mine, one of my best friends, but that’s a huge different storyline.

Okay. So yeah I’ve, I come from Bosnia I had this. My huge influence that was here, and especially coming from this kind of small country that had this kind of Yeah. Unfortunate past Yeah. That people tend to be very close-minded and narrow and telling you won’t just, and it’s hard to get away from that kind of community.

So I was highly influenced by Tony Robbins, by gay Wow. By all these big guys. When I was a kid. So I was going on and I was, in high school and my university studies. I was like, Hey, we’re gonna do this. We’re gonna do that. And Yeah. Yeah. So I met my current wife when I was like, what in high school?

And she’s my Yeah. High school sweetheart. And I was like, Hey, that’s awesome. I’m a workaholic. Yeah. I don’t wanna hang out and go to bars and stuff like that. I wanna do it, that’s boring. It’s such a waste of time.

Yeah. Its, it’s boring. I wanna focus. I did it for two years. It’s such a waste of time.
Trust. I wanna focus on my work. I’m wanna focus on my career, I’m gonna focus on my business. Let’s get married. Boom. Suddenly you’re outta money and you’re thinking about what to do to survive. So that’s how we started. Wow.

Have you always had the entrepreneurial bug then? Like even from a young age?

Oh man, that’s something that I think will, I’ll never lose. It’s, yeah. I can’t sleep at night thinking about, all the achievements and all the things, and the biggest problem with entrepreneurship is that sometimes you see this crystal ball and you’re, every, everything’s a crystal ball.

Opportunities everywhere. And sometimes if you’re not focused enough, you don’t develop your niche, that’s where you lose. But I’ve always been like that. I remember my current business partner and I, we were as we were kids. So that’s a huge backstory as well. When we were kids, we used to create parties for kids and charge tickets.

Yeah. And we used to create these sports tournaments and, charge entries. Oh, wow. Or I remember one time we used, I used to take. From my home, like a bunch of stuff from my mom and dad’s, and just sell it out, anywhere we could, just to get some money on board.

So we were always thinking about how to earn an extra buck and they always told me that I was and I was a little bit off of, out of everybody and we were a little bit different cause we were always thinking about, Hey, let’s stop this. This is boring, school’s boring, everything’s boring.

Yeah. Let’s focus on, let’s get, let’s focus on getting some money. Let’s focus on, making something special. And I think I’ve always had that in me. And even when I started to work, I went through the regular stuff before opening up my company. I was the head of marketing at a university level and, Oh yeah.

And yeah so as the head of marketing when I was like half of the bunch of the stuff I was doing, I didn’t even know what I was supposed to do until I got this book by Kotler that they use at the university levels. And they’re like, Hey, this is how you’re supposed to create a brand. This is how you’re supposed to create a website.

This is how you’re supposed to sell this. What book was it? By Kotler, it’s Introduction to Marketing. It’s like the, oh okay. So it’s, so basically, that’s the university-level books they read. Yeah. So I was like, okay, this is something interesting I wanna read.

And that’s how I fell in love with marketing, cuz it’s always dynamic. It’s always interesting. It’s always something new happening along the line. And, I just stayed there.

Right on. Right on. Yeah. An Introduction to Marketing by Phil Kotler, just in case everybody is The fourth edition now has been out.

Yep. The fourth edition was in 1996. Oh, and there’s a newer edition of it. Sorry, the 10th edition now that’s out. Yes. That was out in 2010. Wow. I haven’t heard that book. I’m gonna have to read it. I came from the Univers, the Dan Kennedy Direct Response marketing world of the Ultimate Sales Letter and the ultimate marketing plan.

And that philosophy of marketing. But hey, there’s so many different, like I’m this book is, I’m just looking at it that it’s of value to read. So I would like to read it. It’s amazing how things are moving more toward video content nowadays rather than everything, everything

so the book that changed me, sorry, as we were talking Yeah, no, go ahead. Go ahead. Yeah, no, look, video is moving along the line, but there’s always something that, that’s gonna stay traditional and that’s, having these special pattern books are amazing. The thing is, with everything that’s very dynamic, people are moving towards and we, as marketers, we’ve gotta understand that, we gotta be along with.

All the changes that are going on. Yeah. But the book that changed me is a book by Brian Tracy. Yeah. It’s an old book. He wrote it out. Power of Speaking and so we were I was I found that book. You, I don’t know where I found it to be very honest.

Okay. And it’s kinda like a guideline to how to. How to shoot dominance and influence wherever you go. And I read that book when I was 16 and at that point.

Wow. Is it, sorry, is it Speak to Win, how to Present Yourself with Power in any situation? Yes. Is that the book you’re referring to?

Yes. Right on. Yes. Yes. Sorry. So it was a long time. So that book changed my life when I read that book I was a kid and I was like, Hey, this is how you’re. You’re supposed to hand out, this is your go-to thing to do. This is what you should write down.

This is how you set your goals. This is how you present your goals. And it says, 50% is of what you’re doing and 50% is what, how you present what you’re doing. And I was like, Hey, this kind of changed my mind about a bunch of stuff. And I was like, Hey, what if I. Try to implement even 20% of what I’m reading and not only go into that trap where I just read but don’t implement it.

Cuz if you don’t implement it, you’re not, you’re not getting anything out of it. So I read that book, and it changed my life. It changed my life. I wanted to, so I went immediately, whatever I go, I started, doing that and. I’ve seen the difference.

As you can, yeah, you can experience how much it changes your life. And

what were some of the things that you learned that you implemented, that were so transformative?

So one of the key things, that I’ve learned is there are techniques that if you practice them enough, they come they become part of your day-to-day stuff that, is embedded within your character, right?

Yeah. The way you speak, the way you talk, the way your body language works, and it’s so important that you change your body language when you talk to people because that’s how you engage in influence. Yeah. So I wanted to, I read that book and I started doing that, right? I went to sales immediately.

So I’m the kind of guy that went from marketing to sales to market, to marketing again, and back to sales, to organizational corporate level okay. Performances. So that’s where my career went, and I was like, yeah. Okay, why don’t I, I was very dynamic. I was working, every, even when I was married and had a kid when I was 22 years old, I was 20 hours.

I was working 20 hours a day. I used to live in this very small, flat apartment that, we couldn’t even move. And I started, I was like, Hey, I’m gonna, you know what I’m gonna do? I’m going to start doing these motivational speeches and motivational talks and Uhhuh just bring the messages out there.

And I was doing them for free at the beginning, they were like, wow, 10 people coming to my shows. And eventually we moved it on and then, 10 years later you got a thousand people in the room, just wow, the energy is going crazy and everything else. And I was, that’s awesome.

And I said to myself, okay, I’m gonna write a book about it. And my first book was called Bored for Success. How to from applauding to applause, how to get from applauding someone to getting that applause, which, and that from that book, we I’ve given all my, whatever, all my profits into.

Scholarships for students. Wow. Then a lot of these companies that were looking at me, they were like, Hey, why don’t you come to join us and do some talks about it and do some training with our people. I was like, yeah, sure. Especially when it comes to body language or sales skills or communication skills, et cetera.

So I was like, okay, I’m gonna do that. I was a kid so remember I was like 24, 25. By that time I lost two companies. I was, I found it, I found that at that point in time, I was a guy that had all the knowledge in the world. That’s how I felt. And then suddenly, boom, you hear, life kicks you in the ass, life kicks you in the balls, it kicks you in the balls excuse.

And you’re like, God, what the hell is going on here? So I was like, okay. At the age of 25, I I’m gonna make a decision and I’m, and I can’t focus on my own business if I’m still at my own company if I’m still working as the head of marketing. I’ve loaned some cash and started my marketing agency.

That was,

is that uptrend? That was an uptrend when you started? Yes,

we opened it up in the UK. UK So Uptrend market. So we opened it up in the UK with our base being in Bosnia. Okay. So we opened up in the UK, and we started doing some stuff. Like everybody that tells you, Hey, they’re gonna work with you when you start up a business, they’re probably lying.

They’re probably lying. Ah, lemme tell you something. That’s what people don’t get. I,

I’ve learned frankly that partnerships are the only boats that don’t float. And I’ve been through my share and yeah I did interview a venture capitalist who said that he’s never owned. He’s never in the eight businesses.

He started, and he’s very successful. Like me, it doesn’t matter anyway. There’s no point in mentioning how much money he has or manages, but it’s in the hundreds of millions of dollars. And he said, Matt, I’ve never owned more than 50% of any company I’ve ever started. He’s always had, partners. So he just and I recorded the episode and he said, he talked about what you need to do to make it successful, but like you said, You need to really, and what he said was, you need every, you have to have the roles and responsibilities and everything sorted out front.

Who, what? It just has to be clear. It has to be clear. It has to be

clear. Believe in partnerships if.

That’s where it goes wrong. I believe in partnerships. Yeah. But when you go into partnerships I believe that you shouldn’t go into a million partnerships. It should be with key people. And before you start up everything, you need to understand what your goals are, and what your duties are tax is.

Yeah. Who’s gonna give the money? Who’s gonna do the job? Yeah. Who’s gonna be the face of it, the boss, everything has the clicks. Who’s gonna be the boss? And that’s how it clicks. I’m lucky enough cuz I had. I had my fair share of partners that didn’t work out. I’m lucky enough that my current business partner is my best friend as well.

And he’s the president of the board of very fun, our group of companies. And we’re, just I told the other day I was interviewing for because he’s in logistics, and I was doing an interview and I was like, he probably listens to me.

80% of the time, whatever I tell him. For these 20% of that, he doesn’t listen. He’s probably right. He’s not right. He’s probably right. So it’s about how you put things into perspective upfront and how you be very, and you have to be honest with yourself first.

Yeah. Yourself know, yeah.

Knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are, I imagine is

what you’re getting at? Exactly. So it was, when we opened, when we started that company out, so fast forward to 2019, it was our most successful year. We bolstered our business internationally.

We got a bunch of clients, we started working for different markets. We just started opening up our United States market as well. Yeah, we started working on the western front and what happened was I published my second book at that time called 50 Shades of sales oh cool. The Art of Dominance.

So it was only about selling, it was like a guide guideline for salespeople. And, it was something that I enjoyed doing. But, hey, and I was telling my wife, baby, I finally take vacation after 10 years, working 20 hours a day. This is my time, business is going good.

And again, life. Tends to get back and really strike you back. So you gotta understand that it never stops. Yeah. People that go well, that people

they tend to, that’s what I was gonna ask you is there a time where you did face a significant setback? And how did you overcome

it?

I think that the best better question is we would, is there a time that, that you didn’t face? Ah. Cause, cause when you go, when you start a company, when you go into entrepreneurship, when you make a calculated decision. You make that you are going to solve, be solving problems every single day for the rest of your life, every single day.

And those aren’t gonna be only your problems. It’s gonna be everybody else’s problems within the company and outside of the company, plus your family’s problems because they’re gonna be looking at you as somebody who’s Hey, you own a business. You probably know how to solve problems. It’s a problem solver.

You’re a problem solver. So you gotta make that calculated choice, calculated decision, and really go moving forward. So I believe that from the times, from, so this is a true story. I’m very honest about what we do and what I did. So I started I took a loan from a friend of mine. I opened up a, my company picked out an office, had 47 meetings within two weeks, like face-to-face meetings.

Wow. I’ve pushed all my contacts from the list. I was like boom. I’m gonna do this, yeah. Freaking, freaking Wolf of Wall Street. And what happens is I sell nothing. Oh. I sell nothing. Oh. Not even one single project, one single time. And I’m like, I’m sitting in my office. My wife and kids are at home.

Okay. Yeah. My wife and kids are at home. It’s 11:00 PM so it’s an evening time. Yeah. I’m there. I’ve been working my ass off for entire day and I’m like, What am I gonna do? It’s hard. It’s hard. It’s very hard. And you know what I tell people, ladies and gentlemen, it’s hard. And if you wanna build a successful business, yeah, I mean you, it’s of all, everyone is it?

It’s not for everyone. No. But. You gotta, you are gotta be persistent and you gotta understand that it’s part of the process. Cause now I, I would’ve done like a million things differently. I wouldn’t target everybody. Sure. Everybody. I would change a million things, but hey. Yeah. Oh, you and me both.

It’s okay. It’s okay. Learn. Yeah. It’s part of the process, isn’t it? It’s part of it. It’s a learning curve. It’s a learning process that you gotta go through. Yeah. So I went through that and when Covid hit I’ve, at that point You know what happened was I’ve had 12 contracts good contracts, yeah.

With clients of mine. Okay. But. Loan contracts, 11 and 11 of my customers called me back and say, Hey, Kay, we can’t do this. Everybody’s afraid, everybody’s scared. The first budgets that we have to cut is marketing, obviously. Yeah. So you lose your retainer contracts. And the last thing people should be cutting the and this is what they don’t understand that a crisis.

So there are a couple of things that really shocked me at that point is how a lot of these companies that call themselves, big companies are not prepared for a crisis. They just aren’t. They don’t have a backup plan. They work it off day by day, and what you get is wow. So this is the first thing that shocked me as a professional.

And the second thing that, that kind of shocked me out was, why don’t we look at opportunities? You can’t move, you can’t do anywhere. The brick and mortar shops are. Going down, why don’t you go digital? And I was trying to sell that, but for the first two months nobody was actually believing in it.

There, there was a process where people were like, Hey, now we have to use Zoom and g Meet and meets and all these other apps just kinda pivot what’s going on. And I think kinda

all of us have been using it. For five years prior to Covid

and Exactly. And I was like, it’s nothing new.

What happened was it was hard because at that time we got, we had a, I had an agency with about 12 people. And those are 12 families you gotta take care of. And everybody’s looking at you, like you’re looking for, looking to you and you’re this guy, this motivator that write book, writes books, and he’s on stage.

Yeah. And every day in the company I’m like, Full energy, let’s go crazy and right on. Yeah, let’s do some stuff. And then suddenly everything goes down. So what happened was, for two months I was like, I was trying to get any, anything I could, I was reaching out to people and nothing was happening. And I was like, okay, there, there’s gotta be an opportunity here. There’s gotta be something going on. Yeah. But listen to this. So at that point of time, a lot of employees got scared. Okay. Yeah. They were like, so I was. Getting phone calls and I was like, Hey, I’m probably gonna search something more bigger company that we can move on and, or start doing something else and stuff.

I was like no, but I’ll take care of this. So it was hard to go buy it. But what happened was my my a friend of mine, yeah, my current business partner, at that point of time, he owned a logistics company with 30 trucks. He’s operating based out of Phoenix and he’s working 25 8.

He’s somebody, so he’s a special guy that, that, I have to take two minutes to talk about He’s sure. He’s about my age. So he’s 33 right now. Yeah. He started he worked as a dispatcher then. As a broker, then started off as a one company, started with one with a one trucker.

That company right now has 250 trucks, 600 trades, wait, two 50 trucks? Yes, sir. Wow. Company owned. Company owned company drivers, huge company was named twice Amazon most valued carrier like he made. And I was like at, but at that point he was at about, at 30 trucks and he’s Kemal I’m losing my mind.

I’m I used to call him and he was like sleeping half an hour a day and drinking Oh wow. 15 cups of coffees. And he is I can’t do this, man. I really can’t do this. No, we can’t. Yeah. I was like, what are you doing? Let you know. Talk me through it. And yeah, he was like, I’m doing this.

So I was like, let me help you out. I’m, let me try to help you out. I’m, I have all this time on my hand. Yeah. All this energy and all this. Yeah. And you gotta understand that. A lot of people would say no, this is not the right time to invest. He’s different. He’s the type of guy look, he didn’t go to any fancy marketing schools.

Yeah. Or business schools or whatever. Business schools. He’s the kind of guy who learns business by doing it and understanding that there’s always somebody smart out there that you can get something from or you can learn from. Yeah. You can learn from. Absolutely. So he is Kemal, you’re totally different than me.

He’s the kind of guy who’s, office based kind of interview introvert. He wants to Hal Freight provide top customer service, operations guy. He’s with the clear vision of what we, what he wants to achieve with the company, and he’s not afraid to invest, right?

Yeah. I’m like, okay let’s start this, let’s, start from scratch. So we start working out. But, so at that time I got an offer to sell my company, my marketing agency by an investment company. And I talked with him. I was like, Hey I got this offer. And he’s you should sell it.

And then we should start a new marketing agency and, really use it to scale all our companies. So this is exactly what I did. I sold this company out, moved my best people to my new company, right? We researched it. Targeted niche for the trucking industry especially. We target one specific thing that the carrier, the trucking companies the market is somewhere in the 1980s, 1970s.

So we said, okay, let’s start marketing and let’s try creating, start creating image and brands out of these trucking companies. And let’s, first of all, let’s try to help out your company. Yeah. So we started from that at that point of time. It was, we were getting big contracts, right? Yeah.

And then he, at one point he was like, Kemal, I need you at the board of the company. I was like, I don’t have time. We still have this company to run. He’s I need you as soon as possible. I move into VP of business development at logistics. And then we started off. We needed a lot of people to handle the operation side of business course, and we started employing people left and right.

But the way we did is we’re not gonna, just stroll over everybody and just employ anybody we wanna handpick. Based on our culture and our set of values. Absolutely. Oh, absolutely. What we believe in. Yeah. So we go back to Bosnia, I go back to Bosnia and we start a company, Uhhuh at first starting with four people.

Now we have 50 people over in Bosnia. Wow. And then we move on to Dubai. We are visiting there and searching for other markets, Canada to start the business in, and because we started helping out other companies as well to succeed. And then in Dubai we employ additional 30 people.

And so you are responsible

for how many people now? Over a hundred. Oh,

many more. Wow. Many anymore. So there’s like unbelievable. So the key to it and people say how so this is an interesting story, Matt. Within the last two years, we opened up six companies. In the last two years.

See this,

you guys saw opportunity. Look at how many people were buying online. The the pandemic, they say the pandemic accelerated online shopping by at least two years. Yeah. At least, if not more. Yeah. Yeah. And so that created an, there was an incredible opportunity for shipping and logistics where you were in a trucking.

Absolutely. So imagine this, we, our biggest client is Amazon. So Amazon is based on income and they’ve, and in 2020 we, like we, we were Amazon’s biggest partner in Phoenix and we couldn’t even. We, it was so big that we were close. We had, the biggest issue is when you start scaling a company at this rate, so we’ve, it’s a huge rate.

It’s a lot of investment. We’re talking. Yeah. We’re talking millions of dollars of investment. We’re talking serious, creating serious systems, backbones procedures. Absolutely. Protocols. Yeah. Getting the right mentality. And I and my biggest goal at that point was how do you create a corporate company base?

And that’s my. My topic, my PhD as well. How do you create a corporate company based on startup cultural values? Cause I didn’t wanna change. Yeah, I was gonna ask you that.

Like how do you approach leadership and team management within your companies?

What does that look like? It starts from the leader.

They’re always looking at us. So everything rises and falls on leadership. That’s it’s, it comes down from the leadership. So if they see you working more hours than them, if they, you motivated, if they, they learn from you by the way you talk, you speak, you walk, you come back, talk to them.

You care yourself. You discuss problems. You care yourself and the way you’re open with your problems, even when issues arise. So the biggest issue I had was, People didn’t want to, come down and speak with me because they were afraid of how I would react on certain issues. No, we face our problems straight on, and I want you to come.

I don’t want, I don’t want people tapping into my back and saying, you’re going to doing a good job. I want people telling me I’m doing a shitty job so I can actually fix some shit. That’s yeah. That, that, so we are open about maybe not that way.

but I get what you’re saying.

No, I’m telling No I’m not serious.

You ’em, to be really directly, I want them to be direct with me. Look, if you have 200 people under you and you have. Have to, you have to make decisions. You gotta have several layers of management. And you gotta these managers have to have certain distinctive features based on their duties.

Yeah. So the one thing that I’ve, I really hate when people judge other people based on themselves, like you, if you judge a fish, by the way it climbs the tree you’ll say probably is doing a terrible job, right? Yeah. But a monkey can, but a monkey, they cannot swim the way efficiently. They cannot swim.

Yeah. It’s so you gotta find the right people. Put the right and one thing that we said we told them they need to buy our vision of the company. They need to understand our cultural values. And how did you establish those? So we have something that we, there, there’s everywhere.

It’s, and even they make some kind of, they crack sometimes jokes of people coming to my office, new people, and I tell them the story, but I tell everybody this. Yeah. We have a big written on the wall it says trust. Okay. Trust. Yeah. But stands for different only trust, which is the core of our company.

It’s trust means trustworthy or trustworthy responsibility, understanding the client speed and teamwork. Trust. There you go. Okay. So it’s an acronym. It’s an acronym. Wow. And we use this everywhere we go. And I tell them, when I give you a task, I trust you. When you come to my company, you trust me.

And it’s a two-way street. And this is, that is so amazing. Yeah. And this is where we wanna go. Yeah. And it was hard. And imagine having the company, so we, so now we have in three continents, right? So it’s hard. There’s.

This is unreal. You went from having your agency being shut down, 11 clients firing you.

Yeah. Having only one client left to actually then launching like six different companies during Covid and employing hundreds of people and growing.

Yeah. Wow. But imagine this, so when I was selling the company, I had a lot of equipment on my last company. I had a lot of clients. So what I would have to do is I had the marketing agency, you mean?

Yes. Ok. At the same time, when I was starting off our new company, we were taking on I was still responsible for the old one, like for the transfer of everything. That was everything going on. And I, to and I sold a company that was very healthy. I have to say this, it was financially healthy, it was ready to move.

I and I employ new people that will take on that company cuz they, that’s what the buyers asked me to do. And as I say, everything is based on trust. So the buyer of the company, he offered me, I don’t wanna say how much, but he offered me for one coffee a month. Just a consulting contract to continue with them.

I was like, no, I’m gonna drink one coffee a month with you for free. You didn’t have to pay me anything. Oh, wow. That’s amazing. So one of the, one of the points that, that I really believe in as a person is yes, financial sustainability needs to, like that should be a focus. But I’ve never met a person that put money upfront and said, Hey, I’m doing this for cash.

I’m doing this to earn, I’m doing this to be a millionaire. No. Even when you talk, even when you talk about everybody like moving forward, yes, money comes in and out, but you gotta have these key values that keeps you in track, that keeps you motivating. It’s have a vision beyond money. A purpose. You gotta have a vision.

You gotta, money is yeah, money is not, it’s a good motivator. You need it to breathe. You need it to live and eat and Yeah, and whatever, but it’s not I think sustainability. Saying sustainability it’s a sustainability thing, but it’s not, it can’t be the number one thing that drives you.

I, it doesn’t, yeah. It does. It’s not the number one thing that drives me. What drives me is passion for things. And

anyway, go on. It’s passion. So if I lose my passion that this is what I tell and you gotta have also the other stuff. So me I’m a person that’s, hungry 24 7, I’m, yeah, I don’t if I, if my body didn’t tell me that I need to be sleeping, I wouldn’t even sleep. So it tells me like, dude, you really need to sleep right now. So I’m that kind. I don’t say it’s hell, I don’t. I don’t tell people that this is what they need to be doing. Like they should be like me.

No, it’s not healthy. It’s definitely like my wife, we have this discussion all the time and she, yeah, she gets me. She understands. She’s I’ve never told you this for 12 years straight. We’ve been 12 years married. And I thank her for that going Yeah. Keeping up with my crazy. She’s I understand.

That when you go in the morning at eight o’clock to work, you’re gonna come back at midnight and you’ll probably be on a call at 2:00 AM yeah. This is, and if I get you once a week, I get you once a week. But what I try to do is I try to be passionate whenever I’m with my family, whenever I’m with my kids, yeah.

I’m passionate. And if I’m not, that means, I need to be, start doing something else. If I’m not passionate about something, I need to be started doing something else. There you go.

That’s so true. Hey, what do you think are the most essential qualities

as a successful entrepreneur? We just, there’s several tenacity.

Oh, definitely. But, I’d say first, I’d say first passion. You gotta have, you gotta have a passion for things, so you gotta have a passion for things. Number two would be probably that as an entrepreneur, you need to be consistent with learning continuously, because one thing that people don’t understand is some, sometimes what gets you up, what gives you success over the first five years or 10 years of your company is the same thing that will give you your failure.

Okay. So you gotta understand that consistent learning and constant learning is something that you need to, you need to live with as an entrepreneur. Three is, you gotta be, you gotta be very thick kin. We were talking about sales before we started recording, and we’re like, what type of salesmen are there?

Yeah. And if salespeople have a certain kind of ego drive that you know that they make them, but at the end of the day they have to have that. If I didn’t Yeah. With all the nos we get with all the yeah. I’m not interested. We get. Per day. Yeah. Or per month or per years we’ve been doing this.

If we just kept it and went into the press depressed day, we would never succeed. So definitely gotta be thick-skinned. And you for

me, how did you handle the rejection in sales?

Honestly,

like you you had told me about a whole bunch of nos that you got.

So I think that the first rejection I got is, was the first rejection I got is from my wife.

So she prepared me for it. Oh, shut the front door.

Oh yeah. She said no when you asked her to marry her.

No, she said no when I wanted to date her first

Oh okay. Yeah. So she was like, so she

was like, and then let me tell you something, Matt, the minute she said no, I knew I was gonna get her. The minute.

Wow. I love it when they say, look, I’m a competitor right there. I’m a competitor. I love to there. I love to compete there and for me, getting in front of a client and talking to them and speaking to them, and when they say no, that’s where my mojo comes. In’s. Where’s where it starts? That’s where it starts.

I’m like no. Yes sir. It’s really just

the beginning step to covering the objections to get to the yes.

Matt look at this. When you go buy, when you go buy shopping, anything, you go to the mall, you wanna start shopping some sales guy comes to you, or salesperson comes to you and they’re like, Hey sir, what do you wanna buy?

The first thing, you’re still, how can I help you? Or how can I help you? This, you’re keeping opening lines. No you know what you do. You’re like I’m just looking. Yeah, exactly. This is your, it’s

an automatic, so I never asked those questions, and I never got those answers.

That’s why it’s an automatic, it’s an automatic response. It’s automatic thing. Yes. Yes. It’s something. So you gotta just ask the questions. Okay. I understand where you come from. I understand the, know that you’re telling me. So for me, I told you about a book by Brian Tracy. Yeah. So for me, I went into really learning sales and how to drives sales and really how to close deals.

Okay. Cause you have to, there’s techniques for everything. Okay. Yes. And I’ve never met a successful guy that, that hasn’t been learning continuously and it hasn’t been learning from his mistake. Cuz doing the same thing over and over again is just stupid if you’re not stupid succeeding. So what.

100%. So what I did was I was like, okay, if I get, I if I get, a thousand nos, I’ll probably get a one. Yes. Maybe it’s a numbers game. So then I was thinking about how to convert my a hundred nos into maybe 30% success rate, then a 50% success rate, yeah.

You continuously leverage the knowledge and the nos you get. So for me, yeah every time I got a rejection by a client or a potential customer, man, that was a learning opportunity to, go through it and overcome it and really, learn and do better at my job. And that’s what I tell people here.

And even here at the company, I. There’s part of the culture is, don’t come to my office if you don’t have a solution. Yeah. I don’t wanna be, so if you don’t have a solution, please don’t drop by me outta my office and say, Hey, we have a problem. We have an issue, blah, blah, blah. Find a solution.

Give me three options. I’m gonna, we can discuss it and let’s see what happens. I wanna, that’s so smart. That is so smart.

That is so smart.

So what we do is, I tell them this consistently. I don’t want to teach people how to work. I wanna teach them how to think. Yeah, I wanna, cause that’s how you, that’s how you succeed.

That’s how we leverage and created all of this’s. How, yeah. Gotta have people,

gotta have direct to empower people like John Maxwell teaching his teaches in his book 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, law of Empowerment and Oh yeah. If you empower people to think and come to you with not just the problem but the problem in three solutions.

That’s so smart. Yeah. That’s like transformative man. If everyone listening to this goes and implements that into their agency or business, my gosh, the difference that will make is unbelievable. So tell me, you mentioned closing, like what were some of the other sales books that you learned because or some of the, besides Brian Tracy, were there any other sales people like, Tom Hopkins, I learned from him how to master the art of selling.

And had a mass and sales closing for Dummies and so on and so forth, and other people. But were there any other people that, besides just the experience of getting the know, like you mentioned that you kept learning that, were there other books offhand that you would tell someone The must read books if you like.

Somebody’s listening to this and they’re like, man, I’m a shitty salesperson. Could you please tell me five books that I should read? Now, maybe you don’t know the five books offhand, but about sales

that they should read. There, there are many books on sales read that we should read. So the thing is, I started off by listening and reading Grant Cardone right there.

You there that go? Was so I started off with him. I, Brian Tracy’s a very technical guy that we went through. Then I started moving over to Gary V. Then I started from There’s a million AL authors out there that, that really created this, sell to survive and a million books out there that you can really read.

Tony Robbins, of course, brilliant. Whatever you read from him and whatever you purchase from him is just an amazing but. The point of sales is, and no, no book can actually teach you this, okay? Is that you, it’s like you’re watching a boxing match. Okay. Uhhuh and there’s, you can always, listen to the commentary of the boxing match and you can tell, Hey, he moved, right?

He moved left. He, ricocheted and this and that. But if you don’t step into the ring, you never know how it feels, right? Yeah. So at one point of time, what I tell, juniors, especially people that went into creating new startups, I tell them, yeah, go into sales. You even before you even think about starting a company, going to sales, going into sales, you sold true.

It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what grad, what you graduate. It can be engineering, it can be it can be whatever you wanna graduate, right? Go into sales. Yeah. And they’re like I’m a tech engineer. Go into sales. Go into sales. Why? It teaches you not only understanding different markets, it teaches you how to communicate with people.

Psychology, sociology, it teaches you how to accept rejections, overcome rejections. It gives you mental strength. It teaches you how to cope with situations. It teaches you how to think fast on your feet. It teaches you how to react, and it gives you the foundation to start anything you want in your life.

It starts with you. Yeah. It starts with you, sin said it, everybody,

You’re saying the truth, man. I wish that I had gone into sales a long time ago, even before I went into sales.

I have keep, I have a lot of friends that, they come to me and they’re like, Hey, can you teach me sales?

Like I can teach you sales. So let, lemme give you an example. When I started my, you have to learn by doing it though, don’t you?

You can’t book, you gotta go. That’s why I went into car sales cuz I sucked at selling. So I went and I sold cars and I learned how to sell.

You gotta start doing it.

There’s no other way. So when I started my, so when I started my consult, this is an interesting story, when I started my consulting career, right? Yeah. I was a consultant for some insurance companies and, some boards and trustees and companies call and it’s yeah, I need to create some packages.

This is really tiresome, this costs this much, and that one. So I created these packages that were really crazy. So the first package was called a one night stand. It’s like I come into your office. You give me your salespeople. I train them for four or five hours.

We do these sessions, okay? With different modules and different training workshops. We like each other, okay? We like each other. We sleep with each other tomorrow. We don’t know each other. You’re happy for a day tomorrow, you’re already needy again. Tomorrow you have the same issue.

You still need something else, and I don’t satisfy your needs, but you can pay me for that one day. But that’s just a one night stand. We don’t love each other. So that’s it was the first package was called a one night stand. Wow. The second package was called First, first Love or First Kiss.

It was like, okay, we’re, it’s a three months period retainer contract that. I come into your office twice a week. I train your people one-on-one sessions. I give you a psychological report and I tell you who’s cut out for it, who’s not, and what they need to improve.

And I train, dark loop your people, and that’s that. You those salespeople get some certain skills within, and trace and engage within them. But, and it’s a sticker solution. It’s not something that will withstand. Tough weather, right? Okay. So it’s your first love.

It’s your first kiss. You’ll like me, and yeah. Then eventually you’ll find somebody else and you’ll forget about me. But I’ll still say somewhere and say, Hey, that guy was good. He did a good training session. And, but, that’s pretty much it. I’ll, you’ll remember me or know I’ll be somewhere.

You know what? Whatever I told you and whatever I taught you, that was good. That’s pretty much it. And the third solution is called marriage. Okay. Sales marriage, it’s it’s a contractual based on an annual based support system where, I’m working, I.

Every single week I come to your office for a year. I train your people. I give you the ways out. I give you the plans and strategic decisions that you have to make. Yeah. And you don’t like me and sometimes I don’t like you. And we get into these fights all the time because my decisions and your decision are not the same.

You wouldn’t hire me if you need didn’t need me. And and you talk too much. I talk too much like any other marriage. But at the end of the day, we can’t live without each other. Wow. That goes on for a year and that’s pretty much it. So whenever I was sending out these, and I get these phone calls from these head of sales or director of sales and I’m like, this is fucking amazing.

They’re like, you know what? I’m not happy in my marriage, let’s do this.

It was, the way you structured it like that is so freaking unique.

And we didn’t have ChatGPT at the time so it was it was very interesting. So that’s where it comes from, right?

Wow. Even now with, so now we have a very successful marketing agency that we’ve transformed, that specialized within two industries. Three industries, basically. But, our logistics and transportation industry is one of the key aspects of the marketing agency that we work with. And then we have the real estate business and we work for tech companies as well.

But, so the way I build it is I’ve a person that’s now leading the company. You gotta have people, you gotta have people that you mentor, you got, and how do you find them?

Again, it’s. A numbers game, both in time invested. Yeah. To understand who do you employ and Okay. To be honest with you, within the last I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna mess this up. Within the last two years I’ve interviewed personally. Yeah. Even though we have a huge HR department, I’ve interviewed personally more than 800 people.

Wow. Personally. Personally. Wow. So why did I do it? Is because I want to handpick my people. And there you go. The success rate that we got and I’m the type of, I don’t wanna say leader, but I’m the type of person who wants to understand what everybody else in the company is doing and how, if they have issues at home, if they don’t have issues at home, if they have issues within their marriage, and if we can help that out.

Cause that’s awesome. People are not machines, people are not computers. You gotta understand it. Don’t,

yeah. People don’t care how much until they know how much you care.

Trust me. They come to your company, it’s, they spend here 8, 10, 12 hours a day depending on, how much they wanna work.

Course they spend more time with the company than they do their partner?

Exactly. And they come home, they’re tired, they wanna sleep and they have that two days off. So they spend a lot of time in the company. So what I wanna do is I wanna tell them how much we appreciate it, also that they understand that their role in this company isn’t just doing their job for the next 10 years and not moving from one place.

I want them to succeed. Yeah. I want them to succeed even if they go. If they go, even if they go away from us, like they, after five years, they’re, skillful. They say, Hey, I wanna start my own company. Brilliant. Let me help you out. This is what I wanna do. And the way I found them is, you go out to the really recruitment bar, but I personally I personally have the key course and values that I see to people, and I value character more than I value skills.

Do you think it attracts them? Law of attraction?

Could be. They tell me we have a different, very different interview sessions than with most companies. They have. And we’ve got people right now that, and after you, you get them on board. That’s not, that’s just a starting line. You gotta talk with them.

If you’re a leader and you don’t have weekly, once a week management meetings and you don’t talk and sit down for a cup of coffee with your people, with your management team you’re the lousy leader. Yeah. Okay. Because they. They need even sometimes you gotta be a psychologist and they need somebody to talk to.

Nothing else. Yeah. You gotta motivate them. You make, give them a attaboy sometimes. And that’s pretty much it. Yeah. That’s pretty much it. And the way I do it is I consistently keep talking about our vision in the company, what we call the JR Way, which is based on the trust system we talked about.

Yeah. And when they understand where we come from and what we wanna achieve, that’s that they sink into it. They buy into it, and they start believing in it. And they see that we stand behind everything we say. Wow. And right now, we’ve got, we got a tremendous leadership that’s pulling in the hours and really, working hard to make this function.

Cuz I, I wouldn’t be able to manage, six or seven companies Wow. By myself. That’s definitely not possible. Of course not.

Wow. Hey, this has been absolutely amazing talking to you. I’d love to have you back on the show, but how can our listeners connect with you online if they choose to do so.

I’m on social media.

Okay. They can definitely find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram. Okay. They can also get my, go to, my email, which is Kemal or i media.com. Okay. And and they can reach out to me whenever they want. And I’m available. I’m really available.

I’m 25 8. That’s awesome. 25 8.

We’ll make sure, we’ll make sure we put that information in the show notes. Take ’em all. It’s been a pleasure having you here. Thank you so much for being on the show.

Great talking to you, Matt, and hope, hope the listeners and the viewers liked it.

Oh, absolutely.

Absolutely.

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