Have you ever lost everything? Our latest episode of the podcast features a story of risk, loss, and eventual transformation. Chad Brown formed a real estate firm with a partner and several investors before the 2008 economic crisis hit, causing them to lose every single investment. This led to not only a deep depression but financial struggles that affected his personal finances as well.
Chad’s story highlights the importance of self-discovery and feedback to identify blind spots and ignored issues within ourselves. Excuses weaken character, but taking responsibility is emphasized in the self-discovery process. By using this methodology, Chad transformed a financial planner’s life from complaining about his team’s lack of dedication to becoming more attentively focused on his employees.
Chad primarily works with small and medium-sized business founders, helping them navigate, manage, and lead their businesses effectively. He believes it’s important to have people in our lives that give honest feedback, even when it feels uncomfortable.
If you want to learn more about the speaker’s methods and insights, we suggest starting with Naked Leadership Podcast hosted by Chad, Adrian, and Dan. In Episode Episode 145, This Is How We Do Confrontation, you’ll see how Chad and his team process and work through tough situations.
Glenn Harper [00:00:00]:
Hello, everyone. Welcome to another edition of Empowering Entrepreneurs. I'm Glenn Harper and Julie Smith. What's going on, J ulie?
Julie Smith [00:00:06]:
Hey, you know, it's an exciting day here.
Glenn Harper [00:00:08]:
That it is. We got a great guest today we're really looking forward to chat with. His name's Chad Brown. How you doing, Chad?
Chad Brown [00:00:14]:
Glenn Harper [00:00:15]:
Chad Brown [00:00:16]:
Great to be with you guys. I'm honored.
Glenn Harper [00:00:17]:
Oh, I don't know about that, but we appreciate the kind words. Chad's a fellow entrepreneur who is the driving force behind Take New Ground and the Naked Lead Ship podcast, which sounds intriguing. He's helped many of an entrepreneur the art of being a leader of themselves, their team, and their clients. But we do appreciate you being here with us. I detect a slight Idaho accent. Even though you're from Utah, is that my intention, or do you spend some time in Idaho or what's the story with that?
Chad Brown [00:00:46]:
I have no ties to Idaho at all.
Glenn Harper [00:00:49]:
That's great. Are you originally from Idaho? I mean, from Utah.
Chad Brown [00:00:53]:
I'm from Utah.
Glenn Harper [00:00:54]:
Yeah. The whole time. All right.
Chad Brown [00:00:56]:
Yeah, we probably all sound the same out here in the mountain west.
Glenn Harper [00:00:59]:
I'm totally messing with you. That's half the fun. I was trying to pick a state that would sound intriguing.
Chad Brown [00:01:08]:
We do have a special accent out here. We don't say our t's. You know that, right?
Glenn Harper [00:01:12]:
And why is that?
Chad Brown [00:01:13]:
I don't know. I was born this way. We say mountain.
Glenn Harper [00:01:19]:
Julie Smith [00:01:20]:
Well, how do you say utah, though?
Chad Brown [00:01:21]:
You all yeah, I guess you're right. We have a tea in Utah.
Glenn Harper [00:01:26]:
It's a soft tea. It's a soft tea. Oh, goodness. Well, actually, I was in Utah. We were there a year ago, almost a year ago. And it was absolutely beautiful. People are friendly, the mountains, everything. It was an amazing place. You're very fortunate to live there. It's got to be the best kept secret. I think everybody from California is coming there now, but was it cool?
Chad Brown [00:01:50]:
Will you please stop talking about how great it is? It's actually a trash hole. There's nothing to see. It was a little cold.
Glenn Harper [00:01:57]:
Yeah, it was a very salty lake. You don't swim in it. It's cold all the time. You don't want to be part of it.
Chad Brown [00:02:03]:
That's right. It's our paradise, man. We live at the foothills of the wasatch mountains, and we go skiing, we go kayaking every opportunity we get. We're up in the mountains, and we can be there in ten minutes, which is just insane.
Glenn Harper [00:02:18]:
That's insane. Yeah. You're growing up there, and it eventually looked like you became a wolverine. Utah valley. And how did that go? Did you like going to school there?
Chad Brown [00:02:29]:
Yeah, it was good. I mean, it was kind of the default setting, but it's a great place to be. Yeah.
Glenn Harper [00:02:36]:
I was reading the history of that college, and again, it was started right in world war II to kind of train people from munitions and such like that. And the next thing you know you became a state university and you're like legit like a big time college now, which is kind of cool.
Chad Brown [00:02:49]:
Yeah, it's grown. We live about four blocks from campus and it just continues to expand and expand and expand. So we're right between UVU and BYU.
Glenn Harper [00:03:00]:
Yeah, which is crazy. For some reason I thought that was in salt Lake, but it's really in private, which is kind of cool. Do you think it's more of a college town or you think it's more of just a small community that happens to have some colleges in it?
Chad Brown [00:03:12]:
We're very much a college town. Both the provo orum area are college towns. We love it.
Glenn Harper [00:03:18]:
Got you. Did you ever leave Utah to go anywhere else and travel before you decided that you're going to be this when you go up?
Chad Brown [00:03:25]:
I did. Yeah. I did. I lived a couple of years in Minnesota, which was an interesting experience. Very cold, big mosquito. I loved it there. Loved the people. Loved all the lakes. Talk about another place to get into. Nature is a really minnesota is a beautiful place. And then I started a media production company in Southern California and was there for about four years.
Julie Smith [00:03:50]:
Well, those are those are drastically different climates.
Chad Brown [00:03:53]:
Yeah, very different.
Julie Smith [00:03:55]:
Kind of ended in the middle, correct?
Chad Brown [00:03:58]:
Glenn Harper [00:03:59]:
What was the siren song that brought you back to Utah? The family or just you just needed to be near the mountains and pieces.
Chad Brown [00:04:05]:
The mountains. Yeah. We found ourselves not finding a lot of opportunities to get away in Southern California. I spent my life on a freeway. It felt like that wasn't working for me.
Glenn Harper [00:04:19]:
I can't even imagine. We were there last year and it was like, I mean, just wall to wall people and I don't know what everybody's doing, but it appeared like people are mostly doing a lot of nothing. Which is odd because we're just driving. Right? They're just driving and hanging out and having a good time. I'm like, where all the workers at? We're all working here in Ohio.
Chad Brown [00:04:37]:
How do you make money sitting on the freeway all day long?
Glenn Harper [00:04:40]:
I don't get it.
Chad Brown [00:04:40]:
That's my question.
Glenn Harper [00:04:41]:
I get it. They must be texting and driving. I don't understand it.
Julie Smith [00:04:45]:
Safety patrol over here.
Glenn Harper [00:04:46]:
Well, just trying to be prudent with our safety councils out there. We always like to figure out you had apparently a real job for a while coming out of college and then at some point you decided, you know, enough of that. I want to do my own thing. How long did you work and have a real job? Quotes versus an entrepreneur. When did you start doing that?
Chad Brown [00:05:10]:
I've always been an entrepreneur.
Glenn Harper [00:05:12]:
Chad Brown [00:05:12]:
Never been employed? Well, that's not exactly true. I was employed from 17 to 19 in a flood and fire restoration company and then I took a couple of years off of that to go to Minnesota. That trip to Minnesota, that time in Minnesota was actually a mission for the Mormon Church that I was a part of at the time. And then I came back and made an offer to that restoration company to become a partner and that was my first entryway into entrepreneurship and haven't looked back since then.
Julie Smith [00:05:45]:
So what made you go into that though? Was it just someone offered you a job there and you ended up there, you went away, came back.
Chad Brown [00:05:55]:
How did that question I grew up on construction sites with my dad, so my dad was a drywall hanger and drywall hanger and finisher. And that's a hard job. It is an incredibly difficult job. I started working with him when I was eight years old. Scrapping houses and scrapping just means all of the pieces that they cut out of the drywall has to then be taken out of the house, put in the dumpster. So I did that from eight years old to 16 years old. Actually even only did my junior and senior year in high school, only did half time school and half time. They called it work release. Sounds like I was in prison. I wasn't.
Glenn Harper [00:06:34]:
Those Utah are tough out there, I'm telling you that's.
Chad Brown [00:06:37]:
Right. Yeah, I did that in a work release program because I just thought there wasn't much in school interesting me at the time and I thought, hey, I could earn some money and figure some stuff out.
Glenn Harper [00:06:48]:
Was your dad or not? Was he a self employed or did he work for a company?
Chad Brown [00:06:52]:
Yeah, he was self employed.
Glenn Harper [00:06:53]:
So he showed you the value of hard work and teamwork and all those things.
Chad Brown [00:06:57]:
I'd imagine he did. And it's really interesting because my dad always struggled as an entrepreneur. It was always scraping by, kind of up and down sort of thing. I can remember specifically as a kid, the only time I ever went to Disneyland, I was ten years old. We had planned the trip and we were going to drive out. It's only like a nine hour drive for us from Utah. And I remember my parents sitting me down two nights before we were supposed to leave to Disneyland and telling me that we didn't have the money to go, a job didn't come through, or somebody didn't pay or something like that. And I was devastated. Obviously we ended up being able to go. I don't know what they pulled it through somehow. Probably borrowed some money from a relative or something, I don't know. But I just think about that a lot in the topic and experience of entrepreneurship. I don't know why I wanted to do it because the example that I had was it was really rough road, brutal.
Julie Smith [00:07:59]:
But don't you think you wanted to do something a little different but the same? You had something maybe to prove that it could be done in a different manner?
Chad Brown [00:08:07]:
Sure, yeah. I don't know that that was conscious. There was probably some subconsciousness there. I mostly have just always really loved freedom.
Julie Smith [00:08:19]:
Don't we all.
Glenn Harper [00:08:21]:
You know what's funny about that too is when you live in Utah, a seven nine hour drive is just like a normal drive. In Ohio, we're like, oh my God, I got to drive 30 minutes. This is horrible.
Julie Smith [00:08:29]:
Yeah. My max is three before we get on a plane.
Chad Brown [00:08:31]:
Glenn Harper [00:08:32]:
You guys are like and you're out west. It's like, that's a twelve hour drive. We got that. We'll do that today.
Julie Smith [00:08:36]:
I literally stopped and thought about that. I was like, we had 9 hours. That's a long time.
Chad Brown [00:08:41]:
Julie Smith [00:08:43]:
But so back to your trip to Minnesota. So you go to Minnesota on a mission trip or whatever you want to. I forget what you called it exactly, but yeah, and you're doing that and you left this job. What is that AHA moment of I'm going to go back and be a partner in this.
Chad Brown [00:09:01]:
That was a grueling experience that really taught me a lot. In two years I matured a decade at least.
Glenn Harper [00:09:09]:
This is on the mission trip.
Chad Brown [00:09:10]:
You matured okay. Yeah. The experience of knocking on people's doors and trying to talk to them about something that they don't want to talk about when some teenager knocks on their door. Which rightfully so now that I'm in my position, I see get off my lawn. Yeah, exactly. And it taught me so much to be able to be with people in conflict, to be with people in times of need. We got a lot of opportunities to help people out. But we worked really hard. We worked six and a half days of the week. We literally got a half a day off to do our laundry and our grocery shopping. And then every other minute we were visiting with people, knocking on doors, doing community service, stuff like that. So that really instilled in me. And there's a business side of it as well. At the end of each week, you report your numbers. How many people did you talk to, how many hours of service did you do, how many discussions did you teach? All of that sort of stuff. And so we were accountable to our work. We were working really hard. We had an aim and a vision in mind. And I matured so much, I learned so much. And I feel like I came away from that knowing that I had a lot to offer for a business. I loved the business that I was working for when I left. But I saw a lot of things that I thought that I could improve, a lot of things that I could contribute. And that restoration business when you're working with insurance companies is a pretty brutal it's brutal man. It's cutthroat it's small margins. It takes forever to get paid. And you've got to stay in their good graces or you're not going to get the referrals that you need in order to keep the doors open. So there's a lot to it. Anyway, so I came back pretty gung ho on what I thought I could.
Glenn Harper [00:11:11]:
Contribute on your mission trip. Just out of curious, something that the church says, hey, we need you to do this for two years, and that's kind of like your responsibility, or is it like, hey, we need to do this for three months, but you can stay as long as you want? Did you have a choice in that, or is it like, this is what you got to do?
Chad Brown [00:11:27]:
No, it's very much strict. This is what you got to do. This is your path. It's two years. You pay your own way. It's set.
Glenn Harper [00:11:36]:
So you had to make the best of that and try to find all those things to find it rewarding, which is that's pretty cool.
Chad Brown [00:11:45]:
Yeah. And as a 19 year old kid, that's quite a splash.
Glenn Harper [00:11:49]:
I mean, especially at that age, you got other things you're trying to do with. And again, that's definitely something that probably shaped and formed you, right?
Chad Brown [00:11:55]:
Absolutely. It was a life boot camp, man.
Glenn Harper [00:11:59]:
That's harsh. Now, in the company that you then came back to and started and was.
Julie Smith [00:12:03]:
A partner in, wait, first, I want to make sure we don't skip a part here. So tell me you're coming.
Chad Brown [00:12:10]:
I love your guys'dynamic, by the way. Listen to a few episodes, and you got a fantastic thing going.
Julie Smith [00:12:16]:
Thanks. So you come back and you've decided you want to be a partner in this company. Tell me how you approach that, because for as young as you are to walk in and I don't even want to say you demanded it, I'm sure you did it in a very professional manner, but how did you go about doing that, and how were you able to succeed?
Chad Brown [00:12:38]:
I had an aim. I had a vision. And we haven't talked about this, but I get to work now with the entrepreneurs every single day in a coaching context, and I say, when we have a vision, the action becomes clear. Right?
Julie Smith [00:12:52]:
When we're clear, speaking my words, I just said this in the last podcast.
Glenn Harper [00:12:56]:
Say that one more time. Vision is what?
Chad Brown [00:12:59]:
Well, when you have a vision, action becomes clear. So most clients want me to tell them what to do, and I'm not into that game. I'm not a device guy. I don't know what to do. But I know how to ask really powerful questions and keep somebody committed to a vision, because I know if they're committed to their vision, the action that is needed in order to make that happen will come. Whatever it is, if they're in it, whatever it takes, I'm committed. No matter what, it will come. And that's where things happen. So for me, I came home with a vision. I wanted to own a business that seemed like the most natural place to start because I knew the business. I had worked with them. I liked the people that were there, and I knew their struggles, and so I had a vision for what it could be. So that was my starting place, honestly. I went in. I didn't have anything to lose.
Julie Smith [00:13:53]:
So you felt like your strengths were their opportunities, essentially?
Chad Brown [00:13:57]:
Glenn Harper [00:13:59]:
But this is the crazy thing. So here you are. You worked there for two years doing probably anything they asked you to do. You learned everything. They obviously knew your work ethic, and you're like, hey, see you later. I got to go do a thing for two years. I may or may not be back. And you come back, you're full of piss and vinegar. You're 20 years old, right? I mean, you come back 21. 21. You're like, hey, dudes, I got a big set of whatevers, and I want to be a partner. So how does that conversation even start? Because normally a typical company is not even going to listen to that without having you put in so much sweat equity or bringing money to the table or whatever. How did you overcome that obstacle to say, look, I need to skip the line and go right in?
Chad Brown [00:14:41]:
I just let them know. I said, here's what I think I could bring to the table. Here's what's needed, or at least here's what I think what's needed if you guys haven't solved it over the last couple of years. And here are a few solutions that I believe or that I want to try in order to see if we can create something new here. And that was it. It wasn't a big deal to me. Like I said, I had nothing to lose.
Glenn Harper [00:15:07]:
Young and dumb. You don't know anything, right? That's great.
Chad Brown [00:15:09]:
Yeah. So I just went in, hey, here's what I'm thinking. What do you guys think?
Julie Smith [00:15:13]:
What was their reaction?
Chad Brown [00:15:15]:
They thought about it. They say, yeah, you gave us a lot to think about. And they thought about it, and I said, either way, I would love to discuss working here again, because that was the most viable option. But they considered it and said, yeah, come on, let's start the conversation.
Julie Smith [00:15:35]:
I've never heard a story like that.
Glenn Harper [00:15:37]:
But again, this is where it's a crazy thing about the entrepreneurial mindset, is that you go to a place, you put everything you had into it to work there, and you didn't just work there, you were trying to learn. And not only were you learning, you were observing and trying to figure things out. Well, then you go away for two years, and you're still thinking about it, obviously, because you could not have just shut that off and magically show up and say, here I am. You had to have been thinking all these problems through and developing what your solution would be. So when you came back, you're like, Fellas, this is what I've been thinking about. I've been planning this for two years. Here's your new business plan. I'd love to be part of it. That is really a psycho mindset where you're like, just because I'm gone doesn't mean I'm not thinking about this anymore.
Chad Brown [00:16:22]:
Glenn Harper [00:16:23]:
It means that I've honed this in a little bit and hey, if you guys haven't figured out by yet, I have. They would have been stupid not to bring you back in, right? I mean, you had it all solution.
Chad Brown [00:16:32]:
Well, I think so, but apparently they did too. They weren't in a good position. They'd been struggling and never quite figured out how to make it. And to be honest, neither did I when I came in and was there in that position with them in ownership for a few years, it wasn't even long. I think it was three or four years. Some of the stuff that I brought to the table or wanted to bring to the table worked. But for the most part, I didn't figure it out either, which was really interesting and ultimately is why I stepped away from that, is that I didn't see much possibility there anymore.
Julie Smith [00:17:14]:
So why didn't it work? Is it the industry? What exactly you were running through walls at that point, right? Like you were going to make it work. So tell me more.
Chad Brown [00:17:29]:
I didn't see the potential for the upside that I wanted there.
Glenn Harper [00:17:34]:
Got it. Were you looking at more operational? Were you looking at project management? Were you looking at systems? Were you looking at vision type of work? What was the thing you were really trying to push that they were kind of hesitant to do?
Chad Brown [00:17:49]:
Operations. Operations was my baby and I thought there were a few tweaks that we could make to make our projects more profitable. And it was such a hard road and you're at the mercy. The reason that I saw less possibility is, again, I think so much about freedom, right? I want freedom to be able to charge what the market will pay for my services. And in the restoration business, there is no market cap, period. You're capped whatever the insurance companies tell you they will pay for this thing. That's what you can make.
Glenn Harper [00:18:33]:
And you got to give them your financials so they know what you make. So then they set it to that and then you're done. It's crazy.
Chad Brown [00:18:38]:
It's even worse than that. There is a standard software that you write your bids in and they dictate the prices inside that software. They say, this is what we will pay. Then you'll submit it to them and then they'll come back and beat you up even lower. And then they have preferred lists. Like, I guess I won't say company names, but they have preferred lists. And if you want to get on their preferred list, which is going to be an endless amount of referrals. Right? So endless amount of business. But you got to take your margins even lower. It's just cutthroat. I didn't see a lot of possibility in it. I've even taken note and watched carefully over the years, and I haven't seen, other than the big ones like Service Master, which is a nationwide franchise, these restoration companies come and go in a five year period.
Glenn Harper [00:19:32]:
You can't survive at that level. There's just not enough profit.
Julie Smith [00:19:37]:
I'm shocked that you didn't try to revolutionize the industry.
Glenn Harper [00:19:41]:
The insurance company dictates.
Julie Smith [00:19:42]:
You had to go, I know, but I'm surprised he just didn't go to the I'm just saying, you're telling it and I'm like, how do we change this?
Glenn Harper [00:19:50]:
Well, remember, your insurance company is who the customer is going to go through first is going to dictate and do it a turnkey. And you don't have an opportunity, really, to go outside the insurance company because customers don't want to pay. That's what they have insurance for. So you're just stuck in the middle.
Chad Brown [00:20:06]:
You get a flood or a fire at your house that does, let's say, $65,000 worth of damage. I don't know about you, I don't have 65K lying around that I can just rebuild my house with. Right, so your insurance is your only option. So as a restoration company, marketing to the individual isn't even an option, really. So your customer is the insurance company.
Glenn Harper [00:20:32]:
The man sticking it to you. So if you did this for a while and it wasn't working, you're like, I'm tired of this. What happened? What did you decide to do?
Chad Brown [00:20:40]:
At that point, I jumped in. So at this point, the story gets fun. At this point, this was late 2007, I decided I was going to become a real estate mogul.
Glenn Harper [00:20:52]:
It's the best time to do it.
Chad Brown [00:20:54]:
It's the best time to do it. Everybody's making money in real estate, buying that stuff up, selling it for huge profits. Banks were giving away money, writing loans they never should have wrote. And I took on a partner. We created a firm. We partnered with a bunch of investors. We profit split with. We're going to profit split with them. We went the new construction route and the condo conversion route. So building new houses and then buying apartment buildings and converting those into condos. Right. And at the time, right out from the gates, we were holding about 48 properties. And then late 2008 hit bottom, fell out, and what felt like overnight, we had lost everything, literally every property that we were holding at the moment. On average, our properties were going to be about a half a million sale overnight. They were coming in at like 100 and 8200 thousand dollars. And we were already into these builds, obviously we were already into these builds, three to $400,000. So it all fell out. And that was the most depressing time of my life. And it was interesting. I jumped into that because I saw the possibility of money and I had money signs in my eyes, and that's all I wanted. It's not like I thought I was going to make a difference in the world with real estate. It's not like any of that sort of stuff. I didn't have a connection to it. I was undereducated in it, way under educated, in it, way over leveraged. And that all fell out. I had two little kids at the time. Our oldest at the time, I think was four, and our youngest was one. And we lost everything. I mean, personally, we were personally leveraged too. Our home, our cars, everything. And I went into a deep, deep depression, just beating myself up. That was really rough.
Glenn Harper [00:23:18]:
But then what happens? As an entrepreneur, as a dad, as a husband, you're like, grab you by the back of the neck, pull yourself up and say, get back at it, brother. There is no chance to sit there and waller because you've got a responsibility, right? And how long did that take before you're like, wait a minute, let's get back on this train?
Chad Brown [00:23:38]:
I mean, unfortunately, it took a good 45, 60 days.
Glenn Harper [00:23:42]:
Well, that's nothing. I mean, some people do this. They sit in the sidelines for years. 45 days, that's nothing. That's a blink.
Chad Brown [00:23:51]:
Yeah. It feels like an eternity when you're sitting in your office alone and just facing what it is, the mess that you've created.
Glenn Harper [00:24:00]:
You're on the island. Nobody understands. Everybody's judging. You got no support structure. It's all you backs against the wall.
Julie Smith [00:24:07]:
You're in the valley. So tell me the next peak, then.
Glenn Harper [00:24:11]:
What do you do?
Chad Brown [00:24:12]:
So at that moment, the blessing of that, I don't know. Blessing is a weird word, but whatever word works is like the silver lining. The lesson in that for me was like, don't ever do anything just for money again. And that was a giant realization. And I don't know if I could had I been successful in real estate at that time and made a bunch of money, I don't know, maybe I would still be in there and miserable. I have no idea. But it's just interesting as you look back in the trajectory. But at that time, I decided I was never going to do anything for money again. So I had remembered that or it came to mind that I had loved video work. In high school, I was president of the video club and just had a good time. But I never thought about it as like a career. I never thought about it as a legit offering out in the world. And this came back to mind, and I said, that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to go tell stories with a video camera. I didn't know what that was going to look like. I had no idea if there was even a market for it. I didn't know what was going to take, but went out, borrowed some money from my mom, which is it still is, like, gut wrenching for me to say that at 25 years old, going to borrow money from my mom to buy a video camera. But that's what I did. Got a camera, started getting real scrappy, finding clients, seeing what the need was. The immediate need that I found was weddings. Started filming weddings, making wedding videos, and ultimately found somebody in Southern California who was doing beautiful film work. So I went out. I just asked, Can I just come understudy? Can I come follow you? And he said, of course, yeah, come out. Come help me. Went out. It clicked. We became part once again. Asked him if my man be a partner in his business. Because what I realized after a couple of times with him is that he was an amazing artist. He was a terrible businessman. He was behind on his post product, way behind on his post production. He had a number of clients who hadn't paid him. He was renting a lot of gear every single shoot, which this was like three times a week. So there was just so I just like, I saw this, and my eyes got really big. And I'm like, oh, I know the difference that I can make here. And so I did. And we grew extremely fast, which sounds like a peak, but it's actually the gateway to another valley. Probably one of the most significant valleys of my life. But we grew really fast. Within two or three years, we're doing promotional work for clients like Volkswagen, Pixar, Animation Studios, Target. Just really I mean, we hit the market at the right time as far as equipment goes and storytelling goes, and we just worked our tails off. And ultimately, I allowed that business to take over my life. I was traveling close to 300 days a year.
Glenn Harper [00:27:35]:
Question was your family with you in Southern California or they're still back in Utah?
Chad Brown [00:27:39]:
They came with yeah, we loaded up our Scion XB that I bought for $3,500. We put everything in it that we can that we could mattress on the.
Glenn Harper [00:27:51]:
Roof going down the road.
Chad Brown [00:27:53]:
That's exactly right.
Julie Smith [00:27:54]:
That's a lot longer drive than Disneyland, though.
Chad Brown [00:27:56]:
I was feeling this is the same drive. Disneyland is in Southern California. So, yeah, it was about a nine hour, nine and a half hour drive. But we put everything we could in there, moved out, literally stayed in this guy's two bedroom apartment with him for about a month before we could make enough money to rent a place of our own anyway. So growth happened fast, and I lost myself in it. And part of that I look back on it now, part of that for me was like, I was never going to be in that financial position again. And unfortunately, the pendulum swinged the other direction, I just lost myself in it. I was a terrible leader. We had high turnover. We ran people into the ground. When I. Say people like our team, our cinematographers, our editors, so much was expected of them. Very little was given. We believed that they were lucky to be with us. A lot of really terrible failures as leaders. And it was rough. It was really, really rough. And it all came to a head through a couple of events. We had a really big production with Volkswagen, and we had two guys walk off set, two very crucial roles SWALK off set on that production, and my partner, and I just looked at him and I said, man, this isn't working. I'm not proud of the dad that I am. I'm not proud of the husband that I am. I'm not proud of the leader that I am. This thing, on paper, looks incredibly successful. And we were doing the whole thing. We were speaking from stages, at conferences, and from the outside. Anybody would have thought, man, these guys really got it together. And it was not. It was terrible. And so we decided at that moment, we can't figure out how to do this thing right, how to do this thing in a way that's really going to be meaningful for us. And we can be the husbands that we want to be. We be dads that we want to be and be good to people. If we can't figure this out, we'll walk away. We got six months. We gave ourselves six months, and we were determined. And about that time, I got introduced to a man by the name of Adrian Kaylor, and he called himself a business coach. And I didn't know what a business coach was. I didn't even know that was a thing. I was like, okay, great, whatever. I'll try anything.
Glenn Harper [00:30:32]:
Help, literally help.
Chad Brown [00:30:34]:
Try anything. And super skeptical, yeah, right, this thing's not going to help, but why not give it a go? And Adrian came in and challenged our thinking and challenged us in a way, he was so much more than a business coach, challenged our stories. One of the things that sticks out to me, on our second or third call, he was asking us what, you know, what's going on, what's not working? And I said, you know, I'm I'm a family man, and this business has gotten in the way of me and my family. And he said, you're lying. And I said, a, that's offensive, and b, what do you mean, I'm lying? No, you're lying to yourself, and you're lying to me. You're not a family man. I said, what do you mean? And he said, if you're a family man, you would have arranged your life in a way that you were with your family. You would have created it, basically, if you wanted it, you would have created it. That's what he said.
Glenn Harper [00:31:36]:
That's got to hit hard.
Chad Brown [00:31:38]:
Oh, it was like a ton of bricks. But it was one of the most transformational moments in my life where it was like, no you're in control of this thing. You created it. So it's giving you something. It's doing something for you and getting clear for me about the ego. That business had become food for my ego, and I was more committed to that than I was my family at that moment in my life. And for somebody to stay with me, stand with me and say that to me. I had never had anybody stand for me like that before and say something really difficult for the sake of what I say I want, for the vision and aim that I say I want. And yeah, we worked together for years. He helped me buy out that partner Amicably, because that partnership just was not working anymore. He helped me build that business to a place where it was operating autonomously without me and business manager in place and just really beautiful stuff. And now I work with him day in and day out. He's one of the founding partners of Take New Ground, and we work together in this coaching consulting space.
Glenn Harper [00:32:56]:
So you still have the video production company then as well. Sweet.
Chad Brown [00:32:59]:
Julie Smith [00:33:00]:
So would you say that this person was the biggest mentor in your life in regards to the most impactful, even though that relationship has changed? And I get that, but in that moment?
Chad Brown [00:33:13]:
At the moment, absolutely.
Julie Smith [00:33:15]:
That person business coach became a mentor to you?
Chad Brown [00:33:20]:
Oh, 100%. Yeah.
Glenn Harper [00:33:25]:
I'm intrigued that you had the coach and he mentor did these things, and then all of a sudden you guys had that synergy. We're like, look, we need to be partners. I think we can do something really great together. I don't know if that's a chance meeting, a chance thing would happen. I mean, you guys just must have had some telepathetic connection there. I say that word on purpose like that because that's just hard to find. Right. You just don't get that every day. So that's like a once in a million type of thing.
Chad Brown [00:33:53]:
Yeah. Well, I'm noticing now in this conversation my pattern of me weaseling my way into businesses, but great job at it. Yeah.
Glenn Harper [00:34:01]:
I got to watch our six here on you.
Chad Brown [00:34:04]:
I'm actually not a partner in taking a ground, so I'm an independent contributor. But we work closely together, Dan, and the work that I do is exclusively under the TNG brand.
Julie Smith [00:34:17]:
So a question then is did you decide that maybe partnerships weren't for you? That you needed to structure it a little differently, to have maybe a little more control?
Chad Brown [00:34:27]:
Well, I'm an independent contributor even under TNG brand, so I make my own schedule. I hunt what I eat. I'm the owner of my business. I'm the owner of my actions. I don't think there's an opportunity or really a need for me to be like a founding or a partner in that firm or in the firm.
Julie Smith [00:34:50]:
I just didn't know if your mindset had shifted through all those experiences. In regards to the partnership?
Glenn Harper [00:34:55]:
Yeah, you're more like you're a franchiser that in charge of your own eat what you kill type of thing, but use that system to help you do that. Probably right. But you have the absolute authority, ultimate freedom, ultimate everything, but you still have, I don't know, just the warm, fuzzy feeling of having somebody up top that can support you, and you can support them to kind of do it by yourself 100%.
Chad Brown [00:35:19]:
We bring each other in with different clients depending on needs and history. Our other founding partner, Dan Takini, he's been at this work 40 something years, 43 years. He's a sage. He's a brilliant, brilliant man, and we work together so well. And I didn't consciously to answer your question, Julie, I didn't consciously not set up another scenario where I had a partnership, but I definitely think a lot about a lot about it, given my history. When any potential client comes into our realm that is having partnership difficulties, I'm usually the guy who works with them.
Glenn Harper [00:36:08]:
Because, you know, you live.
Chad Brown [00:36:11]:
Yeah, I can hold that space really well.
Glenn Harper [00:36:15]:
Is the ambersan on your hat? What's that signify? Is that your logo?
Chad Brown [00:36:20]:
No, it reminds me, and it reminds my clients that there's more than one.
Glenn Harper [00:36:25]:
Option plus and got it. Nice.
Julie Smith [00:36:32]:
Have you been able to build a team or it's just you? Just to go back to that in regards to kind of the differences between the different scenarios that you've been through, what does that look like now?
Chad Brown [00:36:45]:
So I have a team that helps me with logistical things, with admin and content creation, but as a coach or consultant, I'm independent.
Glenn Harper [00:36:57]:
So you still do the day to day coaching and such? Probably. Because you love it, you're impactful love it.
Chad Brown [00:37:04]:
Yeah. I feel so lucky that I get to do it every day.
Glenn Harper [00:37:08]:
Do you have a hit list? I mean, everybody has one where you're like, well, if I could just coach that person, I would be so impactful. Their life would be rocked. Do you have somebody that you would maybe somebody famous, infamous, whatever, that like, wow, if I could just get in that person's wheelhouse, I could really help them.
Chad Brown [00:37:28]:
Not an individual, because I don't pay a lot of attention to. I work mostly with founders. Typically, it's in a space where the product and their service has done really well in the marketplace, but their leadership and team is lacking. So it's being able to provide and fulfill the product or service in a way that's meaningful. That's typically where people find me. That's where I love to be. I've done some work with some leaders at brands like Lululemon and stuff like that. I always talk about the viscosity of the culture, and in a larger company, it's much more viscous. I think of it about like trying to swim in peanut butter. Trying to make movement feels like trying to swim in peanut butter. But when I work with a small to medium sized founder, it's like swimming in water. We can make quick movements, and the culture can be affected by them immediately. And to me, that really energizes me. So there's not like you don't really know about those people until you meet them. They're not out there famous or anything like that. At least my experience.
Glenn Harper [00:38:48]:
And that funny. I remember when you first came on board, Julie, you had the corporate thing, and it's like herding cats and you can't get anything done.
Chad Brown [00:38:57]:
You walk in there, I was like.
Julie Smith [00:38:58]:
We need to have a board meeting, and I'm going to have a PowerPoint presentation, and then we're going to take this to the next partner, and then we're going to take this to the next and he's like, well, what do you want to do?
Glenn Harper [00:39:09]:
Just do it. We can just do it, right?
Julie Smith [00:39:12]:
Well, that was really easy. So I swam in peanut butter for a really long time, and then all of a sudden, I had jumped into water, but I hadn't realized that. So that analogy is so true, and I can relate to that.
Glenn Harper [00:39:27]:
We don't do it like that around here. We just jump right in. I love it. It's great because a typical entrepreneur, again, ten years ago, 20 years ago, we just don't know what the playbook is because we have to just figure it out. There's no resources today. Like I said, it's all at our fingertips, and we can just like, well, can somebody tell me what I'm missing? And then we can go find it right where before there's no way to find that. And I think for me, when you came on board, Julie, it was like, well, I don't even know what's really wrong, but I know there's something wrong. So I think I need this. Can you provide that? And then all of a sudden, it just clicks, right? And in your case, again, you're just going in and finding what that person, that team is lacking and just going you just put your gum and plug up that little hole right there and you're good to go. Flip that little switch. Which is amazing, right? That it's that simple, but it's not it's the value, but not the time. It's the value that you bring to the table.
Julie Smith [00:40:27]:
Can you give us a really great story of something where you went in and you were able to make just an instant change that was I think sometimes I get to go do some of the things you do, but it's so fulfilling when you can watch it happen before your eyes. Can you tell a story of one of those fulfilling moments?
Chad Brown [00:40:49]:
Yeah. So I'm always really careful about my language when I talk about my work, so I don't make any changes. And I know that sounds really picky, but I just want to make that distinction. Can you tell us about a time you win and you created changes.
Glenn Harper [00:41:05]:
Whatever, Chad, you can say it all you want. We know what's going on.
Julie Smith [00:41:08]:
What word would you like me to use?
Chad Brown [00:41:13]:
So the first step in any time that I work with a client is self discovery. We all have blind spots. The fish doesn't know it's in water, right? So the first thing we have to do is to be able to see the water. So that's a process of feedback. So whenever I'm working with a client, one to one, that is the goal, that is the work. Typically for the first couple of months, we're just getting clear on what it is that they're not seeing, what blind spots they've chosen to ignore, and how they have created what it is that they're in. Because most people come to me thinking it's the circumstance, right? It's the market. It's this young generation. They don't like to work. It's excuse after excuse after excuse, right? And I say every single excuse weakens character. I don't accept excuses. I only accept responsibility. So if you want to work with me, you better be ready to take some responsibility. And that's the self discovery that happens to me. Honestly, that is the most exciting part of what I do, is watching that self discovery happen. But it's so here now. It's going to go out there. I guess this is a podcast, so I better like that. Self discovery is with the person first. It doesn't have a lot of effect outside originally, but then we get to work from the inside out, from there. Now that you see what's going on, now that you see how you have created this and why you've created it, what is it that you really want to create? Talk to me about vision and aim and who do you want to be for your people and how do you want to show up for them? So a story is just recently beginning of the year, I got to start working with really successful financial planner. This guy is like top of his game in his market. Brilliant, really good guy, very hard worker. And the work ethic of like one of the things that we started working on together or one of the complaints he had is how much he worked, right? This guy's doing 60 hours a week. I don't know, something crazy. And he can't understand why his people are so lazy. They just don't care. They're just not invested. They don't care like I do. We've heard these complaints a million times and started working with this guy. So genuine in his approach, so genuine in his perspective, but so open to something different, something else being possible. And that's a requirement to work with me. If you're not open, we can't do anything because you're not going to be willing to see what it is that I'm going to illuminate. No problem. But you're going to continue to have the results you're having so worked with him on the personal discovery for the first couple of months, that was a beautiful experience. So many results for himself, so many ways that he saw that he was not being again. My story started to show up in his not being the dad that he wanted to be, not being the husband that he wanted to be. Ultimately take it out to the team as he started to make some of the discoveries about how he used work to avoid some of the conversations, some of the things that he needed things that he needed to take care of in his life anyway. So taking that out, now he's now this culture that was very isolated, very siloed, very heads down, don't ask questions, work hard, all of that sort of stuff. Now they're talking. Now they're talking about what it is that they really want in life. They're talking about what's not actually working. They're giving each other real time or as close to real time feedback as they possibly can. And they're able to sit at the table with that feedback and then examine it, rather than him being a dictator and wondering why they didn't care as much. And what's beautiful about this whole thing is that their care for the company, the vision and the people, the customers and the clients has gone through the roof.
Julie Smith [00:45:48]:
I feel like you just described the transformation of a boss versus a leader.
Chad Brown [00:45:53]:
Glenn Harper [00:45:54]:
And the all elusive AHA moment where you just, why am I here? And what am I supposed to be doing? Because as an entrepreneur, you're so busy grinding, you never think about the big picture until your case, everybody's case. As an entrepreneur generally, that, oh, shoot, I messed that one up. And now you learn from it, and then you came in, you have a different perspective where, shoot, I screwed that one up. And again, it's so easy. I say easy. The hardest part for an entrepreneur is to MIT that they don't know something. Like, we just can't let show that weakness. We have to know it all right.
Julie Smith [00:46:30]:
But I also think just to build on that, not that we're knocking entrepreneurs, because we definitely love them, but it's hard for them to get out of their own way, right? To be able to have that awareness and discovery, to say, oh, yeah, but.
Glenn Harper [00:46:45]:
Usually something catastrophic has to happen. And then they get lucky and they get somebody like Chad to come in or some other advisor or mentor or whatever, and then they go, that is a totally different lens. And now they get re energized and find that purpose, and then they can go figure it out, and then it just transforms exponentially. And again, it's just the access to information or who can help. And the community just didn't exist ten years ago. 15 years ago, it wasn't there. Today it's there. So the hope of this podcast literally is to get entrepreneurs to realize there is somebody out there that can help you. You just got to want to look a little bit and have that self what's the word I'm looking for?
Julie Smith [00:47:32]:
Glenn Harper [00:47:33]:
Yes, that word that it's okay to ask for help. It's okay. Why wouldn't you?
Chad Brown [00:47:40]:
Yeah, I tell people all the time, look, you don't have to hire me. I mean, I'm expensive and it's not necessary to hire me, but you better have somebody in your corner who's willing to tell you the truth.
Glenn Harper [00:47:55]:
Would you define that? That is your superpower, like that thing that you have other than hunting and fishing and hiking and all those cool things? What is your superpower that says, I walk in a room, I just freaking dominate this space? What do you think that is?
Chad Brown [00:48:09]:
My superpower is very simple. I am able to get incredibly committed to your vision. Like, ridiculously, annoyingly committed to your vision, and I'm not going to get off of it. So the reason that that's a superpower is because most people want to look good, be right, or be in control. I can let go of that. Come in and I can see your vision, and I am committed to being with you in it. So I tell people, I believe in you so much that I'm often not going to believe you. Meaning the stories you tell yourself is what has gotten you here. I'm not going to buy those stories. I'm going to fight for new stories. I don't know what they are. I've got a set of questions. I've got a way of inquiry that we can discover what they are, but that is my superpower, is that I will not get off of it. And look, some people don't re up with me because I won't get off of it. And that's fine. That means we weren't meant to be together, but that also means I retain clients for two, three years when it's right, when they want to hear the truth.
Glenn Harper [00:49:34]:
Julie when you said, how do you get out of your own way? It is a very humbling experience to go through the trauma of an entrepreneur that you have this, like, something happens and you're like, oh, my God, I feel like I failed, or whatever that is, or the setback. And then to actually admit that you need help in some way, shape or form, and then when you admit it, then somebody comes in and blows up your world and holds you accountable, and nobody tells Chad what to do, and now somebody's telling Chad what to do. That is a huge, big step for people. But again, you cannot get better if you don't tear yourself down a little bit.
Chad Brown [00:50:15]:
Glenn Harper [00:50:15]:
I mean, I feel like that has to happen.
Chad Brown [00:50:18]:
Yeah. For me, it's like this is the game of human, which is we can't see what we can't see. So even for me, even as I talk about it. I'm always really explicit because I can go in and do this for other people, for business owners, entrepreneurs, company founders. Because I'm really good at what I do does not mean I experience the same thing.
Glenn Harper [00:50:45]:
Been there, done.
Chad Brown [00:50:46]:
I must have people in my life that are willing to question, tell me the truth, give me feedback that they don't want to give me, that I'm not going to want to hear. I need that as well if I want to be as closely connected to reality as I possibly can and to create new results. So I have those people in my life. And our team at our firm is very much that for each other. We are not agreeable. We love each other deeply. We are a family, but we are not agreeable, and that's crucial. We keep it very real. We tell each other the truth. We give each other feedback. And it's hard, man. It's like, really tough at times. I've gotten some of the most like, we have one of our associate partners, Eileen. She's the wife of Dan, who I was talking about earlier, who's kind of the sage, been in it for a really long time. She is brutal, lovingly brutal. I've gotten some of the hardest feedback in my life from her, and I can see it, but, man, I look back on that and I am so grateful to her, like, eternally grateful to her, that she would be willing to take that risk with me.
Glenn Harper [00:52:10]:
So now the billion dollar question is, what is your end game?
Chad Brown [00:52:16]:
What is my end game? Yeah.
Glenn Harper [00:52:18]:
Are you going to build this thing up and sell it? You're going to keep milking it? You're going to transition out of it? You're going to do something?
Julie Smith [00:52:23]:
You're going to go revolutionize the insurance world?
Glenn Harper [00:52:25]:
You're going to be a hunting guide or something which cool like that, or what's going to happen here?
Chad Brown [00:52:32]:
I am really content, man. I'm really content. It feels like every year, year over year, I get closer to the people that are really made for this work, the clients, and that's really fun. The challenges become more challenging, I guess, and that excites me. I've been able to see growth in this thing, both financially and in myself and client wise, year over year. So I don't know. I don't know how to answer that question other than I'm really content doing what I'm doing. I do a lot of other side things that ultimately can probably turn into something that I can sell, but I can't see myself ever not doing this.
Julie Smith [00:53:32]:
So Chad, this is a totally trick question. There is no end game.
Glenn Harper [00:53:38]:
You can't, as an entrepreneur, once you find the infinite game, right, once you find the thing that you're good at and you love it, and you can impact so many people and you get the passion, the drive and the satisfaction, why would you ever stop?
Julie Smith [00:53:53]:
And I think something you said really early on that's very impactful and I think we find it true with all of our guests is you're not doing it for the money. You're doing something I like.
Glenn Harper [00:54:04]:
Money is important, but I'm saying it's.
Julie Smith [00:54:07]:
Not your driving factor. Right? And I think once you changed that, I think so many things came into your life so differently.
Chad Brown [00:54:16]:
Yes, money or the drive for money is pretty blinding.
Julie Smith [00:54:22]:
So I have one more question. So that's supposed to be the last question, but I've been looking at this thing behind you and so for our listeners, there's a sign and it says, give a damn, tell me more.
Chad Brown [00:54:35]:
I just have little visual cues. I'm on zoom all day with my clients and so I have intentional visual cues just to remind them we're doing more than building a business here. We're doing back to that same conversation. We're doing so much more than making money. When most people find me, they think their business is about producing a service or a product. And I say that's not true. I say their business is about offering a gift to the world and being a development of people if they want it to be that way, like if they want the bigger game, if they want the fulfilling game. Because I don't know about you guys, I get to associate with a lot of really wealthy, quote unquote, successful people who are absolutely miserable. And I think the game, the treadmill of product, profitability, service, buy, sell, all of that sort of I think it's an incredibly unfulfilling game. And when you're willing to give a damn, when you're willing to offer something to the world that feels both risky and vulnerable but significant to you and you care about the people that are going to be developed within it, that's where fulfillment is found or not found. Sorry, created. I believe we created. We don't find it. So that's why I have a banner that says, I love it.
Glenn Harper [00:56:06]:
So, you know, I'll segue into the thing here, but the I wish I knew you, you know, 15 years ago and seeing what your temperament was like and what your vibe was, because today I've never seen anybody more peaceful and content and just chilling and have a passion. You don't look like you have a stress in the world. I mean, obviously you got some stuff in the back that's stressful, right? Your traps working and the trail cams working, all that good stuff. But you know what I mean, you just look like you are just in a wonderful place. And I don't know what that look like 15 years ago, but whatever it is you did and whatever you're doing, keep doing it, I would say. And then for our listeners, if you want to give a little plug of how they get a hold of you if they to something you said, resonates with them, if you want to throw something in or that'd be awesome.
Chad Brown [00:56:56]:
Yeah. I think the first place to really get a better understanding of me and what I do is you can start with our podcast, Naked Leadership. There's an episode that I point people to. It's episode 145. It's called how we do confrontation. And I host the Naked Leadership with the two founders of the company, Adrian and Dan, and I produce the whole thing. I come up with the topics, all of that sort of stuff. So I gave them a topic we came to record and I surprised them and I asked them if it would be okay if we actually process something that was really bothering me about them, something that I was carrying, something that I was offended by, and they both obliged we recorded it. And I did it because I wanted to display how we can be connected as human beings in difficult conversations, because most of the breakdowns in business are due to not having a difficult conversation. I'd say like 90% of them. So we go through it. It's fun. You can hear my nervousness, you can hear my awkwardness, you can hear their awkwardness. And there's some places where we don't align. And it's an interesting look into a model of how we teach others. One of the most significant skills as an entrepreneur, which is to have difficult conversations. So I always point people to that episode. It gives you a real good insight into me, into our team, and it's super on the fly, vulnerable, that sort of thing.
Julie Smith [00:58:42]:
No, I'm worried that the next episode, G lenn is going to be like, so, Julie, it's just you.
Glenn Harper [00:58:46]:
Julie Smith [00:58:47]:
Thanks for that, Chad. Thanks.
Chad Brown [00:58:49]:
So I've got some things right up my aisle.
Glenn Harper [00:58:52]:
Chad Brown [00:58:54]:
It's so interesting. I'm always trying to figure out how do we make this thing not packaged? How do we make this thing as real as possible or close to the work that we do? Because what we do is not packaged at all. Anyway, start there. Reach out to me, Chad@takenewground.com. I would love to hear from anybody on any topic and yeah, I really appreciate the opportunity.
Glenn Harper [00:59:19]:
You've been a fabulous guest. We're very happy to have you here, and our listeners should love this one. So thank you very much.
Julie Smith [00:59:24]:
Yes, thank you. I've enjoyed it.
Glenn Harper [00:59:26]:
Another episode Empowering Entrepreneurs in the books. This is Glenn Harper signing off.
Julie Smith [00:59:30]:
Glenn Harper [00:59:31]: