Never Been Promoted | Unleash Your Entrepreneur

Mark Aylward's Insider Tips on Selling Your Startup

April 27, 2024 Thomas Helfrich Season 1 Episode 45
Mark Aylward's Insider Tips on Selling Your Startup
Never Been Promoted | Unleash Your Entrepreneur
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Never Been Promoted | Unleash Your Entrepreneur
Mark Aylward's Insider Tips on Selling Your Startup
Apr 27, 2024 Season 1 Episode 45
Thomas Helfrich

Send us a Text Message.

Never Been Promoted Podcast with Thomas Helfrich

Mark Aylward, a seasoned entrepreneur and the founder of 7 Pillars, brings a fresh perspective on overcoming personal and professional challenges. With a rich background in recruiting and consulting, Mark has navigated the ups and downs of the business world, transforming each hurdle into a step towards success. His journey is not just about building businesses but also about fostering personal growth and helping others achieve their potential.


About  Mark Aylward:

Based in Orlando, Florida, Mark Aylward is a transformative figure in the entrepreneurial landscape. As the founder of 7 Pillars, he has dedicated his career to mentoring and guiding aspiring business leaders through the complexities of entrepreneurship. His approach is deeply rooted in personal experience, driven by a commitment to honesty, integrity, and resilience. Mark's insights into leadership, decision-making, and personal development are informed by his own trials and triumphs, making him a beacon for those looking to navigate their own entrepreneurial journeys.


In this episode, Thomas and Mark discuss:

  • Personal and Professional Growth: Learn how to turn personal challenges into professional opportunities
  • Entrepreneurial Resilience: Discover strategies for maintaining momentum and resilience in the face of adversity.
  • Mentorship and Leadership: Gain insights into the power of mentorship and effective leadership in building successful businesses.



Key Takeaways:

  • Resilience in Entrepreneurship

Mark emphasizes the importance of resilience, sharing how personal challenges have shaped his professional path and taught him valuable lessons in persistence and grit.

  • Mentorship

Reflecting on the impact of mentorship, Mark discusses how guidance from experienced mentors has been crucial in his development as a leader and entrepreneur.

  • Adapting to Challenges

Learn from Mark's experiences on how to adapt to and overcome personal adversities, applying these lessons to achieve business success.



"Entrepreneurship is not just a career; it's a journey of personal growth. Every challenge is an opportunity to learn and evolve." — Mark Aylward



CONNECT WITH  MARK AYLWARD:


LinkedIn:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/aylwardmark/

Website: https://www.7pillarsglobal.com/


CONNECT WITH THOMAS:

X (Twitter): https://twitter.com/thelfrich | https://twitter.com/nevbeenpromoted 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hovienko | https://www.facebook.com/neverbeenpromoted 

Website: https://www.neverbeenpromoted.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/neverbeenpromoted/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@neverbeenpromoted

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

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Never Been Promoted Podcast with Thomas Helfrich

Mark Aylward, a seasoned entrepreneur and the founder of 7 Pillars, brings a fresh perspective on overcoming personal and professional challenges. With a rich background in recruiting and consulting, Mark has navigated the ups and downs of the business world, transforming each hurdle into a step towards success. His journey is not just about building businesses but also about fostering personal growth and helping others achieve their potential.


About  Mark Aylward:

Based in Orlando, Florida, Mark Aylward is a transformative figure in the entrepreneurial landscape. As the founder of 7 Pillars, he has dedicated his career to mentoring and guiding aspiring business leaders through the complexities of entrepreneurship. His approach is deeply rooted in personal experience, driven by a commitment to honesty, integrity, and resilience. Mark's insights into leadership, decision-making, and personal development are informed by his own trials and triumphs, making him a beacon for those looking to navigate their own entrepreneurial journeys.


In this episode, Thomas and Mark discuss:

  • Personal and Professional Growth: Learn how to turn personal challenges into professional opportunities
  • Entrepreneurial Resilience: Discover strategies for maintaining momentum and resilience in the face of adversity.
  • Mentorship and Leadership: Gain insights into the power of mentorship and effective leadership in building successful businesses.



Key Takeaways:

  • Resilience in Entrepreneurship

Mark emphasizes the importance of resilience, sharing how personal challenges have shaped his professional path and taught him valuable lessons in persistence and grit.

  • Mentorship

Reflecting on the impact of mentorship, Mark discusses how guidance from experienced mentors has been crucial in his development as a leader and entrepreneur.

  • Adapting to Challenges

Learn from Mark's experiences on how to adapt to and overcome personal adversities, applying these lessons to achieve business success.



"Entrepreneurship is not just a career; it's a journey of personal growth. Every challenge is an opportunity to learn and evolve." — Mark Aylward



CONNECT WITH  MARK AYLWARD:


LinkedIn:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/aylwardmark/

Website: https://www.7pillarsglobal.com/


CONNECT WITH THOMAS:

X (Twitter): https://twitter.com/thelfrich | https://twitter.com/nevbeenpromoted 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hovienko | https://www.facebook.com/neverbeenpromoted 

Website: https://www.neverbeenpromoted.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/neverbeenpromoted/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@neverbeenpromoted

LinkedI

Support the Show.

Serious about LinkedIn Lead Generation? Stop Guessing what to do on LinkedIn and ignite revenue from relevance with Instantly Relevant Lead System

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Welcome to the Never Been Promoted podcast with Thomas Helfrich. Get ready for a thrilling adventure as we uncover entrepreneurial journeys and life changing business insights every week. And now your host, Thomas.

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Welcome to another episode of Never Been Promoted, where I am trying to help you unleash your entrepreneur and by doing this, by learning from the lessons of other entrepreneurs on their journey about life, about where it intersects with entrepreneurship, maybe a little everything in between. Occasional humor as well. In the podcast, I am joined today by Mark Aylward. And if you've marked, you know, I appreciate you taking a few moments to come on here, just like I appreciate, you know, people who've listened to the show before, maybe this is their first time, but you are an entrepreneur. You've got a great story. You're the founder of 7 Pillars, and you're a podcast host of the imperfect Men's Club. So we'll get into kind of that journey and your world. But thank you so much for joining. And where are you joining from?

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Thank you for having me, Thomas. I'm. You're calling me in Orlando, Florida.

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Orlando, Florida. Are you like, proper Orlando, closer to Disney or more in the Kissimmee? No, I'm saying that word.

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I don't spend any time at Disney with the tourists down there. I'm at a place called College park, which is adjacent to the city of Orlando. So I could get to the city of Orlando in about two minutes in my car. But it's a. It's a quiet neighborhood. You couldn't tell how close we were to the city from here.

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Yeah, I don't think if you've never been to Orlando, because most people go to Orlando, go to the airport, hop on some form of transportation to Disney World, and that's it. Orlando's actually pretty cool little town it's in. It's not. It's not big. It's just the right size for fun.

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I got here in 1990, so I've been here for a long time, and I've seen a lot of things change. And, yeah, it's. And I'm from Boston, which is a pretty eclectic place, pretty accessible and historical and all that. But we now have good food, we now have decent sports. We now have decent architecture, proximity to the water. You can go outside 365 days a year. There's a lot to love about Orlando. It's a pretty cool place, but it's become one, in my opinion.

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There you go. Well, you have the perspective. Why don't you give a little just background on yourself and your entrepreneurial journey and maybe let me land that plane with the podcast in 7 Pillars. Jeff.

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Yeah, so, thank you. I was just talking to somebody about the day I decided to become an entrepreneur. But, yeah, I work for somebody else. I got into the recruiting business after I found out my girlfriend was pregnant, and I was 26. And I immediately a switch went off, and I became. I went from this blithering idiot 26 year old to a young man overnight because I responded to that responsibility with, I got to take care of this. I got to take care of this business. This is important stuff. And I had no idea what I wanted to do. So I walked into my parents condo one day right in the middle of this, and my mother's best friend had just remarried, this australian guy. And they were sipping on some wine, and in the course of talking with them, I asked him what he did, and he said, I'm a recruiter for petrochemical engineers in Saudi Arabia. And I said, what does that mean? And he started talking about what he did, and he acted as an agent on behalf of large companies to go find people with very specific critical skills. And he also was attracting them to an area where if you're not Saudi arabian, most people don't want to live there. It's a very specific dry. It's a strange place. So he would go out and find these people and put them on contract for three years as an employee of the oil company, but only for three years. And they would give these candidates free housing, free transportation, and three or four times the amount of salary they would get in the US or in other parts of Europe. And so I said, what kind of a fee do you collect per transaction? He said, well, they pay these guys pretty handsomely. So I pull in about 100 grand for every placement. And I immediately said, I'm going to become a recruiter. And so I answered an ad in the newspaper. That's how long ago it was on Sunday. Called me in for an interview on Tuesday and hired me on the spot. And I ended up working for someone else for about six or seven years, two different people. That's when I moved to Florida to help another guy start up a company. And he became my mentor. And he was so good. And he brought me in, identified very early on that I was pretty good and that I could do other things. And he asked me if I wanted to help him start a consulting company. And I said, what's a consulting company? And he told me, and he said, he goes, you'd be very good at this. And he said, I'll fund the whole thing. And I'll do all the strategy work, but you'll be responsible for all the tactics and operations. And I said, you teach me how to do it. As long as we're not crossing any ethical boundaries, I'll work my ass off. He just gave me, and that's why I talk about mentorship so aggressively, because it changed my life. And when he sold the company a couple of years later for $5 million, we built it up in two years to $5 million. It's not a great big company, but it's pretty damn good for two years. And I was now operationally proficient as well as a recruiter, a sales rep, a sales manager, a recruiting manager. I had banking relationships, I had accounting relationships. I knew how to lease space and build out space and hire people and train people and fire people. And I thought, I feel really ready to do this. And a good friend of mine was recruiting up in Boston and I called him up one day and I said, lets do this on our own. And he said, I cant believe you called. Im ready man, lets go. And we were profitable in the first month because a couple of his relationships that he was not restricted through dealing with because he was working with them on a permanent placement basis. And he had gone out around and asked a few of his customers, if I switch to consulting, will you consume my consulting resources? And they said, of course. So it wasn't a non competition issue because we were doing a different type of business and it took off like a rocket ship, you know, and I'll leave you with that. And if you want to know how long I did it and how I exited, we can get to that, uh, right now or in a minute.

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Well, I would just talk about the journey. So you describe, describe some stuff, you know, along the way and, and I'll let you pick on this because, you know, the idea is when people are listening to the show, they're somewhere in their journey. And so if you could go back to the, um, to the early years when you kind of really, you know, no safety net, you are now one of the owners. You're not working for somebody. You're on the hook. What's one thing you maybe would have gone back and got, man, I really wish I would have known this. And it can't be something like bitcoin. It's got to be something like about execution of business of some sort.

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Yeah. Oh, so many learning lessons. So many learning lessons. I think the best move I ever made wasn't even intentional, and that was getting introduced to this guy and what, I paid attention, and I say this to people all the time. You could be right next to your next mentor at the coffee shop, and you're not even paying attention, you're not listening. Open up a conversation. So, um, the thing, the thing that I would have done this, there's so many things I would have done differently. When you start a business and you've never started a business before, everything's new. Even if you've done it on behalf of someone else. When you're playing with someone else's money, that's not the same as playing with your own money. You know, I talk to people that have big budgets all the time. I got a hundred million dollar budget. I might as well be an entrepreneur. I'm like, that's not your money. It's a different, it's just different. You know, it's not even like, even.

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If you had 100 million as an entrepreneur, you got some investors and people on the board that can tell you that you're no longer part of your own company.

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So, yeah, it's very. How you structure what you do is very important. And when you structure what you're doing without any experience, you're going to make mistakes. You know, I, I used to hang on to people too long after I was already, I knew they weren't going to be able to perform. And I was very good at letting people leave with their dignity. I was never interested in telling somebody they sucked or they weren't any good. I was like, this isn't for everybody. And the way I do this isn't for everybody. So, in hindsight, I guess I would have let some people go earlier, but I've also had other people tell me, that just means you're a nice guy. That just means you're not a dick. So I'm like, all right, I'll take that. Well, I think that. Go ahead.

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I mean, you might, you might be a nice guy, but that's not what it takes sometimes to be an entrepreneur. You could be friendly, but not friends. You can be thoughtful, but you got to protect the entity of which provides for you and others. And a big thing that comes up when we talk to talk to people is a higher deep and meaning, like, make sure the people you're hiring are really qualified. They're not just saying, yes, they're not friends, but their friends might be qualified, but you have to hire deep and then just can't, especially early days. You just can't tolerate inefficiencies due to two main reasons. Unable to execute or unwilling. Yep, they're unable. You don't really have time to train people to do it. Like, like, maybe they can. They're very willing, and they can learn quickly. Fine. But if you're just unwilling and unable and you're entitled, you're out. Like, you gotta be out. Like, there's just no time for that kind of.

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No, you're right. It's. It's a, um. It's. It's a true statement. I think the, um. Another thing, you know, that's a personal choice.

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It's.

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It's not the correct or incorrect choices. I always hired people with very little experience. I hired aptitude, attitude, work ethic, integrity, self accountability, personal responsibility. I always talk to my. And, you know, what I was hiring was predominantly salespeople, because recruiters are salespeople, as well as salespeople. Being salespeople, and that requires a particular personality. That requires a particular attitude. You have to be comfortable with objection. You just have to be, you know, or you have to learn how to get over being uncomfortable with objection. I used to like to talk about how they were raised, how many people were in their family. I had success, a lot of success with only children, because they have to fend for themselves at a very early age, and they don't get support. They make it or break it. I used to hire from. I like to hire athletes for performance reasons. And these aren't always spot. They're always going to be good because they're an athlete. That's not what I'm saying. I'm just saying there's a propensity. Reits. People from retail used to be pretty good because they handle objection all day long. So there are patterns. I think when you say, what would I have done differently? The one thing that keeps jumping into my mind is when I sold the company, I sold the company under duress because of my ex wife and her behavior, which is, you have to get me on another podcast for that one.

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But the imperfect guys club.

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Yeah, imperfect man. We did due diligence on the acquiring company brilliantly from a financial standpoint, but we didn't do due diligence on the culture of the acquirer. And they had a different culture, and it wasn't a culture that I was a good fit for. And so the relationship post acquisition was not very good. I also made a huge mistake and agreed to part of the selling price come in an earn out, which you know what that means. But for those that dont, that means you got a big chunk. Now and if you hit these goals over the first one year, two years, whatever, then you get the rest of the big chunk. Well, when you put yourself in a bad culture unknowingly, and they have ulterior motives about why they bought you, they didnt want the Florida office, they want the Boston office. And they immediately started to make it difficult for the Florida office, which was mine. And so that was a terrible experience. But anybody that is contemplating selling their company or setting themselves up to be able to sell and exit later, I would tell all of them, take the money and run. Don't. No further conditions. And when my boss sold the company we built together, he took the money and ran. And I will say, in fairness to everybody, one of the things that allowed me to start my own company after he sold the company is he also gave me a big fat equity check. So I had a net. It was a pretty decent net, you.

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Know, and that net is now hanging in your wife's garage. Ex wife's garage. Sorry, I had to do it. You offered it. I had to throw it out there.

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One of the things that's great about that is it's behind me. It's been behind me for a long time, but I can still tell funny stories about it and we can still make fun of it because some of it was hilarious, you know.

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Right. And I think part of the lesson I always try to find in some of these is, you know, wherever you are in your journey, if you, you have a exit strategy and it could be cash cow. That's what it is. It could be. I want to sell at some point, but I do hear this quite often from founders, especially smaller businesses that sell versus, let's say it's more of the VC type of money is get the check. You might take less, but get it, get it. You know, two birds, 1 st or bird in hand or whatever the right term is. Get it. You might stay on, but just stay on as a w two employee that's paid. So negotiate a contract to stay on, to get paid if they need you on transition. But don't make your sale of your company part of it, because likely you're just going to be like you described, probably also like, I don't want to be here anymore.

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Yeah, I mean, and you also discover, or at least I did, that I can't work for somebody else. I mean, some of this is circumstantial. Some of it was, you know, maybe not above board on their part, some of it was ignorance on my part. But at the end of the day I had, a couple friends used to tell me, if you were in the military, you've done a shitload of push ups. Because I don't take orders very well. And that's okay. You got to just recognize that about yourself.

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You do have to recognize, and a lot of entrepreneurs, it's not so much like you, maybe with authority disorder or whatever the term is. It's how people ask you to do things versus a good boss can say, what do you think? Go execute. And I'm going to hold you accountable. We're on the same page. And you can be like, yeah, you'd probably be okay in that environment. When someone goes, do x, do y, do z, and then if you don't do it the way I want, you're probably not going to perform in that. And I think if you're an entrepreneur, realize that you might, you're going to be in the position to be that person. So figure out what kind of culture you want to create in your company to be able to enable what you want. I mean, when you have your other entities, how did you take, how did you take your dislike for someone telling you what to do, but yet run a company? How did you make that bridge happy so you could get guys that could perform like yourself would say, yeah, I didn't.

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I didn't really. I don't know how to answer that question, to be quite honest. I was thinking of the day that the president of the acquiring company asked me how I sold. And I basically said, I sell myself, I sell my experience, I sell my candor, I sell my integrity, I sell my wisdom, I sell my service. And she's like, I don't want you selling yourself anymore. I want you selling the company. On that particular day, in that conversation, I knew I was not long on this position. You don't want me to sell myself. I don't even know what you mean by that, Jeff.

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Well, and I get it. Listen, as a founder led cells company for instantly relevant, I find myself like, hey, how am I going to get out of being part of the equation? Because I've built systems that take my knowledge, my experience and what we do with customers and execute. So even for us here in 2023, 2024, I'm bringing on a few salespeople to help do that. Can I be out of the entire sales equation and get it to operations, delivery, customer success without me having to close the deal? And if I can pull that off, man, our revenue markers are going to not be capped by my time. They're going to be kept by how many good sales people I can find. And that's a great different problem to have.

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It's a breakthrough, man. It's a breakthrough.

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When I start, it's hard, I will tell you. I mean, getting someone to trust your brand out there like that is a tough step.

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Yeah. Delegation in general is difficult for entrepreneurs. I mean, it's like we're control freaks to some extent, but you have to do it. And to your point, I think my opinion on that is, and I'm not great at this, so I need other people to help me do it, is the building of the processes and the systems and the documentation, because you have to be able to extricate yourself completely or the value of the sale goes down, you know, if they need you around, you're worth less, you know?

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Well, absolutely. And I think, you know, I personally hate doing, documenting processes and other things, but I made myself get through it and, but I used, I wrote down my notes and used things like GPT to help me articulate it better so I could have then my graphics team get it to one page for me. I hired a consulting firm to tell me how they did it. And then I improved upon that because theirs was, in my opinion, way too complicated. And so you do need to get coaching and leverage your skills that you do have to get to where you go. But document the processes. And as you're building any organization having standard operating procedures is so valuable for the exit because that means someone can come in and pick it up. And if you're a key piece of it, you're not selling you. If you can transition, I just sell. But I am an honest person. I'm a straightforward. How I sell is more probably important than it being me. And so I think that's what I've been trying to do, is create a system that anybody can tell about how the company system does this. And you just need to go hire people that represent your kind of Persona, beliefs of, you know, authenticity, integrity, those kinds of things. And I think that's been a big shift for us the last year, is to do that, is to create those processes, systems.

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Yeah. The other thing I used to try and get people to understand and get to be true is if you talk to anyone in my company about almost anything that they know, if they don't know it, they don't know it. But if they know that, if you ask the same question of me, you would hear significantly the same answer. I think that's another way of saying, and if you can pull that off. I think that's magical, you know?

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Well, yeah, then everyone's aligned on the mission and brand and statement. And I think you're nailing a big point, is that comes down to leadership of your style or however to do it. And, you know, like you said, inexperience. Here's the question I would have had maybe is regret. Would you have still sold to that company, or would you just negotiate the deal that, hey, if youre going to buy it, youre buying it for X and Im out the next day?

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Well, the dynamic I didnt really dig too much into, because we probably dont have enough time, is the fact that my partner and I had agreed at the beginning, before there was any money on the table. If one of us wants to get out of this, for whatever reason down the road, one of two things has to happen. You either get bought out or we sell the company and split the proceeds. And my partner was. He was devastated by what I was going through. He wasn't able to. He just couldn't, he couldn't do it. And I get it. I forgave him, you know, so I was getting pressure to do something I didn't want to do, but I had already committed to doing it. And I was also Thomas, I was so, um. There was so much shit going on in my personal life, you wouldn't believe me if I told you the story that I didn't have. What makes me effective, and that is my personality, my ability to articulate. I was the momentum guy, and when I got unplugged from the company, for all intents and purposes, personally, the company was not able to continue with that momentum. So would I have done it differently? Yeah, there's a lot of stuff I would have done differently. Some of this stuff was beyond my control, and I just had to accept it, you know, does that make sense?

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It does. I mean, and I think that's the lesson to the, to the listener, is you're going to have shit that's in your life. And they are in, they are not separated, especially in entrepreneurship. They are intertangled because you are the leader. And if you work for somewhere, you can honestly, the companies are typically set up by the time they're hiring you. They can replace you. You're a cog. You may be an important part of the machine, but you can be replaced. And when it's yours, you can. And so if you're not all there or for what you've built it for what people expect out of you, you're just, you're going to have to make some hard decisions when you're not all there.

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Yeah, I remember. It reminds me of the fact one day my top sales guy came to me and said he wanted the position of my right hand man, who was also a very good friend of mine, and he knew that. So I'm like, what are you doing? This guy's one of my best friends, and he's excellent at what he does. Why are you coming in here behind his back and ask him for his job? And I said, you need to rethink where you're coming from right now, and you should probably leave my office until something contentious doesn't happen. It was a couple weeks later. He came in to give notice, and I'm like, to your point, he was my top sales guy. You know what I was thinking? He's not honest. We discovered that he's not forthright, and I got a lot of commission now coming into the house, so. Which will buy me enough time to go find somebody else, and I'm going to take my second best sales rep and go congratulate him or her and put some training into him or her and offer some incentives to him or her, and that gap will be filled immediately. Everyone is expendable, and they are.

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Even. I mean, you get vc money. Even you are. And. Well, in that case, though, right. There's a stylistic thing. Right. This is a problem, and this is that person's shortcoming. They had come to you and said, hey, I've got another offer. I really like being here. Is there a play for equity or someplace for partnership? Because I'd really like to continue. And instead of taking it like the back door, let's try to screw your good friend. Came to you, like, and as a business arrangement, you probably would have considered it like, hey, this is. That was pretty straightforward, of course.

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Yeah.

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I mean, maybe said no, but at least you'd have left. The guy would have left the room with some respect, as opposed to just leaving, which is what seems what that person was doing anyway.

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And, you know, I was pretty. I've always been pretty transparent, much mostly to my advantage. Sometimes I've been taken advantage of because of that. And as my dad likes to say, if you're not being taken advantage of every once in a while, you're not being nice enough to people, so. But, you know, I tried to treat everybody as I would like to be treated. And I was talking the other day to somebody about leadership, which is a hot topic of mine, because there's such a dearth of leadership in this country right now, it's ridiculous is how, how do you lead? And I described how I had led, you know, empathy and compassion and accountability and, and, but one of the, one of the things, and they're like, well, what did you, when did you learn how to do that? I said, I think I was raised that way. I think I've always done that. Like, why would you not treat other people the way you want to be treated? Isn't that kind of what you're supposed to do? You know? So I think the, when you have employees, you have to be two things. You have to be compassionate. You have to, and you have to be available. And I used to tell people, you can come into my office anytime as long as I'm not on the phone or occupied, obviously, with someone else in my office. And you can ask me anything you want, but don't bring me problems. You need to bring me problems with your thoughts on what the solutions might be. If you're not going to put any thought into what the solutions might be, I'm not gonna. You're not gonna piggyback on me for that. I want you walking out of here knowing what to do because you gave it some thought before you came in. I was big stickler on that.

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I'll take that even. I'll extend that. I'm a much bigger fan of. Tell me what you did to solve a problem I didn't know. And then I can. If you should tell me, because at that point, like, you know, if it's, you know, I like that. And if you'd made a horrible decision, we'll backtrack it.

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We'll learn from it.

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I much prefer someone to come and say, hey, took care of this today. Here's what happened. Did this. Any other feedback? I much prefer, yeah, that's, you know, tomato, tomato. Good enough. Can, you know, do this, retract that, whatever it's. When they come and I get a list of problems, like, I don't need a list of problems. I have plenty of those. Can you just tell me what you're going to do to solve each one of them? And then that usually defines what people, what level of trust I put into people to get stuff done.

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Yeah.

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It's also you have to be at the personality to empower others. Delegate.

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I was going to say, you know, we had a commission structure that I would say to people. Margins are how we made money in the consulting business. You pay the consultant. Just easy math, $50 an hour. You charge the company $75 an hour. $25 is the margin. And I would say to people, if you can get a margin of x, so I put a minimum on that. Close the deal. If you need to go below x, come to me.

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Right.

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And I would make that gap as big as possible to just what you said to empower them. Because when you put somebody out there that can hang themselves but they don't, that's pretty powerful.

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Yep. You know, I don't like the car salesman routine where I got to go talk to my manager. I'm like, then why am I talking to you at all? I'm like, that drives me. Like, that's cars. But like, if you have somebody who is in a software sales, what else? And I say they have to go talk to somebody. I don't want to talk to you because you can't. I have so many more. Like, I don't. That then you don't have a, you have a worthless role for me. Yeah.

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It's one of the reasons that you, you have to empower people because it's, you can't scale it if you can't empower people, you can't delegate if you can empower people. But I think the thing that most people want professionally is the opportunity to learn new things and grow and a level of recognition. I think compensation is way down on the list and most people I don't think, know that.

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Yeah, well, don't get me wrong, if you pay someone enough, they'll do lots of stuff. But I know for myself I've made great money in roles and, but still kind of checked out because I was just kind of like, man, this organization does not really want to do the things I'm here to do, and it's great money. So I'll just, yeah, I, you know, what you do is you're an entrepreneur, you end up self tanking it somehow. So thank you. Let's pivot just a bit. Let's talk about your podcast. Tell me about what it is, who it helps, and give it a little plug if you like.

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Yeah, well, it's in its nation stages, so we got 28 episodes up and we're doing one a week. It's a non guest format. It's just me and my buddy Jim. And I met Jim a few years ago when he came and I was, I was part of another organization on a consulting basis that helped people overcome trauma. And Jim was a 20 year professional rugby player and had experienced, in his estimation, somewhere in the area of 35 to 40 concussions. And he was starting to get worried about where this was going. And, you know, all the stories about athletes that commit suicide and concussions are. We're just now starting to understand how bad they are. And so we crossed paths that way and immediately hit it off. The therapy or treatment or program, whatever you want to call it, that I was connecting him to was very effective. He was very appreciative, and we just saw the world in a similar fashion. And come to discover, we're both athletes, come to discover, both dads, both entrepreneurs. He was tremendously successful and didn't get divorced. He was still married, so he had all his money, and. But we just had fun, and we thought, what if we could get this message out? There's a lot of guys in my world, I'm 62, and in his world, I think he's 58, and that are struggling, and men don't want to talk about stuff for the most part, and I like talking about everything. I can be ridiculed. That's cool. So we just started tossing around ideas and came up with the name and said, you know, when we first started doing it, Thomas, it was interesting because my daughter, my oldest daughter is a filmmaker and podcast producer, and she got us off with a bang. And then she got really busy, and she's like, dad, I can't help you with this anymore. I'm just swamped. And I said, good for you, honey. But we lost our editor. We lost our social media graphics person. We lost this beautiful, wonderful message from. From this beautiful, wonderful person, and we didn't know what to do because we both do other things. And so we let it go for a while, and then we decided, no, let's bring it back. But now podcasts are 20 minutes. They're 2 hours. They're 47 minutes. They're. They're raw. They're extremely well at. They're everything. There's no one correct way to do a podcast. What if we just hit record, pick the topic, started talking about it, were raw, authentic, funny storytelling, and delved into some of these challenges that we've had that we've seen our friends have, financial hardship, divorce, mental difficulties, emptiness syndrome. I mean, just one right after the other. When you hit middle age, they just start coming at you, and everybody goes through them. But there aren't a lot of resources out there for men. So we thought, we're not therapists, but what if we could share some of our wisdom based on our failures and our successes? Could we pull somebody out of their own shit and maybe let them spend the rest of their life a little bit happier, a little bit more productive, maybe performing in whatever area of their life at a higher gear. So that's the, that's the kind of higher purpose, but it's also fun. And Jim's interesting, and he finds me interesting. So the conversations are, most people seem to enjoy them, and what the end goal is, is a program, and that's in development. I think it probably looks like many online courses in its structure, and that is probably over six weeks. There'll be one on one time, there'll be group time, and then there'll be exercises and workbooks and videos in between, so that someone could take advantage of the program and still keep the full time job, because it only requires two or 3 hours a week, and then you have your next hour conversation. So it gives people access to me at a much more competitive rate, because it's over time, and it's not an hourly thing, it's just a program fee, but it probably gives them access to me at 50% of what I would charge on an hourly basis. And so that's what that is. So I would want any of your listeners that were interested to check out the podcast, and then if they wanted to be on the list for the beta program coming out over the next few months, that would be a good thing to do. Doesn't require any money or anything like that. But we're still figuring out some things, because, as you well know, Thomas, as an entrepreneur, what I do is pretty much helpful for everyone. Right? But you can't market to everyone. And so I'm really wrestling with what the niche is. Is it men contemplating going through or just coming out of a divorce that are senior level executives making six figures or more in a particular industry or geography? I don't have the answer to that yet. It's really much more of a struggle than I thought it might be. And I bet most of the entrepreneurs that are out there have struggled with that or are struggling with that as well. Who am I serving specifically?

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Well, and in the systems that I know we develop for our, for instantly relevant, the first step, you know, is, well, the first idea is where are you goals, objectives, where, you know, the strategy will take. But the first thing to understand is the profile of one of who is it you need to connect with or get in front of and why? And I'll tell you, the, the very niche of your middle aged male about to go could go, not sure, might be, or in the middle of a divorce. Here's some resource. And all the guys that are probably divorced are just recently, like, you know, you're in, that just happened. It's about to, or could. That's probably good enough. Us, you don't like this? Here's this shit that's going to happen in your world. And on top of here's all the middle age things about to hit you as well. If you're not already peeing at 02:00 a.m. It's coming. And so that kind of stuff. And, you know, and that could be a moon, you know, a community, a movement, or, you know, whatever have you. Because the imperfect men's club could be a, you know, franchisable thing that people meet up once a month in different cities just to bring guys that are all experiencing this one thing, agnostic of employment, religion, whatever else, right. You just those. I could see a lot of places that could go with it. And you just got to kind of like any other entrepreneur, you got to have faith in what you think it is and how it helps them and just go for it and not question the niche because those who want to come along that are near it are going to come those. It'll be very clear if it helps them or not very quickly. So I would just say go for it and start small with the local and then go replicate it if you're going to do any in person.

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Yeah. It's one of those things that faces all of us as entrepreneurs, and it never stops. It's like you just got to pull the trigger. You got to make a decision, you know? And sometimes those decisions are wrong and sometimes they're right, but indecision is, will kill you, you know?

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Right, exactly. You just got to swim in some direction, and it's better to see some shore. So don't swim out the middle of the ocean maybe, or be a really strong swimmer. Otherwise, maybe, like, you know, take a moment here to kind of like, I know you kind of, you set it up, but how would someone get ahold of you for 7 Pillars or the podcast or just to maybe just learn a bit more about you? What kind of. How would you like them to get ahold of you?

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There's a couple of pretty simple ways, and they both begin with getting on my calendar for a 30 minutes consultation about just what you said, what's going on? Where are you? Where do we want to go, what's getting in your way? And you can get there from my LinkedIn profile, which is just my name, forward slash, Aylward Mark and LinkedIn, the front end of the LinkedIn URL, and then markailward.com has been forwarded to my 7 Pillars website where I. There's not a lot of stuff there, but there's a call to action there. And anybody that's interested in anything that I'm doing or wants to engage me in any capacity, jumping on my calendar first and just chatting for 30 minutes seems to be the best, simplest, most effective way to determine quickly, can I help you? And how can I help you? Because if I can't help you, I'm not taking your money.

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Right. Well, that's, and that's the, that's the right way to be. Um, maybe a little. Let's go to a hot seat here. So, like, I love to get asked some questions a little quicker, you know, pace, just so people can take away your perspectives on disturbing stuff. One of the first ones I always ask is what kind of enabling technologies you really like. And, you know, it could be like, calendly. It could be, you know, HubSpot, whatever it is. Like what, what technology is really making your life simpler to run a business right now.

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Calendly is great. I, before I started using calendly, I was double booking stuff and I was missing things. And it was just at my age, even though I have three young adult kids, they're not with me anymore. They're not helping me on a day to day basis. And I didn't grow up with technology. I came into technology as an adult. But calendly is definitely, it's very simple. You can use it for free until you need to pay for it. And even when you have to pay for it, I think it's like $10 a month. Yeah. Canva. If you don't have graphics people. Canva allows people like me to make cool looking stuff pretty quickly without much trouble. But that's also a skill that I'd want to outsource as soon as possible if I were an entrepreneur. And then video, I'm on a video camera right now, and this microphone I found when I started doing video after I got over the, my name is Mark Aylward and I'm a robot stuff, and I became myself again in front of the camera. Even after you hit record, that's the second best way that I can communicate with people. The best way is face to face, but we're not in that world anymore. So I think anybody that's contemplating getting a message out and video, all the stats support the notion that video gets way more views and than words has its more SEO friendly. It's all kinds of different things, and it's accessible. I'm pretty sure. My microphone, which is great. It was $50. My camera was, like, 25. It's ridiculous. I bought my first computer way back in the nineties. It was $3,500. It took me a half a day to get it set up with two german software engineers. I bought my last MacBook, which is my other favorite tool. I opened up the thing, I hit the power button, and I was ready to run, you know, so those are three.

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That's a great. What's a must read business book for entrepreneurs specifically?

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My favorite one in my most recent memory was the War of Art by Steven Pressfield. I don't know if you. It's a very short book. I read it in one sitting. And he apparently was the guy that wrote the legend of Bagger Vance. The golf thing. They turn into a movie. That's when he hit his success. But he talks about. He talks about many things, but generally speaking, he talks about the value of being a professional. Showing up every day, even when you don't want to show up, even when you're not being productive, just show up every day. The professionals are the people that do consistently what most people do occasionally. That's not his phrase, but it supports what the book is about. And I think it's. I would recommend it to anybody, but certainly if you're an entrepreneur and because it's so easy to consume, that's a great one.

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And I'll definitely put a link to that. The Art of War or the war of art.

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The war of art. Yeah. It's a play on the sun. Tzu.

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Yeah, I was like. I was like, I'm pretty sure someone else wrote that back in, like, the 14,000 Ad. All right. But it wasn't dyslexia kicking in. It was actually the name. What's the number one entrepreneurial trait, you think, that makes an entrepreneur an entrepreneur?

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What I just said, consistency. Showing up every day. I think it's so difficult as an entrepreneur, and even with you, that has good systems and processes in place, what do I do today? What do I do today? Where should I spend my time today? There are some days, Thomas, when I can't answer that question. But if I show up, if I pick up the phone and call someone, if I send someone an email, if I reach out to someone on LinkedIn, I take a small action that leads to more action. Then I get momentum. Then I turn an unproductive day into a productive day. And it's what I admire about all the athletes that I've admired over the years is the guys that show up every day. Larry Bird is staying after the game to run the stairs and take 1000 free throws. Give me some more of that. You know, showing up.

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No, definitely showing up. And it doesn't mean you don't take breaks because you do need rest, like your mind, because you can't get the headspace. You know, I'm somebody who shows up every day, and there's some days I'm certainly like, I don't want to be here. And I, you know, take 1012 sales meetings, come in the full energy every time, get done with each one. I'm going, man, I really just don't want to stay. But you come and sometimes your best days, because you slow down, you listen a little more, because you want to talk less. It's unbelievable how many times that's happened where I'm like, maybe I need to be less energetic some days because I do really well on those days.

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I think that there's definitely some truth to the notion of taking breaks and I think working in smaller increments of time, like 20 minutes or 30 minutes, and not grinding for 8 hours, and then going, what? I just, what just happened? Because then the next day you're useless. So I, I take walks, I, I incorporate, uh, morning routine, I eat well, um, I do yoga, I stretch a lot, I do breath work. And all of these things can be done in very small increments. But I, I'm a proponent of getting up out of your chair at least once an hour for a sec. You know, it makes a big difference. And I used to take Wednesday afternoons off, and I would drive over to the beach, which is 45 minutes away, with a book and no phone, and I would just sit there for a couple hours when everyone else was leaving because it was so late in the day, and watch the sunset and, you know, kick my feet in the waves. That was magical. And I don't even remember why I stopped doing that. But, yeah, you gotta breathe every once in a while. When I say showing up, I don't mean don't breathe.

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Exactly. And I will say, I don't think I ever have any day where I don't know what to do. So I will say the systems that we've put, I've had that, but the systems I've put in place trigger everything I need to go do. From a sales, from an operation standpoint, that's nice. And if you can get to that, then you really have productive days and you don't want to. So I will tell you how important a system is in sales. It sounds self promoting, but that's what we do for people. We put that in and we help them. I will tell you, I do have another list of priorities that are much broader and it might be like getting our clutch review stuff set up. Managing Google Business review like bigger things like that are initiatives that need to be incorporated now into these processes that we have. That's what I do in my free time. And you talk about Wednesdays. We work four day work week. So I set the company up from day one to be a four day workweek. That way everyone has basically 50 days off relative to market. Just work hard, play hard. Truly, I will tell you, I take my Wednesdays now. They get eaten up for podcasts and some other stuff that I choose to do, but I don't do nearly as many emails. I get lots more of those other things done. So you do need to give yourself headspace. I like the idea of going to do something for yourself for half a day. Depends on where you are in the season of your life. Be able to do that, but find something for you. It'll be good for your relationships at home too, I think, to have time.

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One of the cool things that I read years ago when Tim Ferriss was just taken off and just had published the four hour workweek is he got to a point where he said, I basically checked my emails on Friday afternoon between four and 05:00 and I let everyone who depends on me, suppliers, clients, employees, vendors, whomever, here's my cell phone number. If it's an emergency, call me. Otherwise I'll return response to the emails on Friday afternoon. And it does a couple of things as he said. Number one, it gets people to agree on the definition of what an emergency is because most people don't have the same understanding that I do. I tell all of my employees, if it's less than $1,000, just do it. Okay? If it's more than $1,000, reach out. And if it's timely, you can call that an emergency. So he defined how he was going to communicate with the outside world and how his schedule is going to look to dictated by him, not in response to I'm checking my emails in the morning and all I'm going to do all day is respond to the wishes of other people. It's really, really powerful and most people are too afraid to do it. But the few times I've done it, it's very freeing.

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No, it is. It was in Peaky BlinderS yeah. You own the watch. The watch does known you and you look at it to tell it what time it is. It doesn't tell you what time it is. And I like the idea that now I will tell you, don't do that from day one. He didn't do that from day one in his business. He got to the point where he could do that because he had processes in place to allow him. So don't, there's an arrogance level versus when you do that. I'll give you an example. Personally, I don't return voicemail. I only go through it to clear it so it doesn't look unprofessional that it's full. But don't ever leave me a voicemail because I don't listen to them. I think it's email me, text me, I don't know, don't even, don't send me a letter either, unless, unless you're the IR's and that's the only way you do it. But the point being is like, I've just been, no, no more voicemail. It takes too long. Half the time I can't understand that word you're saying. Just don't do it. And I think that's a good one to start with. I just, I don't pick up the phone ever. Like my, it's a, it's a big row with my wife, but I'm like, I just, I hate talking on the phone. So like, don't call me. I'll do a zoom with you, I'll do a face to face. But a phone to my ear, I have no interest in doing it.

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Hate it. Absolutely. It's interesting that you say that because I feel the same way. The only phone calls that I answer are from my children or my father or my brothers and sister.

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Exactly. So my phone's on do not disturb. Here's an example. My wife and my daughter, who has the only other phone in the house, are the only two that punch through that and my mom and dad. And that's, there's like four people who can punch through my do not disturb. Everything else.

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It's a great, it's a great idea. It's a great, because most people are just the emergency. Come on. That's not an emergency. Figure that out. You know, so, and it's so easy to, to give your schedule to other people. We do it all the time, you know? Um, it's just I like the idea of no voicemail. I don't listen to voicemails either. If my children call me and I'm busy because they're adults now. I don't answer. If they call me a second time, right away, I drop what I'm doing and I answer, right.

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Exactly. If I get two in a row, I'm picking up, especially by them, too, because I'll be like, hey, is everything okay? If not, let me call you back on my voice message. I do say, hey, I don't check my voicemail. Just text me if this is something that needs, or shoot me an email. Otherwise, don't leave a message.

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You know, setting proper and specific expectations with people is a lost art. Most people don't communicate that well. And if you set the proper expectations, then no one's going to get mad at you when you don't listen to their voicemail because they know you don't listen to voicemails. You know, it's pretty simple, but you got to tie it up.

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Yeah, well, it's like before you left that voicemail. I did tell you I didn't leave that voicemail. All right, before we go, I have one more question for you.

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Yeah.

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Have you ever been promoted?

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Have I ever been? I don't even remember the last time I worked for somebody.

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It's a good start.

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I didn't get, I didn't get promoted as, and the company that acquired me, I was plugged into a management role, but no. Have I ever been promoted? Yeah, I suppose. Well, when I worked for my mentor, you know, when he brought me in to start the consulting company, it was the two of us, and then we had to hire people. So by hiring people, I became a manager. Right. He didn't turn around and call me anything different that particular same day. And then I became a recruiting manager. Then I became a sales manager. Then I became the manager of the entire organization. And when he sold the company, I became a regional vice president of the acquirer of that particular company. Are those promotions?

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No.

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Maybe, maybe not.

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No, can't count it. I'm sorry. You're going to join the club, you got to come in the club. I just want you in the club. So whatever you say, you're never promoted. Like, if you. I got promoted one time as a, from, like, bartender to sales manager to, like, general manager of a nightclub in like, a 40 day window.

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Yeah.

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I didn't realize that's the path to being fired nine months later because that's what happens. But I met my wife during the time. But my point being is that would be it. That's the promotion I got. Anyway, so my next book, by the way, won't be called never been promoted. It'll be called ask to leave. And I will see to what level that apply that idea. By the way, Mark, I'm gonna leave you the floor one more time. Take 60 seconds, tell people how to get ahold of you once again. And thanks again for coming on. You know, floor is yours to leave some information for people to get.

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Yeah. Thomas, thank you so much for having me on the show. I love talking about this stuff and I love imparting whatever wisdom I might have to whomever might benefit from it. It's kind of what I'm on the face of the earth for is my feeling. But yeah, Mark Aylward, you know, mark with Aylward and markaylward.com will get you to my website, and the Aylward  mark on the LinkedIn site will get you to my profile and that will get you anywhere you want to go. You can go as deep with my free stuff as you want. And there's a lot of good free stuff there, videos and workbooks and stuff. The best thing to do is get on my email list somehow if you're interested in what I'm doing, because I don't inundate people with email and what I send out has value. So and that could begin. That's a good way to get to know me. I'll leave you with a quick story. I had a guy reach out to me on LinkedIn a couple months ago, and he said, I've been watching your videos and reading your stuff, and I really like the way you think. Do you offer leadership training? And I thought to myself, I've been doing leadership training for 30 years. I just never called it that. So I said yes. And then we set up a Zoom call and I got on the phone with him and he was giddy. Hes like, mark, I feel like I know you. Ive been watching you for so long and listening to you for so long. And I thought, well, that cake is half baked. Thats pretty cool. And we signed a contract a couple weeks back for leadership training and were going to put the program together after I interview a bunch of his team members and find out where the gaps are and where the opportunities are. And so thats how you leverage LinkedIn. And as you know, probably you can do a lot of content creation on LinkedIn to nobody for a long time. And then all of a sudden, if you're doing good stuff, people are looking at it. You just can't tell they're looking at it. And then all of a sudden they start reaching out to you. And I really would like to be in a position, which I will be soon, where people are finding me and I'm not looking for them.

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Oh, I know companies going to help you with that. For those listening, I'm pointing to myself, we definitely know what to do with that. He says, the point, I'll leave you with this idea because I want to strengthen that. Once you start writing content that's relevant to the people you're supposed to be, your profile of one, the people that you should be meeting, it comes together very quickly. And when you add the other elements, like your web and your email and some, and your profile itself, you bring those together, connecting with people. They start, people start finding you. And it doesn't take as long as you think, but you do need a system to deliver it. And then there's what you found, and you're a professional salesperson, so you could see something was half baked. But a lot of people have, there's a, now what, what is your system? What is your offer theory and what's your, you know, way to get them to refer customers? So a lot of people don't have that post stuff baked. So we got to kind of, you got to think beyond leads and think beyond views and contents. Think of how to, not only do I get a customer, how do I get that customer that I haven't met yet to refer something to me? That's the mentality. You come in with that, and if you can think of it that way, then you, then you're in the right path.

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Yeah, it's, it was much easier for me in the face to face world. I remember a guy bringing me into his office and I didn't realize he was going to do this, but he was a senior chief information officer at a bank, and he brought me into a conference room with about six other hiring managers in there. And he said, I want to introduce you to Mark Aylward He's the only honest recruiter I've ever met in my life. Ask him what he needs and give it to him. Like, holy shit.

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Yeah, they got budget, too, which is great.

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Yeah, yeah. I'm trying to replicate that experience because as you know, it's true. Trust and credibility. Right? Who are you? Why should I trust you? Okay, then. What do you got to say that's much more difficult for me online than it was face to face? But I'm, I'm working on it.

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I will tell you. I'll give you the analogy in the metaphor, and people listen to this, because this is important. Just like you had troubles getting comfortable in front of the camera, just do the same thing. And who you're interacting with and why you interact with the content you create and the authenticity you do with it. Once you get past the robotic state of how that feels online, which is where you feel uncomfortable right now, I'm sure because you described it in the form of video, you'll be right where you were, and you'll be even more performing because you'll. You'll be adding in the live zoom and or in person event behind it, and it'll be, you don't have to do all the stuff you had to, to do to do that because you're all. You're already gonna be relevant. Your relevance is the catalyst of know, like, trust. And so when you can do this correctly and once you get comfortable just being you, your catalyst is already set. And you'll be. You'll get no, like, trust quicker, and it'll. It'll pile in. So. So we'll take it offline. We're going to leave you there right now. Mark, thank you so much for joining today, everybody who's listened, thank you again for listening to Never Been Promoted  podcast. Until we meet again, go out there and unleash your entrepreneur.

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Thanks for listening to Never Been Promoted  with Thomas Helfrich. Make sure to check the show notes for our guest contact information and any relevant links. Connect with Thomas personally at neverbeenpromoted.com.


Podcast Introduction and Guest Introduction
Discussion on Orlando and Personal Background
Entrepreneurial Journey and Recruitment Business
Reflections on Business Management and Personal Challenges
Entrepreneurial Insights and Selling the Business
Leadership and the Importance of Authenticity
The Imperfect Men's Club Podcast and Plans
Effective Communication and Leadership Styles
Mark's Approach to Business and Personal Growth
Final Thoughts and Encouragement for Entrepreneurs