106: Building Your Hardware Product Team Early | Product Startup

106: Building Your Hardware Product Team Early

December 15, 2021

With EA Csolkovits, Founder of 75 Products

106: Building Your Hardware Product Team Early

EA Csolkovits has founded multiple product businesses, which in total, brought 75 new products to the market in the health and wellness space. He has been in the business of building hardware teams for 40 years, is the founder of GIVERS University, is a radio host, is an author, and is even a fellow plane private pilot. Today, EA is going to share some valuable knowledge for inventors, product startups, and small manufacturers on the importance of building great product business teams early on, and how specifically to choose great product team members for building and scaling your hardware business.

Today you will hear us talk about:

  • Categories of team members
  • The importance of mentorship
  • The importance of the inner circle
  • Get a mentor that has been successful
  • Relationships are the most important in a fast-moving world
  • The single most important thing you can do to succeed is to develop a great team
  • Don’t listen to what people say, see what they do.
  • There are 3 different categories of team members
  • Key points to develop your inner team
  • Decide, Invite, Seed, Convene, Establish, Rotate, and Numbers

Product Startup
106: Building Your Hardware Product Team Early
With EA Csolkovits, Founder of 75 Products

00:00 | Kevin Mako (KM): Hello product innovators. Today, we learn from the founder of 75 consumer products how to build a great team early on to grow your product business.

00:11 | Voice-over: You’re listening to the Product Startup podcast. The show that helps bring your product idea to life, by chatting with successful inventors, product developers, manufacturers, and hardware industry professionals. Our goal here is to get to the bottom of what makes a product successful, from initial idea to getting your product on store shelves. We’re taking you step by step to build a functional product and scale your product business. Hosted by Kevin Mako, one of North America’s leading experts on hardware development for small product businesses. Now, on to the show.

00:46 | KM: Welcome back everyone. Today, I’m very excited to introduce EA Csolkovits to the show. EA has founded multiple product businesses, which in total brought 75 new products to market in the health and wellness space. He’s been in the business of building hardware teams for 40 years and is the founder of GIVERS University.

01:02 | KM: And is a fellow plane pilot, just like myself. Today, EA is going to share some valuable knowledge for inventors, product startups, and small manufacturers on the importance of building great product business teams early on. And how specifically to choose great product team members for building and scaling your hardware business. Now on to the episode, EA, welcome to the show.

01:20 | EA Csolkovits (EC): Thank you so much for having me. I tell you it’s a pleasure to be here and hopefully, give your listeners some great nuggets today.

01:26 | KM: Well, building a team is a big part of any hardware, especially as they start to scale and accelerate as they finish development and start getting into the market, and even arguably before that. So I’m very excited to talk about that. First and foremost, you’re a fellow pilot.

01:40 | EC: Yes.

01:40 | KM: You went a lot further in the process. You’ve done multi-engine, commercial, the whole bit.

01:44 | EC: Yes I did. I was very fortunate. And what’s weird about the story is that I became a pilot because of a contest. My business mentor came to me and said, I want to compete with you. And he said, whoever makes the other more money in one year, the loser has to buy the winner anything they want.

02:02 | EC: So the first year I lost so bad and I cashed out a house for my partner in Florida, I paid cash for the house. And I thought man, I got to catch on. This is going to hurt really bad every year if this is the deal. And then the next year he bought me Aerostar 601P, which you may be familiar with being a pilot.

02:20 | EC: And then the next year he bought me a limousine. And the next year he bought me a Navajo chieftain, which I used to refer to as my station wagon airplane. So I became a commercial pilot as a direct result of that contest that my business mentor came to me with.

02:31 | KM: I did not know that backstory. I appreciate you sharing that. That is absolutely crazy.

02:36 | EC: Yes.

02:36 | KM: I’ve done the private pilot thing just as a side hobby. And I must say that it’s a lot of work, and it’s tough to do while simultaneously running a business. Now you’ve brought 75 products to market. Can you give us a bit of a backstory on how that all started?

02:48 | EC: Yes. Almost all of those products are wellness products that we would manufacture for other firms. We were doing something back then that there wasn’t even a name for it, now there is. And we owned manufacturing equipment in the past, and we manufactured wellness products like nutritional shakes and different foods, and diet products and that kind of thing.

03:10 | EC: And we actually manufactured these for other companies. And we handle all this equipment sitting all the time. And equipment, when it’s not running, is dead equipment. It’s like the empty airplane on the tarmac. You own this equipment, it’s sitting there, it’s dead unless it’s running.

03:25 | EC: And one day it just dawned on me because we were making this huge product that had all these ingredients in it and our customer said all the products, all the ingredients will be there. So we said, okay, we set them up on the line, everything is ready. A couple of the ingredients don’t show up. Well, without all the ingredients, we can’t make it.

03:42 | EC: So meanwhile, we’re sitting there dead, the full-time employees, the equipment is not moving, our couple of ingredients that they promised would here are not here. So we’re dead in the water. I said this is never going to happen again. So we actually came up with something. We’re going back to the late 70s, early 80s now.

03:59 | EC: We went to a couple of the people who made products just like us. And we said, is your equipment running all the time? And they said, well, no. And I said, how about if we lease your equipment in the off-time? And the time when you’re not using it we will lease your employees. We’ll lease the equipment.

04:23 | EC: We will send all of the ingredients and all the product packaging there, and a couple of people from our firm to watch over it. And we will pay you a certain fee for the leasing of all your equipment, employees, and everything else. And you’ll do this run. Later on, that actually came up.

04:38 | EC: There was a name that came around for what we were doing called toll manufacturing. Basically, you pay a toll for all this, right? But back then there was no such thing. It was just like they were a little astonished that we even called them because we would normally be competitors.

04:52 | EC: And I told my partner this is great because we didn’t have to own the equipment. So we only have to do our runs and we have maximum flexibility. Because now if we get jammed or if a marketplace changes, we don’t have to sit there and justify what are we doing with some million dollar piece of equipment.

05:09 | EC: We’re only using everyone else’s equipment, so they’re going to be doing that. So we have a high amount of flexibility product by product, project by project and we do not have to buy all this equipment upfront going forward. So that’s actually how we did it. 

05:24 | EC: And we co-formulated and reformulated over 75 products in my career with that and working with all the different aspects. I have to say it was quite an astonishing time, and I’m very blessed to have had that happen.

05:39 | KM: We know that’s amazing because that really is the start of how most new products are manufactured today. Back then the idea was, well, you’ve got to build a plant and produce your invention, your badge or your formula or whatever it might be.

05:51 | KM: Nowadays, I look at most of our clients at Mako Design, pretty much all of the work we do for a first product goes to contract manufacturing. Very few of our clients actually set up at least a fully stocked facility.

06:02 | KM: Sometimes they’ll set up their own assembly house or distribution house, or whatever else that might help them with a small piece of the overall puzzle. But the vast majority of at least their first few production rounds are done via like you said a tool manufacturer as we call it contract manufacturing. 

06:15 | EC: Yeah, that’s what it’s called today. 

06:15 | KM: Simply, I would outsource production to somebody else. But you were one of the pioneers of that model back in the day. It seems so logical and normal now. But really, that was something in the evolution of new product development.

06:28 | KM: And arguably, that’s one of the things that really helped earlier stage companies get into the game. Because it’s far too capital intensive for almost any hardware inventor, especially, to build a factory. But it is possible to work with a factory.

06:41 | KM: And I love hearing your example because any kind of innovation in manufacturing that makes your product work or get to market, or get you off the ground, is a phenomenal story. And I love that intuition and innovation.

06:52 | KM: Now, of course, one of the things that you talked about before the show was there was a big catalyst to a lot of these business decisions and ideas and execution of those. It was having an amazing team behind your innovations and your business.

07:06 | KM: Can you explain what you look at in terms of the three different categories of teams? And then let’s get into best practices for actually building these teams as you scale a hardware business.

07:17 | EC: For sure. I’d like to, if I can, just go back just a little bit in history to sort of set the stage. When I was 16 years old, I was a janitor and I was able to meet an amazing lady. And if you want to talk about bringing a product to market, they became the masters.

07:31 | EC: I’ll say the name and it won’t mean anything to your listeners until I reference the movie. There was a movie out a few years back called The Founder with Michael Keaton playing Ray Kroc. And, for your listeners who have seen it, he’s always talking to a lady outside his office. June this. June that. June Martino.

07:47 | EC: I cleaned that lady’s house every single Wednesday, June Martino’s. Interestingly enough she became the first woman to ever trade stock on the Florida and New York Stock Exchange. And when I met her she had the third most controlling stock in McDonald’s.

08:00 | EC: So if you want to talk about a massive bringing of a consumer product to the marketplace in duplication of effort in scaling McDonald’s obviously is a story. And she told me one day the whole McDonald’s story. I lived in that area anyway. I’m originally from Chicago. And I lived in the New York Brook area.

08:17 | EC: And she told me how Ray Kroc really became her mentor. So the first thing I want to mention is that any and all teams, the team leader need to have a mentor. If they don’t, in my world we call them naive. Because you’re about ready to lead your team into many mistakes that you’re about ready to make that someone else has already made.

08:36 | EC: Why not? And the key with a mentor, firstly, I want to mention Kevin is that your mentor should be someone who has done it, not what I call an educated idiot. The educated idiots are the ones who have all the book knowledge and they can spew it back at you.

08:50 | EC: But if you simply ask them, can you show me what you’ve done? You get nothing back, right? So find a mentor who has done it, who has accomplished it. And usually, by the way, they’re much easier to talk to, and they want to help you because they know what it’s like to do it, as opposed to someone who is an educated idiot.

09:09 | EC: So first and foremost, get a mentor. With a mentor we live in this amazing world that I know you see all the time as products are coming and going faster than ever before in history. Businesses are opening and closing faster than ever before in history. So what do we have left?

09:28 | EC: Our relationships or the ability to discern who we want to have around us. And that’s really the heart of what we teach at GIVERS University. We teach relationship discernment. It’s like I was doing an interview with a gentleman a few months back.

09:43 | EC: And he said, oh man, this is great. I read this book and this book says I should have five really good people around me. I said, you’re absolutely right, you should. Question for you, which five? And he stared back at me with these little orphans in the eyes, but I said, you see my point?

09:58 | EC: Everyone is saying these things in these broad innocuous swaths of information, but no one has broken it down to the granular level and said, how do I choose my team? What do I look for? What are the details? At a very granular level, what should I watch?

10:13 | EC: So we teach people team forming. And I will share with any one of your business owners listening, the single most important thing you can do is develop a great team around them. Because otherwise, they’re going to be unwilling collateral damage when they bring those people in.

10:34 | EC: And all of a sudden, because they say, well, they’re so good at this. And I need to bring them in. Next thing you know, you’re stomping out fires that are not of your making. And your productivity goes out the window because you’re putting out these fires. So how do you do that? How do you build that team? What do you look for?

10:49 | EC: We teach people don’t listen to what they say, because anyone can learn the right thing. Watch what they do and hear the things you should be watching them do. in other words, we have actually one checklist that we call the 25 Dos Kevin, which actually is the 25 things you should see these people do, not what they say.

11:12 | EC: Because our talk talks and our walk talks. But our walk will always talk louder than our talk talks. And by the way, I practiced that before I said it right. Anyway, what we want to teach people is really simple, watch, become observant and watch the deeds that they do and this will help you.

11:34 | EC: And we actually give them a 25 checklist, these are the 25 things. And when you see them doing these 25, you may want to pull them in and make them a part of your team and your inner circle. By contrast, if you see them doing these 25 or part of them or 13 of the 25, you may want to begin respectfully distancing.

11:53 | EC: Not nasty or rude, but respectfully distancing yourself. Because when they come in they’re going to bring with them all the collateral damage you’re not going to want. And when you’re starting up your business you do not have time to be stomping out fires and being collateral damage or having your stress level going up because you’re going to have enough stress as it is anyway.

12:12 | EC: Why do you want to associate and have people around you? And all the business owners I’ve talked to said, no one ever taught me that. No one ever taught me how do I select people. So we have three different categories of what we call Juntos. The junto word by the way is interesting.

12:27 | EC: It’s actually a Spanish word from the sixteen hundreds, it wasn’t used too much. And then it was picked up in the seventeen hundreds by a man by the name of Benjamin Franklin. And in the early seventeen hundreds, actually 1727, Benjamin Franklin started a group of 12 friends and he called it the Mutual Improvement Club.

12:46 | EC: Later on, he called it the Junto. And later on, he called it the Leather Apron Club. These 12 got together, which a junto does. They get together for a mutual purpose. Right? Not like so many of the communities today that I call Taker communities.

13:03 | EC: The taker communities, by contrast, would be the ones and even little teams and little groups who say, join our community. And two hours later they’re selling you something. Right? That’s not a community. That’s a customer buying list. That’s a customer list, right? That’s the Old West where they circled the covered wagons.

13:21 | EC: But with a taker community they start shooting inward. That’s backward so it’s the wrong way. So with the giver community, that inner core, we have what’s called the Greater Junto, which is larger, worldwide. These are people who can be fall backgrounds, et cetera. Then the inner Junto is that two to 12 group if you will, the Ben Franklin group.

13:43 | EC: What’s interesting about Ben Franklin’s group is because of what they talked about, and it’s a more intimate group and team. He was very selective about whom he wanted to be a part of that group. And they talked about everything.

13:55 | EC: And what’s interesting is that our very Declaration of Independence could arguably be traced back to the conversations that happened at the Ben Franklin Junto. So no one can tell me a group of 12 people cannot be powerful.

14:09 | EC: Then subsequently, we have what we also call the givers’ insider Junto, two to 12 people, your inside team. Then we have the givers Millionaire Junto. This is two to 12 people. I was a part of that with my business mentor. And also, interestingly enough, another good example of that would be in 1915.

14:30 | EC: Henry Ford started a Junto and it consisted of himself, Thomas Edison, obviously an inventor, Harvey Firestone, Firestone Tires, and John Burroughs, who was a writer, a poet. Interestingly enough, when I talk about being diverse, John Burroughs was also a federal bank examiner.

14:50 | EC: So I have to guess that he must have been the money man. In federal banks they are like don’t do this, don’t do that. So, literally, Henry Ford called this group, the Four Vagabonds. And they would actually even travel together. 

15:07 | EC: Now, it has been said that this group, Thomas Edison, John Burroughs, Harvey Firestone, and Henry Ford, all four of them, the impact they had on each one of their businesses was astounding. And here’s the difference, a taker community is formed for the purpose of making money from each other, I am not for this.

15:35 | EC: A giver community has a fiduciary responsibility to give more to the team than they’re getting back. And you say, wait, how in the world can that happen? How do you even do that? Right? And my business mentor taught me. And he said those people are fewer and farther in between.

15:54 | EC: But once you have them and you have discerned in those relationships the rewards you will see, because of the extra time you took in finding that right team, catapulted you way past the time you thought you lost while you were looking for them. As opposed to finding a team that didn’t work and that basically sucked.

16:19 | EC: And you ended up stomping out fires. More businesses I have seen in my life, and I can share them with you. I helped, literally, co-formulate and reformulate 75 products over 40 years. I know what it takes to bring products into 20 different countries.

16:36 | EC: And what it takes to manufacture those products from the point of an idea all the way through the entire design and development process to the point of the first manufacturer run. And in the world of nutrition we do what’s called a hand run first.

16:52 | EC: Finding out when we made food bars one time that the equipment got hot and melted the fat. And it turned the food bars into the worst tasting salty bars you’d ever imagine in your life because all the fat that was hiding the taste melted.

17:06 | EC: And we didn’t know until we went into manufacturing. Right? So all of those mistakes all the way through. But all those things were helped a lot because number one, I had a mentor. He’s okay, we go on, right? That cost us half a million. Alright, we go on. We don’t cry over spilled milk, we go buy another gallon.

17:27 | EC: And then he said, the next thing is we always had the right team around us. And the time I didn’t have the right team Kevin, and there were a few times in my life, it cost me millions of dollars. One time I was paying a guy a million dollars a year and bought him a brand new Silver Spur Rolls Royce.

17:45 | EC: To later on have him betray me and do everything to try to destroy the company because I had not listened to my teaching. Because he was very talented at what he did. And I offset what I knew to be looking for, his ability. And short-term, yeah, it was great. Long-term, I took a real bloodbath.

18:05 | EC: Right? So I can share with your listeners when you’re forming those teams. So I want to touch on the five steps of forming a team if I can. Because I think that will really…

18:15 | KM: Yeah, that would be great.

18:17 | EC: We’ve developed it into an acronym. The acronym has seven letters, it spells out the word discern, they are the key points in developing your inner team. Nothing will be as prolific in your business, whoever’s listening to this podcast, like the people you have around you.

18:35 | EC: They will influence your decisions, the things you do, how happy you are when you put your head on your pillow at night, your family, they will influence all parts of that. So be discerning. So the first thing we have the D in discern stands for the word decide. How do you decide those people? How do you decide on those 12 people in your team?

18:56 | EC: What do you look for?So what we do is we actually provide a free checklist and we say these are the 25 things, we call it the 25 Dos. These are the deeds. Forget about what they’re saying. Watch what they’re doing.

19:08 | KM: Can you run through some examples of those dos? Because you brought them up before and that popped into mind. And I know you and I talked about it a bit on the show.

19:13 | KM: But just some of the real juicy ones for our listeners, just to get their appetite going on what some of those specific dos are versus listening to what people are saying. Because I think that’s very powerful. 

19:23 | EC: One of them is a giver because we have givers versus taker dos. And when we say, by the way, giver and taker I want your listeners to know that we love everybody. We’re not labeling people. We label deeds. So when we say giver, we’re actually identifying giver deeds. When we say taker, we’re not labeling a person we’re labeling taker deeds.

19:41 | EC: So a good example of a couple of the dos, if you will, for a giver. A giver that you would have around you is willing to delay gratification for the overall project. Another thing with a giver is that a giver will not do shortcuts. We call it do the thing to get the thing. Do not the thing you get something else. A taker will always be shortcutting.

20:02 | EC: You’ll see them glam on to other people’s efforts. You’ll see them try to get credit for what other people have done. Yes, we did this. And they didn’t do anything. They just happened to be hanging out there, right?

20:11 | EC: So a giver, the part that you want on your team, are those people who you will see and they’ll be identified by the first ones who step up when something needs to be done. You’ll see them step up first and say, I’ll do that. Or yeah, I’ll do that. As opposed to, oh crap, I got to work weekends.

20:28 | EC: Why sit there and talk them into working weekends? Get rid of them! Supplant that person. So those are just a couple of the 25 Dos that we give people as a free checklist to help them discern who should they have on their team. The second part is called invite. When you have these 12 people you’ve got to invite them. Right?

20:53 | EC: So there is decide, then invite. The third is what we call seed. And that is you simply begin from the onset let them know from an expectational standpoint what’s to be expected. In other words, this is what we’re doing This is what’s expected. Are you willing to do these 25 things? Are you willing to be a part of this?

21:16 | EC: Because if so, this can be great. But if not, I want to let you know we’re bound by this and we have no problem parting way as friends. Either way it is okay. So we teach people, look for people that have the ability to do what I just said, independent not dependent thinkers.

21:32 | EC: If you have dependent thinkers in your team, dependent means they will do things dependent on what everyone else is thinking and saying. An independent thinker has the ability to think and hold their own counsel.

21:45 | EC: They will work and think independently. They will listen to everyone else but they’re not going to emotionalize it because they have the ability to do the following, they do not allow their emotions to rule their intellect, they have their intellect controlling their emotions, the big difference of who you want around you.

22:04 | EC: You want the person who has that ability of their intellect controlling their emotions. And they can listen to someone who’s maybe even mad at you watch and see they don’t even flinch. In fact, they can even smile back at them because they’re saying they’re just talking. Those are just words, right?

22:18 | EC: So the first one is decide. The second one is invite. The third one is seed and those explain what is expected of them upfront. And then the next one is convene, which is really important. Get with your team, meet with them on a regular basis, and set that upfront.

22:36 | EC: Now it may adjust weekly, daily, whatever it is. And also, we joked about this earlier, I’m a firm believer of when you show up on time you’re already 15 minutes late. So, with your team you don’t want the ones you see being consistently late, you say, hey, what’s the deal here? This is called get up early.

22:55 | EC: This is called leave five minutes early. This is called be a big boy and let’s get it done. So I sometimes am getting very detailed with people right upfront. But I say it wasn’t like we didn’t talk about this so what are you doing this for? Let me know. We’ll work through it. So, convene.

23:14 | EC: By the way, with your team, this is a really important simple thing, name your team. Name it. With Ben Franklin, the Leather Apron Club. With Henry Ford, the Four Vagabonds. Give your team, your inner eight, 10, 12 people, two to 12 people, give it a name, give it an identity.

23:38 | EC: And that helps so much with creating because here’s something that most people don’t recognize with a team, whenever two or more minds form together in a spirit of harmony a third mind is formed. By the way that works all the time with givers and it works all the time with takers. With takers it’s called the lynch mob.

23:55 | EC: With givers it’s called those people working together for a common purpose. So when we’ve identified them with the 25 Dos, we have that spirit of harmony. As my business mentor said, and I share this with every one of your guys starting something up or starting something new, you do not have money problems.

24:13 | EC: There’s no such thing. You have idea problems. Work with the idea problems and you won’t have to worry about any money problems. And I can share story after story of my experiences when there weren’t two nickels to rub together or small amounts of money to rub together how massive things happened by simply crafting with a great idea a way where everyone could benefit.

24:37 | EC: So it’s not money problems, it has to do with idea problems. So we had convene. And then establish, which means really a name. The last one is rotate. Don’t always be the person who has to be upfront. Give the people on your team rotation for who’s going to be in charge of the meetings or the teams.

24:55 | EC: And have an agenda to give it a high structure. But also make sure that you rotate the leaders. Give everyone a shot at the podium, so to speak. But set forth the agenda! And then the last being numbers.

25:08 | EC: Because as the first few people of your innermost team begin to manifest themselves in your company’s scales what you have set up in the beginning, not only as your core group but also it will manifest through the entire organization.

25:26 | EC: Sidebar story, as it was taught to me by Michael Bash, one of the co-founders of Federal Express. And he told me that Federal Express in the very beginning had a simple slogan, absolutely positively overnight. I don’t know if you remember that.

25:40 | EC: He said, when Federal Express started, they had 600 employees, 250 jets and told all the employees please do not cash your checks, there is no money in the bank. So imagine telling 600 employees the first day they delivered five packages, and four of them were by their salesman to other clients about getting them customers.

26:01 | EC: He said it cost about two hundred and fifty thousand dollars a package, sell. And what was amazing is Michael said the following, we had this goofy thing absolutely positively overnight. And he said we were going basically out of business. He said later on, by the way, obviously they didn’t.

26:18 | EC: They changed the start date of the company and went public. Because they didn’t want everyone to know when it actually started because the numbers looked so bad. So they restarted the start date of the company so that when they went public it looked good.

26:29 | EC: And he said he had this gal in Chicago who wanted to fly, a pilot story, a Piper Cub, and had never flown one. And the company back then had given everyone a $50 bill basically to do whatever you need to get a customer and you get a $50 leeway. This person called, said I need my wedding dress. It’s got to be here the same day.

26:50 | EC: So this little gal, an employee of Federal Express, goes and rents a Piper Cub, pays it 50 bucks, flies the wedding dress from Chicago to Milwaukee. It turns out that the wedding was for the chairman of the board’s daughter for RCA. And everyone at the wedding was talking about how they got this wedding dress there the same day.

27:11 | EC: It was unbelievable back then. And so, Michael Bash, the co-founder asked the girl, why’d you do it? Whatever provoked you to do this? She goes, well, I was just following my job description. He said what? She said, well, absolutely positively overnight. He said that’s not your job description.

27:27 | EC: That’s what we tell customers and clients. She said, oh, I didn’t know. I thought it was my job description. So there is the importance of the team, see? When you have the right team, it will have a profound effect. And it’s arguably the main account that got Federal Express and saved it and it became the Federal Express we all know today.

27:47 | EC: For your listeners, be selective, get a mentor. If you don’t find one and make sure you ask the most important question, can I see what you’ve done? Number two, build a team and be discerning on your team, even if it’s laborious, if it requires more time than you think it should.

28:07 | EC: It’s better that you have fewer people, and as each person comes in, they are doing those 25 things. And then you know they’re a long-term team member, and you will have a dynamic of that spirit of harmony where you get that greater part.

28:23 | EC: Like attaching two batteries and you get a greater electrical charge because of the synergy of it, that team will make or break your business start out. I’ve seen great products with crappy teams that folded. And I’ve seen lackluster products with spectacular teams that became highly successful. 

28:48 | EC: I experienced them both myself and I can tell you the team and the relationships and the discernment you use with those people around you will impact you in profound ways.

28:59 | KM: One of the things I find so amazing when you go to these business awards shows and whatnot, you hear the speeches. And I’ve been up there and done them myself. And one of the first things that always pops to mind is the team and the effort that went behind it for everybody.

29:12 | KM: And it’s not just you and me talking about it here. I would say almost unanimously across any successful scaling entrepreneur who has gotten to a certain point that is award-worthy or whatever else they’ll tell you the same thing. It couldn’t have happened without an incredible group of people around them that amplifies that goal.

29:32 | KM: And something that really resonates with me that really kind of flows through everything you said on this talk today is the power of vision. And it seems that, the FedEx example is a great one, if you can align everybody from the get-go, both in hiring, choosing, then hiring, bringing on that team, keep them aligned to the goals and vision.

29:52 | KM: They will naturally fulfill that vision for you when you’re not there to make the decisions or when they can make better decisions than you can, or simply amplify your message. And that really plays into the rotation element that you mentioned too.

30:06 | KM: Bringing on different players of the team on different meetings or on different decisions to bring out their leadership so that you’re not missing out on the value of those incredible people who have been brought into your organization that match that shining star that you put forth in making sure that they are there to contribute. 

30:22 | KM: And you’re not missing out listening to some of this very profound advice, it might be coming from anybody within your organization. And the final one that I’d say to that as well, and I liked how you kind of wrapped it all together, you need structure to all this.

30:34 | KM: Having structure makes things happen. It keeps things moving and really structure is stability. And if you can have innovation with this team, as you mentioned, by having the right people and allowing them to innovate and be independent thinkers.

30:50 | KM: But in conjunction as well, have that structure in there to keep things flowing and keep everybody following that shining star that you set forth. And it is very powerful to any business.

30:58 | KM: And I can tell you from my own business that I would never be at a 30 person team across four offices without having all kinds of people that I can look back in the early days, in the middle days, and even to today that I relied on heavily to help build that entire establishment.

31:13 | EC: For sure. Just a side two minutes story at best, because it’s a great sum up story. I saw an interview many years ago about a guy, his name was J. Paul Getty. At the time, J. Paul Getty was the wealthiest person in the world. And he was being interviewed, and the interviewer asked him, I remember the interview like it was yesterday.

31:34 | EC: The interview said, if you lost all of your oil, that’s where he made his money, big oil tankers and shipping oil and that kind of thing, and subsequently a lot of other products and businesses. He said, if we took it all from you, all of your holdings, all of your tankers, all of your oil, could you do it again?

31:51 | EC: And he said, not only could I do it again, but in one year it would be bigger than it is today. And I would ask that you only leave me one thing. Take it all. Take all of my money, take all of the assets, all of the ships, all of the oil, take it all. Just leave me one thing, my organization.

32:14 | KM: That’s amazing. Grant Cardone just did that on TV. He took that challenge where somebody said, if you started over again, I forget what the number was, x thousand dollars and 10 grand in your pocket, or something like that. Could you build something? And he actually did a reality TV show.

32:32 | KM: I think it was over the course of 90 days or something like that where he converted that into a big thing. And I said, man, that’s amazing because he really did it, he put the proof in the pudding. A lot of people have said that over the years, and he took the challenge and actually pulled it off. But that is the reality.

32:47 | KM: And a lot of entrepreneurs will tell you the same thing. I heard some stats, it’s arguably some x million dollar entrepreneurs have failed or gone bankrupt twice in their life. And that just goes to show you that there’s something well beyond luck or even hard work, there’s a combination of elements.

33:06 | KM: And as you mentioned, you believe the most important one is the team. And there’s a lot of merit to that. But it proves that when you watch these people that have failed and then rebounded from great failure, learn from that and then build something new again.

33:18 | KM: And I think it’s very powerful, especially if we are thinking about hardware startups and understanding the journey that you have to go through upfront before you start getting money. You have to give a lot, as you said, before you start receiving, and that is in actually producing your product and getting payments in.

33:32 | KM: You have to give a lot first, build yourself a great team, invest a lot personally, financially, and emotionally to get a product over the line. But if you do it well and you give enough, the dividends are incredible. Especially if you surround yourself with a great team to get there.

33:47 | EC: I interviewed over two years, 1000 millionaires. And you know …

33:52 | KM: Wow

33:53 | EC: … Kevin, every single one of them had the story you just said. Every one of them had a time where everything looked dark, where everything, the business, the money, the family, everyone said, throw in a towel. Do you know some of them interestingly even used the same words as me?

34:10 | EC: Some of them even said, do you know I took the next step out of morbid fascination just to see if there’s anything else that could go wrong? He said it was like I was thinking I’ve hit them all. Is there anything else? And they took the next step.

34:25 | EC: And they said the amazing thing about that, I’m not saying some of them, Kevin, they all 100% had that story. And they all said they took that next step. And for some reason, it was like failure left them. And all of a sudden things started coming together almost magically on their own in spite of them.

34:46 | EC: It was amazing that all 1000 of them had that exact same story of no matter what kind of industry in business. And what happens is when we have our product it becomes our baby. We’re giving birth to this thing and we’re breathing air in its nostrils every single day.

35:00 | EC: I think it was Malcolm Gladwell that said, when you feel like you’ve hit the breaking point, your failure, you’re almost at the tipping point where it’s going to become exponentially successful. Like when you finally feel like you’ve hit your wits’ end, you’re very close to success. And that’s what you refer to as that next step. Just a little bit further and you’re over that hill.

35:24 | EC: And if you have the right team they’re going to be there, see?

35:27 | KM: That’s right.

35:27 | EC: The wrong team, they’re all going to be of the mindset that the last one left in a restaurant gets stuck with the check. That’s their mindset, right? But when you have a giver’s team, they’re going to say, hey, we can do this. This is nothing. Let’s do it. No problem.

35:39 | EC: And again, because those times are going to happen and it’d be naive to think they’re not going to. They’re going to. But with the right team and following very specific proven methodologies in discerning who to have a part of that team is a winning formula

35:55 | KM: Look, I appreciate you being on a show.

35:57 | EC: Thank you.

35:57 | EC: Now, just talk fairly quickly about GIVERS University that you’ve established and how folks can reach out to learn more about your processes, especially that 25 point list of the dos.

36:07 | EC: For sure.

36:07 | KM: I really want everyone to know where they can get this information where they can learn more from you as they’re building their teams.

36:12 | EC: Just go to our website, it’s giversuniversity.com. So it’s plural, giversuniversity.com. Sign up for our newsletter, it’s absolutely free. We’re not spammers, so as soon as you do that you’ll get a thing in your email that says, do you want to communicate with these people? Say yes.

36:25 | EC: And about an hour later, you’ll get an email that has a download in it that is called the Six Arrows That Takers Shoot at Givers. And then about two days later, you’ll get that 25 Dos checklist. And then every week on Thursday morning will be a short, sweet what we call the Giver’s Toolbox.

36:45 | EC: This is specifically every week we give a new tool that every business owner can add to their relationship toolbox on how to discern their team. What should they be looking for? And every week it’s short, sweet. It’s not detailed. I hate that you sign up for something.

37:03 | EC: Next thing you know you’re getting 10 emails a day and I go unsubscribe, right? And once a week, on Thursday, they’re going to get a simple, short little thing that’s going to help them build up a great relationship team toolbox, which will be the most important thing.

37:19 | EC: And as crazy as that sounds, I can submit to you, with absolute proof, that it’ll be more important than their product or their service. Because what’ll happen is that product or service at Sunday will have a life, but a great team, they’re going to keep that after the life of that product or service

37:36 | KM: Powerful stuff. Yeah, I really appreciate you being on the show today.

37:39 | EC: Thank you.

37:40 | KM: Thanks again.

37:40 | KM: You bet. Thank you.

37:41 | Voice-over: Thanks for tuning in to this episode of the Product Startup podcast. The show that teaches you what it really takes to bring your product to market and turn it into a big success. This podcast series is brought to you by MAKO Design + Invent, the original and leading firm in North America to provide global caliber end-to-end physical consumer product development to startups, inventors, and small product business clients. If you’re looking for product development help on your invention, head over to makodesign.com. That’s M-A-K-O design.com, for a free consultation from one of MAKO Design’s, four design studios from coast to coast. Thanks for listening and see you next time.


EA Csolkovits / GIVERS University Links:

The Product Startup Podcast Links:

Mako Design Links:

Kevin Mako Links:

Thanks for tuning in! See you next time.