Jeff Steinmann: Hello, and welcome to the How to Quit Working show. Today, I’ve got an awesome guest. I couldn’t wait to have him on the show and here’s the reason. We tend to think that entrepreneurship is so hard. We think that it’s only for certain special people with certain special gifts and talents. Not that my guest on today’s show is not extremely talented and smart and awesome in many ways, but what he’s going to show us is how incredibly simple getting started with a business can be when you have the right motivation, you’re in the right mindset, you have the right reason. Today, I’m going to talk to Wesley Chapman. Wesley, welcome to the show.
Wesley Chapman: Hey, thank you so much for having me, Jeff. I really appreciate it.
Jeff: Yeah. Well, I’m glad to have you on because you’ve got a really interesting story. Now, you started out as an entrepreneur when you were eight years old. Most of us were playing with Legos and watching Sponge Pants or whatever when we were eight year old, but not you.
Wes: Well, it’s quite a story as I’m sure a lot of people we know would think. It really started a lot earlier than that in my life. There’s two types of entrepreneurs in the world. There are the entrepreneurs that go out and want to be an entrepreneur. I mean, they truly do. It’s something they want to do, they’re in a job they don’t like, whatever. And they want to go out and do something. Then there’s the entrepreneur that’s forced into doing something. They’ve got fired from the job, they weren’t making enough money. They had to change their lifestyle because of health, whatever. I was in the latter. I was an entrepreneur that was kind of in a situation where like you said, most eight year olds would probably rather be playing with Legos.
Now, I am a little wired differently. I would probably—even looking back, would rather start a business than play with Legos. But everybody’s kind of wired a little differently. So, I’ll give you the back story as quickly as I can and then I’ll give you the story of how everything started. So, the basics of it is just that I was abandoned when I was six years old from my biological parents. And so, between the ages of six and eight, it was these whirlwind of events for a small child, being bounced in and out from this, from that. I had a lot of devastating things that happened to me when I was younger, just to wrap it all up and for people to get their minds around it. When I was six years old and then again at six and a half, I tried to kill myself. And so, I was a very, very troubled child for some things that happened.
So, around the age of seven, I was basically, medically and psychologically dumped. Basically I was told that—and the people that were around me were told, go to a halfway house, a boys house. It’s over. This human being is worthless. And luckily, I had a grandmother who was in a situation who said no. She was a very successful woman. She was an administrator in the VA hospital. She worked for the government. She was very well connected. She was just a fighter. This was back in the ‘80s. I mean so it was women in the workplace were even different than it is now. And anyway, so she volunteered to help take care of me, never officially adopted or anything like that because there’s a lot of other legal stuff that happened. But she volunteered to bring me in.
And so, I went from living in total hell and chaos to living with the woman who is just absolutely phenomenal. And I spent some time with her and then she became physically disabled. And she was one of the first female employees of the U.S. government to develop fibromyalgia and back then, they didn’t know what the heck that was. All she knew was her arms are incredibly bad and back pain. It wasn’t arthritis but nobody knew what it was. And so, I was a big breakfast guy. Huge breakfast guy. She was an amazing breakfast person. She’d make waffles, pancakes, eggs, bacons, hash browns. I mean, whatever you can imagine. I mean, breakfast was my thing.
Jeff: You’re making me hungry.
Wes: Yeah, exactly. And going from a situation where I literally ate dog food to eating a sweet and amazing gourmet breakfast was phenomenal. I mean, I could down eight pancakes or excuse me, eight waffles. Anyone… I’m sure you’ll put a photo on there. I’m just blessed that way. The one morning, I come down and there’s no breakfast. And I’d gotten really used to breakfast so I’m kind of like, hey, where’s my breakfast, right? This little eight year old boy, I want my breakfast. And there was no breakfast. There was no smell of breakfast, there was nothing.
So I started going down the hall and we had a fairly large home. And I started going down the hall and I could hear like whimpering and crying kind of sounds and I was… so I started being a little more quiet and I got up to the door, my mother—my grandmother’s door. And I call her my mom, just so we can get that clear. And I got up to my mother’s door and I put my ear up to it and I could hear her crying. I was about to open the door but then I heard her talking. So I was like, oh wait. So as she was talking… I’m an eight year old boy and I just heard things like, I don’t know if I can do it. I don’t know if we can keep the house. I don’t know if we’re going to be able to keep the car. All of these different things.
And so, I’m sitting here kind of going, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. I’m finally in a situation where things are good, where I feel like I have a chance to be a normal child, and now I’m hearing the same kind of crap that I’ve heard before which is, I’m not going to be able to make it. It’s not working. My little childhood mind is thinking all kinds of different things. Is it me? Is it this? Is it that? I had a pretty good understanding of money because basically, since the age of four, I had been an adult. My biological mother had taken off on several occasions to leave me with the kid—or my three siblings. And so, I was… I understood this whole money thing a little bit better than normal.
So, I remember going out on my entire swing and we had had a pretty large yard. And this yard was very well landscaped in flowers. We had an actual English style rose garden and tulips and peonies and all these different things. And I remember sitting on my tire swing and thinking, what can I do? What can I do? What can I do? How can I solve this problem? And everytime we went and got groceries, my grandmother, my mom, would buy flowers. And it always stunned me. I was like, we have an entire yard of flowers! Buy me more waffle making stuff. Why are you buying these flowers?
And so I sat there and I thought, wait a minute. If we have all these flowers and we still buy flowers, then other people want to buy a flower. So I ran into the house, went into the kitchen, grabbed some scissors. I’m running out. My mom is yelling at me, “What are you doing running with scissors?” And I’m a troubled child. So I did a lot of stupid things. And so she’s kind of like, oh no.
Jeff: And running with scissors is the worst thing you can do.
Wes: Oh yeah. Well, no I’ve done worse. But yeah, well, that’s another story. So anyway, so I’m running out into the yard and I’m whacking her flowers. Well, she’s a green thumb, right? So she’s freaking out. She’s had a bad day. And so she’s like, “What are you doing cutting my flowers?” She’s screaming at me. She’s calling me all kinds of things about how horrible I am, and so I just went to the other side of the house. I started shopping flowers. Through my bike, got on my bike and just started pedaling down the neighborhood. Now, as a pretty independent child so I would ride my bike through the neighborhood and through this little town we lived in. I’d spend all day on my bike. It was just what you did back then, and especially what I did.
And so, I’m out there and I’m knocking doors. I grab five, six flowers, four flowers whatever. I know I wasn’t precise. Just as many as I thought looked good in a little bundle. And I walked up to them and I would say, hey I’m selling some flowers. And a cute little eight year old boy—and just so everybody knows, things change—but I was cute when I was eight so it worked very little. I’d sell flowers for 20, 30, whatever. I mean, I really had no price. I just kind of tested the market. I was like, $10? $20? $30? 40? Okay, 30? I didn’t really have any kind of strategy. I was just trying to sell these flowers.
Long story short, at the end of the day, I come home, my mom’s sitting on her bed and she’s got her little slings through her arms and she’s just not the same person anymore. I sit down next to her and she’s like, “Where have you been all day?” And I was like, well… and I handed her a lot of money. And she counts the money and it ends up being $500. She starts crying again. And I’m like, “What is wrong with you adults? You guys are driving me crazy. You cry over everything.” She starts laughing and, “I’m not crying because I’m sad. I’m crying because I’m happy.” But then, I know in the back of her mind, she’s like, what convenience store did you rob? What did you do, you troubled child? And I said, well you remember all of those flowers that I was cutting and you were yelling at me? Well, I went and sold those door to door. And she started laughing and she said, “Go cut more flowers.” So that’s where it started.
And then I got really scientific. And this is where the DNA just kicked in. I got really scientific because a couple of days before Memorial Day for an example, I didn’t sell any flowers. I stockpiled. I made bouquets. I got everything looking good. I did this whole thing. And then, I went out the day before Memorial Day and my mom tells me the story. I’ve got some memory of it but I don’t remember all the details like she said because she was helping do all the stuff.
Anyway, I doubled on my prices and I did a supply and demand deal. And I had a customer base. And I was delivering these flowers door to door. And these were pretty nice flowers. And so, I figured out as a small child, wait a minute, supply and demand, holidays. All these different elements. And then from there, flowers and… we had a fairly large yard and so what I noticed is all of these people, primarily women, they were stay at home moms or grandma’s, had cars in their driveways that were dirty. And I figured, I’m cute. You’ve already bought from me. So, I would give you the worst car wash you’ve ever had or 20 bucks. And it worked.
Jeff: But at the time, you didn’t know it was a terrible car wash, right?
Wes: No. And actually, just because the way my mom is, we started doing a door-to-door and hired some neighbor kids. We did some fun stuff and it got really, honestly, too busy. Most people had two cars in the neighborhood we live in. So you had the stay at home mom who had the mini-van and then you had the husband who had the BMW or the Toyota, whatever. I started thinking, wait a minute, I already have this customer. They have another car. That’s another 20-30 bucks, why can’t I get to wash the other car?
So we would wash the one car in the driveway and then I would say, hey, on such and such day, Thursday through Saturday, I’m washing cars at our office location which was our front yard and if you drop your car off, I’ve got a 2 for 1 special, which is for one car it’s 30, for two it’s 60. And it’s kind of comical because it’s like, well, that’s not really 2 for 1. But this is a little kid. And so, I started literally washing a couple of hundred cars a month in our front lawn which was a whole another story.
But when I did that, my mother—and this is what I love about her, she would come out and she’d be like, this looks like crap. This is how you’re going to wash this car. And so, we got really good at washing cars. So there you go, I mean, that’s an 11-minute story but hopefully, that gets the audience hyped up and ready for some other stuff we’ll talk about.
Jeff: Well no, that’s awesome because I think there’s a couple of really important lessons that I want to pull out of that. And the first one is that you’re eight years old and you had a really, really good reason for going out and making money, right?
Jeff: And I think that that’s the first lesson, right? I mean, everybody—nobody can start a business just for the hell of it, right? Nobody can start a business just for the money. You got to have a reason.
Wes: Oh, thank you. Thank you for saying that. And I don’t want to cut you off but I do want to say… I would want to say one thing is that it’s a positive and a negative for me because you see, I was trying to fix something. And that is an awesome, awesome characteristic of anybody. You’ve got a problem, you want to fix it. The problem for me was the psychology of where I had come from is that, it was an amazing experience.
It’s a cool story but it actually… and not, literally not until a few months ago I realized, whoa, wait a minute. This is Wesley having to fix everything is a disease. This is not a good thing because I’m trying to fix people, I’m trying to fix businesses that shouldn’t really be fixed, meaning they shouldn’t have even started a business in the first place. There’s positive and negative to what you said.
But what I really loved about what you said—and I want this to come clear as day: last night, I had an opportunity to be somewhere. And I don’t want to say where because I don’t want this to bash the company, but I was at a very prestigious party and with very prestigious individuals. And they got up and they were launching this product and we all have heard about Snapchats’ mystery $3-billion dollar offer. We’re still wondering if that’s true but whatever. Snapchat was offered $3-billion dollars, didn’t take it and everybody’s kind of like, what is wrong with you, Snapchat?
Well, everyone needs to remember. Facebook was offered a heck of a lot of money by Yahoo a long time ago, and look who’s laughing now. So, don’t judge too quickly. Well, this individual, they’re launching their product and he gets up and he’s all excited talking about it. He says, “Listen. I want all my investors who are in this room to know something. Unlike Snapchat, when we get the billion dollars, we are blank going to take the money.”
And I was with my fiancée and a group of people and I just deflated, Jeff. I was like, are you kidding me? You are going to put that out in the universe? That you’re in this thing for the money. And first of all, I personally don’t think this thing will ever hit that kind of a number. They’re not going to hit a billion that he broadcasted. I mean, maybe. I could be totally wrong. I’ve been wrong once before. But it just flabbergasted me that that was the energy he was putting out into the universe. I tell every entrepreneur, if you are doing this for the money, go get a job.
Jeff: Yeah. Well, you’ve got to have a reason. You had a really pressing reason and a really personal reason. But it doesn’t have to be that way, right? I mean, the reason can be about making a positive change in your life or in someone else’s life or a positive change in the world.
Wes: Yeah. It can be. It can be about anything. I’m writing two books right now. One is my autobiography and the other is a book that’s debunking this whole theory of community and we’re all singing, we’re all dancing in circles and it’s all about this community of “we”. And I love that. I’m not bashing that but there’s some facts and the facts are, it’s about me first and everyone else second. And that sounds so selfish but in order to be a powerful influencer or to be able to help people, you have to be really solid.
I hate to break it to people, but just think of it this way. My fiancée and I talk about this all the time. It’s some silly little analogy but it really gets it home. If you’re on a plane and it crashes, the first thing you’re supposed to do is what? Put on your own mask. Not the infant child, not the elderly person’s mask, put on your own mask. And then—and I make it very clear—and then help others. I’m telling people, you have to be selfish. You have to make sure you’re taken care of so that you can help other people.
So when you go out into this business world, and you—I know your show’s all about getting out of the cubicle and getting into… doing something that you love. When you make that decision, be a little selfish. I’m doing this because. I’m doing this because I’m sick of this problem. The Swiffer, the people that have been to the Swiffer, they were fixing a problem. They hated mops. It was selfish. They didn’t like to mop the floor with that ugly, ropey looking thing, right? And now, look at them. Now they’ve got a product.
They’ve done all these things. They’ve sold it, blah blah blah. But I mean, Airborne, same story, right? Selfishly didn’t want their kids sick all the time. They were sick of it. And now, bam. Now what, this and that. BareMinerals, right? She hated make-up. She was like, ah, I want something that’s actually going to be good for my skin and good for me and blah blah blah blah blah. And now, she sold the company. But I mean, these people are loaded. But they were very, very selfish in the beginning.
Jeff: Yeah. Yeah. I love the oxygen mask analogy. And I actually met somebody a couple of weeks ago who has a couple of oxygen masks hanging in his office to remind him of that. And I think that’s so cool. We got to keep that, those things that we really believe in front of mind so that we’re always thinking about them. Now the other lesson that I thought was really interesting about your story is, you went out and you sold these flowers. You were cute, that didn’t hurt anything.
But you also clearly delivered—you clearly delivered a quality product. You delivered something that these people liked. So they liked you. You would go back and sell them flowers every single week. And the other thing that you did that was I think so brilliant and is such a great lesson is you recognized that when you have a satisfied customer and you’ve build your reputation and your brand, you can then go in different directions with that.
And it sounds like you did that twice. First he said, let me wash this car that I see here. And then you said, well I know you got another car. Let me wash another car. So you built that customer relationship and then you leveraged it to get more business and to make more money and be more successful that way.
Wes: Yeah, and people underestimate relationships. We have social media and everybody’s like, ooh, I’m just going to do this, this and this. For anybody that knows guys like Gary Vaynerchuk and Henry Smith, I mean, these people are very, very good at what they do. And I really like Gary because he simplifies things. But I’ve been teaching the same or preaching the same message for a long time is that it’s all about the relationship. I don’t need 40 million followers.
Quite frankly, I teach businesses who have three, four, five, 6,000 followers on Facebook or Twitter, how to really build relationships because what is so valuable in a relationship is exactly what you said. It’s the ability, it’s the trust. Stephen R. Covey’s son, Stephen R. Covey wrote a book called Business at the Speed of Trust which is an amazing concept because once you have trust, everything else just goes so much faster. If I were just to go out and go to another neighborhood that I’d never been to, selling flowers or doing anything and trying to wash cars, people would be like, yeah, I don’t know you. Okay, you’re a cute little kid but I don’t really know you.
My close rate would be very, very difficult. I have maintained through my life, my entire life, anywhere between a 90 and 95 percent close rate. Because when I go to sell you something, I have already given you so much value whether it’s through stories or whether it’s through ideas or whether it’s through content or whether—whatever it may be through. And I don’t just sell you on the first date, right? I take time to build relationships. And people don’t get that because they want it now. Everything now, now, now. Give me—buy, buy my product.
People come to me all the time and say, Wes, I’ve got 19 months and if I don’t hit this target, I’m done. Or I got six months and I’m like, and I look at him and I say, you’re already done. You’re already done. Because if that’s your mentality, you’re done. Because it takes time to build these relationships but when you do, and I’ve burned relationships. I want it to be very, very clear. I’ve made massive mistakes in relationships.
And I’m telling everybody who’s listening: don’t make the same mistakes I’ve made. Because a relationship is so powerful. You never know. It could be 10 years, five years, a year, six months, three months, a day. You have no idea who you’re meeting, who’s on the other side of a Skype chat, who’s on the other side of a Facebook post, you don’t know. But you do know that if you are just trying to do the best that you possibly can and give the best possible product, then once you’ve established that relationship and if you turn it into business relationship and you’ve closed the deal, it’s all about vertical.
It’s all about okay, I’ve got this list. I’ve got this client. How can I leverage that? How can I be selfish, give them value, and have them do something else? I sold flowers and went into car washing. Like, seriously? But look at Apple, right? They started selling computers, now they sell music, right? Well, this is all about the relationship of trust and then learning how to leverage that.
Jeff: Yeah, and that’s so cool. Washing cars has absolutely nothing to do with the flowers. And I think that’s one of the important things to remember is, like you said, it’s about the relationship. It’s not about the product. You could have trimmed their bushes. You could have washed their windows. At that point, they probably would have let you in to the house to… I don’t know, mop the kitchen floor or something like that. It didn’t matter what you were offering because you built the relationship.
Wes: And everything you just said, we did. I mean, quite frankly, I went into landscaping. Because I was like, oh, you need your lawn mowed? Okay. And so, we started mowing lawns. And then, my mother and I did get—we have so many ups and downs and peaks and valleys and different things going on. We get to the point where it would be like, oh my gosh, what are we going to do for this or that financially and she was struggling with her health and all these things were happening.
And I kind of got addicted to money. I’m going to be really honest. It was like, I can buy bags of candies like, all the time. This is awesome. So I can buy a computer that’s $4,000 because I have the money. I mean, it was really, really interesting experience. I learned a lot about money management, all kinds of things. But yeah, everything you just said. We would wash windows. We’d mow the lawns. My mother would help us get people that can clean homes.
And then I learned another valuable lesson which is about creating relationships with other businesses. And so I didn’t even have to do some of the work. I would just be like, oh, you need that done? I know a guy. And so now in my ’30s, I literally, if you need something—I was with a client yesterday and we were going through and they’re like, well, we need to get t-shirts done. Okay, I know a guy. Oh, I need to get this edited. I know a guy. Oh, we need this web program. I know a guy. We need this app. I know a guy. And they started laughing. It even came to a point where they were like, do you not know anybody? Is there something that we could do that you don’t know? I was like hmm… and then one guy’s like, oh fix the sprinklers. I’m like, actually, I know a guy. So, it’s just… that’s what becomes power.
Jeff: So, you didn’t keep selling flowers and washing cars forever, right?
Wes: No. I love manual labor but I think there’s more to life than manual labor. Just for me, personally.
Jeff: Okay. So what was next for Wes?
Wes: I got into the tech. That’s where it really got exciting is, I was going to doctors’ offices all the time with my mom and I’d sit there and they would be like, writing on this tablet, right? And we probably all—all of us that are in our ‘30s can remember these things. They’re like, they take up the entire desk and they were…yeah.
Jeff: And for our younger listeners, when we say tablet, we’re not talking about an electronic device. We’re talking about a big pad of paper.
Wes: I know. My fiancée says that to me all the time. I’m like, can you get your tablet? And she’s like, I don’t want my tablet. I want my notebook. And I’m like, that’s what I was talking about. Anyway… yeah, anyway… but okay, so there’s a big pad of paper, right? And it’s got all the little squares on it for calendar days and these nurses were like, some would call in and they’d be like, oh yeah, let me look at that. Oh, we’ve got this date here. I’ll pen it in, whatever and they’d write on it. And then, 20 minutes later, because I just would sit there and watch—and I was really good. I’m still in this way. I get back stages. I get backstage.
That’s always my goal. If I’m going to go somewhere, I want to get backstage. And I started at this point in my life because they’d be doing stuff and I’d be like, oh can I come around and like, talk to you guys and maybe sell you a flower? And I’d get behind the desk and I watch him and I’d be sitting in the chair and they’d give me a book and color, whatever. And I’d kind of be like, I don’t want that. I want to see what you guys are doing.
And 20 minutes later, someone would call and it would be the same person. It’d be like, “Oh I can’t come in. I talked to my husband and we’re not going to be able to make it.” And they would take their pen and they’d scratch it out and then some of them want to use white out and I’m like, you guys are so… like, do you ever heard of a computer? It’s like, sitting right here and they would literally look at me like, we don’t know how to use that thing. And I’m like, I do. And we could make a scheduling thingy on this computer and then, you just hit this little delete button if somebody doesn’t want to come back and it’s really easy. And it looks better than your big pad of paper on your desk. And so I did.
And so I went home and I learned how everything worked in the computer world and how you write programs and how you do stuff. And we created some software solutions for scheduling appointments and doing stuff with computers. And then I figured out, that’s not what I love. And so, I started helping people and I taught nurses how to use computers and we’d find better software programs. And then, I’d learn how to use them at home and then I’d come in and teach them how to do that.
So, when my mom was getting her medical stuff done, I would sit—I had it all mapped out. I’d sit in the lobby and I’d look really bored. And then, go up to the nurse and say, I’m really bored. Do you have a computer? And they’d be like, yeah, but we don’t know what to do with it. I’m like, oh, I could show you something really cool. And then I’d show them and they’d be like, oh. And I’m like, yeah. And it’s only like, 40 bucks and I’d show you how to really do it. And I’d make money while my mom was having her stuff taken care of.
And so, that’s—and then I got into the computer world and I started figuring stuff out and then I went to and then marketing and strategies. And now, I play completely in the psychology of business. How do people react online? What colors will help your business grow? I’d see so many businesses make this rudimentary mistakes of their logo, of their branding.
And that’s—I’d been called Mr. Brand, I’d been called five-star guy. I don’t really like titles. I hate any kind of title because I think, just from my past, I was labeled so many names. I just don’t like labels. But I do… one of the things that my group of advisers and stuff and my team came up with their like, you know Wes, you really enable entrepreneurs. And I was like, I kind of like that. I like this entrepreneurial enabler. That’s kind of cool.
And so, we’re playing with that right now. And that’s literally what I do is I help small businesses and large businesses. I mean, I’ve been in boardrooms with the big boys. And I’ve had the opportunity to work with some big boys. And that’s fun. But I love… it’s too—you’re too much bureaucracy for me in that world. If anyone can tell, I’m super energetic. It’s really early in the morning for me. I didn’t get home until 2 in the morning. I’m still incredibly energetic. I just love to make things happen now.
And small business, you can do that. Hey, let’s try it yellow and see what happens. Okay. Button, button, push, done. It’s yellow. Let’s see what happens. Let’s try yellow in the corporate world, it’s like, let’s talk to legal and let’s make sure that all these things were da da da da da da da. And by the time it gets to be yellow, it’s like, look. Yellow’s not cool anymore.
Jeff: Yeah, and I think a lot of people who are in the corporate world and then they transition to having their own business, they don’t realize how much flexibility they have. I think that was the mistake that I know I made early on and I see clients make it as well. They kind of think they have to spend that much time thinking about it and getting everything perfect just like they did in the corporate world when really, they need to just go cut a handful of flowers, hop on their bike and go ask any people if they want to buy some flowers.
Wes: Yeah. I mean, I just interviewed Brant Cooper from Lean Entrepreneur who I absolutely loved. He’s an amazing human being and got some really cool strategy but he talks about it. It’s like, get your freaking back pack on and go walk the streets and talk to your customers. That’s your research. That’s your planning. You have an idea, get out there, talk to people. If you can’t do that, if literally, if everyone’s like, oh my gosh, I can’t even imagine doing that. I don’t want to be a jerk but you’re not going to make it in the entrepreneurial world.
Because it’s all about people. I don’t care what you’re selling. I don’t care what you’re doing. You have to know how people are going to react. Back to Snapchat, they figured it out. They’re like, wait a minute, there’s a problem because the generation that’s coming up is like, taking pictures, posting it on Facebook and Instagram. But really, they don’t want anyone to see the next warning and especially when they go to the job interview. So, let’s make it an act like, you can take that crazy weird half naked picture and it’s only there for eight seconds.
And guess what? Everyone’s going to use that in that demographic and guess what? Everyone’s freaking using that. They understood their end user. And they went on. I actually met yesterday, some of the guys that are playing that game or some of the people that are connected to him, excuse me. And they told some stories, and I’m like, it makes total sense.
Anyway, so what I’m saying is like, put the backpack on. Take your idea to the streets and try to sell it. Try to talk to people. Engage with people. See how they react, then go back to the office and like you said, cut the flowers and then go out and do something. I mean, I tell that to everybody. It’s not about the plan—I’m using Eric quotes—it’s about the execution. If you have an idea and Gary Vaynerchuk says this, if you have an idea, your idea sucks. It really does. You have to execute it to understand if your idea’s really worth anything. You can write a 14-page, 1400-page business plan or you can just go out and try to execute something.
Jeff: Well, Wesley, tell us a little bit about what else happened in your life as you progressed on this journey?
Wes: Oh. I’m 33 years old and sitting down with the book agents and everybody as we’re getting ready to write this book. I thought I was going to write one book about my life, right? Zero to Now. And I’ve already written the first part of my life which literally is to age eight and I think we’re at 170, 180 pages or something like that.
Jeff: Oh, wow.
Wes: And yeah, we stepped back and we’re like, hmm this isn’t working. And so, we’re writing three books. One book, the first book which is called Runt: The Story of a Fearless Child unless the publishers and everybody want to change that. I hope they don’t because I love that title. That’s going to be from zero to 13. From 13 to where I am now is going to be another book and then of course, the third final book will be kind of the end.
And I have a really cool, morbid way. I want to release that. It’s going to be… I want my children to release it the day that I pass away. That’ll be the day that the book—things and I want to call it something like the Final Chapter or something. I really want it to be a legacy piece. Again, selfishly, I want to do it but because I do want some dreams and some things to happen for my family and myself monetarily. But I want people—I want to be able to say things that nobody can really rebuttal. And of course, I will have children so I want to make sure that it’s going to respect them. But I want the final one to be like look, this is how it is. This is the real world.
That gives you an idea but I mean, I’ve had so many great successes and I’ve had so many epic failures. Talking about the successes is cool and fun, it’s the failures where you really learn things. And like I said earlier, I’ve made great mistakes with relationships where I thought I was the king’s bee and nothing was cooler than Wes Chapman and I was awesome. And again, coming from the past that I came from, I mean I was chained to dog houses and forced to eat out of dog dishes. I mean, all kinds of things happened to me when I was a child. And I didn’t understand a lot of this until later in my life.
But I mean, those were moments where those defy you as a human being both positive and negatively. Again, it took me really rising all the way to the top. Like, I was at the top. I mean, I was ready to take on the world. I could do anything I wanted to do. I had the perfect life, I had all the cars, I had the gorgeous home. I had everything. And literally overnight, because of my own arrogance, I had some bad people around me that probably I could have made better people.
But I also could have done more to keep my eye on the ball and really understand what I was doing and different things like that. Because of all of that, I came crashing down like I’m on the top of the Empire State Building and I’m on the freaking floor, like in. It was so humiliating, it was so painful. I had to go back and really rely on relationships that I had built. I had to go to everybody that I had money obligations to. I had to really—and more importantly, all of that, I look back and it’s like, oh my gosh, it was such a horrible experience.
But that was the easy part. It was the day that I sat down. I’ll never forget it. I sat down, my, right, is black because I haven’t turned it on yet. And so, if any of you have a computer like sometimes when your screen’s black, it’s like a mirror. And I sat down getting ready to send out an email. I’d just gotten off the phone with one of my really close advisers who’s a very well connected individual and he’d given me some advice and so I was going to sit down and do his advice. And the screen’s black and I saw myself. That was the hardest moment in the fall.
Because it was like, you idiot. Like, really? And I had to forgive myself for the things that I could have done, should have done. I had to come to a stark realization that wait a minute, Wes isn’t the bee’s knees or whatever that phrase—and again, younger audience, you have no idea what I’m talking about. But I mean like, I wasn’t the cool kid. And it was like… and it was hard. I was bullied in high school. I was picked on my whole life. I mean, there’s all kinds of things so at these moments of my life, I’m kind of like, ha ha to everybody else.
And that’s why I said, you know what? My whole life has been about proving everybody else wrong. I need to start proving myself right. And I mean, that’s when you freaking learn. That’s when these lessons become so valuable. And I could tell success stories. But we have all heard of success stories. If you want to hear cool, success stories, go listen to Richard Branson. I mean, he’s got success stories. The failures. Those are where you learned about yourself. You learned about other things. And I don’t care who you are as an entrepreneur and I see this everyday especially the 22-year-old, “I’m going to take on the world. I’m the next Mark Zuckerberg.” And then they have failure.
And a lot of these guys, they don’t know how to deal with it. It’s like, oh my gosh. But I’ve seen grown adults who fail and they’re like, I never thought I would fail. I’m telling everyone right now who can hear this podcast, you will fail in some way when you become an entrepreneur. But it’s part of the journey. And I’m telling you. It may be horrible in the moment but the things you’re going to learn about yourself, about your community, about your relationship, you can’t buy those kinds of things. And it’s so much better than sitting in a cubicle and making mistakes for somebody else.
Jeff: Yeah. Sure. Well yeah, you said something that I think might be the very thing that sets you apart from everybody else. You talked about—you said when you had this big failure, you were surrounded by some bad people. And then the very next thing that you said was, “And I could have made some different decisions,” or I forget what you exactly said. But what you did right there was you took the responsibility. You did not put the responsibility on those other people, bad as they may be. You did not put the responsibility on them. You took it for yourself.
Wes: That is a hard lesson learned. We can again… you know what I wish? I love these interviews. I’ve got like seven or eight today and it’s fun, but I mean, I wish we could spend hours because there’s so much. But it came back to… again, going back to my childhood, and I’ll just tell this as quickly as I can, I had a stepfather who abused me in every way possible. Every way that you’re imagining right now, it happened.
And when I got into my teens, it got out and everybody knew about it and he was part of the Catholic church. Something’s happened and he kind of got a slap on the hand and actually ended up working at an elementary school as a janitor. And that is a horrific story on its own. And I remember sitting there as a teenager going like, you know what? I’m going to get my buddies together. And we’re going to go beat them out of the sky. Like, no way is this going to happen. No way. My sister’s messed up, my brother’s messed up, I’m messed up. This is not going to happen to other people.
And I remember just all this anger and all this hate and all this resentment and all this stuff and then I had a really amazing moment where I literally locked myself in my room for a couple of days which felt to me like, just moments. And I had a coming to Jesus moment. I’m a very religious man. I had a conversation with myself. I prayed. I went through this whole thing. And it sounds so cheesy and corny but literally, literally, the moment my mind said, you know what? I forgive myself. Because if anyone’s been abused, you understand the first thing you start doing is blaming yourself. I forgave myself which then gave me the ability to forgive him, which then gave me the talent to understand.
And this is kind of morbid and crazy but what could I have done differently? And it sounds—I mean, what could a four-year old do differently? Not much. But what I was really thinking about is from the age of seven until that time in my life which was in my teens, how could I have kind of let go of stuff? How could I have done things a little bit differently? And that’s when I started realizing, wait a minute. I cannot control what other people do. I cannot control what the economy does. All I can control is myself. And I can sit there and I can blame things and I can say if this person’s fault or that person’s fault or the economy or this or that or all these different things. But what could I have done differently? And that was a moment.
And the crazy thing is, I mean, this is how God works. I don’t mean any disrespect but I know He’s got a sense of humor. Because after this moment, I remember, clear as day, I was on a walk in the middle of Idaho and just clearing my mind. I was in this area of Idaho Falls and anyone who’s lived there, which is probably there’s many who’s listening, but it’s very farmy, right?
And so I’m walking down the street and there’s two farms on both sides of me, and it literally like… you’re out in the middle of nowhere. As crazy as this sounds, guess who’s walking on the other side of the street? The guy that hurt me is walking on the other side of the street and I’m in the middle of nowhere. I’m bigger than him. I’m like, you know what? I can walk across the street. I could pummel you. You probably don’t even recognize me but I could pummel you. And I could leave you in this field and nobody would know.
But I remember walking by and smiling. Morbid, crazy, weird but I remember walking by and smiling and being like, you know what? I got better things to do. Those are moments in my life that I’ve translated into business because there are people in the business world that I’m like, I could pummel you. I really could and leave you on a field and no one would know. But it’s not… it is just not about that. It is not. So again, long answer but I really—it’s an important message.
Jeff: Well, and I think the moment when you locked—or the moment or the couple of days when you locked yourself in your room, what happened there is you took back control.
Jeff: Amazing, amazing story. Wes, what is the one piece of advice that you’d like to leave our listeners with?
Wes: I know a lot of your listeners are sitting there and they’re saying whatever they’re saying. But they’re looking at themselves and then maybe they’re saying, I can’t or I don’t want or all these issues. There may be all these different things that they’re thinking about. I’m just going to tell you. If you want something, there’s two things. If you want to start this business, ask yourself this question—and I didn’t come up with this question, I believe this comes from John Astrop—but ask yourself this question. Am I interested in what I want to do? Let’s just keep with flowers. You want to start a flower shop, right? Am I interested in starting a flower shop? Or am I committed to starting a flower shop?
It’s a big difference. I’m interested. I’m a huge Minnesota Vikings fan. Huge. Five years ago, I was committed to them like it didn’t matter what else was going on in the world. If they had a game, I was watching it. Now, I’m interested because I got other things. It’s like, hey, if they’re playing on Sunday, I’m interested. I’m going to watch the Vikings. But I am committed to writing this book. I am committed to doing interviews. I’m doing several interviews today. I’m doing interviews on Christmas Eve. I am committed to this project. I am committed to this thing. So, nothing’s going to stop me.
And that’s what I would tell everybody who’s listening right now. I don’t care where you are in life. If you’re sitting there, you’re working for somebody else, you’re listening to this at 2 in the morning, hating your life, you don’t like what you’re doing, you’re an entrepreneur, whatever. You’re driving, you’re in the shower. I don’t care where you’re listening to this right now. If you want something, if you have an idea, if you’ve got it, just ask yourself, am I interested in doing that, if I’m committed. If you are committed, then do it. Then just get out there, cut the flowers, knock the doors, and do it.
That’s my biggest piece of advice for your audience is don’t hear and wonder about the success stories and the, oh Wes did it so I can do it. That’s all good and I get it and that motivates you. I respect that. But look at yourself in the mirror and say, am I interested in starting the flower shop? Or am I freaking committed to starting a flower shop? And if you say committed, then you mark it down. You write it down. You have your significant other sign it. This is what you said, you record it with your iPhone. You put it on Facebook. Do whatever the heck you got to do so you have accountability and then get out there and get it done.
Jeff: Amazing, amazing advice. Wes, it’s been a blast talking to you. Where can our listeners go to get more information about you?
Wes: So, wesleydchapman.com is the easiest way. I’m on all the mediums. Twitter’s a chatroom so if you tweet me, I do everything I possibly can to tweet you back. Now it’s a great place to have little short but conversations. I have my own podcast that I’m doing. I’ve got this precast that I do bi-weekly. I’ve got all kinds of stuff going on but wesleydchapman.com is the best place.
And Jeff, I love this interview. I love what you’re doing. I just love the energy. I’m a big universe guy, I can feel your energy. You’ve got stuff going on and I hope the listeners really understand what it takes to do a podcast or to do any kind of interview style thing. I know it’s not easy, you’re committed to it. My team saw your emails. I want to applaud you for what you’re doing. And I really want the audience to realize how hard this is. Make sure you leave a review. Make sure you subscribe. These are important messages that you’re going to hear. And maybe you can’t hear every one of them, but you want to try. And Jeff, I really applaud you for what you’re doing.
Jeff: Well, thank you very much, Wesley. And I loved your story, loved the advice that you gave to our audience. I look forward to reading your book when it comes out. We’re going to put a link to your website as well as your podcast below this episode. And again, thanks for being on the show and thanks for sharing everything that you’ve learned with the world.
Wes: Oh, thank you, Jeff. Have a fantastic day and have a great holiday.
Jeff: Thank you.
Wow. What an amazing interview with Wesley D. Chapman. And what awesome, awesome advice he gave her. Anybody who wants to start a business and just have an awesome life doing something they care about. Such awesome stuff. It was great to talk to Wesley. Now, go check out his website. It is at wesleydchapman.com and there’s a link to that below. Also, go have a listen to his podcast. That’s entrepreneurial success radio. You can Google that, get more information in his website or you can just scroll right down. We’re going to put a link to it right below the show here.
Now, I don’t know if you caught what he said or not but I hope you did. Because Wesley made a very generous offer. He said the best way to reach him is on Twitter and he does the best he can to respond to every single tweet that he receives. So, you have an amazing opportunity in front of you right here. If you want to get in touch with someone who is extremely knowledgeable about the entrepreneurial world—he’s been doing it since he was eight years old which is many more than eight years—tweet him on Twitter at wesleydchapman. Again, that’s wesleydchapman, and we’re going to put his Twitter handle below the show as well. So take advantage of that awesome resource.
Also, if you want to create an amazing life like Wesley, if you want to get past all of the roadblocks and all of the things that are stopping you from pursuing your dream in life and creating an amazing business that it is your dream or a business that lets you pursue your dream, in other words, just getting out of this whole going to work every single day, spending eight or more hours doing something that you just don’t care about. If you want to get out of that trap, off of that hamster wheel and do something that you really love, you really care about, and you want to do it on your terms, go over to howtoquitworking.com/program. Because I have a video training series there and we’re going to talk about a couple of things.
So, in the first video, you’re really going to get a good idea of how do you have to change the way you think about your life in order to position yourself to be doing what you want to be doing every single second? Like my guest on the show. It kills me when I ask them, how much of your life do you spend doing something that you want? And it’s always like, well, almost all of it like, 99 percent or even more. So, that’s the first thing that we’re going to take a look at. We’re going to talk about how do you look at your life differently so that you can do what you want to do all the time.
Now, we’re going to talk about how do you have to think differently? What are the different attitudes and mindsets and the habits that you have to put in place in order to be able to leave your job and start your own business and really, do whatever you want. Because that’s just the first thing. Once you get this 40-hour workweek monkey off your back, the whole world will open up to you. It’s unbelievable what happens when your mind shifts and you start to see that so many things are possible. So many things that you never even would have thought about are possible. So we’re going to talk about how do you get yourself into the right attitude and have the right habits and the right tools to just understand what’s possible and have it in your head that you’re going to have whatever you want.
And then finally, we’re going to talk about a couple of simple steps. Really simple steps that you can take while you’re still working that will position you to have a customer base and a bunch of people who cannot wait to buy from you so that when you do leave your job, you’ve got something right there to make money right away. So, go to howtoquitworking.com/program and check that out because I mean, it’s an amazing resource. It’s based on all of my years of experience. All of my years and tens of multi-tens. We’re approaching six figures now in terms of the amount of money that I’ve spent on all of these stuff, learning and training as well as all of the amazing lessons that our guests have taught all wrapped up in this video series.
So definitely go to howtoquitworking.com/program and get that. You don’t want to miss it. And finally, I just want to thank you for tuning in to the show. Wesley talked about how much work it is to create a show like this and it is. It’s a lot of work. But there’s nothing I’d rather be doing. Getting to talk to these amazing entrepreneurs every single week is just amazing and there would be no point in it if there weren’t people listening and there weren’t people like you who were valuing the information that you’re getting and valuing the show and sending me the great emails and LinkedIn messages that you have.
I want to thank you for that and thank you for the encouragement because you’re the reason that I get to do what I want to do every single day. The thing that I think is so cool about doing the business that you really care about and that is meaningful to you is that you get to do exactly what you want and you get to help other people do exactly what they want. So no matter what it is that is your topic, your area of expertise, your passion, your devotion, you got to make a business out of it because it’s the most amazing thing you can ever imagine. So with that, this will be the last show of 2013. I’ll be going into holiday mode for a couple of weeks, but thank you again for tuning in. Thank you for all the messages and the most awesome thing that you could do is start 2014 with a bang.
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