BiggerPockets Business Podcast 102: Are You Ready to Take the Entrepreneurial Leap? with Gino Wickman

BiggerPockets Business Podcast 102: Are You Ready to Take the Entrepreneurial Leap? with Gino Wickman

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Many business owners and entrepreneurs have read books like Traction and Rocket Fuel, both of which talk about how to build a successful business, partnership, and how to use the EOS (entrepreneurial operating system). Today we have on the author of both those books, and a new book Entrepreneurial Leap, Gino Wickman.

Gino always had the entrepreneurial drive in him, but wasn’t able to label it for a long period of time. He went to work out of high school and found himself transforming his family business into something that was not only profitable, but would sell for a high price. Gino learned that his “gift” was helping entrepreneurs make their businesses more lean, efficient, and profitable.

We walk through many different components of being an entrepreneur, such as the six key traits of successful business builders, the eight critical mistakes entrepreneurs make, and how to know where you’re at on the “entrepreneurial range”. Gino argues that although many people want to be entrepreneurs, it may not be the most logical decision for them. Likewise, many of those who are successful at corporate jobs may be better served leading their own teams. There’s only one way to find out, get Gino’s new book!

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Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

J:
Welcome to the BiggerPockets Business podcast, show 102.

Gino:
It’s borderline stupidity to get back up and keep charging forward, because the odds are against you. And so it’s that passion that keeps you moving forward and doing what most people can’t do. Literally making impossible things possible.

J:
Welcome to a real world MBA from the School of hard knocks, where entrepreneurs reveal, what it really takes to make it, whether you’re already in business or you’re on your way there. This show is for you. This is BiggerPockets Business. How’s it going everybody. I am J Scott, your co-host for the BiggerPockets Business podcast, here on this beautiful first week in April. If you’re listening to it, when it came out, it’s the beautiful first week in April, could be later than that for you. I don’t know. I’m here again with my amazing and beautiful wife and co-host Carol Scott, how’s it going today, Carol?

Carol:
Doing so well, I am absolutely loving spring. I’ve got to tell you what, lately, more than ever so incredibly grateful to be part of this amazing BiggerPockets community. So many fantastic things going on at a company level. So many members of the community doing so many, absolutely incredible and inspirational things. If you would like to be on our show or know someone else who would be a perfect fit for our show, go to biggerpockets.com/guest. That’s biggerpockets.com/guest. We would absolutely love to hear your entrepreneurial journey, your expertise, and learn from you. Thanks for being here and we’ve got a great, great, great show today.

J:
Yeah, we do. We have an amazing show today with an amazing guy that I know Carol and I are both big fans of. His name is Gino Wickman, and he is an entrepreneur. He is a bestselling author of a half dozen books, and he’s the creator of the EOS system, which a lot of you may have heard of. It was made famous in his book back in 2007, called, Traction. Basically it is a system and process for growing, building, scaling your business in an effective and an efficient manner, huge fan of EOS. We talk a lot about that in this episode, but the other big thing that we talk about in this episode is out of Gino’s new book, it’s called Entrepreneurial Leap. It came out in 2019, and in this book and in our episode, Gino gives us three steps that entrepreneurs should and almost must follow to really recognize their true potential.
Not just discover their true potential, but also discover what their future could look like and then get a huge jumpstart on starting their own business. And so Gino walks us through the three big process pieces to identifying yourself as an entrepreneur, seeing what that life looks like, and then actually getting yourself on the path. And specifically, in this episode, we talk about things like, what’s the difference between a business owner and an entrepreneur? We often use those terms interchangeably, but an entrepreneur is a very different thing. We talk about how you can evaluate whether you may or may not be a natural born entrepreneur. What are those six essential traits that you must have, that we all must have if we want to be entrepreneurs? Do you have them do not have them? And what if you don’t have all six of those, can you still call yourself an entrepreneur? Are you going to be successful like an entrepreneur? Well, Gino goes into that and he doesn’t mince words.
We talk about the eight critical mistakes that many of us make in our entrepreneurial journey. And then we talk about something that’s near and dear to my heart, passion. And where does passion come in for entrepreneurs? Should we be following our passion when it comes to building and starting and picking an industry and a business, or should we be ignoring our passion? I love the way that that Gino really takes this question, turns it on its head and answers the question in a way that will resonate with all of us. Finally, make sure you tune into the end, where we talk about partnerships. Should you be jumping into a partnership at the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey or ever? And if you do, what’s the right way to do that/
Just an absolutely amazing episode. If you want to learn more about Gino, about his books, about Entrepreneurial Leap or about anything else we talk about in this episode, check out our show notes at biggerpockets.com/bizzshow102. Again, that’s biggerpockets.com/bizzshow102. Okay. Without any further ado, let’s welcome. Gino Wickman to the show.

Carol:
Gino Wickman, thank you so much for being here with us on the BiggerPockets business podcast today. We are long time fans and absolutely cannot wait to dig in and learn from your expertise and share with our community. Thanks for being here.

Gino:
Thrilled to be here, looking forward to helping your audience.

J:
Awesome. Well, we really appreciate it. I want to start by telling my journey with Gino’s education, your books. You wrote a book about, well, I guess, it’s almost 15 years ago, 14 years ago called, Traction. In Traction, you introduced something called EOS, Entrepreneurial Operating System. Basically talking about a set of systems and processes and operating system as you called it, which is a great word, to build, grow, scale your business in a way that’s efficient and effective. Now I’m going to be honest. I’ve been a business guy for a long time. I’m one of those, I think I know everything type business guys. I don’t need anybody else’s help. I have my own system, my own processes. And that’s the way I did things for a long time.
About a year and a half ago. I’m an advisor for a couple of business. I sit on a couple advisory boards, and a year and a half ago, two of the businesses that I happened to advise, I went for an advisory board meeting and there was a different type of meeting that I had never seen before. They were both very similar. The meetings were run tremendously efficiently. The people in the room were all well aligned on what the company was doing, what the team was doing, what the project was there to do. Those two meetings ran probably better than any two meetings I’ve ever been in. I later learned that both those companies were building their model off of EOS. And so obviously that excited me. I said, okay, I have to pick up the books. I picked up Traction. Let’s just say that I was a quick adherent to EOS after that.
And actually we just launched another business a couple of weeks ago. My business partner in that business is a huge fan of EOS. And so this will be the first time we’re actually implementing EOS from day one in the business, but I’m really excited about it. I guess I just want to start the episode, with thank you for writing that book and putting that information out there. Because even someone like me who really feels like or felt like I don’t need this, I can do it myself, has realized the value of following a system that’s been well tested and well thought out and has really made a difference in the businesses that I work with and the businesses that I run. Thank you for that.

Gino:
Yeah. I appreciate that J. It means a lot. That’s the reason I did it, man. That’s the reason I started creating it over 20 years ago, was to have that an impact. It makes my day to here.

J:
Awesome. Okay. After I’ve given that introduction, hopefully we have a whole lot of people out there who either are familiar with the EOS and Traction or are now asking themselves, well, what is this thing that I keep hearing, EOS? Can you give us a little bit of backstory? What is EOS? What led you to work on developing it and where did it come from?

Gino:
I’ll give you a lightning fast history. I am an entrepreneur. I didn’t know that when I was 18 years old, but I did not go to high school. I went to work. Academics were not for me. As my friends went off to college, I did not go, I couldn’t figure out why anybody would want to go. Again, so academia, I couldn’t get further away from it as fast as possible. And so with that, I didn’t realize I was an entrepreneur and I was this mislabeled derelict, and I just went to work. I wanted to make money. And so bumped along all through my early 20s and tried a bunch of entrepreneurial endeavors and then ultimately found myself taking over a family business. And so my dad had created and built a company that did sales training in the real estate industry.
It was the number one real estate sales training company in North America in its heyday. I took over that business. When I took it over, unfortunately it was in need of a turnaround. I was able to turn that business around in three years, get it very healthy and growing again. After seven years, we decided to sell. There were three partners. We each owned a third and we successfully sold the business. During that, I got involved in YEO now known as EO, the Entrepreneurs’ Organization. I just learned what my gift is and that’s helping entrepreneurs. And so I helped my dad with his business. I was helping my EO brethren. I got involved in Strategic Coach and Dan Sullivan taught me my unique ability. And so I realized that’s why I’m on the face of the earth, is to help entrepreneurs get everything they want from their businesses.
And so I set out to do just that in my early 30s, and after five years of doing that with clients, I developed and created EOS through trial and error. And so the very short answer is, how did I create EOS? The short answer is OCD. Okay? I am obsessive about entrepreneurs and making their lives better, and alleviating their pain. I saw all of these crazy entrepreneurs suffering for so many years, and I had this ability to solve their pain. And in doing that for five years, I just have this way of seeing patterns and trends. And so through many, many sessions, about 500 sessions in those first five years, I saw all the patterns and trends. And that led to me understanding that there are six key components of every business. And if I can help an entrepreneur strengthen those six key components of their business, everything had this way of falling into place.
The last little point is, an entrepreneur and a leadership team running a company, they need to do lots of things. It’s all about having a vision and a plan and meeting and solving problems and having process and management people. And so, these things have been around since the beginning of time and thought leaders have come up with millions of ways to do those things. And what I did is, I just saw all of those things that were necessary, and I packaged it into a very simple process and a set of tools that helps a leadership team do all of those things, the best, fastest, most impactful way. And then to finish the rest of the story, after five years of creating it, I then wrote Traction, put it all in a book to give it away to the world.
I then decided I wanted to leverage it by building a team of EOS implementers all over the world, joined forces with my partner, Don, and the rest is history. Here we are, many, many years later with 425 EOS implementers all over the world and 100,000 companies running on EOS.

Carol:
Love it. Like I said, we’re huge devotees. I can absolutely see how this has impacted so many people. I’m curious, in order for businesses to implement this in the first place, somebody has to have a dream. Somebody has to have a vision and say, I want to become an entrepreneur. I want to own a business. I have something that I want to start and make a long lasting impact on this world. And that’s what we really want to dig in with you today, Gino, we want to talk about your book, the Entrepreneurial Leap. This has been so huge, for so many people and we would love for you, J, is showing it right now. He’s loving it there, if anybody is watching us on video.

J:
Love this book.

Carol:
It’s so great. Before we jump into that, you’ve mentioned a little bit about some of the things you’ve done with other entrepreneurs, but it sounds like from a very young age, you have had your hand in one or two entrepreneurial ventures as well, right?

Gino:
Yeah. For certain. As I shared that whole history there, I sold EOS worldwide three years ago. I still own 12.5% of the company. I still own all the books. I’m still the EOS guy, but one of the reasons I sold the business was to put my energy into this new passion project that is Entrepreneurial Leap. It stems from a discovery. It stems from pain. Danielle Kennedy has a saying that says, “We teach what we needed the most.” And so what I’m doing is, I’m teaching my young self who was an entrepreneur in the making, who was this mislabeled derelict, as I said, who was lost, confused, different from all of my friends. And so the idea, the passion, the desire is to help any young people like I was realized what they are as early as possible, because I really didn’t figure it out till I was 29.
And so if I look back on my history, seven, eight, nine, 10 years old, is when I was doing entrepreneurial things. Cutting lawns. I think I was selling my brother’s stained glass in, I think I was in high school. I was looking for ways to make money. I sold candy. I sold fireworks. Don’t tell anybody. Any way I could figure out how to make money and sell things. That’s what I was doing from literally age seven to 18.

J:
I love that. I’m trying to think the best way to ask this question. For some of us, being an entrepreneur is obvious, one way or the other. Some of us, we don’t want to do it. We are not the risk takers. We like the nine to five. We like the typical scripted version of how things are supposed to go. For others it’s just the opposite. Some of us are born entrepreneurs. We know nothing else. We could not be an entrepreneur if somebody tried to force us not to be an entrepreneur. And then there’s a whole group of people in the middle, people who might go to college, they might not go to college. We can actually talk about that later if you’d like. But people who don’t quite know if they’re cut out for it, if it’s right for them, if they have what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
They’re not sure if they desire it or not. And so it’s a struggle. They may start in the corporate world and then decide, maybe I want to give the stride, maybe not. Talk to us a little about, for those people in the middle, those people that aren’t quite sure if they’re cut out to be an entrepreneur, what are some of the questions they should be asking? What are some of the frameworks they should be thinking about to help determine whether entrepreneurship is the right mission and avenue for them?

Gino:
Yeah. Great. To answer that, I’m going to zoom out and create a really big context first, because I have to, to answer this question appropriately. I wrote Entrepreneurial Leap, as I said, to help and solve that pain that I experienced, teaching what I needed the most. The mission, because it truly is a passion project, is to impact a million entrepreneurs in the making over the next 10 years. And so these people that you’re describing, they are why I created this. The big context is that, this content in this book is written in three parts. It’s really important to understand the linear approach to those three parts and how it accomplishes and answers what you’re bringing up, because the three parts are confirm, glimpse and path.
And so step one, we have to first confirm whether or not you even have the gene, the entrepreneurial gene. From there, I then show a glimpse of all the options and then a path to greatly increase your odds of success. We can get into that later, but you’re asking a confirm question right now. And so I’m going to give you some very strong beliefs and I’m going to just basically share two very specific tools that’ll answer your question. First, is I offer what I call an entrepreneur in the making assessment that will help a person determine if they have the six essential traits. Okay? I have a very strong belief after working with thousands of entrepreneurs, is that you are born with these six essential traits. They cannot be taught.
And so that’s debatable for other people. You couldn’t beat that belief out of me if you tried. But those six essential traits very quickly, and as I say to them, I was like, your audience to just scan their body and see if this is them. But it’s visionary, passionate, problem solver, driven, risk-taker and responsible. And so you take this assessment. It tells you if you have them, if you score 90 or higher, you probably have those six essential traits. Well, the point is this, you either have them or you don’t, you’re born with them.
The idea with this project and with what I’m trying to help the world with, is help the people that realize the ones that do help them understand what they are as early as possible in life, so they can go become why God put them on this planet. And for the ones that don’t, I’m saving you 10 years of hell. I’m begging you not to do it. You will be miserable. And being an entrepreneur is not all it’s cracked up to be, but for those of us that are, you should take the leap. Point one. Point two is, in the confirm part of the book, I teach something called the entrepreneurial range. I promise coming to the conclusion of this answer, but the entrepreneurial range, if you picture this visual arc and on the left side of that arc, it says self-employed.
On the right side of that arc, it says true entrepreneur. Every self-employed person is somewhere on that range. And so self employed, the far left are the people that are one person shows, side hustle, maybe buy one franchise, maybe be a freelancer. And then on the far right end are the greatest entrepreneurs of all time, Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney, Henry Ford, the greatest of all time. Well, anybody that starts a business is somewhere on that range. My point is this, a true entrepreneur is on the right end of that range. No matter where you are in that range, it is respectable, you’re taking a risk, it’s admirable. I’m not knocking any of it.
What I’m trying to get you in the audience to do is to know thyself and know where you are in that range if you choose to start a business. Somebody that has the six essential traits, if you start a business, you can’t help yourself but to build some an empire, because it’s in you. And if not, you could still go become a handyman or woman, start that side hustle, doesn’t mean that you can’t, but it’s helping you really understand and know yourself. Hopefully I’ve indirectly answered the question, but if I haven’t, hold me to task and make sure I’m answering it for you.

J:
I love the fact that you’ve basically differentiated a business owner from an entrepreneur. Basically what you’ve said is, I give permission whether people need permission or not. You basically said, I give permission for you to be a business owner and be a successful business owner. You can be a successful business owner, even if you’re not an entrepreneur. Maybe you’re going to approach your business a little bit differently. Maybe you’re going to grow and scale your business a little differently. You’re going to take different risks, but just because you may not have that gene, as you pointed out, doesn’t mean you can’t be a business owner. Can you talk to us a little bit more about that idea of business owner versus entrepreneur and how they can be the same, but they don’t have to?

Gino:
Yeah, for sure. And so again, a business owner is somebody that owns a business. And so you can go buy a Subway franchise and you’re a business owner. You can go, I always like to use the example of a handyman or woman, if you have handy skills, do you realize you can go out into the world, if you do great work and you treat people right, you will build a six figure income. You can charge 60 bucks an hour. You’ll be busy for the rest of your life. You’ll never have to market after two years of doing great work and have this wonderful six figure income being self-employed. You’re a business owner. You have total freedom. You’re making lots of money. Amen and hallelujah. But with all due love and respect, you’re not an entrepreneur. And that’s okay. Because the reality of it is, is that handyman or woman doing that.
If you are an entrepreneur and you have those six essential traits, you can’t help yourself but get to that point and go, wait a second, if I hire somebody for 25 bucks an hour and have them go do that work, that frees me up to go sell more business and go do more work. And then if I hire another person, you are going to end up where they construction company. Okay? My largest construction company client does two hundred million dollars a year. Well, that’s where you would start and that’s where you would end up, if you red line those six essential traits. But if you don’t take the pressure off yourself, you’re probably not going to build an empire, and it’s okay. I always, I ache for the people that are looking to an entrepreneur that’s successful, has built something and they want that, and they’re killing themselves trying to do that when it’s just not what they’re cut out to.
I will never become a brain surgeon. I will never become a CPA. I would blow my brains out, being a CPA. I’m not knocking being a CPA, but I’m not genetically encoded to do that kind of work. We are all unique. It’s all about finding your thing. 4% of the population are entrepreneurs and that’s their thing. It’s not some pinnacle. It’s not some ultimate career destination. It is hard. Most entrepreneurs die broke. It is not easy, but for those of us that are, we can’t help ourselves, but to live these wild and crazy lives.

Carol:
For this 4% of the population who are true entrepreneurs, I don’t want you to give away all of it, but you’re talking a lot about these six essential entrepreneurial traits. Could you maybe focus in on just one or two and give our audience an idea of what those things might be, that they can look forward to exploring more?

Gino:
100%. I don’t mind giving it all away. I’m here to help. I’m going to do something a little different. I’m going to do a two minute riff, okay? On all six essential traits so that your audience, as I share, this can truly scan themselves and just decide, is this them? I want to make sure I articulate it clearly. I’m going to give the high level again, and then I’m going to give you more detail. So again, the six essential traits, visionary, passionate, problem solver, driven, risk taker, responsible. Okay? And so here’s the deeper dive, visionary. What visionary means, is that you have lots of ideas. You connect the dots, you see things other don’t see. You can see around corners. You have this way of putting things together, as Steve Jobs called it. Passionate means that you have this undying passion for your thing, the thing you want to create in the world.
In other words, you are just absolutely fired up about this thing that you want to accomplish. This void you want to fill in the world. Problem solver means you solve problems. Your genetic and coding. Your energy is all about solving problems. When you get hit with a setback, your default is to solve that problem. You’re an optimist by nature. Every cloud has a silver lining where most of the world runs for the hills when faced with a problem or hope that they go away. A problem solver leans into problems to solve it. Driven means that you have this internal fire, this competitive edge, you are just determined to win, you’re self motivated, you hustle, you love working hard.
Risk taker means that you take risks, calculated risks certainly, but you don’t freeze when faced with a tough decision. You are rebellious in nature. You’re willing to fail. You don’t want to fail, but you’re willing to and you know that’s part of the game. You tend to beg for forgiveness as opposed to ask for permission. And then responsible means that you blame no one. You take full responsibility. You default to looking in the mirror when something goes wrong, you don’t believe in entitlement. And so when something goes wrong, you look at yourself. And so the best way I’ve heard it described, is that if you own a building and your building gets hit by a meteor, that was your fault. You built that building, you moved there, you made that choice. That’s your fault.
While most of the world blames the world when something bad goes wrong, responsible people blame themselves. They look to themselves to solve their problem when it happens. And then the last little nugget I will give, for those of you sitting there going, wait a second, you can learn all of those things. No you can’t, with all due love and respect. You’re born with them. But here’s an example with responsible. Picture a household with four siblings, there are households where some of the kids take responsibility and some don’t. Okay? And so you out there listening, think about your siblings, because you can put them in one camp, the ones that take responsibility and the ones that don’t. How on earth can those kids be raised in the same exact household, by the same two parents and yet half of them take responsibility and half don’t. There’s only one answer, you’re born with it.
Anyway, there’s my dissertation and passionate plea around the six essential traits. And hopefully you have them out there. And if you don’t, it’s okay, there’s another career option for you or just buy a franchise.

J:
I love that. I especially love the responsible piece. Carol and I have been talking about that for a decade through our books and speaking that, when you are a business owner, when you are a parent, when you are a responsible human being, whatever happens to you is your fault. I love your example of a meteor hit your building. Yes, there are always things, even if you couldn’t stop that meteor, there are things that you could’ve done to mitigate the risk. There are things you could have done to respond optimally and efficiently to mitigate the damage it’s caused. Love that. What about those of us that might have five of the six? I want to focus on one in particular, because I think all six are truly important. I found that talking to a lot of want to be entrepreneurs or young entrepreneurs.
There’s one of those that tends to get mentioned more often than not, and that’s risk taking. There are a lot of people out there who feel I have everything it takes to be an entrepreneur. I have all the essential traits, except I’m not the biggest risk taker in the world. What would you tell to somebody who feels they have everything, they’re ready to go, but they’re just not ready to take huge risks? Can it still work for them?

Gino:
Well, so I would say this, at a very high level, if you only have five of the six, regardless of which one you don’t have, you’re not a true entrepreneur. Okay? Now I just off 15% of your audience, but unfortunately I break hearts for a living with this content, but I’m doing it to save you 10 years of hell. Okay? And so with that, I do write an entire chapter on what if you don’t have this trait? What if you don’t have this trait? That’s answered in much more depth, but let’s use your exact example. I would say this, there’s studies that have been done that successful entrepreneurs aren’t necessarily these crazy risk takers. They take calculated risks. Everybody makes this assumption that risk and risk taking as an entrepreneur is the day you quit your job and take your leap.
Well, the truth of the matter is, that’s the easy part. That’s not the biggest risk you take. The reality of it is, 10 years of running your business, every day, you’re going to have six big problems to solve for the rest of your life until the day you sell that business and you are going to have very, very difficult decisions to make. There’s going to be a day that you’re going to have to fire your most productive, high producing sales person and take a 15% hit to your revenue, because they’re hurting you more than they’re helping you, and you’re going to potentially risk putting yourself out of business. I can give you a thousand examples of the really tough decisions and risks you’re going to take with your product, your service, your people, your company. Those are all the risks. That’s what makes risk takers successful.
It’s not about, do I quit my job and take this leap? Is can I keep making these really tough, risky decisions, calculate all of these factors and make a decision? Again, most people just tend to freeze when faced with a really tough decision. If you freeze on one decision, you have 42 to make this week. You need to move and make those tough decisions. And the scary thing is, you’re going to get a little more than half right. You’re going to get some wrong and you just got to deal with that. You got to have that. If you don’t have that, you’ll start a business, you’ll bump along for a year, but in the long haul, it’s probably going to crash and burn, because you’re just not comfortable making really tough decisions.

Carol:
Excellent. Let’s say that throughout this confirm step, we have taken the assessment. We have identified that we truly do have these six entrepreneurial traits you’re recommending in the framework of your book. The second step is, glimpse, correct? It’s all about reading as many entrepreneurial stories is possible. You talk about, you can simply do a search and they’re all over the place. We’re all familiar with the big, heavy hitters, right? We’ve heard the Ray Kroc story with McDonald’s, the Jeff Bezos with Amazon. Steve jobs, Apple. Do you have one or two, Gino, of the more, I guess, less popular, less heavy hitter famous entrepreneurial stories that are near and dear to your heart, that might offer a glimpse of entrepreneurial life to our audience?

Gino:
Yeah, for certain. I always, I can’t help myself, but to always create context. And so let me come back to the context. Again, three parts of the book, confirm, glimpse, path. We’re moving into glimpse now, and to pull it together, because if you see the power of the linear approach to these three parts, we’ve now confirmed, as you said, that you’re an entrepreneur or not. Now once you’ve confirmed you are, I do three things in glimpse and you’re talking about one of them right now. First, I give countless real-world stories about entrepreneurs who were where you are right now and show you how they built, what they built. Second thing I do, is show you the eight critical mistakes to avoid. The third thing I do, is show you a tool I created called, MyBiz Match to help you understand all of your business options and decide what business you’re drawn to.
I do that because once you confirm you are, and I show you this glimpse of all that is possible, it will light you up if you have these six essential traits. I’m also helping you see the future, so you can head a lot of things off at the past. To your point, I’ll share one story that I share. There are so many of them, one is, one of my clients, Sam Simon, who grew up in Iraq, his family came here when he was, I think about nine years old, they lived in the basement of their church pastor. They ended up working in a gas station and all of a sudden he went from that, to owning multiple gas stations, to seeing an ice machine and realizing, wow, people need ice.
He started bagging ice and selling ice. And then he’s supplying ice to every gas station in Michigan. He literally built an empire. He literally built an energy empire and a business that’s probably worth, I don’t know, hundreds of millions of dollars today. That’s one example of somebody who started with absolutely nothing with these six essential traits, just seeing opportunity by working in one gas station for a year or two.

Carol:
That is awesome. And there are so many great ones out there, just like you talked about, things that aren’t huge and popular, but they just all, they boil down to lots of consistent hard work. You talk a bunch in the book as part of glimpse, about picturing yourself living this dream. Right? Can you just address that more? Talk to us. What does that mean? What are the tactical steps that we can really take to do this part of the path towards entrepreneurial leaping?

Gino:
Yeah, absolutely. I want to go back one step and just share, I want to grab something you said, because it’s the boring that are the best businesses. And so, as I mentioned, there’s a tool in glimpse, I call, MyBiz Match and it helps you understand all of the options out there. I would caution your audience, becoming a tech billionaire is one option, not the only option, contrary to what the media is promoting. In other words, everybody gets so excited about the tech billionaires. Listen, there are people building amazingly boring businesses, and there are a lot of fun. And so yes, you can build something from anything. Please expand your mind, and that MyBiz Match tool helps you do that.
To your point, you’re touching on something I do in glimpse, where I just share a day in the life of an entrepreneur. I don’t want to go into crazy detail here because it would take me seven minutes to explain it, but I want you to understand the purpose of why I do it. What I do is, I paint this perfect picture of a day in the life of an entrepreneur, both heaven and hell, both perspectives. A day in the life of an entrepreneur, when they’re doing everything right, avoiding the eight critical mistakes and a day in the life of an entrepreneur that’s making all the mistakes. What I’m doing by sharing that, is helping them to avoid these eight critical mistakes. Because that day in the life, the dream scenario is so doable. I see my clients doing it every single day. That’s what we do with our EOS clients, we get them in that dream scenario. Sadly, most entrepreneurs are living the hell scenario.
And so just to touch on some things, it’s the difference between waking up every morning, walking into the office, when you want to walk into the office, that best suits your energy, being surrounded by a leadership team of people that are as passionate about your company and your product and your service as you are. You meet with those people every week. You solve the relevant problems for the week. You have customers and clients that you love, that love you. On the nightmare scenario, it’s when you’re walking into the office with people that are disengaged, they’re trying to just work to collect a check and get the hell out of there before five o’clock.
They are completely dispassionate about your customers, employees. You’re doing half of their job. You’re miserable. You’re burning the candle at both ends. You’re going into the office first thing in the morning, you’re there until night. You’re working seven days a week. Your family and friends are getting sick of you. And so, which do you choose? I’m here to tell you, the first scenario is possible and doable, and I help you accomplish that when we get into the path part of the book, in terms of how to avoid all of those mistakes.

Carol:
Well, I want to get to the path part of the book, but first I want to learn how to really be able to be successful with option A and not have the nightmare that option B sounds like it is. Gino, what are these eight critical mistakes we need to avoid to keep us on track?

Gino:
I’ll just give them to you at a high level. If there’s one you want to drill down, you call it out. But at a high level, they are, not having a vision, hiring the wrong person, not spending time with your people, not knowing who your customer is, not charging enough, not staying true to your core, not knowing your numbers and not crystallizing roles and responsibilities.

J:
If it’s okay. I want to dig into one of them, just because I think for most of those, it’s pretty, what’s the right word? Quantitative. There’s one in there that stuck out to me as less quantitative and more fuzzy, let’s call it. The sticking to your core. What does that mean? How do I know what my core is and how do I stick to it?

Gino:
Yeah, that’s fantastic. Here’s what it looks like. I’m going to give you a generic example and then I’m going to give you a specific example. And so what happens, almost always with an entrepreneur, is they take their entrepreneurial leap, they start their business with a product or service. They sell a few things and all of a sudden they’re generating revenue. They’ve got a real business, they’ve got employees and they’re relatively successful and the business is growing. And then all the sudden they see this shiny thing over here, this new idea, this new product, this new service, and they take their eye off the ball and they go start selling that product or service or start that new business. And then they go a little further and something else starts shining and they go into that business and start selling that product.
And then shoot forward in time, they’re doing eight different things, selling eight different things to eight different people. And they got away from their core and they go out of business and they can’t figure out why. That’s the generic example. I’ll give you a specific example with me. When I built EOS, I learned all of these mistakes. I had the luxury of building EOS worldwide over the last 20 years, knowing all this stuff. And so knock on wood, it’s not as if I’m lucky and it’s not as if I know everything, but I know how to avoid these mistakes. And so I knew that I wanted to create a system that focused on entrepreneurial leadership teams of 10 to 250 person companies and teaching them a very specific system to help them get everything they want out of their businesses, and forward we go.
In the last 20 years, I’ve literally had a thousand opportunities to sell something else to those leadership teams, to create something else for those leadership teams, to focus on the employees of those companies, to bolt something else on that. Somebody wants me to bolt onto that, a thousand of those things. If I would have only chosen three, that company would be less successful than it is today, because all that company still does, 22 years later, is focuses on helping entrepreneurial leadership teams, gain Traction. It’s 10 to 250 person privately held companies, and so that is staying true to your core. If you will stay true to your core for a decade, you will build an empire.

J:
I love it. It’s amazing what consistency and focus can achieve in this world. Okay. We now have confirmation. We have what it takes. We have those traits to be a successful entrepreneur. We’ve taken a glimpse into what it means to be an entrepreneur. What does a day in the life of an entrepreneur look like, and it excites us. It resonates with us. Then we get to part three, and that’s path. Can you talk to us a little bit about what the path part of this process looks like, for those of us that are ready to take the next step?

Gino:
Yeah. You bet. Again, pull it together. Like you said, you’ve confirmed it, now you see a glimpse. If you have these six essential traits, once you see the glimpse, it is going to light you up to where we almost can’t stop you. Okay? You’re just going to want to go and you’re going to want to run. And so path is everything I can do to reign you in and prevent you from making half the mistakes you’re going to make, because you’re going to make the other half. It is not foolproof, because somebody always wants to come up with this prescriptive way to start and grow a business, and there isn’t one. If anybody’s trying to teach you that, they’re selling you a bill of goods. Okay? And so in the way I jokingly like to say it, if there is a process, it would be this, four steps.
Step one, you launch your business. Step two, you get your ass kicked for 10 years. Step three, you emerge a successful entrepreneur. Step four, if you’re lucky, because you have a 50, 50 chance, in other words, there is no process. It’s just this wild and crazy thing. And so what I’m doing in path, is I’m just showing guideposts, creating awarenesses. Because if I can get you to understand these things before you take your entrepreneurial leap, odds will soar that you’ll be successful. And so I’m going to give you the high level of the chapters in path. And then you tell me which ones you’d like to drill down on. And so these are the chapters. The first one is college or not. And so if you are at an age where college is a choice for you right now, I give all of the facts as to whether or not you should or should not go to college, at the end of the day it’s your choice.
The next chapter is all about discovering your passion, how to discover your passion, because passion is the Numero Uno number one thing that’s going to be the difference between success and failure, in my humble opinion. Next chapter is all about how to find a mentor to increase your odds of success. The next chapter is about tenure thinking and the power of tenure thinking. The next chapter is that eight disciplines to greatly increase your odds of success. And then the final chapter nine stages of building your company.

J:
Awesome. I love that. I want to follow up on one of those in particular. You mentioned finding your passion. I know this is a somewhat debated topic in the business world, in the entrepreneur world. To what degree do we make our entrepreneurial decisions based on our passions? There are some people who are strict adherence to, you got to find what you love and you got to focus on it, because if you don’t do that, you’re going to hate your business and your journey every single day. Then there are those people who say, what you love, doesn’t matter, focus on what the market needs. If you happen to do something you even sort of like, you’re very lucky. You talk about passion. Can you address where you fall on that spectrum? What do we do if that thing that we’re passionate about doesn’t necessarily have a market need?

Gino:
Yeah, that’s awesome. Great question. Where I fall on that, we’ll start there, is, I am in the camp that you must have a passion. You must be passionate about your thing. If you want to greatly increase your odds of success, passion is at the root of what picks you back up when you get knocked down your ass. As an entrepreneur, building a business, you’re going to get knocked on your ass often. It’s borderline stupidity to get back up and keep charging forward, because the odds are against you. And so it’s that passion that keeps you moving forward and doing what most people can’t do. Literally making impossible things possible. That’s where I fall, but let’s go a little deeper into that. I did a podcast and I listen to every podcast before I do one. I listen to, 10 or 15 minutes just to get a feel.
I listened to this one I was about to do, I’m literally three minutes in and the podcaster says, passion is bullshit. This is the podcast I’m about to go into. Anyway, I get that camp. There are people in that camp. There are people in the camp that I’m describing. Here’s what I would suggest. I think what happens is, people make an assumption that passion means you have to be passionate about your product or service, and that’s not all what we’re talking about here. It could be, for some it is, but jumping to the EOS world that I live in, one of the things we do with EOS, is we help an entrepreneur get back to their passion and the reason they started this entity.
The answer always falls into one of four categories. I want to share those four categories and this will maybe help expand the mind and what passion really means, because for some, one out of four times, their passion is about that customer, that client, that end user, making an impact on a life. Okay? And so that’s me, I’m passionate about that end user entrepreneur and giving them their ideal life. And so that’s what I live and die and breathe for. There are 17,000 products and services I can sell an entrepreneur to do that. I just happened to choose this tangible one, which is helping them gain traction. If there’s no more need for traction in the world, I’m going to choose one of the other 16,999 options to help that end user. My passion is for that end user.
The second passion is about the entity, the thing you’re building, the organization, the people, the culture. They just want to build a great organization that’s second to none and really cool. Okay? So far we have not talked about a product or a service. The third type is where they’re passionate about innovation, creation, ideas, and a lot of times that’s where the product or service falls. But these are people that they live and die to just be creative, be innovative. And then the fourth type is it’s about winning, it’s about crushing competitors. It is about being dominant. It’s about being number one in their marketplace. And so those are the four types of passion I find. The idea here is, no, no, it’s not about finding a product or service you’re passionate about, it’s about truly finding your passion and for everybody it’s a different answer. A lot of times it has nothing to do with the product or service. That help?

J:
Yeah. I want to reinforce that, just from something that Carol and I talk about a lot, we’re probably best known in the BP community and a lot of communities for real estate investing. I often talk about the fact that I hate real estate and people look at me and they think, wow, you spend 40, 50, 60 hours a week. You’ve done a hundred million dollars worth of investments in real estate. How do you hate it? My answer is, real estate is my inventory. It’s my product. That product is fungible. I could be selling shoes. I could be selling food in a restaurant. I could be selling cars in a car dealership. My passion is building businesses. My passion is investing. My passion is growing and scaling in process. The underlying inventory in my case or product, just happens to be real estate.
I don’t have to be passionate about that product, because I found the other piece that I am passionate about and that’s growing the business. I can definitely relate. I just wanted to throw that out there for anybody that wanted to hear a more concrete example of how that might work, because definitely that resonates with me.

Gino:
If I can add one thing to that, in that chapter about discovering your passion, I literally give seven exercises for how to discover your passion. I feel that strongly about it. We could go on for an hour on this topic alone. I’ll bite my tongue and shut up, but hopefully your question has been answered.

Carol:
It definitely has. Thank you. There is one thing in this part of the book that I really would love to get a deeper dive from you on, Gino. It’s all about partnerships. We feel this is a real hot topic as well. Right? We always talk about hiring the types of people that do the things in your business that you don’t want to do. Should we go into it with our friends? Should we go into it with our family? Just partnerships in general. Can you talk with us more as aspiring entrepreneurs, as we’re making this entrepreneurial leap, how we determine if we are the type of person who should be doing a partnership and what we do with that information?

Gino:
Yeah. You bet. Back to context, what you’re asking about is one of the eight disciplines to greatly increase your odds of success. Okay? This is discipline number two, and the discipline is, decide if you are a partner person, okay? This is vital. This stems from experience. There’s not one ounce of theory in anything in this book. Okay? This is all 20 to 30 years of history and working with many, many, many partnerships. And so there are two types of entrepreneurs in the world, ones that should have partners and ones that should never have partners, ever, ever, ever. Okay? I obviously go a little deeper in the book, but let’s start with the type of entrepreneur that should never have a partner. There’s a story I share in the book about one of my clients who realized after about three to four years, they know they should never have a partner.
We don’t play well with others, they don’t, I shouldn’t say so. There’s nothing wrong with not having partners. There’s no bad answer, both work, you just have to know yourself. And so there are millions of businesses that are successful with one person owning 100% of the business and paying their people well, and very passionate people, that care about the company. It’s a fallacy to assume you have to give up equity for people to be passionate. There are trillions of examples, if we go back 5,000 years. Then there are people that must have partners. In that camp, there’s two types of partner people. There’s the type of partner that needs equal shareholders. So you want a partner that you’re 50, 50 or a third partner where you’re third, third, and a third, or four of you that are a quarter, quarter, quarter.
You all have equal share, equal skin in the game, equal voting power. You want a true, true partner. Okay? And so that absolutely works, know that about yourself. But the second type of partner person, is a person that must maintain control, but is willing to give equity to others. That’s the kind of entrepreneur I am. When I started my business with Don Tinney, he got 20% of the business. I took 80% of the business. I had to be in control. He ultimately earned his way up to 30% of the business, but I had to have control. I need to have the final say, I need to make the final decision, non negotiable, that’s the kin of entrepreneur I am. The reason this is vital on the front end, and I’m teaching this before you take your leap, is you have to know this about yourself before you leap, because I’ve helped so many clients unwind partnerships and bad partnerships that they should have never done it, because they’re not partner people.
And so to the degree you know this about yourself, you’ll make a much better decision going forward. And if you decide to own 100% and not give up equity, it does not make you a selfish person. It makes you a smart business person that knows thyself.

J:
I absolutely love that. Okay. We are getting towards the end of this episode, this has been tremendously insightful. We’re so excited, again, to talk to you. We’re we’re big fans. I do want to ask one last question before we move on and give you an opportunity to tell our listeners where they can get in touch with you and find out more about you and your books. For those listening that are thinking, okay, I’m excited. Gino has got me thinking, I’m going to pick up all of his books. I think it’s six or seven books at this point. I’m going to read the Entrepreneurial Leap and all that. I want to know what I can do as soon as I hit stop on this podcast. What is the next thing? What is the first thing I can do right now? What action can I take today to start my entrepreneurial journey, to take the entrepreneurial leap? What would you tell them?

Gino:
Love it. I’m going to give you a couple of things, but the first and foremost, all things entrepreneurial leap, the epicenter of entrepreneurial leap is the website e-leap.com. Okay? If you go there, the very first thing to do is to take the assessment. Take the entrepreneur and the making assessment, it’s free, you can take it. Literally, 10 minutes, you’re going to have an answer. If you score 90 or higher, you are an entrepreneur in the making. Then I want to take it one step further, because in addition to that, you can download a free chapter of the book. I hope you buy the book, but you can get a taste of the book by downloading a free chapter. But broader than that, I created something called, one, two, three roadmap. It’s three very specific tools. The first of which I’ve already shared, which is the entrepreneur in the making assessment.
But you’ll see a button for the one, two, three roadmap. In an hour, you will have a roadmap to start a better startup. It’s the three tools we already touched on. It’s number one, taking the assessment. It’s number two, filling out MyBiz Match to figure out the perfect business for you that you’re drawn to, looking at all industries, all options. And then number three is creating the MyVision Clarifier, a tool that helps you get your vision out of your head, on paper, and literally gives you a 90 day plan for what to do next. And you can do all of that in an hour. The last thing I would say is, if there’s anyone out there that is passionate about helping entrepreneurs in the making as I am, I’m joining with people that want to be collaborators.
And the way the relationship works, is I give you all of my content to share with the world for free, no contracts, no money changes hands. This is a passion project, and you go out there and you share this content with the world. And all I ask is that you give credit where credit is due. And so we have 86 collaborators and growing every single week. And so if that’s of interest to someone out there, just click on the become a collaborator button and learn more about that.

J:
Awesome. Absolutely love it. Okay. I have to imagine that you’re not somebody who sits still. What is next for Gino Wickman? What are you working on? What do you have coming out in the near future, which we’d be looking forward?

Gino:
Yeah, well, I did write another book, that’s not what this podcast is about. I honestly never thought I would write this book, but it’s an EOS book and it’s the final piece to the puzzle from a standpoint of what I’m going to write and it’s called the EOS Life. It comes out in September, it’s available on Amazon now, you can pre-order it, but it’s basically showing the life that EOS will create for you as an entrepreneur, as a leader, as a person in an EOS organization, and ultimately helps a person live their ideal life, which means that they’re doing what they love every day, with people that they love, making a huge impact, getting compensated well and having time for other passions.

J:
I love it. Okay. You’ve already mentioned it, but I’m going to give you an opportunity to mention again, for anybody out there that wants to find out more about you, more about your books, take the assessment, where can they go? What can they do?

Gino:
E-leap.com and start with the assessment and certainly download the free chapter if you’re not ready to take the leap and buy the book.

J:
Awesome. Gino, this has been absolutely amazing, insightful. We really appreciate you taking the time to be with us today. We appreciate everything you’ve offered to us and to our community.

Gino:
Had a blast.

J:
Thanks so much.

Carol:
Thank you.

 

Watch the Podcast Here

In This Episode We Cover

  • What the EOS – Entrepreneurial Operating System is
  • How to know whether or not you’re a natural entrepreneur
  • The entrepreneurial range and where you may stand on it
  • The 8 most critical mistakes of entrepreneurs 
  • How getting sidetracked can derail a successful business 
  • Whether or not you’re a “partner person” 
  • And So Much More!

Links from the Show

Books Mentioned in this Show:

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