E199: A Thanksgiving Episode
For our listeners outside the United States, we are celebrating the second biggest holiday today. Next to Christmas, Thanksgiving is that time of the year where we take a break from work or business to spend the day with family and friends. We’ve closed the office for today and tomorrow to give our employees and ourselves that much-deserved break. My wife and I are taking a trip down to Las Vegas to visit dear friends we haven’t seen in a while.
I am personally thankful for a lot of things. I have been living the life that I have wanted since quitting my job in 2004. I have achieved success in the different businesses that I started. This has allowed me to lead a comfortable life and be in the position to help others.
I am also blessed with friends in and out of ecommerce and for all the experiences I’ve had until this point.
Listen in as I turn into ‘Philospher Mike’ for this particular episode and reflect on all the good and bad with sincere gratitude.
To everyone who’s celebrating, have a good one. To all ecommerce sellers, here’s to a profitable holiday season.
We’re opening registration to EcomCrew Premium for one last time this year. You can join the waitlist here. Follow our Facebook page for all the latest updates. A great discount awaits those who register before 2018 ends.
We’re bringing the rates up for both the Monthly and Annual plans in 2019 so sign up asap.
As always, thanks for listening to this episode! If you enjoyed listening and think this episode has been useful to you, please take a moment to leave us a review on iTunes.’s
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. Happy selling!
Full Audio Transcript
Mike: This is Mike and welcome to episode number 199 of the EcomCrew Podcast. For those of you in the United States, a very happy thanksgiving to you. For those of you outside the United States, it's Thanksgiving. So this is a special Thanksgiving episode. I happen to be in the United States, Thanksgiving in the United States, I would say is probably the second biggest holiday, Christmas is probably number one. But Thanksgiving is one of those holidays where everything closes down in the United States, all the malls are shut down, and people are with their families and stuff.
Unfortunately, capitalism has kind of started to triple hit this a little bit. I think it's a shame, quite a bit of a shame personally with Black Friday deals starting to creep into Thursday now, and these people have to go to work. I mean, I do think that people need time off and I obviously like I'm on both ends of this. We have an ecommerce store and we make a lot of money this time of year. It's a really important time of the year. But we're closed on Thanksgiving. And in fact, this year, we're closing the office on Black Friday as well, which we have not done in the past. I think it's important for our employees to have some time off.
It's been a long year. And it's been a lot of work leading up to this point. We did all the work that we can possibly do to be ready for this time of year. And we're going to let the chips fall where they may. So personally, I'm going to go out to Las Vegas with my wife and visit all of our friends out in Vegas that we miss dearly that we used to spend all Thanksgivings with when we lived there. And also some other friends in San Diego are going out there as well. So it's going to be a lot more people than normal this year, and I'm really looking forward to it.
I'm looking forward to it more so than normal because the last several Thanksgivings have been really small for us. It's been my wife and I, and maybe my cousin who lives in San Diego here and last year, my mother in law since she's been with us now in San Diego. It's been really small; I haven't been with my parents, which sucks because they live far away on the other side of the country. In fact, I haven't been able to be with my friends, my wife and I haven’t been able to be with our friends because we weren't going to go someplace far away and then try to get back here on Friday to be at work.
So I'm super thankful to be able to do that this year. I'm really looking forward to that trip. I'm recording this episode before heading out to Las Vegas to be with our friends. It's not the type of trip you're thinking of. It's not slot machines and blackjack tables and casinos, it's we probably won't even walk into a casino 99.9% chance. It's to spend time with friends who we also call family. They're so close, so really looking forward to that.
But anyway, the reason I want to put this episode together again, for those of you outside the United States is to kind of understand the customs here, Thanksgiving is kind of build as this time to think about the things that you're thankful for. And I wanted to do that here today and just talk about some of the things I'm thankful for. And also turn a little bit into philosopher Mike, more than just podcaster Mike. If this is type of stuff that you have no interest in, just hit fast forward, and go to the next episode. No hard feelings on my part.
But the first thing I want to talk about that I'm thankful for is that all of my problems are, first of all problems. I make this joke all the time now when someone is complaining about something and call them out that it's a first world problem. And the human psyche here — I've been reading about this type of stuff as well. And I'm trying to understand my myself and not only myself, but other people's psyche that everyone likes to have problems, no matter what. You could be a billionaire and you've got things that you are complaining about. You can go ask Bill Gates, or Warren Buffett, or what are the other world's billionaires, and they've all got something that they're stressed out about and they're concerned about and they got this problem.
And a lot of it is just self created. You make these problems in your own mind, they're not really problems, it’s just you'd like to have a challenge or something wrong. Or when someone's asking how you're doing, there's always a but, or something in your life. And this is something that I've been thinking a lot about, and trying to work on. Because I realized that all the things in my life, like every single thing that I'm stressed out about is something that I created for myself. I have no one to blame, but myself for that stress and for that problem and for that concern. And all of them are first world issues.
So I'm thankful for the fact that I'm not dealing with actual problems like real life and death type problems. Or I'm not worrying about how I’m going to pay my mortgage payment, I'm not worried about how I'm going to pay my electric bill, my water bill, things that I know my parents had to worry about when I was growing up because the utilities got cut off, usually a couple of times a year. I'd go to take a shower in the morning to go to school, and there might not be any water one day or the lights wouldn’t come on because they couldn't afford that bill. So those are the types of things that are real struggles that people are having out there.
And the reality is, is that most people in the world are faced with those problems. I mean, they're faced with those types of real world problems. The vast majority of the world lives in poverty below the poverty line. And these are the types of things that they're struggling with, like where their next meal is coming from, trying to save every penny, and deal with these types of things. So, I'm really thankful that I've been able to have such a blessed life and not have to worry about those things, at least not for the better part of the last 15 years. And the things that I've created, or again, they're just self manufactured stuff that is unnecessary.
It's something that I'm going to be working on a lot in 2019. It's not a New Year’s resolution, this is something — I don't really do New Year's resolutions. I think that that's not the best thing. You set something on that particular day and usually most resolutions are gone by February. I try to do lifestyle change type things. And there's been a lot of things that I've changed my lifestyle on over the years. A lot of it is with consumerism, and that's also kind of led to some of stuff that's kind of going through my head. And so it's trying to become more of minimalist and I certainly favor experiences over things much more the last five years, my diet has changed a lot; it’s another lifestyle change thing.
And next thing I'm going to be working on lifestyle change is just really reducing stress by a magnitude, and in the things that I create, the problems I create, trying to minimize them and not worry about as many things, and just try to be thinking about things from that perspective. Because, again, I mean, a lot of it is you create this stuff for yourself, or you create these bars for yourself. And the answer is or the question I guess is why, like, why you put yourself through that? It doesn't necessarily add a lot to your life other than making you feel important, or something into that nature. So, I probably have a lot more to say about that as it develops. But certainly thankful for the fact again, that the things that I worry about are not real problems.
I mean, realistically, my life is easy when it comes to that stuff because again, not worrying about where my food is coming from, where the rent is coming from, worry about getting addicted or things of that nature, so definitely very, very thankful for that. And pretty much not a day goes by that I don't think about that. I haven't thought about or been thinking about that for many years now, at least five years like I said. So I think it's important for all of us take a step back, if you're listening to this, I'm sure that some of you are in that situation. And I definitely have empathy for that. And I hope that this podcast and the things that we do at EcomCrew can eventually help lift you out of that and help you be more financially independent.
That's certainly a lot of the reasons we talk about this stuff. But if you are more fortunate, like a lot of you probably are, take a minute to think about that. When you are walking on the street, and there's maybe a homeless guy and the first thought process is maybe that guy is lazy, or he needs to get a job, or whatever it might be, you don't know his situation. And a lot of us are you just a moment away from being homeless. It's actually pretty scary, like how quickly life can change, or something can happen. You could get sick; you could have appendicitis or something and not have health insurance. And next thing you know you're bankrupt and can't make rent.
Or you’re the hardest working employee at your company, you do an amazing job, but the company goes bankrupt and they lay you off and give you no severance, and you've been living paycheck to paycheck because that's the only way you can afford to live with maybe your slightly above minimum wage paycheck or something. And very quickly, you can find yourself in a really bad situation. And I'm just again, thankful that that isn't even a possibility for me, and my wife. So enough about that. That's number one.
Number two friends. I think that this is something everyone should be thinking about be surrounding themselves with people that believe in them, that will challenge them, that will be there for them at all cost. And I'm lucky to have a few of those people in my life. And I am really thankful to have them. And the thing that's really neat is I put them in the two different buckets these days. I put them in my non ecommerce friends’ bucket, which is what this trip to Las Vegas, is all about for Thanksgiving. Work won't come up probably even one time while we're there other than how's business going.
These are people that are teachers or scientist or real estate agents or someone working at — one of my friends works at on Fremont Street, handling the zip line down there. I got a friend up there that’s a waitress, and a guy that works at Trader Joe's. I mean these are just ordinary people that do all these different things. And I'm thankful to have them as friends so I can clear my mind when I'm with them and not have to talk shop. It's been really helpful the last few years as we've been going through ecommerce and the stresses of this business. So, I'm incredibly thankful for them and all the things that they have done for my wife and I, and they've just been amazing to have in our lives, so super thankful for that.
But then the other bucket is the EcomCrew. EcomCrew that's funny — ecommerce bucket of my friends there. And not to like call them all out. But these are people that you probably all know where I've talked about a lot on the podcast. And again, I know that they're there for me, and anything that we're doing and support EcomCrew, support our business, they are there to bounce ideas off of and talk about things. And if there's anything new that we're doing, they're always the first ones there to help us. These things aren’t to be taken lightly. And it definitely means a lot to me.
I was talking to a couple of guys. I was talking to Steve, Scott, and Greg, the guys I did 5 Minute Pitch with, and one of the things that I said in our little Slack channel is that we should all be thankful for the fact that the sponsors that are sponsoring that show, and we've raised quite a bit of money to sponsor that endeavor, we're not going to disclose — basically we've sold out our sponsorships. We're really happy with where things are there. It's been an amazing journey. And so, I made a comment that we should be thankful that we have so many people out there that put their trust in us. And we have a reputation where people are handing us five figure sums of money to sponsor a brand new project [site unseen] [ph].
We haven't even produced the first episode yet. It's just basically a concept and we told them that we recorded it. But they haven't seen an example, they haven't seen any results but they're willing to do that with us. And I think that that's a pretty amazing feat. And I'm really proud of the guys I'm working with there for that. And it was funny, one of the guys responded, are you drunk right now, because that's the type of thing you would say when you’ve been drinking, and you're crying your beer. But I was 100% sober and I meant then, and I mean it now. So I'm thankful for those guys.
But not only them, but there's several other people in the ecommerce community that are big celebrities I guess, if you want to call it that, that I'm thankful to have them as friends. And also, people in my mastermind and other people of that nature or their peers where I just again, I feel so fortunate when we have a problem, we have an idea, we need support, we need a shoulder to cry on, someone to commiserate with whatever it might be that they're there no questions asked. And I hope that I've done the same, I really try to do that in my life. And I think that that's probably why they're there for me when I need them, so anyway, thankful for that.
The next thing is, I'm thankful for the experience that I have. It sucks getting older, from the fact that you only have so many years on this planet. But with that comes experience. You've been through certain cycles and seen things. And because of that, I think that there's been some things especially this year where experience has played a part in allowing me to pivot a lot more fluidly and put our business in a better position than if I was younger. I would have probably been more bull in the China shop mentality, and we'll get through this stuff and who cares kind of mentality, and probably had more of an ego towards hitting certain numbers.
So, the big pivot has been to stop developing as many new products and to focus our business more on profitability the last few months this year. There's a lot about that in the update that I did for the 2018 goals. I mean, we made a pretty big shift in the middle of the year. And it was because of all the things I talked about in there, but mostly the tariffs, the sales tax issues, the competition on Amazon, things that I've seen cropping up. And I anticipate the result of what some of the stuff is going to mean a lot better because I've had experience. So I'm really thankful for that. It's something that I think I've been able to use that to my advantage and I think that that's really cool.
The last thing I want to talk about is I'm thankful for being able to add more destinations to my travels this year. Probably my biggest passion in life is seeing new places, experience new things, new cultures. It's helped define my adult life more than anything else, probably just seeing the way that different people live around the world and how good we have it in the United States, how good things are elsewhere. That could be better, the United States could be better if they looked elsewhere. But also other parts of the world that are way less fortunate that I've been to that are living in poverty, abject poverty, in some cases. And the disparity between the haves and the have nots is dramatic.
So yeah, definitely thankful for that. This year, we were able to add a couple of new countries to our tally, we're at 14 up — I should say me, my wife was with me on these trips. But I've personally been able to get to 49 total countries now, which is awesome. I’m definitely excited about that. And I don't know where the fifth one is going to be up, but looking forward to adding that onto it as well this year. And we added three new states to the list. So I've gone from being in 45 states in the United States to 48 now, so just two more to go, which is North Dakota and Iowa. Someday I’ll fly up there for some strange reason, go to Fargo in the morning or something, and cross those off my list. But definitely thankful that I've been able to pursue my passions and do that, it's been awesome.
What I want to close this with is finally I'm thankful that I've been able to live my life basically for all intents and purposes by my own terms since 2004, when I quit my job. It was July 2004, when I walked into my boss's office and I said, I'm going to start my own business. It’s something I'm going to go pursue; I'm putting in my notice. It was July 1st. And the next day I left to go on vacation, which was actually pretty funny. But at the time, I knew that there was never going to be a good time to give my notice. And I knew basically that the time had come. And I wanted to give them as much time as possible. So I was going on two week vacation. So I went in and told him what was going down and that the 30 days notice would actually start the day that I got back, not the day before I left. So they effectively got six weeks’ notice.
And so, I left my job and they ended up keeping me for a little bit longer. But I left that job in the fall of 2004. And since then, I haven't looked back. And that is not for everyone, not everyone can be the entrepreneur and live this type of lifestyle. It's definitely been stressful. There's been a lot of high risk situations, there has been a lot of highs, a lot of lows, I could probably do an entire episode of that. But it's also made me realize that everyone needs different people in society. You can't just have all entrepreneurs; you have to have worker bees as well. This company could not exist without the amazing employees that we have.
And if they all wanted to start their own business, and if any of them did, I would support them and wish them the best as long as they did it in a moral away, where they weren't stealing our intellectual property to do it. Or they weren't trying to work for their own business on our dime, which has happened once before, which was really frustrating. But if someone came to me and says, look, I want to put my two weeks or give you a month notice or whatever and I want to go off and do this, I would support them in any way that I could to make them successful. But again, their future company if they were ones that were wanting to do that, or our company or anything else you do in life can't run without other people that are just content with going to work nine to five and doing their thing.
But for me and my personality, and my lifestyle, I'm incredibly thankful that I've been able to live that way because that's when I'm my best or when I'm my happiest. And in between all of that, we were able to do an RV trip for a couple of years and be able to travel the world and do other things that that feed other passions as well. And everyone is unique; everyone has their things that make them who they are. And for me, I feel like at my heart, I'm an entrepreneur. And I'm very proud of the fact that I've been able to do this for so long, support my family, support my passions, and not have to ask anyone for money or anything to be able to do it.
I was totally was able to bootstrap it on my own, which if you have to get alone or someone helps you, that's fine, too. I definitely don't prejudge people that are able to have that opportunity. It just wasn't there for me. As I mentioned, I grew up in a lower middle class household and that certainly wasn't something my parents were able to do. I know that if they could they probably would have, but that wasn't there. So, I'm definitely pretty prideful of the fact that we’ve able to do that and be able to sustain ourselves through years that were zeros or negatives, because not everything is always a bowl of cherries in entrepreneurial land, so very thankful for that. And I want to close this episode with that.
So guys, I hope you again, if you live in the United States had a wonderful Thanksgiving. If you're listening to this on Thanksgiving Day or afterwards, I hope that it's been a great 2018 for you. And for everyone else regardless if you're in the United States or not, obviously you're listening to this podcast because you're interested in ecommerce. So, I want to wish you the best of luck here in the most important time of the year, the day from Thanksgiving Day to basically December 24, at least for a lot of companies, this is when you make or break your year. So, best of luck with all of that, and until the next episode everyone, happy selling, and we'll talk to you then.