No don't go in there, Daddy's working.
Jonathan: We're back all up in your ear buds - take that, take that, take that. Yes, yes, yes, y'all. Another Daddy's Working podcast here for you, like we do every week at this time, sharing some knowledge, sharing some insights and sharing my cool friends that I've collected over the years, one of them who is here with us today is Mr. Bob Holdsworth. What is up, my man?
Bob: How you doing, bud? Good to talk to you again.
Jonathan: Yeah. How long has it been? It's been like a year, hasn’t it?
Bob: It's pretty… yeah - probably nine months at least, but yeah.
Jonathan: I missed you, bro.
Bob: Working on a year.
Jonathan: I missed you so much.
Bob: I missed you too, Jonathan. [0:01:00.2]
Jonathan: Oh man. Daddy's Working crew, I'm going to start calling them champs, champs. Right? Our listeners are champs because they're here with us. Champs versus chumps was an episode I did a few weeks ago, but these are the champs listening and you, my friend, are a champion. I want you to do a quick introduction. For the people out there listening, why should they care about you, Bob?
Bob: Well, first off, if I'm going to be a champion, where's my intro champion music? You know, where's the Rocky theme, all the rest of the stuff that's got to go with that? So.
Jonathan: Hey man, this is low production value here.
Bob: Oh. Alright. Well, I didn't know that. I thought this was, you know, this was high budget big deal, so I'm like.... You guys do great work. Why should you listen to me? Well… I'm going to be, in 45 days, I'm going to be 60 years old. Happy birthday to me. Don’t sing. For the last 32, I've been running my own business. Before that, I managed a bunch of different companies, but along that 32-year path, and you and I have talked about this, I've kind of had a mantra of doing business on my own terms and it's been, it grew very, very well. [0:02:12.6]
I grew a business from zero, sold part of it for several million dollars a couple of years ago, kept the piece that I really liked, got rid of the piece that I really didn't and have, for the last 2 years, been doing what I really, really want to do. It is still doing real well. So but that means I get to take time off and go on vacations. As a matter of fact, I'm leaving tomorrow for eight days in Maine and I've only been back a week from eight days in South Carolina. So, a little work along the way, but the business, surprisingly, moved along just fine while we were on the beach and practice where we put the suntan lotion.
Jonathan: Nice. I want to ask some questions. But why is it eight-day trips?
Bob: It just worked out that way. Just the way we had to do what we had to do. We were doing some college searches with the kids and seeing my nieces and nephews and stuff like that, and it just, it turned into eight days - the South Carolina trip actually was a couple more with travel because we drove down and stuff like that, but actual beach time was eight days, which did not suck. [0:03:13.2]
Jonathan: Sweet. So alright, boys and girls out there, because I found out that I only have one review on this show right now and it came from a woman, so I know there's at least one woman listening out there to Daddy's Working, but I met Bob at a high-level mastermind and he was in the middle of this process of coming out of the old business because this is about when you sold that business, wasn't it? And you were just …
Jonathan: … positioning to the new piece that you're doing now and one of the things I loved about you - well, there were several - but one of them was what you just said there and you made a daily practice of this. Do business on your own terms. What does that mean, Bob?
Bob: Well, I'm so passionate about that particular term, I actually have a US Trademark on that, that slogan. But what it means to me is I pick, and enviably, you have to build your business to a certain point where you have a little bit of selectivity, but if you have the mindset from the beginning, it drives every one of the decisions that you make. [0:04:11.9]
So am I going to work with this person? You know, in the beginning when we all start our businesses, we are prone to take whatever comes along and you know, they have a check and pulse, so you know, let's take them. But the reality is if you don’t make some conscious decisions and I mean really early on, you will end up doing work with people you can't stand, projects you don’t like, and it will suck the lifeblood right out of you fairly quickly, which is why some people just get to the point where they're like I don’t want to do this anymore; I'm going to go get a job and I'm going to do, you know, Monday through Friday, 9 to 5, which will kill you just as fast. So I basically came out and said, listen, if you - I have kind of a creed and if you don’t meet that criteria, I will be more than happy to send you to someone who might be a better fit because we aren’t going to get along.
Jonathan: I love it. I love it. And one of the things that you said when we were talking and I think it was either when were talking at the mastermind or when we were planning work together was you and your wife were the only husband and wife team going to the kids' events, being around all the time and it was so inspiring to me that I still say it to this day. [0:05:19.3]
So how did you do that? How did you say yeah, I'm going to build this business. I'm going to make a living, better than a living because you sold it for millions, but I'm going to be present for my kids - how do make that work because most people think it's not possible?
Bob: It is extremely possible, and as a matter of fact, when we first started the business - I started it about six years before I met my wife, and she actually was hired by a former manager, so I had nothing to do with her hiring, but I do say, you know, we laugh about the one time employee retention program now because I married her. And we have been working together, living together, obviously we have raised twin boys who just turned 17, so we have been together in both working and professional life for 22 years now, almost 23 years, which most people would say those would be causes for divorce. [0:06:06.6]
In fact, it's actually been better for us. But when the kids came along 17 years ago and if you count, you know, gestation time, 18 years ago, we started making some plans about how we were going to run the business going forward. So when you're single and it's just the two of you, yeah, we put in the blood, sweat and tears and the hours and stuff like that, but it very quickly, priorities changed and therefore, the business had to change to meet our priorities. So if you haven’t articulated to you, you know, written down and figured out what you really want with your partners, with your spouses, to identify how you're going to do business and how you're going to make money and what are the kind of the bedrock foundations of what you're all about, then the business gets away from you. So things like when the kids came along, I took three weeks off when the kids came along and just, I am gone, see you later, bye so I could be home with the kids. And then going forward from that point forward, I took every Tuesday off and that was affectionately known as boy's day, and I would take the kids and go do something, even when they were little and in a stroller. [0:07:08.8]
I had one lady come up to me in the mall and she's like, do you need any help? And I'm like, no, I'm good, and I've got, you know, bottles stuck in both of the kids' mouths at the mall, and she's like, where's your wife? I said, she's at work today. She's like, um, you're here by yourself? She goes, I wouldn’t let my husband alone with two kids in the living room if I was home. And so, but we did all kinds of stuff. We went to, you know, climbed on battle ships, went to the airport, you know, did all kinds of stuff. And they still talk about it to this day. They remember that. Nobody is going to buy onto that. Nobody is going to like it. You know, the clients are going to push back. And the reality was, as I articulated what I was doing and why I was doing it, I had more clients come around and go, damn, I wish I could do that, and I'm like, well, what's holding you back? Well, I could never… my clients won't understand. I'm like, yeah, they will - just give it a shot because if you don’t set parameters for what your business is going to be, if you don’t set the rules under which people work with you, then you're at somebody else's mercy, and you created a job, not a business. [0:08:05.9]
Jonathan: Yeah. It's like you have to have some standards, and so, I have always admired that about you is that you set that up from the beginning. How did you guys know, like how do you go into, because look, me and Cupcake, when we first got married, and maybe it's just an age thing, but when we first got married, we tried to work together in the real estate business and I was a total tyrant, an asshole and she hated me and it was unfun and she had to go get a job because it wasn't working with us. Now we work together fine, but it took us, you know, 15 years. How did you guys work that out from the beginning?
Bob: Well, I think the dynamic was a little different when we started because I, the business was six years old when she came to the business and she worked as an employee, then she became a manager. Then one of our clients invited us to a Christmas party and we were both single and we went to the Christmas party and we were like, hey, you know, this social thing is a whole lot of fun. A year later, we were married. So there was a little bit of a different dynamic in the beginning, which has now turned into just a partnership. [0:09:04.3]
We disagree on stuff. She is much more conservative. I am much more the risk taker. I have to do a fair amount of, and matter of fact, we were talking about this this morning - I'm in the process of rebranding the business, the part that I kept, I'm in the process of rebranding it and she's looking at me with kind of a tilted head, going, what are you doing now? And so I have to put the business plan together and kind of show her what it is we're going into and what we want to do. The goal is very simple. We want to grow it to a certain level, in three years, and then sell it and go retire. But that is going to take concerted effort over those three years. But to go back to kind of the bedrock foundations of things, it's important that you set those in stone. And I actually, I'm holding it in my hand. Mine is written down, and it's sitting here so I can look at it, and we tweaked it and this is the final version that we came up with in 2005 and look what we did since then. It says, effective immediately, I will no longer care what others outside of my immediate circle of family and friends think about what I say or do, how I act or what I think, stand for or believe in. [0:10:09.8]
And then there's, I think there's 10 here. I will say what I need to say. I will do what I need or want to do. I will pass on things I don’t want to do. I will take time for myself, by myself. I will enjoy time with my kids. I will enjoy time with my wife. I will get to the gym and work out no less than three times a week. That one, we're still a work in progress. I will work with clients who share the same values, ideals and philosophy as mine. I will not work with clients who don't. I will not associate with people who are negative, obnoxious, lazy, condescending or prejudice.
Jonathan: You've got your standards.
Bob: And every decision that is made when somebody comes in, and I'm cutting a client loose next week when I come back from Maine, I'm not working them with them anymore because they are not doing their part of the project, yet screaming and yelling when the project is not on path and on time constraint. My stuff is done in 24 hours. Their stuff takes two weeks. They're just not worth the money and the aggravation anymore. [0:11:14.3]
Jonathan: I know the feeling.
Jonathan: I've had those before.
Bob: But you have to have, you got to have the fortitude to turn around and go, you know, this isn't working, and you know, you can do the whole dating thing, you know - it's not you, it's me, but this is just not working and I think you should find somebody else to work with.
Jonathan: So you spoke a little bit about your values. What are your core values, Bob?
Bob: We take care of the customer. We take care of our employees when we had them and that was, even when we sold the business, it was a very specific that we started with the employees and the clients and making sure they were taken care of because then in doing so, we knew the deal would be good enough for us and our family. But family comes first. I mean, I, you know, when the kids' school schedule comes out, which it's coming out next week, I go in and plug in all of the half days. [0:12:04.0]
I go in and plug in all of the vacations. We have already planned out a couple of vacations for next year. Those are non movable events. They're on my calendar in yellow. Yellow is a non movable event. Now the fact that the kids have a half day may not mean anything, but it does mean that if an opportunity comes up to go do something with the kids, I know in the back of my mind, I've got to at least keep the afternoon open in case something comes up that we can do together. And that stuff has religiously been put on to the calendar and people go, well, you know, what if business pops up? If you call, if a client calls and says, hey, can you meet with me next Thursday and there's a family event on the calendar, you don’t have to tell the client who it is, you can just say, I'm sorry, I'm already booked at that particular point in time - what other day can we do. So if you do that, then you're putting your core value first, which is family. If you're not, then you're allowing other people to move things around and you have to explain to your family or your wife why you can't do date night and why you can't go to the kids' school event. [0:13:07.5]
And you mentioned it earlier, that we talked about it at mastermind group, you know, that Jen and I are almost always some of the only two parent teams that are at school events and at you know, recitals and whatever. That's not by accident.
Jonathan: Yeah. And we model that all the time and I whisper in Cupcake's ear, like, yeah, we're the two parent team. I'm usually hanging out with a bunch of ladies but you know, the dads are out there earning a living. They must think that I'm a bum, but I do that all the time and it feels so good because the time, you don’t get that time back and I feel like I'm so grateful to be able to be there for those little things, for those little times. Did you teach your boys how special this is? Did you point out to them that not everybody can do this and we're doing this because?
Bob: Yes, we have also done, over the last five years - the other thing that we did with our company is we used to take our employees, if they hit goals, for the year, we used to take the whole company on cruises once a year. So we would get to know our employees, their, we would take the employee, their family, their kids and we would all go. Now, we usually went out of New York, so it was a bus trip down and whatever and you know, we're not buying the bar bill, but we did, over the years, we did 16 of those. [0:14:28.2]
Bob: And people don’t understand the amount of money that we spent on those cruises, the amount of value we got with zero turnover, you know, in the employee core. So they were happy. They took care of the customers. The customers stayed. So when it came time to sell the business, that portion of the business, the reason we got the multiple that we got was because we had clients that had been with us for 25, 26 years.
Bob: Because they weren’t going anywhere and nobody in our particular niche, which is healthcare, had that capability, but we did that by taking care of people and putting them first. [0:15:06.8]
But when the kids are talking to people, and it sounds pretentious, they say, oh, it's so nice - are you on your first cruise? No, this is my sixth, no this is my eighteenth - you know? But over the last five years, we have gone, in the summertime, we have gone to Europe for two weeks and we, they were old enough to understand this is what this trip is costing, this is how we're managing to do this, this is why we're managing to do this. And now as they're planning out college, we're sitting down and saying, here's what we have saved for college, here's how you should manage it, and after that, you know, it's on you. And now they're making economically sensible choices, knowing how much money they have to spend and it's changed from I'm going to go to Harvard, which is a good goal, to well, I need eight years of tuition for what I want to do - if I go here for four and here for four, I can do that. So, there's a training component in not everybody gets to do this, but this is why we get to do this and this is what the work load is and there are times that I can't make every single event, but I make enough of them to the point that I'm probably 85% to 90% of them, maybe even a little higher. [0:16:15.3]
They see that as we're cheering them on at a track event or whatever. So yeah, you do call them out on it, but not just calling them out to show them that you're doing it and oh, look at me, aren’t I great. It's this is why and this is the work load that led up to this. This is how we work and this is how we structured things so we can be here with you. This is why, as you're making career choices and looking for what you want to do for a living, if you want to do this, then you have to start thinking about how you're going to be marketable in the foreseeable future as you're making your choices. So it's part this is really cool, this is why it's really cool and if you want to emulate this, this is kind of what you need to do.
Jonathan: Amazing. What an amazing - I mean, when I think about how I got raised, it was none of that. So I love that. It inspires me to do better, and I appreciate that, Bob. So …[ 0:17:07.8]
Jonathan: Do they, do you want them to follow in your footsteps? Do you want them to be entrepreneurs, employees? Have you put any seeds out there, hoping that they go one way or another? What does that look like?
Bob: We have done what every parent does, you know, you can be whatever you want to be, you know, kind of thing. They've gone through their own thought process about what they would like to do and why. And I've told them for years and I've done exactly this - it's like, listen, I will make an arrangement with you or for you. I will make an appointment for you. I will introduce you to somebody. So I always tell them, listen, I will kick a door open for you, but I'm not pushing you through it, pulling you through it, or throwing you through it.
Jonathan: Come on. You're in the EMS business
Bob: I am in the EMS business, but I look at it as I'm in the healthcare business and I'm in small business. So I've been able to do both. Mine just happened to be, the niche happens to be in public safety and healthcare. [0:18:04.8]
But, if they wanted to - one is thinking about being a doctor. So, we hooked him up for shadow time, but he had to make the arrangements. So here's doctor so and so's email and the hospital's requirements. Do the paperwork. Go up there and meet the man. Dress appropriately. Shake his hand. Ask questions; have some formatted. That's not my job. That's yours. One thought he wanted to be an attorney. Will you take my kid for a day and let him shadow you? Yes. Okay. Call this person. Make the appointment. Schedule the thing. I'm not doing that for you. You know, the days of that passed at about 14. You know, you now can talk on your own and move forward from there. So, if they want to be an entrepreneur, that's fine. One thinks he wants to go into the back end of politics and journalism. The other one has now determined that he wants to be an emergency room physician. [0:19:00.2]
We were down in, part of the trip we just went on, we went from South Carolina to Nashville and they shadowed the trauma team at a major trauma center for two days and it helped him decide what kind of a physician he wants to be, and it also tracked him back to looking at different colleges now because economically, he doesn’t need to spend eight years at a brand name. He needs to spend four at a good college and four at a medical school that will get him where he wants to go. So it's now changing, you know, where he wants to go based on talking to these docs who are giving him advice. So we're going back down to South Carolina to look at two schools and that involves taking a couple of days off from work, making plane arrangements, and everything else. And I'm like, when I went to college, I got to look at two colleges - one was in Connecticut, where I went and one was in Boston, where I lived. We have already looked at seven and those seven are in five different states. And I said, we have the ability to go to DC for a weekend and look at schools or whatever, but that's, again, not by accident. [0:20:06.2]
It's based on how we structured the business and I have an appointment. I'll be out of town for three days. I'll see you when I get back, or four days or whatever it is.
Jonathan: So how did you grow up, Bob? You seem like you have it all together. Are these influences from your early days or have you learned and adapted? What was your house like growing up?
Bob: I'm the oldest of four kids. My mom and dad met in the banking industry. My mom stopped working when I came along. My dad worked in banking for 30 something years. His father before him was the vice president of a major bank in Boston. My mom's father worked as a jeweler in Boston until he was in his mid 70s. If you needed a piece of jewelry fixed and you couldn’t get it fixed anywhere else, you brought it to my grandfather, and my grandfather was known all over Boston as the guy who could fix it. [0:21:00.3]
But I watched my dad. He used to bring his home work home at night, so it wasn’t just the office. He was bringing a little bit home but he would have dinner, hang out with us. If we needed help with home work, we just wanted to chat, and then we started to go to bed, he'd go do an hour or two of work in his office and then he'd be up in the morning and go. My grandfather was the same way. My grandfather worked, you know, full time until he was in his 70s. So I got a good work ethic, but nobody in the family was entrepreneurial. Everybody was corporate. And I tried the corporate thing. I hated it.
Bob: I was in the restaurant business from the time I was 15 until the time I was about 19 and those four years, I worked as, I was a manager for three different companies during that period of time, from 17 to 19, I was actually a manager with three different large food service companies and realized that I cannot do corporate.
Jonathan: So you actually had the experience… so you didn't have the example growing up. You got taught the work ethic, but going out and working for corporate taught you that you didn't want it. I mean, what was it about it? How did you know that wasn’t for you? [0:22:09.3]
Bob: Everything was about making your numbers, which we have to do as business owners, but it didn't matter how we served our clients, as long as we made our numbers. And I'm just, that's just not me. I mean, if you come into my business, you come into my home, you come into the restaurant, you're coming in for an experience. I want to make sure that I take care of you, and if I was short staffed, I couldn’t do that, and if I had certain numbers based on shift performance, I had to let people go home early. I had district manager that I worked for who was, and I don’t know if we can, you know, how frank we can be on this, but he was, well, yeah, he was an asshole.
Jonathan: Thank you.
Bob: Plain and simple. Yeah, I try to be professional as much as I can, but you're right, I was, I've had a really interesting career, working in public safety for a long period of time, where I was a corrections officer. I have been a paramedic for almost 40 years now. But this particular guy, if you look up the definition in Webster or you pull out a dictionary, which for some people who are old enough to remember dictionaries, those are big books with words in them…[0:23:20.8]
Jonathan: Like Yellow Pages.
Bob: Like Yellow Pages, yes. But it still exists. But if you look up the word asshole, he is the second definition with a picture. And I just could not work for the man, and that was the last corporate job I ever had. I'm like, if this is what the rest of it is, and they were like, well, you can be on the fast track to management… and I'm like, hmmm, if that's what that is, I'm out. So, switched into healthcare and worked my way up through healthcare and then finally said, you know what - I can do just as much for myself, if not more. So, jumped out of that.
Jonathan: Well, guess what? Time is up for this week. I know you were just getting into that, and I don’t blame you because it was just getting good. But we're trying to keep these episodes under a half hour. So we split it up into two. We'll be back next week with part two of this interview. Make sure you tune in then, and if you love what you're hearing, why not share this episode with someone who will also love it? Thank you. Daddy's out.
This is ThePodcastFactory.com