Matthew Michalewicz, CEO of Complexica
Achieving Success Before It’s Too Late with Matthew Michalewicz
Where do you see yourself in ten years? And more importantly, is that where you want to be? Without a doubt, you’ve spent an unproductive afternoon at your desk staring listlessly out the window, listening to the chatter of co-workers, staring at piles of reports, puzzled on how you ended up there. What happened to the life you dreamed about when you were in high-school? If you’re feeling a little unfulfilled, the good news is, you’re not the only one. According to Harvard studies, a whopping 74% of people are unhappy in their work. Job satisfaction in the USA recently fell to its lowest level in 22 years and continues to show a consistent downward trend. There’s a reason why three-quarters of employees don’t walk away and cash in their chips, and instead opt to stay unfulfilled. To find out why, we spoke with Matthew Michalewicz.
Michalewicz is an international expert in entrepreneurship, innovation, and success psychology. He has established boards that include former heads of state, Nobel Peace Prize winners, and Fortune 500 CEOs, and has a track record of starting businesses from scratch and selling them for tens of millions of dollars. His work has been featured in numerous television shows and publications, including Time Magazine, Newsweek, and Forbes.
Michalewicz has an easy charm that coats a powerful confidence. There’s a part of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby where the narrator remarks on Gatsby’s ability to inspire confidence with one of those “rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it”. Talking with Matthew, you can’t help but feel the same sensation. Born in Poland, his family escaped communism when he was six. From there Matthew went to NZ and was later raised in the US. It’s easy to see how being born under an oppressive regime colours his vivacity and joie de vivre.
At last count, he’d built up four multi-million dollar businesses and counting. And at the ripe old age of thirty-seven, he’s far from done. With an impressive set of accolades, Michalewicz knows what it takes to build a successful enterprise and has the scars to prove it. “I’ve shed a lot of blood along the way”, he laughs. From body-building to computer science, each of his businesses emerged from areas close to his heart, where he had “intimate knowledge.” He claims that contributed to his success “rather than sitting at home saying, ‘how can I create a business that will make a lot of money?’ I think if that’s your mindset, your probability of failure is going to be high because you really don’t care about it,” he says. “If it’s the beginning of the entrepreneurial journey, that’s a very, very dangerous place to start in”.
It’s these scars on the battlefield of corporate finance and startups that set Matthew Michalewicz apart from the armadas of so-called entrepreneurs who make a living from dispensing advice untethered to experience. The chief difference between Michalewicz and motivational business pop-psychologists, is that Michalewicz is firmly rooted in practicality and experience. Practical advice is Matthew Michalewicz’s bread and butter.
His latest book, Life in Half a Second is about personal success, but unlike other books based on people’s opinions, this one is meticulously researched and approaches success from a scientific standpoint. “I’m really interested in the subject of success from a science point of view”, Michalewicz says. “There are things that are proven to work. And by proven I mean studies have been conducted by Tier One universities and they conclusively show that if you do these things you’re more likely to succeed.” The book is the result of two decades collecting studies and material that he thought he’d one day use to dispel the essence of what success is about.
One cause of employee dissatisfaction, Michaelwicz argues, is a lack of reflection. “Few people ever stop to think, How did I get where I am? Why am I doing what I’m doing? Businesses regularly take stock”, he says. But most people fail to do the same. “You know how it is. You get into a routine, and take life as it comes. We get up in the morning. We might go for a job. We eat breakfast. We answer emails. We go and study some subject or we go and work somewhere, and life just rolls on,” he says. “All of a sudden weeks pass then months then years. We move from one job to the next, and everything is kind of reactive”. Michalewicz’s advice? “I’m advocating that people take time out,” he says. “Stop. Think strategically about where you are heading and ask yourself, Is that where I want to be going?”
Professional angst is more common than you think. “Many people want to do something, but they’re afraid of doing it,” Michalewicz says. “Everyone would follow their passion if they really believed that they could earn a good living from it and that the chance of failure is low, but most people think the opposite, that the chance of failure is high,” he says. “They think they probably won’t earn enough from it, and that kind of paralyzes their actions.”
Michalewicz defines success in simple terms: goal attainment. The first step to success is equally simple: have a specific goal. “If your goal is following your passion, you can do that tomorrow and starve to death doing it,” he laughs. “That doesn’t sit well with me as a person who has a degree in finance so, if you want to follow your passion, the second part of that statement should be, ‘…and I want to be paid to do it’.”
Furthermore, he encourages people to define financial goals. “What does financial success mean?” he says. “Does that mean $10,000 a year? Does it mean $100,000 a year? A million? Ten million? You begin really thinking of these kind of things and specific numbers in business terms and then you begin planning and plotting your path to achieve those objectives. But all of them are in the context of your passion. That’s how I’ve gone about it”.
For those who see that life is too short and have a specific goal to do something they care about and enjoy, he explains the next step: “To find people who are already doing what you want to be doing. Ask yourself, who has the kind of life that I want?” Michalewicz clarifies, “I’m not talking about houses, cars, titles, distinctions, awards, wealth, any of that. I’m talking about people doing something that you want to be doing and they’re making a living from it.”
Once you identify those people, “you need to talk to them”, he says. “You either need to listen to podcasts, go to events where they speak, read books that they’ve written, or if you can get access to them and have a cup of coffee and ask the question, How did you get here? How can I do what you’re currently doing? Because those conversations are your market research.” He likens it to the future version of yourself explaining what your next step should be, and the things you should be focusing on.
The message he’d like people to take home is clear: “Go and meet and spend time with people that are doing what you want to be doing, and are making money from it.” From this, Michalewicz claims several things will happen. “By meeting them you’ll find out how they got to where they are so your knowledge will increase. And by seeing those people doing what you want to do, your belief that you can do the same thing will also increase. Those are the critical steps in achieving your goals.”
Needless to say, Michalewicz has a certain panache when it comes to connecting and building relationships himself. He’s rubbed shoulders with some of the most influential people in the world including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Gates, and Bank of America CEO Brian T. Moynihan. He also managed to get Frank Abagnale on the Board of Directors for NuTech, his first technology company.
Michalewicz identifies what he sees at the primary problem amongst would-be entrepreneurs. “People want what other people have,” he says, “but without the work, effort, risk, or sacrifice. They want the end result, and those people don’t understand that the end result came from that person’s passion rather than from them just them pursuing the end result.”
Whatever your goal is, Matthew Michaelwicz advises you to pursue it all the way. “I’m a person who either does something completely or I don’t do it at all,” he says. “There are never half measures. Many people just like to put their toe in the water. The most important thing is do or don’t do. That’s with everything, whether it’s writing a book or starting a business. You absolutely submerge yourself, do it the absolute best you can.” And most importantly? “Finish it”.
Boiled down, here are Michalewicz’s five actionable steps:
- Precisely define what success means to you. 80% of people don’t define what success means to them. It’s difficult to achieve anything in life if you don’t define your goal.
- Find out and decide if you are willing to do what other people have done to achieve that. People want the results but you have to be willing to work to achieve it.
- Surround yourself with people who have accomplished what you want to accomplish. Research shows that we are influenced by those who are closest to us. If you want to achieve your goal, surround yourself with people who have achieved it already.
- Find out how to achieve what you want to achieve. People who have already achieved those things can tell you how! By spending time with these people, they give you an education on what it takes to go in the direction you want to go in.
- Take action. You’re not going to get fit my reading a fitness book. You actually have to go to the gym. So you have to take action in a daily systematic way to achieve whatever it is you’re going after.
- Michalewicz’ tips on building a successful business
- Michalewicz talks about the biggest challenges he faced as an entreprenuer
- Learn how to validate concept before starting to launch a product
- Great ways on how to bootstrap
- How to align your passions with your business ideas
- Michalewicz talks about his book Live in Half a Second
- Tips for people who want to start a business
Full Transcript of the Podcast with Matthew Michalewicz
Nathan: Hello and welcome to the “Foundr Podcast.” Hope you’re all having a great day and thank you for sharing your earbuds with me. My name is Nathan Chan and I’m your host. Today we’re speaking with Matthew Markowitz. I’m lucky enough to actually call Matthew a friend. He sold his last business for over 50 million, and he started 3 extremely successful businesses before that. This guy really knows what it takes to achieve success so much to the point that he wrote a book on it and it’s something that we all are trying to achieve and accomplish. And when it comes to setting goals, something that Matthew actually told me is around setting goals and using a gold pyramid.
Somebody that’s achieving that level of success, he’s like a serious weapon. He just knows how to build businesses. He knows how to make them extremely successful. He knows how to crush it. This guy is just somebody that is insanely hard working and he just shows people how to do it. I think you’re gonna get a lot of value coming into the New Year.
We’re having this interview around setting goals and achieving success and really understanding the mindset of what it takes to build a successful business, not once but many times. So if you’re enjoying this podcast, please leave us a review. Check out the magazine. Just go to foundrmag.com/cast, leave us a five-star review or check out the magazine at foundrmag.com/itunes. Now let’s jump into the show.
Today, I’m speaking with Matthew Markowitz. Matthew is an international expert in entrepreneurship, innovation and success psychology, has established boards that include former heads of state, Nobel Peace Prize winners and Fortune 500 CEOs and has a track record of starting businesses from scratch and selling them for tens of millions of dollars. So Matthew, I just want to thank you for taking the time to speak with me today and share your story.
Matthew: Pleasure, Nathan. Thanks for having me.
Nathan: Mate, it’s an absolute pleasure having you. So can I just start off by asking you, can you tell us a little bit about your story as an entrepreneur? How did you get this job?
Matthew: It all started in the beginning of my college days where really the only jobs that were available to me, and that really goes for the vast majority of the population when you’re young, when you’re 18, 19, are, you know, meaningless jobs because you’re not qualified, you don’t have experience. You don’t know anything when you’re 18 or 19. So I really wanted to earn more and I wanted to do it in some way that, you know, I was involved in something I loved. So that led me to becoming an entrepreneur. The only way I could earn more and to do something that I really enjoyed doing is through entrepreneurship.
So I started my first business while I was in college which was a fitness training business and that over a four-year period really taught me the mechanics of small businesses: cash flow, partnerships, attracting customers, sales and marketing, even legal matters, having insurance, having employment contracts with employees and so on. As for the fitness business, I then went on to create other companies. Everything that I did from that point forward really involved entrepreneurship, follow a passion, follow something that you really enjoyed doing it and only the businesses got bigger from probably that point forward.
Nathan: Okay. Interesting. Now I understand that you were raised in…where are you from originally?
Matthew: I was born in Poland. And when I was about six, we escaped communism and the first country we went to was New Zealand. So not many people know that I spent 6 years in New Zealand and then when I was about 11, 12, we migrated to the United States where I spent almost the next 20 years before coming to Australia.
Nathan: I see. So you’ve built how many businesses?
Mathew: Four. So the fitness business was the first, then there was a money management business that got up to about $150 million in client assets. And then there was a technology business after that, new tech solutions where I raised almost $15 million in venture capital. And then after that was Silvertop where my most recent business was started and I built and sold in Australia.
Nathan: Wow. So you have an impressive set of acolytes. You know what it takes to build a successful business, is it safe to say that?
Matthew: Yeah, I’ve got the scars to prove it. There’s no doubt about that. I’ve shed lot of blood along the way.
Nathan: Okay. Well, look, let’s dive a bit deeper on those scars. Can you tell us about, first of all, your biggest challenges?
Matthew: I think fundamentally the most important thing in business is having a product or service that customers want to buy. And you’d be absolutely amazed in talking to entrepreneurs that are in love with a certain area, whether it’s technology, whether it’s some technical skill that they have and obviously they wanna do what they love. So they set up a business around that particular area, and they invest a lot of time, a lot of money. They set up websites, companies, marketing material, etc. only to find in the end that really customers don’t want what they’re offering.
So I think one of the most important lessons that I learned early on is it’s not really important what you want to sell. What’s really important is what customers want to buy. And if you can really find that out early to whatever method is available to you then you can create a business, a product strategy, a service offering, that has a far greater likelihood of success simply because you’re selling something that people wanna buy. And many entrepreneurs, unfortunately, like myself, learned that lesson the hard way.
Nathan: Can you tell us about how you learned that lesson the hard way?
Matthew: At the beginning, the consequences in a fitness business or in the money management business are low because you’re dealing with consumers, and if you’re offering something that consumers don’t buy you can change very quickly and offer them something else, a different product, a different package. But where I learned that was in my first technology business in the United States where we were commercializing technology that used artificial intelligence. And one of the people in the business had an idea to use that technology and apply it also to intranet knowledge management, so search engines for companies basically.
And we invested years, about two years and millions of dollars building an application for a specific customer need that we thought would be great in the marketplace. And we built the product. It’s successfully passed all of the technical challenges that we put to the product and we took it to the marketplace and nobody wanted to buy it. And it was a failure in the end and then got scrapped.
And so it really is a painful way of learning that you shouldn’t just sit in a room, think up what you think are great ideas, invest in your development and then take them to market. It should actually start from the end first. You should actually go to the market with your idea, talk to the market about what you wanna do, how great the need is, the benefits, all of those kind of things before you even make the first step. Before you do anything, have those conversations with potential buyers. That was a huge learning and really contributed to the success of my last business.
You know, before we built anything, we went and engaged the market in a huge way and interviewed executives, had dozens and dozens and dozens of meetings, understood pain points, what technologies they were using, what benefits, new applications might have for them in specific areas before we did anything. And that ultimately, we ended up building things that customers wanted.
Nathan: So you validate the concept before you’ve even with the product?
Matthew: Correct. Absolutely, because, you know, even if you got the best concept in the world and even if it is spot on and customers are gonna buy it, that concept can only get better if you engage early and get feedback early. So I’m just a huge believer in what I call market-driven development. Develop what the market wants with engagement with the market each step along the way. So I’m looking for validation and I’m looking for input into the development of the product to make sure that at the end…really my goal as an entrepreneur is to de-risk my journey. And if I can get to the end a finished product and have it de-risked along the way that I’ve been getting validation and I’ve been getting input into the development, my chances of success are higher.
Nathan: Have you read the ”Link Start-Up?”
Matthew: Yes. Absolutely, and the minimum product, all of that. Absolutely.
Nathan: No, that’s definitely a recommended book that goes deep into this kind of methodology of starting a business. Now I wanted to ask you a problem that many aspiring entrepreneurs face is they’ve got plenty of ideas and an execution is often the hardest part. And also capital can be a hard part, too. So it’s a two-part question. One, how do you go about coming up with ideas and then, two, how do you go about…do you always bootstrap your businesses? And if so, what are some great ways to bootstrap it?
Matthew: Those are involved questions. Let me try to tackle them one at a time. So look, I’m a fundamental believer that there are some people that can sit in a bathtub, smoke a cigar and have an epiphany and it’s gonna be an idea that changes the world and technology. So if you’re one of those entrepreneurs, I mean, you know, sit in the bathtub with a cigar. Do what works. Most people in my experience and certainly I’m in that category don’t generate good ideas that way. I can’t sit in the bathtub in a vacuum, disconnected from the world from, you know, buyers consumers and think stuff up.
So I find that good ideas come from interactions and the more you’re out in the market, the more you’re talking to just people. If you’re looking for just a general idea, just go into shows. Go into California and see what kind of businesses are being created there, seeing, hearing about people’s needs or some of the problems that they’re facing in business. Good ideas stem from those kind of observations. If you look at entrepreneurs and where most of them get their ideas, it’s typically from previous work experiences with problems that they’ve observed. That’s in statistics where ideas come from. So if that’s where ideas come from, you need to be out interacting and discussing really with, you know, human beings what they’re doing to come up with that kind of idea.
Now, once you have an idea and I agree with your statement, ideas are cheap. Execution is expensive. I absolutely agree with that. So the amount of people that do generate ideas versus the amount of people that actually implement them and execute them, it’s probably a ratio of, you know, 10,000 to 1. Lot of ideas, very very difficult to implement. And one of the reasons that it is difficult to implement is because it requires capital which kind of touches upon your second point. You need money to do stuff. You know, even getting on an airplane and talking to people, that requires money. Going to a show, building a prototype or a demo, even establishing a company everything requires capital.
So then especially in the area of technology, entrepreneurs go about looking for capital for your ideas. And I’ve invested in businesses before. I’m a current investor in several venture capital funds. So I’ve got a great perspective of not only what it’s like to be an entrepreneur and ask for money, but I know what it’s like to be an investor and have someone ask you for money. And I can tell you from an investors’ perspective, what you want to hear from the entrepreneur is that they’ve gone into the market. They have directly engaged with prospective buyers. I mean they’ve had face to face conversations, follow ups, discussions and they have some basic prototype built that they might have done themselves that they’ve demonstrated and they convince you through these interactions that the need for the product is great.
And if they can get the capital, they’ll build it and there are buyers waiting to buy it. That’s what you wanna hear. Most entrepreneurs have an idea. They’ve done some Google research. They’ve got some Gartner reports. They package that together into a PowerPoint presentation. They put in front of an investor. And the moment the investor says, ”Who have you talked to to validate your idea in terms of prospective customers?” The entrepreneur says, ”Well, you know, I haven’t talked to anyone yet.” So to get money, you need validation. And the only way to get validation is to engage with your prospective buyers early.
Nathan: No, I agree. It’s as you say, you are a risk-orientated entrepreneur.
Matthew: And that’s because, Nathan, my degree in the university is in corporate finance. So I’ve got four years of university training in the subject of really risk and reward. And everything I do is looking at what is the risk of doing this versus the potential reward. And if the reward is great, if the upside is high and I’m gonna move, then my next assignment is, how do I minimize the risk? How do I de-risk my path? And the only way you can de-risk is by making sure that there are buyers at the end of the journey for you. People are gonna buy what you do because if there aren’t, you’re dead and your business is gonna fail whatever you do if no one buys your product or service.
Nathan: I’ve just been thinking because you mentioned about a lot of people start businesses aligning with their passions. From the businesses that you’ve started, how have you aligned your passions with your business ideas?
Matthew: Great question. The only…my first business in the university was aligned to really my first love which was bodybuilding, athletics, personal fitness. So I mean and I’ve got a passion and soft spot in my heart to this day to that particular area. So what I knew very well, how to train, how to strengthen the body, how to increase muscle mass, how to decrease the body fat, how to create a nutritional program that’s gonna be sustainable and get results. So I knew that very deeply at a very early age. And I loved it. I went to the gym two hours a day. Love hanging out with people that were into the sport and so on.
So my first business was really a personal training business, perfectly aligned to the thing that, A, I knew really well because it was my passion and, two, it was something that I enjoyed doing on a daily basis. Now, my second passion then became finance. That’s what I studied at the university and I love the whole area of risk and reward, valuing assets, uncertainty, cash flows. I really enjoyed the subject in college so my second business was a money management business that I created with another person, and it was perfectly aligned to really the major interest that I had during my university studies.
And the way I got into technology is my father has been a computer scientist for, I don’t know, 30, 40 years, has written dozens of books on the subject. I’ve been around that all of my life growing up and it was a natural extension in terms of a step forward as I was going through my entrepreneurial journey to then move into technology. And I got fascinated by my father’s research and we decided to commercialize it.
So each business had something that was close to my heart. And it was something that I got very intimate knowledge of and went down to a very deep level understanding it, and that contributed to success rather than sitting at home and saying, “Look, how can I create a business that will make a lot of money? I don’t care if I like it or not. In fact, I might not even be interested in it at all. I’m just in it for the money.” I think if that’s your mindset your probability of failure is gonna be high because you don’t really care about it. It’s not your passion. It’s not your dream. It’s not something that you actually might have a lot of intimate knowledge of. You’re just in it for the money. And if that’s the beginning of the entrepreneurial journey, that’s a very very dangerous place to be starting with.
Nathan: You know, that really resonates with me what you said because I see it myself, there’s a lot of young people out there that just see the finished product of very successful technology entrepreneur and see the dollar signs and they start the business. And they don’t even think about the problem. They just think about the money and…
Matthew: Exactly. People want what other people have but without the work, without the effort, without the risk, without the sacrifice, without even the journey that’s involved. They just want the end result. And those people don’t understand that the end result came from usually that person’s passion. And that passion led to the amount of effort that they put in, the amount of sacrifice and so on. And that the result came from their passion rather than from them just pursuing the result.
Nathan: No. And that’s an awesome point. Now, it’s quite a common thread for people to say, you know, follow your passion and the money will come. And, you know, I think it would be a bit naive for me to say in your case that you have just followed your passion. There must be more to it than just following your passion to achieve the level of success you have. And I want to find out how. Okay, you’re constantly building these businesses and, you know, being extremely successful with them.
Matthew: Look. Excellent point. And the last book that I wrote, ”Laid Out,” kind of the life and the formula that I’ve used for the last 20 years in building businesses. And it’s one that I’ve meticulously researched that, you know, I’ve gotten hints and clues from mentors. I’ve picked up bits and pieces along the way. But it all starts and to question specifically with the first step in that book and that’s to have a specific goal. So if your goal is, “I wanna follow my passion,” well, you can follow your passion tomorrow and starve to death doing it, right? And that doesn’t sit well with me as a person, you know, that has a degree in finance. So I wanna follow my passion, but what I did the second part of that statement, and I wanna be paid well to do it.
So okay, if that’s the goal, there’s a financial goal connected to following your passion. That now opens up a whole series of questions, sub-goals, milestones, and things that you need to do to make sure that you pursue your passion in a business way. You’re not running a charity, you’re not doing it for nonprofit or for the just the pure love of it. You also wanna survive from it. This is how you’re gonna support your family, feed your family, make a livelihood from it and so on. And so, at the onset of the day one of following your passion, you have to define those things. What does financial success mean? Does that mean $10,000 a year? Does that mean $100,000 a year? A million, 10 million?
So you begin really thinking of these kind of things and specific numbers in business terms, and then you begin planning and plotting your path to achieve those objectives. All of them are in the context of your passion. So that’s how I’ve gone about it rather than just saying, ”Look, I wanna train people, that’s my passion.” And off I go. Well, you could you can train people for free and do it tomorrow.
Nathan: That’s right. It’s kind of like a well to next question. Let’s just switch gears and talk about your latest book now ”Live in Half a Second. I’ve started reading it and all I can say is, well like so much of it resonates with me. I just wanted to touch on something that was in the book that really hit me hard was that nobody ever stops to think, how did I get where I am? Why am I here? Why am I doing what I’m doing? And you mentioned that companies always we work in the business people was taking stock in looking at where the company is going in the direction of the company. But a lot of people fail to stop and look at the direction of their life and that’s it up where they are today. And yeah I just want to hear your take on that. And can you tell us a little bit more about that book?
Mathew: Yeah, you’ve got a great observation. And again the book came out of a passion of mine. So it’s a book about success and it’s unlike other books where it’s based on people’s opinion. I’m really interested in the subject of success from a science point of view. You know, all those things that have proven to work, and by proven I mean studies have been conducted by Tier 1 universities and they conclusively show that if you do the things, you’re more likely to succeed. That’s kind of how I approach the subject. And the reason it’s been a passion is because so much is at stake when you’re an entrepreneur. You know, your house could be on the line, you might if you fail you might go bankrupt, you might not be able to feed your family.
So the difference between an employee and an entrepreneur is, as an employee the only thing at stake is your job. And if you lose your job well guess what you will be paid out your annual leave and notice periods and so on and then you go and find another job that might be stressful for some people, but is not high stakes. High stakes when you’re all in. You get a second mortgage on the house, you maxed out your credit cards and all of a sudden, if this thing doesn’t work, you don’t know how you’re gonna survive. The stakes are really high then. So if you’re in that position I’ve been in that position before then you want to do everything possible to maximize your chances of success. I mean it’s really important that.
So the subject of success is close to my heart because as an entrepreneur I wanted to succeed because it’s sort of not succeeding was scary. I mean the risk is high. And in the last 20 years, I’ve been interested in the subject. I’ve been collecting studies, collecting information, talking to people really collecting knowledge and material. I for one day I put into a book and kind of distill the essence of what success is about. In the simplest terms possible, what is what are some simple steps that people can follow that are proven to work and if they do us they are more likely to succeed? So that’s the background of the book.
And if we go to your question about, you know, the people not really paying attention to how they got to where they are, the reason for that is that we get into routine even in college even in our study day, we enter a routine of life. We get up in the morning we might go for a jog. We breakfast, we answer emails, we go and study some subject or we go and work somewhere and life just goes on. And as we take each day at a time, stuck in our routine doing the same thing over and over, all of a sudden, weeks passed and months then years and then, you know, we gradually move from one job to the next and so on. And everything is kind of reactive. And few people kind of put their head up from that routine and say, ”You know what, hold on for a second, just time out. Just stop everything for a second.” Where am I going? Like the past that I’m on this routine that I’m doing every day, every week without taking me. Where am I gonna be one year from now? Where am I gonna be 10 years from now? They kind of, you know, pop their head up and have a look into the future. They look at the past because they ask the second question, how did I get here? And then what they shouldn’t be asking themselves, and this is the most important question is that, where I wanna go. And this is like the beginning of the conversation with yourself because if you look into the future and say, ”You know what in 10 years from now this is where I’m likely to be.” And then you say, ”Do I wanna go there? And the answer is no, that’s the moment where you can start in change. You can start asking questions like, where do I wanna go? What do I enjoy doing? Where would I like my life to be in 10 years?
So I wrote that at the beginning of the book because I just see people doing the same thing every day, plowing ahead, these mortgages to pay, these kids to take to school, tasks to do good work. The days are flying past two weeks of flying past a month 10 years and we become old people and then we say, ”Jesus where did it all go? It happened so fast.” So I’m advocating take time out to stop, think strategically about where you are, and where it’s heading and ask yourself, is that where I wanna be going?
Nathan: Yeah, look that was awesome man because I have to say when you know years have passed for me, and what you described is something that I don’t much coal was seeing the matrix. if you’ve seen the movie the matrix. And I describe that as seeing the matrix when I found entrepreneurship. I found there was another way of living my life and it didn’t have to be that way. And I did what I used to say like some of my friends many years ago like sometimes I forget what I’m doing before I even knew anything of the stuff, you know, knew anything about business, knew anything about life stuff as on entrepreneurship, anything I decide to my friends. Sometimes it’s easy for me to forget that I’m alive and that the time is ticking. And that piece in the book it really hit home for me. So yeah it was awesome.
Matthew: Look, I’m so happy to hear you say that. And, you know, like I said at the beginning, I wrote the book with passion in the sense that I love this subject. And it’s an awakening in the sense of like you said you wake up from the Matrix or you find out that this is a whole other way of doing things. I agree with that statement completely. And the moment people put their head up and call timeout for a second, they begin to have this kind of realizations. You know, it doesn’t have to be like this. I’m a free person I’m not you know I’m not living in some communist country where they tell me what to eat and when to go to bed and what to work. I’m a free person. I can live my life any way I want. So if that’s the way I wanna be living? Is this what I wanna be doing? It’s critical people have these discussions with themselves.
Nathan: Yeah. No, it’s spot on. I love it. That was awesome. So let’s say somebody has woken up and they see that things can be done differently. What’s the next step? Where do you start?
Matthew: This is a great question that can only be answered in the same way as the validation of a product or service in terms of engaging with the market. The first step in this, I believe this with hand on heart, Nathan, that the first step if you think you want to do something say you’re stuck in a job you don’t like, your passion is photography your art or gaming or athletic sports and you actually wanna now do something that’s aligned to your passion, you think you think, ”You know what life’s just too short. I wanna do something I care about and I really enjoy. I wanna make a change.” The first step should be find people that are already doing what you wanna be doing. So, in other words, ask yourself actually, who has the kind of life that I want and I’m not talking about houses, cars, titles, distinctions, awards, wealth, any of that kind of stuff. I’m talking about who’s living the kind of life in the sense of doing something that I want to be doing and then making a living from it, successfully doing…who’s doing that.
Once you identify these people, you need to talk to them. You either need to be famous listen to podcast, go to events where they speak, read books that they’ve written, or if you can get access to them and have a cup of coffee or have a conversation and ask the question, “How did you get here? What did you do? What’s your journey been like? How can I do what you’re currently doing?” Because those conversations kind of are your market research. The future you is telling you how to get there what your next step should be. What are the things you should be focusing on. And as you learn more about what that person is doing, you might think, ”Wow, this is not like I thought it was.” Actually, you might wanna do something else. So you’re doing research before making the first step.
Nathan: Yeah. Great great response. And this leads on perfectly to our next question and that is, you managed to get Frank Abagnale now as one of your board of directors for one of your companies. I know that you met Arnold Schwarzenegger, you’ve had lunch or dinner with him. I know you’ve touched with Bill Gates, CEO, and Bank of America. So you are very good at connecting and building relationships with these influences. People that have achieved greatness and amazing things. So I wanna know how you doing that.
Matthew: You know, great great question. I mean look let’s pick up Frank Abagnale as a case study we can go through in a couple of minutes and I’ll tell you what I did that millions of other people didn’t do. So for those that don’t know Frank Abagnale he’s a real person. He’s a leading expert in the area for detection. He’s got an incredible life that was written into a book that he wrote called ”Catch Me If You Can.” Steven Spielberg bought the rights to his book turned, it into a movie which star Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks who was a blockbuster about a little bit more than 10 years ago and a great movie and a huge success.
So I saw that movie in the theater as did millions of other people. And just out of curiosity Nathan, did you see it?
Matthew: Yeah okay, so you know the movie I’m talking about so at the end of the movie it says, you know, what is Frank Abagnale doing today? And it says that he is running a world leading agency on fraud detection. He advises banks, he advises CEOs about upcoming threats and identity fraud, and all these new fraud threats that are facing banks financial institutions and other organizations. So at the time, I was running New Tech, my first technology company was my food business and my food technology business. And we were in the area of fraud. We were doing applications for check fraud which was obviously one of Frank Abagnale specialty. Immediately in the movie theater. I thought boy I wanna connect with this post and I wanna get him involved in the business but I didn’t know anyone that knew him. And I searched my network and I called anyone that I knew that might possibly know someone to connect me to Frank but no one knew. So in the end, I wrote him a letter which was the first form of a pitch, you know. And in the letter, you really just pitching for a conversation. You’re not actually trying to convince them to join your board will become part of your business. You just want them to pick up the phone and call you when you call them for them to have a conversation with you.
So I went through many gates in getting to Frank Abagnale, I had to talk to his agents when they got that letter. They requested more information on the company, they vetted me over the telephone. They asked me questions and every conversation was a pitch that at any point that any one of those gates, if I was saying the wrong things or I didn’t have the answers or it sounded like I didn’t know what I was doing, that would be the end of the journey. So in the end, I got to Frank Abagnale, he flew to our headquarters, he spent the day with us. We had dinner. We convinced him that it would be a great benefit to both parties. And then to kind of join forces and for him to be involved in New Tech and help us in the area of developing our products and Ford and he agreed.
Now that whole process as incredible as it sounds from beginning to end. What’s more incredible is how many people saw that movie, how many people were in the area of financial services and how many people actually reached out to him and said ”Let’s do something together.” And the answer is hardly anyone. You’d think his mailbox would be jammed with letters and to do stuff and business proposition etc. And most people, 99.99% didn’t reach out because they immediately assumed Abagnale that someone like Frank I would say no. And if you believe that someone like Frank Abagnale will say no, then what’s the point of writing a letter, what’s the point of reaching out to you. I cover that in ”Life in Half a Second” what you believe drives your action.
So I had a different belief I thought, ”Boy what we’re doing is so exciting that I really believe that Frank would be interested in that.” And so, I reached out I went through the process it was successful in the end and it was successful because they took the action and the steps along the way to really make it work versus everyone else they gave up before they even left the ground floor. They didn’t even bother sending a letter because they immediately assumed that the answer would be no.
Nathan: And how long did it take the whole process?
Matthew: Six months.
Nathan: Six months. I have to ask, you mentioned about every time you spoke you were pitching. You were making sure that you are pitching correctly. What do you mean by that?
Matthew: when you pitch, you have to understand that the objective of every pitch is to get you to the next stage of the conversation. You know, most people think that if the goal of the pitch is to win, close the deal, get a customer, get an investor to put money that that might be the end result. You know the end result is shaking Frank Abagnale’s hand and him saying, ”I wanna be a part of your business and help you.” Right? But at the beginning. that’s not the pitch. The pitch is from a letter, the only next step is to have a conversation.
Once you have a conversation, the next step would be for him or his agent to evaluate your business and what you are proposing and so on. The results of that evaluation and all the conversations that happen and all of the pitching that happens in those conversations just to get you again to the next step, which is to meet Frank Abagnale. You know, so many people don’t understand in pitching is they think oh, what to pitch about or to build businesses and it’s about getting someone to say yes that’s wrong. The good pitching takes you to the next step. And if you go through enough steps here with six months of steps, you get to the end the goal which is getting the customer getting Frank Abagnale, getting an investor or whatever your objective is.
So one critical part of pitching is you have to be focused on the next step and obviously make sure that those steps lead to the ultimate objective you want. And the second thing that good pitching is about is it comes from the heart. You know, and keep have influence programs that I’m involved in and I teach on the subject of pitching we call it essence. What’s in your heart, why you do what you want, why you do what you do and you put that into your pitch.
So, Frank Abagnale, he could be involved in anybody’s business. He’s not gonna make a particular decision based upon somebody’s balance sheet or the colors in their brochure. He’s gonna connect at the end of the day with the entrepreneur with the owners with their passion with. We loved what we did. We love the products, we are passionate about the industry and the direction and that in the end became the connection with Frank Abagnale. So not only will we focus on each next step as it pain, but when we got to Frank Abagnale and even talking to his agents ahead of time our passion for the business came out at every step rather than some cold mechanical discussion.
Nathan: Yeah. That’s awesome man. I love it. You really broke it down really really nicely. Thank you. We have to look it towards wrapping things up. And is something else I wanted to ask you, and that was you move from the States to Adelaide and you built a company. Was this one from the ground up?
Matthew: Yes. Yes, so I moved to Adelaide in April of 2004. And then about a year later at the beginning of 2005, so that software was incorporated by myself and a few other people and one of them was my father. And it was really to do some of the things that we had done in the United States, but do it in a more focused manner with new technology and, you know, the world had changed over the last five-seven years, and to really focus on particular markets with particular products. But we incorporated the company in literally there was zero when we started not nothing.
Nathan: Now the reason I mention this is for those listening. If you move to Australia, Adelaide isn’t necessarily a big business sector in Australia. You would consider maybe Melbourne and Sydney. So I wanted to ask why Adelaide?
Matthew: A great question. And my wife and I visited Australia in the year 2000. Visited all the cities of the major cities and we just fell in love with Adelaide. So we were looking at starting a family, we wanted to live in a safe place, you know, that had all the things Adelaide had dry he beautiful white beaches Hills, blossom Valley McLaren Vale of a city that wasn’t large, but it wasn’t a small town of 50,000 people. It was what we were looking for at our stage of our lives in terms of beginning a family. So the decision to move to Adelaide had nothing to do with business. It was purely lifestyle. We love the way we felt in Adelaide, we love the people and we wanted to be there. It was a simple as that and having moved we didn’t know anybody here. I mean I couldn’t even tell you the population of South Australia were major industries to move. And I knew nothing about the state. And then a year later when Silver was created, it was the first time I really entered the business community and really discovered where am I. You know, what are the major industries, what are the businesses, how can I network in this place, how do I get started how to white engage with prospective customers and find out what they want?
So I didn’t choose I’d like to start a business. It was a lifestyle choice and I fundamentally believe you can succeed anywhere absolutely, anywhere else. What I believe is a human being. So I never gave it any second thoughts about what my odds of success in Adelaide versus some other place because I believe I can be successful anywhere. So we wanted to live here we moved. And then the business was set up a year later.
Nathan: You strike me as somebody that has serious amounts of hustle Matthew.
Matthew: I’ll take that as a compliment.
Nathan: I think it’s a common trait among successful entrepreneurs. They don’t take no for an answer, and they just got this serious drives. And I want to really try and unpack. They think this drive comes from way you see this in a hustle that comes from. This has to wanna learn more, this has to get out there, this has to grow this business because I’m convinced that it’s gonna take a lot more than best practices.
Matthew: Look I can certainly relate and agree Nathan to the comments that you’ve just made. And probably on so for reflection, the best statement I can make is that I’m a person that either does something completely or I don’t do it at all. It’s never half measures. I don’t know how to take the middle word or find the gear in between neutral and force. It’s on or it’s off and that’s with everything whether it’s writing a book absolutely submerge yourself, do it the absolute best you can, finish it make it the best promoted when businesses are the same way.
So when I decided to create solve itself when I called via the founders together and we began, we had very specific goals of what we wanted to achieve and then it became this absolutely right. And that’s just the way I operate. We will achieve them. And then it’s discovering a different way, discovering the market, discovering product directions, discovering who our allies and partners in the marketplace are gonna be, who are gonna be competitive strength of competitors, all of this kind of thing. But the most important answer is do or don’t do. Whereas many people they put they like the good tone the water. You know, ”Let’s just see how this is gonna be tried for a little bit and then if that if I’m not happy or doesn’t work out I’ll try something else and then I’ll do this I’ll write a book. You know, I spent a day a month writing it and maybe I’ll finish it maybe I want Maybe I’ll like it maybe I won’t.” I have never operated that way.
So once, I commence I’m all in, I execute I get to goal and if I find that the goal is harder to reach then than I originally thought. We look for alternate ways of getting to the goal. We change our strategy or we change our plan. We strategize about the obstacles and so on. But it’s never been a half-hearted effort in doing something. It’s all in.
Nathan: I love it. Thank you for sharing that. And you really answered my question. We have to look to wrapping things up. So I just wanted to say first of all thank you for taking the time. It’s been absolutely awesome speaking with you man.
Matthew: Thanks for having me, Nathan. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.
Nathan: You know, it’s awesome. And lastly is there any words of wisdom that you would like to impart to on just and finish?
Matthew: Look, many people want to do something but they were afraid of doing it. You know, everyone would follow their passion if they really believed that they could earn a good living from it and that the chance of failure is low. But most people think the opposite chance of failure is high, I probably won’t earn enough from it and that kind of paralyzes their actions. And for all of those people which I know there’s tons of them and I encountered them at conferences when I speak, I get emails from readers at events where I like the person of influence programs that are run I hear from these people in my parting words of advice and the message that I’d really like for people to take home, is to go and meet and spend time with people that are doing what you wanna be doing and are making money from it.
You know, several things will happen one by meeting them you’ll find out how they got to where they are your knowledge will go up. And by seeing those people do what you wanna do, your belief that you can do the same thing will also go up and those are the critical steps in achieving your goals. You got to know how to achieve the goal because if you don’t know you what are you gonna do. You can make the first step and you’ve got to believe that you can get there. And if you don’t believe you’re not gonna take the first steps are my parting advice to listeners the people that are afraid, unsure of the next step that love to do something, but they don’t know how well they can. They won’t succeed just to make it an action item. Won’t cost you a cent or put you at risk or put you out or just spend time with people that are doing it. You’d be amazed what will start happening if you do that just one small thing.
Nathan: Spot on. Well, thank you very much, man. It’s been an absolute blast speaking with you, dude.
Matthew: Thanks, Nathan. I really thank you for having me on the show and in the magazine.
- Learn more about Matthew Michalewicz on his website
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- Learn more about his book Life in Half a Second: How to achieve success before it’s too late
- Read about Winning Credibility: A guide for building a business from rags to riches
- Check out Adaptive Business Intelligence
- Learn about SolveIT Software
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