June 28th, 2022
With Dan King, a tennis and meditation-loving lawyer turned business growth strategist and executive coach, with a gift for challenging but warm conversation. Dan has helped leaders understand and realize their potential, successfully transition careers, and augment their sales capabilities. He built and sold a coaching company serving the legal industry, and has worked with a Shark on the Shark Tank TV show, senior politicians, US army officers, and CEOs.
Previously, Dan was a corporate lawyer. He realized he cared more about his clients’ leadership and human challenges than their legal challenges so he entered the coaching industry. He is a world traveler and veteran of 2 extreme auto races, driving a Fiat from London to Mongolia and a rickshaw the length of India. He also studied Psychology at Columbia University and Law at McGill University.
Join us for this fun and exciting conversation as we discuss how you can create a business that is saleable, and the nitty-gritty of acquiring a business that can help you grow your business. Dan also shares why slowing down is very important in entrepreneurship.
Biggest takeaways (or quotes) you don’t want to miss:
- “When we’re in a situation where we get so excited, we’re often unable to distinguish between what to yes to and no to.”
- “If you want the best networking hack in the world, start a podcast or a video cast because it’s a great way to meet interesting people.”
- Where empathy takes place in selling or growing a business.
- “The business is not a reflection itself… it is a thing that we make good analytical decisions about their optimizers.”
- The essential key to both selling the business and growing it sustainably is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.
- “Any kind of partnership requires someone who likes doing something the other person doesn’t like doing and vice versa — look for options for complementarity”
“Slowing down is the most essential business skill.”-Dan King
Check out these highlights:
- 04:13 Dan shares how he transitions from being in the legal field to entrepreneurship.
- 14:19 Why Dan thinks being a lawyer is a career path that people choose unintentionally and has a high regard for, but doesn’t satisfy a majority of them who are in it.
- 27:49 Dan shares some ways how clients can slow down.
- 32:55Why attention crisis is a massive problem for entrepreneurs.
- 39:43 “One of the fastest routes to growth that almost no small entrepreneurs or businesses consider is acquisitions.” Listen as Dan suggests acquiring a business to grow your business organically.
- 54:14 “Protecting your mental health is of vital importance. I just want to encourage people to appreciate that there is an attention crisis, and finding your richly personal and entrepreneurial life comes from slowing down.”
How to get in touch with Dan:
On social media:
Learn more about Dan, by visiting his website here, or you may also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Imperfect Show Notes
We are happy to offer these imperfect show notes to make this podcast more accessible to those who are hearing impaired or those who prefer reading over listening. While we would love to offer more polished show notes, we are currently offering an automated transcription (which likely includes errors, but hopefully will still deliver great value), below.
GGGB Intro 00:00
Here’s what you get on today’s episode of Guts, Grit and Great Business™…
Dan King 00:05
There is a space where you can learn to slow down. And as I reflect on my own journey, you know choosing to be a lawyer choosing to start businesses that weren’t quite right. I wasn’t slow. In those moments, I was really desperate to make it all work as quickly as possible. Slowing down is the most essential business skill. In my judgment, at least for me, someone with my personality type, I am a creator, CEO, I’m the guy who’s running in different directions and to create the space to do the research. Understand what the market wants to understand what you can bring. To understand what the moment is really calling for requires space. It requires listening and slowness.
GGGB Intro 00:49
The adventure of entrepreneurship and building a life and business you love, preferably at the same time is not for the faint of heart. That’s why Heather Pearce Campbell is bringing you a dose of guts, grit and great business stories that will inspire and motivate you to create what you want in your business and life. Welcome to the Guts, Grit and Great Business™ podcast where endurance is required. Now, here’s your host, The Legal Website Warrior®, Heather Pearce Campbell.
Heather Pearce Campbell 01:22
Alrighty, welcome. I am Heather Pearce Campbell, The Legal Website Warrior®. I’m an attorney and legal coach based here in Seattle, Washington, serving information entrepreneurs throughout the US and the world. Welcome to today’s conversation with Dan King and welcome Dan. Really good to be with you. Yes, I am super excited about this episode of guts, grit and great business. We have Dan King with us from fireside strategic. And for those of you that don’t know Dan, Dan is a tennis and meditation-loving lawyer fellow lawyer here today, which makes me really happy, turned Business Growth strategist and executive coach with a gift for challenging but warm conversation. Dan has helped leaders understand and realize their potential, successfully transition careers and augment their sales capabilities. He has worked with a shark on the Shark Tank TV show, senior politicians, US Army officers and CEOs. Previously Dan was a corporate lawyer. He realized he cared more about his clients leadership and human challenges than their legal challenges. So he entered the coaching industry, Dan built and sold a coaching company serving the legal industry. He studied psychology at Columbia University and law at McGill University, is a world traveler and veteran of two extreme auto races driving a Fiat from London to Mongolia and the rickshaw, the length of India. And like I mentioned at the start, Dan can now be found at Fireside Strategic, you can find them online at firesidestrategic.com. Welcome, Dan.
Dan King 03:09
Thank you for having me, Heather.
Heather Pearce Campbell 03:11
Yeah, super excited to have you here. I remember when we first spoke, you said I’m one of you. And I had to pause for a second like what does that mean? And then the lawyer thing came out, we had a good chuckle Dan has left the law before I have. But we had a super fun conversation. And I’m really excited to hear more about your journey to hear more about how you know the clients that you’re serving. Now I know your career has taken some twists and turns. And I think it’ll be really interesting for our listeners to hear about it.
Dan King 03:45
Well, thank you for having me. And I am an open book, we can go whichever way you want to go.
Heather Pearce Campbell 03:49
Excellent. Well, for folks that are just getting to know you share a little bit about your early days. Well, you can talk about law or the transition into business, right? Because this is a conversation about business. But I just love to hear about your own roots and entrepreneurship.
Dan King 04:10
Sure, absolutely. So never thought about building a business business was not on my radar until sometime after law school. And I started my professional life as a corporate attorney. And I was working at a very large firm, and then on the Shark Tank TV show for one of the sharks. And my job was to do some of the legal work behind the scenes right on air, you see an investor make an offer to an entrepreneur, then off air, there’s a whole legal process that happens a whole due diligence journey for the entrepreneur and the investor. And so that’s what I did. There’s a deal that’s negotiated there. And then there’s the real deal, which may or may not close, because when you do due diligence as a lawyer, you’re investigating every aspect of a company. And you may find out things that make you realize, maybe we’re not going to do this to you. Yeah, where maybe the deal happens, but on very different terms than you might see on air. Right. So that was a great education for me. I know when you work at a large law firm, you don’t always do very high level work. And so this was a phenomenal opportunity for me to grow as a lawyer. And I think I grew so fast as a lawyer that I realized, it’s not the majority of what I want to do with my life, career wise, I realized that I just wasn’t all that interested in the legal problems that were coming up. And I think when all of us are running our businesses or in our careers, there’s going to be some work we enjoy. And some we don’t, I believe in holding yourself to a pretty high standard there. I believe that it is possible almost all of the time to be doing work that truly excites you. That’s a high aspiration, but it’s one that I think is more realistic than people think. And so there were some aspects I enjoyed. But on a scale of one to 10, it just wasn’t high enough, it probably wasn’t even quite as seven. And so I realized, all right, what can I learn from this experience? What am I enjoying? And I really enjoyed working with the entrepreneurs on the show, I found that I was probably more like them than the lawyers I knew. So that planted a seed. Oh, okay. Maybe I’m one of these people. And I found myself really drawn to their leadership challenges to their business growth challenges, more than Oh, how can I write another 100 page contract to mitigate yet another risk they have, right. And so that was sort of the seed that I’m going to be an entrepreneur, and it’s going to be in this more human space that has something to do with how people in businesses grow. And years later, you know, I ended up building three separate companies, the first failed, the second, I grew and sold, and our fireside is my third. And it sits very much at this nexus of humanity in business, right. And so even though what I started with wasn’t where I ended up, and there were years of not being especially happy with my career, there was enough in there that seeds were planted. And I was able to patiently it took a while, but I was able to patiently water them, and here we are today.
Heather Pearce Campbell 07:08
Well, I love, I mean, first of all, I love the reflection that, you know, really is true that we may not love everything that we do, right, but that we can find those things that we really love and pursue that more. I think a lot of people settle. And actually, there was a gentleman recently, I think the last episode, Dr. John Demartini, who at the end of our call said, you know, because I reflected back to him, like I can’t believe you travel. I think it’s something insane, like 358 days a year or whatever. It’s like all he does. And he said, Oh yeah, there’s only three things that I do. I write, I speak, and I teach, like workshops, you know, life coaching, whatever. That’s it. He’s like, I haven’t been to the grocery store since I was 27. Right? And he listed some other things like, these are just not things that I do, because I’m so clear on my purpose. And I was like, Oh, my heavens, you know, not that all of us will get to that level. But it is something to think about and something to aspire to, like, where do we really thrive? Where do we find those moments of flow or magnetism like you found in leaning towards the entrepreneur side of the equation versus the legal side? That said, I want to hear a bit about your own business journey. Tell us quickly, what was the first business that you built? And yeah, like I, you know, part of this podcast really is also about those pain points. And those moments of, you know, turning and changing our minds and looking in different directions and doing that instead. So share with us a little bit about your experience with that first business.
Dan King 08:55
Yes, will do and I have to say very cool that you interview John. He is a brilliant guy, and not surprised, not surprised that he is able to say no, I think this is an important point, he’s able to say no to something even just like going to the grocery store. Because this for me, in my first business was a very important lesson. When we’re in a situation where there’s a part of us that’s excited, we’re often unable to distinguish between what we should say yes to and what we should say no to. And I was not very good at this in my first business, definitely nowhere near as good as John is today at that. I was building an incubator, basically for the business idea was to build an incubator for basically immigrant programmers to Canada, which is where I started my career. And basically, there was a sort of legal loophole whereby immigrant programmers could get easy access to coming into Canada and work for companies like Google Oracle, you know, some do Are you big companies, and I had the backing of some of the bigger name investors in Canada. And these were sort of startup tech investor types. And we weren’t very, there were three of us that were partnering on this. And we were very unintentional about who was going to do well. So we all came in with expectations that were not clarified at all. And in the end, they basically said, Well, you know, we’re really the money here, we’re kind of lazy entrepreneurs, we were thinking you were gonna do all the work. And, you know, looking back at it, I should have really seen this a little bit more clearly, because I was much younger than they work. These are people who have sold a whole bunch of different companies. And so they had an expectation that I would do more of the groundwork. Yeah. And there was grunt work in there that I just wasn’t especially suited to do. And I didn’t have the confidence as an entrepreneur that I later developed. And for a variety of reasons, I think I probably had some willful blindness, I didn’t do the work of clarifying. And had I done that I would have realized, like, should have probably said no to this whole thing from the beginning. Right?
Heather Pearce Campbell 11:06
That’s so interesting willingness, this theme on partnering and CO creating, like, so many people, including on this podcast have mentioned, you know, their some of their early partnerships falling apart or not working out on this very point, just because they didn’t have the experience to know how to flush out all those details, right. All of the work that really shouldn’t be done in detail in advance about it really just through conversation, like, as an attorney. And I, you know, I end up teaching people about joint ventures. I have a joint venture agreement in my online template store. I talk a lot about the various ways to come together to either create a business or a joint venture if you’re doing something like a contractual joint venture. But regardless, the preparation process looks the same. You know, and I say I say the value of even that particular template is actually in the guide. It’s like, five or six pages of questions that walk people through what happens if what happens if who does this? Who does that? Right. And it’s a lot of the things that people I think, just think like, oh, we’ll sort out. We’re all excited to do this thing. We’ll figure it out along the way, right? Yeah. Yeah. Well, not an uncommon story. So at what point did you figure out, oh, man, this isn’t going to work. Like we’ve got to, you know, we’ve got to, to bring things to a close.
Dan King 12:35
Yeah, there was a moment where we were relying on a very large deal from Google. And the sales process was going to be in large part reliant on one of the partners having a very deep relationship there. And so there was this final sort of sales call with Google that was supposed to take place a bunch of different times, it got moved a bunch of different times, which should have been an indication to us that this wasn’t especially high priority for them, right. And in the end, the person that was supposed to take the call, who initially appeared extremely enthusiastic, a very senior person, basically put the call on someone who didn’t have decision making authority. So not only did it get punted a bunch of times, but it ended up with someone who wasn’t really in a position to make a decision, and even sort of really didn’t know what the call was about. So there was this giant game of telephone that took place for so long, which often happens when you’re selling into big companies. But when it’s the client that the business is reliant on, right, that was at the time pretty demoralizing.
Heather Pearce Campbell 13:41
Yeah. Well, yeah. And it is interesting, looking backwards, where you’re like, huh, all the signs were there, right. And it often is only looking backwards that we can piece together like, oh, we should have seen this coming, or we should have cut the cord much earlier or whatever. But we learned those things, right. That’s part of being in business is learning those things? So I know, I’ve heard a bit about your second business share with our listeners, what you decided to do next.
Dan King 14:09
Yeah, so did love being a lawyer, right. And I think that’s the case for a very high percentage of lawyers. It’s a career path that people choose, unintentionally. It’s a career path that gets put in front of people, because it’s kind of prestigious, and you know, your parents are gonna be happy if you choose this. But it isn’t one that satisfies probably a majority of people that are in it. And it’s a really bleeding neck problem, because so many people that are in that career path are ambitious, very smart. They judge themselves and their self worth by their career. And so if they’re not happy about it, it’s a problem they really want to solve. And so I built a company solving this problem. And you know, there’s a whole bunch of career transition companies out there, but there are very few that are targeted for lawyers specifically, and ultimately sold that company I guess three years ago now. And, you know, I went through a journey of realizing, all right, I do have this build the company in me, I have this inner entrepreneur that really can pull it off. But I found myself eventually at the same point I was back in the Shark Tank days of, you’re pretty good at this. It’s good. But is it great? No. And I’m convinced that I can give up good for great. I had a very strong intuition that told me, you know, there is a version of you that could become the nation’s leading expert on legal career change, I could plant that flag. And I could speak more about it, I could write books about it. And very few P, it’s like a lane that’s kind of open, very few people are really doing that. But I have to be really honest. And I have to choose authenticity and realize it’s not quite me. Do I want to wake up and spend every day with another depressed lawyer, because that’s what I was doing? It really wasn’t that much fun in the end. And so I had this, the seeds were planted in my head, well, someone else who is a lawyer, and maybe a coach could run this business. And lo and behold, in about a month, I actually found the right person that happened very fast. I just told some people I knew I wanted to sell this. And so we found a high net worth lawyer coach, and sold that in about a month.
Heather Pearce Campbell 16:24
Wow. So the transition was pretty quick when she decided,
Dan King 16:28
Yeah, it happened very, very fast. Yeah.
Heather Pearce Campbell 16:32
I’m curious why you went to law school.
Dan King 16:36
I got a fortune cookie at a Chinese restaurant that I went to many times growing up that said, you will make a great lawyer. So no, seriously, that probably is part of the reason I think my family and friends always told me from a young age, oh, you’re good at arguing, you should be a lawyer. Right? These are the kinds of things you hear. And so it was a seed planted in my head at a very young age. And it’s true, I am pretty good at arguing. I’m pretty verbal. One of the things that really struck me early on when I started at a law firm having no clue of course, what the experience would be like before I stepped foot there. That’s another reason I became a lawyer. I didn’t do any research, but it actually evolved. I don’t really like research, and you know, day one at a law firm, but it’s research, research research, right? And there are certain types of legal career paths that are better suited for an extrovert like me, but most I think in the in-laws, more of an introverted career, I didn’t realize that going Hmm. So those are some of the reasons.
Heather Pearce Campbell 17:36
Yeah, I hadn’t thought of it that way, introvert versus extroverts career. Well, it’s fun. I’m always curious why people make the choices that they do, right? Especially when you know, and the truth is, I think 60% of people don’t end up actually working on their degree. Right. So it’s a high, it’s a high number. And I think for this very reason, we don’t really know what we’re getting ourselves into.
Dan King 18:05
Very true. But on the flip side, one of the Silver Linings is you can so often find elements of what you did before serving you well, because they’re in their profit in a future career, because they’re in their proper place. So it does benefit me to be a lawyer now that I am acquiring businesses, right, running a private equity fund, I need the lawyer part of the to be online stuff, the majority of what I do, but it is so nice to have it in the back pocket.
Heather Pearce Campbell 18:32
Right? Well, and that’s true. I always tell people, you never regret an education, like however you come by it, whether it’s through schooling, whether it’s real world experience, like you just cannot regret an education and something because it will make you a better decision maker. And often, you know, as a lawyer digging people out of hard places. I have to remind people, this is how we learn, this is how we grow, this is how you will be a better decision maker next time, right? You cannot avoid real world experience anyways. So you sell that business, right that you’re able to let go of it sounds kind of in a hurry, and then you move into business. Number three, tell us about the roots of fireside strategic.
Dan King 19:25
Business number three started the week that the pandemic began in New York City the very week. And it came with a business partner unlike Well, I guess I had a business partner with the first one that failed but I didn’t with the second realized I really wanted to partner because to grow something bigger, I have certain weaknesses and I just knew that someone would be really helpful to balance those someone really complimentary. And so I went through the journey of meeting different people and initially starting up with a different partner and just like with the lawyer business, it didn’t quite feel right And then I found the partner with which it didn’t really feel right. And we started, as I said, the week the pandemic began in New York City. And we had an old business model plan, we had done months of research, which was not my strong suit, and it is my business partner’s strong suit, and the pandemic hit. And we threw the whole business model out, we realized that it just was no longer relevant given that the world had changed overnight. And so we started a video cast, which we still run today, two years later, interviewing CEOs. And we thought, You know what, we got to throw our business model out, how are we going to get a new one, let’s just speak to customers. And so I started speaking to CEOs that we liked, and I invited them onto a video cast. And I always tell people, if you want the best networking hack in the world, start a podcast or a video cast, because it’s a great way to meet interesting people. And so we did interviews and those interviews were also kind of research conversations. We just wanted to learn from people and see, all right, how can we really serve? Where’s there an opportunity for us to add enough value to be a business here? And we started meeting with the CEOs that were operating really fast, they were in this tricky pandemic moment where whole businesses were on the verge of falling apart, teams were in jeopardy, the human cost of bad business decisions felt really high, right in those moments. And so we would tell these stories very vulnerably. And honestly, on our video cast, there were moments, I can remember at the beginning of the pandemic, where we would be in tears with CEOs who were also in tears on our video casts. And these were very gut wrenching emotional conversations. And we noticed a common theme in the CEOs we were attracted to. We call them creators, CEOs. So these are people who have eight different ideas, that in moments of stress, they get confused between them, it’s very hard for them to pick the right one, it’s very hard for them to grow their business. And inevitably, the team behind that CEO is going to be as distracted as the CEO. If the leader says there’s eight different directions, the team is going to be confused and eight different ways. And so we realized this brilliant, that very fast, and sometimes disorganized type of CEO to be blunt about it could really benefit from the guidance of the research to understand what is the one direction that is really going to grow your company, and the one direction that is going to allow you to be a greatest service? How are we going to use you and your team’s gifts, in a way that overlaps with what the market wants? And it’s a very quantitative and qualitative research project done in an enormous amount of depth. And it requires slowing down. It’s a part of why we call the company fireside strategic because we have very warm human research conversations. And they require that instead of running around like chickens with our heads cut off, which in entrepreneurship, most of us are doing most of the time, there is a space where you can learn to slow down. And as I reflect on my own journey, you know, choosing to be a lawyer choosing to start businesses that weren’t quite right. I wasn’t slow. In those moments, I was really desperate to make it all work as quickly as possible.
Dan King 23:24
Slowing down is the most essential business skill. In my judgment, at least for me, someone with my personality type, I am a creator, CEO, I’m the guy who’s running in a different direction, and to create the space to do the research, understand what the market wants to understand what you can bring. To understand what the moment is really calling for requires space. It requires listening and slowness. And so we built a consulting company to produce that outcome to solve that problem. And inevitably, we noticed, funnily enough, our clients, businesses would grow faster when we slowed down. When a CEO comes to us, I got an email yesterday saying this is all great, but we need to move faster. And there was a part of me that wanted to respond to that with okay, we can move faster. But I was just telling my business partner, nope, we need to take a stand for slowness here. We need to take a stand for doing the work upfront. The slow work that in turn enables speed later. And so noticing that our clients’ businesses are growing faster than ever with our ironically slow approach. We have become a private equity fund as well. We become acquirers of businesses, we realize that, you know, we can grow businesses faster, we can be rewarded and the teams of businesses that we acquire can grow faster if we are owners of those businesses. If we build a portfolio of companies, all dedicated to this philosophy of let’s chill out. Maybe let’s even work for it in a week. There’s a crazy thought. Let’s make sure that we’re rested, that we’re respected as humans, that we’re doing the work we’re meant to be doing. And all of that requires slowness and intentionality. And so that is the fireside.
Heather Pearce Campbell 25:16
Well, I love, I mean, I love that theme of slowing down. I’m curious, do you think that you are attracting catalysts as a personality type? Or is it that entrepreneurships kind of turns people into crazy, fast decisions, you know, always like eight decisions, 10 decisions going on at a time, right? Is it a chicken or an egg? I think I do because I do think there are some personality types involved in certain pathways. Right. So I’m just curious, your thoughts?
Dan King 25:51
It’s a great question. And there are some of both, I think it works. We noticed that a minority of interviewees, we’ve probably interviewed over 100 CEOs now of million dollar and up companies. And we found, you know, and there’s like a spectrum. So on one extreme, there’s the Creator who sees eight possibilities, they tend to be very mission driven, right, they tend to really, the business is like a reflection of who they are. But the other extreme are what we call engineers. So these are people that are probably more focused on making the assembly line run on time, they are by nature, quite focused, less likely to be mission driven. The business is not a reflection itself, the business is a thing where we make good analytical decisions about their optimizers. Yeah, they are optimizers. And so sometimes, you know, in Chino, Whitman’s famous framework, it’s integrator versus I forgot what’s the other visionary, right. And, you know, I don’t think it’s a dichotomy. But I think there is a spectrum from time to time, you’ll find a rare person who has a lot of both in them. But most of us, if we ‘re right, if we’re business owners, we’re somewhere along that spectrum. And the engineers don’t need us as much. The engineers have already done the research project, right? The engineers are extremely focused on one direction, and so are their keys. Now, the engineers may need a dose of creativity, a dose of humanity, there may be other things that they need. But from a pure business growth perspective, you will find a lot of CEOs who are engineers, you know, they could also almost be CEOs too. But not every not every business owner or founder is a creator, you will find some that that are much more engineer like,
Heather Pearce Campbell 27:36
Yeah, no, that totally makes sense. So share with us one or two ways that you get these clients to slow down, what does it take for them to slow down?
Dan King 27:49
Such a good question, the biggest thing I’m going to throw at you, and this may seem really woowoo. And we are. But the way in which you have a zoom conversation that presents with which you show up more than any particular concrete deliverable, I think gets the job done. And so right now, as we speak, I feel my feet against the floor. I feel grounded, and maybe you feel that a little bit Heather, there is just a relaxed presence. And most CEOs are going to have one client that I love to death. And he told me the other day, when I’m with you, I feel like my nervous system is healing. And, you know, this is an incredible guy who used to be an investment banker and a brilliant, brilliant guy. And he’s very analytical. He is running a gajillion miles a second, he speaks so quickly. And the simple act of showing up with that slower presence. If it’s true, it’s not forced, if it’s real, this is how you actually are being other people will feel that if that presence is stronger than their presence there all over the place, confused presence, they will feel and I can tell you why this is in a moment, they will feel more relaxed, they will slow down and they will be more receptive to intentionality and research and thoughtfulness. And that’s because I think the pandemic is teaching us this. We co regulate as humans, our nervous systems can feel into one another. And when we are open and vulnerable with one another that happens in a deeper way. And so how you show up is a massively impactful, totally underrated aspect of any kind of coaching, consulting, helping that we can do for others.
Heather Pearce Campbell 29:48
Right. Well, I love that as a very specific example of how that happens. I talk regularly, actually in our earlier conversation right about how you minimize cost Select or potential conflict with clients, potential clients, etc. And looking at all of the touch points in your business and examining the language that you use for clarity. And at each point along the way, are you helping to create the client that you want to show up at your business doorstep? Right? And I think this ties into what you’re talking about is that we actually have the opportunity to create the client that we want to work with.
Dan King 30:33
Can I add one little, it’s brilliantly put. And can I add one little piece to this, when I used to take business phone calls, I would stand up. And I wasn’t as solid, I could be more easily blown off course. And there was this nervous pacing when I was a lawyer, I used to be nervous around the room. And there was so much anxiety in those moments. And if someone is speeding a gajillion miles a second, even today, the odds that I’m going to fall into that trap, the odds that they may bulldoze me a little bit unintentionally, not that they’re out to hurt me or anything like that, but there’s a decent chance that they’re going to just ramble a little bit, they’re gonna go fast, and I’m not going to be able to hold my ground. Whereas when I sit, and I feel my feet firmly against the ground, it’s a very different dynamic. It’s like the tension melts away, the anxiety melts away, and everyone becomes more relaxed.
Heather Pearce Campbell 31:35
Hmm, so interesting to think about, right? I think a lot of people, especially during COVID, are trying to call it multiplexing. Right, do two things at the same time that are easy to do to Atlanta, like walking and having a phone call. But you don’t necessarily think about it? Is that actually the best way to engage in the phone call? Right? And depending on your personality, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t? Depending on who you want to be interacting with. On the other side? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t right. But it’s it’s very interesting dynamic to think about. Yeah, yeah. Well, and especially because like certain businesses that I know, they want to be working with, for example, only catalysts, not the optimizers. Not the experts, not the relational folks, right? They want the catalyst. And so I think being really clear on who it is that you want to show up on the other side can help you design the systems and the mindset and approach that you take to things like how you handle a telephone call, right?
Dan King 32:42
Yes, absolutely. And I think making this choice about who you want to work with who you are, all of these choices are even more vital now. Because all of us, not just entrepreneurs, are cursed with what I call an attention crisis. So we have social media notifications going off, we have eight different FOMO, right curses that are chasing us at any given moment, all of us and the studies show definitively that human attention has been declining for a long time. And since the introduction of social media, it started declining even faster. And so, the need the strength required to carve out the space to protect your attention, to be able to use your attention wisely. It requires a ton of strangeness. And so it’s a frazzled attention that struggles to choose the target market. It’s a fragile detention that struggles to choose a growth strategy. It’s a frazzled detention, that struggles to have a difficult conversation, where you can sense the different dynamics afoot what someone is going to care about and what they’re not going to care about. And so this attention crisis is such a massive problem. It’s stopping humanity from taking the urgent action that we need to take in so many domains. And if there’s one thing I can do, there’s one thing that would give me a ton of pride. It’s to really move the ball on this because it’s getting bad. And we want to build the lives of our dreams. We have to be so intentional about it, right? We lose sight of who we are and what we want. You’re just not gonna get there.
Heather Pearce Campbell 34:16
Yeah. Well, and it’s, you know, even in the podcasting space, right, you see, like a whole trend of people on certain podcasts like doing five minute podcasts, five minute daily shows, or 20 minute, you know, shows Max and like, I really fought that trend. From the beginning, I wanted a long in depth conversation with somebody where the listeners that did decide to tune in would feel like they sat down and had a dinner conversation with us, right? Not this quick kind of turn and burn. Give me your pitch or the three points or whatever, and then hop off. It just really doesn’t serve us in the long run if you want something that’s memorable. All that sticky that will actually help somebody transform. Amen. Yeah. So a couple of questions are playing around in my mind around, especially as I think about my audience, both around the topic of acquiring businesses, right, because some people may think, oh, that’s out of reach, I don’t know how to do that, like, I’ve never really considered that path. Or on the flip side, how to create a business that might be ideal for selling right for somebody else to acquire. Because I think also alternatively, in the small business landscape, you’ve got a lot of folks who are busy building their business, but it’s, it’s because it’s some of the mission driven folks that you mentioned, they’re, they’re committed to their path. They’re committed to doing a certain thing in the world, but maybe with a few ideas about how to build their business differently, they actually could create a sellable asset at the end of their journey.
Dan King 36:04
Okay, so there’s the two pieces, there’s the piece of how do I create a business that sellable and can I acquire a business? Right?
Heather Pearce Campbell 36:09
There’s the sort of that there’s, there’s both sides of the coin?
Dan King 36:13
Yeah. And I think many info entrepreneurs in particular don’t think that their businesses are sellable, or they want to even consider the possibility. Yes, right. And particularly if you brand a business around yourself, right, then that can make it a little trickier doesn’t make it impossible, but it can, the business I sold definitely had a lot of my personal sort of branding on it makes it trickier, but not not impossible. I think, the better the business, so to speak in every way, the easier it is to sell. And what I would say is the ultimate customer, there is the customer that your business serves, and then there’s another customer, and that’s the potential acquirer, right? How do you make it really easy for this, to be turnkey for someone to just slide in day one, and understand all of the system’s? Many of us entrepreneurial types, as creator CEOs in particular, are not the best documentaries. We don’t take the time to sit back and I am guilty of this to this day, so much, you have no idea, right? It is so important to document. So you’re gonna have thoughts, you’re gonna have ideas, if you’re a creator, if you have the get up and go to start a business, you are probably a very creative person. Creative people don’t usually find it fun to document. Now the great thing is VAs can really help with this. Know whether you want to sell the business or not, documenting your processes and your systems so that someone else even you like you may forget what you wrote yesterday. Do you ever have those moments where you can’t read your own writing, right?
Heather Pearce Campbell 37:57
The funny thing I do is I will create, like all use because I use Gmail to handle all of my mail, I’ll get into Google, right, which houses various domains inside of my account for email, and create a template, right for certain responses, certain things that I have to do all the time. And if I’m having to do it even a second time, it’s like, boom, I’m just turning it into a template, sometimes even on the first time because I’m like, Oh, I know, I’m gonna get this again. But then I forget, I’ve already created that thing, right? So there’s been a couple of times where I go in to create the same and I’m like, oh, it’s already there. How convenient.
Dan King 38:34
There’s this lazy part of us. It’s like, oh, I don’t want to create the template. But understand, tell that lazy part of yourself that there’s an even lazier part of you, that is going to benefit from having the work done right in advance.
Heather Pearce Campbell 38:47
And next time, you don’t have to do it, you can say to your VA, hey, go find the template that’s alongside all the others or whatever, right? It really, the whole point is like, it might take you a little more now, but then it’s gonna save you lots of time later.
Dan King 39:05
And it’s empathy. Right? It’s thinking that in the end, I’m not just an army of one, you know, if you want to really make an impact in the world, you have to speak in a way that other people understand you have to do things that other people understand. This took me a long time to grass. But not many info entrepreneurs are armies of one. And the key both to selling the business but also growing it sustainably are really essential key is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. That basic level of empathy is foundational for creating the systems that make the business sellable for growing the business organically. And by the way, you know one of the fastest routes to growth that almost no small entrepreneurs or small businesses consider is acquisitions. You know, it is quite possible people don’t appreciate it. If you want to grow your business faster. There’s going to be another business out there that can almost guarantee you have assets, right? That is going to be valuable to you, whether it’s customers, a media channel could be anything, there are going to be assets out there that someone else has created, it’s going to save you an enormous amount of time to buy those assets. And by the way, if you learn to negotiate, if you learn to create a mutually beneficial deal, you can often buy those assets with no money down whatsoever. If there is value to extract that value, we can get into this in any level of depth you want whether that value can ultimately pay for the assets. And so whether we want to make a business sellable, we want to buy a business, all of this requires the empathy right to understand what someone else wants. Hmm.
Heather Pearce Campbell 40:43
I mean, it’s interesting that you frame it in terms of empathy, right? I think most people would not associate the creation of business systems with empathy. But if you’re thinking about creating a sellable asset, yes, you have to stand in the shoes of that other person. The other thing, the question I have for you is around structuring the acquisition of a business like the way even what you just described now, like you can do this with no money down and blah, blah, blah, and create a win scenario, right? Yeah. Did you learn these deal points in your early work as an attorney? Like, did you learn how to structure these deals then? Or is this something you’ve had to sort out later?
Dan King 41:24
I think there’s some of both in there. So I definitely had some mentors recently. I’ve just been obsessed with both reading and pondering, you know, I go for long walks, and just thought about it. So I think it’s a lot of everything. I think there’s no question that some of what I learned is helpful, it stayed in the back of my head, even though I haven’t practiced law for nearly 10 years, I think it’s been seven or eight. So some of that no doubt is helpful and remains in the back of my head. And in being a lawyer, just like joining any profession equips you with a language and you never sink below a certain I was telling the lawyer who’s working for the other party in an acquisition we’re doing now, you know, you, you get some basics, and you’re not fluent anymore, but you don’t sink below a certain level. Right. So I think there’s some of that, but a lot of it is my own exploration. And, you know, one of the things I would tell people, if you’re really creative, acquisitions is like business art. There are so many possibilities, there are very few rules, you can make a lot of your own rules when you acquire a business. You know, as an example, an acquisition that we’re working on right now, and I can’t get into too much of the details. But you know, one of the things that’s come up is we realized, well, there’s a very good chance this deal could go well, but there are always risks, right. And so we negotiated a provision, which is kind of like an escape clause for a year, we have a year to try running this business. Now, if we choose to initiate this clause, because the seller has done quite a bit of work to customize. For us for fireside, you know, the running of the business after acquisition. It’s taken up quite a bit of his time. So we would compensate him financially if we choose to use these clots. But then I also realized, you know what, there’s something else we can do here because this seller doesn’t like selling businesses, it is not fun for him. I’m weird, I’m sadistic, I love buying and selling businesses, but it’s not fun for him right now what he likes to do. So then I realized he doesn’t want to do this, again, it’s gonna be really agonizing. If we initiate that clause, and he’s gonna have to go sell this business, why don’t I just sell it for him? Right? So I’m quite confident that if for whatever reason, this doesn’t go well, we can sell this business, we can probably sell it for a greater price than he can. And so rather than paying a penalty clause, he’s going to have no issue. If we become his brokers, should we initiate the escape clause, we’ll sell the business for him. And we’ll collect a broker fee. So not only will our downside risks be mitigated, he’ll be happy. And then we’ll find another buyer, right, who is a fit for this business. So that’s the kind of creative exercise and the kind of rule creation that business acquisitions enable you to do.
Heather Pearce Campbell 44:24
Well, I love that example. I think a lot of people when they think of buying or selling a business it, you know, they’re probably relating to that as like a fair, fairly cut and dry kind of old school type of exchange. And you just gave us a really phenomenal example of the ways that you can creatively transfer a business right over time over some amount of time. That gives you some opportunity to test it. That works for both sides and this looking for a win win, right this broker idea, how do you explain Lower these Win Win scenarios and creatively structure something, I just love that as an example of that.
Dan King 45:07
And it’s Thank you. And it’s you know, it’s also a real opportunity to exercise empathy because you learn what someone likes and what they don’t like, you know, this is not an adversarial negotiation. It’s about being on the same side of the table as someone else. It’s about really understanding what they want. And in this case, I just learned through really caring about this person getting to know him really well. He doesn’t want to be selling. I mean, he knows it’s time to sell this business. He has good reasons to sell it, that man, he doesn’t want to go through this again. Right. So that right creates complementarity. Any kind of partnership requires someone who likes doing something the other person doesn’t like doing and vice versa, right. So you look for those options for complementarity. And that’s a value add. That’s partnership. That’s entrepreneurship in a nutshell.
Heather Pearce Campbell 45:54
Yeah, absolutely. Well, and even in that book that I referenced earlier, when you and I were talking this morning on firesides, strategic, your video chat, we the book had difficult conversations, there’s a concept in there called the end stance, right. And so often as humans, we get into either or like, either it has to be this way or this way. It’s like so down the middle. And it’s like, no. What about you know, like, even just keeping in mind the concept of the and stance, what if there’s room for what you desire? And for what somebody else’s desire, you know, desires? What if there’s room for you to see it this way? And for me to say it, it’s just such a great way to rethink this whole like, either or hard lines, you know? So yeah, brought that concept to mind, though. Adopting the and stance, even in the business acquisition process, how is there room for all of these solutions?
Dan King 46:54
I love that. And who would have thought guy, William Ury Right was one of the authors of that book. It’s almost a principle that comes up in improv as well, right? It’s like, yes. And, and it’s such, it’s so foundational for creativity.
Heather Pearce Campbell 47:10
Yeah, yeah. No, I love that. So for somebody that’s like, Hmm, I have never really thought about acquiring a business. But now that I’ve, you know, heard that it’s maybe doable? Where, if you are coaching somebody on this, where would you recommend they look just to be? Where would they start looking?
Dan King 47:32
Yeah, you know, I think it’s a good place to start to learn a little bit. And to, because it can feel like such a big journey, you know, if you’ve been running an info entrepreneurship business for 10 years, and you’ve been growing organically. And this whole idea of an acquisition feels kind of weird. One way you can start to familiarize yourself is to look at brokerage websites. So all across the country, there are people selling their businesses, these may or may not be the right businesses for you. But if you go to bizbuysell.com, for example, you’ll see, you know, hundreds of 1000s of businesses that are for sale, by cycle listing biz buy sell. Now, I don’t recommend that you focus on these for the businesses that you buy. And that’s because, you know, these are businesses where it’s in the broker’s interest to sell them for as high a price as possible, they’re not going to be the best negotiating positions for you. And you might have 30 other people looking to buy each business.
Heather Pearce Campbell 48:32
Right, right and structured a certain way, right, less, less flexibility, and you’re structuring. That’s right.
Dan King 48:39
So I wouldn’t recommend that you necessarily buy a business from one of these websites, I would recommend instead, you know, I use them for practice a little bit, start to learn vocabulary and familiarize yourself. And when it’s time to get serious, if you really liked this idea, I speak to your network. It’s actually quite easy. You’d be surprised to find, especially if you’re an entrepreneur, your networks to find people who know people that have businesses for sale. Or maybe someone’s never even considered buying and selling their business, you could wander down to your local laundromat, it’s a bit of a mindset shift and ask them Would you ever consider selling your business? If you look in your personal world and speak your network, and just say, Hey, I’m looking for business could be something like this could be something like that. Do you happen to know any businesses like that? And even if they’re not for sale, I’ll tell you, if you speak to the average, that word gets through to the average business owner that someone might want to talk to you about buying your business. That’s the conversation a lot of people will entertain. And so your network is where I would go in the world around you. If you just think about every business in there as potentially one per sale. That’s where you’re going to find interesting off market possibilities. But when it comes time to just familiarize yourself with the basic language, you might want to try bizbuysell, there’s a whole bunch of these brokerage websites out there, and they can get you the basic level of familiarity.
Heather Pearce Campbell 50:06
That’s great feedback. And, you know, the reality has you think about this, and I do a lot of coaching with my clients around, you know, especially if somebody’s creating a partnership, or going in with multiple people into a business, like planning for the business divorce, businesses don’t live forever, right? Yeah. And you don’t live in your business forever. And yet, people are really reluctant to it’s a little bit like getting married, whenever anybody gets married, they’re not planning for their divorce, we tend not to do the same in business plan for the exit at the time that we start it or at the time that we’re partnering with somebody, and yet, it’s absolutely what we should be doing. Because in the business world, that business will at some point, come to an end or be transferred or, you know, take a different shape or form.
Dan King 50:58
Yeah, 100%, these transitions are so inevitable. And we’ve got to accept them when they happen. I love that.
Heather Pearce Campbell 51:06
Well, Dan, gosh, I feel like we could just keep chatting out of respect for your time. And I apologize if anybody can hear my screaming puppy in the background. She started screaming about 20 minutes ago, I’ve been hitting the mute button. I love her and she’s still practicing the whole crate training thing. I do it for little sections of the day like this when I need her to be contained. But Dan, where do you like for people to connect with you? If somebody’s listening? And they think I want to check out Dan and his work and his team?
Dan King 51:38
So I’d go to firesidestrategic.com. That’s firesidestrategic.com. That’s the homepage. And you can see the general sort of consulting work we do there. And I think in the future, you know, acquisitions are becoming a bigger and bigger part of what we do, we have become private equity funds, as well as consulting firms. And, you know, at the moment, as we make acquisitions, and we run other companies, and we’re building a portfolio of companies, we’re having a lot of fun with that. I am really passionate about how and even the average entrepreneur can do acquisitions, it is much more doable than you might think. And perhaps at some point, we may help others do that, whether it’s brokering ourselves, maybe teaching, I’m not sure, there is no formal offer like that on the table at the moment. But if learning how to do this interests you at all, just go onto the website and send us a message, there’s a Contact Us form, feel free to drop me a line, no formal offer or thing to sell. But if this interests you, if this is a path that you might want to explore, feel free to drop us a line, you can click on the Contact Us page, you can also on the homepage, which is also our consulting page, you can fill in a form if you want to explore the possibility of working with us. But you don’t have to do that in terms of looking for like a formal sales call. If you just want to chat about acquisitions that’s interesting to you, you can fill out either the contact us form or the form on the consulting page. And we’d be happy to jam with you if any of this is of interest.
Heather Pearce Campbell 53:08
Oh, awesome. That’s a super generous offer to connect directly with folks. If you’re listening, we will share this link on the show notes page. You can find that at legalwebsitewarrior.com/podcast. Dan, for folks that are listening? Do you show up on social media anywhere? Or would you just prefer to send them to your website?
Dan King 53:30
LinkedIn is the social channel to find us. So you can find us on LinkedIn as well. And I would say the website or LinkedIn are the best bet.
Heather Pearce Campbell 53:39
Okay, perfect. We’ll share both of those links. And then finally, what either final thoughts, takeaways or action steps would you like to leave with our listeners today?
Dan King 53:53
I think the biggest thing, I’m just so passionate about this attention crisis at the moment. And I think as entrepreneurs, we spend more of our time in front of a computer screen than most right. And oh, there’s a pandemic, there’s a war in Ukraine at this moment. There are some heavy, heavy things going on. Protecting your mental health is of vital importance. And when it comes to this attention crisis, even in spite of all this going on, there is still a possibility of living a rich tenant’s life. But I think it comes from unplugging a little bit. It comes from going for a walk, it comes from creating space and slowing down and having just a nice conversation in front of a fireside. Right. And so I just encourage people to appreciate that there is this attention crisis. It’s really serious. I kind of want to raise people’s awareness of it. But it doesn’t mean that there is an incredible possibility still ahead. Actually the possibilities are more incredible than ever in many ways, but I think finding your richly personal and entrepreneurial life comes from slowing down, calming down and intentionality. And so I just want to leave the audience with that thought.
Heather Pearce Campbell 55:08
Oh, I love it. So, so important. And I agree, you know, it feels. For me, I struggle with this guilt around, like being in a place of privilege, being able to turn off the news because it doesn’t always directly impact me. And yet, trying to be a mom, run a business, keep my sanity in check, right, I get really impacted by the things that I read and see on the TV. And you think about how we evolved. It’s not how we evolved to have, you know, 10,000 pieces of information shoved in our face all day long. It’s just not. It’s not, we’re not designed to be able to process all of that, in my opinion.
Dan King 55:50
I couldn’t agree more. And I think you know, the privilege that comes with that we are fortunate enough to have, we can best use or we can best exercise the responsibility we have through service and control over what we can control. And the reality is, this is not going to be everything. But within your world, if you can show up with integrity and service, that’s a phenomenal use of that privilege. And there’s no shame in understanding exactly how you can serve and showing up with integrity in those places.
Heather Pearce Campbell 56:22
I love that that actually gives me goosebumps, and it relates. There was one other thing I’ll mention, and then I’ll let you go. It had to do with this concept of people donating their time, like, Oh, I’m gonna go, you know, spend four hours today in a soup kitchen. And there was this whole whole article written on? Why would you do that? If you can generate some outcome, like if your time, let’s say is worth three or $500? an hour, you know, one, have a team member or somebody else actually go spend that time generate what it is that you’re capable of? Because we have different essentially economic outputs for all of us, right? Yes. Generating at your level is just a really interesting way of looking at it almost as an ethical obligation of Yes, well, that’s important and bodies and people should show up to do that. Is it the highest and best use of your time? If you’re contributing something to a cause? Or to a purpose? Should it be that right? And it’s a little bit like I think of that if we have a limited amount of time and attention? Should we be contributing that to the news or to something that stresses us out and dramatically impacts our cortisol or should we be creating certain outcomes for our clients in the world or a neighbor or something else? Right? It’s, anyways, a really important question. Thank you so much, Dan, for being here with us today. I really appreciate you.
Dan King 57:51
Thank you so much, Heather. It was a blast. Awesome.
GGGB Intro 57:54
Thank you for joining us today on the Guts, Grit and Great Business™ podcast. We hope that we’ve added a little fuel to your tank, some coffee to your cup and pep in your step to keep you moving forward in your own great adventures. For key takeaways, links to any resources mentioned in today’s show and more, see the show notes which can be found at www.legalwebsitewarrior.com/podcast. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast and if you enjoyed today’s conversation, please give us some stars and a review on Apple podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcast so others will find us too. Keep up the great work you are doing in the world and we’ll see you next week.