Please enjoy this transcript of this episode with Jason Wolfe, CEO of Wolfe, LLC. It was transcribed and therefore might contain a few typos.
Jason Wolfe: 00:00 If you’re building a company John, I don’t know what you do, but I mean if you have a company and you’re trying to build a company and you think it’s all by you and reality is, it’s not.
Doug Smith: 00:06 This is the L3 Leadership podcast, episode number 224
Doug Smith: 00:23 Hey everyone and welcome to another episode of the L3 Leadership podcast. My name is Doug Smith and I am your host. I hope you’re doing well. In this episode, you’ll hear our question and answer session with Jason Wolf, CEO of Wolf LLC at a recent speaker series event we held here in Pittsburgh. And if you haven’t already, you can go back in episode 223 and listen to Jason’s talk in which he shared his story and some advice to entrepreneurs. It’s fantastic. So I have encouraged you to do that. But for this episode take, if you were unfamiliar with Jason, let me tell you a few things about him. One is the number one thing in my book is he has an amazing story, and again, don’t want to spoil too much if you haven’t listened to it, but he grew up in an orphanage at one point in his life.
Doug Smith: 01:01 He was homeless and then he went on to start multiple companies that grew scout and sold for millions of dollars. Specifically, he founded the first online coupon site known initially as Couponsdirect.com and after growing the company, he sold it to a competitor for roughly $23 million in 2000 than required it in 2002. And then he began to build an affiliate tracking technology and platform called Direct Response Technologies, also that company to Digital River in 2006 for $22 million. And in 2008, Jason launched giftcards.com, that company was acquired by Black Hawk Network Holdings in 2016 for $120 million. And he’s now the CEO of a company called Gift Ya and what she is trying to disrupt the gift card industry. And He’s just an incredible entrepreneur and an incredible man as well. And so you’re going to love this, but before we dive into the Q and A, just a few announcements.
Doug Smith: 01:53 First, again, just thank you so much for listening to this podcast. It means the world to me and if it adds value to you, I would encourage you and challenge you to think of three to six other leaders that you could share this with to add value to them as well. So please share this and help us get the word out. It helps us to grow our audience and add value to leaders and help out, helps us accomplish our mission. So thank you for that. I also want to thank our sponsor, any jewelers, they’re a jeweler owned by my friend and mentor, John Henne, my wife Laura, and I got her engagement and wedding rings through Henne Jewelers. And we just think they’re an incredible organization. Not only do they have great jewelry, but they also invest in people. In fact, they give every engaged couple of book to help them prepare for marriage and we just love that. So if you’re in need of good jeweler, checkout Hennejewelers.com with that being said, let’s dive right into the Q and A with Jason and I’ll be back at the end with a few announcements.
Attendee: 02:41 When you’re building value system in the call, what are the things that when you’re, you know, you’re doing the disc assessment and you’re having people go through it, what are the things that you know, make people self-select, in or out?
Jason Wolfe: That’s a good question. So when you’re establishing value system in the company, what are the things that make people self-
Jason Wolfe: 03:00 select? So what we’ve done is we had a core group of about 25- 30 people who came up with what the values were of the company. So it turns out to be integrity, caring, drive and teamwork for us. Everybody’s different, you know? And so they spent a lot of time coming up with these words and then what they met. So there’s a definition behind them you know. As you start enacting these values and you start rewarding people with Bonusly, Bonusly guys get Bonusly if you don’t have it or Office Vibe and other tools. We use office five very good. You could start seeing people rewarding each other with points for the values. And you can start seeing feedback and office vibe of what’s going on according to the values. Cause they’ll hashtag values. And people that are not getting noticed, people that are not living the values eventually figure out, I’m not interested in this. I’m not somebody who’s doing any of this stuff. And you’ll see them become, I’ve seen it become sort of disengaged with the entire cultural thing that you’re putting forth and they will actually, we tried to sabotage it or little side of saying something negative about it and then they will say, I found another job and you’ll say, okay, be happy. We want you to be happy. Who wants you not to be happy. I don’t want you to not to be happy. So they self-select, that’s what I’ve seen.
Attendee: Thank you.
Attendee: 04:34 Hi Jason. Thanks for the talk. My question is about the selling of your companies. You see you’ve started several, did you start the company knowing at what point you’re going to sell it and did somebody come to you and say like I want to buy this or did you look for a buyer?
Jason Wolfe: 04:52 So did I sell the companies on purpose or did I look for a buyer or how did it come about? So with my coupons, you know, I was lemons to lemonade, struggling, you know, divine intervention. That’s kind of how that happened because I have no explanation for it. I didn’t know how to code. I coded, I was marketing guy, I was dumb. I had didn’t know how to code, it had to be something else and then four years later be able to sell it before the bubble burst. I don’t know, it was people coming to me. We had at the time MyCoupons is doing 20 million page views a month, 20 million and we had 5 million members. So you know, we are pretty large in terms of where we were the biggest coupon site and we had multiple people wanting to come and buy it. It was before the bubble burst.
Jason Wolfe: 05:43 What I found back then though was being in Pittsburgh was really tough. Nobody believed anything that I was saying. I can remember talking to people about what I was trying to do. This is after getting out of my car, actually being sort of legit and being out a show here in Pittsburgh. And there were a bunch of booths of companies that were coming up with ideas and I was there I think with Be Free in another internet company. And the judges just walked right past us, you know, it did not look at what we were doing. And that was probably 97/98. So, you know, what I found was we built a company that was very valuable that people from the outside of Pittsburgh saw came here and bought and it was a public company that bought us. The next one, I hired a investment banker.
Jason Wolfe: 06:34 I’m a lawyer and I actually went out myself and talk to the various companies I knew that were interested in buying it. The next one we had a private equity firm and then the last one, the largest one, I had put a book together and I went out to 60 PE firms and strategic buyers with an investment banker and I was on a road show for probably six months going around shopping it. And so over time I’ve learned, you know, various ways of building and selling and how to do it, whether it was by myself with MyCoupons or kind of myself with Direct Response or a private equity firm with Jumbo Media or a full-blown bidding process like I do with Giftcards.com yeah.
Attendee: 07:26 Hi Jason. Thank you so much for your talk. I liked what you said about when you see something broken, it’s your responsibility to fix it. I see a lot of things broken. How do I, and I can only do so much. How did you determine what to attack to fix or really what to fix? And then how did you determine what your first step was?
Jason Wolfe: 07:47 So John, I, that’s a good question because I am the type that gets distracted over here with this thing. And then I get over here on this thing. I was talking to Benjamin tonight actually with the statewide adoption network. I have this idea in my mind about this system called, Forever Family. Cause that’s what these adopted kids are. They’re looking for forever families. And I’m a foster dad and I’m going through the process so I see all the stuff going on. So I do, I would go out and I registered the domain name for, I buy the domain name from somebody and I go back to the statewide adoption network and I’m trying to talk to them about this and they’re like glazed over. But I’m so attempted to go run and fix that problem. Right? And then I’m over here on Gift Ya.
Jason Wolfe: 08:31 So I’m trying to fix that problem. So I do have a problem with trying to fix things, but I think, I think that I will focus on the thing that I’m really good at. So if I’m really good at gift cards, which I am, and I’m an authority in that space, probably should stay there. So as I was talking again to Benjamin, I don’t keep picking on you, but, there’s guy who he introduced me to who I thought would be perfect for this other thing. It’s, I won’t do it. I’ll just refer somebody else to do it. I’m going to stay within sort of the box and I’m good at right now. So I would say just, you know, don’t go trying to fix everything, everything and everybody, I mean that’s probably fixing everybody’s losing battle, but trying to go around fixing everything, probably not good either. Focused on something that you’re good at.
Doug Smith: 09:20 So I said I’m interested in just your involvement as a leader and how you’ve grown, especially when it comes to your four years. So you’ve done this multiple times. So I’m just curious, when you enter a new company, you know, how do you evolve from year one to year four as far as how you’re spending your time, what you do on a daily basis, etc.
Jason Wolfe: 09:37 Okay. That’s a good question. So, I’ve gotten to the point now where I kind of know the roadmap that you have to go through. So, you know, the first year is kind of the formation of the people, the infrastructure. The second year you’re getting out and starting to talk to some people, you’re starting to maybe get that one client that’s going to spend some money with you to legitimize the crazy stuff going on in your own head. And then by the third year you’ve got four or five of those, and by the fourth year you’re there. What I have done, Doug, is I’ve actually, I’ll start like two or three different things and I’m watching them go and I’ll pick the one that’s doing better. So within something I’m working on, I’m not just focusing on one thing, I’m focusing on three or four as I’m watching them develop.
Jason Wolfe: 10:34 And then one is kind of struggling. For example, I have a business unit. I talked earlier called Compromise, great idea as part of this little incubator group that I’m working on and I see that it’s struggling to go to the next level, did all the foundational work. I said near one, got some clients here too, but it won’t go to your three. I’m trying, I can’t get the big client to come in. So what do I do? Do I keep banging my head against my thing? Now I take the resources, boom over, over to Gift Ya. Try that. Keep moving on that thing until it pops or on. We own gift card granny too. That’s how I did it.
Doug Smith: 11:18 How does your, how does your staff evolve? Who is your first hire? Second hire?
Jason Wolfe: 11:23 Yeah, so again what I said people, my core group of people, one guy, 17 years, 15 years, 12 years, all the core architect people on my technology team been there for more than 10 years. So they’ve seen what we do. So I’ll have to keep educating them. They know our pattern, they know what we are doing. And we’re successful at it. And again because of the foundation and the integrity and the value system, it works. So you know, I would suggest as you’re, you’re building your company, get a couple of those people because she can’t do it yourself. You know, get some of those people that are fallen, same value system that you have that are willing to put up with the ups and downs. Cause not a lot of people can, you know, truthfully they just, some people just want to go get a nice job in corporate America. They don’t want to go through this. That’s fine. But people that are willing to have the stomach and to support you because a lot of times people think you’re, you know, your, branding guidelines in your thought pattern is off, you know, it’s not, and so people have to believe in you. So you get people that are with you on time and they believe in you.
Attendee: 12:34 Okay. You mentioned at the, when you were with a coupon company, when you were at the show and they were coming through and like people didn’t believe in Pittsburgh and stuff like that as far as like, you know, you, if you look at what’s going on in the valley and like, you know, companies are leaving the valley and moving to San Diego or you know, Facebook and Google and they’re setting out like satellite shops. What’s your view on, on one startups in Pittsburgh to the perception and sort of the under or they undervalued? Are they, is that a strength or a weakness? Like you’ve got Austin, you’ve got Denver, you’ve got all these sort of cities that claim to be like these new hubs. How do you think Pittsburgh stacks in it and how do you think companies in Pittsburgh and use that for their, either advantage or how it is a disadvantage, whether it’s fundraising or bringing clients to the table or whatever?
Jason Wolfe: 13:22 Well, Tj, I think, you know, there is an issue with trying to get money here. It’s true. But I hear, and I’m involved I’m the chairman of the Technology Council, so I’m involved in a lot of stuff with technology and city Pittsburgh. So I know a lot about it. I am of the opinion you need more Jason Wolfes. You don’t need more money. We need more, create more me’s here that have the money, that have the family, that will then invest into the other companies here. So we can do that, which I think we can, that’s the path. So I am really big on stem education. I’m big on taking kids out of high school and I’m actually big on a new idea of trying to make them apprentices into technology companies instead of send them off to a four-year college. Why not be apprentice being an apprentice at our company
Jason Wolfe: 14:07 get paid, they’ll come out with a huge debt, come out with some experience. Now you’re staying here, you’re keeping the young talent here. I think that’s one of the ways we can do it. I look at it, look, I was at the Facebook office schools on my board. I mean, I see the Googles and the Facebooks, growing here, they’re not shrinking here. They’re growing here. They’re hiring more people here and they’re coming here and that’s going to continue. It’s not bad that we didn’t get Amazon. It’s not bad. So I think, you know, all these major tech companies that are here, in their continuing to come here and they’re continue to hire people here because the reality is, and I know this because I’ve been doing this for 25 years, my turnover is very low. It really is. And, um, that work ethic of the people in the city of Pittsburgh beats everywhere
Jason Wolfe: 15:04 that I’ve seen the cost of living is low, right? There are so many advantages here that I think Pittsburgh, sometimes this is worse enemy because I remember in 97, you know, people are doubt we’re doing because I said, and I said that then I said, Pittsburgh is the show me city. Show it to me, but it’s gonna happen. Show it to me. I’m telling you it’s gonna be huge. Just show it to me. Why don’t you show it to them? The city people get behind it here and I think it has a lot to do and a lot to do with the blue collar steel mentality with the management who control everything in the workers, didn’t have any input as it is still here because of that. But I see a lot of people moving to Pittsburgh. I see Bakery Square, I see all the stuff that’s happening here. I am totally stoked on Pittsburgh. I’m thrilled with Pittsburgh. The number of tech companies in Pittsburgh from 2010 till now has doubled. We’re at 475 which is huge. We account for 30% of the payroll. This is major. It’s major.
Jason Wolfe: 16:07 So yeah, I’m bullish on tech.
Attendee: Jason, what are the implications of the four-year cycle where dad or husband being in the spotlight for your family? So what’s the implications for me? Because I have two foster girls with a son, a daughter who just had two, so I have two grandchildren. What’s the implication that now, because I can’t put the time down. Right. Is that what you’re saying? A patient wife, you know, look, people don’t like when I say this and I don’t care. And I’ve had somebody sit across from me and say, you know what? I want you to talk to so and so. They’re interested in being an entrepreneur as said, what kind of entrepreneur? Today, everybody defines entrepreneurial differently. You could own a pizza shop today, they call you an entrepreneur. I don’t know, this is the definition of an entrepreneur to me, a biggie entrepreneur or somebody who’s going after something big and bold, somebody that’s trying to change things, somebody who’s trying to drive an industry forward. If you’re that type of person, you have to have sacrifices in your life. And the reality is that there is no, Hey, you know what? I worked eight hours, I need a balanced life. I’m going to stop working, I’m going to go home, play with the kids, and I’m going to go eat. And then I’m going to go work out, if you’re trying to be the big e entrepreneur and all that goes away, I don’t care where you are.
Jason Wolfe: 17:33 You have to have sacrifices. It’s true, but not everybody has to do it. Like I’m not saying you have to go to this. No, it was a choice. And when I say this to you Benjamin, I don’t mean you need to be disregarding your family. I’m saying that my, if I’m playing with the girls on focused on them, they go take a bath. I’m right back on my phone checking stuff. It’s true. Cause that’s what it is. I’m just being truthful, truthful. You know, my wife was watching TV, she doesn’t know and I’m sitting there working, you know, I’m getting a lot of work done on the weekends. Sure I have fun, I relax, but also in between there I work and I will tell you that if, if you and I are competing and you’re not doing it and I’m doing it, chances of my success are higher than yours and the world’s competitive. So you have to decide what you want to be?
Attendee: 18:27 You mentioned drip and the Tedtalk that inspired you. View life is obviously full of many instances where grit probably got you through. And then you follow up on mentioned apprenticeship planning. Is grit a transferable skill that you can train?
Jason Wolfe: 18:44 Yeah, that’s a good question. So her Tedtalk talks about training grit, like teaching grit. And I need to investigate it because I want to find out what it means cause I want to teach my son some grit. He doesn’t have it as much. So I don’t know. I don’t know if grit is something that they say that you can teach it. I’d like to find out if he can teach you the entrepreneurship program that I’m talking about for our company is not to be an entrepreneur. The apprenticeship program, I’m sorry, I’m talking about working for people., not Everybody wants to be an entrepreneur. Honestly. It’s not easy, right? Like biggie entrepreneur, like very small percentage of people really want to do this is you’ve got to be insane. But the people that want to be apprentices that want to come and they want to work in software instead of shipping them off to colleges elsewhere, they can become an apprentice in a technology company here in Pittsburgh. I’m not sure. I would actually give them grit to teach them that I would teach them the skills. And when I talked about grit, I’m talking about more of the entrepreneur.
Attendee: I have a question for you.
Jason Wolfe: Sure.
Attendee: In the next five to 10 years, what challenges, changes or areas of opportunity or see the technology and software?
Jason Wolfe: 20:02 What areas of technology do I see opportunities and see, you know, we all know this robotics, artificial intelligence. Um, I just had an award ceremony. I was at science centers sitting next to the guy who’s the owner of Pentium for them. They did raise a 200 billion artificial intelligence platform. So it’s almost like Unix was right. It’s a platform that you can use. I was like, that is so cool. You know, that’s, you just gonna be a great opportunity. cars here are big. You know, I’m, I’m big on this, makers kind of thing with the printing that I have this notion, and I was talking to some people in technology about being able to print clothes at home, which I think we could do at some point. So I think that, you know, I know the CEO or the president at RMU and gotten the big printing lab, everybody’s talking about bringing in these printing labs potentially, you know, we could be a city that’s make, you know, teaching people how to make things. But I think more aligned, with um, robotics and artificial intelligence. Oh and gift cards, Gift Ya.
Jason Wolfe: 21:15 But I would bet that not a single person in this room realizes that the first coupon site started here in Pittsburgh nor are the first gift card business, first gift card site. Nobody. We do a very, very poor job of promoting our own here and telling people these stories. So I said, where is it, Revelations 11:12, whatever, 12:11. You got to give your testimony, you got to get out there and tell people.
Attendee: On the last two
Attendee: 21:44 businesses that you sold. What were the sort of indicators? It was time to like move on, like whether it was to sell. So at Gift Cards, you were like, all right, we’re good. Cause potentially you would, you could have said, all right, we’re going to double down and we’re going to really like do this everywhere. Like what? There was an, there was just curious what your rationale for the outlaws or the exit, um, versus like just keep going with what you were doing and going bigger, wider, deeper.
Jason Wolfe: 22:13 Tj, I, I just, for me, I don’t know if what happens in my mind, I really don’t, but I wrestle with it. I do because Direct Response back in 2006 was mature. We were the leader in space. I was at the trade shows. I was, I was actually throwing the largest party, the trade show, 3,500 people at the, at the part is, I was trying, everybody knew who we were and I went solid. Come on, what’d you do that for? You know, and then Giftcards.com you know, we’re the biggest online. You, you type on any talk, combination of Gift Card, you’ll see Giftcards.com still there today. They’re doing $1 billion in revenue a year. Why did you sell it? You know, I think it’s just for me it seems as though I get to a certain point where I want to start building again. Like I’ve done it, I’ve proven it, I’ve gotten into the market, let someone else do it.
Jason Wolfe: 23:08 Some people are good at being large company guys run a company, 500,000 people. I don’t think I’m that guy. I think I’m the guy who’s rolling up the sleeves, working on the branding guidelines and with my creative people and run it over the tech guys and how’s this work? And then getting the things to work to prove something. And then once I see it, I feel like that’s probably why I do it. I don’t know. We’ll have to see what happens with Gift Ya, but it seems like every company has gone through that side. The sort of cycle for me.
Attendee: You mentioned about the girl being Jewish.
Jason Wolfe: Oh, I never got back to the that’s good. Thank you for reminding me of that. Wow. See that’s why, go ahead.
Attendee: 23:56 Come to the job or just because they don’t have future to have to be trade or change something. And so regular accounting jobs.
Jason Wolfe: So let me take the first question. The Jewish, the Jewish question. So yeah, my girlfriend and I was Jewish. I was not in any religion at all, really. And when I was living in my car, four years later, I was on six o’clock news because they ran a story on me. Having grown up in Milton Hershey, having my first employee who I paid $50 a month, I didn’t tell you guys this, that she was disabled and she was elderly and she could hardly lift her head up. She was in a wheelchair. So the Associated Press got the store and flew to Florida. I was on TV with meeting her the first time. So it was very emotional. Well, the girl, saw me on TV, I didn’t see her for years.
Jason Wolfe: 24:59 And so she called me and we went out to lunch and I said, oh, well you come back to my office, I would like to show you this. And I was smiling and very happy about myself and she was crying and I was thinking, yeah, see, she’s crying. Look, look it. I right. Look, she’s crying because she lost out on it and she wasn’t because she was crying because she was just happy that I made it. And she said, Jason, last year I turned my life over to Christ and became a Christian and she said, will you come to church with me? And so I started to go to church with her at Orchard Hill and that’s how I wound up where I am now. And not only did I go to church, I ended up joining a men’s ministry there and I’m doing a mission trips to Haiti.
Jason Wolfe: 25:46 I never was able to pray in front of anybody. I prayed in front of thousands of people. So it was because of her that got me into my trajectory with my faith. The other question was about accounting. So there’s always going to be jobs for accountants, I think. I don’t know. I think you with artificial intelligence that there will definitely be an impact on the workforce for sure. The number of hours people work continue to go down. The number of people that are needed for work, the unemployment rate continues to go up and that computers and robots taking our jobs for sure. So I don’t know what the future is for that, but I do see it cause I, I saw some charts recently about it over the last hundred years and I see that trend continuing. But unemployment’s low 2%, people are finding other things
Jason Wolfe: 26:43 to do. New jobs are becoming created even with artificial intelligence. I mean, just in the online marketing space, five years ago, 10 years ago, if you said, hey, I am a social media expert, people be like, what are you talking about today? There’s such a, the whole teams of social media, people that do that accompany. So there’s other jobs I’d be created to.
Attendee: Will you walk us through your spiritual journey and how that is projecting through the rest of your life?
Jason Wolfe: So the spiritual journey, how it projects from my life. Well, I put the Lord first and not me, you know? And so that has been, you know, for me, life-changing situation. It humbles you where you should be because you shouldn’t be the king of the castle. There’s somebody bigger than you. And so it’s actually helped me to come to grips with a lot of things in my own personal life.
Jason Wolfe: 27:42 My father who left, who I didn’t finish that story either. I found out he was alive with New Zealand and I struggled with not having a dad, but I realized I truly do have a father. And so it made me stronger as a man to realize that I am a man because I have a father in heaven. And so it’s made me more complete. It’s made me more calm and funny. I am not, I have left my, the fear level has dropped to almost zero. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. The Lord is with me, and I’m with him. So you know, my, my family is totally onboard. I’m equally yoked. You know, these things all make a difference I think. And by the way, another thing too, I am not the business owner that comes in with my religion on you. I don’t do that. You shouldn’t do that as a business owner. That’s not in our place to do. People come to see why is he different? Why does he act differently? And that’s the story that’s told. That’s the testimony, not because you’re telling somebody what to do. They ask you because you’re different. Important.
Attendee: 28:58 So going a bit back to your question earlier, I’m coming from Rochester, New York, which is pretty similar to here. Thank you. Which is pretty similar to Pittsburgh and that we’re really trying to be seen as an innovation hub. We’re trying to kind of get over or you know, Kodak and Xerox isn’t here to support us anymore. Now what? So what I want to know is what has the Pittsburgh community really done to foster success here and what does the community really need to do to invite more success to invite more of this, you know, ingenuity and creativity?
Jason Wolfe: 29:34 Well, like I said, I’d like to keep our young kids here, you know, and I think that if we can do that, that’s huge. We had the stem summit, there was 300 kids at the study, Samsung’s I’m at, which are high school kids from 30 high schools that came to Duquesne and they were able to be put in buses to go around and look at these companies here because we need to let our kids know that there’s opportunity in Pittsburgh and a lot of people don’t know that. You know, you become a senior high school and you’re looking at colleges somewhere else and you are looking for opportunities somewhere else. I think there are opportunities here, but people don’t know about it. Sometimes I get, again, I say this a lot, you look at the six o’clock news or whatever news and Pittsburgh and they’re talking about the cat in the tree and how the, you know, fire trucks are getting the cat and out of the tree.
Jason Wolfe: 30:21 Meanwhile, you know, here’s Duolingo, Rosetta Stone. I mean you’ve got, you’ve got a lot of major companies that are in Pittsburgh that are growing things, but people don’t pay attention to. I think if we can do more in the media to pay attention to what’s happening, that would be awesome because I think that’s one of the things that’s missing in our city is the focus and the intention on the opportunities and companies that are here. Audrey Russo, The Tech Council do a great job. There’s a ton of events that go on. Emilia, you’re here now, so you should start getting connected with the Tech Council. Come to some of the events we have. You’ll see, you know, the tech 50, there’s going to be an eight, 900 people there. There are some really good technology companies in the city. But we can’t, our hardest thing here is to attract money.
Jason Wolfe: 31:11 It really is, and there’s not a lot of venture capital companies in the city. But again, what I said to Tj over here is to create more people like me. And I think that’s possible. And I think it’s becoming more possible the more that I can give my testimony because there are huge advantages of being here. Like I said, turnover, the cost of living, the talent that we’re creating here and people want to stay here. And when you hit 30, you know living out in west coast and let’s say you want to start a family, I’d rather be in Pittsburgh. People are seeing that. So I think, I’m hopeful that we can continue to try to focus on creating entrepreneurs who build businesses who then spin off other people who create businesses. And that’s where I would focus my attention here. And I would trill truly try to get the media started looking at this a lot more.
Jason Wolfe: 32:03 We launched, the gift card business and I was sitting there watching TV and the newscaster was covering this company in California, was one of our competitors coming to the Internet. I was like, well, what about us? We are right here.
Attendee: Hey, thanks again for sharing your story. So I wanted to ask you, when you were in the early stages of really growing your business and taking it to the next level, what were some of the biggest risks that you had to take to get there? And how do you navigate those at the time?
Jason Wolfe: So the biggest risks, you know, it’s not really fair for me to talk My Coupons because I was totally insanely nuts. I mean, just living out of my car. I mean, everything was a risk, you know. But as I built sort of the other companies, the risks that I took, Direct Response, the bubble burst, it was 2001 I guess in the market was crashing and everybody thought the Internet was kind of going to go away.
Jason Wolfe: 33:02 Well, I found out the state of North Dakota owned its own bank and they were, they were able to take equity stakes in private companies. I learned this, and guess, what I did, remember the cockroach. I jumped on a flight and I went to North Dakota. I found out who the economic development people are. And I met with the governor in North Dakota and I got them to give me $1 million and opened an office in North Dakota to keep my company a lot. So, you know, surely we have an office in Beulah, North Dakota, in the middle of nowhere with like 2000 people population. Honest to God. So you can go look online, there are media clips about it. You know, so there are risks. I mean, it was risky to try to go do this in North Dakota. This is craziness. But you know, without risk, there’s no reward. You do have to take risks. Some people say to me, I say, you know what I do? And then we’ll like, what? I’ll have to do one gesture or you like this, stay. How do you I like that? And then they get it. You know, you’ve got to roll the dice and you got to take a risk. And so, you know, there’s a lot of fear in that.
Jason Wolfe: 34:25 You know, but remember when I said just a couple minutes ago, so when that fear goes down, you’re able to take risks and as long as just calculate intelligence, I think what I found is that nine times out of 10 pays off, but the reality is on the table, right? But let’s say a room like this and probably only one of us is willing to do it. We only talk about it. We may all think that we can, but there’s probably very little, very few of us that are willing to actually do it.
Attendee: I like asking this question to people is you could go back in time and visit a small, a younger version of yourself at a different, at a different time or season in life. What advice would you give yourself and where would you meet yourself?
Jason Wolfe: So if I could go back in time, what would I tell myself?
Jason Wolfe: 35:13 Yeah, well first I would say follow Christ first. Don’t wait until you’re later in life. You know, probably the point I made about people, so when I talk about businesses is like you know, none of it, like if you’re building a competent John, I don’t know what you do, but I mean if you have a company and you’re trying to build a company and you think it’s all by, you’d reality is it’s, and so the sooner you can realize that and the sooner you can surround yourself with people that are good people that are following the value system we’re talking about and then have, you know, some willingness to support you. I mean if I could go back to early days and say this is the most important thing, cause sometimes what happens is you get caught up in wondering why people are quitting, what’s happening?
Jason Wolfe: 36:04 Is it something about me? What’s wrong with me? And it’s because you didn’t set that foundation to start with. And so it would save me a lot of aggravation if I had a set that foundation first because there were companies where it was like I sis admin guys, two of them, the one guy quit. He was with me five years to find he’s moving on. Second Guy Walks in my office and says, you know what? I’m putting two unless you give me a $20,000 raise, because he knew this guy left and without him I could afford it. I couldn’t. I had to give it to them. Right. That’s what happens when you don’t have the right people with the wrong value system. Luckily, I knew somebody who was a sis admin for a prior company that I owned. I called him. I said, Hey, yeah. What do you do you want to do some contract work for free? Yep. Okay. Meet me at my office tomorrow, so the very next day I walk into the office, the guy comes in. I say, you’re not getting the raise and your fire.
Doug Smith: 37:09 Hi everyone. Thank you so much for listening to our question and answer session with Jason. I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did. You can find ways to connect with Jason and links to everything he discussed in the show notes at L3leadership.org/224 as I mentioned earlier, you can also go back and listen to Jason’s talk in which he shares his story and some advice to entrepreneurs and episode 223 if you haven’t already, highly encourage you to do that. Fantastic content. So again, thank you so much for listening and thank you Jason for investing in our community. I want to thank our sponsor Alex Tulandin. Alex is a full-time realtor with Keller Williams Realty and if you were looking to buy or sell the house in the Pittsburgh Market, Alex is your guy as a member and a supporter of L3 Leadership.
Doug Smith: 37:48 He would love to have an opportunity to connect with you. You can learn more at pittsburghpropertyshowcase.com as always, thanks again for listening to the podcast. It would mean the world to me. If you would share this episode on social media, let us know what your key takeaways were. Share with a friend, sent a leaders that you think would benefit from listening to this. Help us grow our audience and help us add value to leaders. Thank you for that. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. As always, if you want to stay up to date with everything we’re doing here at L3 Leadership, you can sign up for our email list at L3eadership.org and you’ll get a free copy of my ebook Making the Most of Mentoring and which I walk you through step by step, my process for getting meetings with leaders in cultivating those relationships. And there’s always, I like to end with a quote and I will quote Arthur Peter Today. He said this, he said, “All the days that you wake up, you got one job and that’s to get better every single day.” Yes, yes, yes, yes. Thank you so much for listening and being a part of L3 Leadership. Laura, and I appreciate you so much and we will talk to you next time.