Ep098: Brian Kiernan

Today on the MoreCheeseLessWhiskers.com podcast we're talking with Brian Kiernan from Connecticut, and Brian is an idea man. He's a real student of direct response, marketing, and has a real passion for it. 

He's also a custom remodeler. That's his day job, the thing that pays the bills, so he uses that as the vehicle to explore and build his marketing knowledge. He applies it to his own business first, and is aspiring to help other remodelers, either by doing lead generation, or their marketing for them. 

We identified where Brian gets off track, and what keeps him from getting to that point, and had a really great, philosophical, strategic and tactical conversation about how to make that dream a reality.

I think there are a lot of people who, once they fall in love with marketing, realize it can be applied to their own business. But they also realize the magic it can do in other people's businesses, and they fall in love with making a business of doing marketing for other people.

On the surface it seems like a great way to do the thing you love without having to do the things you don't love, which is actually run the business. But you'll hear in the conversation how to really think about it, and what progressive plan you could put in place to do the thing you really love, and still sustain yourself through the transition.

If you’ve ever considered taking your knowledge and helping others, you're really going to enjoy this episode.



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Transcript - More Cheese Less Whiskers 098

Dean: Brian Kiernan.

Brian: Hey, Dean Jackson. How're you?

Dean: I'm good. This call is being recorded. Did you hear that?

Brian: I did. They said it very quick but I did catch it.

Dean: There we go. Look at us. We've got a whole hour to hatch some evil schemes here.

Brian: Yes, it's amazing. I'm excited, nervous, anxious, all of 'em.

Dean: All of that. Cool. Well, this is one of the situations where most of the time I don't know anything about the people who are coming on but this is the time where we've had some interactions. We've known each other for a while so I'd like to maybe have you tell the Brian Kiernan story so far so we can get up to speed here and then see where we want to go. You're a man of many directions.

Brian: Yes, well, I am trying to focus with direction, and I think that would be a great place to start to get you ... I really need to take a little time to unpack where I'm coming from and how I got to where I am. I had sent you a little information, I don't know if you got it.

Dean: I saw that. Yes, I did. I got everything.

Brian: Let me explain to you how I got to that point and let's just go through this in a little time. I'm a general contractor, and I will self-identify as a remodeling contractor, really focusing on kitchens and baths, additions, major renovations, whole house remodels. That's really what I do, but I got into this business by default because my father wanted me to come work with him, so I did. That was really like in 2003. Now, in 2007 our working relationship really wasn't working out great and I ended up taking a program management position at a high volume full service remodeling company, and I was only 31, and I worked there 5 years. I excelled at that job and I look back at it, I got like 20 to 30 years of experience, this in five years because of how much volume I was actually running. We did so much work and I ran so many projects there. It was crazy, and I burnt out there.

Brian: I just run myself into the ground working hard for this guy, and I really burnt out. I ended up starting my own business. But I ended up starting my own-

Dean: Started your own remodel business, right?

Brian: Yeah, my own remodeling business.

Dean: Now you're on your own.

Brian: I started doing that but if I go back to 2007 when I was looking, and I had this relationship with my father and I was looking to make a change, I'll never forget, I was in my financial guy's office at the time getting some life insurance policy. I asked him, "What're some of the things people are doing to make some money?" And he said he had a 13-year old client who was making a million dollars a year doing something he called affiliate marketing. I got home and I typed that into Google and I optimize something and I ended up getting into this coaching program that was run by somebody named Derek Gale, who took it over from Corey Rudl who I'll bet you knew.

Dean: Yes, I do.

Brian: Right. Good. I did that six months coaching program which I loved. It had a structure and I really enjoyed it, and at the end of that program I had an ebook, which I sold. It's called How to Cut in Store Crown Molding. I sold that book for $27 successfully at a loss on Google AdWords. Successfully at a loss. I love it. But that really gave me this great foundation into this crazy world of Internet marketing. I learned my keyword research and how to run AdWords, how to build a website. I wrote my first long form sales letter. That fizzled up, and then between 2008 and like 2011 I went down so many strange rabbit holes in this making money online, teaching people how to make money online. Echo chamber, I call it. It just never felt right with me.

Brian: Obviously, I'm doing what I need to do during all this time of learning this other kind of stuff to make my money in my remodeling business but then at 2011 I got my first exposure to backend marketing as they call it in marketing automation and really dove in and enjoyed this. This was my first shot at doing some consulting. That really didn't go anywhere but I learned a lot of stuff, and then in 2013 I started a blog called Replacement Windows Advisor, which is still producing me some passive income today. It's the only thing I've ever created which actually produces passive income where it is just sitting there and I get a check from Google every month and I did some CPR offers which when people request window coats off that blog I get a little cut.

Dean: Right, got it.

Brian: So then I started another thing. Like 2015, I got the idea to start a thing called Thank You Department inspired by a Gary V. speech, the one I ever heard where he talked about a Thank You Department. I built this kind of minimum viable product and I got a client paying me $47 a month for this thing I called a Thank You Department. That really didn't go anywhere but I got it built up and I built the thing myself; the website, the tools, and whatnot. 2016 comes and I'm still trying to figure out how to escape this gravitational pull from my remodeling business really because I don't have much passion anymore for the daring unit portion of that business. A friend of mine says to, "Brian, you are the asset."

Brian: At that point, I didn't really understand what he meant, to be honest. I just kept having these ideas, building them up, and then failing them out. I would build this thing up and then it would fail. It's taking me a while to believe this, and I do believe that now I have this unique skillset. Kind of like I have all this knowledge that I've acquired, every modeling, working with clients, creating solid agreements, making sure everything is in writing, generating leads, selling, and I also know how to build websites. I know how to do copyrighting, I know how to run PPC, I know how to dig into advanced CRMs like Intrepid and Fusion and learnt all this email mastery stuff from you.

Brian: I'm taking Dan Sullivan's advice here and I'm saying, "This is like game one, and I like to discuss game two as he calls it. Kinda moving to the next step.

Dean: Right. Right.

Brian: I sent you some of the emails that explain what I started in late 2015. Until mid 2017 before I stopped on what I had sent you. I got up to a point. I was currently in a circle group at that point, and that was the generous for that idea of remodeling entrepreneur. I wrote that book. It's in a very current style, I would say. In 2017, I had the idea for a product and service called Lead Primer. I had the idea of creating something called Lead Primer, which is essentially like direct response marketing for a longer sales cycle which remodelers have, right?

Dean: Yes, right.

Brian: Then I got into your world in early 2017 where I just heard Frank mention your More Cheese Less Whiskers podcast and that was when I was working on that book and that was the first time I heard that stat you talked about from the handling services, that you talked about.

Dean: Yeah, right. Yeah.

Brian: And someone looking to be a direct response consultant, I about fell out of my chair when I heard that stat. I was like, "Wow, this is a great stat." So I talked about that a lot.

Dean: Yeah, this in case people are listening for the first time, the stat, it drives everything. What I found was that they're really reliable research on anybody who inquires about anything will buy what it is they've inquired about within 18 months. Half of the people will do that. Just over half, and that was a game changer for me. Just that mindset, knowing that. What was really interesting is that it's not that they'll buy from you but in the category, they buy what it is they inquired about. Like if we're talking about remodels, if somebody inquires about doing a remodel, that there is a 50% chance, and I take it and do it more conservatively so I expand it to two years and reduce it to 50%. I think that's been the guiding thought that I have that 50% chance that they're going to do something in the next two years.

Dean: That changes the whole economics of everything because what they found in the study was that only 15% of them do it in the first 90 days, which is what most people consider 90 days to be their long term followup but that's just getting started.

Brian: That's right.

Dean: That changes everything when you have that kind of come from. That you know that. That you know that it's not saying that they're going to buy from you but if somebody inquires about faucets, there's a good chance that in two years they're going to have bought faucets, whether they bought them from you or bought them from somebody else. That is really what we start with as a guiding philosophy there. Your idea is to say, "Take that belief or that knowledge and really help remodelers nurture that lead for a long term." Is that what you're saying?

Brian: Yeah, that's what I'm saying because there is a whole underling culture like in every industry about lead generation and how leads suck and leads are no good and whatnot. When you've got services like a home advisor and there's a million of these knock-up services that sell you a lead. I understood that paying point and I was trying to educate people as to. Because in remodeling there is no Kelley Blue Book on what it cost to remodel a kitchen or a bathroom. When you advertise online you end up-

Dean: But people would love it if there was.

Brian: ... with a lot of noise. You put a website up and you put your form and request a free estimate and consultation, you go to 30 places and you have the same exact conversation of, "I wonder what we could do here and I wonder how much it costs."

Dean: Yes, exactly.

Brian: That's what I would include in my book and along with some other concepts I had. Oh, right, why are we here? That was where I was at. Just in my kind of creation of the Lead Primer service, what I was listening to a More Cheese episode where you were talking with the boat marketing consultant. I just remembered that one in this boat-

Dean: Uh-huh (affirmative), I do.

Brian: ... program. And this was the first time I heard you say, "What would you do if you just got out of the way and let you do what you do?" That's what I did. That's what I created there. That was that thing that I sent you for bathroom remodeling. I ended up modeling your money making website for bathroom remodeling, and I just did that myself. I run the ads, I generated the lead. I used conventional, what do you say? Conversational?

Dean: Conversational conversion.

Brian: Yes, and I generated an appointment for him. That's the result I'm trying to provide with my Lead Primer service is generating appointments or something very similar and maybe even I had ... I wouldn't do this exactly but you have GoGo Agent and we work something with a GoGo remodeler type offer where systems are run for people and that stair step 'em up to higher level things. That's where I'm at and that's what I want to talk to you about is maybe creating this remodeler entrepreneur thing as a way to talk with people and get them into my offers. I'm confident I can produce leads and appointments. I know that if I had remodeling, he'd say, "Brian, I want $50,000 to $100,000 bathroom remodels in Malibu California." I could go get those appointments.

Dean: But what if he had a remodeler and you wanted $30,000 to $50,000 kitchen remodels in Connecticut?

Brian: Right. I could do that too.

Dean: Right. It's really interesting. This is, you're an idea guy, that's really ... In listening to you describe your path and knowing what I know about you and the interactions that we have had, that your joy, your thing, is making it up, cracking the code and making it real once. That it's like the thing that is most attractive to you is seeing this knowledge that you have, seeing these opportunities could be, figuring it out so that it works once, but then what I don't see is a pattern of taking that one thing and optimizing that one thing. You almost get to the point where you'd get something just enough to prove that it works perhaps some likes to it but then it's like this whole thing. You mentioned Dan Sullivan who's been a big influence on me and his philosophy of the three basic things are make it up, make it real, and make it recur.

Dean: You've got to make it, which is what you love is to see if I take this and this and I could get people to respond then we use this conversational conversion thing and then you smile, satisfied that that worked. Now, your next thing, this has added one layer. And the reason I'm saying all of this, I'm that guy too but I've created organizational leads, the structure to have the whole relay team where I can make something up and make it real but then there's a support team that can take things the rest of the way and make it recur. That's where the stability, the money, the baseline platform comes from.

Brian: Yeah, no, guilty as charged.

Dean: Right.

Brian: I agree 1000% and I actually articulate. I feel almost like a tortured soul.

Dean: Right.

Brian: I have all these idea.

Dean: Yeah.

Brian: I have all these stuff and I'm optimistic. I throw myself at the mercy of the court, so let's figure out the issue.

Dean: Well, right now your thing is that you're like a fire hydro of ideas and your outlet is limited to a garden hose, which is you.

Brian: I'm a bottleneck.

Dean: Right. And the things, all the things that you can do, you talked about you know about SEO, you know about websites, you know about this, you know about that, it's all great but those are all technical skills that any person can learn. There's tens of thousands of people who know the skills that you have. What you want to embrace more than the technical skills is the adaptive skills that you have of your specialized knowledge of the strategic stuff, of being able to make something up, but what would really be the most valuable thing that you could do is to pick one of your businesses that you're running, you have half in one in a business that's paying the bills while you're trying to get another business started while you're also now, your main obsession, like passion, obsession not in a bad way, your main thing is to figure out how you could get this other thing to work.

Dean: All of your valuable-

Brian: Right. No, I get it.

Dean: The mental energy is in trying to figure out what you could do. The world of ideas, and I'm not saying that in a bad way. I'm saying that it's the reality of what it is, and that's what your real passion is, right?

Brian: For sure.

Dean: But what I've learned about that part of your brain is that I have that same thing but where you get that freedom to do it is that you've got to build the foundation of it first. That if you were to just commit to one thing of the different businesses that you have right now, whether it's your remodel business or the real estate business, those two would be the best candidates for you to build this foundation for yourself. How old are you now? 43? 42?

Brian: 41, yeah.

Dean: 41. You look at that and you've spent probably 20 years in that remodel business, half in the remodel business but doing it for other people. Then when you started your own remodel business, you've proven with this project management skills that you're capable of running many, many more projects-

Brian: Sure.

Dean: What you do.

Brian: I just don't have any passion for it.

Dean: Exactly. So there is the thing. You scratch that itch of your passion by you want to play in the new snow. It's this thing. I get that. I'm that, but it's frustrating to do that from the standpoint of not having a baseline vehicle that's paying your bills and doing all of your stuff. That's the kind of thing, and it's great to be able to do that. You want to get to a point whereas you have this life metaphor. Yours was that you want to live like an artist with a $50,000 a month trust fund. That would be the greatest life to have, wouldn't it?

Brian: Yeah, for sure.

Dean: Right. You get to do what inspires you, chase what you want to regardless of the economic viability of it. You're an artist expressing your passion chasing your winds but grounded with the backing of a trust fund that's paying the bills. Is there any chance that your grandparents or last uncle, anybody is going to, in the next 90 days, find out that you have an inheritance that would give you enough money to have a $50,000 a month trust fund?

Brian: No. No, that's not going to happen.

Dean: It's not likely, right?

Brian: Right. Not likely.

Dean: That's okay because it's not going to happen for most people but what would be the next best thing that we could do for you is to create a trust fund that could establish your ability to chasing these winds and do what it is you want to do. The key, the modern trust fund for entrepreneurs, is a self-managing company.

Brian: Right. That makes sense.

Dean: You're trying to establish this idea of creating lead nurturing and lead generation for the remodel business without a prototype of what it could actually look like.

Brian: I see where you're going and I'm liking this. I just want to tell you the block I've been having in that.

Dean: Sure.

Brian: It's the block I've been having in that but the way you're articulating this is making more sense because I haven't been doing it for myself because I haven't wanted to grow a remodeling business.

Dean: Right, but the thing that a remodeling business can be run by other people, right?

Brian: Yeah, Dean, are you're right. 1000% right.

Dean: Is there anybody that you know that has a remodel business that doesn't actually remodeling themselves.

Brian: There's just one. That was actually the company I was a project manager for. He was in sales. He would smash his hand if he picked up a hammer. He started a remodeling business and grew it from a sales standpoint, entrepreneurial standpoint, but there are other examples. There's definitely industry magazines, and you see these guys out there who are getting, and there are plenty of them. I just happen to know one but yes, they are out there. Yes.

Dean: Yeah, and that's the thing that it would go so much farther for you in showing other people how to do this or doing what you do as a service for them. If you had a model to point to, that's your lab, that's your working long term sustainable. What you look at, the reason that we'd talk about Google agent, all the stuff that I have for realtors is grounded in longevity. I can point to and show people five-year case studies with infographic and records that show exactly what happens. That takes a long term view on something. You look at what you've got. Your proof element that you talk about is, "Well, we run this ad and I got a response, and I sent them some emails and we got this guy an appointment."

Brian: Got you.

Dean: "Let's go. Give ma 500 bucks a month." You prove it. Yeah, I did it once. I did it once. Not that I'm doing it every day and we started this five years ago and here's what happened. Here is the long term, I rely on this, and here is what's all involved in it.

Brian: That makes more sense.

Dean: There's never been a better time to be in most types of businesses. I've been doing my Joy of Procrastination podcast with Dan Sullivan, and one of the things that we talked about is this very real migration of our society to what I'm calling CloudLandia that we're all moving to the cloud that every minute of our waking hours, our attention is primarily focused in the cloud online through our ... I know you like to follow Gary V. through the remote control of our life, which is our smartphones. There are certain things that can only happen on the mainland. It's this connection between CloudLandia and the mainland that is going to create really great opportunities for people.

Dean: One of the exhibits, and this is one of the things I would all sit together is I don't know whether you've heard me mention the ghost restaurants. In New York there is a company that runs nine restaurants brands out of one kitchen, and they don't have any dining rooms. They've commissary kitchens. They only exist on Grubhub and Seamless so they only exist on the cloud and they prepare the food in the one kitchen and then it gets delivered in packaging that corresponds with whatever that brand was that they created. When you look at the elements of, let's say, the remodel business, when you look at the elements of that, some portions of it can be run in Cloud Landia.

Brian: Oh, for sure.

Dean: Right?

Brian: Oh, for sure.

Dean: The lead generation, the education, the correspondence, the sales, the conversions. The things that can only-

Brian: Bookkeeping

Dean: Yes, bookkeeping, management, all of that stuff. The things that have to happen on the mainland is the actual project, right?

Brian: Yeah, you can't digitize remodeling in the kitchen.

Dean: You really can't, but you can digitally see what is going to look like.

Brian: And that's one of the great reasons to be a remodeler. You can't. That's not going to-

Dean: You can digitally see it on the web. You can digitally see what is going to look like before. I don't know whether this is a concept anymore but there used to be a company called Four-Day Kitchens. Have you heard about them?

Brian: No, I've heard of Three Day Blinds but not Four Day Kitchens.

Dean: Four Day Kitchens, Michael Gruber used to talk about these guys they worked off a process to make kitchen remodeling a very easy process. Let's just do a quick Google search and see if Four Day Kitchens is till a thing. There's Three Day Kitchen.

Brian: Yeah, I do all custom remodeling. I couldn't even start your project in three days.

Dean: It's really interesting that there's the thing, what they did was they would look at all of the elements from a client perspective. From remodeling their kitchen, what would be the least disruptive. They spend the time doing all of the measuring and doing everything. Then they completely build the cabinets off site. They build everything, so the three- or four-day period is really about just the installation of everything. Having it all happen at once.

Brian: Yeah, sorry go ahead.

Dean: Kind of revolutionary because it was built from that mindset but when you look at it it's like that sort of when you have something that can work in one market, that's when you've got that opportunity to either syndicate, to license it out to other people. Or actually do it. Like when you look at what portion of the business could be run for somebody.

Brian: Yeah, you make a lot of sense there.

Dean: Because just like you really loved to come up with the ideas, you really loved to crack the code. You don't have the passion for doing the work. Do you have the passion for doing the remodels? It doesn't sound like something to say, a carpenter, or you don't need to get your hands on it and actually do it. That's not your passion. Am I right?

Brian: Yeah, no, you're right. No, I've cracked those codes. I've framed houses. I could build a house from my own hand from beginning to end and I take a lot of pride in making sure now overseeing things come out correctly, but I don't have any passion to actually pick up any tools anymore. Like in my own business. I've started saying what would it be like if I could never pick up a tool. That was my starting point.

Dean: Right. That's such a great provocation. And I say that you eliminate things. When I started working on the Getting Listings program for realtors, that was my provocation. I began with the end in mind, what's the best outcome for a real estate agent? It would be that somebody calls them up and says, can you come over and talk to me about selling my house? Which you actually had that very experience twice, right?

Brian: Yeah, exactly.

Dean: But in order to make that a reality, I had to go through the process of, "What would I do to get listings if my phone only accepted incoming calls?" I had to go to work on the system to create that. I'd done that. 12 years ago, I cracked the code on that, and now we have thousands of people who're using the Getting Listings program. They have people calling them when they're ready to sell. The thing about the remodel situation for you there is that you are in need of somebody who all they want to do is do the work. Just like you don't care if you ever pick up the tool, there are other people who said, "Just let me do the work." There are people who would love the remodel business if it wasn't for the people and the paperwork.

Brian: Yes, actually, you're right. I've got those guys. I've already started what you're saying because I started to take on a lot more work, and the only way I could take on more work is I actually had to physically remove myself from doing anything, and I kinda. When I was the project manager, I did not do anything. I just write in the projects when I work there. When I started my business I had to start doing the tools again that filled it up but now I've gotten to a point where basically just from referrals, I'm able to keep myself busy in order to pay my bills but I've intentionally stalled the growth of my business but if I wanted to I very seamlessly could start ramping things up but I have guys who all they want to do is show up and pick up tools every day.

Brian: The part I'm missing is the me, the manager for the projects. I could go and create systems to sell, create leads and all that stuff.  I had the idea of something called Easy Custom Baths. Her easy custom kitchens. This was the project for design build kitchens. Design build is a little different. There's a process and we're basically just outline and make the process. The bottleneck I'm at right now is I need a project manager to run what I'm doing.

Dean: What does it take to find one? If I look at it, the challenge that you're running into is that you're trying to do all of the things at once but you have steady foundation yet that's bringing in revenue. I think that when you look at it that it doesn't sound like that you need to make $50,000 a month to support your life or to keep the wheels on to keep things going.

Brian: Right. Yeah, no, and I'd like to read that but I don't need that right now. I don't know.

Dean: Of course, but the bottom line is what would be really valuable for you is to think through what could happen if you just focused on this to get it to a point where it could get you above the sustenance line. There is the thing that you're spending your time doing the things that entertain you. I say that in that that's the thing that you really have the passion and the interest for but the frustration for you is that you also have to do the things that are going to sustain you. I'm saying you could get to a point where your sustained line is handled. Once your sustain line is handled, whatever it is, whether it is $10,000 a month, $5,000. What would really just give you that freedom number? Now saying that it's a lavish lifestyle or it's what you're really looking for, enough to cover your overhead to allow you so that...

Dean: But if I'm to pick the closest thing to be, it would be to build the system and the business around it, it would be the bathroom model. I like those for several reasons. One is you're not in the kitchen. The thing is when you rip somebody's kitchen out it's pretty dramatic and impactful in their lives.

Brian: Yeah, yeah It's the heart of the house. It's like open-heart surgery.

Dean: I do mostly hiring custom stuff. When you do a hiring custom bathrooms, they've got two bathrooms, so you take the bathroom out, they've got another one they can use. Most of the time they're empty nesters or the kids are older and it's not such an impact. That would be one I would focus on and that would kinda the one that I have had this idea of that would be the one I'd like to build. I wouldn't want to grow a franchise but that would be the one I would want to either create some sort of model around, would be custom bathrooms, not one day bath, not the bath crap, none of that nonsense, custom bathrooms.

Brian: No. Yes, right.

Dean: That's great.

Brian: That would be the one, so if you'd like to talk about that, I'd be willing to unpack that and we can maybe-

Dean: Sure, that we look at it.

Brian: Where are we going.

Dean: What do you want to have happen? Let's just go big picture here for you. What's your aspiration for your life or for your... Where'd you heading towards?

Brian: Yeah, that's like the hardest simple question you could ever ask yourself. Brian, what do you want to do?

Dean: Right.

Brian: It's like the hardest freaking question in the world.

Dean: Well, how would you define success? How would you define success for you?

Brian: As much as I don't like the daring unit of remodeling, I do think it's a very good business. It's not going to be disrupted totally by any kind of technology. I think there's-

Dean: It's impossible to disrupt.

Brian: Right. Exactly. And I do think there are a lot of really good remodelers out there who are very frustrated because of how they build their business. They end up building themselves these hamster wheels. I did it to myself. When I started my business I felt this hamster wheel and I burnt myself out. It's just very frustration, so if I thought big picture, and that's when I came up with that remodeling entrepreneurial idea, it would be really cool if I could get ... You're right. Like build an example and then go around and help other guys get to that example to get them out of the pain that they're in. That would be amazing. It's not so much about money to me. More of it is about I would really like to have an impact and have a remodeler who's been...

Brian: Because my father went down the same road too but for me, you go down this road and you get yourself in a lot of pain and you don't know how to get out of it in remodeling. Does that make sense?

Dean: Right. Yeah, and I think that-

Brian: The big picture to me would be to build something that I could point to as, "This is my business running," and I could say that would give me a foundation to have something like a remodeling entrepreneur and I could point to and say, "I am one," and have a scorecard and say, "This is how you can get there," and then set up something to where it would be beneficial to the guy who's just starting out, all the way up to the guy who is very, very advanced. I wouldn't want to just go and say, "Oh, no, I don't work with anyone who's just starting out. I only work with high end clients or something like that. That would be where I think I'd like to go.

Dean: Right, but part of the thing is that there are two paths. You can either show somebody how to do what you did. How you build what you build for them or you could be "the who" for them that allows them to do what they want to do to your ... Your company had it from the position of your model, your lens, your paradigm of the contractor or the remodeler is that they all want to get out of the remodeling, in a way. When you think about a remodeler, your goal is to show them how to get out of the remodeling to build what you built in your mind here.

Brian: Yeah, and I will-

Dean: I will say that there's probably a whole 'other model of remodeler who wants you to help them be in the remodel business to do all the other stuff so that they can be just do the remodeling.

Brian: No, I agree 1000%. I definitely look at that. I would want to help. I look at it like I would definitely want to help the guy who just wants to be his own boss, create a little better systems for himself to not have so much stress because there's actually more of 'em who just want to be their own boss rather than ones who want to actually build a big business that runs on its own. Yeah, no, I would definitely want to help. That's what I meant. I would want to be able to help the guys who identify just kind of the things they'd like to do and release some of those stresses and just really more help the guy who just wants to be his own boss plus a little bit more type of thing. That makes sense?

Dean: Yeah. I think what would really be helpful for you is to really get clear on how you're going to define success for you. That's got to be job one, let's say. One of the most valuable things that I ever did was go through this process of figuring out how to answer the question, "I know I'm being successful when ..." I don't know, have you ever heard anybody talk about that?

Brian: Yeah, actually I've gone through that exercise before. I have somewhere in an old notebook. I could go back and find that. I did. I heard you talk about that in the Tony Robbins interview.

Dean: Right. I'll tell you the life-changing thing of that is that that gets you crystal clear. The whole thing about knowing what it's going to look like before you know when you get there is that it keeps success then from being this perpetual aspirational words, perpetually often the distant, and allows you to recognize when it's right there in front of you. I had 10 ways to answer that statement. To finish that, "I know I'm being successful when ..." Of the 10, my top three have been the guiding things of everything that I do. I know I'm being successful when I can wake up every day and say, "What would I like to do today?"

Brian: Yeah, I like that one.

Dean: Time with freedom is a big thing for me. That's an important thing, but then what makes that work is that I know I'm being successful when my passive revenue, recurring revenue, secure revenue, on-going revenue, whatever that thing is, exceeds my lifestyle needs. You could only experience that, I wake up every day and say, "What would I like to do today?" It's supported by a vehicle that allows the answer to that to not be, "I've got to go earn money to pay the mortgage next month."

Brian: Yeah, for sure. I'm thinking now of doing that exercise now maybe with the contact stuffs. "Let's go build this thing," and what is that thing going to look like? I think that's what you're saying.

Dean: Well, what is the thing going to support. What you want to do is the thing you're building in alignment with the outcome that you're really looking to design? I'm not saying right or wrong for anybody. What I'm saying is that my definition of success is I know I'm being successful when I can wake up every day and say, "What would I like to do today?" I like freedom. I'm freedom, but for other people, they might say, "My definitely of success is I know I'm being successful when I walk into my office four days a week and I have appointments lined up back to back to back and I know exactly what I'm doing at any given moment." That might be somebody's definitely of success. There's no right or wrong.

Brian: I feel like my personality is similar to yours, and I feel like being an idea guy, I would like to wake up every day and figure out what I'd want to do.

Dean: Of course.

Brian: I very much will be able to have a passive income. Like you said, I need to build that trust fund in order so I can go and do the things that I'd want to do, which would be creating these other systems to be a who or to do some consulting and that sort of stuff.

Dean: Trust fund is a placeholder word metaphor-

Brian: Yeah, I know.

Dean: ... for secure income that your needs are being met. You're not feeling the pressure of having to go and do it because often what will happen if you don't secure that in a recurring way, is that you get a remodel job, you do that, you feel a little bit flushed because you'll have enough money to give yourself some breathing room but then you take that breathing room to go and chase the winds rather than secure the next one. Now when the breathing room runs out then you have to go out and get another remodel job. It's just like taking big breaths from the oxygen tank, but not securing an oxygen pump.

Brian: Have you been spying on me? How did you know that? I'm just saying that that's exactly what I do because it's profitable.

Dean: I get it.

Brian: That's basically what I do. I have no problem generating work.

Dean: The game now is how can you generate the work and have the project ... Your real thing that you should be waking is to how can you remove yourself from the entire process of it? The great thing is that your brain, because you have an idea brain, your idea brain doesn't care what it's working on. It loves to be engaged solving problems, coming up with creative solutions.

Brian: I'm a problem solver.

Dean: You just need to direct its attention on that one thing.

Brian: You're making sense here because-

Dean: It's a short term thing. You're 41 years old, let's say, and I'm going to exaggerate on this business let's say that you spend the next four years of your life just doing head down that one thing. You could build a remodeled empire in four years.

Brian: Those are your-

Dean: And be 45 years old.

Brian: Yep, no, you're right. You're right. I just came up with this metaphor about a week or two ago. It's like you're so right, it's like you need your oxygen tank and it's almost impossible to change what you're doing when you get to this age for the income that you need, you can't escape the gravitational pull of that income so it's almost like you're-

Dean: You're snuffling right now. It's what you're doing.

Brian: ... part of the science program in the '60s where you keep trying to launch these rockets and they keep trying to launch these rockets and they keep smashing into the ground. You can't escape the gravity of it. It's almost like ... If that makes sense. So what you're saying-

Dean: You're snuffling right now, you know? You're fascinated by the coral reef and you just want to be underwater floating and looking at all the fish and the coral, and so you got to the surface and you take a deep breath and then you come down and you're fascinated down here but then you've got to go back on top and if you've got a scuba tank that can allow you to sustain down there longer that's even great but the best thing is to have one of those things that's attached to the boat that has the oxygen pump that is never going to run out.

Brian: Focus, yeah. I like it.

Dean: Because you're going to feel so great about that. If you surround yourself with the rest of the relay team, meaning you're good at the first leg and the second leg, but then you need people who they just want to run the middle portions here and bring it home. If you build yourself around straight opportunities for people who all they want to do is just remodel, because what it created for you, you've already been in that role. As a project manager, you were running a lot of jobs but you weren't even have to go out and find them sounds like. You weren't telling them and you were just managing the work that was already solved.

Brian: Right. Success for me in that business would be I would want to set something up where I didn't even have to show up in the office for that business to run. It would be self-sustaining. The systems would be set up, there would be sales, there would be managers, and kind of figuring out how can we do that in the most ghost kitchen style would probably be beneficial because then once I figure that out for myself I could then be "the who's" for other people. I think that's what you're saying there.

Dean: That's exactly right. That's exactly right. That's all we're saying. You're building the prototype, and you're creating the systems with an eye to being able to do them for other people.

Brian: That's what Dan Sullivan means when he says "game changer".

Dean: Yeah.

Brian: Building those things so then your competition becomes your-

Dean: Yes, then you can collaborate and not compete.

Brian: That may be a little different than I was thinking.

Dean: No, but I mean the whole thing. You look at the components of it, what it takes to build that one jewel, the model.

Brian: Right.

Dean: I think focusing your attention on building and cracking all the codes, solving all the problems for that. Your brain is going to solve whatever problems you present it.

Brian: That's for sure.

Dean: You just need the management, your conscious management to direct your brain to work on these problems.

Brian: Yeah, I know. That's great because I definitely have that belief for myself and that any challenges presented in me I can figure out a solution. I'm a problem solver. I enjoy solving problems.

Dean: Me too.

Brian: All right. Then I think I'm going to focus on the bathrooms then.

Dean: Custom bathroom king of Connecticut.

Brian: Yeah. Do you think Easy Custom Baths is a decent title? I don't know if I like that because I don't know if I like the word "easy" with "custom".

Dean: Counter. Yes, counter.

Brian: Right. It doesn't sit right.

Dean: Amazing Custom Baths. What's the future of the bathroom? If somebody is really like, "What's the future of the bathroom when you look at all these things, what are they that you can align with a bathroom?" When you're thinking about a bathroom that helps you live longer, longevity bathrooms where ... I think now this would be another thing where we could do a whole other episode on just the future of the bathroom. That's where you start thinking about it. You've narrowed your focus to the bathroom. What kind of things, what are the new technologies that are...?

Dean: How is the bathroom going to change with AI and with virtual reality or augmented reality and who's doing these things? Are there going to be new...? The things that scales and Craig Venter talked about? Toilet that will do all of your analysis every day and monitor things that are happening like what's possible in the bathroom. How can a bathroom change somebody's life? You think about that if you really get into the bathroom. It's not going away. And the opportunities-

Brian: Yeah, I think-

Dean: ... that we're going to have to make your bathroom really epic center.

Brian: Yeah, I think the future right now, the biggest kind of breakthrough that I think it happened in bathroom remodeling would be almost where you could get as close to point and buy. For custom, you could have maybe 10 or 15 custom bath options, and that would get you as close to saying you could point and that's what it would cost, and then you would purchase it and then it would take a lot of the stress out of ... Remodeling is very stressful for people because they don't realize how many decisions they need to make. That's where I was going with the Easy Custom Baths, and when I say "easy" I mean easy for the consumer, not easy to actually remodel a bathroom.

Dean: That could be your guiding thing. That could be your internal time to make it easy for people but that doesn't have to be the-

Brian: The word. No, I don't like it. I don't like it either business I think you're right. That should be the guiding thing. How could I make it easy for them? The dream come true for them? Yeah, it's good name.

Dean: What would be dream-come-true bathrooms?

Brian: Perfect.

Dean: You look at it.

Brian: Right. Well, I'm glad I got some clarity. I need that.

Dean: When you think about that now, don't you feel like if you just are aware of how you feel right now, if you just think about all the sort of stuff strips away and you're focused on the bathroom and that is the thing, it just feels so relaxing, doesn't it? Does it feel like you're focused and you've got some action planned?

Brian: Yeah, for sure. Yep, it feels like there's time to do it and I feel like there's time to do all the other things that could come as a result of getting it to the point where I'm not involved in it. That's the real kind of reason. It feels like I did focus on it and the other stuff just drift away knowing that there's time to get on the other side of it. It probably wouldn't even take me four years. I could probably get something going sooner, I think.

Dean: Right, but imagine if you had that as a framework, that you had down.

Brian: Yeah, well, it doesn't necessarily have to end. It's a journey, so even if I remove myself from the business it doesn't mean I want to keep progressing in it for the consumer.

Dean: That's it.

Brian: That's great.

Dean: Tell me, what's your action plan here? What do you think? The biggest takeaway?

Brian: Well, I think I need to figure out that next step in how to get ... First, I've got to go and start generating some more... I've been doing everything referral-based and if I'm going to get something that's going to be sustainable without me in it, I need to have a way to point to an area, get that project going and start generating leads and then ultimately remove myself, I think, first from the sales process as much as I could possibly or the project management side. We'll have to see where that goes but I think I need to start generating leads and doing the email mastery stuff for myself for the bathrooms and start focusing on various-

Dean: The question has to start with what's the dream come true for my ideal client?

Brian: And then figure out the systems to remove myself from that, and then figure out ... I think that's it. Just do it all with the intention on building it in a way that it could be scalable without me hiring a bunch of people.

Dean: I like what I'm hearing.

Brian: Well, I'll keep you up to date.

Dean: Have fun. I'm sure you will. Absolutely. That was awesome. Thanks so much, Brian.

Brian: Thank you, Dean.

Dean: And there we have it. I think that if you are listening to this and that really resonated with you that you're in a situation where you feel like you just can't get yourself to focus on the thing that you don't like because you really like to pursue the thing that you do like but you have to still pursue the thing you don't like because you need it to pay the bills, I think you get the sense that this is really resonant with you. Sometimes the very best thing you can do is to really have a great foundational system, a systematic way of getting your financial leads met as you transition into something new, or before you start teaching other people how to do something to use your own business as the prototype, as the model for it. You can transcend from to first of all get yourself in a situation where you have created the dream business for you so that you can show other people how to do it or provide it as a service.

Dean: I think that's a really great thing. That's what the profit activators can set as a guideline for you. The first thing is to see where you stack up with the profit activators in your business. I would recommend you go to profitactivatorscore.com. Try our profit activator score card. It's free online. You can go answer the questions and it will give you a really great summary view of where your opportunities are, where your strengths are, where the profit activator is either slowing or growing your business right now, and that will be a good foundation for what you can sure up in your own business.

Dean: If you'd like to be a guest on our show, go to MoreCheeseLessWhiskers.com. You can download a copy of the More Cheese Less Whiskers book and if you click on the "be a guest" link, that will take you to a place where you can tell me a little bit about your business and maybe we can have you as a guest on this show to focus on building some plans for your business. That's it for this week. Tune in next time. Have a great week.