No business is able to truly grow and expand with only one person keeping the ship running because there’s just too much to do for only one person to handle. If you really want your business to thrive in expansion, creating a team is absolutely essential—and as a business owner, this is what you have to be on top of, down to the tiniest detail. Gary Coxe is a business and life strategist, as well as the author of the book, Don’t Let Others Rent Space In Your Head. Joining Nathan Hirsch, Gary dives into his experience of starting a business and how outsourcing support helped his business flourish. If you’re still not convinced that you should focus on building a team over trying to shoulder everything on your own, maybe Gary can change your mind.
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My guest is Gary Coxe. Gary, how are you doing?
I’m doing well, Nathan. Thanks for having me on. I’m looking forward to this.
For those of you who don’t know, Gary is a business and life strategist. He has appeared for years on Dr. Phil’s show, The Doctors, and has authored books such as Don’t Let Others Rent Space in Your Head. He’s well-known in the space. He also flies a plane around the US taking different entrepreneurs on different adventures that we’ll talk about. First, let’s take a gigantic step back. What were you like growing up as a kid? Were you a straight-A student? Were you a rebel? Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I started my first business at eleven and my second at fifteen. Shortly after that, I was doing $100,000 a year. I was meant to be an entrepreneur. I was a straight-A student early in my schooling until I met these amazing creatures called women. My grades died badly in high school. I got my first D. Teachers are telling me when I got the D that I amount to nothing. I barely didn’t even finish school. I went to my high school principal one day and I said, “I hate school and here’s my deal. I’m in eleventh grade and I want to show up in school for my senior year. I’m going to do my own business.”
In my junior year, I was in the jewelry business. That’s how I made this money. I remember one day being in the bathroom stall, I’ll never forget it, I counted $400 cash. This was decades ago. I’m thinking, “I’ve got $400 cash and I’m going to waste my time going to school?” I said, “Here’s the deal. I’m going to quit school or you can give a diploma, but for my senior year, I don’t want to show up. I want to get graded for it. I’ll have to grade myself because I won’t have a supervisor.” He said, “Yeah.” I never showed up for my senior year. I got my diploma and that’s how I began my career.
What was your first real entrepreneurial endeavor and how did that go?
I started making small jewelry pieces from black coral. That was a small entrepreneur deal. I was only eleven years old. I didn’t know a lot about business, but I remember having my little journal writing down my cost. I also remember before that I used to sell yo-yo string. Yo-yo was big in my day. I would buy the bulk yo-yo string. I would cut it up and I’d sell it for $0.10 a piece. I’ve always been doing this. I started getting more serious in the jewelry industry. That’s what I was starting to make some good money.
When you were doing that, was it just you or did you hire other people to help you?
I have always hired people to help me. I have had an assistant since I was 17, 18 years old. You can’t do this on a broader thing when you’re alone. It’s a hobby if you are. If you’re serious about being serious, you cannot do this alone. You have to create a team. That’s one of the major parts of success. I’ve even at the point where in my worst times taken my credit cards and I would cash advance to hire an assistant. This was years ago. I cash advanced over $100,000 worth of credit cards to keep the game going. I’m serious about it. Part of that goes to hire an assistant.
Did someone teach you that? I feel like a lot of entrepreneurs do the opposite. They’re scared to hire. They want to do everything themselves. They don’t want to take those chances on people. Was that something you knew you had to do? Did someone tell you to do that?
No one told me that. To me, it was common sense. Common sense told me that if I’m only going to put in 8 or 15 hours a day or whatever, I can only do fifteen hours and fifteen hours. How do I get more out of myself? I duplicate myself. When I was in the jewelry business, I trained people. I taught them how to become jewelers and some of them have their own stores to this day. I always did that. I had an assistant. I had jewelers, the whole nine yards.
Talk to me about your virtual team. What does that look like? How did you find them? Are they US, non-US? Do you have a different structure?
I have everything. I have US, non-US, it depends on what’s needed. We have people who do some of our ad copy and our marketing, our online ads, that’s all virtual as well. Here’s where people screw up in hiring, Nathan. They wait too long. It’s like saying one day, “I’m going to get married this weekend. Let me go and find somebody.” That’s stupid. What do you do? You start dating and you don’t date one person typically. You’ll date several people to find out what it is that excites you. What is it that you like? I tell people, “If you’re six months out to hiring somebody, you need to start interviewing now. If you do it right, you’re going to have several dates with that person and then you’re going to find the right person. If you wait until you’re running around like a chicken without your head, you’re going to end up hiring the wrong person.” It’s like getting into a bad relationship. It’s bad, but you can’t get out of it because you’re stuck in it. That’s the worst thing to do not only in your personal life, but also in running a company because you’re screwed that way.
What’s one of the biggest hiring mistakes that you’ve made?
The biggest hiring mistake I’ve made is hiring too fast. You hear people say, “Hire slow, fire fast.” I fire slow sometimes, that’s a whole other subject. The biggest mistake is probably hiring too fast and also hiring somebody now and letting them know this is permanent. What I’ve learned too is I’ll take maybe 2 or 3 people. I’ll bring each one and I’ll say, “I’ll bring you on for a week only,” or “I’ll bring you on for a day, or I’ll give you five tasks.” I’d rather give people tasks. Sometimes I give three people the same tasks and see which one does it better. Also, I let this person know, “You’re not the only one I’m doing this with.” I’m looking for a couple of people. I’m sharing this with three more people. Whoever I feel fits for us, that’s what we’re going to do. That to me has been definitely one of the wisest things to do.
You and I have done a few different things together and you’ll pass me over to your VA who’s covered in your Facebook messages. I know talking to other clients, they’re scared to do that. They’re scared to give them that personal information. Talk about building trust with that VA, what other things do you have them do?
Think about any bank that you put your money in. That bank doesn’t have just one teller and one owner. It has thousands and thousands of contractors. When I was in the jewelry business, the jewelry stores, every jewelry store had to figure out some way to trust somebody with millions of dollars’ worth of jewelry. Have I been screwed before? Have I had somebody locked me out of my own stuff? It’s going to happen. What’s more important is for you to play small constantly, be safe, and always wearing yourself out because you’re always complaining there are not enough hours in a day. I never complained that there are never enough hours in the day because I buy time. There are hoops that you go through that you find out how trustworthy your person is. It may be, “I want seven references,” and if they’re slow to giving me their references, that’s probably not a good sign. If they’re quick to giving me references with phone numbers, I’m going to call those people and find out they’re not all their aunts and uncles. You’ve got to do due diligence. It’s your business.
Besides references, what do you look for when you’re hiring someone?
This is not necessarily our rule of thumb every time, but some things I look for are, are they a family man, family woman? Do they have kids? Are they single? Are they always partying? I also make sure I look at their Facebook. What are they doing? What’s their personality like? What are they posting? These are important things to find out. With your organization, am I protected somehow if I get screwed? Those are things if I’m going to go through something like that or if I’m going to find somebody individually. A couple of things I do too is I don’t waste time interviewing people. I make sure they send me an audio or a video. I give them specific instructions such as send me audio. If I’m hiring somebody to do sales and I’m giving them a script, I say, “Do me a favor and send me an audio why you think you’d be good at this?”
If they send a response by saying, “Can we just get on Zoom?” No, because I have 5,000 of you reaching out to me. I don’t have time to waste and spend 5,000 times on Zoom to find out that half the people or 90% of them suck. Number one, are they going to follow instructions? If they follow instructions, that’s a star. They’re sending me an audio. If they sound like Mickey Mouse on the audio, they’re probably not going to get hired. It’s going to save me the time from setting up my time disengaging and engaging and all that crap.
You coach a lot of people. What mistakes do you see them making when it comes to hiring?
They have family and friends, which is one of the worst things that you can do. I tell any family and friend that I hire as long as you’re cool with me firing you because my business is very important. I rarely would ever hire somebody that’s a friend and put them in sales because if they don’t make their numbers, it’s nice that you’re my friend. Numbers don’t lie and you have bills. I have bills. We have goals. If you can’t make your numbers, you’re not going to stay here. That’s a big thing. People hire people because they trust their family members. The family member doesn’t have any skills. They’ve got somebody they trust, but with no skills.
I look for people who do checklists. My favorite words are, “Done. What’s next?” I don’t want to have to repeat myself. What a lot of people do is if you are a micromanager, you will hire people that are okay being micromanaged. You want to hire somebody that when you tell them something, they go, “I got it. Go away, Nathan.” That person is telling me they don’t need to be micromanaged. They can go ahead and take the bull by the horns and run the show. That’s what you’re looking for. If you would have to be up at 2:00 in the morning wondering if somebody you hired is getting that job done or did they do that job? When you meet with them at 8:00, you find that they didn’t do that job, now they’re not adding value. What happens is my brain needs to be all strictly on the things that I feel that I’m the best at and it is not to be having stuff in my head and worrying about ten people that they’re doing their job. If that’s happening, we’ve got the wrong people.
Let’s move away from hiring. You coach a lot of people. What other mistakes do you see or what is the normal thing that you’re helping people get over?
There are a lot of things. One is streamlining their life, which is some of the things that we’re talking about. A lot of people think too small. I do. They have a mentality also. If you want it done right, do it yourself. That’s an entrepreneur mentality. That’s a belief that will ruin you in financial success and growth. If you want it done right, do it yourself. You will never grow because you want everything perfect. You have also to learn to let go. If you’re going to scale, you need two things. You need money and people. If you’re going to scale, you’ve got to have the money or borrow the money. Here are my credit cards from twenty years ago, whatever. I’ll borrow the money. I’ll do whatever it takes.
You’ve got to have money and people. You have to learn how to manage money and you have to learn how to manage people. Those are the two things that you’re going to need to scale. You have to learn to let go. I see companies that I take with me on my luxury day trips in the Bahamas with my jet. I see people who are successful millionaires and they could do so much more, but they’re not willing to let go. When you learn to let go, knowing that when you let go, people are going to screw up, you’ll get to grow. If you don’t let go, you’ll be doing so much micromanaging or even managing. It’s going to prevent your success.
Can you tell people more about the trips that you offer?
I have these awesome trips that I offer where people come and spend an entire day with me. They meet me in Central Florida. As you alluded to, I’m a pilot. I’m an aviation fan. I put everybody in my jet. I fly them to the Bahamas. We’ve been sponsored for many years by Sandals Resorts, Nathan, as you know. They take care of us. When we get there, we have breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s one full day of luxury learning. This gives people the opportunity. We limit it to only about 7 or 8 people. You’ve got an entire full day. We get back late that night to pick my brain and let me customize any challenges that a person is going through in their company. What can we do to help them break through any crap they’re going through and take their business to a legitimately structural level where they’re making more money and having more freedom?
I was doing some copy telling something in my team, “Is my success stealing my success?” What happens is a lot of people become successful financially, but behind the scenes, they need something to go to bed. They need something to wake them up there. They’re not successful, only in their business and their life screwed up. Things have to be moved around like a chess game to have all of that success where you have the financial success but your family is intact. You’re fulfilled and having a lot of fun life.
Let’s say someone is reading this. They’re making a good amount of money, but they don’t have that balance. They’re not supported on the lifestyle side. Are there any tips that you’d have them to help point them in the right direction?
First of all, why? For the men and also women, but more so for men but women as well, we like to put our heads in the business because it’s something we feel that we can control. It’s something that we know. Whereas on our personal life, we can’t, “I’m going to fire my kid for being bad or I’m going to fire my wife for not doing whatever we were going to do.” What happens is if we’re aware of this as part of the tendency that we have, we’ve got to figure out, “What is it about the personal life and the other things that we’re not willing to engage in more? If we can start dealing with that, then we don’t start going 100% in the business and only 40% or 59% in our personal life. Even though we have that outward success internally, we are not happy. That’s probably where I would begin with a person like that.
Any other last tips or advice you can share with the audience?
Watch what you say to yourself. I tell people it’s all story. We believe too much on our own crap and stop and think about who influences you the most. You influence you the most because you are around you the most. You have to be careful of the stuff that’s going on in your head. I did a seminar presentation and I reprogrammed somebody that had a belief their entire life. We buy into too much stuff because that’s what we’re told especially nowadays where everybody and their mother are a speaker and a guru or an expert. You’ve got to be careful what you’re listening to. Find somebody who’s been through more than you’ve been through and has attained the level of success if you’re looking for a mentor or a guide. It’s important to have that. I have mentors. I have people that spend time with me and help me get to my next level. It’s something that we all need. We can’t do by ourselves. No man is an island.
Where can people find out more about you? What are you most excited about going forward?
They can go to my website. It’s GaryCoxe.com. All social media, my handle is @GaryCoxe on Instagram and so forth. On Facebook, it’s @GaryCoxe.Success. I’m most excited about keeping the ball going. I enjoy creating things. I enjoy helping people. I love seeing people take strategies that we’ve put together for them and watch them get the results from it. That’s extremely rewarding. Anything to keep out there and to doing more for myself, my team, and other people in their team.
I appreciate you coming on and we’ll be in touch.
Thank you, Nathan. Keep up the good work.
Business and Life Strategist Gary Coxe, has appeared for years on Dr. Phil’s show The Doctors and has authored books such as Don’t Let Others Rent Space In Your Head.
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