13 Dec The Entrepreneur’s Journey
For more than 20 years, David Mammano has been a serial entrepreneur. Having started seven businesses from scratch, he thrives on starting and growing businesses.
Today he thrives on helping others start or grow their businesses by infusing the latest entrepreneurial principles into their strategy.
Relevant experiences include being a three-time Inc. Magazine 5000 Growth Company, the host of The Avanti Entrepreneur podcast, a TEDx speaker, a Forbes.com contributing writer, an adjunct professor at the University of Rochester, and the author of business and college planning books.
David has started, sold, franchised, licensed, and taken on partners as well as investors with his companies. He’s done it all, and now Dave is ready to help others start or grow their companies.
David graduated from the University at Buffalo with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications/Advertising. He is also a graduate of the MIT Entrepreneurial Masters Program, an executive education program offered through the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO).
David’s community activities include being a local board member for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a local board member for Junior Achievement, and starting his local EO Chapter.
In 2004, David published his first book, 101 Things You Can Do To Become an Outstanding Young Adult. His second book, Make Love in the Workplace, a guide to awesome culture in the office, was published in 2014.
David is a prolific speaker — speaking at hundreds of business and education events.
David is most proud of his family in Victor, NY, including three young children, Gianluca, Melania, and Alessio. His hobbies include family activities, reading, cooking, eating, exercise and repeated attempts at humor.
Dave, I do not want to beat up the names of your children. I'm going to go with Melania, Alessio, and Gianluca, and you can tell me if I did that right.
Well, you got Melania right, and we named her before we knew about Melania Trump. People are like, “Oh, did you name her after the First Lady?” I'm like, “No, no. She's 12, almost 13.” You got Melania right, and then we got Gianluca, that's G-I-A-N-L-U-C-A, and Alessio.
Really cool names. Really cool names.
Yeah, very Irish. We're really holding on to our Irish roots.
I love it. I love it. Well, Dave, welcome to the show. I appreciate you spending some time today with us.
Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it, and I'm honored that you're having me on the show.
More on Dave’s Background
Yeah, we've got some really cool things to talk about, guys. What I'd like Dave to do, is just, Dave, start by taking us behind the green curtain, if you will, and just give us some context to the listeners the when, how, and why you got started so that they have an understanding of what it is that you do.
Yeah, absolutely. I was one of those guys that, looking back, I think I was destined to be an entrepreneur. It's funny. I went to UB. I actually majored in the beginning in pre-dentistry, which was stupid for me to do, not that there's anything wrong with being a dentist. It just was not my calling, but I want to be a dentist because I saw my mother's cousin, who was our dentist. He was very wealthy, red Porsche, big house. Of course, as a 14-year-old kid, I said, “I'm going to be a dentist,” right? That was dumb.
Now that I look back, I was that kid that had the lemonade stand. I shoveled driveways. I cut lawns. I paved driveways, washed cars. I had the paper routes, all that stuff, right? Looking back, geez, I probably was destined to be an entrepreneur, went into college, ended up running the college newspaper, loved it, loved it. I love selling ads, really. Then after college, I ended up working for a radio station and sold ads and hated it. I just didn't like the whole radio ads sales business.
Then after three years, I decided, you know what? I'm going to start my own company. Like a lot of entrepreneurs, it just came upon me that I was meant to be an entrepreneur. I like my boss. He was a nice guy, but I hated having a boss. Then I said, “All right, I just got to put my stake in the ground. I got to start my own business. What's that going to be?” I didn't know what I was going to do yet, but I decided I was going to be an entrepreneur, so a little reverse, right?
While I was still at my job, I started just thinking about what do I like doing anyway and how can that translate into profits? I ran the college newspaper at the University of Buffalo, love selling ads, love writing, and then I realized a lot of my friends had left college and they didn't know what they're going to do with life after college. I thought, “What a shame, there are so many kids in high school that are going to college and they don't know what to study yet. They're just going because they're supposed to go.”
Then I thought, “Let me take my ad experience, my print experience and start a magazine for high school students.” In '95 I launched a magazine called Next Step Magazine. That was my first official business. I launched Next Step Magazine, and the whole mission was to help high school students with college planning and career planning and life skills. I'm in Rochester, New York, and we printed 10,000 copies and gave them free to the schools. I hopped in my car, and just drove from school to school in the Rochester area and gave them bulk copies, distributed all 10,000 copies, and then made a little profit, made a little profit.
Then by the third issue, I made a respectable profit. Then, of course, every entrepreneur has to continue to expand. Then we went to Buffalo and Syracuse, our neighboring cities, had a bigger profit, went to all New York state the next year, had a bigger profit, really nice business model now, but I wanted to go nation. Once again, of course, the entrepreneur's blessing and curse, expansion, right, grow, grow, grow, so I wanted to go national. The problem with going national is I would lose most of my advertisers. Most of my advertisers were New York state college that wanted to recruit New York state students. Utah doesn't recruit too many New York state high school students, right?
[bctt tweet=”“The entrepreneur’s blessing and curse is expansion.” – @DavidMammano”]
I said, “I would lose most of my advertisers.” I said, “Well, what I need to do is do this regionally,” so set up state-wide or region-wide editions, and that was the plan. My second realization is I didn't have the money to hire people and to expand. Then I decided to franchise. What I did is franchised the magazine into different states and regions. Lo and behold, a few years later, we had the magazine in every state. We had 17 regional editions, not every state, obviously. Wyoming can't have its own magazine, right? We did regions. We had 17 regions of Next Step Magazine.
What we did is I set up franchises. I did all the work for them except sales. We did their whole magazine. We put in on a show. We did the design, the cover. We put articles in there, and then we sent them the shell, and then what they were able to do was to add in their advertisements, and then also add in some local editorial that we were able to approve, and then I did all the printing and mailing.
It was a great, great business model. Of course, we had a website. We had some upsells on that too. Now we had a national magazine. We're in every state. We're in about 20,000 high schools five times a year in bulk, and those were the go-go years. That's when we were an Inc Magazine company for three years in a row, Rochester, New York Top 100 Company, won a slew of awards. It was a great time, very profitable, multimillion-dollar business, had a great team of employees, really focused on culture, a great culture of people, ended up writing a book about it, as you mentioned.
Then what happened in 2009, I'll say, it was the perfect storm of the forces of business nature putting you out of business, not that we got put out of business, but it just knocked the wind out of our sales model. The first thing that happened was just print and teens really became no longer cutting-edge technology, right? Most of my advertisers were like, “Dave, we love you. We love your company. We love Next Step. We just don't want print anymore. We want more digital opportunities.” Of course, we strived to make those.
Also, too, in 2009, the number of students going to college peaked. I guess it was the baby boomers' kids. After that, it started to go down a lot. It's down 35%. There are fewer students going to college. Now, colleges have less money to advertise. They're being very disrupted. It was a combo of just the trends of digital, the digital revolution putting prints out of business, and our core advertisers having a lot less money, and really more options with the digital world, right?
Our revenue just went down a year, a year, a year, and then I tried some different things to reinvent. I opened up an online school called Next Up Academy, where we had courses on life skills, like dressing for success, how to interview, things like that. Great concept, very hard to fund though. People didn't want to pay for it. Students don't think they need life skills. They don't pay for it. We try to get college, once again, to advertise, but we could not get enough revenue. That's just sitting there.
Then I started a retail center called Next Step. We actually changed the name to NextStepU to get rid of the magazine brand, so it then became NextStepU. We opened up a retail center, kind of like of a Sylvan or a Huntington Learning Center, but instead of focusing on tutoring, the focus was college planning. It was like a college planning center. We developed this whole program, really, to be like an outsourced guidance counselor on steroids.
I partnered with this guy Jim Malone, who is a Ph.D. in school counseling, 41-year veteran, and developed a beautiful program to really help students, first of all, find their natural strengths, their innate strengths, map them their career paths, college majors, and then put them on the paths towards the right college, and then work them through financial aid, grants, student scholarships, the application, the essay, all that stuff.
It was a great concept, but once again, we couldn't get enough people to support it. Really, to make it work, the lowest price point was $950 bucks for a complete program, and in all our research, the parents said, “Oh, yeah, that would be great. It would be great to have that extra help,” and then, unfortunately, what happened, when pushed came to shove, they just didn't want to write that check. They just would go back to their guidance counselor, so we tried that.
I'm stumbling, right? We ended up taking that program. We closed the retail center, but I realized the goal was this program that Dr. Jim Malone created. What we did was put it all online, and we created videos, and downloads, and worksheets, and homework, curriculum. It's really become an online college planning curriculum for high schools. We licensed it to high schools, charter schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, and YMCAs, and that now is called NextStepCollegePrep.com.
That's where that is. Frankly, it's doing okay. I'm really trying to get some money to have a more marketing and sales force attached to it, but lately, what I've been doing, about a year and a half ago I got a call from a 25-year-old young man. He called just to thank me out of the blue. Apparently, five years before, he was graduating college, and he met with me because he was very interested in starting a business, and he wanted just to pick my brain. He knew somebody that knew me and reached out, and “Hey, Mr. Mammano, can you help me start a business?” I said, “Sure. Sure.” I remember he took tons of notes and we had a good meeting.
He called me five years later to thank me. He says, “Hey, Mr. Mammano.” I said, “You can call me Dave.” Hey, Dave, I just want to thank you, because I'm doing really well. My business is doing well. I look back at my notes, and frankly, a lot of things you told me to do, I'm doing, and I'm doing really well, and I just wanted to thank you. I was like, “Oh my God, thank you so much for, first of all, thanking me, calling me, or remember me, that's so nice, but even more so, for actually listening to me.”
Then at the end of a call, he then goes, “You should do this for a living.” I said, “What do you mean?” He goes, “You should really try to coach people and consult people to help them start businesses, grow businesses.” It just hit me. It was the right time, right place. I said, “Yeah, I would like that.” I got back to the office, literally got with Diana Fisher, my marketing director at the time, now marketing VP. I said, “Let's create a website, DavidMammano.com, and we're just going to create a program to help people with starting and growing businesses.”
That evolved into an online course that helps people grow businesses. It's got tons of videos, marketing, and sales, a lot of execution, accountability, culture, foundational stuff, like core values, all that stuff starting a business or growing a business. We started doing events. Oh, by the way, we named this company called Avanti, which means next step in Italian. We thought that was nice symbiotic evolution, so Avanti Entrepreneur Group, so like I said, courses, events for entrepreneurs.
We actually in November, we have an event coming up in New York City called the Avanti Entrepreneur Summit. We're starting a new magazine for entrepreneurs. I have my own podcast for entrepreneurs. We just have a lot of content and products for entrepreneurs to just grow and scale up their business to the next level. That's where we are today is trying to become the Tony Robbins of entrepreneurs and just doing whatever I can to inspire and help people start businesses. That's the goal.
How Dave Helps Others with Their Entrepreneurial Journey
I think it's really cool, and I jotted down a few things before I jump to some of the questions, David. A couple things, you said reinvent. I mean, I use the word reinvent and re-engineer all the time after our 2008 debacle, which I start my book with, and so it's very important, I think, for any entrepreneur, any real estate or other entrepreneurs to understand, everyone goes through it, just the grinding out that you did to get to this point and literally never stopping. When you start talking about the entrepreneur journey and business growth in general, obviously, that's a broad area. Would you say there's a specialty or a niche area where you tend to focus on? If so, why? What got you to that niche?
Yeah, I would say I'm really good with people, like you said, reinventing. Reinventing could take a lot of forms, I guess. Somebody who's been in a corporate job and wants to start a business, well, they're reinventing, right? I'm really good at helping people just laying down the groundwork to reinvent themselves, to be able to start a business. I'm also really good at helping people reinvent their business because I'm living it. I've lived it. I'm living it. Somebody like you, like me who had a business or has grown a business to a next level, but really needs to do a reset on many things, with their lives, their processes, their strategy to get to that next level, or to go to a completely different level entirely, changing the game, right?
I mean, in today's world, and I love what you're doing, today's world, we're moving so fast. It's almost like we have to continually think about reinventing, right, and because if we don't, we're going to look around that corner, there's going to be a punch in the face waiting for us. The world, I don't want to say it's conspiring against us, but there are people out there that are competing against us, and if they're moving faster than us and we're not reinventing, listen, we may not be in business in three years. People need to really think about constantly pivoting, being nimble, continuing to change the rules of the game. That's really important. That's what I help people with. I would say that's my niche.
[bctt tweet=”“People need to think about constantly pivoting, being nimble and continuing to change the rules of the game.” – @DavidMammano”]
I love it. I love it. As far as changing fast, I couldn't agree more, Dave. I mean, look at real estate. In 2008, of course, the debacle with the national market, even with my business, but granted, it changes constantly, whether it's '08, whether it was the early '90s when I was building, whatever it is, real estate changes so fast.
It sounds like a lot of the people that are listening to this podcast, a lot of my clients, frankly, that are looking to get that transition, that reinventing from the corporate world, or just a J-O-B to the entrepreneurial world that could benefit greatly, it sounds like, by your event. This wasn't in my notes, but can you give me the dates again on that so everybody knows that?
Sure, it's November 2nd. It's in New York City, right across from Madison Square Garden, a place called Hotel Pennsylvania, which is one of the biggest and oldest hotels in the world. They just redid their events space, and it's absolutely beautiful. Yeah, you would go to AvantiEntrepreneurGroup.com, and all the information is there. We've got some incredible speakers. We've got this one guy who actually, he's from the New York area, Carl Gould, and right now, he is number one … Tied with Chuck Daly, he's the number-one-rated EO speaker in our country. He created three multimillion-dollar businesses by age 40, did a lot of coaching with Tony Robbins back in the day, very, very incredible person.
Then a woman named Lolly Daskal, who just wrote a book called The Leadership Gap. That's the book that I'm currently reading. It's incredible. Lolly is one of the most popular speakers right now in the business circuit. In fact, Huffington Post has named her the most inspirational woman in the world, which is pretty, pretty incredible. Then my other speaker is a guy named Michael Glauser, he's got so many things going on. His full-time job is he's a Ph.D. professor at Utah State, and he runs a school of entrepreneurship there. Secondly, he's also an entrepreneur. He created a frozen yogurt retail chain and sold it for millions to a Canadian conglomerate.
Then thirdly, a couple of years ago, he and his wife rode their bikes across the country, literally from Oregon to Virginia. Along the way, they stopped at 100 small businesses, and what they did is they interviewed the business owners, find out what their passions, what makes them tick, their purpose, their why, as Simon Sinek would say, and he wrote about his experiences called Main Street Entrepreneur. He's going to be a speaker as well. I've got three really, really great speakers.
The Biggest Obstacles for Entrepreneurs
Sounds really cool. What I'll do is I'll put it in the show notes for everyone, and we'll circle back to that. Thanks so much for bringing that up. I see a lot of parallels here to what the listeners could grab onto. Dave, I know, obviously, then you're working with a whole bunch of entrepreneurs, and obviously, from different walks of life, and different focus, and different niches, and different business types, and obviously, different levels of experience. What do you see the biggest obstacles to someone who you're trying to get, I guess, over the hump, to reinvent, to take that next step, if you will? What do you see as some common obstacles that just keep coming up, whereas a third party you could look and say, “Man, if they would just do this?”
Yeah, I think it's just self-limiting beliefs. I see so many people that get towards, I'll say, the idea of starting a business. When it gets close to go time, they just get nervous, right? They get completely paralyzed, anxiety sometimes, maybe they have a job already, a family, they have income. The initial thought of being an entrepreneur and taking on that journey is very exciting, but when you got to pull the trigger, that's a whole nother story. I see a lot of people talking themselves out of it.
Matter of fact, I'm working with a woman right now who she freaked out last week. She's about to sign a contract to start a company, and I think she literally had an anxiety attack. I can't do this. I said, “Oh, welcome to the stage of complete terror. It's completely normal. As you must know, it's a total mindset. You're inventing this in your brain that you can't do this. I know a lot of people that are a lot dumber than you that have successful businesses. You're going to be just fine, and I'm going to help you. You need to get through this.”
A lot of times, it's just the stuff they put in their brain that really limits the beliefs about who they can be, what they can do. As Earl Nightingale used to say, you become what you think about, right? So many people are successful just because, darn it, that's all they think about, right? They're just thinking about success all the time, how can they be successful, what books do I need to read, what people do I need to surround myself with, what courses do I need to take, what actions and habits do I need to take, and then before you know it, they're very, very successful.
I think a lot of it is just asking yourself, “Am I making this stuff out up in my brain just because I'm nervous or anxious, or is there actually some reality to my thoughts?” I always ask people that are in this stage, matter of fact, I asked my friend last week, I said, “Picture yourself, you're 95. You're in your rocking chair. Would you regret not trying it?” She said, “Oh my God, absolutely.” I go, “Well, there's your answer,” because every old person I know says life goes by in a blink. Like, “Oh my God, how did I get 95? What happened?” I'm 48, and I still think I'm 21.
That's like, “Boom, you're 90.” Every person I know says it goes by in a blink. My thought is as long as you're not hurting anybody, and there's no chances of you getting killed, really, you should give it a shot, right? I mean, the beautiful phrase and now sung, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, give it a shot. I always remember, what got me to start my business, I was listening to Tony Robbins' program back in the day, and a quote just hit me between the eyes because I said, “All right, I'm just going to do this,” but he said, “If you are committed, you will find a way.” I was like, “Yeah, that's true. You just got to be totally committed. I'm going to find a way. I'm not going to give up. Maybe my first business fails, that's okay. I'll start a second one, a third one, a fourth one until I get it right. I'll keep on learning. I'll keep on persisting, and I will be determined. I'll be committed, and I'll make it happen.”
[bctt tweet=”“If you are committed to running a business, you will find a way.” – @DavidMammano”]
When you break it down like that, just redefining failure, failure for me became like, “Ah, I went to go get this,” you say the G-O-B, or the J-O-B. I can't even spell it. That's how much I hate it, right, the J-O-B. I mean, for me, that was failure. If my business failed, that was not failure. That was going to be my learning lesson, and I was going to start Dave 2.0. That made me feel more comfortable in my mind. I said, “If it doesn't work out, I'm not failing. I'm just going to try again.” 22 years later, here I am. Have I “failed” a bunch of times? Absolutely, but it's been part of my entrepreneur journey, and I've continued to learn, and build what makes me special, what makes me unique, and what I'm good at, what I'm bad at. I'm learning more and more every day, for sure.
I wrote down three that I want to go back to that you said so much, I'm scribbling as you're going here. You mentioned Tony Robbins and find a way. Clearly, and you'd agree with this, because you're in the business, but clearly, there is someone, once you get committed, there is someone out there that has already found the way. You just gotta go find them, and they'll help you find a way. You're one of them. It's good for them to-
Well, thank you, absolutely. I mean, in today's world, it's so easy to build a network. With LinkedIn and Facebook, and just the internet in general, there are so many giving people out there that, hey, if you reach out to them, and you might have to be a little persistent, but there's a lot of people out there that are successful that want to help others, there's no doubt about it.
You brought up Tony Robbins. I love his core. I think I used it for years, a lot of years in presentations, and that is don't get caught shoulding, S-H-O-U-L-D, all over yourself.
People get later on in age, and “I should've done that when Dave told me. I should've done that when Chris …” On and on and on, so the fact that you brought up Tony Robbins is funny.
Well, I'll add to that play on words there. There's another one that says don't be an ask call. You're always asking for advice, but then you don’t follow it, so kind of the same thing, right?
I love that. I haven't heard that, so ask call.
Don't be an ask call.
I love it, love it. I jotted that down for the journal. That's coming out in another one. I know it.
There we go.
The Biggest Failures and Successes of Dave’s Entrepreneur Journey
The third thing I'd say was you mentioned mistakes. You mentioned failures. They're just stepping stones. You mentioned a few cool things within that. Obviously, you have your own show, Dave, as well. Every time I have someone on, they've all been through some failure or another, like you just mentioned. Obviously, they'll get back up, right, and they start running. Tell us about a failure, maybe, one of them that you experienced and how you achieved some success because of it or grew because of it?
I'll go back to my retail center. I mean, I was really excited about that. I envisioned NextStepU College Planning Centers all over the country. I was going to franchise it. I committed to a lease at a retail place that was not cheap. I did a build-out. On paper, it just didn't work. It was a complete failure. I had to close it down, but for me, it was part of my entrepreneur journey. I say, “Now I know for a fact, I'll be on my rocking chair knowing that the NextStepU College Planning Centers are not supposed to be all over the country, or at least I wasn't the guy to do it.” Then I salvaged the pieces. We put it all online, and now we have a program that helps a lot of really underserved students with college planning because we licensed it to charter schools.
My ultimate failure is to go get a job. I didn't have to do that, thank God, and I was still able to pick up the pieces and learn from it and salvage what was left, and move on, and look back and say it's part of my entrepreneur journey. I'll say, if I was in the military, I would probably earn a stripe for that, right? I mean, it was part of the entrepreneurial experience that it was rough, but you go through it, you get through it, and you move on.
Yeah, I think it's necessary. I think you used the word a few times, absolutely necessary. You have been in the entrepreneurship world, let's say, for a while. I know you've had some failures you mentioned. You've had some successes, clearly, along the way. What would you consider your biggest win, Dave, and why?
I would say, up to this date, probably my biggest success was the initial magazine. I mean, we took that from just Rochester, New York. 50 high schools in the greater Rochester area here, I'm sorry, 150, to all over the country. We were in over 20,000 high schools five times a year, 17 regional editions, all organic, no investors. Really, I think the beauty part of that is not only the business model but the impact we made. We were helping so many high school students with planning for life after high school. I'm proud of that. I'd like to think that we made a real difference in a lot of young people's lives as far as what they decided to do after high school, where they decided to go and do. That would probably be my biggest success to date.
Dave’s Daily Habits
I love it, but you obviously set that with passion, and so that kept you going, obviously, through the days there. You mentioned earlier about if you're passionate, if you're committed, all this comes full circle. Obviously, when you're talking, everything is kind of in sync. Share with the listeners maybe two or three productive things you do every single day, Dave, so that you just know that that's embedded in your DNA, and you're doing it every day to be the very best coach, to be the very best entrepreneur, a husband, a father, whatever area you want.
Yes, so I have an ideal morning. Really, I'm probably like a lot of your guests, I try to get up early because that's the only Dave time. That's a good time for me. I'm more of a morning person than a night person. I try to get up around 5:00. The perfect morning, what I will do is … I started meditating this year. I will meditate for about five minutes, maybe more if I can. That really has helped me get a little bit more, I'll just say, wholesome in the fact that I'm balanced, and focused, and a little more present, and calm, which has been good for me.
I also say my morning prayer. I'm a good Catholic boy, say my prayers every morning. Then I'll read. I'll try to read for about at least 15 minutes, and then I will work out. If all else fails, if I wake up a little bit late and I could only do one thing in the morning, I will work out. I will work out. I'll fit in the prayer some other time during the day, but I will always work out. I need to, otherwise, I'm not really good to anybody. I just become a little discombobulated if I don't work out. I think I have so much excess energy that I need to burn it off, right?
I love it, and we share similarities there. That would be my go-to, my fallback if everything else got put to the side, and that's the workout for sure.
Dave, you're always moving and grooving, clearly. Most entrepreneurs, they don't stop moving, so that's normal.
What's your next challenge you're looking to master, your next level, so to speak, for you?
Well, everything that I do is about helping people get to their next level in life. I told you, next step, obviously, forward movement, Avanti, Avanti literally means move forward in Italian, right? I'm always trying to push people forward. As I am building up this new business model with Avanti, there's a lot of things I could do with it. I'm testing out some different, I'll say, directions of what I could do with it, I would say, over the course of next year is to really see what's working, what audience that I work best with, and hone, and focus that business model to the point where I've got a great niche of people that I'm helping.
I love it. I'm going to, again, allude to the Avanti program, the Avanti event, and some things in the show notes that we'll put there as well. I'll ask you to repeat that again in a few minutes. What book have you dove into lately, or what book are you in now, Dave?
Well, I just got into Grant Cardone. Do you know Grant Cardone?
Yeah, I heard an interview with him actually. It was an interesting one.
Yeah, he's been all over my Facebook feed. He offers a free book called The Millionaire Booklet I think it's called. I think it might be stemmed off another book of his. I got it for free, and I'm reading that. That's really about resetting your brain to think bigger when it comes to creating wealth, so reading that. Then I also just started reading The Leadership Gap from Lolly Daskal, who's going to be at my conference. She talks about just different ways to coach and be coached when it comes to leadership, right, so different leadership styles. She's wonderful.
If you don't know Lolly Daskal, Google her, go to her site, come to my event and meet her, and see her. She is one of the most interesting women I've ever met. I had her on my podcast coming up soon. We had to do part two because we just kept on talking too long, and then she had a coaching appointment and we had to go. We had to pause it. I had to call her back the next day and finish it.
That's awesome. I scribbled that down for takeaways. I always do. It's interesting. I'm sure you feel this way. When you do the interview, when I do the interview, I walk away with two, three, four, five, six, eight takeaways from every single interview, and I always encourage the listeners to do the same. I literally write while I'm interviewing, and I enjoy it. I'm sure you feel the same way.
Absolutely. That's great. Good for you.
Dave’s Biggest Role Models
Dave, everyone has their own models. I think, literally, everybody on the podcast talks about mentors, role models, et cetera. Do you have any role models now, any mentors now, and who would they be, if you don't mind sharing?
Well, I got to tell you, I've got two people that I reach out to a lot when I have questions and thoughts that are going through my mind. One of them is our mutual friend, Stephen Woessner. Stephen is a guy that owns Predictive ROI. He produces my podcast. We were talking about the fact that his company produces your podcast. Stephen, he is a great, great bellwether of my ideas and my thoughts, and just to talk things through and get a perspective. He's very realistic but also mixes some great positivity in. He's just a great guy for me to vet what's going through my head and get some really great helpful feedback. I would say he's a current mentor of my and very good friend.
Then another guy is out of Chicago, and he's been a mentor of mine for years, a guy named Jay Goltz. He was on my podcast a while back. Jay is in Chicago. He owns five businesses that revolve around frames and arts and furniture and things like that, retail. He's very, very successful. He was the cover of Inc. years ago. He's written books. He writes for Forbes now too. He's not only an incredible successful business owner and entrepreneur, but he's really a teacher.
What he does is he teaches from his own experience. He's probably the guy that will most tell you what you need to hear. He doesn't worry about hurting your feelings. He'll tell you if something is great. He'll tell you if you're smoking something or it's stupid. He is the best bellwether that I know that I could call to go through my ideas with because he will give it to me raw. I'll know if it's a good idea or a bad idea after the call with him. He's always right for me so far.
Well, the good news is he doesn't make you feel bad. He'll be like, “I did that.” He's like, “Don't do it. I already did it. I lost $400,000. It's the dumbest thing I ever did. I can see why you think it would work because I thought it would work, but it didn't. Here's why.” He's very helpful in the fact that he doesn't want you to beat yourself up. He's an entrepreneur. We're entrepreneurs. It's our nature. We're going to fall all over ourselves. It's not pretty, and it's okay. Once again, it's part of the entrepreneur’s journey, becoming better and better at what we do. The boat is safe in the harbor rots, right? You gotta take it out. Sometimes you're going to have fun. Sometimes you're going to make mistakes, but I would say, Jay Goltz and Stephen Woessner are my current go-to mentors.
[bctt tweet=”“We’re entrepreneurs. We’re going to fall all over ourselves. It’s not pretty, and it’s okay.” – @DavidMammano”]
I love it, and I hope the listeners are hearing an extremely common theme, which is mentors, coaches, been there, done that. I love it. It sounds like, you and I, being from New England are cut from the same cloth as well as far as the bluntness and the give it to me, just give it to me straight.
Oh, yeah, I want to hear it. Don't sugarcoat.
Yup. That's it.
I mean, I'm Italian. We're not going to be mean, but we will hit you between the eyes with what you need to hear, right?
Yeah. My son came in the office the other day and said that so-and-so thought he, not me, was a little harsh or something like that. I said, “Well, ask them if they have a dog or a cat, because that's what they're looking for, a little warm and fuzzy. They're not looking to get that next step. They're not looking to get in the moment.”
Yeah, you want the real scoop or you want a little teddy bear? What do you want?
We're going to have some fun. I got to make sure I get to your event and have some fun with you.
Final Advice for Succeeding in Your Entrepreneur Journey
Dave, here is my last question for you. I always try to, anyway, if it's applicable, to wrap up with this one. You have an event coming up, so this is very applicable. Let's imagine for a moment that you are standing in front of that room, and you're standing in front of that room with a bunch of brand new entrepreneurs, or want to be entrepreneurs, or want to create plan B. They're going to battle their way through all that stuff you said earlier that they let get in their way, and they're trying to figure out, did I make the right decision? What would be the two or three strategies that you'd recommend that they focus on to best ensure it's a massive success?
Well, like you said, I think first and foremost, surround yourself with mentors. Think and Grow Rich, the biggest takeaway from that book is creating a mastermind alliance. Don't go at it alone. Being an entrepreneur could be a very lonely experience. Join EO. Join Vistage. Join YPO. Join something, or at least get out and meet people and put them in your mastermind alliance, which means they don't even need to know they're in it, but it's somebody that when you have an issue or you need to discuss something, call them. You can call them. You can have lunch with them, whatever. I would say that would be number one.
[bctt tweet=”“Surround yourself with mentors and don’t go at it alone. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely.” – @DavidMammano”]
Number two is take care of yourself. Try to be well-rounded. There's a lot of entrepreneurs that are divorced five times, overweight. They're unhealthy. They're unhappy because they focus way too much on business. A really successful entrepreneur is somebody who is not only good at business, but they're also, if they have a family, they're paying attention to their kids and their spouse and they're doing stuff, so that's also a priority, and then also taking care of themselves. They're eating well. They are exercising. They have good habits, right?
Number three would be to don't wing it. Set up systems so that you don't really have to think. You don't have to think about brushing your teeth, Chris, right? You just do it. I'm sure you did it this morning, but you didn't really schedule it. What other important things in your life can you just make them so automatic that you don't even think about it. For me, like I said, working out. I'll work out. Even just like 20 minutes, I have to do something. I don't even schedule it. Every morning it happens, right?
How can you schedule things that you know need to get done, and so you don't have to think about it. Because the more you leave it up to thinking about it, the more likely it's not going to happen, but if it's scheduled, if it's just a disciplined habit, then you really don't have to think about it, and you're just doing it without even knowing it. Those are the most successful people, I think, that just have these habits of discipline that don't leave it to chance. I would say those are the three things.
No, thank you for that, because I think in all the interviews maybe one or two people have come up with the take care of yourself, and the inclusion of what you mentioned about being divorced several times. Just this past week, I finished one of the articles in Success Magazine. His name is not important, but the guy has been divorced five times. I said to my wife, “Something is not happening there.”
Yeah, and they all said, “It's because he just work, work, work, work, work.” There is life-
Yeah, I mean, do you want to be on your deathbed and your kids are on drugs because you weren't there for them? No. I mean, you might be a billionaire, but now you're dying miserably because you failed on that department. You really got to think about being there in all aspects of your life the best that you can be.
For sure. For sure. Dave, as I wrap up, for my parting comments, just to my listeners, I know we mentioned a book, but you also offered to go ahead and give it to these guys. I'll make sure we include it in the show notes, but can you mention that again, the Make Love in the Workplace based on your TED Talk? Then we'll go ahead and put it in the show notes, why should they get their hands on that, and thank you for offering that by the way.
Yeah, no, absolutely. Yeah, they can go to my site and just mention your podcast. I'll send them a free book. What we'll do is we'll go you a URL that you can put in your show notes as well. Basically, what we're going to do is give away the book. The book is Make Love in the Workplace. I wrote it a couple years ago. It's all about workplace culture. First of all, I used to blog, and I used to write about strategies that I implemented in my business that would increase culture, good culture, and then I did a TEDx Talk about it, and then I just wrote a book about it. It's not all fluffy feel-good stuff. It's actually like each chapter is something that you can implement in your business right away. It's a very can-do-now type of book that gives you ideas that you can implement in your business right away.
I appreciate that. Then because I mentioned at the beginning, I want these guys to be able to jump to that event if they wanted, or to your Avanti primo membership coaching. Again, for the listeners, we'll make sure that those are in the show notes, and it'll be much easier. You can just click away. Okay, Smart listeners, my closing thoughts here as always, you can listen to this episode over and over again. I invite you to do so, but in order to experience a quantum leap, you've got to go ahead and take action.
I listed about a whole page and a quarter here in front of me. I hope you did grab one, two, three of those items that Dave shared with you, whether it's a taking action, get on a plane and going to his event, or it's taking action and grabbing the book. Do something, please, when you leave this podcast.
Dave, we really appreciate you spending some time with us today. I look forward to doing a whole bunch more with you. I know we all have the same 168 lovely hours a week, and those just click by, as you said, when all of a sudden someone is saying they're 90 years old and what the heck happened. I appreciate you sharing one of those with us today.
Thank you, Chris. It's been a pleasure, and congratulations on all your success.
Thank you, sir.
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