On today’s Survival Dad podcast, Buck speaks with Kevin Thompson, a former Alaskan fisherman who is now running a number of successful businesses. Kevin tells us how he spent years trying to figure out what he really wanted in life and what was actually important to him.
Join Buck and Kevin in their conversation about the importance of coaching, setting goals, and actively appreciating your professional and personal success. Theydiscuss the value of having a supportive environment and how money—while it can provide financial independence—isn’t everything in life.
In Today’s Episode:
00:30 – Buck Introduces Kevin Thompson
04:35 – The Harder You Work, the More Successful You Will Be
07:16 – Saving Money to Start a Carpet-Cleaning Business
08:38 – Kevin Didn’t Have a Business Coach During His First year
10:00 – Kevin’s Experiences
11:54 – Kevin’s First Coach and the Changes to His Business Model
15:44 – The Price of Success
19:52 – The Clear Goal
24:14 – Active Appreciation
27:30 – Kevin’s Business Going Online
32:52 – Leverage
36:10 – Student Becomes Master
43:14 – Final Notes
Buck Introduces Kevin Thompson
Buck:Hi folks, it’s BuckRizvi here with Survival Dad. On the line with me, I have a very special guest—you’re in for a treat. I’m with Kevin Thompson, and Kevin is a fellow dad,a fellow father. He used to have the most dangerous job in the world, and it’s a job that I actually have some knowledge of because I had a friend who was in the military with me when I was at the tender age of 19. I went to the Air Force. And this friend of mine told me about this job. He actually loved this job, but Kevin has some different stories to tell about it. And that is the job of being an Alaskan fisherman. My buddy,[who] lived in Alaska, was on a boat for six months, so he had a good experience. He missed Alaska, and he wanted to go back.
Kevin had a very interesting and dangerous experience. So, in 1995, he was almost swept overboard in a tragic Bering Sea storm. So, he had an awakening that occurred around that time: he realized,“Maybe I should finish up my contract, and look to do something else.” And that something else for him turned out to be starting his own carpet-cleaning business. So, he became an entrepreneur and worked very very diligently and studiously and worked to grow his business. But it basically became all-consuming for him. He was working 6 to 7 days a week, 12 to 14 hours a day, and needless to say, that didn’t give him a lot of time to spend time with his loved ones, let’s put it that way. But fortunately for Kevin, he figured out something: he figured out that this type of lifestyle, again, wasn’t for him. And about 10 years ago, he found a different path to, what I would call, financial self-reliance. Now he is with his new vehicle, which we’re going to talk about in this interview. He now works two or three days a week, and, from what I understand, only works two to five hours a day and works from home and loves it and gets to see his wife and kids often.So, I’m really pleased to have Mr. Kevin Thompson on the line with me. Kevin, you there?
Kevin: I am here Buck.
Buck:Fantastic. Well, thanks for joining. You have a fantastic story. [Laughs]
Kevin:Boy, I’ll tell you, you know,you got it pegged. You told it pretty well. Almost as good as me telling it myself. [Laughs]
Buck: Well, it’s always nice to hear someone else tell your story, isn’t it?
Buck: So, you know, coz I remember when I was 19, and I was with my friend, and we got… I don’t know if you were in the military—that’s OK, you got your family here. I don’t know if you were in the military, but when I went in after basic training, we went into the“Our Trade” school, and I was down in Biloxi, Mississippi,in an electronic school, and I looked at… We got something called the dream sheet. And the dream sheet was basically where you were going to be stationed after school.
Buck:So, my friend had put in this, this, and that.I was dumb. I should’ve put in a bunch of overseas locations coz I should’ve traveled the world, but I didn’t. I put in exciting places like Florida [laughs] and Hawaii.
Kevin:There you go.
Buck: But he was an Alaskan fisherman. And I remember to this day, he gave me his dream sheet coz he had just gotten his list back,and he didn’t want to see it; he wanted me to tell him what was on it, what was the number one.
Buck:Coz he had put in,I think it was Anchorage or wherever the base is—it’s Juneau or Anchorage, I forget where the Air Force base was. But he put in Alaska as his number one choice,and he got it. And I remember the look on his face, he was like,“Oh, I’m so happy.”
Buck: So… But to hear your story of almost getting swept off the deck…
Kevin: Yeah, that was definitely a, you know, crazy job for sure. And I got into that industry because my goal the whole time was to save up money to start my own business. And of course, knowing what I know now, there are a whole lot easier ways to get into business than spending seven years [as an] Alaskan fisherman trying to save money up.
The Harder You Work, The More Successful You Will Be
Kevin: But, you know, one thing I, where you…And it’s interesting because, you know,even from a young age, my Dad, he had this belief that the harder you worked, the more successful you would be.
Buck: Okay. Old-school, sure.
Kevin: And he really instilled that into me. Andof course, you know, because of that… and of course that was my Dad’s experience.That’s how you became successful as you worked hard at it. And to an extent, that’s definitely true.
Buck: It’s still true.
Kevin:And we do apply ourselves to what we’re doing, you know—I mean if becoming, you know, really financially successful was easy, everybody would do it.
Kevin: And I won’t say it’s hard, but I will say that the idea of […]. I’ve always had this great work ethic, and then that’s what, you know…I mean,my Dad passed away before I ever started fishing in Alaska. But during that time, I couldn’t help but think that, you know, my Dad sure would be proud of me now because this is the epitome of hard work. [Laughs]
Buck: [Laughs] Well, hard work on your terms, I guess, right? So, it’s how you imagine what hard work is, coz if it’s fun for you then you’re probably not working hard.
Kevin: You bet.You bet. And that’s, you know, contrast to what we do now, what I do, what you do now in comparison to Alaska fishing. [Yeah],we work at this, but you’reright. What you just said is totally true.It’s fun, it’s enjoyable, it’s rewarding. And I do it not because I feel like I have to, [but]we do it because we want to. And there’s a big big difference.
Buck: Yes. And if, you know, if the bell’s not being rung, and the money’snot coming in,there’s one person you can point the finger at. [Laughs]
Kevin: That’s right. That’s right. It’s on us.
Buck:It’s on us. So that’s, I mean, this show is all about self-reliance. So this notion, initially, of you working for someone else, the “ultimate job” of working for somebody else. Havingto get up at all hours,I can only imagine. And to suit up and do all the kind of things that you had to do whenyou didn’t want to do it.And you’re tired […] But, you know, in order for the money to be made, you got to bring the fish on the boat, and things have to be taken care of.
Buck:And I’m sure for other people, they’re in that mode. I was in a mode where I worked 21 years grueling it out in a corporate job. Certainly not physically demanding like you had, but it had its own “physical-mental” demands, you know. Rush-hour traffic and stress and, you know, financially living hand-to-mouth, day-in-day-out, all that kind of stuff going with it.So you had an idea in your head that you wanted to start a business. You were saving up money to start a business.
Saving Money to Start a Carpet-Cleaning Business
Kevin: Yes. So,I was saving up money to start a business.And during that seven years,I did save up a large amount—well, to me, what was a large amount of money at that time.And when Ifinally,in ‘95, had that “epiphany”if you will, after almost being swept overboard and deciding,“Okay, you’ve had enough of this, you’ve saved up enough money, it’s time to just finish this part of your life out.”
Buck:How much did you need to start up that carpet-cleaning business?
Kevin: You know, I didn’t know how much, and quite honestly, the whole time I’mfishing in Alaska, I had no idea what kind of business I was even going to start.
Kevin: I was just trying to save up money to do something. And I will tell you, I saved up about $200,000 […] during those seven years.
Buck:That’s a great nest egg. Wow, man.
Kevin: And the way I actually started a carpet-cleaning business was I live in the Seattle area,and I had met this guy, and that’s the industry he was in. He was doing okay. And I thought, “Well, gosh, if that guy can do it, so can I.” And so, I got into that business,pretty much just my big driving motivation was that, “Well, this guy’s doing okay, and if I do the same thing,I’ll do okay, and I’ll make money doing this thing.”
Kevin Didn’t Have a Business Coach During His First Year
Kevin: And quite honestly,it was just… it was like, if I do this, I’ll make money,and I’ll figure out how to be successful. And that was my one and only driving motivation.
Buck: Did you have a coach that was helping you at that time? Was he your coach, or did you seek out a coach to get started in that business?
Kevin: Not for the first year. For the first year, Ipretty much did it on my own.
Buck: Wow, that’s scary.
Kevin:And the result of that was that I went through that 200,000 dollars, and I was still not making money in that business. [Laughs]
Buck:Hold on, hold on a second. You burned through 200K?
Kevin:I did. I did.
Kevin:And I went throughthe first 80,000 before I even opened the doors.
Buck: The equipment, van, all that kind of stuff.
Kevin:Because I bought a van and a big cleaning machine, equipment, supplies, all of that stuff.And I just kind of watched what other people in the industry were doing.And so, what I saw was I would look—in like theValpak—I would see ads forother carpet cleaners, and in various publications. And a lot of these guys were advertising that they would clean three rooms and a hall for like 59.95.
Kevin: And I’m like,“Alright, well I’ll do it,andI’ll do it for 49.95, so I can get all the business.
Buck: I’m sure you didn’t know all the things about upsells and all the other stuff that goes along with it right? [Laughs]
Kevin: I didn’t know any of that kind of stuff, and I was out there cleaning carpets for 49.95 and working my tail off and cannot even, like, fully understanding why I couldn’t make money, why was I… I mean, I remember into my first year, you know,my first wife, she leftme when I wanted to start that first business because she kind of liked thestability and the income that we had from being […] a fisherman.And this whole idea of starting my own business was something she was not on board with at alland actually divorced me because that’s what I wanted to do.
Buck:Hold on. So, you have a couple of lessons here: one is you had a huge amount of starting capital that you, kind of blindly, applied to the business.
Buck: That was interesting.You were following what appeared to be a successful model,but you didn’t have a coach at that time. So, it was sort of taking a shot at it. I’m sure this is a pattern that a lot of people follow, right? Like, I have some cash,I see other guys having some success here or what I think is success, so I’m going to “ape” that.But at the same time, I have a significant other who is not on board.
Buck: Which…That’s a tough place to be.
Buck: I’ve been through one marriage too, and I can tell you, in my previous marriage…I’m re-married, happily re-married. But yeah, my previous marriage,I don’t think my ex really believed in all of my entrepreneurial aspirations.
Kevin:For sure.And that’s exactly where I was. She just did not believe, you know, she was just like,“Gosh, Kevin, you’ve never been to college, you’ve never studied business.You’re just an Alaska fisherman. What makes you think you can even make something like that work?”
Buck: Yeah, who do you think you are? [Laughs]
Kevin’s First Coach and the Changes to His Business Model
Kevin:That’s right. That’s right. And, of course, at the end of the first year in business, I’m like,“Gosh, maybe my ex-wife was right. Maybe I don’t have what it takes,”you know.And Ididn’t even realize—I mean, it’s like you don’t know what you don’t know. And at that time, it didn’t even occur to me to get a coach.And that didn’t happen until about a year into this, and I’d gone through the 200,000, and I’m still not making money. And I saw this article in a trade publication by this guy Joe Polish,and it was talking about,“I can show you how to get more new clients in a month than you’re now getting all year.” And on the surface that sounded like what I needed, but […] as you know—you know what I mean: here I am doing this 49.95carpet cleaning and more new clients of that was not what I needed.But, yeah, that’s what I thought I needed. “I just need more business, and then I’ll be successful.”
Buck: Of course.Was this around the‘96 timeframe?
Buck:‘97.And Joe was kind of full bore. I think Joe still offers education to carpet cleaners, doesn’t he?
Kevin:He does. Yeah,he’s got a little bit… they’re still doing in that industry.Yup.
Buck: Yeah. Fantastic.
Kevin:But with his help, we transformed that entire business within a three-year period between ‘97,early ‘97 and the end of ‘99—completely transformed that business. I went from,you know… Gosh, I still can remember the worst carpet-cleaning job I was ever on,and it was an eye-opening experience for me. I got called out on this job. It was in an apartment complex. This biker guy had been re-building his Harley in his living room,on his carpet.
Buck:[Laughs] It was his garage.
Kevin:And wanted me to come cleanup the carpets.And man, I’ve never seen nothing like that before, and I was like,“You know what,” I said,“I’m just not going to be able to do you any justice here at all.” And he’s like,“Well,I got to tell you, it was worth a shot. Because, for crying out loud, if you’re crazy enough to come out here and try cleaning my carpets for less than what it would cost me to go to the store and rent a cleaning machine and buy the supplies and do it myself, I was going to give you crack at it.”
Kevin: And that’s when I realized,“Wow, you’re doingsomething really wrong, Kevin.” [Laughs]
Buck:Sure. Exactly. So you brought in… you hired a coach. In your case, it was Joe Polish. He had a system, and he has some kind of… he had a model for you to follow, and that helped to turn around the business.I’m not saying that every coach is going to be the right coach, but apparently thisseemed to work out well for you for that period of time.
Kevin: You bet.
Buck: Okay. What would you say were the criteria or the trappings of, sort of, identifying a coach that could be the right one for your?A mentor.
Kevin:For one, when I found out that it was Joe,he’d already been helping a lot of people in that industry.And when I ordered his…So, he offered this free report and some informational stuff,and back then part of that information came on cassette tape in ‘97.But what I heard on that cassette tape was these other carpet cleaners talking about how they’d applied Joe’s stuff to their business.
Kevin: And it transformed their business.And I’m like,“Well, that’s what I need,” so that was a no-brainer at that point, once I heard these other… In fact, I remember thinking, I was like, “Gosh,I want to meet some of these other people,I want to meet these people that have used this stuff and transformed their business.” And that was…I ended up getting set up with Joe, and he definitely helped me in a huge way.
Buck: He could’ve just said,“Hi,I’m Joe Polish. Listen to some of my clients,” and just had the clients talking on the whole tape,right? [Laughs]
Kevin:He could’ve. He could’ve. Yeah, yeah. Coz that worked. That got my attention.
Buck:You see that a lot, I think, in direct-response advertising. Which works,I mean, good legitimate testimonials, taking care of your customers, and delivering on the goods.That’s very powerful.
The Price of Success
Buck: So were there… I take it there was an investment that you made?Obviously to work with him, and that paid off. But you’ve, in terms of the vehicle that you selected here, which is… Okay, first, you made money, you made a lot of money in fishing over seven years, and you came and did carpet cleaning. But there were still some things that you didn’t like about this particular vehicle—
Buck: —even though you’ve turned it around. What were those things?
Kevin:So,three years later, in ‘99. That’s when I… that really hit me too,coz like, by everybody’s standards […] in the cleaning industry…I was probably in the top three percent.And even Joe was having me speak on stage at his event, and everybody’s like,“Wow Kev, you got this incredible business.” And here I am at the top of the industry, but yet I didn’t feel successful. Because,yeah, I mean by all industry standards, I’m making a great income by those standards. But yet, like you said, I was working, you know, 5 to 6 days a week, I was working 14 to 15 hours a day. And I can remember it so well,it was a Sunday morning in 1999, it was an end of month. I was doing end-of-month books, and I’m thinking to myself,“What in the hack are you doing here on a Sunday morning?”And I just pretty much in that moment… I just kind of lost it. And I was so frustrated because I was like, “Gosh, you know, you’re at the top of the industry, why in the heck are you not happy? Why don’t you feel successful even though everyone around you in the industry is telling you how great you are?”And it occurred to me […] I had never actually even taken time to define what I wanted other than I wanted to make money.
Buck: Okay. So beware what you ask for right?
Kevin:That’s right, that’s right.
Buck:Make money, but how it happens, it’s like the old, you know, those cartoons where they show,“Oh, I want this,” but suddenly all of the unintended consequences of what you just asked for you [laughs]start to come to roost, right?
Kevin:That’s right. And so that Sunday morning, for the first time ever,I actually took out a piece of paper and I wrote down, you know, “What do you want?”[So] some of the things I wrote down at that time were:“I don’t want to work more than 40 hours a week.I don’t want to work on weekends. I want to have that time for my family.” I wanted to have a business that I truly enjoy. And, like, there were things about the cleaning business that I enjoyed, but there was a lot of it that I didn’t enjoy.
Kevin: I didn’t like managing employees, for one.I was just not a good manager of employees, and even people will say, “Well, gosh, Kevin, you go to school for that.”And I’m like,“I don’t want to. I just don’t want to manage employees.”And the other thing I remember I wrote down was I wanted to live the life of a millionaire. And, so, what now…
Buck: What was that to you, when you made that decision? What is the life of a millionaire?
Kevin: You know,the life of a millionaire to me represents that I don’t have to worry about finances.
Kevin:That, and then it’s, I suppose […] we live a good life.I mean my family, we live in the home we want to live in, we drive the vehicles we want to drive. I’m not into, like, having a big, you know… I’m not into putting ona show for anybody […] and say,“This is all my stuff I’ve accumulated, I could give a rip about that.”
Kevin: But Ijust want to live how I live. I want to be able to take care of my family in a way that makes me feel good about that. Iwant to have money in the bank, so when things come up—as they always do—like, I’m not stressed-out about where’s the money going to come to cover this now. You know, that kind of thing.
Kevin: And so, you know…
Buck:That is a rich life by, I think, anyone’s definition.
Kevin: You bet. You bet.
Buck:But you had some additional parameters,which, I think… You’re actually sharing a very important part of the success blueprint, which was it all starts in the mind of what it is you imagine that life to be.
The Clear Goal
Buck: And you had to put some very specific goals and rules in there, which was “no working on weekends, more time with family,X amount of time that I would be doing this, money in the bank etc.” Because if you don’t have that crystal—I tell you, I’ve gone through exercises, and I do this every year, sometimesmy wife is not as excited about it as I am. But we’re coming up on a new year here soon, and it’s sort of, like, I love going through that exercise of “Hey,let’s plan out what it is this next year’s going to be like for us. What is itthat we want out of it?” And I always go back and look at my previous list that I’ve done before, and I’m always amazed at how much I’ve accomplished of what I had set out to do.
Buck: So,I think that’s when you want to write down as you’re listening to this interview with Kevin, is he crystallized… he said he had another aha moment. He had that one on his ship,now you had the one about your business, for the carpet-cleaning business, in your sort of “Hey,check-check-check. This is what I want.”Coz if I don’t think about it now, I won’t get it.
Kevin:That’s right. That’s right.
Buck: Okay, fantastic.
Kevin: Yeah. Like, what you said is totally true. Be careful what you wish for.You need to get clear on what you want, not just vague. [Laughs]
Buck: Right. And I guess another thing is, I mean,some people might shoot low because they don’t have that comfort level to shoot high as to what they really want. What’s your attitude about that?
Kevin: You know, my attitude is—especially now at this point, having that experience with the carpet-cleaning business and getting Joe’s help, transforming that business, and getting it to the place that Igot it to. I had enough experience at that point to,like,“Okay,you know, if I get help to do what Iwant to do and figure out what I don’t know, then I can pretty much go anywhere I want to go. Now it’s just a matter of deciding where do you want to go.”And so, now I prefer to shoot higher rather than lower.Because if I shoot higher and I end up lower, well, I’m probably still going to be higher than Iwould’ve been. [Laughs]
Buck: I’ll be OK. [Laughs]
Kevin: And I think the other big thing too is, you know—and over the years this has become really abundantly clear to me—is […]we look at, like,setting goals, or whatever it is. You know, when we’re shooting for these goals, we want these things to happen, and the challenge with a lot of folks is that they’re like not really happy until, like,“Well,if this happened,or if I was a millionaire, or if I have a successful business, or if I had this, then I’d be happy, then life would be really good.”And the reality is, life is really good right now.
Buck: I think you really say that,and I totally agree. And I find one of the things that helps me personally is having gratitude on a regular basis. Because it’s… even the small victories, the little things that kind of move me a little closer. Not necessarily “Hey, you know, I want to have this big goal, but I don’t have it,and I’m unhappy,” like you said. But for me,it’s sort of if I take a step towards that goal, positive outcome occurs because I tried something.I was willing to go outside of my comfort zone, or whatever it was,and then I show some gratitude,I feel so good about that.I just say,“Thank you.” That feels great.
I’m not trying to get spiritual or anything on anyone.
Kevin:No, I’m with you. I’m totally with you.
Buck: But it’s sort of that “feel good,”and maybe it releases some endorphins or whatever happens that you show some appreciation.
Kevin: Yeah. So you just here on it right there. So, like you know, in the appreciation thing, because in being [grateful], I mean,yes, we can do that and regularly.I mean, like, even on a daily basis, I’m giving conscious thought to the good things going on in my life, you know.And I give more thought to that than the stuff that’s not going the way I want, you know what I mean.Coz we all got that too,so it’s where do we place our focus. And being grateful, it really implies that something good had to happen to us or in order to be grateful for… And…
Buck: Sometimes it does, sometimes it’s you’re grateful for your family or the fact that you have a roof over your head and three meals to eat today. [Laughs]
Kevin: Absolutely, yeah. And what I’ve learned through a friend of mine—his name’s Jesse—and one of the things that I’ve learned is this concept of active appreciation. And, as you know,the listeners don’t yap, but one of the things I’ve done over the years is build my own business by partnering and collaborating with other people who are in a position to help me expand my message and get it out there into the marketplace,get it out there in the world in a much bigger way.And the way that I’ve gotten…coz people are always, like, “Gosh, Kevin, how in the heck,” you know,at this point we’ve done over 400 collaborative projects like that for people who’ve helped me in that way, and people look at that and go, “How the heck do you do that, Kev?” And the secret to the whole thing is really in this thing that, you know, my friend Jesse taught me, called active appreciation. Which is just… see, coz we can completely control that.And when we actively appreciate and genuinely appreciate other people, it is amazing how much cooperation and collaboration we get […] because people are just attracted to that.
Buck:And you hit that on the head because if you have that gratitude, that appreciation, it actually isa calming effect on your psyche. And when you’re calm, that leads to confidence, and [people are attracted to thatrelaxed approach]. They,like, they see that in you, where as opposed to…We’ve all seen people that seem on-edge; they seem anxious. They have anxiety, and they want something from you. [And I tell you,] to succeed, I think, to get things that you want out of life, you need other people.And that’s the same thing that I teach in Survival Dad—I don’t teach the bunker mentality. I don’t teach that people should go and, you know, like you see on that… what’s that bunker show, I forget what it’s called but they…
Kevin:Is it the Doomsday Preppers thing?
Buck:Well, there’s Doomsday Preppers, and they certainly have people with bunker mentality, but I think there’s a bunker show where people go,“Hey, I’m going to head to the hills. I’m going to have my guns and be by myself with my family,and I’m not going to talk to anybody,and I’m going to shoot anything that moves. [Laughs]
Kevin:Wow. Gotcha, okay.
Buck:But I don’t think that’s really [helpful]. If, you know, the stuff doeshit the fan,I don’t think that’s how people are going to survive. I think people are going to survive in groups,in communities, and helping each other. And I think this also, this notion of having active appreciation speaks to that as well.
Kevin:Yeah. Well, I mean, that’s how it’s been throughout history […]; the people that live the fullest lives, the people that are the most successful, they didn’t do it on their own.They’re not hiding out in a bunker doing anything substantial on their own.They’re doing it with the aid of other people.
Buck: Yes, and in fact helping a lot of people.And then in turn receive help themselves.
Kevin: Yes. Yes. And I’ll tell you, you know, to be where I’m at at this point my life,I am just completely surrounded by absolutely incredible people. […] I mean, you and I […], we’ve known each other for I don’t know how many years now, it’s been a while.
Buck: It’s at least six years, I think, since we first met.
Kevin: Yeah. Yeah.
Kevin’s Business Going Online
Buck: I have a question for you, Kevin, and this is… we didn’t get into the transition of the carpet-cleaning business to [when you realized] there were things about the business that you did not like.So I want to make sure—coz I know I promisedI would keep your call short, and I know you need to move on. But I want to make sure that people hear this because not all vehicles are the same.
Buck:Youand Ihave chosen to make [or] have our business be virtual, online-based kind of business.Why is that? Why is that better? What enabled you to do [this] and so forth? You mind just giving us the cliff notes on that?
Kevin: Sure. Sure. So,once I kind of figured out in the-carpet cleaning business, you know, that, like, wow that’s…What I think about the carpet-cleaning business and really coming to terms with what I really wanted was what I loved about the cleaning business was the marketing.
Kevin:So I was, like, you know,“If there’s a way for me to use that more effectively and kind of figure out how I can have a business that doesn’t take up so much of my time, where it gives me more flexibility and also allows me to increase my income, all that kind of stuff. And that’s what led me to the Internet.And even with that day in my office,once I had that list, I didn’t know exactly what to do with it. But at least now, for the first time, I knew where I wanted to go.
Buck:Well, every opportunity will be measured against your criterion now.
Kevin: Yes. Yes.
Buck: Which is a big move.
Kevin: That’s right. And, so, later that year—I think the fall of that year—I had gone to a damn Kennedy seminar. And I had met twogentlemen in particular. One was Perry Marshall, another one was Yanik Silver.
Buck:I love all 3 of those men.So, if you’re listening, you kind of, you’re getting our secret,our bat-list here,of guys that we kind of follow in terms of marketing. Coz I think marketing is definitely… understanding marketing principles can be an avenue toward success. In doing the kinds of things, at least the vehicles you and I have chosen to use.
Kevin: That’s right.And back then, you know,Perry and Yanik were doing some stuff online, and I was like,“Wow, maybe there’s something here for me.”
Kevin: So I started studying under both of them now. And what came of that is my first online venture.I took what I already knew, I took the knowledgebase that I already had from the cleaning industry.And I started this little website called “Get Mold Solutions.” And, you know,not… probably one of the ugliest websites on the internet. [Buck laughs] Not an exciting topic,unless you got a mold problem, you’re all about what I got to offer. [Laughs]
Buck: Of course, you have a very specific market you’re addressing.And a burning need because I know a lot of people that have gotten sick.In fact, I just got off the phone with a very well-known copywriter, very successful copywriter,who had his own experience with mold and getting sick from mold. And we were just talking about it the other day.
Kevin:I think I know who you’re talking about. [Laughs]
Buck: Was it Perris? You know Perris?
Kevin:Yes. I know Perris.
Buck:Yes [laughs]. Right. So, yeah, it’s amazing how many people are affected by those kinds of things. And so, you came out with a solution to address that as a product that you sold online.
Kevin: Yes, and we actually… I started out selling mold-test kits, mold-cleaning products, then I ended up creating an information product.And so, you kind of make all these discoveries along the way of what people really want from you and just by communicating and dialoguing with them, and they’ll tell you what they want,and how you can help them. And so, we just came out with an information product to answer a specific need. And then, man,I mean, I’ll tell you people have been asking me medical questions [Buck laughs].And I was like, “What did I ever say to anybody to make anybody think Iwas qualified to answer medical-related questions?I’m just the guy who ran the…”
Buck:The second you start publishing information about any topic, you become the expert don’t you?Doesn’t matter what the…
Kevin: Yeah, that’s what happens.
Buck: You became an instant expert.
Kevin:Yup. And so I ended up finding this doctordown in Spring,Texas. Dr. Andrew Campbell, that was his specialty. That’s what he did. I still remember the day I called his office and got his assistant. And I just told her the story, I was, like, “Hey I got this mold website.I’m getting all these people interacting with me, and now they’re starting to ask me medical questions, and I can’t answer this stuff.”And I just said,“I’d like to talk to Dr. Campbell, and see if he might…” I was, like,“I’ve got an audience that would love to hear from him.”
And two days later, he was calling me back. And he now became a part of my published product and has gotten clients—or patients I guess you would call them for his business—as a result of what we’ve done together.
Buck:That was a win-win.
Kevin: That was a win-win.
Buck: And so, you became a marketing arm for his business,which is amazing.
Kevin: That’s right. Yeah.
Buck: So, again, seeking out, getting help, and you didn’t… you just said,“Wait a minute, you don’t have a college degree,you’re not a doctor,you’re not a health practitioner.” But yet, you were able to—through some a little bit of elbow grease and getting a mentor—you were able to launch this business, get a product out there that addressed the problem,sort of tangential to what you were seeing from your previous business, right? Carpet cleaning.
Kevin: Uh-huh. Yeah.
Buck: Interesting. So, what were the aspects of this business that were so much different from what made it so much more attractive to you than the carpet-cleaning business?
Kevin: I was really able to leverage my efforts with that business. With the mold business.And…
Buck:Leverage as in time-money in exchange for time?
Kevin: Exactly.Exactly. And I didn’t have to be physically out there. I was able to communicate one-to-many. I was able to show them how I can be of service and a value to them. And I didn’t have to be face-to-face, it didn’t have to be one-on-one.I mean, gosh, I think back to the ‘70s when my parents were in Amway going one-to-one, showing all these people the Amway opportunity. And now, thanks to the Internet,thanks to technology, we can communicate one-to-many.I mean, gosh, when I send out an email, it goes to thousands of people at once.
Buck: Yup. And the cost for doing so is now extremely low compared to TV or direct mail or something else, right?
Buck: So you’ve got leverage.So before, you were trading time for dollars.I know a lot of people—I came from the software industry, and people do professional services and trade time for doing engineering work, money for engineering work. You were trading time to clean carpets in exchange for money. Now you have a one-to-many. So high leveraged, get the message out to large numbers of people that have a problem. Sell them product scalably without you having to go in there and do something specific for each person.
Kevin: That’s correct.
Buck: That’s huge, huge leverage, and that’s a trapping of a very successful business model that people can learn about, you know, learn the concept of on this interview.
Buck: Okay. And what… so that… you did the mold business,you’vesince gone on to other niches as well, haven’t you? [Laughs]
Kevin: You know, I mean, if you would’vetold me back then what… because it just keeps unfolding,you know, and now it’s just become this completely natural progression. And so, what happened with the mold business,I started that in 2000. By 2002,I was producing between 11,000 and 12,000 dollars a month with that online business.
Buck: Well, hold on a second,coz for anybody, a six-figure business is like the Holy Grail.Right?
Buck: For a lot of people, that’s the Holy Grail. And you say that’s a business you had that was just running sort of like clockwork, and you are operating that from home.
Kevin: Yes. Yes.That was just completely online, and we were selling physical products as well as information products. And, like, I just set up relationships with vendors that could send out… I mean, we just got it set up, so that when an order came in, a copy of that orderwould automatically get forwarded to the vendor. They would fulfill the order. They had my business credit card. They billed me,but I’d already been paid. So my profit was the difference.And I was all about “I’mgoing to set up systems to make this thing just work,”so that’s what we did. That’s what we did.
Student Becomes Master
Kevin: And so,in ‘03, October of … oh excuse me, October of ‘02, Joe invited me down to his big annual event for the cleaning and restoration business. He said,“Kevin,why don’t you come down here and speak and just show everybody what you’re doing online.” And I’m, like, “Alright.” And I’ve never spoken in front of an audience in my life.
Buck: You became the trainer.You became the mentor.
Kevin: Yeah. And you know, I didn’t even view it that way at that point in time.I was just, like,“Well,I’m doing something kind of cool here.” I was excited to show everybody what I was doing, you know. And after that presentation—and I spoke, I don’t know, maybe 60 minutes or so—and afterwards I was mobbed at the back of the room [Buck laughs]. And people want me to help them, you know, “Oh my gosh, Kevin, this is awesome, can you help me do this? I want to do something like that too.” You know, and at that point I didn’t have anything, and I was, like,“Man, I was just showing you what I was doing. I don’t have anything.”
Buck:Right. He just brought me in as a success story, and I just wanted to share some of my secrets.
So that morphed into, you now discovered a new calling,and that is to provide mentorship to business entrepreneurs.
Kevin: Yeah. Show people how to do what I did.Which is just… Now, I mean, that’s what I’ve been doing before,showing people how to do some stuff I knew how to do and address concerns and problems.And, now, we’re just repeating that again except for a different thing.
Kevin: And after that ‘02 event, Joe pulled me aside, and he’s, like,“Kevin, I’m going to have you come back next year and speak again. Between now and then, you need to document what you do,and how you do it, so you have something to offer these folk.”
Buck: Systematize it. Yup.
Kevin: That’s right. And so,I created, during the year, I created a manual, I created some CDs.In fact, I can still remember writing that very first manual and documenting everything.I wrote that entire…I don’t know the manual’s probably 200-something pages, and I wrote the whole first version of that in three days. Threereally long days.
Kevin:And when I was done, it felt great…
Buck: Yeah, sure.
Kevin: …to have that accomplishment done and under my belt. But I also knew I didn’t want to repeat that process again.And since then, we figured out way easier ways to get information to other people.
Buck:Well,I tell you, I mean, you… and I know you use this a lot, but, you know, telling seminars and webinars and recording your own video and audio and getting things transcribed,they’revery, very powerful mechanisms for creating content fast.
Buck:Well, I know we’re coming up at the end of the session that we promised, but you’ve covered some really powerful points here for the Survival Dad audience. You and I don’t have any kind of business relationship, but I know that there is a way that the people can find out about what you’re doing because a part of your business is for folks that see as I do, and I really profess that the road to self-reliance includes financial self-reliance. And really the true path to financial self-reliance is having your own business. Whether that’s a side-business that you’re operating to bring in some extra income, and that’s actually what Idid.[Over] the years before I did it full-time, Ihad a number of side-businesses that sort of helpedme learn and then develop and get more confidence and then, finally, I had a breakthrough.
Or,if you’re looking to make the jump faster… but I think everyone should be looking at bringing in additional income through some kind of online business. I think the opportunities are so great. The tools and capabilities are there, you just need to have the right mentor.And so, the reason I’ve known Kevin, I know what he’s done for the last… at least the six years that I’ve known him and the successes that he’s had,and the successes that his students have had.That’s why I wanted to talk to you. I would like to, you know, is there a way that people can find out more about what you’re doing, and how maybe they can work with you in the future?
Kevin: Sure. Sure.So, I’ve got a website at automaticincomecoach.com. And they can just go there, and I also host this event—I call it my behind-the-scenes tour—where I actually take thismold website we were talking about, I actually take people on a behind-the-scenes tour of that website and show them how I do what Ido.
Buck: Do they have to wear an N95 mask or something? [Laughs]
Kevin:Nope. Nope. We’re not going into the house library.It’s all virtual, so no masks required. [Laughs]
Buck: OK. Awesome. Coz I got a few of those, you know, for just-in-case. But…. OK, fantastic. So, they get a behind-the-scenes tour of that particular business, right?
Kevin: Yes. Yes.
Buck: Coz people might be afraid, thinking, “Are you teaching me to become a mentor? Maybe I don’t want to be a coach.” Actually, you are talking about maybe creating a product business going after a niche and putting a product out there and finding a market and selling it online.
Kevin: Yeah. It could be a product business. It could be physical products, it can be information products.What I really do with this is try [to] get people clear on how they can provide value to other people.
Kevin: Coz this is about far more than just, like,“Okay, I want a website like yours, Kevin,that just puts money into my bank account,”you know?And quite honestly, if that’s where you’re at,I’m probably not the right guybecause that’s not what I do.
Kevin:But if you’re somebody… If you’re like,OK, you know… If you’re kind of thinking to yourself, “OK, if I can be doing anything that I want to be doing, and I got great satisfaction from doing that, and I also was getting compensated well doing that, what would that look like?”Well, I can help you get some real clarity around that andintroduce you to some incredible tools to help make it a reality.
Buck:Maybe what we’ll do is put a link to get to the behind-the-scenes tour on the show notes for this interview.And I’ll set that up at survivaldad.com/Kevin, so folks can go there, and if they want to get the tour, completely virtual, theydon’t need to wear a mask. [Laughs] And can see what was going on behind the scenes on the mold business, the online mold business that Kevin had created. That would be fantastic.
Well, Kevin, thank you so much. This is perfect because we covered, youknow, philosophy, some mental sort, or I’ll call them tricks,but approaches that people can take to kind of prepare themselves for something like this. And I think the importance, seeing your story is so inspiring. Coming from where you came and almost losing your life. The amount of time and effort you have put into things,the struggle thatyou went through to where you are now. I think that’s very inspiring for me.I love to re-live other people’s success stories.[laughs]
Kevin: Uh-huh. Me too. Me too, totally.
Buck: So, this is awesome. But, okay. And anyone that’s listening, if you want to find a way to get back to Kevin, go ahead and check out the show notes because we’re going to have a transcript of this discussion plus the link to get to the behind-the-scenes tour. So, go to survivaldad.com/kevin. Kevin, thanks so much, and I know I’m probably keeping you away from yourfamily coz I saw you telling someone to be quiet [laughs]. So, I know you got kids running around there. What do you have planned for the holidays?Anything fun?
Kevin:Family. And we actually had, during her high-school year, we had an exchange student from China living with us, and now she’s going to school down in San Francisco,but we are flying her up for the weekend. And she comes and stays with us once or twice a year, so it’s awesome to get together with her again.And, of course, all the other kids will be around too, so…
Buck: Fantastic. Well, have a great time. Thanks again,and I really appreciate you doing this interview with us.
Kevin:It was my pleasure,Buck.
Buck: Thanks, Kevin.