TMBA543: Taking the Entrepreneurial Leap

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One of the most widely read and recommended books about business management is Gino Wickman’s ‘Traction‘.

When Gino’s team reached out to say that he had a new book coming out aimed at helping would-be and early-stage entrepreneurs, we thought it would be cool to invite Gino on to the podcast to talk about it.

On today’s show, Ian sits down with Gino to discuss the ideas raised in ‘Entrepreneurial Leap’.

In this wide-ranging conversation, you’ll hear Gino’s thoughts on the value of going to college, whether you should be following the passion or the money, and why not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur.

See the full transcript below


Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • The origins of EOS Worldwide and how Gino sold it. (4:11)
  • What “Entrepreneurial Leap’ is about and who it was written for. (16:01)
  • The six essential traits that Gino believes are necessary to be a true entrepreneur. (25:02)
  • Why Gino believes it’s important to do what you love. (35:43)
  • Gino’s thoughts on coaching and mentorship. (42:15)


Mentioned in the episode:

Before the Exit – Our New Book
TMBA Masterminds
Partner With Us
The Dynamite Circle
Dynamite Jobs
Dynamite Deals
Tropical MBA on YouTube
Gino Wickman
Traction by Gino Wickman
Entrepreneurial Leap by Gino Wickman
Don Tinney – Free Tools Library
Start With Why by Simon Sinek
Zig Ziglar
Mentoring by Floyd Wickman & Terri Sjodin

Enjoyed this podcast? Check out these:

TMBA520: The Re-Readables: Purple Cow
TMBA534: The Re-Readables: The Millionaire Fastlane
TMBA536: Are You Really “Unemployable”?


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Thanks for listening to our show! We’ll be back next Thursday morning 8AM EST.


Dan & Ian





Full Transcript

Gino: I believe if you do what you love, the money will follow. And this is where we probably totally disagree. If you start with the money, I believe you’re gonna make a mistake.

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Dan: Bossman, we are back on the TMBA podcast in the pod shop. You are in the captain’s chair, which is appropriate because you are the captain, the implementer and the interviewer in chief here today.

Ian: Where does the captain’s chair come from, it’s got to be a boat thing right?

Dan: Sit behind the big wheel. Yeah. When you’re in the captain’s chair, the chair’s more important than the wheel because the wheel you attach it to that little thing and you don’t really turn that much.

Ian: I don’t know that much about boats. All I know is they’re on sale. I’ve been looking on Craigslist, man. It’s the time to buy the boat, summer’s coming.

Dan: We are all out at sea right now trying to figure out how to adjust to what is an economic downturn and an incredibly challenging time for businesses. And a lot of the ways that’s been manifesting in the community here is to take a look at how we design our businesses. And today’s episode to that end is on topic.

I think it’s fair to say that many listening will have at least heard of the book, ‘Traction’, which is often mentioned in online forums like Reddit as a key resource for managing businesses. So ‘Traction’ outlines and indeed trademark something called EOS, or ‘Entrepreneur Operating System’, which is, I’ll quote, ‘a complete set of simple concepts and practical tools that has helped thousands of entrepreneurs get what they want from their businesses’.

Now, the teaching and the implementation of the EOS system actually grew into a multi million dollar business. They have around 350 implementers worldwide that you could go out and hire like consultants and bring into your business to apply this EOS. Now the author of traction and the creator of EOS is Gino Wickman. And so when his team reached out to us and said, ‘Hey, Geno has written a new book about very early stage entrepreneurs, he would like to come on your show’. We were like yeah, yeah. Let’s talk to the guy who wrote this book that had such an enormous influence. Now Bossman today you are the interviewer in chief as well as the implementer in chief which is ‘Traction’ term. A few thoughts at the top before we roll this interview.

Ian: Dan, it was really interesting to talk with Gino. He’s definitely seen a lot of businesses. A similar situation that we’re in, which is, we get to see a lot of these businesses and we get to see a lot of people become entrepreneurs kind of in front of our faces, which is a truly fascinating process to watch. I did it at times, during this interview, disagree with Gino, and I think that that will come out, but he was very gracious in his responses.

Dan: I mean, he’s done a tough thing which is trying to distil this idea of how one goes from zero to hero in the course of a short book, and it’s interesting to get people’s take on that process.

Ian: And I’d be curious to hear from the listeners in the comments what you thought about this interview.

Dan: Cool. So let’s let Gino take it away from here and at the end. We’ll swoop back in for a few final thoughts.


Gino: My name is Gino Wickman. And my business is helping entrepreneurs. And it’s a two part answer. I spent 30 years of my life helping entrepreneurs. And 20 of those 30 years was creating something called EOS, and writing five books around that, the most popular book being ‘Traction’. And so ‘EOS Worldwide’ is the business I’m most well known for that has helped over 100,000 companies. My focus now is a passion project. And what I do is help entrepreneurs in the making get a huge jumpstart at taking their ‘Entrepreneurial Leap’.

Ian: What’s the difference between a passion project and a business?

Gino: I’m less concerned about the money the model is very, very unique, and it’s just not economically driven. There will be some economics around it, but that’s all secondary to me. And so what I’m doing is I’m working through collaborators and I’m basically giving my content away for free to any organisation or person that wants to help entrepreneurs.

And then they take that content, they certainly give credit where credit is due, but they are the heroes to their audience. It’s a total open source abundance based model. And that will certainly drive book sales, I’ll derive revenue from those books, sales, and that revenue will be substantial. It’s all relative, but I’m not looking to you know, I could completely change that model to a licencing model where each of those collaborators are paying licencing fees and I could build another multi million dollar business through that, but I’m just not interested in doing it that way. I want this to be revolutionary, different, very unique. And it’s all about first and foremost, helping impact a million entrepreneurs in the making.

Ian: It’s interesting, you know that you’re not so much interested in the money aspect of it. And I think that’s something that probably happens when you have a little bit of success and when you get older, and as I understand it, you have a family. And one of the words that comes to mind for me is legacy. How does that play into this project for you?

Gino: Well, you know, there’s a couple important things. You know, I sold ‘EOS Worldwide’ two years ago and sold it very successfully for extremely high multiples. And so that helps me worry less about revenue in the next endeavour. I still generate a lot of revenue. I still own 12 and a half percent of that business. I still speak. I have five books that I’ve written up and over this book and I still have clients with EOS, I’m still an EOS implementer. So I generate a lot of revenue still, even after the sale.

And so again, those things afforded me a luxury to worry less about the economics of this business, but also be very creative. I live a very balanced life. I work very hard, but I’m fanatical about my time. And so I take 150 days off a year, and the weeks that I work, I work about 55 hours a week. So in that container, in that capacity of the time I work, I work very hard. I’m very intense, I’m very engaged. But in the time that I take off, I turn it off 100%. I take lots of vacations, I spend lots of family time, I spend time with friends. I spend time with myself. And so I’m very balanced from that standpoint. So I’m able to work very, very hard and play very, very hard.

Ian: Gino, were you taking off 150 days a year when you owned EOS?

Ian: Yeah. There’s two parts of my EOS life, if you will. And so there’s the author, there’s the EOS implementer that I am that works with my clients. And then there’s my speaking, and then there’s the time that I gave to ‘EOS Worldwide’ as their visionary. Okay, and so what I did when I started ‘EOS Worldwide’ once I created EOS, I found a great partner in Don Tinney and I told Don, ‘You have 45 days a year of my time as your visionary, you will never get one second more, but I will never give you one second less’, and over 10 to 12 years he and I built ‘EOS Worldwide’. So I gave him those 45 days, he used them well, and the rest of the time was all in me writing books, working with my clients, doing speaking engagements, things like that.

Ian: That was my follow up, which is why do you think it’s so important to be strict, to that point?

Gino: It’s important to me, okay. And so in no way am I preaching this to others, although I recommend it. It’s so it’s important to me, this is just my MO. This is how I manage my energy very, very well. And this keeps me creative and energised. We all have different DNA and you got to figure out what is the lifestyle that works best for your unique body, and that’s the one that works best for me.

Ian: Congratulations on selling the business, that’s a big deal. We went through that in 2015. One of the most stressful times of my life, can you tell me about some of your emotions and some of your ideas as you’re leading up to the sale, and then also after the sale? Specifically, one of the things I’m curious about is that, like a lot of people, you probably had a tonne of identity wrapped up in your business. And then one day, that’s over.

Gino: Yeah, so no, I don’t have a lot of identity tied up in my business. And I do that by design. And so there’s no ego attached to it. But when I named it, the marketing firm that I engaged, a real high end marketing firm, tried like hell to get me to put my name on it, and I will not put my name on it. And so it’s called EOS. And 100 years from now, I want the world to remember EOS and not me. I don’t need to be remembered and all of this, that’s point number one, and that’s vital if you want to sell yourself because your business can’t be dependent on you. And so the biggest mistake an owner makes is, that’s all they do everyday is work in their business and their identity is in that business. And then they sell and the next day, they are miserable because they’re working for someone, they’ve lost their identity.

I was fortunately savvy enough, I sold a business once before I took over a family business and did a big turnaround. We sold that so I learned from that experience. I was fanatical over a five year period, and it takes five years, about a succession plan. And so what Don and I did is we succeeded ourselves out of the business two years before we even sold, we put in place a leadership team, a brand new visionary that replaced me, a brand new integrator that replaced him in a leadership team. That company was self sufficient. And so when we sold, the day before the closing, and the day after closing, there was not one thing about my life that changed, because again, I’m so fanatical about planning for that.

The other thing is with this new project we’re about to talk about, I planned this 10 years before I sold and so when I was 40, I said when I turned 50, this is where I’m putting my energy. And so I knew for 10 years what I was going to be doing at age 50. And so I already knew, you know, using your word, my ‘new identity’, there won’t be any identity attached to this either. I want the world to know about ‘Entrepreneurial Leap’ and this next project. So I have no ego about this. The other thing is, you know, I’m a mad scientist introvert, I’m not a schmoozer. I’m not a small talker. I don’t need to be out there. I don’t want my face out there. I literally did one podcast building ‘EOS Worldwide’ because it wasn’t necessary. For this project., I have to put my face out there on the front end of this thing. I’m having a blast doing it. And so that’s my humble two cents.

Ian: So Gino, I do want to talk about your new book. But I don’t want you to get away with not answering this question which is Yeah, tell me tell me about your emotion after, I mean your life not may not have changed, certainly had more money in your bank account. What was the one emotion that you were feeling? Maybe a week later A month later?

Gino: A elation? 10,000 pounds lighter. You know somebody asked me in a podcast you know, ‘What was the big purchase I made when I closed the deal?’ I didn’t buy anything, there was nothing in other words. I had lots of money before the sale. I’m a saver. You know, I socked away money every year building that company. So the sale was just the icing on the cake. There was no big emotional change there. I didn’t feel a sense of loss, you know, which most do, I didn’t feel a loss of identity. I was very eager to get after my next project. There’s no question about that. I was already starting to tinker, certainly. But I felt 10,000 pounds lighter, because no matter how you slice it, I owned a majority of that business. And it was on my mind every single night, even though there was a leadership team running it and solving all those problems, it was still on my mind, because, you know, that’s how OCD works. They never leave me. And so if anything, I was 10,000 pounds lighter.

The timing was perfect to sell it. The business has gotten to a size that wasn’t fun for me, you know, there’s literally 400 people in that organisation now. There are better people that need to run that company now and take it to the next 10x So it’s just not enjoyable. I’m a creator and a builder. So sale or not, at 50, I was shifting my energy, no matter what I was doing.

Ian: That’s interesting. You have a section in this new book, ‘Entrepreneurial Leap’, where you start to talk about basically, how to define your ideal business and also how to not let your business get away from you. And it sounds like for you, maybe you did let your business get a little bit away from you if you had 400 people in your organisation and that wasn’t the type of organisation that you ultimately wanted to have. How did that happen?

Gino: No, it didn’t get away from me, that’s why I sold. In other words, it just wasn’t for me any longer. And again, it was a self sufficient business with a great leadership team in place. So it just made sense to sell. You know, in this book, that’s the whole idea is for an entrepreneur to clearly see their path, see the glimpse of what’s right for them well before they do it, which is what I did with this business.

I just knew when it wasn’t fun for me any longer. And to literally stop the growth at a certain point would not have done that business service. It has taken on a life of its own and it must continue to grow. Every business is an entity unto itself. And it needs to become what it’s going to become, so in no way would I ever reign in or harness. So to try to control that and stop that, for me that would not be fair to, you know, the people in that business, that leadership team and the business owners in the world that it’s going to help.

Ian: Okay, so ‘Entrepreneurial Leap’, can you give me the premise here, and give me what your vision is. And then we’re going to talk about some of the different chapters in there. So give me your hot take on what this book is and who should be reading it.

Gino: So this book is for an entrepreneur in the making, there are three parts to the book: confirm, glimpse and path and what I’m doing is I’m helping an entrepreneur in the making decide if this entrepreneurial journey is right for them. And so it’s first confirming that they are, showing them a glimpse of their future, and then showing them the path to greatly increase their odds of success. But as quickly it’s to talk anyone out of doing this that is not an entrepreneur in the making.

So right now, everybody wants to be an entrepreneur and I want to help them decide if this is right for them. Because the ones that I’m going to talk out of this, I’m going to save them 10 years of hell. So I’m going to do those people as much a service as the ones that do take their leap. The idea is to find the 4% on the planet that have these six essential traits that every true entrepreneur does, and then show them the life they were born to live.

Ian: It’s interesting, because you know, my experience, and you can agree or disagree, I find it easier to kind of push people forward that have already chosen a path. Like they’re already on a trajectory, right? So they come to you and they’re like, ‘Hey, man, I got a $2 million business, I need help getting to 5 million’, but you you’re kind of selecting this group of people that say, ‘I don’t know what I really want, and but maybe I want a glimpse into this life’. That seems harder in some ways.

Gino: It is harder. And there’s not a lot of money in it. But again, it’s a passion project. And so there’s an old saying that says, ‘We teach what we needed the most’. Okay? And that’s a saying by Daniel Kennedy. And so for me, I’m seeing my 18 year old self and man, if I knew this at 18 years old as this mislabeled derelict entrepreneur in the making, insecure kid, lost, confused if I knew what I was, I didn’t know what I was until age 30. And so I could have had a 12 year jumpstart on that.

And so, absolutely, it’s about helping that person before they take their entrepreneurial leap, decide if this is right for them. And with that, you know, there is this second audience that I did not expect, but certainly someone who has taken their leap, they’re a year or two in, and they’re bumping their head a lot. This is a great litmus test to decide if they made the right decision.

And then there’s actually a third audience and that is those collaborators I talked about. Anybody that wants to help entrepreneurs in the making mentor them, teach them. This book does all the heavy lifting as well as the nine free tools that I offer on the website. So with that said, ‘Yes, it is harder’. And you know, having been someone for the last 20 years that is focused on helping successful entrepreneurs with businesses, and lots of money to spend, an 18 year old, a 25 year old, whatever the ages and again, you could be 55 years old, that’s thinking about taking the entrepreneurial leap, there’s not a lot of money in that, but that’s okay. In other words, I just want to get them these resources very inexpensively so they can make the right decision for themselves.

Ian: Running a business successfully I think has a lot to do with formula and process and good people. Now when I think about getting into entrepreneurship, I don’t think there’s a formula, I think things like back against the wall, strange circumstances, ‘I had to do this’, like more emotional almost. You have a little image in the beginning of the book. Left side it says, ‘self employed’. And on the right side it says, ‘true entrepreneur’ and there’s a line there. And it’s kind of like a spectrum as I understand it.

Gino: As I answer that I want to back up a step because you use the word ‘formula’, and I want to address something so that because I think you and I are very much on the same page with what you said, there is no formula for becoming an entrepreneur. It doesn’t exist. There’s no process. There’s no system. And if somebody’s out there teaching this one way, A to Z to build a business, they’re lying to you because it is: your back’s against the wall, you’re figuring out every step of the way.

And so that’s why the ‘confirm’ step of the book first and foremost confirms that you have the six essential traits because the only way you’re going to build a successful business is if you have those six essential traits. Because if there were a process, I always like to say it’s four steps: you have an idea, you take a leap, you get your ass kicked for 10 to 20 years and you emerge an entrepreneur, hopefully, there’s a 50/50 chance that you there’s no formula. It’s just somebody with these traits, figuring it out.

Anyway to answer your question, I call it the ‘entrepreneurial’ range because I’m also trying to help this person that’s soul searching. Do I have these traits? We can talk about those in just a minute. It’s important to understand that we’re talking about true entrepreneurs, as I call them. And so this ‘entrepreneur range’, if you picture all self employed people on the planet. Well, all of those self employed people fall somewhere on that range. And like you said, on the right hand side picture true entrepreneurs on the left hand side picture, self employed people

Ian: So maybe on the left hand side, they have some kind of behaviour problem and like no one would hire them. So they kind of have to start their business.

Gino: Well, no, I would say this – everyone on the range decides to start a business for whatever reason, they want freedom. What I’m saying is, on the left side, these are the self employed people, one person shows, people with side hustles, people that you know, have a consultancy. And then on the right side picture, the greatest entrepreneurs of all time, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Oprah Winfrey, Sara Blakely. So these are the redline true entrepreneurs.

What I’m speaking to and I’m what I’m teaching with this project are the people on the right end of the spectrum. And so my point is, those people have the six essential traits. You don’t necessarily have to have all six essential traits if you’re going to just do a side hustle. If you have handy skills and you want to become a handyman or handy woman, you can literally go out, be self-employed, charge 60 bucks an hour, make 100 grand a year and be just fine and amen and hallelujah. Anybody anywhere on that range is taking a risk. It’s respectful, it’s admirable, it’s just I’m speaking to and teaching people that are on the right end of that spectrum that build organisations with people and really want, you know, mission driven companies trying to make a huge impact on the world.

Ian: So that was gonna be my follow up to that Gino, which is the actual difference? And the term that comes to mind for me is ‘scale’.

Gino: Exactly right. And what I would suggest to you is, you know, let’s pretend all of those people start a business because they want to be self employed. Well, someone with the six essential traits can’t help themselves but to continue to drive and build and grow. I mean, you just can’t get out of your head, where that lifestyle entrepreneur says, “You know what, I’m making my hundred grand, I’m self-employed, I’m paying the bills. I’m working a few days a week, I’ve got a good gig, great”. I wish I knew what that content felt like. But for me and again, the rest of us, we’re just, we’re just driven to continue to build and create and grow.

Ian: That’s interesting that you mentioned they’re content, do you think they are content or that they don’t have the tools? Or that they don’t have the know how, the knowledge, the resources like why do people get stuck? If it’s even a thing that’s negative? Why do people get stuck in the self employed section and never move on to entrepreneur?

Gino: I don’t know the percentages, but there’s some percentage that it is contentment, they’re just content. They love the lifestyle business. And then I would suggest there’s then two other types of people in that group. One, yes, they’re just stuck. They don’t know, no one’s enlightened them, you know. And so that’s where I hope they get their hands on this book because ‘glimpse’ is going to show them their future and it’s going to light them up. And then there is the third kind who is saying, “I’m stuck here with this one person show I want out, I want to build something and I have no idea how to do that teach me.”

Ian: You mentioned some of these traits. One of the ones that I picked out of the book was ‘problem solver’. And then you mentioned what the opportunities are for people that are missing some of these traits. And I thought this was kind of an interesting part of the book for me because you said, “If you’re missing one of these traits, and one of them being problem solver, maybe you should go buy a franchise”. And you didn’t mention in like a negative way. It was just like, ‘Hey man, like, here’s the deal, if you want to be a true entrepreneur and have to endure all these problems and whatnot, you have all these traits, let’s go talk about it. If not, here are your options”. And I think the options are not necessarily bad ones here. In the days of social media, and everybody being on a pedestal and a podium, how are people going to be okay with not being a true entrepreneur and then instead being a franchise owner?

Gino: Yeah, I love that. And so sorry to keep backing up one step with each one of your questions, but I’m going to answer that. But let’s first for your listeners sake, I want to share what the six essential traits are so they can understand what we’re talking about. And if you don’t mind, I want to do a two minute riff on this because what I want your listener to do is literally scan their body, do a self assessment checkup from the neck up, do you feel you possess these six essential traits?

And so here we go, high level: they are visionary, passionate, problem solver, driven, risk taker and responsible. The two minute riff is: visionary means that you have lots of ideas, you’re able to connect the dots. Passionate means you have an undying passion for your product or your service. You want to fill a void, you want to put a dent in the universe. Problem Solver means you’re a creative problem solver, you lean into setbacks. You’re an optimist by nature, you see solutions where everyone else sees problems. Driven means you have an internal fire, a sense of urgency, you’re competitive, you want to succeed, you’re self motivated, you hustle you love working hard. Risk takers, you don’t freeze when you have a tough decision to make, you’re rebellious in nature, you’re willing to fail, you don’t want to but you’re willing to fail and you beg for forgiveness as opposed to ask for permission. And responsible simply means you blame no one. When you have a problem you default to looking in the mirror, ‘How do I solve my problem?’ as opposed to pointing out a bunch of other people who created your problem?

And so, those are the six essential traits, to answer your question i because I really want to understand the psychology behind what you’re asking because when we talk about, you know, ‘Go buy a franchise’, if you’re not visionary, and you’re not a problem solver, hell yeah, go buy a franchise because they’re going to solve all your problems for you. A franchise does show you a system A to Z on how to have a business, and quite frankly, someone with these six essential traits would blow their brains out being in a franchise.

In other words, somebody like this that buys one ‘Subway’ location that has to follow rules every minute of every day is going to go out of their minds. Entrepreneur, true entrepreneurs, don’t follow rules, you set your own rules, you do it your own way. Now with that said, true entrepreneurs do buy multiple franchises and you know, I’m talking about somebody that goes and buys one franchise location. And again, that’s admirable and it works. That model works great. So I’m trying to answer your question, but let’s go into this, I want to make sure I answer it. I’m trying to get to the psychology of what you’re asking because you’re intrigued.

Ian: The basic question is: in a world where everybody’s supposed to be the highest achiever possible. How are you supposed to accurately read these traits? Not say, ‘Fuck, yeah, Gino, I have all these traits because I’m the best’, and say, ‘You know what, I don’t have some of these traits, maybe I should own a franchise’. Because there’s going to be a high percentage of people that read this book, that understand what you’re saying and that aren’t completely honest with themselves or so how do you get honest with yourself? And then how are you okay, buying a franchise? If you know that there’s people that are, quote ‘more successful’ than you?

Gino: Oh, I love that. So, you know, it’s like that question for me does not compute, but I’m gonna explain what I mean by that. Because, man, if anyone is sitting there listening, measuring themselves against others, you’re you can’t win, you’re going to die miserable, okay? And so the first point is there, what I’m describing a true entrepreneur. Listen, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. It is not some pinnacle of the universe that you’ve arrived when you’re a true entrepreneur and building a billion dollar tech unicorn, you know, is not the ultimate destination. So anybody that’s thinking that way. You use the word I’ll use it too. That is fucked up thinking.

What you got to figure out is, and we’re going to get into glimpse in just a minute, what is the right business for you? What are you built for and there’s no bad answer. I sold my business when we were in the 10s of millions of dollars. If I was measuring myself against a tech unicorn, I’m a frickin failure. That’s the last thing I feel like is I’m a failure. If you want to build a $3 million heating and cooling company that throws up a 20% profit, amen and hallelujah to you, that is so admirable. And by the way, hard as shit.
There’s nothing easy about building that business.

So that’s point number one. And obviously, I’m very passionate about that, because it’s so dangerous, how these billion dollar companies are held up as like the ultimate destination. And the other point on that is, listen, being a true entrepreneur is a psychological disorder. Okay? It’s not great. I mean, it’s, we are crazy. And we get our asses kicked most of the time. And we love that. So this is not normal, and it’s 4% of the world in my opinion. We need police officers, and we need doctors and nurses and attorneys. And I mean, so we need all these careers. So listen, as I’m just talking about one little sliver of the world, not the end all be all.

Ian: In chapter six, this is related, you started to talk about businesses, industries and sizes, and you have some different options. When somebody is looking to start a business, you mentioned something that you’re drawn to might be a good option for them. My experience has been a little bit different. I think it’s something that I had a skill set in, something that I was predisposed to, or something that had insider information about. So when we get through this process of becoming an entrepreneur, what does ‘picking something that you’re drawn to’ mean?

Gino: Yeah, that’s fantastic. And again, so backing up a step, giving context. So now we’ve finished the whole ‘confirm’ conversation and let’s pretend for the sake of this conversation, your audience has confirmed that they are a true entrepreneur and they have the six essential traits.

Now we’re into the second part of the book that is now giving a glimpse of the future. I show a ‘day in the life’, both heaven and hell, and how to avoid hell. But then what you’re getting into now is, I make it abundantly clear all of the options. And I go really deep into this because your job as an entrepreneur in the making is to decide what you are built for, what you are drawn to. And I want to come back to your point about what it’s what you’re exposed to, because you’re correct in that statement, but I want to give the context first.

And so there’s a tool I call ‘My Biz Match’. So everything I’m about to share with you, your listener can go to the website, E (dash) leap (dot) com and literally fill this out and out will pop the perfect business for them. But there’s basically three categories when we talk about all of the options. There’s industry, type, and size. Industry means there are hundreds of industries to choose from. Google search industries, you’ll see them all I list them all in the book. So the first step is to decide what industry you’re kind of drawn to.

Second is type and there’s three parts to type. The first part to type is for you to decide, are you a product person? Or are you a service person? Because those two businesses could not be more different. You’re a product guy. I’m a service guy, at least in your previous business. And so you’ve got to decide what you are drawn to, product or service? From there, we then get into, are you more of a b2b or b2c entrepreneur? Do you love selling to businesses? Or do you love selling to consumers? Two completely different businesses, different types of marketing and sales.

And then the last piece of ‘type’ is are you drawn to high end, high price, high value, low volume, or are you drawn to low price, high volume, you can’t be both. And then the third piece is then ‘size’, meaning what size? Like I said, what appeals to me, you know, I’m good up into a couple hundred employees, you know, 10 or 20 million, that’s kind of my sweet spot. Then I get a little bored with that and uninterested in that and so you got to decide, do you want to build up a billion dollar company, do you want to build a million dollar company or something in between? And the more you are aware of all of these options, you will know yourself better. And you’re right, it’s what you’ve been exposed to in your life is going to help you know what you’re drawn to because all of my 20s I was surrounded by training and service businesses and b2b sales. And so that’s just in my blood, where I got that from, I don’t know, but I think it’s because that’s what I was exposed to.

So I’ve got a friend of mine, he’s a product guy and he loves consumer sales. I have utter disdain for product businesses. When I see inventory, I get the heebie jeebies, looking at a million dollars in inventory freaks me out. But that’s just me. I know that about myself. And so if I didn’t know that about myself, and I started a damn product business in my 30s, I’d be miserable. It’s just not fun to me. I love selling intangibles. I love selling the invisible, if you will.

Ian: Simon Sinek wrote a book ‘Start With The Why’. For me, some of this is drawn by the why when you start a business, but I want to just dig into a little bit more about the definition of ‘drawn to’ because I think like you were, we were drawn to things through experiences. Like, for example, my first job, we had clients, and I just started, excuse me, I decided that I never wanted to have a client again, I wanted to have customers, okay? And, and I decided I wanted to have a product business because the margins were better. So I think, I think ‘drawn to’ is tough, especially if you’ve never owned a business before because we’re all ‘drawn to’ a lot of money and a lot of this and a lot of that. So when you can design these businesses, literally from the ground up. I mean, you’re sitting here, you don’t have a business, maybe you don’t even have an idea. Instead of saying drawn to, would it make more sense to say what are my lifestyle goals? What are my financial goals? And what is the best vehicle to get me there?

Gino: You could, and I get that and this you know, let’s please I love it when you challenge me on anything you don’t agree with because your audience hearing us disagree actually educates them better because they can decide what’s best for them. But here’s what I would suggest to you two things. Number one, to me, this book is for an entrepreneur in the making that hasn’t taken their leap. And what I’m doing is I’m trying to give them a glimpse of their future, as a result they’ll make better decisions because to your point, let’s pretend they follow your path. And they decide their ‘why’ first and find themselves into a business. I want them to now know this direction I’m going is in this industry. It’s a product or service business, it’s a b2b or b2c business, so they know what they’re getting into the awareness is going to make them more successful.

So quite frankly, both of what we’re saying works. The second point I would say is, I believe if you do what you love, the money will follow and this is where we probably totally disagree. If you start with the money, I believe you’re gonna make a mistake. What I love about what you said is, ‘You start with the why’, if you’re starting with the why then we’re in agreement. An example is you know, hotdog stands, the last business on earth I’m ever going to be in his hot dog stands because I don’t want to stand at a stand selling hot dogs. And I don’t want to manage 70 people at stands selling hot dogs. Even if you told me to make a 50% profit and a shitload of money, not interested. It’s not fun to me. So, this is where you know you and I may take a different approach to the world and my approach just says, ‘I’m going to do what I love’, my experience for 30 years is that the money always follows. And again, I’m a big believer in the why, I call it the passion, purpose or cause, you got to know the passion, purpose or cause. The ‘why’ of your business and that needs to drive everything.

Ian: I don’t think we disagree too much. I think the example that comes up in my head a lot when I talk about this is like, say, for example, you’re a rock climber. And that’s just what you love. You love climbing rocks. And that’s your passion. A lot of people in that position if, you know, if they’re trying to take the entrepreneurial leap, they’ll think, well, maybe I should start a rock climbing business. Then all of a sudden, you’re rock climbing, doing guided tours seven days a week. And you fall out of love with rock climbing and you realise like, ‘Oh, wait, rock climbing was my passion’. That’s what I did on the weekends with my family. Now it is my business. So I think that’s an example of where following your passion might lead you to if you try and turn it into a business,

Gino: Yeah, and you promise two thoughts number one, hopefully I’ve not offended your hotdog stand guy.

Ian: I had big dreams.

Gino: Listen hotdog stands are great. I’m not knocking them, they’re just not for me. But you know, so the way I look at what you said there is, if you’re an entrepreneur, a true entrepreneur and a capitalist, okay, and every entrepreneur is a capitalist, whether you like the word or not, and we can debate that to our death. But at the end of the day, you want to make money for some reason. If you’re a true entrepreneur, that passion that you’re going to follow, you are going into it with business savvy, and understanding it as a business.

If you fell into rock climbing, because it was strictly your passion, you’re charging 15 bucks an hour to take people rock climbing. Well, listen, you’re going to fail and you’re going to fail horribly because you got to go into it with an economic understanding. You got to go into it with an understanding of, you know, how much time do you want to put into this thing? What do you want to build? If you go into this with business savvy, you’re not going to make that mistake.

Ian: One of my favourite chapters in this book, and it actually was probably one of the shortest ones, but I’d like you to just elaborate a little bit on it. You said, ‘When in doubt, you’re probably better off going to college’. And I think this is interesting, because nowhere in that chapter did you mention or maybe I missed it, the ROI of going to college these days, so why did you say that? Because you even started off in this chapter saying, “I wanted to write this chapter railing against college and then I wrote it for college”. So I kind of sensed you’re a little bit conflicted, and I want to know why.

Gino: Love it. It’s not the least bit conflictive but I love the question because this will be a fun one. So now, again context for your listener we’re into ‘path’ now. So we’ve covered ‘confirm’, we’ve covered ‘glimpse’, now we’re going into ‘path’, and path again, every chapter in path is all about helping to greatly increase your odds of success and help you eliminate half the mistakes you’re about to make. You still need to make the other half and one of the chapters I write about is called ‘college or not’. And so if you’re at an age where you’re trying to decide if college is right for you, as a true entrepreneur in the making, I give all the facts. I did not go to college. I’m just fine. I spent a tonne of money on education. I have ADD, OCD and a touch of dyslexia. I’ve learned how to educate myself. I have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on education. I spent enough money to get three PhDs in my lifetime.

With that said, that’s just my humble opinion. Forty four percent of small business owners have a degree, which means most don’t. So what I said is going into this, I did have a bias that if you’re a true entrepreneur, you should probably not go to college. And that’s feedback from entrepreneurs that have told me you know, they’d gone to college and they’re not using one single thing from their degree as an entrepreneur. All that said, what I’m saying is, when in doubt, you should probably go to college because if you’re in doubt you may not be a true entrepreneur and there’s no question if you have to go get a real job a degree in this day and time will probably help you get a job if you just need to go get a job. But again, I lay out all the facts and then you have to decide for yourself

Ian: What’s the next step in the book? And I have some other questions outside of the book that I wanted to ask you if you have a few more minutes.

Gino: Yeah, you bet. And what I’ll do is I’m just going to quickly skim over the chapters in ‘path’. And then you tell me if you want to drill down on anything there. But what I cover is college or not, like you said, I then show how to discover and find your passion. I then share how to find a mentor. I then share the power of 10 year thinking, then I give the eight disciplines for greatly increasing your odds of success. And then I show the nine stages of building your business.

Ian: The one thing I’d like to dig into in that list is this mentorship idea. I think mentors are very hard to find. And you give an example in that book, your dad’s mentor, who I believe was Zig Ziglar. Is that right?

Gino: That’s correct.

Ian: Okay. And, and basically, it’s a mutual relationship. Zig was getting something out of it and your dad was getting something out. And I’m sure that you’ve had mentors throughout your life. But these are very hard things to procure. They happen organically. A lot of times do you have any advice for people that maybe aren’t in the situation to have a mentor organically?

Gino: Yeah, a tonne of advice, but I’ll boil it down into a nutshell because ironically, my dad wrote the book on mentoring with his protege, Terri Sjodin, called ‘Mentoring’. But in a nutshell, the way it works is, you know, I had two great mentors in my 20s, my business mentor, Sam Cupp, and my entrepreneur mentor, my dad. I believe with a mentor, it gives you a huge jumpstart. Without a mentor, you’re still going to be fine, you’re still going to succeed. So please, it’s not a death sentence if you don’t have a mentor and what’s changed now, you know, 25 years later is, a business coach, a life coach masterminds, you know, a lot of paid mentorships now. You’re basically paying to get a mentor where it wasn’t really like that 25 years ago. Nonetheless, I believe it’s still alive and well where a mentor is someone who is where you want to be. Go work for that person, go work for that person for free. There’s gold waiting for you there. And so what you do is find someone who is where you are, or people who are where you are, and you reach out to them. And you literally ask them to mentor you, you’re going to get a lot of no’s. It’s really hard work. But you gotta work hard. It’s the biggest sale you’ll ever make. And you might have to ask 10 people to get one yes, but you will get a yes. Once you get that yes, meet for an hour, have them share their story, you share your story, and then they impart their wisdom. And at the end of that hour, if it feels really good, you then decide on a format. I met with my mentor Sam Cupp every month for about an hour and a half every month. My dad was much more informal.

And then the idea in that relationship with you as the protege-mentee is to constantly express your appreciation and show what you’re applying that the mentor is teaching you. Because the reason a mentor is mentoring you is they want to leave their legacy. they want to pass their knowledge on. As long as you’re showing that you’re doing that, you’re more likely to fill them up, excite them, and want them to help you. And with all due love and respect, you know, some of you, you have this wonderful opportunity with a mentor and they don’t want to mentor you anymore, because it’s you. With all due love and respect. You’re not doing the work, you’re not busting your ass. You’re not filling their bucket. So with all the love and respect, that’s sometimes what’s going on there.

Ian: Who are you mentoring right now?

Gino: I don’t have a formal protege, but I probably talk to maybe 20 people on a regular basis and my deal with them is call me and my mentor bucket is full right now. So I’m not marketing for more protegees. And my deal with them is they can call me once a quarter with any questions that they have. And we just have a great, you know, typically a 30 minute phone call, sometimes 15 minutes, and I answer all their questions.

Ian: You mentioned something that I wanted to bring up. And that’s coaching. I think it’s cool that you’ve kind of backed away from the revenue stream, especially initially with this new project, because these are people that are new to entrepreneurship. A lot of times, these people are really vulnerable. And in 2020, I’ve never seen so many people trying to coach people to make their first dollar, promising them so much, and a lot of them not ever, you know, having any experience and certainly no credentials to do so. Why is this industry exploding in your mind if you have any insights into it?

Gino: Ah, you know, I wish I had the perfect answer, you know. So I look at history and, you know, the term was ‘consultant’, before it was ‘coach’, and I always cringe when somebody calls me a consultant. And I don’t know why I have utter disdain for that word. But you know, when I think about when they were all consultants, most of them are bad, and some are great. And I think the same thing goes with coaching. And so, you know, the coaching, I couldn’t tell you when it started to come on the horizon, but right around 2000 is when I started to see this really come on, and I certainly jumped on that bandwagon because I was a coach for my clients although I called it implementer. We coach, teach and facilitate. So, you know, I think the first thing is that there’s money in it, so people see people like me and our 350 EOS implementers, you know, making $500,000 plus helping companies. These are great ones, and they get paid really well. Everybody wants to jump on that bandwagon.

So, you know, I think one of the big things is, there’s money in it, but also I mean, it works. The ones that are great really make huge impacts on people’s lives. So it’s, it’s a valuable thing. And then God only knows the next term, but I believe it’s about to change. I never joined any of those coaching organisations. I don’t know how they work. I don’t know what they teach, you know, I’m self taught in everything that I do and how I help businesses. So I think that’s all about to get kind of reinvented and probably a new name, but how it all started? That’s the best interpretation I can give you. And it’s, you know, it’s a lot of paid mentorship, for better or for worse, and again, I’m one of those, but I believe that I’m providing tremendous value and changing lives.

Ian: Gino, thanks so much for joining us on the pod. And the book is ‘Entrepreneurial Leap’.

Gino: It was an absolute pleasure.


Dan: Love to hear your thoughts on Gino’s ideas about how to get started in entrepreneurship. We’re going to post this one over at

Fun fact Bossman, ‘Traction’ was turned down 31 times by publishers, a rite of passage in entrepreneurship, before Gino self-published it in 2014 and it became the success it is today. You cannot understate how many people will bring up ‘Traction’ as a book that influenced them in the way they run their business. Honestly I have so many thoughts after listening to this that I don’t feel compelled to respond just now. I’m going to process this conversation. I also just read the book and I think we can do some follow up episodes where we dive deeper into the EOS system as well as some of the personality profiles that Gino lays out in his new book.

Ian: Yes, curious to hear your thoughts as always, thanks for listening to the show.

Dan: We’ll be back next Thursday morning at 8am ET.