How to Leverage Analytics and Metrics to Scale and Future-Proof Your Business with Brian Will
“There are two things you’re going to have to do in life to be happy, and if you don’t do these two things, you’re always going to be chasing money. One is to find something you’re passionate about and chase it. And number two, find a way to give back part of what the world gave you.” —Brian Will
Taking the guesswork out of growing our business requires harnessing data to make strategic moves with confidence. These hard facts reveal what really drives results to help us make data-backed decisions and hit goals that once felt out of reach.
This week, JP sits with Brian Will, a two-time Wall Street Journal bestselling author and successful entrepreneur who has built and sold numerous businesses. He now works as a business coach and consultant, helping companies increase sales and improve operations.
Listen in to this insightful conversation on entrepreneurship, negotiations, and living a purposeful life as Brian shares lessons from building and selling numerous successful businesses. JP and Brian also share how to harness useful data and understand what stories they tell, why it’s not practical to rely on a single client, the importance of living within your means, tips for vetting advisors, and finding passions beyond just money.
- 04:50 The Importance of Proper Legal Structure for Your Business
- 08:07 Creating Value Through Your Venture Capital
- 14:43 Vetting Professionals to Grow
- 17:43 AI Trends and Data Analysis for Business Growth
- 22:00 The Value of Giving Back
- 27:14 Career and Life Advice
Get Your Copy of JP’s Book
- 03:43 “Don’t ever have the majority of your business wrapped up in one client. Because if you do, you don’t have a business, you just have a job. And when that client goes away, and they probably will, so will your business.” —Brian Will
- 05:35 “You think you have protection, but unless you’re doing it, you really don’t.” —Brian Will
- 06:55 “Sometimes you have abilities, you don’t know. You have hidden talents that you haven’t figured out yet.” —Brian Will
- 14:12 “Understand your value and be willing to walk away. But that’s extremely hard to do. So bring somebody else in who’s unemotional involved in this transaction and allow them to work with you because they aren’t going to make the emotional decision that you might make.” —Brian Will
- 16:33 “The deal is not done till it’s signed. Don’t cash your checks yet, because you don’t know this deal is done until it’s done.” —JP McAvoy
- 21:17 “A lot of these companies have the data. They just don’t know how to put it together and use it.” —Brian Will
- 23:43 “Don’t be so busy trying to win the world, that you lose everything that is important in the process.” —Brian Will
- 24:08 “There are two things you’re going to have to do in life to be happy, and if you don’t do these two things, you’re always going to be chasing money. One is to find something you’re passionate about and chase it. And number two, find a way to give back part of what the world gave you.” —Brian Will
A Little Bit About Brian:
The visionary serial entrepreneur and two-time Wall Street Journal bestselling author whose strategic acumen has left an indelible mark on multiple industries. From launching seven highly successful companies to steering billion-dollar sales growth for diverse organizations, Brian blends a wealth of experience with a knack for innovation. Beyond his corporate conquests, he’s a respected community figure in Alpharetta, Georgia, serving on the city council and actively shaping local business and policy. His passion now fuels the growth of his restaurant chain and a flourishing real estate enterprise in the southeastern U.S., embodying the relentless pursuit of excellence that defines every chapter of his storied career.
JP McAvoy: Hi, thanks for joining us on today’s show. We’ve got Brian Will. He’s a two time Wall Street Journal Best Selling Author, and a business coach. He built and sold numerous businesses. Here’s my conversation with Brian. Brian, thanks for joining us here today. Happy to see you’re from I guess sunny Atlanta.
Brian Will: Thanks for having me. Yeah, although it’s not very warm down here today, it’s gotten chilly.
JP McAvoy: Oh, is that right? It’s not true, it’s Always sunny in Atlanta. You hear it’s always sunny in Philadelphia, but it’s always sunny in Atlanta is the way I think of it.
Brian Will: I just said it’s not that warm here. But then I realize you’re in Ottawa, and it’s probably freezing up there. So it’s wonderful here.
JP McAvoy: Yeah, exactly. In comparison, we just got our first, no, which means that again, I’ll be down in Florida soon. So Atlanta, are you a football fan? If you look to see what’s going on with the BCS championship?
Brian Will: Weirdly enough, I also own a chain of sports bars and I don’t watch sports. So go figure.
JP McAvoy: Good for business, I suppose this to the chain of chain.
Brian Will: It’s a great business. Yeah, if you got them in the right place, that’s where everybody goes. So they’re fun to go to. But I don’t really care who wins and loses.
JP McAvoy: There you go. Okay. Well, so your focus has been obviously business and it’s been through the years, how did you come into a chain of restaurants among other things?
Brian Will: I have worked for a bunch of different companies. I’ve had two venture capital exits, one private equity exit, and the last one we sold. Now, it’s almost a cliche. I hate to say this, when people sell their business, they make a lot of money and suddenly think for them fair. They think they’re a restaurant tour, a bar owner. We all think we’re Sam Malone from Cheers, you know back in the 80’s. I used to love to take my people to lunch or to happy hour. And we’re sitting at this place that we always go to happy hour. The company in my accounting, the woman that does my accounting says, you come here three or four times a week, why don’t you buy the place? Ah, so I did. And then it failed. So I bought four more, and then it went on to 15 different restaurants over the past 13 years. I still own a little chain of four of them.
JP McAvoy: Oh, that’s great. It’s good to hear. It’s interesting to say that, Brian, because there’s so many times I’ve got clients that have made money doing what they really do know. And of course, they want to lose it all in a restaurant, or they put it into a restaurant. It was a passion project. Go ahead and do it. I’ve had a couple clients that even thanked me for the advice. They’re like, yes, I get it. I poured the money. No, I still enjoy it. It was fun to do. But yeah, better just stick with bread and butter. Now you’ve learned in the trenches. We were just speaking offline, but clearly throughout your career, you’ve tried, tested and true. And then you’ve had a few failures along the way as well. That’s the way that you learn. What would be some of the things that you’d say early in your career were things that taught you what you needed to do to get those successful exits.
Brian Will: Oh, gosh. My very first business I started was when I was 21. It was landscaping. And honestly, I did that because I had failed out of high school. I had no education, no discernible job skills. I was a terrible employee and kept getting fired. So I figured I was at work for myself. So I started a landscaping company, built it into seven franchises over the next eight years. And as I like to say, it did really well until it didn’t. And then it collapsed around me and I lost everything. My house, my rental, my cars, my Mercedes, my motorcycle, my sports car. My daughter had to have open heart surgery and I couldn’t pay for my health insurance at the time because I had made a couple of critical errors that I’ve carried with me forever. One was I don’t ever have the majority of your business wrapped up in one client. Because if you do, you don’t have a business. You just have a job. And when that client goes away, and they probably will, so will your business. And if you’ve built an infrastructure around it, you’ve got overhead, and employees, equipment, and loans, suddenly you have no way to pay for it. So that was a huge learning experience. The second was because where I came from as my income went up, I was still trying to get all the toys and life that I never had as a kid. So as my income went up, so did my expenditures, so did my lifestyle, so did the toys. And when we hit that one month where the contractor withheld $150,000 and I didn’t have any savings, I had no cash, I had no lines of credit, I couldn’t pay my bills, couldn’t pay my vendors, my creditors, couldn’t pay my mortgage, my car payment could pay anything and it literally collapsed my company in a matter of about 60 days. You get the letter from the bank saying that you bounced 130 checks, we no longer want to do business with you. It was $3,000 and bounced check charges and you’re like, holy crap. My world has collapsed around me. Those are powerful learning experiences.
JP McAvoy: Anything goes quickly, as you say strikes me as like you give to things that lead to that, it strikes me as well perhaps structuring. I mean, you’re talking to a lawyer, strikes me perhaps you weren’t a incorporator, there wasn’t a way to limit your liability there as well, which again becomes much more painful when everything’s tied together, which is likely the way it was for that first one.
Brian Will: JP, let me interject because I want to ask you a question as a business lawyer. Because as a guy who consults for businesses today, I was incorporated. I mean, I was an LLC, so that’s chapter LLC. But how many small businesses do you know that have their LLC incorporation paperwork who aren’t legit? Didn’t do their annual filings, didn’t have their company meetings, didn’t pay their fees, didn’t commingled their funds. I see this eight out of 10 times. So yes, you think you have protection. But unless you’re doing it right, you really don’t. You can pierce that veil in a skinny instant.
JP McAvoy: That’s great. I wish you would get a chance to speak with more or more clients before they actually start doing their things. Typically, the ones that do consult or get legal end up doing it the right way. As you say that 8 out of 10, they’re trying to do it on their own. Oftentimes, they’re bootstrapping and letter centered doing that. But then as you say, they miss all the steps that actually have afforded them the protection that is by the design of the structure. Because it’s so often where people come and they’re already in trouble, right? They come and say, hey, I need help. I need help getting this fixed up. It’s such a shame. Because if you had put the right foundation in place, there’d be so much more we could do, you’d be much better protected. So yeah, absolutely. A lot of times, if they haven’t got the proper structure in place, they’re using it. So it’s a tuning. So you gotta do it first properly, and then actually use it. So absolutely. It’s good advice, obviously, as you consult with people. And obviously, as an attorney, I say the same thing.
Brian Will: 100%. That was the big one.
JP McAvoy: You have some tough lessons early on. Unfortunately, you learn them earlier. What were the next kind of businesses that you got into?
Brian Will: So after that, a buddy convinced me to sell health insurance. I didn’t want to do it, he talked me into it. Six months later, I finally decided to do it. And for whatever reason, I have no idea that I figured out that I had an ability to sell. I guess it was a natural thing. I tell people all the time, sometimes you have abilities you don’t know. You have hidden talents that you haven’t figured out yet. And my hidden talent when I was 29 years old, apparently, I knew how to sell. And within like six weeks, I became the top agent in this agency I worked for. And then because I’m an entrepreneur at heart, I broke off and started my own agency. And because I’m ambitiously lazy, that’s a whole episode we could do. I figured out a way to sell health insurance without going to see people. Because back in 1997, you still had to go physically knock on the door and get a signature and a physical check. We figured out a way around that, and we developed the first what we call direct to consumer call center in 1999, which was also the dawn of the internet. And these companies were trying to figure out how to sell health insurance online. I was the only agency in the country doing it. I did my first venture capital deal. And that led to a second venture capital deal that led to another private equity deal that I did, which got me into consulting for Fortune 500 companies, which got me into writing books and consulting for businesses. And I got into politics, and it’s just been this weird multiple industry story over the last 30 years.
JP McAvoy: You’re having a great time. It must have been interesting to be the first venture capital. Can you recall the first conversations what that looked like? Probably a fish out of water, how the venture capitalists made you feel?
Brian Will: I can tell you, the first time I went to Sand Hill Road and we had gotten acquired, I remember going into the boardroom and these are people, if you know anything about Silicon Valley? I’m standing in a boardroom looking at all these plaques on the back wall of all these companies that were acquired and how much they bought them for how much to sell them for. And all these guys come in to sit at the table and they all want me to talk to him about this business. I remember freaking out like I had a panic attack. I’m staring at these guys, and I’m having an internal panic attack. And I said, I gotta go to the bathroom and get some water. And I literally just walked out of the room. I didn’t know what to do. I was freaking out. I was sweating. And one of the guys came out of the room. He says, hey, man, calm down. We’re just a bunch of dudes. And then we got back and everything went well.
JP McAvoy: Yeah. And that’s why I asked a question because it’s so intimidating for people, among other things, to listen to this show. Because the first time, they feel like a fish out of water. They’re so intimidated. But you’re down on Sand Hill Road road, and they are just guys, they’re running a business as well. You gotta move money, they gotta invest in projects. So once you understand that, they actually need you just as much as you need them.
Brian Will: They were excited to hear from me, because that’s what they do. So yeah, I can tell you the first one I sold. I remember standing in a corporate boardroom of a billion dollar company after I’d sold the second business, and they wanted me to come in and consult for their company on how to increase efficiencies within their direct to consumer division, which was a billion dollar division. And I remember that I pull into this boardroom, and I’m standing there looking at the CEO and the CFO, all these C’s. And they’re looking at me waiting for me to talk. I remember thinking of years ago, probably mowing your grass. And now I’m standing in a boardroom about to tell you what’s wrong with your company. I mean, oh, my god, five years can make a world of difference in your life.
JP McAvoy: It sure does. And the things you see, that’s kind of what it takes. Once you have the mindset that, hey, I can actually run this company, I can actually affect this change. Well, that’s the first step and actually making it happen, isn’t it?
Brian Will: One more quick story. Remember when we sold the second company, it was in the insurance industry and different AC, or reselling to VCs, or wherever the transaction. So you’re getting, we’re selling to VCs, you’re selling to VCs, I never took VC funding. We just sold it to him. We had sold a company, and the company was gone. I was sitting in our office with one of my partners and my phone rang. I picked up the phone, and it’s this woman, her name was Laura, who was the head of sales for a billion dollar company. And she said, Brian, what are you doing these days? I said, well, at the moment, Laura, I’m sitting in my office. She goes, got this division up in Minneapolis, it’s losing about a million dollars a month. Can you come up and tell me what’s wrong with it? And I was like, sure. How much are you going to charge me? I remember three years ago, I was making 100 grand a year. And I said, I’m not sure, Laura. She goes, it’s about a week’s worth of work. Is $100,000 enough? You don’t even know what to say at that point. I was like, yeah, that sounds about right. That should do it. Okay. Yeah, we’re good to go. And I hung up the phone, I walked to my partner’s office and said, you’re not gonna believe this shit. This woman just offered me 100 grand for a week. He goes, man, you just sold to companies. You’re an expert. Now you need to get used to it. Like, man, I don’t know how to get used to that. That’s just freaking amazing.
JP McAvoy: I’m sure you see it now. When you create that multiple for that business person as they sell, because I just see the same thing as people going to sell their companies. The advice they’re receiving, there’s a return to them as well. And so you can’t do this. But you know, at a daily or weekly rate, you often have to often look at the value that you’re creating. And I’m sure that as you provide that type of advice, you are creating value that makes that $100,000 figure thrown in the bucket for them.
Brian Will: Oh, man, in 12 months, they paid me about $750,000 in fees. But their losses from a million a month to being the most profitable division they had, so it was worth 20, $25 million a year for my seminar, $50,000. It was a steal.
JP McAvoy: There you go. Exactly. That’s as it turns around. Now, you mentioned VCs and you said down in that progression, you got into private equity. Is that selling parts of the companies? How did you do things with that?
Brian Will: So we had an internet company. We were doing paper performance, Lead Gen Digital Marketing. And it’s a funny story, this is 1995, 96. We show up and there’s two guys standing on our front door waiting for us with a cup of coffee. This is how anxious these guys are.
JP McAvoy: They need to place money, that’s the one thing people don’t understand. They’ve got jobs to do as well.
Brian Will: And we’re like, hello. And they’re like, we want to talk about buying your company. We were like, oh, my gosh. Okay. So if you’re in the story, they ended up offering us 50 million. We flew up to Boston, we got there and they tried to lower the valuation at the last minute to 40. And it was just me and my other senior partner, and I’m the talker. So I’m talking and he’s just sitting there staring. And they were like, well, we’re gonna lower the valuation to 40 million, but we’re ready to go. And I looked at him and I said, well, we’re not interested in 40 million. You got these guys as a private equity group. They’re looking at two hicks from Alpharetta, Georgia. I used to mow grass and I’m telling them, no, I’m not interested in your 40 million. And they were like, what do you mean, you’re not interested? I’m like, well, you’ve already had price waterhouse here. They’ve already done the due diligence, I got all the documents, I’m not taking 10 million less. I might as well take all your stuff and shop it to the market. And they were like, well, that’s the best we can do. And I said, all right, well, we’re not interested. And I remember my partner was, you can’t see my eyes on camera. His eyes were as big as saucers like I’m turning 40 million. And we leave. He didn’t say a word to me. So we got in the cab and he looked at me and went, are you sure? And I said, I’m sure. Six weeks later, another VC came in out of Chicago and said, you guys want to sell? We said yeah, but we already turned down 50. And they were like, we’ll tell you well, we’ll make it 80. And we said, yeah. We sold the company like six weeks later. So we’re going down, 40 million was the best thing we could have done at the time.
JP McAvoy: So once you have that confidence, I think even going back to what we said before, going into the room and knowing because they’re not wasting their time, they want to speak to somebody they want to do a deal as well. What are some of the tips you’d have for people that might be negotiating? I mean, negotiation in anything but specific with respect to business transaction stuff.
Brian Will: Because the clinical answer is to understand your value and be willing to walk away. But that’s extremely hard to do when somebody’s standing there with a gigantic amount of cash. So I think my answer is bring somebody else who’s unemotional involved in this transaction and allow them to work with you because they aren’t going to make the emotional decision that you might make. Much like we could have done and turned away 10 million and lost 40. So clinical answers are different when you’re in the moment. So you just got to be real, real careful. And my advice is to bring somebody in unemotional.
JP McAvoy: Is that in the form of a professional advisor? Or as you say, someone unemotional who is that person who qualifies for that?
Brian Will: That’s a tough answer. I always say this. One of the things I talk about in coaching and consulting, which is what I do. Everybody says they’re a professional. Most of them are not. Everybody says that they’re a coach or a trainer. Most of them don’t have the experience. So whoever you’re gonna bring in, whoever gonna listen to, you need to vet the hell out of that person. Make sure they’ve been there and done that and then they can give you real advice and not theoretical advice. So you got to vet them that that’s the answer to the question, and that I’m hard.
JP McAvoy: How were the best ways of vetting someone getting right down to it, right to the brass tacks if you’re assessing a situation or a deal? What are some of the things that you do?
Brian Will: Look up their background, look them up on LinkedIn, talk to other people in the industry, talk to people that aren’t doing what you’re doing. But find somebody else they’ve worked with to get referred. You got to ask questions, you got to look around and find out who this person is, and find out if they’re legit. I know people who claim to be legit who aren’t. And people get sucked into that stuff all the time. It doesn’t do any good,
JP McAvoy: It’s a shame, right? I mean, the famous dogs on the internet, right? On the internet, anybody can be a dog. You’ve got a coach for everything these days. You say it makes a lot of sense to check to see, are they just talking to talk? Are they actually doing it? Have they been in the trenches? The way we talked to the scene and a deal came together, they shot a company, have they worked with VCs? Have they done private equity? All these things so that you know that they actually know what they’re talking about when you actually seek their counsel.
Brian Will: You got to vet them, and vet them hard. And then their advice.
JP McAvoy: I’ve sat with somebody and gone through saying, listen, this is what the field looks like. It is what’s going to occur. It’s an example. So typical. And it’s interesting, as you mentioned, walking out of that $40 million deal. I say frequently, the clients, the deal is not done till it’s signed. The paperwork has been exchanged. We’re working on a deal this week, and it’s pans down. And when we maybe get back next year, I’ve been working with a business owner and cautioning them, don’t cash your checks yet because you don’t know this deal is done until it’s done. And they don’t realize that. I guess they’re overly optimistic. And it’s important to make sure you don’t want to show cold water. I’ve been making sure that I’m really aware of what it takes to actually get across the finish line.
Brian Will: And the bigger challenge from your perspective, and even mine, and really anybody who’s a good consultant or coach out there as people take half the advice, and then the ship doesn’t work. They come back and go, well, I listened to you. And you’re like, no, you didn’t. You did half of what I said, and half isn’t gonna work. It’s like halfway filling your car with gas, it’s not gonna go the same distance. You gotta do it right. And I tell people, what I tell you isn’t the only way to do something, but it’s one way to do it. And I know it works. So either take my advice or don’t. But if you do have, I’m afraid. I don’t know what’s going to happen.
JP McAvoy: We’re not going to get there as it is. So it is very important to obviously take advice. I’m always encouraging people to make sure that they are relying upon good counsel. I’m glad you said just the same thing. What kind of future business trends are you seeing? We have a lot of people on and I’d be interested to hear if you’ve done anything in the AI space, or you’re seeing any things come across, or you’re working with anybody that’s doing AI right now?
Brian Will: AI is going to change the world, in my opinion. I think at least from my perspective, the only thing that I use for my businesses is what we considered idea generation. It’s amazing what you can type into a Chat GBT and what it will spit back out, and what it can do from a free flow of thoughts and ideas that you can take and utilize. I know so many people that are really digging into that and using it into their business that I haven’t done yet. So I am nowhere near an expert in AI. I just know that it’s going to be freaking amazing when it really gets rolling. Yeah, maybe scary.
JP McAvoy: It’s orders of magnitude of the ways to change things. It’s even bigger than the internet, what we’re seeing from AI is the power that it has because of the sheer productivity that can result from it to use even from thought generation or idea generation, all the way through automating a lot of tests that we do.
Brian Will: Saw this yesterday, AI can read an entire book in five seconds and remember every single word for word. You can’t do that. That’s amazing. And then it can spit out a report on, by the way. It’s just amazing.
JP McAvoy: I can rewrite it in another language. There’s so many things that it can do. So yeah, absolutely, we’re going to be seeing much, much opportunity in the area. But people need to be aware of how fundamentally it is going to change everything as part of the council they receive. Make sure that they are if they’re in an industry that’s going to be impacted by it to be aware of that as well. When you’re working with somebody, what kind of things do you encourage them to think of? What kind of things to keep their eyes on the horizon, if you will?
Brian Will: Most of my consulting is based around what we call two tracks. There’s a financial track and sales track. And from a financial perspective, I focus on what we call historical P&L analysis using pattern recognition to figure out where you were, and where you are, and how you got here, which will also give me the trend line on where you’re going. And then the second track is what we call reverse engineering. So what is the goal? When does the goal want to be achieved? And then based on where you were and where you are, and based on those trends, we can predict exactly what you need to do to get there. So you build what we call target performance in the future based on the goal. We go back all the way down to where we are. We match that against history. I can build you, I call it time travel. I can time travel in your business and tell you what’s going to happen. So I focus a lot on the financials. And then on the sales side, sales management, sales tracking, individual representative, and salesperson tracking, overall company management tracking, most of what I do is in finance and sales.
JP McAvoy: There’s a lot of data. You’re working from data, it’s always data.
Brian Will: I was at a company that was only an $8 million company out in Seattle, and going back out there next week. I did an off site presentation for him. I said, look, you guys need to forget the fact that the name of your company is X, Y, Z. You are no longer X, Y, Z, you are a data company. You have reached a point where you have enough data, that data is going to drive your success, failure, your scale or inability to scale in the future. The data is here. I did some analysis and I said, oh, my God, you have millions of dollars laying on the floor, and you just can’t see it? And the data there can prove it. All you gotta do is figure out how to get the data and then analyze, manage, and look at the data. And it’ll make all the difference in the world, your business is such good.
JP McAvoy: They’re not aware of some of the assets they have available to them. And in going back to what we just discussed. AI, the way the assets can be deployed given the new technologies that are arriving, there’s gonna be king content for the last, what? 30, 40 years? But data is going to be king in the go forward.
Brian Will: A lot of these companies that have the data, they have the data JP, they just don’t know how to put it together and use it. Every company I’ve gone to leaving on a sales training basis, we’ll go in and pull the data on their entire sales force and say that the bottom 10% of your sales force is losing you money. You think they’re generating gross revenue? They’re actually costing you money. And if we fire them, your sales will go up. Your overhead costs will go down. Your company will do better. And people are like, oh, my god, I can’t believe that. Especially not looking at the data. Data is data. Numbers never lie.
JP McAvoy: Yes. And your addition by subtraction, there’s always very common and important to look at. Hidden talents, you mentioned that from before. Everybody’s got them. What are some of your hidden talents?
Brian Will: Well, I told you. My first one was something I could sell. That was something I didn’t know. And the second thing I didn’t know, remember, I’m a kid who failed out of high school. I graduated, I got back in with a 1.2 GPA, didn’t go to college, failed Algebra. For whatever reason, JP, if you give me a 50 page Excel spreadsheet, to me in my head, it looks like a puzzle. I can find the pieces that don’t fit. I can find formulas just like that that aren’t matching and adding up. I can find problems with it, and then I can put it all back together. And I have no idea why I can do that. Maybe I’m autistic, I haven’t figured it out yet. But analyzing data and then sales are two of the things that I would have never known I could do, that I did not progress in business the way I did and have the opportunities to do those things. And now, I’m as good or better than anybody doing that kind of stuff.
JP McAvoy: And it’s so interesting. You may ingest, you say autistic, but there are certain things that are innate. And I’ve always found that there are things that are innate to each individual. And when you can discover or be aware of what you’re innately good at and exploited is often very powerful, isn’t it?
Brian Will: It’s unbelievable because you have the ability to bring a talent to a situation, or a business, or something that other people can’t do, can’t see, don’t even want to know what’s available. It’s just so weird. I can remember walking into a company and they were saying, well, here’s our new product brochure. And I flipped through three pages and I said, you misspelled a word right here. And they’re like, how did you see that? I’m like, I have no idea. I just stuck out like a sore thumb to me. And I don’t know why, but I can do the same thing with numbers.
JP McAvoy: So interesting that that does say the things that jumped out. What motivates you?
Brian Will: For the first 40 years of my life, the only thing that motivated me was money and success. And that was a product of my background. My cautionary tale is don’t be so busy trying to win the world that you lose everything that is important in the process. And that’s a big one because I ended up divorced. I won the world financially, but ended up divorced and didn’t get to see my son go through high school because of his mom, blah, blah, blah, blah. What motivates me today is I’ve had two mentors that give me essentially the same speech. Once you’ve achieved the financial success that you’ve got, there are two things you’re going to have to do in life to be happy. And if you don’t do these two things, you’re always going to be chasing money. One of them is you need to find something you’re passionate about. Irrelevant whether it’s money or not, and chase it. And number two, you need to find a way to give back. And if you can find a way to give back to the world, something that is part of what the world gave you. Those two things, chasing a passion that’s not involved in money and finding a way to give back will truly make you happy in life. And so those are the two things that I’m trying to accomplish in my back half.
JP McAvoy: That’s great. That’s such sage advice you hear. So many experts speak to happiness. And I know firsthand, The Millionaire’s Lawyer have worked for a lot of people, and have made a lot of money. That is not the way you just described, translate into necessarily translate into happiness, right? But those that do study happiness, a lot of them turn to what you just described, having a purpose. When doing good for others or serving others, very, very key things that’s unfortunate usually take us a little bit longer to realize. But it’s great advice. And obviously, your mentors, having said that to you is something that they learned themselves. What has your mentor relationship been like? It’s interesting, you can speak to two mentors. For many people speak of how important it is to have a good mentor, and you sound like unfortunately, I have two of them.
Brian Will: Actually, my first one was one of my senior business partners. The guy that I told you that was with me in those meetings. I’ll tell you that in business, I know there are a lot of people who don’t like partnerships. I will tell you, I’ve never made as much money as the individual business owners I have in a partnership. And part of that gets back to when I write about in one of my books is the different personalities within the business, and you can’t be all of them. You have people fill in where you’re weak. And today, I understand my weaknesses. So I bring people into my businesses that can backfill the things I can’t do. My first partner was Steve, and just the way he operated and dealt with people was amazing to me. Taught me how to be a better business person. And quite frankly, a better man. One of my other business mentors is a guy named Paul Pilzer. He’s out in Park City, a very successful guy. He was the first person that told me what I just told you about, you have to find a passion and you have to find something to give back. And then very recently, I’ll tell you an interesting story. I was over on Necker Island. I was on Necker Island for five days, we got to spend a lot of time with Richard. And I asked Richard one night, I said, it was his 73rd birthday that night. I said, Richard, it’s your birthday, what in the world still drives you? You have like 100 companies, all these virgin brands, and you’re working with entrepreneurs all over the world, and you’re trying to solve world hunger. And he told the most amazing stories you’ve ever heard in your life, and I can’t get into them. But oh, my God, this stuff, this man’s done. I said, what drives you to still go on at your age? You live on an island where you have 20 people that walk in a room and he hands you a drink, and you want to play tennis and there’s a pro. He said, Brian, here’s the deal. I’m gonna paraphrase for Richard. He said, if you have a talent or an ability, and that ability can be running a business and making money. If you have a talent and ability and you can use that talent or ability to make the world a better place, then you have an obligation as a human being to do that. And that’s why I still do it. That’s like a mic drop moment. I was like, holy crap. I mean, unbelievable. So try to be more like Richard.
JP McAvoy: That is a mic drop moment. It’s important for it to be said, so that perhaps it resonates for those people that only take half the advice, or only hear half a message. So hopefully, they’re gonna get here today. If anyone’s been listening and is interested in learning more, what’s the best way to reach you?
Brian Will: brianwillmedia.com. brianwillmedia.com, my books, my podcasts, my shows, to coach. Everything about me is on brianwillmedia.com. If anything you’d like, drop me a message.
JP McAvoy: I have a look at that as well. You’ve got a wealth of information there as well, your books and all the things that you’ve done. Brian, thank you for joining us here today. I really do appreciate it. We’ll have all those links in the show notes as well for those that are interested in learning more, perhaps connecting with Brian. And Brian, I’d like to end the show with, we’ve had a lot of advice here. But if we can distill it into one or two things that have worked for you, we’ve talked about as you’ve progressed through the evolution of your business, career and life. As you’ve found things, and then even relating back to some of the things that Richard mentioned as well too. If you had an opportunity to turn around and give that advice to an 18 year old Brian, what would you be saying to him and hoping that he listens to more than half then.
Brian Will: If I had an opportunity to tell 18 year old Brian, something I would tell him is to relax and not be so ridiculously obsessed with money, because that’s not what life is all about. If I had the opportunity to talk to any young or intermediate entrepreneur, I always like to tell them this, you know who Tim Cook is? He runs Apple. Guys, clearly a friggin genius. He may not be a genius and not run one of the largest companies in the world. He has a board of directors that come in and sit with him like once a quarter and they’re like, hey, hey, Tim, what’s going on in Apple? And he goes, they’re getting their Jimmy John’s subs and their challenge down at the corporate. And he’s like, well, this is all my problem. And they say, based on our collective experience, we think you should do this. And these are the decisions you want to make. And so he takes her decisions and he goes off and turns Apple. They also pay for a corporate coach for him. I met a guy named Dave Meltzer, who’s a coach at the top 50 CEOs. He has a corporate coach that comes in. He’s like, alright, Tim, what’s going on? Are you feeling about blah, blah, blah. This guy who’s so freaking smart needs a board of directors and a personal coach to help him do what he does. What in the world makes you as an entrepreneur think you can do it all by yourself. And that’s my advice.
JP McAvoy: There you go. That’s great stuff. Brian, thanks so much for joining us here today. Look forward to the next time.
Brian Will: Thanks for having me. This was fun.