Episode 298

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I’m here with a guest this week! I love having a guest, because they provide inspiration and help me to think about new things in different ways. While interior design seems like it’s just one topic, there are many facets to any industry – and interior design is no different. Justin Breen and I met through our business group. We were put into a breakout session on Zoom and we connected right away. He has some great things to share with you guys about the importance of knowing yourself as a designer and as a business owner.

This episode, we discuss…

[2:25] Interior designing your mindset

While we usually talk about interior design within a building, Justin is a master of interior design within your brand.  “I interior design my mind,” he says.  This has led Justin to design a network of the highest performing entrepreneurs on the planet, and he has created two global companies with zero formal business background.

Justin describes himself as an entrepreneur who happens to be a journalist.  Four yeas ago he was working full time as a journalist, and his salary was cut in half.  He couldn’t find a job, so over the course of six weeks he reached out to 5,000 people while working full time in order to get his first five clients – yes, one out of a thousand people said yes.

I met Justin over Zoom, and he met his business partner via Zoom as well.  A lot of people would be really afraid to make such a jump.   Justin, however, refers to himself as a “simplifier”.  He takes in complexity and simplifies it into patterns immediately – that’s just how his brain works.

[5:30] What entrepreneurs have to overcome

Justin says that he hasn’t met one entrepreneur at the highest level that hasn’t overcome at least one of the following four things: Bankruptcy or potential bankruptcy, depression, anxiety, or traumatic experiences as a child or young adult.  Most people use those as excuses for their whole lives.  High-level entrepreneurs figure it out.

As someone who has overcome three of the four, Justin understands what is at stake.  He was rejected 4,995 times, after all, to get 5 new clients when he was starting out.  He started a global company with someone he had never met in person until their big launch party.  They met on Zoom, and realized they had the same mindset and they wanted to be heroes to the same people: the highest performing entrepreneurs on the planet.  So they created a company to do that.

[7:07] Staying in your zone of genius

Justin makes this all sound so easy, right?  For him, he claims, it really is easy.  He informs me that I’m a three implementer, as I like to be more hands-on and build things.  For Justin, on the other hand, if his sons ask him to tie their shoes, put on their bike helmets, or change a light bulb, it drains his energy immediately.  When it comes to building businesses and simplifying the complexity, Justin is in his zone of genius.  That is the whole point about interior design, whether it’s in a room or in your head.

[8:25] Making a leap when it seems complex

For someone who isn’t the same Kolbe score as Justin, making these big leaps during this time where there really isn’t a safety net, can be really daunting.  Most people, Justin points out, aren’t meant to be entrepreneurs.  And that’s great, because the world needs more integrators to follow through for the visionaries to get stuff done.  That said, Justin encourages everyone to think about what they’re good at and what they like to do.

According to Justin, there are two reasons why people are miserable.  One, they’re doing something 8-10 hours a day that they don’t like to do or that they aren’t good at.  The really sad part, though, is when they actually find out what they like to do and what they’re good at, and they don’t do anything about it.  That’s inexcusable. If more people were doing what they like to do and what they were good at, the world overall would be a happier place.

[10:12] Excuses versus motivation

There are a lot of obstacles to doing what you love that are completely valid. We can also get in our heads about money, lack of education, and other excuses.  We live in a world now where there are opportunities for online learning, or a more modest entrepreneurship like a hobby business.  If you can find a way, you should make a leap.  Maybe not a huge one like Justin made, but start somewhere.

If you’re dealing with any of the “four things” Justin mentioned above, you need to decide whether you are going to use them as excuses or as motivation.  That’s what separates people who execute from those who make excuses.

[12:05] Making an artistic dream come true

Justin shares a trick for finding out what you’re good at and what you like to do.  First, write down 30 things you do every day – no matter how trivial.  Of those 30 things, circle 3 that you really like to do and are good at.  Then you can write a couple sentences about those things, and start to share those with your friends.  Other entrepreneurs can provide feedback and help you tweak it.

[17:03] The Kolbe A Index and what your results mean for your business

The Kolbe is not a personality test, but it tells you how your brain actually thinks of things. Justin tells me that according to the Kolbe A Index, I’m a six follow through and a seven quick start.  Apparently, that is rare in the entrepreneurial world!  Most high-level entrepreneurs are 8, 9, or 10 quick start and 1, 2, or 3 follow through.  They’re all over the place and they have to hire a million people to actually get anything done.  These are the people that change the world, and Justin can simplify it for them.

For me, the 6/7 combo is a bit of a trap.  It can feel like “hit the gas, pump the breaks, hit the gas pump the breaks”.  I’ll have a great idea, know I want to execute it, and then it takes me away from more good ideas to execute.  It also took me longer to hire people, because I could do the things as well or I wanted to do the things as well.  I slowed myself down.

It turns out that Justin and his new business partner have a lot of complementary skills according to the Kolbe.  He does everything that Justin doesn’t want to do, and vice versa.  It’s a total partnership.

For a long time, it wasn’t my need to control everything that kept me from doing what I liked.  It was my background.  I grew up poor, and I felt like I didn’t want to spend the resources to pay someone to do something that I could do.  The investment, however, is totally worth it.  Doing everything is not a good use of your time and it will lead to burnout.

[23:40] Investing in your business

From the beginning of his business, Justin has continued to make bigger and bigger investments in his business.  As he earned more, he invested more in programs and coaching.  You don’t have to make huge investments right away, but you have to start somewhere.  Just like at the casino, if you don’t play, you don’t win.

[32:03] The importance of knowing yourself

Using assessment results and/or reflections on our background, our obstacles, and our strengths, can help you figure out how to go into business for yourself.  You can decide what leaps feel good for you, and which ones don’t.  You can understand your motivations, and you can also find like-minded people to partner with.


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