Life is all about experiences: the fact or state of having been affected by or gained knowledge through direct observation or participation.

What I have learned over the years is that the experiences that matter most are the ones with family and friends. I was recently in a room full of professionals and the question was asked, “how many of you have taken off 2 weeks this year?” To my surprise I was the only person in the room who raised my hand. That is why Hayley and I have a goal of traveling at least 12 weeks a year. We want to experience the world together and with our family and friends. This focus has forced me to change the way I run my business and the type of clients that I work with. This change in priorities has given me more energy in my professional life!

My mission in life is to positively impact those around me. I have found that the best way to do this is to be “others focused” and to “always add value” to those around me.

Now the journey to where I am hasn’t all been successes, in fact, there are many challenges, obstacles and failures that I have had to navigate over the years.

Below I share my journey with some of the lessons learned along the way!

Young Entrepreneurship

I have been an entrepreneur as long as I can remember. In my childhood I would pick up the neighbors’ dog poop so that I could save money to buy toys. In high school I tutored and would take photos at sporting events and sell the photos to parents. In college I painted the numbers on the curbs in front of your house and expanded my photography business into portrait photography. I have always been willing to work hard and try new things.

College – A Journey of Passion

When I started college I had declared as an engineering major. However, before taking my first class, I transferred to the Reynolds School of Journalism. I realized that although I was skilled in math, I was passionate about writing, story telling, and loved meeting new people. In college I was able to work for a local online marketing company. This was a great opportunity because I was able to learn each aspect of online marketing, build the processes, hire the teams, and then manage the overall output. I learned copy writing, email campaigns, website development, social media marketing, video marketing, search engine optimization, pay-per-click marketing, funnel management and more! Towards the end of my time at the company they scaled into a niche market, which allowed me to see how to go after a vertical. I fell in love with the power of online marketing and doubled down out of college by starting my own online marketing agency!

Betting On Yourself

Five months after graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno, I launched MarkUBiz. This was 100% a bet on myself. When I started the company I had just enough money in the bank to cover one month of living expenses. This gave me urgency to hit the market and sign new clients. This is where the beginning of the Connect Your Way To Success System was born. I realized that most online marketing agencies were trying to generate business online, very few of them were spending time networking and building relationships. If they were, they were joining on BNI group and that was their growth strategy. I wanted to create a strategy that was duplicatable, trackable, and scalable. I figured out the formula to maximize the meetings I could book, how to build deep relationships fast, and how to nurture the network long-term. The results were a very consistent pipeline that resulted in hockey stick growth in the first two years of the business.

MarkUBiz & Local Child Care Marketing

In my third year of business, I found myself in a unique situation. I had outsold my team’s ability to deliver. I then structured a deal to acquire the company that I had worked at in college. They had an amazing team and processes. The combined companies put us in a position for rapid growth. We had a sales machine and top-level team. At the end of my fourth year in business I sold the business so that I could pursue different industries and have a different impact on those that I worked with.

A Lesson In Partnerships & Agreements

After selling, I spent a month meeting with every successful person I knew. I was completely open to all industries and all opportunities. What I discovered is that although there was a lot of money with some of the opportunities, the impact didn’t align with my goals. In a one week timespan I had three previous clients call me to ask questions about sales strategy and marketing strategy. This turned into my first dedicated consulting business – Live Cageless, which has become Your Referral Partner today.

At this same time I ventured into a couple of partnerships that were very educational, but costly! With these partners we launched a coworking space and a manufacturing company. The positive is that I was able to help raise capital, build both brands, define the systems, and create tremendous momentum in a short timeframe. The negative is that two of the partners decided to take over one of the companies and the result was underfunding in the other project and both ventures collapsed within a 60 day window.

The biggest lesson learned here is that partnerships when done right can be very fruitful, but when done incorrectly can be very costly and may negatively impact other areas of your life!

Exploring The Corporate World

With my daughter on the way and the dust settling from the various business ventures, I was recruited to take over the Reno market for BBSI. This was a unique opportunity to run a market as a business owner, but with corporate backing. I was one of the youngest area managers when hired and knew very little about the industry. I had used and referred the services previously, but I was versed in payroll processing, human resources, risk management, or workers’ compensation. However, I was able to step into the branch and in 2.5 years grow the branch by $40 million in revenue and my final year with the company we were the top branch in our region and in the top five for the entire company. My time in the corporate world taught me two things: (1) My approach to business’ growth works with companies of all sizes and in all industries. (2) I was born to be an entrepreneur!

A Cat Cafe?

In late 2021, Hayley and I had the crazy idea to launch a cat cafe. We wanted to launch a project together. What was interesting about this business is that neither of us had run a retail business before. We were able to open the doors 45 days after receiving the keys to the building! We found a lot of ways to save money while launching and learned how to streamline many of the processes in the business. Six months after opening we sold the business to one of our team members. We are excited for her to make the business her own and take the business to the next level. Check out Enchanted Cat Cafe to learn more!

Rebranding & Refocusing

After selling the cat cafe, I took some time to reflect on what I wanted to do for the next 7 years. The results of that reflection are what you see today. My top two priorities are to spend time with my family and to travel to new places. This has made me adjust how I work with clients so I can impact more people year-over-year while maintaining my top two priorities. This has led to the power of masterminds. There is a magic that happens when you put likeminded individuals together with similar goals. I fully believe that we can move mountains together. The journey to 10,000 is just the beginning. In the next 7 years image what we can do when we help generate 1,000,000 referrals! The amount of impact that will come from 1,000,000 people connecting and having “others focused” conversations will create a ripple effect that will last for decades to come!

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