This is finding your frequency with your hosts Jeff Spenard and Ryan Treasure, coming to you live right here in the Phoenix studios at Voiceamerica.com. We’re going to be talking a little bit about business and entrepreneurship, family business, small business and none other than talking to our guest today Justin Elenberg. Justin is a military veteran who went into the military after high school and then attended basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. And then after completing basic training, he went on to Wichita Falls, Texas for General Electric training an avionics specializing in attack systems and Justin had spent 6 months there before being placed for assignment in Italy. What a great place to be assigned in during the Yugoslavian conflict. After his stay in Italy, he moved back to the states to Hill Air Force base in Utah and then leaving the military in 2001 to attend Arizona State University. So Justin thank you. Welcome to the show man.
Justin: Thank you. Thank you for having me. I am excited to be here. Such a fun time in a short drive for me actually, so it’s kind of cool.
Ryan: You think the Sun Devils are going to win this week ?
Justin: You don’t no. You never know, it’s sports and I’m not a betting man so I’m not going to bet on it.
Ryan: So going to ASU, you probably follow the program a little bit. What’s your thoughts on Herm Edwards and then taking over the football program?
Justin: I’m not that big of a sports guy so I can’t really tell you. So it’s fun to watch the games. It’s fun to go there and see them live in person but on TV I’m kind of just like, I’m gonna go do something else.
Ryan: Yeah. I used to sit in that stadium and watch the Cardinals play when they first came at ASU stadium and I remember my dad and I would go in and we were just sitting out because when you sit at one of the games one side of the stadium is in the shade and the other one is in the sun. And of course our tickets were always the ones in the sun and back then the seats were just concrete blocks.
Justin: Yeah. That’s probably why they call it the Sun Devils.
Justin: Yes. Hundred and fifteen is when they usually play in the games too.
Ryan: Yeah. Well Justin you know, Finding Your Frequency is all about you know how people found their frequency in life and in business and decided to you know take a leap of faith, jump out of the nine to five, not follow the norm and go and do something on their own. And I know ever since you’ve gotten out of the military, you’ve worked on creating businesses as a serial entrepreneur. You’ve launched 4 working on a 5th, tell us the story about how all of that began starting from getting out of the military. How did you find your frequency?
Justin: Well you know being in the military, I got out early. I found out that I could get out a few months early and I was like oh sweet I’m going to do that and they let you out to go to college. So I was like OK, well I’m going to go to college and then I found out that issue was it was one of the top party schools. I was like. I’m moving. I’m originally from California so I moved to Arizona and I knew one guy there and I was like hey, can I sleep on your couch for a week while I find a place to live? And you know that’s kind of where it went. It went from that to OK you find a place to live. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to go to school and get an education so I started figuring that out. As I was going to school, I was like wow, I guess I need to make money. So I started to kind of look for a job because you know when you’re broke and you go out of the military, they give you a teeny bit of money to move on and then they are like see you later and back then it was pretty much all they did.
So there was a cool organization called The Ryan International that did some interviews and stuff and then I actually got hired at Intel “the big giant manufacturer”. I was a contractor for a company that subcontracted me out to Intel. When I was looking around at Intel and I was kind of like these dudes are like old and I mean I’m old down 42 so but back then I was like in my 20’s and I’m looking around and these guys are like 40 years old doing the same thing that I was doing and I’m like I don’t want to be here in 20 years. So at that point in time I realized I’ve got to do something else. I just started studying. I started doing different stuff. I ended up starting a computer repair company and running to old people’s houses and fixing computers and it was kind of surprising. I didn’t really know that much about computers but I knew how to solve problems so it kind of grew, I hired a few employees and from there I sold that company, I bought commercial real estate, I got my ass handed to me in the real estate.
Justin: 2003 was my first house and in 2007 I think seven, I ended up with, I think it was like 19 homes. I had 2 foreclosures and 7 short sales. I sold all the properties except for my… I even sold my own house to who is now my wife but at the time wasn’t. So you know I had my ups and downs but during that time it was kind of like learning lessons. I was kind of learning what I was good at and learning what I wasn’t good at. And so you know you kind of go with the flow and move along and kind of learn. I sucked at some things and I was really good at the math portion and numbers and so that’s how I kind of ended up becoming an entrepreneur and from there I kind of built business after business.
Ryan: That’s pretty cool man. I always like to hear a story where someone realizes you know what I’m not really that good at and you know figure out something else to do or even on the successful side right. When you’re saying Hey, I was able to build a business to a specific point where I could sell it and then move on to do another business. Have you ever failed in business?
Justin: If you haven’t failed in business, you haven’t really tried that hard like a business is not an easy thing to do and it’s ever changing. So you kind of get a business started, it gets going, you kind of get this repetitive motion, you start making money, you invest some of it back in the business, you end up taking some and taking vacations and pretty soon, you’re on vacation and something changes and you’re like oh something you know happened and the whole market there was a paradigm shift and what was working yesterday now isn’t working and so things start tanking significantly. I’m working on my fifth multi-million dollar business and out of all of those, I’ve sold 2 and probably the other 2 that have failed and so now I’m on to you know my 5th one and I’m hoping it will be a multi-million dollar success. But through those lessons I think, so I don’t call them failures and you know even if they ended up in bankruptcy. The other ones that succeed and I call them learning lessons. You only fail if you quit. When you quit, you’re done. If you learn from it, you’re like that’s how I’m not supposed to do it. I think you know Thomas Edison is a great example you know 5000 ways not to build a light bulb.
Ryan: Yeah and I think too a lot of times you can’t really truly value or really understand success if you haven’t been at the bottom before either you know if you attain a level of what you feel is you know success in your business which means maybe it’s profitable or whatever but you never really understand how good that feels if you’ve never been at the bottom side.
Justin: Yeah I mean there’s you know a big spectrum to have like, if a kid or a child grows up with everything, they don’t know what it’s like to have nothing. And if they never fall down, it’s like a kid who doesn’t scratch his knees on the cement doesn’t know that it hurts to fall down. So when you fall down, you’re like wow that really hurt. I don’t want to do that again. So the next time you get back up, you’re like so it’s the same thing you’re right. It’s the same thing in business as it is when a kid learns from a very young age. Oh wow, I shouldn’t hit my head on the wall that actually hurts.
Ryan: That’s kind of funny. I always see some parents of new children and they have this some of them not all of them. So I’m not talking to everyone out there OK. But a lot of parents will hold their child more than they should and then wonder like after their one year old like why isn’t this kid walking yet? Then I am like put the kid down on the ground and let him figure it out. That’s kind of the same way right in business like you have to have a little bit of freedom to be creative and kind of go in different directions and pivot without being constrained or having a leash on you right.
Justin: Absolutely. And you know when you push the limits you learn where those are. If you don’t push the limits, you kind of like don’t know where that limit is. I used to ride dirt bikes as you know for many, many years and now I’m older. Why did I stop? The pain probably, my shoulder hurts, my toe, I had to get fused together, you know the pain really gets to you. It’s kind of like the whole child example right. So eventually I moved into UTV’s but to the dirt bike example I would always tell my friends I was a pretty good rider not to but I only became good because I would push myself to the point where I crashed and then I knew what that limit was. OK. I can’t do that. I’m not that good so I shouldn’t do that anymore. And same thing in business. I mean you push the limit and then you find out where it is. I’ve been sued. It sucks. But you know now you’re like OK now I need to know how to prevent that. And now I know how it’s like OK, you got to get an attorney before you push that limit. Ask him those questions. How far can I go with this before I get into trouble?
Ryan: Yeah I know in more aspects than not in my life, I’m kind of the person who will go ahead and do something and then ask for forgiveness later. And a lot of times that doesn’t really work so well when you’re a business owner. You’ve got to take a couple of moments to think about your actions and reactions and how that’s going to impact your customer base, how it’s going to impact your employees and all of those things and sometimes you can’t ask for forgiveness. It’s hard to go backwards in business sometimes.
Justin: Especially I think that’s even more important these days with social media being out there like business owners can’t or people in general kind of put themselves out there on the Internet say something stupid and now it’s digital. And it can be repeated over and over and over again. So it’s very important to think about what you’re going to say, how it’s going to affect people’s lives, how are you going to bring value to their lives rather than destroying lives and that’s kind of like the core of me when I generate a company. It’s like how am I going to create value in people’s lives. And if I create value in their lives and I help people that’s the reason that you make money. You don’t go out there and say I’m going to go start a business and make money. You go out there and as an entrepreneur it took a long time and a lot of lessons before you learn this. It’s not about making money; it’s about creating value so that people give you their money. Because once you create the value, the money just follows that.
Ryan: I go to networking events and a lot of the networking people will say like oh you have to be of service first in order to create a customer base. And I’ve always kind of scratched my head a little bit to that thought and I understand service, I was in the military, you were in the military, I know what service is. You do a lot of service for people, your customers whatever. And so service sometimes comes for free right when you may give service but I’ve always racked my brain about that idea because at what point do you do service but not so much that people are stepping on you and you’re not able to actually sell something to someone, when do you flip service into a selling mode. That’s always kind of been a conundrum for me. Can you speak on that, about how does being of service create value so then the money flows?
To be continued…