Andrea Lake is a serial Entrepreneur who founded 14 companies, including Lessons.biz and MentorMojo.com, both of which are e-learning platforms teaching entrepreneurship. She is also a guest lecturer at Harvard and was a contestant on The Apprentice.
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Worst Entrepreneur Moment
- Andrea was featured on Oprah & sold $2 million in apparel that was ALL returned to her… in the SAME WEEK. This is a story of how to fail and keep getting up – time after time.
Entrepreneur AH-HA Moment
- An underperforming employee gave Andrea an AH-HA moment of setting expectations. BECOME irreplaceable, Fire Nation. Excellence is your only option.
Small Business Resource
- 15Five: Elevates the performance of employees, managers and entire organizations by consistently asking the right questions and starting conversations.
Best Business Book
- Do Cool Sh*t by Miki Agrawal
Andrea: I am so prepared
John: Yes, Andrea is a serial entrepreneur who founded 14 companies including lessons.biz and mentormojo.com, both are e-learning platforms teaching entrepreneurship. She is also a guest lecturer at Harvard and was a contestant on the apprentice. Andrea take a minute, fill in any gaps from that intro and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Andrea: Ah sure thing, I also took my background as an apparel, I owned the sales rights on MindCraft, call of duty, Walking Dead, all the big video games. I live in Bouldor, Colorodo which I just moved to which is very exciting and I am just an all-around business junkie I also started stickerjunkie.com and yogajunkie.
John: Now here is a tough question for you right after that, do you wish you have won the apprentice?
Andrea: You know it would have made a quite a few things a lot easier but it was cool everything was cool the way it went down to.
John: Right, but i am just looking that, honestly like, I look at that, I feel like that the people didn’t win in some ways are better off coz they are now free to really pursue what they want.
Andrea: You know I actually looked at it really transactionaly because I already was very very successful when I went on Night show and I thought Ahan I could get an equivalent to a Ph.D. in commercial construction in exchange of the use of my brain one year and that seems like a good deal to me.
John: Fascinating, no its really interesting, thanks for being honest, Andrew here you are today, you know its 2015 you are rockin and rollin a bunch of different areas and you’re an entrepreneur and who is listening right now Fire nation we are entrepreneurs and we are looking to create viable businesses, create revenue, pay the bills, how do you generate revenue today?
Andrea: As today I still in stickerjunkie.com and spend around since 1999 and we sell about 20 million stickers a year so that does well and then also lessons.biz it’s a $500 program it’s a 6 week course on legit exact for real how to start a T shirt company so we generate revenue through that as well and then I also sell T shirts through the link, I have lot of different funnels for revenue setup after 20 years as an entrepreneur.
John: Yeah and that’s the beauty is it’s the diversification coz you never know when people are going to stop buying stickers, you know probably never but if they do you have other things going on which is pretty cool.
Andrea: Why thank you, yes, it’s very reassuring to have multiples…my fingers in many many little pots.
John: So Andrew over the 20 years you have some ups you have some downs and …this is entrepreneuronfire, I mean we focus first and foremost on the downs so take us to the down of the downs, the worst entrepreneurial moment you have experienced thus far and Andrea don’t pull any punches take us to that moment, tell us that story.
Andrea: Oh my gosh we are gonna be on our knees John
John: Ah! Love it.
Andrea: So one of the companies that I created back in 2003 was called Zokoink and we did subscription base websites for best-selling spiritual authors, so we did Garry Zokob, and Don macaro weebs and these guys sold tens of millions of copies of their books, I mean created subscriptions platforms online and when we launched this, it was 2005 I have self-financed the entire two year development back when web development was very very expensive, we were on Opera and the whole thing for an hour and she personally endorsed our product, she let us use her picture on her sales page, I have never heard her doing that for anything else except for the Starbucks Chai, And it just didn’t go, it didn’t work like the technology itself was faulty but the sales themselves did not come in and when they did like the videos didn’t load properly coz it was 2005 and the technology hadn’t caught up and it was just a nightmare mess and then that same exact week I kid you not, that same week I actually January 2006 from the show finally aired, game stop I had sold them 2 million dollar order for World of Warcraft and they returned 1.2 million dollars’ worth of merchandise.
John: Oh brutal
Andrea: I know, so I was just on my knees on the floor completely wiped out cashed out my retirement savings and the recession hit the retail for the type of retail I was in for about a year and a half prior to hitting the general public and people were switching over and purchasing from Amazon so I didn’t have immediate money coming back in that I normally was having and already was effecting my bottom line sales so it ended up within a year from not just keeping the businesses open I was 1.2 million dollars in debt.
John: Just when you think you have it all, I mean everything. Opera, 2 million out in the revenue I mean it all, it all comes crashing down, now Andrea you are talking to me today so you didn’t crawl into a hole which you never came out of and just you know and they are ----this day, no, you survived, like you are not living under a bridge you know staying warm from low trash can fire at night, no you still rock I mean you went on to be an apprentice, you wanted to do this and that and some more cool things we are talking about today so talk to Fire nation I mean let us know, number1 that its ok to fail, its ok to have disaster like that but number 2 and most importantly, what are your biggest lessons learned from that.
Andrea: So, I never even considered filing for bankruptcy, I knew how to make money and so I just the biggest lesson learned that the company wasn’t fun , nobody was having fun in the development I bet, I shut down every project I was working on that wasn’t fun and I honed on the things I really really…I would get up out of bed in the morning and do for free which was a darn good thing because it was free and I just really cultivated and worked on the business that really made me passionately excited to get out of bed in the morning and I just came back, and the biggest lesson is the only way you possibly can fail is to not get back up, it dosent even matter, every entrepreneur I know always had some very significant stumbling points and you just keep going and throwing stuff against the wall and some stuff is gonna stick and then really really maximise the stuff that is sticking.
John: And then sometimes, you know some stuff is going to stick and then you are gonna turn around and its gonna fall on your head and… what just happened but you know at least it stuck there for a minute you will learn something and now you are going to throw something else and hopefully sticks a little longer and you keep pivoting, but fire nation most importantly you keep getting up and throw on the punches and just trying and persisting and persevering so Andrea we have dwelled here long enough, it was a very valuable story, thank you for the very valuable lesson you shared as well but let’s move on to epiphany and Ah-Ha moment, a light bulb that went on at some point of your journey and you have a ton of these but the reality is this, you know our listeners we are Fire nation we are entrepreneurs, what’s an Ah-Ha moment that you had that you know we are gonna resonate with and really take us to that moment Andrea, I really want you to tell us that story.
Andrea: The biggest Ah-Ha moment that I had has to do with the teams that I was building around me, I was… a little bit of a nurturer and a little bit of sort of really trying to help people along in sort of saving them in a couple of ways and I had this one particular employee, this had been a pattern I was repeating who is not performing particularly well for me but I felt guilty and bad about letting him go and then I eventually did realise he didn’t had so much loyalty towards me on my side and it really was my fault not being able to get the best out of my employees, so my biggest Ah Ha moment was I heard this story about the marine core and how they got the best performance of the people out of their whole entire lives by setting up expectation in the very beginning, so I created a system… and it was massive, it changed my entire company, it changed the entire way that people responding to me and my employees where I said to every person while they were in interviewing process, do not be good, do not be great, you have to make yourself irreplaceable to me…that is your job, I move too far and too fast on too many projects and if you are not irreplaceable to me, it will not be personal, you will know that this is coming, but I promise you, I promise that I will replace you because I don’t have time for people who are not excellent and extraordinary with what they are doing and in return it’s my job to create a work environment that is phenomenal for you to be in and that you really really are engaged and loving what you are doing and wanting to stay in and it shifted every single around in all of my companies.
John: So Andrea, being an army veteran myself I don’t love to talk about the marines but in this situation I want to coz I am curious, can you share those specifics of that marine environment that they create to get the most out of their solders.
Andrea: Yes, well my dad was in the navy so he also will be cringing, but the environment that they create is that excellence is your only option and now you are a marine and that means you are extraordinary, excellent and exemplary in all situations and you are performing to your highest capacity and if you think you have gone as high as you have gone that’s not true, you have more to give and they just cultivate that out of the people that are in their service over and over again through lots of different techniques. I use different techniques they may do with my people that are very positive and affirming and pushing them towards their strengths.
John: “Excellence is your only option” and I love that Fire nation, I mean when you go into any scenario with that mentality, what else is there but excellence, you know that kinda reminds me of that really corny but true quote you know shoot for the moon coz even if you miss you’ll land amongst the stars and you know that’s just the reality….I mean excellence is your only option, when that’s the case your gonna achieve excellence and I really do love how you talked about your underperforming employee and about how your being so loyal to them but you know then hindsight they had no loyalty towards you and that gave you that Ah-ha moment about setting expectation and insisting that your employees become irreplaceable and giving them that expectation from the very beginning coz reality is this Fire nation, we as entrepreneurs hire way too fast and we fire way too slow. The first time that you should fire somebody is the first time you think about firing somebody….period. Believe me even knowing that you are not going to do that but you need to know that at the beginning…so just the one clear lesson Andrea that you want us to get form that story, what is that?
Andrea: Surround yourself with the absolute very best team and you in return be the very very very best employer that you can be.
John: You know Andrea that’s far at it, I have to question if you have any weaknesses I know you do so share with Fire nation your biggest weaknesses as entrepreneur.
Andrea: Any types of forms, any type of like really detail oriented figuring out like legalities or taxes.
John: If there is a number in the form like 1040 like I don’t want to see it.
Andrea: You and me both my friend.
John: What’s your biggest strength?
Andrea: Delegation, without a doubt.
John: So kinda talk about some ways you found success in delegating.
Andrea: Well I hire of course really very extraordinary people and I got a tip from my mentor when I was very very young and he said put a dollar figure on your time and at that time it was 20 dollars, a whopping whopping figure and it was my responsibility to delegate out anything that could be done for less than that 20 dollars. My figure these days is quite a bit higher but if it’s not something that I personally absolutely love doing myself or something that I feel I must do for my company, myself or something that generates a lot of money for my company then somebody else is doing it.
John: Yep, I am adding three zeros on that twenty so do the maths. So Andrea you have a lot of things going on rightfully so that you are fired up about but take a second, share with Fire nation the one thing you are most fired up about today.
Andrea: Well the one thing in business I am absolutely the most fired up about is lessons.biz, it’s my newest platform, it’s a 6 week program that teaches you exactly legit no joke, how to start a T shirt company, I obviously owned the sales rights on Mindcraft, my business partner started a clothing company called Tapout and we sold like tens and millions of T shirts so we walk you straight away, right down the line on exactly how to start a T shirt company from scratch or how to grow an existing T shirt company to make it more successful.
John: Fire nation, step by step by step and…Andrew can step back and say that there are other people that know maybe more than me about T shirt company but the reality is that there are millions of people that know less, she invested in herself, both time and money, she learned how to do it successfully, now she is turning around and teaching, that’s ILT, we need to do more of that daily. So Fire nation we are about to enter the lightening round but before we do let take a minute to thanks our sponsors.
John: Andrea, are you prepared for the lightening round?
Andrea: I sure am.
John: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Andrea: You know I started my first company when I was 17 and so actually nothing held me back.
John: What is the best advice you ever received?
Andrea: Ah honestly it is to put a dollar figure on your time but when you hire out your first employee, if your dollar figure is 20 dollars and you are paying that person 8 dollars an hour every single hour that they are working for you, you are doing sales call and bizdev strategic development for your company, when I did that in the first year I increased the income 500 percent in my company.
John: Wow, what’s the personal habit that contributes to your success?
Andrea: Definitely meditation and Yoga, a 100 percent, keeps me centered, keeps me focused.
John: Do you have internet resource like Evernote that you can share with our listeners?
Andrea: Oh, I have the best one 15five, oh it’s my favourite, if you have any employees, they go fill out this great report, what’s their greatest wins, what are they struggling with, how can they help you improve your company. You create the questions yourself and people will tell you in writing that they will not tell you in person, Its Davis Hassle’s company, he is amazing, go get 15 5 immediately.
John: I love it, it’s actually the number 15 and then write out five, 15five.com is actually a past guest of entrepreneuronfire, such a cool guy, super chill, amazing company, and Andrea if you could just recommend one book for our listeners, what would it be and why?
Andrea: There are so many books but I would have to say “Do Cool” by Micky Aggarwal, I love this book I think it’s smart and it has so many applicable, immediate actionable steps that you can take in your companies to get you to the next level in your business.
John: Fire nation I know you love audio so I teamed up with audiobooks and if you haven’t already, you can get an amazing audio book for free at EOFirebook.com and Andrea this is the last question of the lightening round but it’s a doozy, Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world, identical to earth but you knew no one. You still have all the experience and knowledge you currently have, your food and shelter is taken care off but all you have is a laptop and 500 dollars, what would you do in the next 7 days?
Andrea: In the next 7 days I would build out a curriculum based on something I know really really well weather with starting a T shirt company or how to pitch on--- or how to negotiate deal, whatever it is and give the most amazing super actionable really really high value products that I can create for 47 or 97 or 197 dollars and I would sell it online.
John: Fire nation invest in yourself, learn and then turn around and teach and Andrea lets end on fire with you sharing one parting piece of guidance, the best way we could connect with you and then we will say goodbye.
Andrea: Well one parting piece of guidance is just you really can do it, you really can create the life of your dreams and don’t worry if it is a little bit difficult for you right now, you could get through anything that you are going through and you can become an amazing total bad ass success story. The best way that you can connect with me is by taking one of our courses at lessons.biz because I personally teach/train them or by going to andrealake.com.
John: Awesome, I heard you have a little gift for Fire nation?
Andrea: I do have a gift for Fire nation, so for the next week, one week only if you go to lessons.biz/fire you can get 150 dollars off our 6 weeks T shirt course.
John: Wow, that’s all about taking action Fire nation so lessons.biz/fire, get on that you’ll learn a lot even if aren’t a whole that T shirt game…you’ll learn a lot. Now let’s be honest Fire nation because you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, you been hanging out with Andrea and JLD today so keep up the heat and head over to EOFire.com type Andrea in the search bar, her shownotes page will pop right up with everything we have been talking about, the book the resources, of course go directly to Andrealake.com and better yet lessons.biz/fire to take some massive actions, that’s gonna be good for one week and Andrea I wanna thank you for sharing your journey with Fire nation today and for that we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flipside.
Andrea: Thanks John.
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