Chris Myers is the co-founder and CEO of BodeTree.com, a leading financial management solution for small businesses and startups. He’s also a columnist for Forbes Magazine and a frequent contributor to MSNBC. He recently published his first book, Enlightened Entrepreneurship, which is available on Amazon and iBooks now.
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- Some traits just needs time to develop.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [01:36] – Chris was in EOFire Episode #29
- [02:26] – Enlightened Entrepreneurship
- [03:53] – Two key points to take away from Chris’ book
- [04:05] – The single most important trait is a sense of self-awareness
- [06:20] – Intellectual honesty
- [09:48] – It took 3 – 4 months for Chris to write his book
- [11:39] – What’s something you’ve changed your mind about in the last 6 months? I realized I was wrong in my views with a highly empowered workplace
- [13:50] – Make sure you’re guarding your time
- [14:34] – The core of Enlightened Entrepreneurship
- [17:17] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – Timing and fear
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – Write every single day
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – Practicing mindfulness every day
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – Day One
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – Startupland –it was an interesting perspective of when the gears mash
- [21:09] – Visit Chris’ website
- [21:43] – Take time for yourself and reflect on where you’ve been and where you want to go
John Lee Dumas: Chris is the co-founder and CEO of BodeTree.com, a leading financial management solution for small businesses and startups. He’s also a columnist for Forbes magazine and a frequent contributor to MSNBC. He’s recently published his first book, Enlightened Entrepreneurship, which is available on Amazon and iBooks now. Chris, take a minute and fill in some gaps from that intro and give up a little glimpse of your personal life.
Chris Myers: Thank you, John. Being an entrepreneur is a 24/7 gig as you know and as your audience knows, but when I’m not at the office, I’ve got a 5-year-old little boy and a wife at home. They both keep me extraordinarily busy. I think that I’ve a fairly high energy person, but I’ll tell you, my 5-year-old can put me to shame. I wish I had an ounce of the energy that he has. But yeah, my days are spent between running the company, which we’re going on our 6th year now which is amazing. In fact, I think you and I chatted back in maybe 2012.
John Lee Dumas: It was 2012 because you were episode 29.
Chris Myers: Yeah, and we were both getting started at that time and look at us now. I’ve been busy with that and writing and just living life.
John Lee Dumas: I love it! I’m actually over the show notes page from episode 29, which again, was over 1,465 episodes ago. The book you recommended was The Art of the Sale for anybody that can remember that by Philip Broughton. Just some really cool things, when I think about that interview and, Fire Nation, go back and listen to what was going on in both Chris and my worlds. We were kind of both getting started. He was a little further down the path as far as timeline than I was, but we were both still figuring things out and doing this and doing that.
Now here we are four years later doing very similar things, just growing our businesses. Now you have this book, Enlightened Entrepreneurship. So, let’s talk about this for a second. What was the inspiration for you after running Bode Tree for six years to launch Enlightened Entrepreneurship, your first book?
Chris Myers: You know, I have learned so much along the way over the six years. In fact, prior to us talking today, I went back and listened to the interview that we did those four years ago, and you know what? The difference between four years ago and today is really the reason why I wrote that book. I’ve learned so much over that period of time and frankly thought that the journey that went through would be interesting and applicable for other entrepreneurs.
A lot of folks don’t actually share the unvarnished truth of what being an entrepreneur is like. You read these books and they’re exciting and they’re interesting and they give you good ideas, but they kind of focus on the good and not on the tough times. So, I thought, you know what, let me share my entire story and see if I can help some other fledgling entrepreneurs.
John Lee Dumas: So, I’m gonna put you on the spot here a little bit because obviously your book is not just one of two points, but what are one are two points within your book that you really think Fire Nation would sit up and say, “Wow, I need to take notice. This is something that I need or want to learn more about”?
Chris Myers: There’s really two keys points that I think that I want people to take away from reading the book. The first one is that when it comes to entrepreneurship, when it comes to leadership, the single most important trait that you can develop in yourself is a sense of self-awareness. Self-awareness is absolutely central to success in building, scaling a business and also managing a team. So, that was something I learned over my journey and over that period of time was that I thought I was being self-aware, but I really wasn’t. It wasn’t until I went through the grinder a little bit, so to speak, through certain realizations that I came to that point. The second one –
John Lee Dumas: Let’s hang on that for one second because I want to talk about that sense of self-awareness. So, when you say that, what specifically do you mean? How were you maybe not self-aware and how have you since become self-aware and how can maybe us as entrepreneurs really identify what stage we’re at?
Chris Myers: I think it manifests in a couple of ways with me in particular. The first one was that I thought that just because I was an entrepreneur, that I had started a company that has traction, that I was automatically a leader, that crowning yourself as the CEO and co-founder is enough to actually inspire people and drive people forward and create really phenomenal results right out of the gate. That wasn’t the case.
I realized I had a lot of learning I needed to do. I needed to be more empathetic with people. I needed to understand their perspectives and where they were coming from. I needed to be able to communicate more effectively because the team I had originally built was very small and it was successful, but as we grew, I just assumed hey, more of the same, we’ll be good. It wasn’t the case.
I knew that I needed to change because I had people that weren’t happy. I had performance that wasn’t what I was looking for. It’s easy to point outward when you run into those challenges when you’re scaling a business, but nine times out of ten, you really need to look inward and look at yourself as a leader, not just as an entrepreneur, as an idea person and change accordingly.
The second part is intellectual honesty and we can get into this in a little bit. One of the big changes from four years ago to today has been our business model. When we launched and went through everything back in 2011, 2010 I think, we were going direct to small businesses. We had early traction and it was great, but as we moved forward, that traction started to trail off and we didn’t know why. I didn’t know if it was the product or the approach or what it was. I had to really be honest with myself that that model that we had going direct to small business was not working. It was not going to work.
So, we pivoted to institutions, away from going direct to the small business owners, which was a scary process. It meant a major rethinking of our mission, our go-to market approach, the product, the team, basically everything you could possibly imagine. It all really came to a head in that pivot, but it proved to be tremendously successful for us. I don’t think we could have gotten there without really a spirit of intellectual honesty about what was working and what wasn’t working.
John Lee Dumas: So, intellectual honesty, how do you feel like our listeners, Fire Nation, can maybe look within themselves and maybe even make sure that they are practicing that intellectual honesty within their business?
Chris Myers: It’s something that you have to develop over time and it’s a very difficult thing to do because becoming an entrepreneur and starting something from scratch, starting something from nothing, requires this Herculean effort, this passion that is unmatched by just about anything else, and a maniacal devotion to the cause. So, those are all good things, but the bad thing is that passion that drives us and that devotion that propels us forward often blinds us to the things that we don’t want to see.
So, I think the way fellow entrepreneurs and your listeners can start to cultivate this internally is by practicing mindfulness, for one, and trying to take time every single day out of your busy schedule, maybe it’s early morning, maybe it’s late at night, I’m an early morning person, and distance yourself from your business. Literally sit back and try to poke holes in what you’re doing. Play the devil’s advocate with yourself. I think in doing so, you’re going to cultivate the ability to identify those things that aren’t working, that need to change, that you may not really want to admit to yourself, things that are maybe uncomfortable to accept.
But that is a skill that has to be practiced and it’s the single most important advice that I can offer to other entrepreneurs. I think that, and I’m sure that you know this as well, that we tend to be our own worst enemies. It’s not external forces; it’s not the market or anything along those lines. We sabotage ourselves as entrepreneurs. So, being able to really proactively work against that is huge.
John Lee Dumas: How long did the book writing process take you from actually starting writing pen to paper all the way through to where you are right now?
Chris Myers: You know, it took me about three and a half to four months, but I’m a pretty fast writer. I write every day and I write for Forbes. I’ve published probably five to ten columns a month, just depending, and it’s a great passion of mine. Frankly, it’s a great relaxation effort for me. Really, it goes back to that intellectual honesty and self-awareness. Putting pen to paper and working through the things that I’m dealing with in the business in real time makes it flow very easily.
So, I’ve developed over time the ability to write fairly rapidly so it didn’t take me all that long. But I will say that in a certain sense, I’ve been writing for years now. How long did it take me to write the book? Physically, it took me three and a half months. Mentally, six years.
John Lee Dumas: That’s so true and a lot of people are asking me, “John, how are you getting out an email a day to your audience and you’re publishing on different platforms,” and I just say, “Listen, that email that I’m sitting down and writing, it’s actually like meditation for me. It’s like getting the thoughts in my head out of my head and down onto paper and sharing with the world.” So, just kind of get in that kind of mindset. Don’t look at it, Fire Nation, like you’re recreating the wheel. Just say, ‘Hey, I’ve got thoughts in my head. I’m gonna put them on paper and I’m gonna move forward with that.’
So Chris, in these three to four months that you were writing this book and doing the editing and the finalizing of everything, you definitely encountered some things you probably haven’t experienced before because, again, this is your first book. Yeah, you’ve been running BodeTree for six years, but what is something that you actually changed your mind about during this book writing process, meaning what is something you believed like four or five months ago before that you just don’t believe now?
Chris Myers: Yeah, that’s an excellent question, John. I think the single most significant realization that I came to really had to deal with my views on empowerment in the workplace. So, as I was writing the book and I was articulating the things that I wanted to be true, the things and the behaviors in staff and team members and everything that I wanted to see, I realized that frankly, I was wrong about it.
In the past, I had always been this big advocate of a highly autonomous, highly empowered workplace where people were free to come and go as they pleased and they had their own little – almost microbusinesses inside of the larger organization in terms of what they were responsible for and the like. That structure was actually a hindrance to productivity. But as I was writing this and as I was editing and going back and looking at my own thoughts, I realized hold on a second, every time I’m writing about this, I’m writing about what went wrong with that approach and why that didn’t work and what problems that created.
It was this really amazing a-ha moment for me when I sat back and looked and said, ‘Wait a minute, I’m not providing enough structure for my team.’ In trying to be so open and empowering, I’m actually letting people flounder. So, that was a huge moment for me and I changed a lot of things internally to make it actually more structured, but honestly more easy and more approachable for my team members.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, it’s so important that when you’re building a team that you’re making sure, as much as it is possible, that you are guarding your time, your energy. That you know the power that you’re bringing to your business, just the energy that you have in life, and you’re guarding that and you’re having your team fill in the blanks so that you can focus on what you’re great at. You can amplify that and that’s what Chris was able to do over those four or five months that he was writing his book and still have BodeTree rocking and rolling while he was still doing everything else.
Now, I’d like to get down to brass tacks, Chris, as I call it. I just want to know what value is Fire Nation going to get from reading Enlightened Entrepreneurship? What is the core that they’re gonna be walking away with, that they’re gonna be like, ‘That was worth my time’?
Chris Myers: I think that they’re gonna walk away with the most straightforward, unvarnished and honest opinion of what it takes to build a successful entrepreneurial venture in today’s day and age, warts and all. When I wrote the book and I gave our advanced copies to my team and my investors and everybody, they went, ‘Why would you be so transparent? Why would you write this? Why would you share these things?’ I mean, because it’s everything: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
My response to them is always the same. We are very strong today, but we’re strong today because we are open, we are honest, and we’re transparent with everybody that we work with across the board. I have no shame in sharing the things I’ve struggled with, the things that we did very well, the things we did not do very well.
I think that when you’re looking at business books and blogs and everything, entrepreneurs today are conditioned to tell the story that they are just crushing it 24/7. They’re killing it all the time. Everything is great. We’re going to the moon. But all of us who have actually started the business know that’s not the case all the time. There are ups and there are downs and my goal here was to share the most transparent and really open account of my journey so far.
So, I think that it’s an approach and a perspective that they’re not gonna see elsewhere. So, if they’re curious about what it took to build this company, check it out. I think that that’s the value.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, I think it’s because of Chris’s open communication that, frankly, he’s still around. I mean, guys, four years have passed since I first interviewed Chris with BodeTree and I have to be honest, I have seen past guests of EOFire’s businesses come and go. I’ve interviewed people who I interviewed just two years ago who, since I interviewed them the last time, their business has completely flopped and they’ve had to reinvent themselves. Now they’ve come back with something different so now, guess what, I’ve interviewed them again on a different business, on a different topic.
I love telling that story because I don’t want you as a listener to think that every single entrepreneur is on a rocket ship to the moon because they’re not. They’re gonna have the struggles and we want to be as transparent as possible. Chris has been able to keep BodeTree going now for over six years because of his communication and because of his team building and because he doesn’t have these unrealistic expectations.
Now, you, Fire Nation, should have unrealistic expectations for the lightning round because this is going to be awesome so don’t you go anywhere. We’re gonna take a minute first to thank our sponsors. Chris, are you prepared for the lightning rounds?
Chris Myers: Yes, I am.
John Lee Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Chris Myers: Timing and fear. When I started the company, I had literally I think three weeks earlier found out that we were gonna start to try to have a baby and I think it was basically right after we had actually started the company that we found out, guess what, we’re pregnant! So, I was scared. I was scared to start a family and a business right around the same time. But you know what? I jumped in and have no regrets.
John Lee Dumas: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Chris Myers: So, I got to know a writer named Ellen McGirt who wrote for Fast Company and a bunch of other business publications several years ago. I asked her the question, ‘What is the best advice you can give any entrepreneur,’ and she said, “Write every single day. It doesn’t matter if it’s good. It doesn’t matter if it’s formal. It doesn’t matter if it’s scribbled in the margins of a notebook. Write your thoughts down every single day.” I’ve done that and really that’s how the book was created. It’s helped me to articulate my vision, clear my mind, and really plot a good path forward.
John Lee Dumas: Yeah, there’s an author, I can’t remember his name, but he said, “I write every time I get motivated and I just happened to be motivated between 9:00 and 5:00 every single day.”
Chris Myers: Exactly.
John Lee Dumas: And Stephen King, the great Maine author, my home state, said, “Writers write.” That’s just what they do. They write. Chris, what’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Chris Myers: I practice mindfulness every morning. I get up and go through centering exercises to really reflect on where we’ve been, where I want to go, where I am today, and I found that actually formalized mindfulness practice helps to calm the anxieties that go along with being an entrepreneur, clears the path forward, and sets you up for success.
John Lee Dumas: Can you share an internet resource like Evernote with Fire Nation?
Chris Myers: Yeah, there’s a journaling app called Day One and you can get it on the Apple appstore. It’s for both desktop and mobile. It’s a great journaling tool and it really comes back to writing every single day. You can just type in notes while you’re on the subway, while you’re traveling, whatever it may be, and when you look back over time, you’re gonna see that you can really tell a narrative of where you’ve been that you may not realize just thinking back. Day One, I highly recommend it.
John Lee Dumas: Chris, if you could recommend one book to join Enlightened Entrepreneurship on our bookshelves, what would that book be and why?
Chris Myers: One of my favorites is actually called Startupland and it was written by the guys that created Zendesk and I think it’s a very similar journey. Their rocket ship has probably been a little steeper than BodeTree’s, just across the segment that they serve, but I did really appreciate the candor and it was an interesting perspective into when the gears mesh as they have for those guys, what kind of problems and challenges are you gonna encounter post-scale. So, I highly recommend that one in addition to my book.
John Lee Dumas: Chris, let’s end today on fire with a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Chris Myers: Perfect! So, we have set up a special page just for your listeners. So, if you go to BodeTree.com/fire, you’re gonna see not only references to this interview, but also a special discount code good for 50 percent off of Enlightened Entrepreneurship. So, BodeTree.com/fire, check it out and hopefully Fire Nation takes advantage of it.
John Lee Dumas: Well, Fire Nation, take action, take advantage. What’s that parting piece of guidance?
Chris Myers: You know what? Take time for yourself and take time to reflect on where you have been, where you are and where you want to go. It’s all about self-awareness. It’s all about intellectual honesty. Don’t let the act of being an entrepreneur blind you from the facts that you’re facing at that very moment.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with and you have been hanging out with C.M. and J.L.D today, so keep up the heat and head over to EOFire.com, just type ‘Chris’ in the search bar. His show notes page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today. These are the best show notes in the biz, times stamps, links galore.
Of course, you can also check out Episode 29 if you type ‘Chris’ in the search bar and get a nice chuckle there. Of course, your final call to action is BodeTree.com/fire. Head over there, Chris has got some really cool stuff over there for you, discount code included. Chris, I want to say thank you for sharing your journey once again with Fire Nation. For that, we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flipside.
Chris Myers: Thank you, John. Let’s not make it four years before we talk again.
John Lee Dumas: Holla!
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