Dave Barth is the CEO of Run for Fun Camps, which emphasizes play for Silicon Valley youth. He runs a summer camp that allows campers to briefly disengage from technology and spend quality time playing, laughing, and exploring nature. It is his belief that when in nature, kids thrive.
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- www.cpaonfire.com – Accounting resource mentioned by John
- Vistaprint – Dave’s Small Business Resource
- Run for Fun Camps– Dave’s company
- Crossing the Unknown Sea by David Whyte – Dave’s Best Business Book
3 Key Points:
- You have to fail in order to succeed.
- Sometimes things go wrong, and you need to be the one to solve the issue.
- When you find your true calling, stick with it.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [00:58] – John introduces Dave to the show
- [01:28] – Dave’s personal life
- [03:39] – How Dave generates revenue today
- After school programs
- Summer camps
- [05:47] – If you’re really passionate, and if you’ve found your true calling, you just have to stick with it
- [07:12] – You have to fail in ordered to succeed
- [07:55] – Worst Entrepreneur Moment –When the only boys bathroom at camp broke
- [09:58] – Sometimes things go wrong, and you need to be the one to solve the issue
- [11:01] – When things go wrong, attack the issue… Think on your feet and get out there to solve it
- [14:20] – Entrepreneur AH-HA Moment – When he bought a pack of dodge balls and brought them to class
- [14:21] – It was hard to know what I would be successful at
- [14:41] – You have to be willing to make adjustments as you go
- [15:01]– Dave’s biggest weakness as an entrepreneur – accounting
- [16:23] – Josh Bauerle www.cpaonfire.com
- [16:28] – Dave’s biggest strength –being genuine
- [17:08] – The one thing that Dave is most fired up about today? –a big dream of someday owning a summer camp in the mountains, on the lake; one step at a time, Dave believes he’ll get there.
- [17:38] – www.runforfuncamps.com
- [19:38] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? –I felt like it I couldn’t do it
- What is the best advice you have ever received?—Dave, you are doing great. You are a superstar at this; keep it up
- What is a personal habit that contributes to your success?—Waking up early
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation—Vistaprint
- One book to recommend – Crossing the Unknown Sea by David Whyte
- Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world, Identical to earth, but you knew no one. You still have all the experiences and knowledge you currently have, your food and shelter is taken cared of, but all you have is a laptop and $500. What would you do in the next 7 days? – I would wake up at 6am, go for a jog and head to Vistaprint where I’d create a brochure for an event I’d put on for the community. I’d take those brochures, go out in town and start meeting people—local teachers, parents, etc.
- [27:44] – [email protected]
- [27:56] – Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not something to be waited for but rather something to be achieved.
Dave Barth: I am so fired up and I’m ready to ignite.
John Lee Dumas: Yes. Dave is the CEO of Run for Fun Camps which emphasizes play for Silicon Valley youth. He runs a summer camps that allows campers to briefly disengage from technology and spend quality time playing, laughing, and exploring nature. It is his belief that when in nature, kids thrive. Dave, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro and give us just a little glimpse into your personal life.
Dave Barth: I am 29 years old. I love playing sports and spending time outside. And I live in Silicon Valley where technology is everywhere. And sometimes I think that kids are superglued to their smart phones and their iPads and they have so much screen time that they’re missing out on those face-to-face experiences. And that’s where we come in and provide outdoor play.
John Lee Dumas: I’m a big fan of not only getting outside every single day, getting that natural Vitamin D, I love taking my shoes off, walking on the bay here so I have the sand on my feet, having the ocean kind of rushing over my feet as well. Just really that connection to the earth, I think, is so huge and it’s so important. And I love the word that you use, Dave here is not to be disengaged from nature. You don’t want to always just be engaged with technology. So give me a little more personal intel about Dave.
Dave Barth: I live in the mountains and I have an outdoor fire pit so I can hang out with my roommates and roast some marshmallows. And it’s always a good time. I love to play basketball and tennis. And that’s life.
John Lee Dumas: When’s the last time you made a really good s’more?
Dave Barth: Just this past weekend.
John Lee Dumas: Isn’t there like an art form to a good s’more?
Dave Barth: Yeah. I’m not a master at s’more making. I usually end up catching my s’more on fire and it’s never pretty but it tastes so good.
John Lee Dumas: My favorite is just when you have it so the chocolate is melting just enough that you’re like, okay, this is the kind of s’more that I want. And being a Mainer myself, Fire Nation, I’ve had my taste of s’mores in the past. Now, Dave, I want to kind of move forward into you, into revenue. I mean, s’mores, marshmallows, even firewood, it’s not all free. Well, firewood can be free, I guess. You live in the mountains. That’s pretty cool. But basically I want to know and Fire Nation would be curious to know how you generate revenue today. Break that down for us.
Dave Barth: I have two main sources of revenue. The first is our after-school programs. We are located at 14 elementary schools and we have a fall, winter, and spring session. And our second source of revenue is our summer camps. We run six weeks of summer camp, five weeks of an adventure day camp, and one week of a resident camp.
John Lee Dumas: So what does that look like as far as actual revenue? I’m not talking dollars and cents but like how are you going out and finding more clients to come to you? How are you getting those inbound leads and just generating leads in general?
Dave Barth: Being a relatively small business, it’s a lot of word of mouth. And it’s a lot of going out into the community and offering up our services so that people can see our staff running programs live for kids. And from there, we are able to tell them about our after-school programs and our summer camps. And they see how excited we are to engage youth and they want to be a part of it.
John Lee Dumas: So what I think is important, Fire Nation, for you to understand – what Dave is doing here is a template that you can apply to different industries, to different niches. He knows what he loves doing. He saw an opportunity that he wanted to fill. He saw this void that just needed this answer, this solution, and he created it in the form of this, what we’re about to talk more about in a little bit. But how can you use this template in your industry, in your niche, in our passion going forward?
And, Dave, as we kind of wrap up this section, what would you want to share with Fire Nation? What’s an idea or something that you’ve learned just kind of getting out there and finding a way to make your business work that you think would be valuable to our listeners?
Dave Barth: Yeah, I think at first it can be really scary to put yourself out there. And especially when you’re first starting out and you’re trying to meet people and you may not have the perfect plan. But if you’re really passionate, if you’ve really found your true calling, you just have to stick with it and follow your dreams and everything will come together.
John Lee Dumas: Let me ask you this question and feel free to disagree with it. But I feel there’s a big issue with outbounds. And what we as entrepreneurs really struggle with is we say, hey, I’m looking to get that yes. I want to call this elementary school and I want to get a yes from them so I can help serve them and their students, etc., etc. And we look for that yes and so because we’re looking for that yes, and if and when we get that no because, of course, no’s are a lot more common than yes’s, we look at that as a rejection. And then we say, man, if this one place didn’t want it, nobody’s gonna want it.
And I love to just flip that on its head and say listen. Your goal today is to know your mission, know your message, be confident and love what you do but then reach out and your goal is to get ten no’s. I want you to go, I want you to call the elementary school, call the next one, call the next one. Get ten no’s. And you’re gonna call ten places and if that’s ten no’s then you win. You’re done.
Because guess what? If you go into saying, hey, I’m gonna just put myself out there and I’m gonna do my best and I’m gonna pitch myself in the most honest way and what I’m looking to do and I get that no, I win. Because I know it’s gonna take ten no’s to get a yes. Or 25 no’s to get a yes. And so that’s how I like to flip the script a little bit. Dave, what are your thoughts on that?
Dave Barth: Yeah, no question. I mean, you have to fail in order to succeed. And I have failed plenty of times and I’ve heard lots of no’s over the years. But it’s those few yes’s that make it worth it.
John Lee Dumas: So, Dave, no’s are definitely not the best times in our world but, again, if we flip that script, Fire Nation, we can make it just part of what we do every single day. Does everybody who I reach out to say yes to be on EOFire? No. But that’s okay. I mean, that is fine. This is part of what we do, Fire Nation. Now, Dave, a no is not great. But, listen, you’ve had a lot worse experiences than just a flat-out no. And, in fact, that’s what I want to take us to now is what you consider your worst entrepreneurial moment. And, Dave, we’re all about the stories here so take us to that moment in time and tell us that story.
Dave Barth: John, Fire Nation, there’s been many, many difficult entrepreneurial experiences along the way. And I know all of you entrepreneurs out there, you’ve had a bunch of tough moments. But I have one specific moment and it’s from the summer of 2015. I was hosting a giant campout. And there was about 45 kids there and 20 parents and our staff of 10 and it was a really rustic experience. We were at a beautiful campsite in the Redwoods but there was only one boy’s bathroom and one girl’s bathroom. And we had this amazing night. S’mores, campfire songs, slept out underneath the stars and it was absolutely awesome.
But I woke up to a little boy tapping me on the shoulder and he said to me, “Coach Dave, Coach Dave, I have to talk to you.” And I look at my watch and it’s 5:45 a.m. and I look up at him and he says, “Coach Dave, the bathroom is broken.” And so I walk over to the bathroom and that bathroom needed to be serviced 12 to 14 hours before I got there. And I’ve plunged my share of toilets but this was really bad. And I’ll save Fire Nation the details on this but I broke a couple plungers and 45 minutes later, we were all good. We were all set. Everything was fixed.
And the reason I tell this story as my worst moment is that being an entrepreneur, whether it’s a camp director, CEO of your business, it’s not always fun and games and sunshine and revenue strolling in. Sometimes things go wrong and you need to be the one to solve the issue. And sometimes you just need to go ahead and take the plunge.
John Lee Dumas: Or the plunger.
Dave Barth: Or the plunger.
John Lee Dumas: Wow. So that is a heck of a story. And I think the visual there is what’s really important. Not like the specific visual but just the fact that, Fire Nation, sometimes as entrepreneurs we just need to roll up our sleeves and just do the work. I mean, there’s been times when, yeah, I necessarily didn’t want to manually input 45 addresses to ship out The Freedom Journal on this rush order but it had to happen. I wanted to get it out before the final bell was about to toll for the next day shipping. And so I just did it. I just sucked it up, put on a good podcast on, and I just did it. Like I just ripped it off. And it was mind numbing and it felt like it was never gonna end but you knock it out.
Sometimes you just need to do that. So, Dave, I love that message. In just one sentence, what do you want to make sure Fire Nation gets from that story?
Dave Barth: When things go wrong, do not be afraid to attack the issue, think on your feet, and go out there and solve it.
John Lee Dumas: Well said. And, Dave, it’s obvious to me from that past story you know how to tell stories. So we’re gonna keep that theme moving forward. And this theme’s gonna be of a different sort. It’s probably not gonna involve a plunger although who knows. With you, it could. But I want it to be an epiphany, an “aha” moment, a lightbulb that went off at some point in your journey. Dave, take us to that moment. And then kind of talk us through how you turned that idea into a success.
Dave Barth: I want to go back to when I was first getting started about seven years ago. And it was a time in my life where I was running boot camps and doing all sorts of fitness classes and had private clients. And I got into this one after-school program and I was teaching the kids about track and field. And there were three kids in the program and we were long jumping and sprinting and throwing plastic javelins. And it was really fun but it was really hard to get kids to join us. There were three kids and at one point I got it up to four kids but I could never experience so much growth.
And one day I thought, well, what if I go out and buy a pack of dodgeballs and bring them to class and we will play and see what happens. So I go out, buy the dodgeballs, bring them out there, and the kids are having a blast. And parents are looking on at our program who had never taken notice at what we were doing and they saw that we were having a lot of fun. And there were kids at the elementary school who saw what we were doing as well.
And I realized, I had my “aha” moment at that exact point, and I realized kids are sitting in school for six hours a day. They don’t necessarily want to be learning more after a long day at school. They want to go out and they want to play. And so if we fast forward now to seven years later, we’re at 14 elementary schools and have 400 kids in the program.
John Lee Dumas: One thing for me that’s just so obvious looking at that is variety is the spice of life. We’re human beings. We like to change things up. If we’re doing one thing all day, we don’t want to take a quick break and then go back and do something very similar the rest of that day. We want to change things up. If we’re inside, we want to go outside, get the fresh air, get the sun, get the experience. And guess what? If we’re outside for a couple of hours, we probably want to come inside and curl up next to a fire or take a nice shower and just kind of hang out. I mean, we want that variety, Fire Nation.
So how can you as an entrepreneur, within your business, implement and institute variety so that your customers, your clients aren’t having to go elsewhere to get that variety but you can give that to them. That’s why I have Podcasters Paradise and then Webinar on Fire and then the physical produce, The Freedom Journal. I wanted to mix things up so it wasn’t just always the same message, the same thing, the same place but it was in different areas to add that variety.
Now, Dave, that is really my big takeaway that kind of popped into my head while you were going through that story but what do you want to make sure Fire Nation gets from your “aha” moment?
Dave Barth: Initially it was hard to know what I would be successful at. And trying these boot camps, trying the after-school programs. I think it’s okay in the beginning to not necessarily know what people are going to be attracted to about what you’re offering but you have to be willing to make adjustments as you go. And I’m still making adjustments today. And I think it’s important that, okay, maybe whatever your program is or whatever you’re offering to people, always work on trying to make it even better until you nail it.
John Lee Dumas: Dave, what’s your biggest weakness as an entrepreneur?
Dave Barth: I love work. I love what I do and it’s hard to check out at the end of the day and spend time not thinking about camp and work.
John Lee Dumas: Recharging is definitely important. But, Dave, I’m gonna kind of call you out here. That’s like being at a job interview and what’s your biggest weakness? And like saying I’m just a perfectionist. I just do everything perfectly. Like, come on, Dave. Dig a little deeper, buddy.
Dave Barth: All right. I’ll dig a little deeper for you on that one. I’m really bad at accounting. And that’s important.
John Lee Dumas: Huge. That’s actually the life blood. I mean, if you don’t have your numbers going, you can’t run a business, Fire Nation.
Dave Barth: No question. And I have an accountant who’s great and he helps me out but you still need to understand your own numbers. And I wish I spent more time in the earlier years understanding how my business worked more and getting more of those details on the numbers and learning more about how all the taxes would work when you bring in employees. And I’m starting to learn that lesson now as I go and I wish I spent more time reading up on this stuff earlier in the game.
John Lee Dumas: Well, little shout-out to our CPA, Josh Bauerle over at cpaonfire.com. Now, Dave, what is your biggest strength?
Dave Barth: I like to think that I am a pretty genuine person who likes to help people out. And I will be ready generous with people. So if someone is telling me a story, I want to listen to it. I want to be there and hear their story and advise them. If anyone’s ever in need of scholarship or any sort of help, I just try to be generous and help those who may be less fortunate.
John Lee Dumas: Now, Dave, you have a lot of things going on right now that, rightfully so, you’re fired up about. But what’s the one thing that has you most fired up today?
Dave Barth: I have this big dream of someday owning a summer camp in the mountains on a lake. And I think that one step at a time we are getting there. And I’m fired up for summer 2016 because I know it’s going to be an awesome experience for all the kids who come out to it.
John Lee Dumas: Now, we’re gonna talk about this again at the end but real quick, where can Fire Nation find out more about all this stuff you have going on?
Dave Barth: They can go to my website, runforfuncamps.com.
John Lee Dumas: Runforfuncamps.com. And, Fire Nation, don’t you run anywhere because we’re about to enter the Lightning Round. But we’re gonna take a quick minute to thank our sponsors. Dave, are you prepared for the Lightning Round?
Dave Barth: I’m so ready.
John Lee Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Dave Barth: When I graduated college a lot of my friends were going out into the workforce and I felt like that was something that I was just supposed to go out and do. And I was a little bit scared and hesitant that if I became an entrepreneur, I’d be living at my parents’ house for a bunch of years. Amazing people, love my parents. But when you’re 22 years old you don’t necessarily want to be living in your childhood bedroom. And so that was definitely my biggest fear.
John Lee Dumas: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Dave Barth: I have a really good friend and mentor who’s just always believed in me and she would tell me, “Dave, you are doing great. You are a superstar at this. Keep it going.” And to have someone say that to you in times when you don’t necessarily believe in yourself is huge.
John Lee Dumas: What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Dave Barth: I’ve gotta take this one from an episode of Entrepreneur on Fire. Yeah, no question. There is an episode where you’re talking about waking up early. And I love that episode. And I am someone who thought I am entrepreneur and I am going to let myself sleep in because I don’t have a boss. And I wasn’t sleeping in until 11:00 a.m. or anything like that. I would wake up at 8:00 a.m. and start my day.
But after listening to that episode, I just went for it and took the leap and started waking up at 6:00 a.m. everyday. And that’s allowed me to wake up, go for a little run, get the blood flowing. And then during the middle of the day around lunch time I now have time to play basketball with some friends and eat lunch instead of sitting at my computer eating lunch and working. So it’s just been absolutely huge.
John Lee Dumas: Listen, Fire Nation, you need to do what works for you absolutely but this is a deep-seeded belief in me, now in Dave, and in a lot of the past successful guests that I’ve had on EOFire. If you want the day to own you, go ahead and wake up at 9:00 a.m. Go ahead and you’ll play catch up for the rest of the day. And, hey, if that’s been working for you, why stop? Why? I mean, it works. But if you want to own the day, you wake up at 5:30 a.m., at 6:00 a.m., at 6:30 a.m., and you are going through your morning routine where you get to focus on you.
Like Dave goes for his run, he has his breakfast, he gets to kind of mentally unwind and recharge and prepare for the day. I go through my morning routine which is my walk and this and that. You then own the day instead of the day owning you. And waking up early, by the way, it kind of cures a lot of other problems that a lot of us do have. Like, hey, I can’t go out drinking late at night now because I’ve gotta get up early so that kind of solves that. No. 1, staying up late and No. 2, having too many drinks at the end of the night. Like you know it starts to solve some of these things that some people have gone into bad habits of over the years.
And one of my favorite things to say, Dave, and I’ve probably said it in this interview that you were mentioning was, hey, if you are a “night owl” and you don’t think that you can become an “early bird,” wake up at 5:30 a.m. or 6:00 a.m. for 60 straight days. And guess what? You’ll become an early bird because you’ll be falling asleep at 9:15 p.m., 10:15 p.m. You’ll be getting your seven or eight hours. And you’ll wake up refreshed.
So don’t just stamp yourself as a night owl unless you, again, really want that and it works for you. I’m not trying to change you. I’m just saying what’s worked for Dave and myself and a lot of other successful entrepreneurs. Now share an internet resource, Dave, like Evernote with Fire Nation.
Dave Barth: Being a small business that works a lot with kids, a website that I go to often is Vistaprint. And Vistaprint has awesome marketing materials. And the user interface initially isn’t so friendly. It takes a little bit of time to get used to it. But what I love about Vistaprint is you can make some amazing, beautiful banners and brochures.
And they have excellent customer service. If you call them up, they will look over everything you have created. They will edit for you. They’ll make sure that all the lines, everything lines up and that the resolution is really high on all your photos. And if anything ever goes wrong they’re very quick to refund you your money. So for marketing materials, I would say check out Vistaprint.
John Lee Dumas: If you could recommend just one book for our listeners, what would it be and why?
Dave Barth: There’s a book by David White called Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity. And the book talks about pushing yourself to the edge. And being an athlete who loves to push myself, this was a really good read. And it also talks a lot about creativity and I think Fire Nation would really enjoy it.
John Lee Dumas: Well, Fire Nation, I know that you love audio so I teamed up with Audible. And if you haven’t already, you can get an amazing audiobook for free at eofirebook.com. Now, Dave, this is the last question of the Lightning Round but it is 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 of but all you have is a laptop and $500.00. What would you do in the next seven days?
Dave Barth: I would wake up at Day No. 1 at 6:00 a.m. and I would go for my morning jog and eat a little breakfast. And then I would get the creative juices flowing. And I would get on Vistaprint and I would create a brochure and would design an awesome event. And I would love to get the community involved in it. I would create a giant game of Capture the Flag because I think it’s really important for both kids and adults to have the opportunity to play. And then once the Vistaprints arrived, I would get out to the community. I would go downtown. I would start shaking hands. I would go to the local elementary schools, talk to the principal, see if I could get the information out there.
And by the end of the week I would put on this giant game. And I bet that a lot of community members would want to come out and attend. And with the remaining money, I would go ahead and buy a bunch of pizzas. And so that way when the game is over and before we have pizza, I would gather everyone who’s there, thank them for coming out, and tell them about some of the upcoming events that I am really excited about.
And you know what, Fire Nation? I do this event every year. We do a giant Capture the Flag game as a community fundraiser and it’s a really, really good time to see a bunch of kids and adults going out there and playing. And it’s also a great way to spread the word about whatever your business might be offering.
John Lee Dumas: Dave, love that on every level. Especially the pizza. So let’s end today on fire with you sharing a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Dave Barth: Definitely. The best way to connect with me is through email at [email protected] And my parting piece of advice is a quote from my high school track coach that still has stuck with me to this day. And the quote is “Destiny is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not something to be waited for but rather something to be achieved.”
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with and you’ve been hanging out with DB and JLD today. So keep up the heat and head over to eofire.com. Just type Dave in the search bar. His show notes page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today. And, of course, take him up on the email, [email protected]
When people give their email addresses, Fire Nation, and you have an interest in connecting with them, do it. Make that your one goal for the day. That could be a really good goal to accomplish. Reach out to Dave. He will get back to you. Now what I want to say to you, Dave, is thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. And for that, my friend, we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flip side.
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