Ever is a serial entrepreneur and is currently the Co-founder and CEO of Outlier. He produces and hosts the popular Outlier On Air podcast, runs a physical co-working space, and organizes events geared toward the dynamic community of startups and entrepreneurs.
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Worst Entrepreneur Moment
- The sunk cost fallacy: it’s REAL, Fire Nation. Ever’s story of how the sunk cost fallacy almost sunk his Entrepreneurial ship is a DOOZY – tune in!
Entrepreneur AH-HA Moment
- FOCUS on your strengths, NOT your weaknesses… Ever hammers this point home.
Small Business Resource
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Best Business Book
- Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi
Ever Gonzalez: Absolutely.
Ever Gonzalez: I'm ready.
John: Ever is a serial entrepreneur and is currently the co-founder and CEO of Outlier. He produces and hosts the popular Outlier On Air podcast, runs a physical co-working space, and organizes events geared toward the dynamic community of startups and entrepreneurs. Ever, take a minute. Fill in some gaps from that intro and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Ever Gonzalez: Absolutely. Yeah, so, like you mentioned, I'm a serial entrepreneur, a background in logistics, spent 15 years in logistics. I'm originally from Southern California, and now I'm in Southern Utah. So I'm living and playing out here with my three kids and beautiful redheaded wife.
John: Wow, well, I love everything you guys have going on and the guests that you've on your show. And I've always kinda had some interest in developing a co-working space myself, so we might have to talk about that on the side, too, because in that there's –
Ever Gonzalez: Absolutely. We'll do it.
John: – a lot that goes into that. But before we get into your specific journey, Ever, one thing that I wanna talk about is today, present, right now. You have definitely a fully faceted business, a lot of different things going on, but we at Fire Nation our entrepreneurs. We our side-preneurs, small business owners, and we're looking to build viable businesses, and a viable business generates revenue. So how do you, Ever, generate revenue today?
Ever Gonzalez: It's funny. For the first year and a half, we didn't generate any revenue. We were building our platform, but now we generate revenue with the events that we have here at co-working space, podcast sponsorships. We started a couple mastermind groups that are running well. And then, recently, it just kinda came up that the entrepreneurs that we associate with and some of our corporate sponsors needed help with producing their own webinars, and so that has been a moneymaker, as well, these last four to five months.
John: I'm glad you brought up the fact that it took 18 months before you turned that corner. For me, it was nine months before I even saw a $1.00 coming into the coffers, and for some people, it's longer. For some people, it's shorter, but I can tell you it takes time, Fire Nation, to grow a business that's a viable one, that's gonna generate revenue. So I love the people that have that side hustle that say, "You know what, I know I have responsibilities. I gotta pay the bills. I'm gonna keep doing that until I can actually jump full time into my passion, into something that I'm more excited about that I wanna focus full time on." So nothing wrong with that side hustle, Fire Nation. Remember –
Ever Gonzalez: Not at all.
John: – we all have responsibilities. Absolutely. So, Ever, thanks for sharing for that. I love how you've diversified your income and homeowners you just continue to uncover more ways to generate revenue. And that's another exciting thing, Fire Nation. Opportunities are going to be uncovered as you move forward whether you like it or not. And most of us, we like to uncover ways to generate revenue, so just keep your eyes open there.
But, Ever, I wanna focus, now, on your journey, specifically, as an entrepreneur, and you've had the ups. You've had the downs. We're gonna talk not just about the downs but about what you consider your worst entrepreneurial moment to date. And, Ever, we live, we thrive, on stories, so take us to that moment in time that you consider your worst entrepreneurial moment, and tell us that story.
Ever Gonzalez: It won't be difficult to kinda go back there. It happened last year, and, to be quite honest, it still stings a little bit, which I'm glad it still stings. It makes me work even harder, but so a year ago, we pride ourselves in holding these entrepreneurial events, these pitch competitions. And we were doing great, event after event after event.
And then, we decided to kinda get a little bit bolder, right? So we decided to have a way bigger event at Zion National Park here in Southern Utah, and we were gonna invite 300 to 400 entrepreneurs from all over the U.S. to kinda come out. And so my team and I, we spent a lot of time putting that together. We had the perfect venue. We even had some great speakers – David Neelman confirmed, former CEO of JetBlue, and then one of our mutual friends, Michael O'Neal from the Solopreneur Hour Podcast, were scheduled to come in.
And then, as we were putting all things together, it just didn't feel right. I mean things were humming along, and people were buying tickets, but I wasn't passionate about it. The message that we were trying to put across, it just didn't feel right, and so one late night with my team here, I just kinda said, "Listen, I think we need to scrap this."
And it kinda was a shock to everybody there, but I wasn't passionate about it, so I decided to cancel it, and I had to eat some humble pie calling the people that we had already booked to come out and speak and tell them, "Hey, listen. We're not gonna be able to do it. I'm sorry for wasting your time," the people at the venues and even refunding some of the tickets that were already bought for the event.
And then, everybody here in the community was looking forward to it, and we already had people lined up. But I didn't wanna put on basically a half-ass show, really. I didn't want to be able to just kinda do it in a way that I wasn't 100 percent comfortable with or 100 percent proud of, and so we scrapped the whole thing less than a month ago. And so that has been my worst moment in my entrepreneurial career.
It still stings, and every once in a while when it's brought up, it hurts a little bit. Actually, it hurts quite a bit, but we've moved on. We've had other events, and they've been a success.
John: Now, you alluded to a message that you were sharing within that event that you just weren't feeling. What was that message? Why was it not ringing true for you?
Ever Gonzalez: That's a great question. There was no message. I think the reason that I wasn't feeling comfortable with it, or I wasn't passionate about it was I was just thinking we're gonna put these great speakers together, and we're gonna bring on these entrepreneurs to kinda come and enjoy the outdoors and all these things. But we truly did not have a message, and I think that's what, at the end of the day, was what made us cancel this event.
Moving forward, we have a message with everything we do, with the podcasts, with the events, with the co-working space, and meetups that we have, but for that particular one, there was no message. And I think that's what did it, and I'm glad we didn't do it even though it still stings because we weren't ready. We didn't know what we were trying to put out there. How were people gonna buy in and be excited about all this and kinda go home feeling great about it if we didn't even know what we were putting on other than these presentations and outdoor activities?
John: Something I wanna get into right now with you, Fire Nation, is the sunk-cost fallacy. Now, so many people – entrepreneurs – we have this absolute trait. We'll spend time, energy, money, bandwidth, doing this thing for one month, three months, six months – sometimes even a year. Ad because we sunk so much time, energy, money, potentially, into this thing, we just keep going even when it starts to turn sour, when it starts to south, when in our heart of hearts, in our gut, our intuition is screaming us, "This just isn't are anymore." We keep charging forward.
And the reason why this is called the "sunk-cost fallacy" is because this is a huge mistake, Fire Nation. All you have is time. So when it's January 1, 2016, are you really going to spend the next 6 months doing something just because you spent the last 6 months of 2015 doing it? I hope not.
You need to always be re-evaluating where you are in your life, where you are in your life, where you are on your entrepreneurial road and journey, and say, "Hey, is this path I wanna be on? And maybe if it's not, I can just adjust and keep going forward in a different direction, or maybe I have to scrap the entire path that I've been on and go back to the starting line and start somewhere new," because that sunk-cost fallacy, Fire Nation, that will sink you. And that will really destroy your future that you're trying to build because you're continuing to go down this road that is just not the right road for you.
Guess what. You've learned a lot, and when you go on that next adventure, you can apply that learning, but don't let the sunk-cost fallacy sink you. So, Ever, that's my big takeaway from your story.
Ever Gonzalez: I love it.
John: What do you wanna make sure Fire Nation gets – in just a couple sentences?
Ever Gonzalez: Yeah, basically, if you're not passionate about it, it's gonna be hard for you to make it work and have others be passionate about it, as well. So if I'm not passionate about it, even if we put a lot of time, a lot of money into it, now, I have no problem cutting it a lot sooner.
John: Absolutely, Fire Nation. You need to have the passion, and this is a marathon. This is not a sprint. So if you're not gonna be excited about this – six months, a year and a half, three years from now, and you know that right now, find something that you will be.
Ever Gonzalez: Exactly.
John: Now, Ever, let's shift, and let's talk about some happier times. This is gonna be an a-ha moment, maybe a light bulb, maybe an epiphany that you've had at some point in your journey. Now, you've had a ton. Some have worked out. Some haven't. But I want you to tell the story of an a-ha moment that you've had, that you know is gonna resonate with our audience, Fire Nation, and, Ever, tell that story. Take us to that moment in time.
Ever Gonzalez: There's a lot to be said about learning from other people's mistakes. Unfortunately, I did not. When I was building my first logistics company, my freight company, I went out there, and I got clients. I got sales. It was going great, but all along, I was building my company on somebody else's platform, and it was great. Things were moving smoothly. We were growing year after year.
But kind of out of the blue almost, this platform where I had built my company shifted a little bit. The software that we were leasing, they changed the terms a little bit. They kinda tweaked a few little items in the software, and they weren't trying to be money hungry, or they weren't trying to put anybody out of business or anything. It just was part of their business, so they had to kinda change.
And because of that, those small tweaks and policy changes, we lost almost 40 percent of our revenue from one week to the next basically, and it almost killed us. Luckily, we were able to continue to grow and move, but [inaudible] [00:10:28] it was, "Never again. Never was I gonna build my platform – my business on somebody else's platform."
Everything we do now is on our platform. We control it. We can do whatever we want with it. And I know sometimes it needs to be done, but if you can get away from that, then don't. And if you need to do it for a little while, then do it, but try to bring into your own platform as quickly as possible.
John: And we've seen so many entrepreneurs who have been sabotaged by doing just that, by building their entire platform on Facebook, and then Facebook just crushes the organic reach. And the same thing's gonna happen with Instagram and with Pinterest, and it just is not your platform Fire Nation. You don't know what the future's gonna hold on that.
Use those platforms to add to your personal platform that you own. They are great ways to grow an audience and to continue to move forward and build that email list and all those other things that you're doing, but don't rely on them. They are not your only lifeboat. Go ahead, Ever.
Ever Gonzalez: And even if it takes a little bit longer, to me, that's okay as long as at the end of the day, I control it. So that was one of the biggest a-ha moments that I've had that I continue to tell all the entrepreneurs that I come in contact with.
John: What's your biggest weakness, Ever, as an entrepreneur?
Ever Gonzalez: Yeah, that's a good one. I think, like most entrepreneurs, I'm distracted easily. If I'm not passionate about something and I'm coming looking around a little bit too much, I wanna do everything. New ideas come to me.
I talk to a lot of entrepreneurs that they kind of want a joint venture or things like that, and it's hard for me to say no and to focus on the core of what Oultier is, and so I think that's biggest weakness. I think because of this, it took us 18 months to start generating revenue. If I would've stayed focused, we would've been able to bring in revenue a lot sooner. And again, another lesson learned, but my biggest weakness is definitely staying focused at times.
John: What's your biggest strength?
Ever Gonzalez: Networking and being able to connect people. So I love people. I love hearing their stories. I like to hear what they're good at, what they need help with. And then just because in the position that I'm in, I get to talk to so many people, not only hearing you talk, but throughout the world basically. I love sending out the email intro or just a call or a text saying, "You need to meet this guy. He's going to be able to help you."
I think that's my biggest strength, and because of that, we've had business come from it. I don't do it to get business out of it, but it just happens because, genuinely, I try to connect people and help them.
John: Ever, you have a lot of things going on right now that you've learned from – mistakes and successes in the past – lotta, lotta things. But of all of these things, what's the one thing that has you most fired up today?
Ever Gonzalez: I hope this doesn't come across as a salesy type of a thing, but I mentioned we started our mastermind groups here a little while ago. And at first, I was thinking, "Great. I'm a connector. We'll put these together. We'll be a facilitator. We'll host it. We'll bring in these entrepreneurs. We'll help them grow their own businesses. We'll help them connect with each other."
But I started participating in them, as well. My team and I participated in them, as well, and it's been great. I've learned so much from members that kinda come in willing to help, as well, and so I have learned a lot as an entrepreneur personally because of that. It's helped Outlier in ways that I never thought it would. So masterminds, in general, have me fired up.
John: And where can Fire Nation find out more about that?
Ever Gonzalez: Sure Outliermagazine.co.
John: Ever, are you prepared for the lightning rounds?
Ever Gonzalez: Let's do it.
John: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Ever Gonzalez: I know married into a very conservative family, thinking that 9:00 to 5:00 was the way to go, you know, working at one company 40 years was the way to go. And we married young, so obviously, looking up to the father-in-law, it took me longer than it probably should have to kinda make the entrepreneur leap, but that was the thing that was holding me back.
John: What's the best advice you've ever received?
Ever Gonzalez: It's a simple one, but it comes from a good friend and mentor, and he told me, "Work hard. Put your head down, and go get whatever you want. But when you're tired, rest. When you're hungry, go eat. When you're stressed, go to the batting cages," and I've taken that to heart.
Now, when I'm hungry, I go get a burger. When I'm stressed, I go to the batting cages. And so there's nothing wrong with working hard, but being able to kinda step away helps, as well.
John: What's the personal habit that contributes to your success?
Ever Gonzalez: I think I'm stubborn, and so I'm gonna make things work no matter what. And so it's either gonna die, or it's gonna come out exactly like I want it to.
John: Share an Internet resource, like an Evernote, with Fire Nation.
Ever Gonzalez: Sure. Now, this one isn't sexy or anything, but it helps me quite a bit, and that's ScheduleOnce. So it helps with my interviews. It helps with all the other interviews that I do on other podcasts, as well.
John: If you could recommend just one book for our listeners, what would it be and why?
Ever Gonzalez: This is an old one, but it's helped me quite a bit, and so that's Never Eat Alone with Keith Ferrazzi. I think it was '04 or '05, and because of this book, I try to take somebody new out to lunch every single week. So not only do I get to know them, but a lot of times business comes of it.
John: So, when you're hungry, you grab a burger and open your Rolodex up and invite somebody along.
Ever Gonzalez: Absolutely. And it works perfectly.
John: Fire Nation, I know you love audios, so I teamed with Audible, and if you haven't already, you can get an amazing audiobook for free at www.eofirebook.com.
Now, Ever, 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's taken care of, but all you have is a laptop and $500.00. What would you do in the next seven days?
Ever Gonzalez: It's funny. I know you ask this question all the time, and so when I was thinking about it, I was trying to get too cutesy with it. And thinking outside of the box, I was thinking if shelter's already provided, I'm just gonna list it on Airbnb and make so money there. But I just thought, "I need to go back to the basics and back to what I'm good at."
So with those $500.00, I would go into the nearest co-working space or network event and start inviting people out to lunch and dinner and getting to know them and hearing their stories and what they need, what they're looking for, and continue to do it day after day. By the end of the week, I would've had enough contacts, hopefully. And I would've done my job right where not only would I have been able to connect these people, but because of my skill set, being able to provide them value, as well.
John: Well, Ever, I wanna end today how we started, which is on fire. With a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we'll say goodbye.
Ever Gonzalez: Sure. So on my website www.outliermagazne.co – that's Outlier Magazine dot C-O – also on Twitter @_evergonzalez, and on the podcast Outlier On Air, was well.
John: And a parting piece of guidance.
Ever Gonzalez: Put your head down, and work hard.
John: Fire Nation, you're the average of the five people that you spend the most time with, and you've been hanging out EG nd JLD today, so keep up the heat, and head over to www.eofire.com. Just type "Ever" – E-V-E-R – in our search bar. His show notes page will pop right up with everything that we've been talking about, all of his social media contacts.
And of course, go directly to www.outliermagazine.co to check out what they have going on. It is a great podcast. It is gonna be linked up in the show notes, as well. Ever, thank you, brother, for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that –
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