From the archive: This episode was originally recorded and published in 2019. Our interviews on Entrepreneurs On Fire are meant to be evergreen, and we do our best to confirm that all offers and URL’s in these archive episodes are still relevant.
Peter Rex is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and thought leader who built a billion-dollar investment business from scratch in less than 7 years and now runs a technology company based in Seattle.
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3 Value Bombs
1) You’ve got to have humility and you have to be bold.
2) Go expensive on people and go cheap on commodities.
3) Develop your skills; your skills are your future equity.
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Today’s Audio MASTERCLASS: How Serving People First can Lead to Success in Your Business with Peter Rex
[0:57] – Share something interesting about yourself that most people don’t know
- I speak Spanish at home with my family and kids.
[02:01] – Peter gives a sneak peek of what he’ll be sharing today
- I’m Peter Rex, and I am building the biggest company ever built.
- It’s called MakeRise, and it’s going to be the # 1 largest company in the world.
- I started from nothing, and worked my way up to building a billion dollar real estate company.
- Our mission is to empower people to rise up.
[07:35] – What do you credit much of your success to?
- There’s a plurality of elements that led to me being successful and put me where I am right now, and some of these things are luck. The luckiest thing you’re going to have is being born to good parents.
- The second thing that’s very lucky is being born in the United States.
- I have a lot of boldness and guts – two of the most important things when it comes to building a business.
- You’ve got to have humility and you have to be bold.
[21:43] – If Fire Nation wanted to move forward with this people-first approach to building a business, how would you recommend they identify the right people?
- Hire the BEST people and get them on your team.
- Go expensive on people and go cheap on commodities.
- Think about yourself and what you are lacking.
- Aristotle said “human beings are a goal oriented creature”.
- If you’re going to start a business, you can’t be too abstract, you’ve got to be concrete.
[27:45] – A timeout to thank our sponsors, HubSpot and LinkedIn Advertising!
[27:48] – What was your AH-HA moment as an entrepreneur?
- The most pivotal moment for me was when I got out of the college.
- When I was in college, I was always driven towards an idealistic vision of myself. I wanted to serve people to an extreme amount.
- I thought of becoming a celibate missionary in a Catholic Church.
- I had this AH-HA moment at the monastery, and I spent the entire night in prayer.
[35:18] – Parting piece of guidance
- You can be an entrepreneur in your station in life, where you are.
- Own your development.
- Develop your skills; your skills are your future equity.
- Make moves, take risks!
- Be humble and have humility.
- Our mission is to empower people, to rise up, and to live abundantly.
- MakeRise – Find a way or make one. (Sorry! This link was active when this episode was first published in 2019 but is no longer an active offer.)
- Peter’s Twitter – Follow Peter on Twitter!
JLD: What's shaking Fire Nation? JLD here with an audio masterclass that I hope you listen to with an open heart, because if you apply these principles, great things will happen in your business. This audio masterclass is how serving people first can lead to success in your business, Fire Nation. In to rock the mic with me today, I have brought Peter Rex, who's an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, and a thought leader who has built a $1 billion investment business from scratch in less than seven years and now runs a technology company based in Seattle, Washington. So, we're gonna be breaking down with Peter this awesome content when we get back from thanking our sponsor.
Peter say, “What's up?” to Fire Nation and share something interesting about yourself that most people don't know.
Peter Rex: What's going on Fire Nation? Good to meet everybody here, via voice at least, and looking forward to this. And something about me that most people don't know is that I actually speak Spanish at home with my family, with my kids. My son doesn't even know English yet, even though we live in Seattle and our previous home was San Francisco. We just moved up here to Seattle. The reason why he doesn't know English is because we speak only Spanish in the home, in order to teach him Spanish. This is – my wife is actually from Puerto Rico, born and raised in Cupey Alto. So, if you know the Rio Piedras area, I know you're over there JLD in Puerto Rico, then – and she's up in the mountains up there.
JLD: Yeah, you're actually very close to where I'm at right here in Palmas del Mar, so that's super cool. If you ever make it to the island, you definitely have to come over to my pad to hook it up. And Fire Nation, as I mentioned in the intro, Peter's gonna be rocking about how serving people first can lead to success in your business. We’re gonna be talking about a lot of awesome things. So Peter, give us a teaser. What do we have coming up for Fire Nation?
Peter Rex: What I'm gonna do here is kinda pull everyone back in real quick and set the foundation, in order to make it really clear to Fire Nation who I am and why you should listen to me, because I think if I was in your shoes, I'd be thinking, “This dude better establish himself immediately. Who the hell is he and why the hell do I wanna listen to him.” So, that's what I'm gonna do first. I'm trying to think about it from the position of Fire Nation’s shoes, the entrepreneurs out there that the people that want to be entrepreneurs, that wanna make it happen. So, who I am is Peter Rex. I am building the biggest company ever built, period; which is a very bold statement, but it's true. It's called Trust Work, and Trust Work is gonna be the No. 1 largest company in the world right now. I'm actually in Seattle, just moved up from San Francisco where I lived, pretty close to Amazon's headquarters and Microsoft's headquarters. So, we're gunning for them and we're gonna take them out. And how am I gonna do that? That seems like such a bold, ridiculous claim. Well, my background is – I'll jump into it real quick to give you some credibility, is I started from nothing. I started from middle class, pretty much nothing, and then, as far as in business, didn’t know a damn thing.
I worked my way in through hustling, built a $1 billion real estate company. And then from there I decided to – I wanted to continue to go big and kind of fulfill my life mission, which was, I wanted to build something absolutely massive and game-changing for everybody in the entire world. What I ended up doing was I went to – I made a map of all the countries in the world and I ended up gonna 85 different countries over a year-and-a-half with my wife and child, and interviewed, investigated, and got on the ground in 85 different countries.
I don't know how many cities; every major city in these countries, had over 1,000 meetings with business people, and also put together 1,600 pages of notes as I mapped out this plan for Trust Work, which is gonna be the largest company in the world. So, this is, this is what I did. My background is not from business at all, actually. So, I had to figure it out on my own, how to be an entrepreneur.
I was a Philosophy major from Georgetown University, a double major, and I had a JD, a law degree from Harvard Law, so extremely ignorant about business; didn't know what the hell I was doing and actually didn't really like business and kind of looked at it as something sort of flashy for people who just want money, but found my way back into jumping into business coming out of college, which we can get into. But that's what I got. And the only two things I would ask of the Fire Nation here is – what I'm gonna ask as we go here, what I'm hoping will happen is that Fire Nation will join the Trust Work Nation.
We actually call it the Trust Work Nation, as well. And the Trust Work Nation is very similar to the Fire Nation, and so this is actually quite appropriate that this is the first interview I've ever done over 13 to 14 years. I've never taken one interview, and now we're kicking off. So, it's a very good way to kick it off, because I wanna get the Fire Nation to join the Trust Work Nation in any way possible, even just supporting us, following me, Peter Rex on @PeterRex on Twitter, or following some of our videos, promoting that material. We're trying to build – what we're doing is, we have a three-step process to build out the largest company ever built, and it's about – our mission is to empower people to rise up and live abundantly. It's about entrepreneurship. So, our first thing is we’re Uberizing real estate services, which kind of goes back to my background coming out of the real estate industry.
I actually started in construction and built my way out to a $1 billion company. But then, the second step is we're gonna build a platform of entrepreneurship; and actually, that already exists, but the tools are getting put on there, and being that I came from Philosophy, a Harvard law degree, didn't know anything about business, I had to figure out entrepreneurship, and that's what this platform’s about. But, it's not just about entrepreneurs only in the USA. We actually want entrepreneurs everywhere in the world. That's why I did that 85-country trip. So, that's it. Those are the only two asks I got for people, and the ways you can help, is like I said, follow us, just be a fan, help us, support us.
If you wanna join the team, you can apply as well. We're looking for the most elite, hard-driving, smartest people, with the highest character out there. Or, if you're a venture capitalist and you want to invest, well, we may be opening up a round – or we will be opening up a round for investment here shortly. I've self-capitalized the company up until now, and – but we're gonna open up for much bigger rounds of money; $100, $100 plus million, $1 billion, whatever. That's what we're up to.
JLD: I love this, and Fire Nation, you've heard me talk about this before. You have two options in life. Do you want to live that mindset of scarcity and just have that mindset of scarcity going forward? Like when somebody takes a piece of the pie, that's a smaller piece for you, or do you want to live that life of abundance, and that mindset of abundance that Peter was talking about? That's what Trust Work Nation is all about. So, obviously you can follow Peter and what he has going on @PeterRex on Twitter. Is there any other place that Fire Nation can go, Peter, if they wanna check out if there’s employment opportunities, there’s venture capital, etc.?
Peter Rex: I would just check TrustWork.com, @PeterRex. You can just see information coming out. We're gonna start releasing videos as we go. We've got a few videos up there already, but more content will be coming out. We're just kind of getting ramped up on the video or the communication side of things.
JLD: TrustWork.com, and of course check out @PeterRex, Fire Nation, and who knows, you might be part of this incredible movement. Now, obviously Peter, you have had massive success over the past 14 years. What do you credit a lot of that success to?
Peter Rex: Well, first of all, I want to say JLD, a couple things to you. You are actually a very – yeah, I've looked into your background. Obviously, we picked this podcast pretty carefully, because it matches to what we're about as a nation, as Trust Work Nation. It matches to what Fire Nation’s about here. And you are somebody – my parents are teachers. My mom was an elementary school teacher; my dad was a middle school teacher. And there's a saying out there, people say, which I always hated, which, you know, “Those who do, do, and those who can't do, teach.”
But you've been able to prove that you can do both teach, and do, and you've pulled it off, and you're making money, you're a successful entrepreneur, JLD, and it's very impressive, and you're in an area that's actually one of the hardest industries to make money in, media. I mean, look at – everyone's struggling, even Jeff Bezos is struggling with the Washington Post, to turn that thing profitable, right? So, and then secondly, I want to say thanks for your service in the military. It means a lot, and to keep our country safe, and you put in a lot, you put your life at risk there. So –
JLD: Well, I appreciate both of those things, brother. It really means a lot. I'm pretty fired up right now to learn more about Trust Work as this interview goes on, and I really want to be a part of this movement. I want you, Fire Nation, to be jumping on board, as well, because this is how we're going to impact the world in a massive, massive way. So, what do you credit your success to?
Peter Rex: There are always a number of things, JLD, and that – and it's easy to kind of go back. So, what I'm gonna do is kind of just riff with you and just go off the top of my head, you know? And basically, as you look back, there's this thing, the narrative fallacy. I'm not sure if you're familiar with that, but it's basically the idea that you look back in history and you create a fallacy where you draw this straight line as though you were basically, everything kind of collided like a domino effect of one thing to the other, but actually everything was probabilistic in a way. And some things were kind of lucky, some things were unlucky, and you kinda meandered your way through. And I think the way I would look at it is probably there's a plurality of elements that led to me being successful and put me where I am right now, and some of these things are luck. I mean, the biggest, luckiest thing you can have is being born to good parents that take care of you, right, and having a family, and that show you love, and things like that, and teach you the basics of what being an entrepreneur is about, actually, which is about giving and about serving others. So, the second thing I would say that's very lucky is being born in the United States.
I mean, this is a culture; this is a country that has been the land of opportunity in the past. My grandparents came here, like so many other grandparents, from – my parents, my grandparents came from Ireland, but they were poor there, and they were able to come here, and they were able to make it happen in a way that was big for them. And they made big moves, and – but big moves for them was my grandma was an entrepreneur, and the way she was an entrepreneur was she used to change the beds at hotels at night. And she used to do restaurant service, and do a lot of odds and ends type jobs – cleaning work, and she saved her money, and was able to get her kids into school, into good schools.
This was in a time during the Great Depression and tough times. So, she was a real entrepreneur, and she's actually one of my heroes, and I’ve named my son's middle name as after her maiden name, actually, which is Ryan. Things I did that was in my control after being lucky, right? I think some of it is being able to build a business on my own and be successful on that. Some of that could be temperament, so some of that’s nature, but stuff that was nurture was I had a lot of boldness, and I had a lot of guts, and I think that's extremely key. It's probably the most important thing in making it happen in business; you've got to have big guts.
You've gotta have guts, and you gotta go after things; so, no guts, no glory, right? And – but basically the way I look at it is, you, if you have a lot of guts, and you're very bold, but you don't have any humility, then you're screwed. So, actually I call it, “Hum-bold,” which means humble and bold. You gotta be humble and bold. You gotta have humility and you gotta be bold, because if you don't have that humility, then, well – I'd say first thing, you gotta be bold, because you gotta go after it hard, and you gotta make moves when everyone else is sitting around talking about it, right? But if you don't make that move, you never see the results. You never see – you’re never getting information back. You never figure out if your idea was good or not. I mean, you should work it out, and try to figure it out as much as you can, but at a certain point when you pass the 70th percentile of understanding or probability of whether or not this thing is gonna work or not, you gotta test it and see if it's gonna work, right? And then you keep making plays coming after it, right? So, I think – but you gotta have that humility to see you're off, or where you're off, or where your thinking was wrong. And if you don't have that humility, you're gonna be a complete wreck; you're gonna be a disaster.
And I would say early on I always had a lot of boldness. I think I lacked some humility and that's why I kind of – I kind of actually went – my trajectory is not linear at all. I kind of started, I had some construction money, I had set it aside, we're talking like $3,000.00, $4,000.00 here; we’re not talking a lot of money. But, I had this money, and I would use the Inter-Library Loan System. I knew I had – I knew I only really had two things, because I didn't have an education in business, and nobody in my family did business or knew anything about it, and I didn't have any connections; I was from upstate New York.
So, I knew that the two things I definitely had, though, was I had the ability to read stuff and comprehend it very well. I had done Philosophy, really I had done a double major, and I'd read everything. I'd read all of Shakespeare's works. I'd read tons of abstract material. It was a Straussian-type approach to studying. So, I knew I could read and comprehend things, right? And the second thing I knew is, I knew I could build things. I knew I could build companies. I had always been like – I was always – always had been captain of my teams, soccer teams, or whatever, or I'd been president of the class, or I'd been good –
I'd been a natural leader, and I'd also built organizations that were nonprofit or service companies. I had built a company that used to serve in college with Mother Teresa’s sisters in Southeast D.C. So, I'd always done – I had those two things and that was it. So, that's not really enough to be successful, but I used – I looked at those objectively and I said, “How the hell am I gonna use these things to make this happen?” because I had very big ambitions. So, I used the Inter-Library Loan System in New York, which is totally free, and they can mail you books, and there's a lot of these Inter-Library Loan Systems throughout the States, right? You can mail the books into a central location and you pick them up.
So, I took 150 plus books out like this. I took so many books out that the librarians were – got kind of pissed off because they were just so overwhelmed by the amount of stuff coming in. This is right when I got out of college, and I would sleep on – I would cut – I would keep the costs down by crashing on people's floors, or being cool with my buddies, and just staying at – I did my brother’s a while. I'd stay at his – I’d sleep on his floor, and keep the costs down like that, because I knew I had to keep the burn rate down. That way I can figure out what the hell I'm doing. This was about 13, 14 years ago.
So, I ended up using that knowledge. And I would use multiple libraries I’d mail it to, because the one library was getting pissed off with the amount of volume, and I just hammered through all these materials. I mean, this is true; and I would hammer through all these materials. And then I started making – then I would – I got a mentor. I figured, “Oh, I gotta get a mentor, as well.” I got a mentor; I had a couple different mentors that helped me to see things and understand things a little bit better, and they were critical, as well. And then I started making moves, and my mentor would always tell me, “Don't do that,” basically, and I would do it anyways.
But I would understand the reason why he would say not to, and then I would just make the move. So, I think that extreme bias to action is very important; but so – starting to get in there, starting to make moves. But, long story short, I did – I came in like a bull, like a psycho. I ended up using a lot of debt to buy properties, because no one was gonna give me any money. I mean, no one was gonna give me really anything, and I had to – so, if I could identify a property, that's why I came to the real estate side. If I can identify the property, I can sell someone on the property idea that I've got to get an investment. So, I convinced them, “Listen, I got this deal,” and I would tie it up in a contract.
I'd go and raise the money by cobbling together small amounts of money. I'm talking $1,000.00 here, $2,000.00 here from different people, friends, family, other people I could – anybody I could find, right? Really, anybody; and I’d cobble this money together. I’d buy this deal, boom; renovate it, get the cash, pull a line of credit or whatever, buy another deal, keep expanding. So, within a year or a year-and-a-half, I’d bought about 100 apartments. So, I blitzed the hell out of this thing. So, that's the good news. So, I learned a lot, blitzed the hell out of it, built a multi-million dollar base very, very fast, right, from nothing, absolutely nothing. Now the downside on this was I didn't know what the hell I was doing in many ways. I'd read a lot of books, but books are not enough, you gotta make the moves. And I ended up learning a lot of lessons where I got, I got completely cracked. So, I ended up build – all the stuff I had built up, all the time I had put in, and I was working, I was working, really, 24 hours a day in a way, because I was sleeping and thinking about this stuff because I was under so much stress. And during that time period, I actually applied to Harvard Law School and I got in. But in between the LSAT I was jamming on deals. Literally, they had to call me and be like, “Hey, you gotta get off the phone and come back in if you wanna finish this test.”
And I ended up applying to the law school on the last possible day to make the application, because I had so many things going on. I was trying to build this empire. And anyways, bottom line is I ended up getting completely wiped out in the Great Recession. The thing came down like a hammer on me. I almost went bankrupt. I didn't have anything, because I didn't even – all the earnings I had, I could've bought multiple Ferraris. I could have bought a sick house. I didn't buy anything. I deployed it all right back into the business. I literally didn't even have a car. I mean, I was straight broke. I didn’t buy any clothes, really, besides basics. I'd wear under shirts all the time.
So, I'd buy packages of undershirts to keep the costs down. I was, I was a psycho on keeping my costs down. And these are all good things, and I would kind of encourage people to do these, but I would say be balanced. Don't be so – put some money aside, buy a car, or buy some stuff. But anyways, so, I ended up getting wiped out in the financial crisis. This is 2007 or 2008. But, what ended up happening was while I was getting completely slammed, and I didn't know what the hell was going on. I was like, “Whoa!” I mean, I'm running out of money fast. I had some reserves put up. It was just – I was getting scorched. Anyways, my team sucked. I had built a company, but the company was nothing, man.
I didn't know how to build a team correctly. So, I spent two or three years working 24/7, building a team that was just fragile. It was gonna break because it just – the guys didn’t know what they were doing. So, when push came to shove, the team was like – I was finding people stealing, people drinking on the job, all sorts of bad stuff, right? And so, I had to completely start from scratch again. I had gotten that nailed down, but fortunately I didn't go bankrupt. I was able to kind of maneuver and hustle really fast, and get my way out of this situation, but I lost everything. So, it was a very bad moment. But, I ended up getting this feeling that basically I'm either gonna throw the towel in and say I'm done, or I'm coming out furious. And I was like – it wasn't even really a question in my mind. I was gonna come out even more amped up and more crazy now. I'm gonna make this happen, because now I know what's up. I know how to do this, and now I'm angry in a way, because I'm almost resentful about what just happened to me. And so, I just looked at the market, and everybody else is depressed, everybody, and I'm just like, “Alright man, I'm coming out, and I'm just gonna completely crush it.”
“And everybody who gave me money, they all lost their money. I'm gonna pay them all back, plus their interest,” because I took money from people that just couldn't lose the money. I grew up in area where they just don't have money they can lose. So, $5,000.00 for somebody is a lot of money for them. They save that up a $100.00 a month, or something, over 10 years. It just took them a while to accrue this money, and they decided to give it to me because they trusted me, and they wanted to make money off it, too.
So, it was an investment, but really they couldn't lose the money. So, I owed people $700,000.00 plus and it was accruing at 7 percent, and I was broke, so – but anyways, I was like, “Yeah, I'm gonna pay all these people back, plus their interest.” And it was pref., so it was an interest, but preferred return, and compounded, and I'm coming up bigger than ever before. So, I came together with a plan, and I had a plan to raise over $100 million in cash, and this is in the down market. So, everybody was like, “This guy is completely an idiot. He doesn't know what's going on. There's no money around.”
And I was gonna go out and basically build that $1 billion company and get over $1 billion in assets. And that's what I ended up doing. Long story short is I basically just came at it, and just kept coming, kept trying to raise money, kept trying to get after deals. I had a lot of failures where people just were like, “Screw you. I'm not giving you any money, man. We don't have any money.” I mean, people would meet with me in Wall Street. I went after Wall Street at this point. So, I'd go down to Manhattan, just bang on doors of hedge funds, any group I could get my hands on, right, any investment group, and nobody gave me money, zero.
They would take meetings with me, I think, just because they had nothing else to do during this time period, because everybody else was hurting. So, there are no deals. So, they just wasted my time. And then they would just tell me very trite things like, “Listen, you don't have a track record,” and stuff like that. I'm just like, “Alright, man. Well how do you start if you don't have a track record?” People always say that you've gotta have a track record and other trite things. Yeah, but okay; so, what's the track record to getting into the big leagues if you've never been there? So, how do you get that leap in? So, what the hell does that mean? I don’t have a track record. Are you trying to tell me, basically, I gotta get in the back of the bus? I'm never gonna be able to – I’m never gonna be able to make this happen? So, any thoughts on your end, JLD?
JLD: A lot of thoughts, Peter. That was a long little segment there about how you just kind of went from where you were, to awesomeness, to okay, you're gonna get sideswiped by the economy, to, okay, now I'm gonna get back. I'm gonna put my big boy britches on and I'm gonna keep moving forward. And the way that you did this, and the way that you've built this $1 billion business that we just talked about earlier, is you had this people-first approach, and this people-first approach is so big, it's so huge. So, you're speaking with Fire Nation right now, who are entrepreneurs.
So, if they wanted to move forward with a people-first approach to building a business, how would you recommend they do that? How would you recommend they identify the right people to have the success in the business that you've had?
Peter Rex: Here's kind of the thing. I do have a people-first approach. There's no question about it. Actually, our first ideal in the company is team first for that reason. But, I wasn't always like that, because when I had researched and read a lot of books, I actually had a number of heuristics I would use, rules of thumb, and one of them was I gotta keep cash flow. So – and cash flow is in tension, is in direct tension with hiring the best people and getting the best people on your team, because the best people cost a lot of money. You know this yourself JLD. I mean, you're crushing it with your podcasts. So, you know you've got a team there, and you want to get good people, man. They're not cheap; they're expensive.
So – now, if you want to get cheaper people that are lower cost, well, it's gonna actually cost you more money in the long run, which you know, you're wise enough to know. But, I was not wise enough to realize that at first. So, what I did was I would say – I would not only, in the way I was assembling my team early on, this is 13, 14 years ago when I was starting, I was also hiring contractors who had underbid other people. So if I was doing a $100,00.00, $200,000.00 job, I knew construction, but my background was a day laborer, or not day labor, a laborer that I'd like, kinda, totally grunt work-type construction. But, I did know some stuff, because I grew up a little bit doing this type of stuff. So, I would be comfortable hiring these guys. But, you gotta basically micromanage a low-end construction group if they get in there and they underbid a really good one. And then I would micromanage them, but then as I scaled out my empire sort of thing, I couldn't do that anymore, right?
So, things started falling apart there. People would – I would have shrinkage. I would have people who were basically stealing materials and goods. So, I think I ended up having to sort of expand my people-first mentality, because my people-first thinking was about my partnerships. I was like, “Well, any partner I bring on is gonna be the best,” you know? And I'm a very long-term minded guy and I would build friendships with them. So, my early partners are still partners with me, actually, over 13, 14 years. I think business partnerships lasts a year, or something. My partnerships have not, actually. They've been very, very strong, but I'm very careful about them.
But then, what I ended up doing was, I devolved this thinking out to everything, which basically, “Go expensive on people and go cheap on commodities.” So, when you're dealing with any other thing, like pricing, or anything you've got, you try to get the best deal possible. When it's with a person, though, you just pay up. Pay up for people, pay down for commodities. That's the smartest way to try to achieve your cash flow in the long – you have more cash flow in the long run. So, it's more wise in the – and for an entrepreneur out there, or for somebody that's trying to think about, “How do I assemble my team?” then they need to – “or how do I build the team or how do I put people first?”
Well, I think you gotta start from the first – from the very first moment, is think about yourself and what you're lacking, and that's hard to do. You actually are gonna need other people to help you out with this. Once you figure out what you're lacking, because you're all gonna – everyone out there that's listening has unique talents that are special gifts, that are talents, that are better than me. They're gonna be better than me in something, and I'm gonna be better than them in something else, right? But, you've gotta figure out what you're better at than anyone else at, really, or that you can be better than anybody else at, because you have a natural talent there. And then, you've gotta figure out where you naturally suck, which I suck at a number of things, but it took me a while to figure that out. But, once you figure out what you suck at, then you've got to figure out someone who's really good at that. Then, you bring those people on, and you bring – and that's kind of the team you want to assemble, right? But then, as you think about your business, you've gotta start with the end in mind, where you wanna focus. Aristotle talks about anybody who's – we're all good – he says human beings are goal-oriented creatures, right? So, they have to start with the goal. They have to think about what are they targeting, what are they trying to do.
But, you think about – if you're gonna be starting a business, and you're thinking about a business, you can't be too abstract. You gotta be concrete. Well, who is your target customer? It's a term I use inside the company, the target customer. What does that even mean? There are a lot of potential customers, right? But, some of the customers have market power. So, for you, I would imagine, JLD, and I don't know the podcast business at all. Like I said, this is even my first podcast I've ever done, or first interview I've ever taken.
So, for you though, your target customer, I would imagine is a listener who wants to be, or is, an entrepreneur, and wants to thrive in that area, and you've got to make it happen for them. The more you make it happen for them, the better you're gonna do, because that's your target customer. They have the market power, because the better that you serve them, the more users you get, the more advertisers want to deal with you, the more people want to – you can leverage your services and the suite of things that you offer.
Similarly, I'd say for anybody who's out there who is an entrepreneur, you gotta think about – you gotta get out of yourself right away from the beginning and think about yourself from outside yourself and say, “What do I suck at? What am I really good at? Who do I need to compliment me, and who the hell – who are we gonna serve with this business?” And then, and then you – and then from there you can just start – and then you come up with a plan. “How am I gonna execute on this? How am I gonna deliver that value, that product to that target customer?”
JLD: Fire Nation, a lot of things I really want to make sure you're taking in here. A couple of notes that I took, “Go expensive on people, save money on the commodity side of things.” And I love that phrase, “Where do you naturally suck? I suck at some things. I mean, let's be honest, Peter sucks at some things, as he admitted We all suck at certain things, Fire Nation. You hire great people there, and then who is your target customer? And this is Peter who I actually call my Avatar, my perfect listener. His name is Jimmy. He's 38 years old. He has a wife and two kids, ages 3 and 5. He has a 25-minute commute to work. He hates his job. I could go on and on and on about him. So, you're so right, Peter. I know inside and out my perfect listener for my show, so I can speak, and create, and design the perfect product/podcasts, which is what you’re listening to Fire Nation. But, guess what? Not all of you are Jimmy. Not all of you are 38 years old with a wife and two kids. I totally get that.
But, knowing your perfect target customer, that Avatar, that perfect listener, is gonna help you hone in that North Star and create a great product that other people are gonna benefit from, as well. And we have Peter's Aha moment coming up, Fire Nation, when we get back from thanking our sponsor. So, Peter, we're back, and you've had a lot of Aha moments over your career, no diggity, no doubt, but let's talk about one that you've had that you think would really be impactful and educational for Fire Nation. Tell us that story.
Peter Rex: When I was in college I thought about becoming a celibate missionary in the Catholic Church, so that's kind of – maybe that's something I should have said that people don't know. But anyways, I spent a little time in discernment. That wasn't gonna work because I'm not good with authority at all, so I just do not function well. And they actually, at the seminary, they were – almost thought I was intentionally bucking their authority all the time, and I told them, “No, I'm actually trying to trying to listen, and stuff.” But they were just like, they were like, “Dude, what is up with you?” I was 18, you know?
So anyways, I ended up channeling that idealism, and I ended up going to – in college I thought, “Okay, well what the hell am I gonna do? I wanna still serve.” And I got this very strong fire inside me. So, I ended up thinking, “Well, maybe I gotta go to public service.” And so, I transferred from an unknown school to Georgetown University because they're in D.C., and I thought, “Alright, that's the center of alleged public service. It's politics, right?” And so, I get there and I start working on the capitol, Capitol Hill, and I realize I'm not gonna go into politics, for sure – get involved in politics at that point, because I can just see kind of how it was, and I just wasn't digging it.
And then I was thinking, okay, I came back and I also saw – I could see actually, through different points in my life, business, people's impact on things, and – but I never liked business, really. I actually looked at it as something, kinda in a way, just not enlightened. It was about make – because you see business people would be like, “Oh, business guy; where is he? Oh, he's on a boat. He's got his Ferrari. He's got this and that.” I didn't care about any of that crap. That's very superficial to me. I'm just not interested. So, I had zero – so, what I was doing is I was studying. I was trying to develop my mind, get a broad view of things.
So, I was reading everything. If you told me Mother Teresa was outside, I would wait online for three hours. If you told me Bill Gates was outside my door, I wouldn't even come out to see him. That's the kind of mentality I had. And – but coming out, I had seen these different things. I had thought, “Okay, I spent two weeks in a monastery, a Christian monastery, with Maronite monks and these are monks from a really old order of Lebanon. And so, I spent this time with these monks, and in silence for two weeks.
And that's where I'd say I'd had my most pivotal Aha moment that was defining, where I decided in silent prayer, actually, that I was called to business, which sounds kind of crazy. In fact, what I would say for – this would be good for listeners to know, if people are out there that are very benevolent-minded, or very – they have this heart that they want to give back, or do good stuff, right, that you can do it through business, and business is actually the best vehicle nowadays to do that. And I think 300 years ago, so, a lot of – because a lot of people are probably students of history, so, they know history, and stuff like that, it was probably in the military you should have joined if you wanted to have the biggest impact.
And that's probably what I would've done if this was 300 years ago. But today, we're in a very unique time period in history, where capitalism has been universally adopted, and you could become a businessperson, build out a company, build out a product, deliver goods to people that they find valuable, and build out a great team of excellent people that you actually invest in and you make them better, and you can make humanity uplifted more through business, and it's a very fast moving thing. So anyways, I had this Aha moment when I was at the monastery. Literally I was praying about things.
I would literally spend the entire night in prayer. I mean, this is how much things were on my mind. I really wanted to figure out what am I gonna do in my life. And I spent – I would spend until I was – one night I spent from 9:00 PM to 4:30 or 5:00 AM in the morning until the monks came back in for chants, and in prayer, just thinking, “What am I supposed to do?” And I talked to one of the monks. I told him, “Hey, I had this really strong feeling I'm supposed to do something very big, but it's through business,” and the monk said, “Well, that's not bad,” which was – kind of surprised me, actually. I thought, “This is probably a bad thing.”
It's maybe just more of like an I'm-being-tempted sort of thing, and for anybody who’s a Christian, maybe they’ll understand. If you're not a Christian, think about it more like, we all have lower desires. Sometimes we want to do stuff that's not the best thing to do, like, if you're a married man, you shouldn't be looking at other women, right? So, there are some things you'll have a tendency to do that’s not a good thing, right? So, I thought maybe this was a bad temptation or a bad tendency. I'm thinking, “I'm gonna go make money,” and the monks said, “No, that's not true. We wouldn't have this monastery if it wasn't for businessmen. They donated money here.” He was like, “Well, we don't make any money.”
So, I was like, “That’s a good point.” And he said, “Listen, go – he read to me something he had memorized. Actually, he just had it memorized, so he just said it. It was some part of the Scripture, he said, in the Old Testament, to Elijah about how you can hear the voice of God. And he said, “It’s not in the thunder. It's not in the fire.” And he kinda said all these different things. He said, “It's in the still quiet voice,” and he said, “Go and spend more time in silence, and then come back to me when you're ready, and we'll talk again.” So, I did that and I felt this very strong, “I'm supposed to do this. This is where I'm supposed to go is through business.”
And he said, “Well, if it's from God you just gotta go for it.” So, that's kinda – that was the most defining thing, because when I got back home I told my parents, “I'm gonna be going into business,” and my dad – my parents were like, “What?” My parents are teachers and they were like, “Well listen, you should do something good with your life,” basically. My Dad just really couldn't understand it. He was like, “What is going on?” You know, my dad's a very charitable, goodhearted guy. He used to bring me to help out with different stuff, even as a kid; pantries, taking food out, bringing it out to people, and helping out different families that were struggling. And he was – he had a talk with me. He's like, “Listen, you know, you should become a teacher. At least you gotta do something that helps people,” and I said, “Listen, I could do good through business, and it's a very fast moving thing in the world, and I can serve people that way. So, it ended up he – I don't think he – I think he's kinda getting it more now as he's seeing it, but I think for him it was just so – it was such a foreign idea, you know? But anyways, that's how I ended up. That was probably the most pivotal thing where I had this thing in my mind where I just realized, “Okay, this is what I gotta do and this is what I'm best for.” And then that's it.
JLD: I mean, Fire Nation, the biggest thing right here is we all have this journey. And I mean, Peter's talked to us about so many different experiences in his life that have been pivotal him, that given him one piece of learning, a ton of learning, has given him a mindset of abundance. It's given him this perspective. It’s given him this drive. It’s given him this patience, I mean, all these different things are just adding up to now, where he was at a place where he was able to build this $1 billion company, and now he's at a place where he's looking to create the biggest company in the world, the world's ever seen, at Trust Work.
And so, Fire Nation, Trust Work Nation, I mean, you’d better get used to hearing that, because it is going to be everywhere. So, that is just the progress, the Aha moment that he's had over these years, over his lifetime. So Peter, you've just shared so much, so many learnings, all this stuff. What do you really want to leave our listeners with? I mean, what do you want Fire Nation to really get about your journey, your Aha moment, your success, your failures, what you have planned for the future, how you're gonna impact and change the world. Go ahead, take the stage. Take the mic, brother. Take us home.
Peter Rex: Listeners out there, some of you are entrepreneurs already. Some of you want to be an entrepreneur. Just make the play, become an entrepreneur. But, what I would say that's different than what other people say, is that being an entrepreneur doesn't mean you've gotta go out and start your own business. You can be an entrepreneur in your station in life where you are, and the way you start to be an entrepreneur, and the way you become an entrepreneur – and I expect everybody in my company, in Trust Work, to be an entrepreneur. Inside the company, all the teammates need to be an entrepreneur.
JLD: Intrepreneur, we love that.
Peter Rex: Intrepreneur, yeah, yeah. And owning their development; and that's kind of what I'm saying to the audience here, is own your development. Develop your skills; your skills are your future equity, and develop your knowledge base right now. You’re already doing it anyway, so you're already acting as an entrepreneur. And make moves, take risks; be humble, though, and have humility, and try to surround yourself with people who call you out, and basically – and are honest people, forthright. And – but start making moves, start getting out there, and be an entrepreneur for where you are and make it happen.
That would be what I would ask everybody, and exhort them. And if I had an ask that was gonna be something to do with Trust Work, I would say you can do all that with Trust Work. By helping Trust Work succeed, you're gonna be helping all the people in the world that we're trying to serve, which would include you, to succeed, as well, because our mission is to empower people to rise up and live abundantly. And that's really what gets me up in the morning. That's what I'm just jamming on. That's what everyone's jamming on. And it's about everybody. It's about trying to get all these people – I mean, when I was across 85 countries, I had met all these different people, right?
And there's talent everywhere, and there's people that are making a lot of sacrifice. They got families, they love their kids, and they want their kids to come up, but they're in countries, or they're in a spot, even in the U.S., where they don't have access to capital, kinda like I didn't have access to capital. They don't have the proper networks, which I didn't, starting I didn't have the proper networks, and they didn't have the software tools and that's what Trust Works is gonna give them is those three things. Without those three things, you're just not gonna be able to make moves in today's economy. You need all three of them.
Even this podcast, is being done using – leveraging pretty sophisticated technology tools. I'm sure that JLD has, but we're going over Skype doing it, right? He's over in Puerto Rico living the good life. I'm out in Seattle where it's raining, man.
JLD: Fire Nation, your skills are your future equity. I love how you put that, Peter. I just wanted to reiterate that for you, Fire Nation. Your skills are your future equity, period, end of story. And again, hum-bold; be humble, be bold, Fire Nation. Have humility, but have courage. These are things that are key in your life, period, end of story. And Fire Nation, if you want to rise up and live abundantly, join the Trust Work Nation. Follow Peter Rex @PeterRex on Twitter, and of course, TrustWork.com is the place you can go and acquire more about how to be a part of this movement, about how to be a part of this company, potentially. This is all at your fingertips, Fire Nation, because you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You've been hanging out with PR and JLD today, so keep up the heat. And Peter, I want to thank you, brother, for sharing your truth with Fire Nation today. Your story, your journey, it was incredible. For that, we salute you and we'll catch you on the flip side.
Peter Rex: Alright, JLD. Thank you. Thank you, Fire Nation.
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