Tony is a founding owner of ShipOffers, one of Inc 5000’s fastest growing privately held companies. He hosts a weekly podcast titled Entrepreneur Unplugged. The podcast focuses on improving your mindset, passion, and growing belief in business and life. He lives with meaning and purpose striving to be of service every day.
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- Grammarly.com/fire – Tony’s online resource
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3 Key Points:
- There are only so many sunrises in your life — don’t squander them.
- Every life has meaning and purpose.
- Kick email to the curb — check it once a day and no more.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [01:00] –Married 18 years and father of two boys
- [01:32] – Value Bomb Drop: #1 — Sell first, pay later. #2 — Experience and reputation win every single time
- [02:58] – What is something you’ve changed your mind about in the last 6 months? “Email. We don’t need to have it on our devices. We’re too connected.”
- [03:57] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment – Early 2001, the fulfillment center failed to deliver countless boxes of products
- [04:43] – Never allow someone else to dictate your client’s happiness
- [05:17] – How Tony would have done things differently
- [05:38] – Be upfront in your communication
- [06:26] – Entrepreneurial AH–HA Moment – “If you take care of your customers, they’ll take care of you”
- [07:18] – Hearing from your wife, “I don’t love you anymore”
- [09:38] – Step back and really look at your life
- [10:10] – Keep your finger on YOUR pulse
- [10:30] – Tony’s biggest weakness? — over analyzing
- [11:15] – Tony’s biggest strength — vision
- [11:55] – What is the one thing you are most FIRED up about today? – We only have so many sunrises… don’t waste them
- [12:45] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “Getting trapped in the employee mindset”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “Your life has meaning and purpose, but what you’re doing right now doesn’t”
- What’s the personal habit that contributes to your success? – Journal
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – Grammarly.com/fire
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – The Power of Habit
- 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 Google ShipOffers and ask if they were hiring”
- [15:18] – Parting piece of guidance – “Ask yourself ‘how important is it really?’”
- 15:35 – ShipOffers.com/EOFire
Tony Grebmeier: Baby, I’m fired up!
John Lee Dumas: Yes! Tony is a founding owner of ShipOffers, one of Inc. 5000’s fastest-growing, privately held companies. He hosts a weekly podcast titled Entrepreneur Unplugged. The podcast focuses on mindset, passion, and a growing belief in business and life. He lives with meaning and purpose, and strives to be of service every day.
Tony, take a minute and fill in some gaps from that intro, and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Tony Grebmeier: Man, I love it! I am a father of two amazing teenage boys, I’ve been happily married 18 years, just live every day with passion, and I think the most important thing is is that I’m here for a reason and I’m discovering that every single day.
John Lee Dumas: Wow! Well, you’ve discovered some things that you’re pretty good at, and I kinda want you to expound upon one of your main areas of expertise. And then, Tony, within that area of expertise, give us two value bombs. Share with us two things that you think that we need to know as entrepreneurs.
Tony Grebmeier: Yeah, I love it. So, I’ve got over 30,000 hours in sourcing of products and the fulfillment industry. I consider myself one of the strategic partners to help clients really move past just like, “Hey, I need another something to sell.” I teach everybody that I work with, “You’re not a vendor. You have meaning, and I’m gonna help you discover what that looks like so you can sell a product and you can do something really great with your life.”
A couple, I think, value bombs that would be huge for me is I think entrepreneurs need to do one thing and that is: Sell first and pay later. And that’s what we did. We created a company around that whole premise. We coach our clients how to keep cash in their pockets longer, how to pay for products and services in advance, and why would you ever wanna do that? And then, really, you can learn about our on-demand, pay-as-you-go system, so we coach you through that.
And then, also, experience and reputation win every single time. Customer retention is more important. It’s not just a number or percentage we measure. Happy clients equal amazing friendships, and I think our mission in life is to do business with our friends, but they just start out as clients.
John Lee Dumas: Experience and reputation wins every single time. Fire Nation, just absorb that because it’s powerful beyond measure. Now, Tony, you are staying cutting edge. You’re keeping your finger on the pulse, brother, like you’re an energizing guy. What’s something you’ve changed your mind about in the last six months, meaning what’s something that you used to believe that you just don’t anymore?
Tony Grebmeier: Email. I don’t think we need to have email on mobile devices and need to be connected 24/7. We live in this instant gratification society, like, “Oh, my god, if I don’t respond right now, the world’s gonna burn. Everything’s gonna die,” and that’s so wrong. So, I really disconnected about seven and a half months ago from email on my phone, and instead what I did is empowered a team around me of leaders to really slide in and take care of a lot of the stuff that needs to get done, and, “Slack me if you need me. Be empowered to know that you’ve got this.”
And as a CEO of a company who has many employees, it’s all about empowering others because then I feel empowered, like I’m doing a good job as a leader.
John Lee Dumas: “Slack me if you need me.” I love that catchphrase. Now, Tony, you sound like you got things figured out. I know you still go through your daily, weekly, monthly struggles like we all do, but break it down for us. We wanna hear your worst entrepreneurial moment to date. So, take us back to that moment and tell us that story.
Tony Grebmeier: Yeah, it was early 2001, and we were actually in the offer side. So, we were selling stuff online, great conversions, merchant accounts. Life was great. We were sourcing products. And one day, we get a phone call. It’s like, “Hey, we didn’t receive our order.” A couple more calls come in. Then, all of a sudden, our bank’s calling us, like, “Hey, we’re getting chargeback complaints.” I’m like, “What do you mean? What’s going on?”
So, we decided – my partners and I, Doug and Gil – to take a drive over to this fulfillment center that was doing it for us. And as we come in, they’re actually in a meeting through the warehouse. We can see them in a room. All of a sudden, as we’re walking through, we look to the right, and in the rafters, it says our name, and there’s all of packages. They’re not shipping them. They’re just stuck.
We grabbed our stuff and left, and, right then and there in the moment said, “I’ll never allow somebody that type of control over my business. I’ll never allow somebody to dictate my clients’ happiness.” And in that moment, it really was like the aha moment for us because we realized that we could provide a service because we’ve been through it, and we know we don’t like the taste, and let’s go figure out how we can serve customers and clients, and really do something awesome in the world.
John Lee Dumas: So, what would you have done in hindsight? If you could have completely rewound the clocks, what would you have done in that situation?
Tony Grebmeier: It was weird because we had a fourth partner in our company, and he was playing both sides of the fence with a company that I was at before. And so, I think be a little bit more upfront and just say, “Hey, you know what? You’re causing a lot of discomfort and pain in our lives, and I don’t think it’s necessary. If you feel like you wanna go to the other side of the fence, just jump it, and leave it, and let’s move on.”
So, I think being upfront in my communication. I don’t think anybody did anything intentionally to me. I think it’s just the circumstance of the almighty dollar does a lot of crazy things in us.
John Lee Dumas: So, Fire Nation are entrepreneurs. They’re small-business owners. They’re looking to kinda get going and build a business foundationally the right way. And what would you say to them, if they were gonna be starting a business, and maybe it’s in that area or just in some type of physical product fulfillment or just fulfillment area? What do they really wanna make sure that they’re doing to be setting themselves up for success?
Tony Grebmeier: I love it. I think, one, there’s gotta be passion about what you sell. Anybody can just sell stuff. I’m like, “That’s cool and all, but at the end of the day, are you really excited about what you’re doing?” Because then if you do have a passion for it, you’re gonna care more about the customer, his experience, his journey. You’re gonna get caught up in like, “How do I make this better for the customer?” You take care of your customers; they’ll take care of you. It’s simple in life and business: integrity, being transparent, authentic. Don’t call your customers with problems. Call them with solutions. Tell them how you can fix things for them, how you can get things better.
And I think a lot of what happens in the day-to-day is people only care about their pocketbook, and that’s what they lead with. I say if you lead with your heart, your pocketbook will get taken care of.
John Lee Dumas: So, Tony, you’ve mentioned an aha moment already once, and you kinda got into it a little bit with that, but you’ve had a lot of these type of moments, these light bulbs, these ideas. Take us to one of your greatest aha moments to date and tell us that story, but make sure to really walk us through the sequence of how you turned that idea into success.
Tony Grebmeier: There’s a couple. So, for me, it was around 2008. It was October 9th, and I just had one of the hardest conversations I ever had. I had my wife – at the time, we were separated – tell me, she goes, “I don’t love you anymore.” And I walked upstairs, and right then and there, like all the money, all the family, everything that I had, the cars, the house, nothing mattered, nothing at all. And in that moment, I wanted to commit suicide. I thought, “My life got so bad, it’s just gotta be done. I just gotta do it.”
And right then and there, as I was writing my suicide note, my phone rang. My buddy said, “Hey, I’m gonna come and see you for a second,” and I said, “All right, great.” And he knocks on the door, and he gives me a big hug, and he says, “Tony, your life has meaning and purpose, but what you’re doing right now doesn’t.” It just hit me, and I said, “All right, tell me what you think.” He’s like, “Tony, you have everything that you want right inside your head and in your heart. If you would start leading from that space, you can create and do anything you want. You can lead thousands on stage. You can lead successful businesses.”
And it really got me thinking, like, “My life has meaning and purpose, but I wasn’t being meaningful and purposeful with anything.” And right then and there, I said to myself, “Time for a change.”
And that was in the midst of this business that I’m currently an owner of for 15 years. My partners and I put up with my BS and my crap and all my millions in debt to really come out the other side as a successful business. And it’s because we have a tripod philosophy in our company, and that is, is that all three agree or we don’t do it. And it’s super important because if two people at that time said, “Let’s kick Tony out,” they needed the third.
So, somehow, I got a lucky day. I got a chance card to play again, and since that date of 10/9/08, I have played out every single day with meaning and purpose because I was told that my life had it and I just needed to live up to it. And that’s what I do every single day is to inspire but also to remember my mission. My mission is to be okay with being okay today.
So, I appreciate the question, and I hope I answered to the best of what you were looking for is that in the midst of everything, I gotta stop and be thankful. I just gotta stop and just be in love with life today because it’s a gift.
John Lee Dumas: This has been a really consistent message that I’ve been just really harping on the past couple weeks. And, Fire Nation, if you’re listening consistently, like you’re hearing this message, and Tony, you just put such an exclamation point on this, like when is the last time that we as humans – forget about entrepreneurs for a second, but just as humans – stepped back, and really evaluated out life, and looked at serving or not serving, or the ways that we’re fulfilling our message or not fulfilling our message? What is that mission that we have? Do we even have a mission? And if so, is it a mission that we still wanna be going towards?
Because I know a mission that I sat down and wrote down on a piece of paper back in 2009, it isn’t still applicable today because back then, I didn’t know anything about podcasting, so of course my mission is different, and I’ve reevaluated that. Have you, Fire Nation? Have you reevaluated your situation, your message, your mission in life? And that’s so important to be doing consistently, keeping your finger on your own pulse to making sure that you’re moving forward in that direction that you want to be moving forward in.
Now, Tony, what would you say your biggest weakness as an entrepreneur is?
Tony Grebmeier: Wow! Biggest weakness? I analyze too much. I analyze, analyze, analyze, instead of just going for it. So, I need to get from analyzing to observing more. And I think because I know that I can do anything that you put in front of me, but I’m not great at teaching others to do what I want, and so I’m learning that as like this whole process. So, I said in the very beginning “empowering others,” so I’m literally working on empowering others, and by doing so, I’m becoming a student because other people are helping me, my mentors and coaches, to help me do that so I, ultimately, can pass the baton and help somebody else do the same.
So, observing, analyzing, being a student first so then one day I can lead.
John Lee Dumas: What’s your biggest strength?
Tony Grebmeier: That I have the ability to overcome any obstacle, that there is nothing that’s gonna stop me today, that I have enough confidence in myself that whatever is, was, and that I can become anything. I had an employee mindset. That was my problem before. I had a total mindset of control by others, and now I know where my control comes from, and I know that I can literally, if I set my mind to it, I can hold it in my hand. I can literally see it, and so I think vision is my No. 1 thing, like vision, like I can see it and make it happen.
John Lee Dumas: Tony, what’s the one thing that you are most fired up about today?
Tony Grebmeier: We only get so many sunrises. Never waste a chance to mentor people in business or life, to help them reach their goals. Zig Ziglar’s quote always comes to mind: “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough people get what they want.”
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, I wanna get you what you want in the Lightning Round, so don’t you go anywhere. We’re gonna take a quick minute first to thank our sponsors.
Tony, are you prepared for the Lightning Rounds?
Tony Grebmeier: Bring it! Let’s go!
John Lee Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Tony Grebmeier: My mindset was wrong. I literally got trapped in the employee mindset instead of the empowered mindset.
John Lee Dumas: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Tony Grebmeier: “Your life has meaning and purpose, and what you’re doing right now doesn’t.” It saved and changed my life forever.
John Lee Dumas: What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Tony Grebmeier: I love to journal. I love to journal my thoughts every single day, morning and night, regardless.
John Lee Dumas: Can you share an Internet resource, like an Evernote, with Fire Nation?
Tony Grebmeier: Yeah, Grammarly.com. I love, love, love it.
John Lee Dumas: They’re great. Past sponsor of EOFire actually sell Grammerly.com/Fire, if you wanna check it out, Fire Nation.
If you’d recommend one book, Tony, what would that book be?
Tony Grebmeier: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg.
John Lee Dumas: Such a good book. Tony, this is the last question of the Lightning Round, but it is a doozy. Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning and it’s 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 this laptop and $500.00. What would you do in the next seven days?
Tony Grebmeier: I love this question. Thank you. I’ve been wanting to answer this for a long time. I would definitely google ShipOffers, get their phone number, and ask if they were hiring an out-of-this-world visionary who had tons of experience, and was new around here, and wanted to bring by lunch for the team, free of course, with no strings attached. And by the end of that lunch, I’d be hired and paid six days later because money is never an option. Your time is always a choice. Choose how you use it and make sure it’s wise.
John Lee Dumas: Tony, let’s end today on fire, brother, with you sharing a parting piece of guidance, the best way we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Tony Grebmeier: The best piece of advice is ask yourself, “How important is it really?” How important is it to your mission? Are you just trying to spin your wheels to see if you can make something happen? Follow and find something that you’re passionate about. Investigate your time. Do it part-time if you can, until it becomes a fulltime love and obsession.
You can reach us at ShipOffers.com/EOFire. And I forgot your last question.
John Lee Dumas: That was just us saying goodbye. So, Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You’ve been hanging out with TG and JLD today, so keep up the heat. And head over to EOFire.com and just type “Tony” in the search bar because his Show Notes page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about – best show notes in the biz, timestamps, links galore. And of course, head over to ShipOffers.com/EOFire for something pretty cool over there.
And, Tony, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you, and we’ll catch you on the flipside.
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