Episode 56 image

Betting On Yourself & Business Ownership

Mark and I discuss betting on yourself and the ebb and flow of business ownership.



On today’s episode,  Mark Drager, founder of Phanta Media and I have a very deep conversation about betting on yourself and the natural ebb and flow of business ownership. Buckle up folks. This is a good one. I am Julie Bee and they don’t teach this in business school.


[00:00:00] Julie Bee – Host: On today’s episode, mark Drager and I have a very deep conversation about betting on yourself and the natural ebb and flow of business ownership. Buckle up folks. This is a good one. I’m Julie B and they don’t teach this in business school. 

[00:00:17] Midroll Spot: Every business owner needs a support network. When asked, most business owners will reference their support network as what gets them through the tough times.

There are three characteristics to consider when documenting who is in your support network, and Julie has a free guide to help walk you through each of them. Download your free copy now@thejulieb.com. 

[00:00:40] Julie Bee – Host: Hey there, I’m Julie B and you’re listening to, they Don’t Teach This In Business School, a podcast where we discuss business ownership.

Or learned through experience, not in a classroom or seminar. Today’s episode is really special because I get to interview Mark Drager, the founder of Phantom Media and host of the We Do Hard [00:01:00] Things podcast. Mark and I have a lot in common because we’ve actually taken very similar journeys on our own business experience.

So I know we’re gonna have a really good conversation. Really looking forward to this. Mark, thank you for being on the show, and welcome to, they Don’t teach this in 

[00:01:13] Mark Drager – Guest: business. Julie, thank you. So, I am so excited to be here because as you mentioned, you know, we, we’ve had the chance to speak a few times, and the more we learn about each other, the more like, I th I think we might be like somehow living in parallel universes or something, 

[00:01:28] Julie Bee – Host: I think in the multiverse.

Yeah, absolutely. I think that you and I are, we’re definitely on parallel paths for. Absolutely. So why don’t you just tell us a little bit about yourself and your business. You’ve got a lot going on, but just, just share, share who you are and, and what you 

[00:01:44] Mark Drager – Guest: have going on, mark. Yeah, sure. So back in 2006 when I was 23 years old, imagine this.

So, Julie, I’m, I’m, I’m married. My wife and I got married really young. She was 21, I was 22. We have our first daughter and the week my daughter is born, I decide, you know [00:02:00] what, this is the perfect time for me to quit my. I’m the only person making money. My wife isn’t working cuz she just finished college.

I was like, this is the perfect time for me to quit by a low-paying job and start my own agency in 2006. And so in 2006 I, I started Phantom Media, the agency that I still run today as a video production company. And I know you started your marketing agency, what, back in 2008? Mm-hmm. So for those who may be younger or may have forgotten back then the internet seemed to be boom.

But there was no social media, uh, streaming videos like YouTube wasn’t, hadn’t even been purchased by Google yet. Everything was capped at like two or three minutes. And the videos we would create were things like, since 1989, a b, ABC Corporation has been the leader in blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So it’s not like, you know, I started a business where we were like gonna create, and I say we, but it was just me.

Mm-hmm. It was me, a camera, some lighting, and an old laptop. In, in a room that had no furniture. [00:03:00] Mm-hmm. Uh, without any clients and without any idea really, frankly, how to run a business or sell anything. I was like, geez, this is the perfect time to start. Of course. So, yeah. I mean, over the last 16 years, a lot of lessons learned.

Spent the first four or five years trying to figure stuff out, survived the Great Recession. I figured out how to sell something and then we were able to turn what we were doing into marketing, marketing into Advertis. I was able to grow the team. Before Covid, we had 24 full-time staff, around 2 million in revenue, and, and we were doing national commercial campaigns with the N B A we were doing, we were being flown to the Caribbean to shoot commercials with airlines and.

We’d grown this company, this agency from this really small thing, making some really bad corporate videos into a pretty, a pretty big creative production company and, and, and brand strategy agency. Yeah. 

[00:03:50] Julie Bee – Host: You know, we’ve talked about this, but I wanna get some of this on, on the actual episode. So you go, you’re doing that Covid hits.

And now you’re, you’re [00:04:00] still doing that similarly to what I am, how I am working this out. But you, when, when did you start the podcast and the, the speaking career and all of that, was that around covid or was it before that? 

[00:04:11] Mark Drager – Guest: So I make the mistake. 

[00:04:14] Julie Bee – Host: So starting as a, as as a subjective word at our world, I think at this point.

[00:04:18] Mark Drager – Guest: Yeah. It’s so, so my first podcast that I ever did, I think was in 2015 or 2014, it was called a Not so Corporate podcast. Uh, I spoke about what I knew. Yeah. Which was how to run a production company, how to, how to, how to sell video, how to, how to be the person that other video producers or, or directors or agency owners could turn to, to help launch their, their video production business.

Because at that point, we’d been running a multimillion dollar business for a few years and mm-hmm. You learn some things along the way, but what happened was, I always treated, I, I didn’t. That along the way, as I built my agency, I didn’t really build it properly. Mm-hmm. I mean, I was 23 and I was like, I gotta get to like a million [00:05:00] revenue.

And we just scrambled and we just delivered and we did really good work most of the time, and we tried to be the best we could, but not a lot of structure, not a lot of operations. And, and so it’s like I spent all of my world, all of my time around entrepreneurs, and yet all of my clients were corporate.

I produced all of this content cuz I loved it. And yet none of the stuff we made in the agency was content related. Hmm. And so my time with entrepreneurs, my time in mastermind groups, my time with peer mentoring, my time running a podcast, or doing blogging or doing articles or even speaking or all of the stuff that today is like, Hey, this is called content marketing.

I only did it as a creative outlet because frankly, working on pitches, Doing a lot of like legal contract reviews for, for these huge, these huge multi-year contracts with multinational organizations, hiring and managing teams, managing the books. Like all the stuff that you have to kind of do when you’re a [00:06:00] c e O mm-hmm.

Was not the reason that I got into business to begin with. And so frankly, like up until, I mean, even today, we don’t leverage the content we produce mm-hmm. For business development. Very well. Yeah. We just do it because I love. And it and it, and it feeds my soul. 

[00:06:19] Julie Bee – Host: Yeah, I hear, no, I hear that. That’s kind of what I went through.

The same thing at at bes Smart social media. I started doing videos and it was more, I was talking so little about actually doing social media and so much about being a business owner, how to talk about what you do, leadership. And all of those things, and I was getting really good at responses that when covid for me, when Covid came along, I had been looking for my next thing for, for a little while.

Try knowing that. I was kind of getting burned out with social media and my friend actually started a podcast for me and it just [00:07:00] kind of, you know, I don’t, I don’t wanna say it took off, but it just felt for me, it felt like I took off, if that makes sense. Like it certainly did not take off. I mean, it took a long time for us to get to even the first thousand downloads.

I felt excited again to wake up in the morning and go to work, which I think is really, really important. So, you know, my purpose there is to just create content that helps business owners in some way. And it kind of sounds like you had a similar journey along the path. And, and the point I think that’s really important here is for business owners to pay attention to that because if you’re, if you get stuck in a spot where you just.

Going to work every day, your business is probably gonna suffer a little bit. 

[00:07:45] Mark Drager – Guest: Yeah. And you know what? I used to do all of these mental gymnastics, and I, and I still sometimes do mm-hmm. To rationalize to my team why I’m spending time on the things I’m spending time on. Mm-hmm. Why I’m spending resources on it.

And I’ll try and figure out ways. And I used to do this, for example, me and my, uh, so, so I’m a, I’m [00:08:00] a visionary in my agency, my integrator, Louie, A bunch of years ago I came up with this idea where it’s like, I want to do a YouTube show. We’ll call it the pre-roll challenge. You don’t want a YouTube video?

How, how you have like four seconds to skip it. Yeah. Mm-hmm. I said, I, I told my team. Okay guys, I want you to pull, um, a whole bunch of ads or commercials or pre-rolls that Louie and I wouldn’t have seen. And we’re gonna do this YouTube show called the Pre-Roll Challenge, where it’s just Louis Amin. We’re gonna be like, Hey, here we are.

You know, we’re doing another episode of Pre-Roll Challenge. We play the first four seconds. And then just based off of that, we had a series of questions that Louie and I had to guess on, what’s the product, what’s gonna happen in the next few seconds? What, you know, what industry is this for? How many views did it get?

Mm-hmm. Like just like some really bizarre questions as this little game, we would banter about it. Mm-hmm. And then we would hit play. We would watch it. We would usually be surprised cuz our team was trying to trick us with things. And then we would score ourselves to see who won me or Louie. [00:09:00] Mm-hmm. Now this series.

I had so much fun shooting it. The team had so much fun editing it. Mm-hmm. I think we did like 30 episodes of it or something. Mm-hmm. But my friend Evan Carmichael, who some people may know is a, is a, is a big YouTuber. Mm-hmm. He has a few million subscribers. He hated it. He’s like this, this is, this is bad YouTube content.

This is not strategic. My team would go like, mark, why are you like doing this? And frankly, I had a lot of fun. Mm-hmm. I really liked it and I’m glad no one watches it. If you, if you go to YouTube and type in pre-roll challenge, you can probably see some episodes of me much heavier. But, but more than that it was like putting in the reps Yeah.

And doing the work. And so I realize now that, you know what, yeah. Did I, I started producing content maybe in 2014 or 15 where it was like me front and center and. Even the stuff I did last year wasn’t very good. Mm-hmm. Even the stuff I’m doing right [00:10:00] now isn’t very good compared to where I will be in five or 10 years.

But you just have to start, you have to put in the time, you have to put in the reps and you can’t expect that the first thing or the second thing, or the first year or the third year will frankly be very good. So you might as well get those reps out of the way on. And that’s for me was what my first podcast was.

That’s what, uh, the pre-World Challenge was. That’s what everything that I do for free, and I do a lot of stuff for free with people still. Mm-hmm. Because it’s like, it’s just an opportunity for me to, to develop my skillset and get better 

[00:10:32] Midroll Spot: each and every week, Julie sends out big ideas and easy actions that help elevate your.

She’ll also share some awesomeness happening in the business community. Don’t miss out. Subscribe to the Be Awesome brie@thejulieb.com. 

[00:10:49] Julie Bee – Host: Hey, this is Julie B and you’re listening to, they Don’t Teach This In Business School. I’m here today with Mark Drager. And Mark, we are going totally off script today.

You were just [00:11:00] talking about the importance of getting in the RS and also how you were doing something you loved. With your first YouTube series, but you had a, a fairly notable YouTube, let’s just call say influencer. I know he does a lot of other things, but he had really kind of made it on YouTube tell you that it was horrible content or bad content.

How did you take that feedback and like what did you do with that 


[00:11:28] Mark Drager – Guest: Well, I mean, one, he’s just like, this is stupid. Don’t do this. It’s terrible. If you’re gonna put your time into it, put your time into something good. And I. And I, I’d listen. Mm-hmm. But, uh, I wasn’t doing it for strategic reasons earlier.

I said, you know, I used to bend over backwards to try and justify why all of these things made sense. And I realized at a certain point, the fact that I just wanna do it is enough. Yeah, yeah. Right. Like, like, I, I wanna do this. I don’t expect this to be good. I don’t expect this to go anywhere. I just wanna do it for me.

And, and then when it’s time to do something more strategic, Evan, I’m, I’m gonna knock on your door. [00:12:00] I’m gonna drop you a text. I’m gonna say, Hey, I want to do this. How do I make it as good as it? So Evan and I met because he used to run a mastermind group, and so I joined his mastermind group in 2007.

Mm-hmm. I, I actually shot his very first YouTube video for him, so we’ve known each other for a long time. Mm-hmm. But, but a number of years ago, Evan decided that he was going to do baseball cards. He likes baseball cards. Yeah. And he was gonna run off a series of what he called entrepreneur. This is from 2010.

He was gonna do entrepreneur, they’re called Hero series. And what he did was he reached out to 50 different influencers and entrepreneurs, and he asked each of them who their favorite entrepreneur was. Hmm. So, so he had to find the names, he had to find the people, he had to reach out to them. They were huge names.

Hmm. The big people. And then he, and then he had to find photos that he could get the rights to. Mm-hmm. And then he had to print actual cards. He got the, the company who makes actual, like baseball collector cards. He got them to print. And what I’m [00:13:00] holding is a, is a, is a limited edition, one of Steve Wozniak.

You know, it’s like in Glass. Steve is not my favorite entrepreneur. Mm-hmm. And on top of that, I think this is the dumbest idea in the world. And the reason I saved this is because when Evan said he was gonna do this, I was like, I think it took him four months of his time. Mm-hmm. I’m like, you’re gonna spend four months on this.

Yeah. And he’s like, he’s like, yeah, but I love it. Yeah. And I’m like, you’re gonna, you’re gonna really do that? He’s like, yeah, but, and he just kept saying, yeah, but I. I just really wanna do this, I’m just gonna do this. Yeah. And I could not find any reason why it made sense. Yeah. Again, I think this is the dumbest idea in the world, but I saved it to remind me the, of the lesson I learned, which is one, Evan didn’t care.

He spent his own time, he spent his own money and made him zero. Made him $0. Mm-hmm. But here’s what’s most interesting out of the people he had reached out to in 2009 when he was putting this together in 2000. And early Gary V was one of those guys and, and, and a bunch of other people, Robin Charma and a bunch of players.

But, [00:14:00] but a year or two later, when, I guess 20 11, 20 12, when Gary V started blowing up on YouTube and other places, Evan reached back out to him to do a collaboration and Gary remembered him. Mm-hmm. From this card, from this series, from this thing he did for fun. Hmm. And so, you know what, like sometimes you just need to do.

Because it, it fires you up and it gives you the energy you need to do the things that you have to do that you don’t wanna do. Yeah. Sometimes you don’t even realize how these things are gonna pay off down the line. And so I, I, I save this card here mostly so I can look at it and be like, okay, let’s not be quite so judgmental about everything all the time.

Yeah. And if 

[00:14:41] Julie Bee – Host: you have the, I mean, if you have the freedom and flexibility to be able to do some, some of things or honestly, if you feel, 

[00:14:47] Mark Drager – Guest: don’t we all though, don’t, don’t we all, can we take out time somewhere for the things that, that fire us up? 

[00:14:53] Julie Bee – Host: I, I, I believe so. I think that the more we do that, the better, the better we are [00:15:00] just kind of across the board.

This, this reminds me of the conversation you had with Amy Porterfield recently. I know you guys talked a lot about. Passion. And you know, I kind of agree with, I, I found what she said. Interesting. Which, you know, paraphrasing here, you don’t necessarily have to start your business in your passion. But you really want to try to bring your passion into whatever you’re doing in the business is kind of how I would summarize that.

And I think that, you know, business cards or you know, sports, like baseball cards, whatever it is, like I’m, I am starting a whole new YouTube series. Called the Game of Leadership, where I’m going to interview former pro and collegiate level athletes, turned business owners, because I’m just fascinated by how sports and leadership and business kind of, there’s a lot of people that kind of go in that direction and when I first pitched it to my team, they were like, When are you gonna do this?

Like you don’t have any time. And I was like, I’m gonna make time cuz this [00:16:00] is gonna be awesome. And I may be completely wrong about that, but I know I’m super excited about doing it and that is fuel for everything else that I do. And I think that that’s really important in your business. 

[00:16:14] Mark Drager – Guest: Now I would, I would caution against chasing this too much though.

Mm-hmm. So the number one thing that, that hurt my business in the past and continue. To throttle our growth or slow our growth is the fact that as entrepreneurs we love change. Mm-hmm. You know, like mm-hmm. I had this realization a week ago where I was like, I don’t know why I’m so afraid of change, because when there’s no change going on, I change things that don’t even have to be changed just cause I’m bored, like mm-hmm.

Like, so on the, on the other side of things, you definitely want to have that thing. Mm-hmm. That fires you up. Mm-hmm. But the hardest adjustment for me over the last few, Has been the, the very tough realization that I can do anything. I can do absolutely anything, honestly. Mm-hmm. Anything that I do, I, I just crush.[00:17:00] 

Mm-hmm. But I can only really do one thing. You can only crush one thing at a time, not even one thing at a time. Like to, to hit the, to hit the level, to hit the expectations I have the high hopes I have mm-hmm. In the level that I. It. Mm-hmm. I, I kind of have to do one thing. Mm-hmm. And so others, me, because I want to do so many things.

And so you speaking with athletes and a podcast mm-hmm. And you having this podcast to me, that’s still one thing. Yeah. Different type of conversation that will fuel different sides of you, and then it will actually help make both sides. Better. Mm-hmm. But, you know, if, if, for example, we do hard things, the podcast I host mm-hmm.

Where, you know, for creative entrepreneurs, we, we, we basically talk to people who bet on themselves. Mm-hmm. You know, anyone who is bet on themselves. We wanna encourage more people to bet on yourself. Mm-hmm. And how do you do that? But, but my vision of hard things is not simply a podcast. It’s not simply even a YouTube show like we have in the [00:18:00] works.

We’re probably one or two years away even, but we have in the works like a Netflix or Amazon Prime series. Mm-hmm. I want to take it to like being a full online publication with daily news and emails and cross promotions and all this stuff. Like I have this vision of what it, what we could build it into, but building a media public.

Is is different than me building and, and, and managing a multimillion dollar agency. Yes, absolutely. Right? Absolutely. Like even Steve Jobs struggle to, to manage Apple and Pixar at the same time. Mm-hmm. And so I have to decide is, is we do hard things. My podcast is it, is it a podcast? And future opportunities could come along maybe.

But really I, you know, this agency. That I’ve dedicated a very, like most of my life to, and the clients that we help and the work that we do, and the team that I’m building. Like, is that the thing? Or this new media, this new media agency or this new media conglomerate that frankly I have no experience. I don’t even, [00:19:00] we’re on the same path.

I don’t even know, like I, I like, I know what it’ll look like. I know how the sponsorship will work at big, big pictures. I know how everything will work. Oh yeah, of course. But then, you know, people go, Like, mark, you don’t know anything about this business. I’m like, yeah, yeah, we’ll figure it out. But I kind of ignore the fact that like, okay, I’m gonna, am I gonna let everything that I’ve built die on the vine while I go off and, and chase this other thing that frankly might take me 10 years to build?

Mm-hmm. And so this is where it’s like, ah, if you’re not doing something that fires you up mm-hmm. The one piece of advice I have, which they will not teach you in business school is, is, is cut your losses and burn everything to the ground. Burn it to the ground. Yeah. If you don’t like it, you know, the Beatles only put out good music until they imploded.

Mm-hmm. Over the course of like a six year period. Most artists are only popular, most bands are only popular for like one to three albums before they fade out and are no longer good. The most movie franchises don’t frankly even have a three movie series within them. [00:20:00] Uh, Marvel is in phase five and we’re starting to see the fact that people.

You know, they’re showing up, but they’re becoming kind of bored with it. Yeah. Uh, IBM or, or ge, you know, general Electric or whatever was the largest company in the world until it wasn’t. Mm-hmm. And, and so I, I’ve spent a lot of time now reading biographies of, of like JD Rockefeller who built Standard Oil.

Mm-hmm. I’m working through Ulysses s Grant’s biography right now about the Civil War. I love these stories because what I didn’t realize up until now is that everything has a season and it has a rise and a. And you will not build something that will last forever. There is a rise and there is a fall, and sometimes it’s really, really quick.

Sometimes you can eat maybe five or 10 or 15 or 20 years out of it. But my grandfather built a company that he started in 1950. He built it up to half a billion dollar company in, in, in the development space. Mm-hmm. Privately held. And the next generation HA has, has been stewards of winding it. [00:21:00] And I’m the third generation and there is nothing, it’s not that there’s nothing there for us, but, but the company grew and have fallen in their generation.

Everything has a time. Mm-hmm. And so you can only, you can do anything you want, but you can only do one thing because you gotta go all in on that one thing. And we should not feel bad about if we’re changing that, that thing. To release ourselves from what we had, from what we had built, sell it, burn it to the ground, change it, do whatever you need to do.

But, but you are the person who needs to keep going and keep reinventing. Mm-hmm. And keep reinvesting. And so there’s this natural ebb and flow. And so I have gotten a lot more comfortable in going like, like if hard things, if, if I feel like hard things is done, I’m gonna be like, cool, I’m not done being a host.

I’m not done making content. I’m not done doing what I. But maybe the podcast will wind up and maybe a TV show will start. Maybe the TV show start will end and maybe a book tour will start, like, [00:22:00] mm-hmm. I’m just gonna keep going on whatever fires me up. 

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[00:22:20] Julie Bee – Host: You’re listening to, they don’t teach this in business school. I’m the host Julie B, and I’m here with Mark Draeger having a fantastic conversation and realizing we’re living in.

Something like the Marvel Multiverse or Parallel universe, if you will. But Mark, I was laughing because you were talking about media conglomerate for, for like a year and a half. I was saying behind the scenes we’re building a media empire. I’m building a media empire. That’s what’s happening. It’s a media empire.

Like that’s, that’s where this is going. I don’t see any other path, and I’ve just started this year to actually say that a little bit publicly, and I think it’s fascinating. You know, you’re kind of saying the same thing. [00:23:00] I am actually, I am at the point with, with my first, well, yeah, my first company where I’m kind of like, eh, like we’re gonna have client work.

I have a great, you know, there are great people over there who do the work. I love doing the leadership, I love the strategy part of it, but, If someday, if even this year, if the media empire just takes off, I’ve gotten to the point where I would be okay saying, I love you and I’m releasing you media marketing agency, because I’m going to go do this new thing.

And I think that I see a lot. I mean, it, it took me, I, I’ve been working on this for like five years. I mean, this has been boiling for submarine for like about five years and I’m just curious as to, you know, I feel like when you say bet on yourself, that’s, that’s the absolute best advice. And that’s the, that’s the advice that I’m constantly, I actually say those words to myself.

I’m gonna bet [00:24:00] on me. And my wife says that to me. Bet on you. We always bet on you because it’s the best bet we can make. How, how has that shown up for, for you, and how do you kind of embody that every day specifically for in your 

[00:24:14] Mark Drager – Guest: life? Well, I, I’ve only realized, you know, I’ve, I’ve done the podcast now for, for two and a half years.

We do hard things. It’s my third podcast. I’ve been in this business for a very long time, and I, I could never really articulate it. It’s like I, I would tell people like, oh, I’m enamored with courage. And, uh, and I love people who like, are willing to stand up and say what they want and, and face fears and overcome doubts and take big swings.

And I would use all this language until I. Like three weeks ago, I went for a walk and I was like, ah, I just, I just love it when people bet on themselves because there’s nothing else. There’s nothing else to this. Now, how, how do I do that for myself? I don’t know if I do that very well, honestly. [00:25:00] Mm-hmm.

You know, here’s the secret for anyone, maybe it’s, maybe it’s the world’s best known secret, but we all create stuff for ourselves. Mm-hmm. Right. You know, like if I’m interviewing someone, And I’m having a conversation with them. The questions I’m asking actually reveal more about me and what I’m going through than the guest.

Mm-hmm. Or even my audience. Mm-hmm. And if you, you know, you, you talked about Amy Porterfield. She just released a great new book, two weeks notice. If you go through that book, it, it reveals things that she worked through. Mm-hmm. Were so like, yeah, these are the things that the audience, or that her clients or whatever should know.

But, but you know, every keynote. Is, is what a person just worked through. Every book is, is where they were 18 months ago in their life. And every podcast interview I have, every piece of content I put out is, is frankly even the agency. You know, Phantom Media, even our agency, our services are the services that I wish someone would just come along and help me with.

Mm-hmm. And so I don’t know if I [00:26:00] am very good at betting on myself, and yet I’ve always naturally done that. Mm-hmm. So, The, you know, the, the, I don’t know. I don’t know if I have a clean answer for you yet. I’m I, I’m sorry. No, 

[00:26:13] Julie Bee – Host: it’s, first of all, I’m like, are we actually related? Because I feel, this is actually my third podcast and I used the phrase swing for the fences and swing away a lot.

Like that became a mantra last year in, in my company. But I, I get what you’re saying. I feel like sometimes we don’t know what betting on our. Looks like until we get to the moment where we need to actually do it, if that makes sense. Like I, I talk a lot about how, and something I realized last year is how you can’t really define success.

I mean Hmm. I will say you shouldn’t define success solely based on the goals you want to achieve, because for high achievers, As soon as you, as soon as you achieve a [00:27:00] goal, it’s like, what’s next? What’s next? What’s next? And you’re never going, like I, I got to the point where, I mean, I literally got a book deal with the o, with the people who published Traction.

And I, the next day after I signed the contract, I was like, Ugh, what’s next? Like it. And so that was my moment of real, I haven’t even written the book yet. Yeah, I mean, that was my moment of realizing that like, oh my gosh, I can’t define success by goal achievement. Alone. And so there’s something in there with though I that probably that what’s next thing is how you continue to bet on yourself.

There’s something that Dr. There’s something there, and I don’t, I don’t have a clean answer either. It’s just leaping and continuously jumping even when there’s not a safety net. I think that’s how I battle it myself. And I drive, you know, my employees crazy sometimes, but I’m like, This is how we’re doing it.

You know, I don’t work this hard without a payoff. Like that’s just real for me. Well, and that’s how I go, that’s how [00:28:00] I go, go 

[00:28:00] Mark Drager – Guest: about it. Yeah. So to me, betting on yourself would being, you know, being willing to extract yourself from, okay, so let’s say you built a company and you find yourself like you are like me, where you’re just like, I don’t wanna go into work.

Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Betting on yourself goes like, okay, it’s better for me to. Shed myself of this company I built free myself of the cage. Mm-hmm. Take the sacrifice, take the hit, even if it’s a two or three or five year setback. Yeah. Spend the next 10, 20, 30 years setting yourself up for success. Yeah. Betting on yourself means, you know what I’m gonna, I’m willing to do.

What others like, I’m willing to pursue what others can’t see or others don’t believe. Mm-hmm. I’m willing to carve out time in my schedule for the things that matter most to me, and I’m not gonna have shame or guilt about it. You know, I’m, I’m, I’m going to invest and take the slower path to, to see small improvements over time because I know in 10 or 20 years it’s gonna serve me better.

And guess what? The clients, clients aren’t gonna be there in 10 or 20 years. Mm-hmm. [00:29:00] Your team, they won’t be there in 10 or 20 years, like in 10 or 20. All you have is you, the relationships that you’ve nurtured and stuck around with, and whatever fresh things are happening that will also come and go. And so it’s just this, you know, it’s a, it’s a combination of a bunch of different things, but I realized that like, Oh, I’m the product.

You know, I always think about product development or offer development or mm-hmm. You know, r and d comp. I was always willing to spend money on making my, my offers and my products and my team better, but never myself. It’s like, oh, I am the product of my life’s work. I am the only thing that I get to bring along with me.

Whatever I want to have in the future, I can have, if I’m putting in the effort now. Mm-hmm. I, I, I guess, I guess I better do all of those things, right? No one else is gonna come along and do it for me. Yeah. 

[00:29:57] Julie Bee – Host: Ed, I, I feel like I was, I wanna ask [00:30:00] you, I feel like you’ve already answered this, but I’m gonna ask you to, to answer it again because I think it’s a summary of everything we’ve talked about.

Mark, how do you define success? 

[00:30:09] Mark Drager – Guest: I know about the treadmill that you talk about, right? The constant achievement. So, out of all the books that I’ve read and I, I do love reading, it’s, it’s actually one of my favorite. Earl Nightingale, I’m not sure if you if you know that name or not. Mm-hmm. But he was a radio presenter in the, uh, in like the forties and fifties.

Yeah. And he has, he has, this radio speech has been turned into a transcription or a book. It’s called the, I think the Strangest Secret. And it’s actually what The Secret, that big book that blew up is based on Yeah. And he describes success as the, like healthy pursuit of a goal. If you have a goal mm-hmm.

And it fires you up and it excites you and you’re working towards it, that means you are already successful. Mm-hmm. It’s not about achieving the goal, it’s not about how long it takes. It’s not about how [00:31:00] much money you have or the connections you have or any of those things. Mm-hmm. It’s, do you have a worthy goal that gets you up, that gets you moving, that excites you, that gives you, you know, Victor Frankl talks about mans search for meaning and the meaning that you need to bring to the work that you do in the life that you have.

If you have that worthy goal and you are simply working towards it, then you are already successful, 

[00:31:23] Julie Bee – Host: I think. I think unless you have been on the journey of. Constantly seeking success. You, you can’t un you, you’re just not gonna, that’s not gonna land yet with you. You’ve gotta get to the point where you’re like, oh my gosh, I’m, I’m just constantly chasing and I never feel successful.

What am I missing? It’s your success is in the journey because that’s where you, that’s where you learn everything. I mean, when you actually reach that goal, you’ve already been successful at learning so many things and you’ve grown so much. And that’s the thing. I just, I wish more business owners and entrepreneurs and, and everybody in general could see, [00:32:00] like, could be proud of the journey that they have taken to do what they have done.

Yeah. Because we’re so wrapped up in all of the material things as definitions for success and not that anything wrong with wanting a certain amount of money or a 

[00:32:17] Mark Drager – Guest: certain, no, listen, I want, I want money and I want like, here’s, 

[00:32:20] Julie Bee – Host: I’m like, I want a beach house. Like I want all of these things. Right. Also at the end of the day, you know, when I’m, when I’m on my deathbed, I, that’s not gonna be the thing that makes me feel like I had a life well loved.

It’s gonna be the journeys that I took along the way. So I think that that’s really important too. Well, 

[00:32:38] Mark Drager – Guest: and here’s, here’s a really quick, here’s a really quick way to, to flesh this out a bit more. You know, like I, I’ve been doing this podcast for a few years and there have been times where I get really discouraged the growth.

Mm-hmm. And yet we have like four and a half million views on YouTube. And so I should be happy with it. And yet I’m like, oh, we should have more and we should have more and we should be growing faster, and why aren’t we doing this and why aren’t we doing that and everything else? And, and then I [00:33:00] realized that I don’t want to be famous.

Mm-hmm. Like, like I do not mm-hmm. Want fame at all. Mm-hmm. And most people who become, Successful and famous. Mm-hmm. Want, want fame? Yeah. I don’t want fame. I just want to be really, really good. Yeah. And I wanna be respected mm-hmm. For being really, really good. But I don’t want fame. And so if my goal was a million subscribers, or 2 million or 3 million or four, I’m not saying I’m gonna be on the co cover of People Magazine or something, but, but in a, in a certain group of people, in a really small niche or whatever in my area mm-hmm.

I would probably have a certain notoriety or I would mm-hmm. Maybe become a little bit famous. Yeah. Um, but that’s not my goal. Yeah. Like, like my goal is actually to be respected for how good I am at my craft. And as long as I’m pursuing my goal, then I’m already successful. 

[00:33:58] Julie Bee – Host: Hmm. [00:34:00] Good stuff. Oh my goodness.

I don’t, I don’t want this interview to end. There’s so many good things we could, we could have like part two and part three of all of this. Goodness. Yeah. You’ve given me a lot to think about, but. Hi. I do wanna ask you because I think it’s really important and it’s something that I talk about a lot. Do you have a story about burnout that you could share with the audience?

[00:34:22] Mark Drager – Guest: Yeah, just one. Lemme qualify. Yeah. I didn’t, I I, so I talked about the fact that like, Hey, we get bored. I love to change things. Mm-hmm. Uh, my son was diagnosed with adhd and as we were going through the diagnosis, I realized, oh, I’ve probably pretty much had ADHD my whole life. Yeah. And, and not even realize it.

So in order to not have shiny object syndrome, I purposefully would shelve any new idea I had because it’s just like I already was doing enough corporate whiplash. And you, you talked about traction, right? Like I was already doing enough corporate whiplash and flipping us around and we’re going here and we’re going here and here’s the next great [00:35:00] thing and let’s go.

I was already doing enough of that, but, but I, I had a bunch of problems with my previous business. I didn’t. I, I didn’t enjoy any aspect of the delivery process. Mm-hmm. Which was fine cause I, I can say I could be a ceo, I don’t need to, I don’t need to love the process. Mm-hmm. But I was delivering a product that I, that I believed in for clients that I believed in, in solving problems I believed in.

Mm-hmm. But just cuz you’re good at it mm-hmm. Doesn’t mean you should do it. Yeah. Just cuz people will pay you for it doesn’t mean that you should do it. Mm-hmm. And so, gosh, by 20 16, 20 15, I was like, I need to change the business. And I had a whole bunch of reasons why we need to inc. We need to increase our services, we need to do more and more and more.

But frankly, it was because I was bored with mm-hmm. What we were doing. And so my boredom led to me changing the business, changing the business led to way more complexity. That complexity completely eroded our value proposition. Mm-hmm. And what made us. [00:36:00] Which confused everyone of our clients and in the market.

And while it, we saw an initial boost, like we doubled our revenue in the first year. Mm. It was not sustainable. And so by 2019, even before Covid, I was, you know, I was having panic attacks. The projects were getting bigger, bigger, and bigger. The team was, you know, the payroll was over seven figures.

Everything was getting bigger and more complex and more stressful. And I was doing more things that I hated. Yeah. We were making more mistakes. I was having to apologize to more clients. Yeah. And month after month after month of, of frankly, looking at what you’re doing and working so hard and yet still being disappointed, constantly disappointed.

Yeah. And it’s not my team’s fault. Mm-hmm. It’s, it’s, it’s my fault. I was mm-hmm. I, I, I steered the ship. The wrong direction for too many times, for too long. Just hoping that, like on the, on the other side of scaling, it’s all gonna be great. Yeah. Because I’ll hire people who will worry about this and I won’t have to anymore.[00:37:00] 

That didn’t work. And so Covid hit our revenue drop by 70%. Our team went from 24 people to five, and, and that allowed us to breathe and slow down a bit. But after, by by, so that’s 2020. Mm-hmm. Halfway through 2020. I turn to my wife and I say, I, I don’t know what I’m going to do and I don’t know how I’m gonna do this, but all I know is that just I can’t do this anymore.

Yeah. And I realize now, cause it took me a whole nother year to embrace the fact that I still actually love this. I’m still good at this. There are things that I do, there are things that fire me up. Mm-hmm. So, so it took a few years to get so burnt. That frankly, I was like, I knew enough was enough. It took me a year and a half to actually pull the trigger on saying, I just can’t do this anymore.

I don’t know what I’m gonna do. And then from there, it took me another year to realize, oh, I love this. I just can’t keep [00:38:00] doing it the way I was doing it. Mm-hmm. That I’m still actually good at this. I, because, because if you, if you spoke to me in mid 2021, I had, I had. Boxed all my marketing books. I, I stopped subscribing to anything having to do with marketing or advertising or branding or strategy.

Mm-hmm. I, I did not want to have another conversation about anything. Like, if you asked me anything about it, I would, I would get like P T s D cuz it was pulling me back in. And now today it’s like, let’s talk about marketing all day long. I love it. So all I would say is, yeah, burnout is real. Yeah. But, but, but it just, it takes a long time to work through.


[00:38:36] Julie Bee – Host: Geez. Oh man. Well, mark, listen, I ask every guest this last question, and so I’m gonna ask you, but I feel like you already answered it. What is, if you were gonna teach a class to future entrepreneurs, what would be the one thing you would want them to learn from you about being a business 

[00:38:54] Mark Drager – Guest: owner? I, I mean, the natural thing is, I wanna say like, you gotta bet on yourself and always bet on yourself, and no [00:39:00] one’s gonna come along and do that for you or do the work for you.

More than that. Here’s the piece of advice I was given early on that really helped me. We’ve seen a lot of ups and we’ve seen a lot of downs in the markets, and this is gonna come out of left. Cash flow is important, but access to cash is the only thing that matters. And I learned this really early on because guess what?

I started my little business and then the 2009 recession. And I survived, and then Covid came. And if you asked me before Covid, if I could go, if I could lose 70% of my revenue mm-hmm. And I could go from 24 staff to five staff and we could like have to get rid of, like go from doing a 180 projects a year to like 25 kind of thing.

Like there’s no way I would’ve, I would’ve been able to tell you in 2019 that my business would survive. And then I realized, oh, businesses can. And they can shrink. Yeah, you can grow expenses and you can pull them back. Mm-hmm. And there’s this ebb and flow, and so cash flow’s important, [00:40:00] but as long as you have cash on hand, you can get through some pretty rocky storms.

So that is what I would say out of all of my years in business is like, just have access to cash or keep cash on hand and you’ll be okay. 

[00:40:18] Julie Bee – Host: Brilliant. And I think you’re the first guest who has said that, which shocks me. But yeah, that’s, that is, I completely agree with that. So, well, mark, listen, I have so enjoyed this conversation.

I feel like we’re gonna have to do this again because I only asked you like two questions off the list. But I just wanted to thank you for being on the show and sharing your wisdom and your journey with us 

[00:40:38] Mark Drager – Guest: today. Oh, Julie, thank you so much for having me. And listen, loyal listeners, I don’t know if Julie will always ask for this or not, but, but you don’t maybe understand how much time and effort goes into this.

So if, if you love what she’s doing, send her a little personal note. Let her know your favorite episode. Let her know a moment that really stuck out with you, because those little moments, I’m gonna, I’m [00:41:00] gonna say this because we all need to hear this. Those little moments of audience members reaching out will light us up.

Month. So drop Julie. A really nice little. 

[00:41:12] Julie Bee – Host: I appreciate that, mark. Actually print those out. I’m old school in that way, so when I get those, I print them out because I’m like ’em on the board. This is so awesome. So absolutely. Well, that is it for this episode, but stay tuned because I’ll be back soon with more lessons learned on the business owner’s journey.

I’m Julie B and they don’t teach this in business 

[00:41:35] Mark Drager – Guest: school.