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Cole Ruud-Johnson & Elliot Smith – Part 1 | The Importance of Connection and Communication

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On this episode Investing for Freedom, Mike sits down with Cole Ruud-Johnson and Elliot Smith for part one of a two-part podcast. In this episode, the guys talk about their pasts, offer some stories that shaped them, and reveal some of their biggest difficulties. Be sure not to miss part two!

“There are certain markets where people are locked down, there’s no interaction. We’re literally stopping. We’re removing a year, or a year and a half, or two years of progress out of certain people’s lives and livelihood.”

HIGHLIGHTS:

0:00 – Intro
2:25 – Elliot explains how his grandpa had the greatest impact on his life
5:16 – Cole’s mom had the greatest impact on his life
7:18 – Connecting with people has had the greatest impact on Elliot’s success
9:49 – Learning to fail has had the greatest impact on Cole’s life
12:59 – Mike asks what Elliot’s greatest setback was and what he learned from it
16:30 – Elliot discusses a relapse that almost killed him
22:13 – High performers spend too much time in the future
23:30 – Cole lives in the future and admits living in the present is a skill you have to learn
24:01 – Cole talks about his greatest setback
26:13 – When you’re in business with a partner it’s like a marriage
27:37 – If you’re in an environment where you’re not happy, you need to change it
30:24 – Mike and Elliot discuss marriage and their relationships with their wives
33:25 – Elliot tells his employees that he needs 100% every day, even if that 100% changes from day to day
36:15 – The guys discuss how a breakdown in communication can ruin relationships
38:12 – People feel stuck even though there are more chapters left in their life
40:56 – Everyone is in agreement that tech is beneficial but that boundaries are needed
41:41 – Elliot’s talkes about parenting during COVID
43:52 – The gap is widening as COVID damages business
50:39 – Human interaction is the central part of business, if you have employees that you don’t see, they’re just numbers
53:57 – There are ways to be seen if you are still staying at home. Cole and Elliot explain how their families and business have adapted

FIND | COLE & ELLIOT:

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FULL TRANSCRIPTION:

Mike Ayala: Thank you for joining me on the Investing for Freedom podcast. Today’s episode is a good one. I actually had a lot of fun recording this episode and got into a lot of great conversations. We just kind of let it flow and it was really good. And not that you know, it usually doesn’t, but this one we had two people in studio. They’re business partners, it’s Elliot Smith and Cole Johnson, and the conversation, you know, I think it’s just a testament to the dynamic of how these two work. And we get into some great conversations with like Cole and his abundance thinking they’re involved in a business together that, you know, Cole teamed up. He brought Elliot on board and then they ended up bringing on a friend and it’s just a testament to what can truly happen when you align with the right partners and people in your life. And so that being said, it’s a long episode. So, we’re going to break it up into two parts. I’m not exactly sure where we’ll split it, but you do not want to miss episode two because it just gets better and better and better. So, hope you enjoy it.

Mike Ayala: Thank you for joining me on the Investing for Freedom podcast. Today, I think we’ve got a really special show and I’m not even sure where this is going to go cause it’s a little different setup and we’re just going to let it, but I’m super excited to have Elliot Smith. We’ll get into his background. I met him probably a year and a half, two years ago. And then his business partner, Cole Ruud-Johnson. Yep. So, guys, thanks for joining us.

Elliot Smith: Appreciate having us on man.

Cole Ruud-Johnson: Yeah, thanks for having us. Glad it worked out.

Mike Ayala: Yeah, this is going to be really cool. Again, I didn’t know exactly how this was going to go because I know Elliot, I don’t know Cole. But after having some great conversations, I think this is going to go really well. I’m going to stick to the platform initially. We’ll just rotate. So, I always ask guests for questions. So, Elliot who’s had the greatest impact on your life.

Elliot Smith: My grandpa Mendel, I was adopted as a kid and at birth. But my mom’s parents were just amazing. My grandpa was legally blind. He only drove for like five years of his life. He got rides everywhere, but he was just a man of faith and he was always there. He was at every baseball game, my grandma and grandpa, every baseball game, every basketball game, every struggle he was there, every life hurdle. You know, I was a big golfer, and he would send me to these junior golf camps and you know, he’d never see me golf. I would call him. And every time after around I would call him, you know, the first time I still remember this day exactly where I was when I broke 80 for the first time, I’m on the ninth hole at somewhere else. Cause we started on the back nine, calling him like shot 78 and he’s just, he is just beaming with pride. And he had never seen me play. He saw me play one time when I was in college. And I had, you know, I had a lot of struggles as a teenager. And there was just no love better than his. I remember one time I picked him up. I said, Hey, pop, I’m going to go referee some basketball games. Cause I refed in high school. I’m like, you want to come. And he’s like, yeah, I’ll go. Cause I was going up the Valley. So, we go and we’re talking, I refed this game and I make this call. That was a questionable call. And we get back in the car. I’m like, he’s like Elliot, what’d you see on that call there? Cause he loved sports. He would always watch sports, big TV, you know, glasses. And he always has binoculars at every game. And he’s like, what’d you see on that call there? And I said I think he got him and he’s like, no, you blew it. I’m like you’re fricking flying. So, he actually, he died 10 years ago, in 2010. And so yeah, my grandma’s still alive, Nannu or as Monte calls her Nunu and we named Monte, Monte Mendel after him.

Mike Ayala: Nice. So, guys having two different guests on the show, I mean, it might take a little longer to get through the questions, but stick with us because I think the value of this story is going to be so amazing. Just the way they came together. And you know, I put a podcast up a couple of weeks ago. I think it was, I was quoting Russ Gray and Russ always says if two partners have the same strength, one of them is not needed. And these two guys really complement each other and plus their backgrounds are both just so fascinating. Cole, how old are you?

Cole Ruud-Johnson: 22.

Mike Ayala: 22. And yeah, and I mean, like he’s telling me his story, you know, starting from like 18 and there’s like 10 years’ worth of stuff. And I’m like, okay, when this happened at what age? And he’s like 20. So, stick with us. I want to make sure we get the questions in. So, we have a little background on them, but this is going to be a super valuable show. So, Cole who’s had the greatest impact on your life?

Cole Ruud-Johnson: For me, it was my mom and that’s a kind of a cliche answer, but she’s been in real estate her whole life. So, from the time I was five, six, seven, I was going to open houses, watching her work. She’d be on the couch or in the office at home until 11, 12:00 AM at night, just grinding it out, getting it done. And I always saw that and whatever I was doing, my whole goal growing up was to be a college basketball player, basketball player. So, I was a five, six-round ball of nothing in eighth grade and it was not by any means talented at all. But she was like, if you want to make it happen and here’s what you need to do. And she found me a trainer and I was working out with that guy four or five times a week. And it started in eighth grade, that kind of instilled in me that it doesn’t really matter what you want to do. There is a way to get it done with consistent persistent effort every single day. So, that’s something I learned from her and it’s never left me. Throughout her life she’s shown, I mean, in 2008, I was what, 10 around that time, 10 years old. And she lost her old main business during that time but got licensed to do short sales and grinded out there and was working 12-hour days and got it done. So, and my dad’s a cop and he always say like, she lets him do his cop habit because of how hard she works in the business she’s built. So, that’s where I think I get a lot of my determination and grit from is just that show up every single day for however long it takes to get it done. So, I would definitely have to say that she’s had the biggest impact on me.

Mike Ayala: It’s so inspiring. My mom was the same. Well, she still is the same. I mean, she owns multiple businesses and just grinds and you know, you say it’s cliche, but I love asking these questions because there’s always a theme and it comes back to how important certain people are in our lives. It’s always either a key mentor, but more often than not, it’s a mom or a dad or it’s a grandpa. And believe it or not, a lot of times I get myself, which is kind of interesting. So, cool story, man. Your mom’s definitely a grinder. That’s cool. Elliot, if you could narrow it down to one thing that has had the greatest impact on your success, what would that be?

Elliot Smith: Connecting with people.

Mike Ayala: Just leave it there.

Elliot Smith: Yeah. I mean, yeah. Yeah, sorry.

Mike Ayala: I mean, maybe that’s all that needs to be said.

Elliot Smith: I think there’s so much I don’t know. And there’s so many people that know what I need to know and if I can go provide value to them in some way, whether it’s finding a deal or connecting them with somebody else or being valuable or some way they want to then help me in return. I think that has been the biggest, best thing for me is I’ve just met some great mentors, some great people. This world is so selfish in a lot of ways that people just figured out that we could go so far together. And just, you know, not worry about like how much that money that guy is getting or how much money, whatever, and just worry about like what the, I tell people all the time. It’s not about the one deal it’s about the 10 or 20 deals down the road or the relationships that you gain or the mentorship you gain from that, that changes your world.

Mike Ayala: I’m so excited to get into this episode because you know, just again, hearing you guys talk, I already know this about you Elliot, but hearing Cole talk and why you guys joined forces and just the abundance mindset. I mean, my favorite quote is the Zig Ziglar quote. You can have everything you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want. And I don’t think people realize that. And so, I love that answer. We think so small-minded, and we’re always looking out for what’s ours and you know, I get it. I mean, we’re going to get into some of the stories around the table, too, of, you know, ways we’ve been beat down and here’s the thing. People are human, I’m human. I make mistakes. People have made mistakes to us. They didn’t mean to, but those kinds of traumas and things, they affect us long-term and I think what happens is we end up as people going into these shells and then we’re out to get what’s ours. And this is, I think this is the number one differentiator of successful people versus unsuccessful is they understand that there’s an abundance of money. Right now, there’s an infinite capital where we’re talking about this before the podcast and we’ll get into it. I got to stay on the… I’m so excited.

Elliot Smith: 22%. The fed data at 22% of the money supply this year, there’s infinite baby.

Mike Ayala: It’s crazy. You know, if you look at the statistics from 1776 to 1996, there was $5 trillion in existence. We printed 5 trillion this year. Like that’s crazy. So, anyway, we’re on a tangent.

Elliot Smith: I just need one of those trillions.

Mike Ayala: I love the answer connecting with people. It’s so powerful. Cole.

Cole Ruud-Johnson: For me, I think it’s just learning to fail, like learning it’s okay to fail. I remember when I was 19 and we had done, you know, three deals at a time and I was trying to figure out how to turn our real estate operation to a consistent, predictable business. I was about to sign a three-year office lease at 19, which would have put me committing to like $300,000, $250,000. And I just remember my family thankfully was like, yeah, I mean, what’s the worst that can happen at your age? You know, you got zero, there’s no, you can go back to zero. It’s already where you are. So, learning that it’s okay to fail and all my new ventures I’ve gotten into and just how fast I’ve been able to build, I think is because there’s nothing wrong with, you know, I mean, I don’t have a family or anything at my age. I have no problem going to back to zero at any time. And being okay with it. So, many people are scared to start something new because you know, the public perception to friends, family, colleagues, they’re going to think if they try to start something and they fail. But for me, it’s just part of the process. So, that’s been my biggest key thing so far.

Mike Ayala: That’s awesome. That’s good stuff.

Elliot Smith: You just go back home to mommy.

Mike Ayala: I mean, I could go back home to mom.

Elliot Smith: I could too. Yeah, my mom would take me in a minute.

Mike Ayala: Yeah, totally.

Cole Ruud-Johnson: The basement’s always open.

Mike Ayala: It’s funny. And again, I don’t want to camp on this too long. I’ve got some notes that we can circle back to, but even when COVID happened, I mean, it came out of nowhere so fast that, you know, I was on some early podcasts and all that, and I don’t think us as real estate investors or business owners like knew what was going to happen. And you know, the old saying expect the best, but prepare for the worst. Like that’s kind of me, I’m an optimist. In fact, when I applied for the real estate guys mastermind, that was one of the, they asked the question like, what’s your greatest weakness? And I think my greatest weaknesses, I’m an internal optimist, but that’s also a great strength, right? As long as I temper that. And I guess move with some wisdom through that problem. But when COVID hit, it was kind of like, okay, people aren’t going to pay their rent. There, you know, layoffs all this stuff’s going to happen. And so back to what you’re talking about, we had a lot of conversations with my kids and my kids are 20, 18 and 16. We had a lot of family time together. And what I realized through that too, you know, you were saying that you don’t have a family and it’s okay to go back to zero. And that’s true. But also, what I realized through COVID is that my kids don’t give a crap. I mean, if I lost everything, my kids would still love me, and we would still have each other. And even if we had to move into an apartment, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. So, we’ll circle back to that, but I think this is another trend. I do believe that the earlier we can go out and risk and experience failure the better, but it’s never too late. So, for the audience that’s out there listening that isn’t how old are you again?

Cole Ruud-Johnson: 22 and a half.

Mike Ayala: I’ll probably ask you like five times, but you know, for those of you that are out there right now, and you’re 40 years old, or you’re 50 years old, or you’re 60 years old, I mean, look at all the trends with like Colonel Sanders and KFC and all these people that started when they’re older.

Elliot Smith: Jeff Bezos. When he started, he wasn’t that old, or he wasn’t that young when he started Amazon.

Mike Ayala: So, I think that’s wisdom the younger the better, but it’s never too late.

Cole Ruud-Johnson: Absolutely.

Mike Ayala: So, Elliot, what was your greatest setback and what did you learn from it?

Elliot Smith: Oh man. How long is this show going to be six, seven, eight hours. We got a lot of setbacks.

Mike Ayala: It’s going to be eight episodes. Just kidding. It’s not.

Elliot Smith: I’ve had a lot of setbacks. I really, I’ve struggled with addiction. Growing up, I was adopted and then I had a lot of maybe not like trauma. I had a good parent, but I had a lot of trauma that parents getting divorced at sixth grade. You know that I got into youth pastors. I had some youth pastors, I got really close to and those in middle school. And then they left and went to another church because God called them. And then they never talked to you again. And I had another youth pastor when I was starting to struggle. Right when I was 16, it was amazing. It was like a light switch, clicked. I got my license and shit just went downhill. So, I had another youth pastor right at that time. Right when I started to struggle. And then, you know, we got really close to try to, you know, and then he got called to another church and you never hear from him again. And you know, I had a lot of these men that guys that let me down other than my grandpa. And so, then I started drinking quite a bit. I drank at 16, within six months, I was drinking, I had a half gallon of Monarch vodka I was drinking off every day. I got an MIP at 7.30 in the morning, high school, I was pouring a half gallon Monarch into my mountain Dew at 7.30 in the morning. And they just, it’s funny I see the guys that caught me and the security guards, and I talked to one guy this year and I’m like, I’m like, man, how did you guys catch me? He’s like, I don’t know, but we just happened to see it on the security camera and got you. And he’s like, funny story about that after you went home that day, we took that bottle and drank it at work. But, you know, then I started doing Coke by 17. Started getting into that, I would take tons of drugs. I would take, you know, oxies, hydros, anything to feel different. Really got hooked on the Coke. Then I kind of got, kind of came clean until people because I was about to get kicked off the golf team. Cause I wasn’t going to school, went to rehab or inpatient, outpatient rehab. Got my thing turned around, made the state championship that year. Cause I hadn’t played that much golf because I kept getting in trouble and it was like the coolest thing. You know, I made it to state with my best friend that I grew up with and he was very straight A student and never do anything wrong. And we shot the same score in state and I remember it was a 36 hole district qualifier and they only took eight guys and there’s a lot of kids and I played the last 12 holes under par, like 200 par to make it. And I had a triple right in the middle, like in the beginning of the second round I had a triple and I’m like that fucking just put me out of it.

Mike Ayala: This explains a lot after golfing with him last week.

Elliot Smith: And so, I made it and it was a victory and then my buddy and I went to state and we shot the exact same scores and he’s always been better than me. So, it was just like a perfect ending and then started going, started going to college and got a scholarship to the play CC and then met a guy fucking randomly in my college and started doing blow again and just kind of had it off and on. I got an electrical union and started doing Coke and then it just went fucking downhill pretty quick. So, by 21 I was in rehab, like a week after I turned 21. And then life got, I didn’t realize at the time that I was an alcoholic or an addict. And then, so I was just kind of moseying along. I went to move to Vancouver, live with my aunt and uncle going to outpatient, not taking it that serious and I relapsed and almost died. And it just snapped me out of it. And I was dating my now wife at the time and she broke up with me. I came back, got a job at Fran’s bakery and at Lowe’s, and I’m like, whoever goes first full time and went to France and I just grabbed a hold of it and made a career and made a life. And but yeah, that was, you know, it was probably one of my biggest setbacks. And then my ego gets me a lot especially with my marriage. And that’s probably one thing I struggle with the most is ego and self-deception and things like that. But drugs and alcohol are definitely and impulsive.

Mike Ayala: So, you may have answered this, but like what’s your biggest takeaway? What’d you learn from that? Cause like even, you know, if it is ego, is it as easy as that? Just being aware of the ego?

Mike Ayala: The problem is I don’t, I get so complacent. Like, even when life, like right now, life’s going so good. I have a beautiful son, beautiful wife, great partner, great business, great, everything. I mean, somebody look at me at 31 and say, like they wouldn’t at 60, they’d say that’s a dream life and I just struggle with not being okay. And so really trying to stay in the moment and like have people that can snap me out of things. And that’s the hardest part for me. And just being okay, being Elliot, like I’m very uncomfortable being Elliot a lot of times. And that’s where I’m trying to see the most growth. And so, I think I overcompensate with ego, but I mean, you can say that you’ve overcome it to a certain extent, but you’re always learning.  And I’m always trying to learn how to be better and surround myself with guys like you and Cole, you know, he’s the oldest 22 year old I know, cause he’s so wise beyond his years. Most of my friends are in their forties and fifties. I don’t have friends that are his age. But I don’t really know…

Cole Ruud-Johnson: Now you do. Because a lot of my friends are your friends.

Elliot Smith: I don’t even know if it’s something that I’ve overcome. I mean, it’s a constant life battle.

Mike Ayala: So, I think just even awareness and I appreciate you being so raw because I think there’s a lot of value in that. I think a lot of, you know, whether it’s drugs or alcohol or just burying your head with Netflix even like, I think we’re numb as people, I think, you know, I think it’s, I think it’s really easy to get numb and I think we all struggle with that and we all battle that demon. So, I appreciate you being honest. And not like you said, it’s not necessarily something that, you know, we have to win, but just being cognizant of it and battling through it, I think is important. So, again, just, you know, for our listeners, maybe some of them have never even touched alcohol or drugs or anything else, but it’s funny because our backgrounds are similar and Coles as well. Although Elliot and I, that was many years ago and Cole is still 22. It’s crazy what he’s done in his years. But I don’t, I think a lot of times people, I talk to people every day that are just numb. Not because of alcohol, not because of drugs. They go to work. They show up, they punch the clock, they come home. It’s like Groundhog Day.

Elliot Smith: I saw it at France when I was managing guys at France. Cause I grabbed a hold in It. I’ve always been that guy that wants to shoot for the best. I want to go the next level. What’s the next level. What’s the next, what’s the next, I’m always trying to figure out next. And these guys I’d see them, they’d run these routes and it was a bid system. So, the longer you’ve been there, you get a better route. And so, they go, they’d hate their life. They’d start at one in the morning, you know, work till two or three in the afternoon, but they get a bigger route instead of investing it, they go buy a bigger car or a bigger house. And it’s just like, they’re just numb. They’re just like, they’re like zombies going through life. But it’s so easy. Like you said, back with Instagram or I’ll get stuck on YouTube sometimes for fricking hours, even though I’m trying to learn stuff, but I’m just trying to like or even Cole and I play Xbox a couple of times, you know, every, you know, a couple hours a night sometimes, but it’s just like, we just want to turn our brains off and numb it to the world because there’s so much negativity pushed at you every day that it’s hard to be positive. I mean, why doesn’t the news show all the good that happens, you know, it’s only negative. And so, it’s so easy to be negative and just want to like escape. And I think, especially when COVID hit with all this fear and all this negativity, the economy is going to crash the stock market’s crashing. My business is going to crash all these things and it’s just like negative, negative, negative. You just want to; you just want to hide. You just want to hide. And so how do I cope with hiding, drugs and alcohol and sex. And I think YouTube, everybody has their way and they just want to hide away from the world.

Mike Ayala: It’s interesting. A while back, I put a post-up or something and you know, I was just pondering this and I don’t know if this is exactly how I said it, but getting caught in the past is just as bad as getting stuck in the future. And that’s really like, I think learning to be present and enjoying life right now, I think it’s hard, but I think it’s so important to work on because yeah, I mean, I still have some friends from high school that every time we get together, all we’re talking about is high school and it’s like, those were great days. But if that’s our best memories and that was our best period of time, like that’s, that’s a form to me it’s really easy to get into depression if all I have to look forward to or think about is the past, but I don’t think we spend enough time acknowledging I think as high performers, which I’m sitting at a table with high performers, obviously you know, we’re pretty good at dealing with the past and we don’t spend a lot of time dwelling there. And especially as, you know, the more crazy the past is sometimes the more we want to move away from it. But I think what we tend to do as high performers is, we spend too much time in the future.

Cole Ruud-Johnson: Yeah, absolutely.

Mike Ayala: And that’s another part of the problem. So, I appreciate…

Elliot Smith: I’ll add one thing about being in the present. So, I have a, almost two-year-old and you remember those days, right? It’s like, you want to pull your hair out sometimes.

Mike Ayala: Yeah. I’m the old guy at the table. My kids as old as you.

Elliot Smith: So, Monte, right. We’re potty training and it’s always off, on, I got to go, I don’t got to go. It’s a 20-minute freaking ordeal sometimes and I just don’t have the patience. And it’s like, sometimes it’s like, Elliot, you just got to sit here and just let shit happen. You know what I mean, no pun intended, but it’s like, it’s so hard because my mind is always going a million miles an hour. Like you said earlier, like, you’re doing this, you’re this you’re this. And it’s like, no, like you take everything away. Like you said earlier about just being in an apartment. If I lost everything, it’s like the kid, Monty, they’re waiting for me to get off the phone in the room the other day. All of a sudden, I get off the phone. As soon as I got off the phone, Monte opens door runs in, I can’t see him above the bed and he’s running dad, dad, and it’s like, nothing else fucking matters. And it’s just like, just, but it’s so hard. And I know like, especially like with your phones, you know, it’s just man, just, and that’s what I’m working on a lot this year is trying to just like enjoy this time. Cause he’s never going to be 22 months or 23 months again.

Mike Ayala: Yeah. So, true. Where do you live Cole? You live in the past or the future?

Cole Ruud-Johnson: Right now, I think more in the future. It comes in waves and goes, and I think it’s a skill though. I think living in the presence is a skill you have to build over time. I think a lot of people will be like, Oh, I’ve got to live in the present. And then going to Instagram, it’s like meditate, be in the present. And they try one day just like sitting down. But I think like phones and news and Netflix, they’re all kind of addictions. So, it’s like a skill, a muscle you have to build over time.

Mike Ayala: Yeah. It’s so good. The question for you, what was your greatest setback and what’d you learn from it?

Cole Ruud-Johnson: Yeah, mine was kind of a slow buildup to my biggest setback. So, I had started in the business at 18 and a bunch of patterns, you know, I didn’t have anyone really that I knew my age, at least that were in a similar position. So, I didn’t have a ton of people to talk to. You know, I can find older people, but it’s just different when you’re going through it, those 18, 19, I am hiring people, getting office leases, going through, which I’m sure we’ll get into going through that whole process. And the whole time I was kind of closing, closing myself up more and more and more. I wasn’t talking to many people. I wasn’t letting anything out. Everything was building up inside. I thought it was a normal way to live. So, like two-ish years in when I was about 20 and a half, almost 21, I started having panic attacks, which, you know, if you’re listening to never had one, it feels like you’re dying the first time.  So first one, the whole deal I went to the hospital and the ambulance like thought I was having a heart attack and I put on a prescription, which is supposed to help with anxiety. I had like a one in a thousand adverse reaction to it where I remember I flew down to California, like two weeks after I started taking it. And I was at a restaurant one night, my vision went out and like, I couldn’t see even like for me to you right now. And I was like, what is going on? So, over the next couple of weeks, I stopped being able to walk. Like I started putting on like 10 pounds a week, I got up to like 250 pounds. I was like 40, 50 pounds heavier than I am right now. Like it was a mess. Like I thought I was dying of MS, ALS, every disease you can think of I thought I had. I was getting checked for everything. Get my heart checked. My brain checked, checked for all, everything. Everything came back fine. So, I finally got off it, but it was, it’s been a roller coaster kind of recovering from that. And at the same time, I had separated with my current partner and had, during that process of feeling like I was dying constantly had to rebuild my business at the same time. So, it was kind of the ultimate test of grit and character. But it was also at the same time, a great opportunity to kind of step back and rebuild everything the right way, both personally with relationships and in my business. So, it’s been a, it wasn’t like one day setback kind of thing, but it was, you know, over the course of a year and a half, two years, that kind of boiled up to that point.

Mike Ayala: You know, I think a lot of people don’t realize it. If you haven’t been in business with a partner like that, you get close.

Elliot Smith: Yeah. Super close. I mean, it’s like a marriage. You are with that person every single day. Whether you like it or not, it’s an art. Yeah. It’s definitely, it’s a challenging thing. It’s something I’m still learning every single day to get better at, you have to invest in it, which I didn’t really, I thought I could just kind of leave it, but now it’s, like now the partnerships we’re going on trips together, we’re on the phone every day. Like we’re doing more things than just business and building that relationship.

Mike Ayala: Man, that’s such a good, such a good point. You know, you said that was excruciating going through that breakup. You didn’t say breakup, but I don’t think people really recognize and appreciate that enough. And I know we’re going to get into the partner conversation, but this is just like choosing a spouse. I mean, it’s so important that you choose your partner. But then also you said this, and I love the wisdom in it, like cultivating that relationship, right? Like if you got married, I won’t talk to Cole yet, but if you’re married and you don’t talk to your, you know, you don’t have like the real conversations, not every month, not every week, but like every day you’re not going to have a healthy relationship. And that goes into business partnerships too. I don’t think people appreciate it enough and taking it a step further for those of you out there that are W2 employees or, you know, work in a business with a team going back to being numb. This is why this is so important because you spend eight hours. Well, not during COVID, but you spent so much time with your team and I’ve said this for years, like to be in a place that where you’re miserable or to be surrounded by people that you’re miserable with. I don’t care if it’s a marriage. I don’t care if it’s a job. I don’t care if it’s a business, you got to fix that. And if you’re the problem, fix it. But if it’s the environment, I mean, we’re not trees, right. Get out there and make stuff happen, which I’m excited to get into it. Cause you guys, you guys are making shit happen.

Cole Ruud-Johnson: We are trying to.

Mike Ayala: Anything else on that?

Elliot Smith: I think on the partnership side. Yeah. I mean, even when, like, if I’m not talking to Elliot for a week or two, it’s kind of…

Cole Ruud-Johnson: Doesn’t happen.

Elliot Smith: Sometimes I would go a couple of days. And then even that it’s like, you know, it’s so easy to, like, I think it’s a good lesson for life. It’s so easy to, you know, get the wrong impression over a text or an email or brief interaction with someone. And most people don’t take the extra step to really, you know, talk to that person and see what’s going on. Even with family. So, I think it’s a huge thing to make sure that, I get a text from Elliot. It can easily come across with the wrong tone and I can get mad at him for a couple of days or I can call him right then and there and say, Hey, what’s going on?

Cole Ruud-Johnson: Yeah, cause, it’s funny with our personalities I can send off like, you know, shit, end of the world, but it’s like, I’m a customer service relationship guy, so shit needs to happen right now. And so, if I send out, I can send off these texts or these emails or these calls and I’ll be like, you know, I need you to do this right now. And it comes off like, you know, very blunt. I could be coming off like an asshole.

Elliot Smith: But Cole has been really great and learned a lot that he just responds like, Hey, that kind of sounded like an asshole move. And I’m like, I apologize I didn’t mean it like that. That’s how I meant it. But he can call me out. Like I said earlier to you, I appreciate you calling me out. Hey, I took that this way. Like, let’s change the way that comes across. Not that he’s sensitive, but if you don’t tell somebody that that’s not the appropriate way to treat me or talk to me, or this is how you communicate with me better, you’re never going to learn.

Mike Ayala: It’s. So, I mean, you guys are, it’s so valuable and this is not just in partner relationships, but just imagine like with your kids, if every time, you know, you’re talking to Monte and it’s a negative conversation, like where does that end? And it’s the same thing in businesses, even leadership. Like it’s so important that every time we’re not communicating, by the way I’ve been accused for years of not celebrating. You know, I’m so just back to the future, I’m so focused, driven that we don’t have time to celebrate. Celebrate what? Like there’s 15 more wins that we need ahead of us. But I’ve had to learn to step back and really deal with that. But this is so important, you know, in life in general too, whether it’s relationships, whether it’s children, when I was just listening to the way you guys are communicating and you know, Elliot’s so driven on customer service. And I’m just thinking about my kids and I’m thinking about my wife, Kara literally told me one time, she said, I’m not one of your fucking employees. And I was like, touché. I was like, and she’s right. But I took it a step further to like, not only should I be talking to my wife, my business partner, not only should I not be talking to my wife, my business partner, the way that I am right now, she was tying it back to the way that I talked to my employees.

Elliot Smith: Christina and I almost got divorced basically, basically divorce papers were out because when I was working for France, 70 hours a week, she quit her job first. And I am just going, go, you know, driven, driven. And she’s more of not. So, I mean, she is, but she’s worked conservative. And I just, I think about the way I talked to her and she just, you know, granted she was struggling with some stuff as well, but like she just gets deflated and it’s just like, and it basically boiled over into a lot of things, but it’s just like, you know, I’m in such a go mode all the time. It’s like communication is like, that’s my biggest thing is, you know, it’s, I just to get this out really quick. Instead of like, understand that, that’s not a fucking robot that just follows orders from a computer, that’s a person that has feelings that has, you know, struggles with health that might not be having a good day. Might have some family stuff or you know whatever. And it’s, you know, you got to l earn that and it’s so fricking hard. Cause you’re just in the moment, you’re like, nothing’s going to stop me from my vision, or my goal and I need to just bulldog it. And it’s just you can’t.

Cole Ruud-Johnson: Which is back to the present moment that we’ve been talking about is like, when I find myself treating people like that, it’s because I’m not in the present moment. I’m putting other things in the future is more important than like hanging out with my family or my friends. And that’s my current emotional state I’m thinking about future business and that might go wrong. And then it puts me into that state of it’s already happened and then I’m treating people like they don’t matter. And it spirals.

Mike Ayala: Yeah. Kara and I do a lot of work around this, you know, just communication. And I don’t know if you guys have done personality type stuff in the business, we do a lot of it, but that comes into the marriage too. A lot of it, it’s not right or wrong, but we live so much in our head that we think that’s how everybody else thinks.  And like my first business partner, just back to the trend you know, if two partners have the same strength, one of them is not needed. My first partner and I were actually amazing partners. Like we complemented each other extremely well, but we didn’t know how to communicate. I was young. I was 24, well, young compared to some people not Cole, but I was 24 when we started our first business, and I didn’t know anything really about the human side of it. And you know, we just think that again, Kara and I do a lot of work around this with parenting and our marriage and everything else. And this plays in all areas, the personality, the reason why we’re great partners, whether it’s a marriage or whether it’s a business or anything else is because we are different, but we’ve got to learn to respect and understand that too. And if we don’t, that’s where the challenges come in.

Cole Ruud-Johnson: That’s a good way to put it.

Elliot Smith: One thing I told my guys in France and I never fully grasped it, but I think it was really wise. As I tell my guys, I just need to, I need a hundred percent from you every day, but I understand sometimes that hundred percent is going to be different based on what’s going on in your life. Just give me the best you got today. And I would tell my guys that, and then, and I don’t think I really grasped what I was saying. And till I got even a little bit older and even now with Cole, like he, even when he’s struggling with the health stuff, it’s like, he’s still, are you giving a hundred percent? I give a hundred percent of what I had today with what energy, what I had going on in my life. Did I do everything I could? That’s what matters. And so, it’s just, you’re not always going to perform at a LeBron James level. I mean, look at some games are dropping 60. Some games are dropping 20.

Mike Ayala: That’s so good.

Cole Ruud-Johnson: It’s about average.

Elliot Smith: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So, I mean, that’s, I just never grasped it. I think back to like…

Cole Ruud-Johnson: You told me one story one time about like that young dude.

Elliot Smith: Which one?

Cole Ruud-Johnson: The young guy that you had.

Elliot Smith: Oh yeah. I had this guy, he just, he ended up quitting on me cause I was such an asshole, because I’m like, it’s not that fucking hard, you know, but he ended up just not showing up to work. I went to his house and the guy, his roommate came to the door and was like, he quits, he’s like, third party quit. But yeah, because I manage a lot of older guys.

Mike Ayala: Were you like tell him he’s fired.

Elliot Smith: Yeah, yeah, no, I couldn’t fire. I couldn’t fire people, but I managed a lot of older guys. And so here I am at Cole’s age managing people, youngest manager in this big company in the sales side, you know, full esteem and ego and you know, arrogant. And yeah, it has taught me a lot. That’s for sure.

Mike Ayala: That’s good. Anything else on that Cole?

Cole Ruud-Johnson: I mean, I think the communication side is huge. I mean, it’s not like it’s the biggest piece of any business is communicating stuff with your team, with your partner. I mean, my partner, now we have a, like you were saying, my first partner, we had good personality differences. Like he was a sales guy, put his head down. I was going to build the systems. I was kind of, I was fine locking myself in my office and hanging out and getting it done. But it just didn’t work because we haven’t talked to each other enough. Like I wouldn’t see him that much. We weren’t doing stuff outside of work. It was all just show up, look at each other, high five when stuff went well and argue, and stuff went bad. But now with my current partner, I mean, we’re traveling together. We’re on the phone every day, we’re going, getting drinks or whatever, getting food and making it a real relationship. And it’s been a complete game-changer, way different.

Mike Ayala: I don’t why, but you just spawned a memory in my brain back in the day when Kara and I went to this church. I remember hearing this pastor talking and he said that 90% of all broken relationships are just misunderstanding and lack of communication. It is so powerful man; we just don’t spend enough time. Like really, you know, even in a marriage you know, she should automatically know I need X or he should automatically know that I need Y and it’s just, it’s just a breakdown in communication, man.

Cole Ruud-Johnson: Yeah.  I mean there’s times when I get a text from, you know, Elliot, Tucker, someone I work with and I want to like, just get mad and it’s just takes that one extra step of figuring out why they said that, what’s going on there. What can I do to help that situation? So I think learning to take that extra step is the biggest thing for me, instead of just getting a text or an email, blowing up right there, it’s figuring out what’s really going on and acting accordingly to that.

Elliot Smith: I think perspectives are different. It’s different. It’s funny. I was talking to Chrissy and I’m like, even though I think we were talking about our struggles earlier this year and I’m like telling her, I’m like, I think this is probably one of my best years I’ve ever had. Not only personally, business, we haven’t made as much money, but use a like a catapult, the catapult, like we’re loading the catapult for all these great things that are coming up and, you know, overcame some hurdles and like got my life going. And I’m like this, I think this has been my best year. And Chrissy looked at me and she’s like, I think this has been the most challenging year with you Elliot. And like the year before I felt secure in a lot of ways. And this year I don’t, you know, I don’t feel as secure and I’m like, just sit back and it kind of hit me and it’s like, neither one of us is wrong, but it’s perspective, right? What does Chrissy need to be safe? And what do I need to grow? And so,  but neither one of us would have known that if we wouldn’t have had that conversation where I’m talking about that or where we’re vulnerable to say, after I’m telling her about how great I feel about this year, where she’s like not going to take it, I’m not going to take it a bad way when she tells me actually how she feels, you know what I mean? And I actually try to hear that and be like, okay, I’ve worked on all these areas. I need to work on this area.

Cole Ruud-Johnson: I think you’ve done a lot better, like learning from it, which I think is a big thing that I’m working on too, is like, we all have, I feel like people’s lives are divided into chapters and seasons and some people just don’t, they think they’re going to be stuck and whatever, like W2 they hate, whatever’s going on, I think they’re stuck in the current situation forever. Not realizing there’s 13 chapters left after that one. They just never get across turning the page. So, I think, I mean, for me, especially, I’ve been in a rough season where it’s like, you think it’s going to last forever and then it doesn’t. But the only time you start moving out of that is when you really sit down and reflect and say, what am I supposed to learn in this situation before turning the page? Kind of think you’ve, from meeting you almost a year ago to now, like you’ve dialed that in completely.

Elliot Smith: Thanks. Thanks, a lot of it’s from you too. I mean, I see what you go through sometimes with the health and yeah, I mean, this kid just keeps on kicking.

Mike Ayala:  So, you know your guys’ business is interesting and we’ll get into that here in a little bit, but as I’m hearing this too, I’m thinking about, you know, and this isn’t just an American problem. I think it’s all over the world, but you know, we’ve leveraged technology, we’ve leveraged sales process, training, there’s, you know, education, college, process, sales, like we’ve dehumanized. A lot of our interactions. And, you know, I got trained by one of the old sales trainers. I went through some training with them and, you know, everything was about NLP and words and how we get to yes. And I just, I mean, I get all that at the end of the day, like the sales training and the process and stuff, but I think a lot of these challenges and problems that we’re really talking about, it’s because we’ve dehumanized the process and I’m not saying that tech isn’t good. And I’m not saying that we shouldn’t utilize, you have to, I just put up a podcast two weeks ago, the Monday podcast, you know, the social dilemma came out and everybody’s like, I was at a front row dads event and some of the guys were concerned about how much time their kids are spending on tech. And I think that the kids of today, their parents don’t let them get on tech are going to be the homeschooled kids of 10 or 15 years ago. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with homeschooling. And I think that’s really shifted and it’s more…

Elliot Smith: It Definitely shifted this year. Yeah. It’s not a stigma. And I’m talking to people that have older kids, that’s not a stigma.

Mike Ayala: And I know a lot of kids that are homeschooled that are totally socially adept and everything else. Now that wasn’t the case 15 years ago. Like you could tell a kid that didn’t have any social interaction. And so, I’m not saying that tech is bad, and I’m not saying that you shouldn’t let your kids be on tech. In fact, if we don’t teach them how to utilize tech and marketing and process and all this stuff, then we just have to bring the human element back into it. That’s all I’m really saying. We need to make sure that we’re spending a lot of time talking about the human element. Cause we’re starting to act like robots.

Cole Ruud-Johnson: Yup. I think with like social media, you see that like, there’s a really positive side of it where you can learn business stuff, you can connect with people in similar industries and network and build, and then there’s the other side you can slip. Like when I go on my social media app, when I pull it out, it’s for a good reason originally, like I’m going on there to respond to a message I saw or to post something I think people would find beneficial. And then once I’m on there, I’m like, oh crap, an hour later I’ve been scrolling through all this crap. So, I think it’s, for me, I have to like learn to set boundaries and actually learn how to use it as a tool. It’s like, again, it’s like a skill. It’s not something as powerful that like the way it, like you’re talking about social limit, the way it interacts with our brain, I think it’s a skill we have to build, to take it out and do what we have to do, share with the world, interact with the world and then come back.

Elliot Smith: Yeah. And it’s funny that you brought that up about the kids. So, Monte, we’re calling him a COVID baby, basically. So, he’s been like stuck at home, he doesn’t have any brothers and sisters. He’s you know, just our parents or my parents or whatever, watching them. And so, we hung out with some friends and their kids last week. And at first, he was very shy and like, he has all his toys, so he’s just playing by himself and it’s like, and then he got in. And then he started playing with them and he was just like, or, you know, the other kid that was his age, he’s more in the pool and he’s playing and he’s, now he’s back with the kids and it’s, or I take him to the park down here and he’s very nervous to go see these other kids. And all of a sudden, he gets out there. He starts playing with kids, but we’re locking our kids inside right now. And there are people who are like, parents are busy, people are working two jobs, working jobs and they don’t have time. So, what do they do? They put them in front of a screen. And so, then the kids just, that’s what they interact. That’s their comfort. And so, I think it’s very important to have screen time. I think you can learn a lot from these shows, but like, we don’t let him have a lot of screen time. Like there is, but it’s and this right now, these kids right now are going to struggle, not opening schools, I mean, politics aside, like what are we doing? We’re getting more reliant on only understanding the screen.

Cole Ruud-Johnson: And not learning how to cope with stuff is again, I think that teaches a kid anytime he feels an emotion, experience, whatever, he doesn’t like, he goes to the screen. I think the way to process that stuff is people, it’s calling a friend, talking to a family member, like talking it out and moving through it. But I think that I see my younger sister, anytime she gets in a state where she doesn’t want to be in, phone.

Elliot Smith: Yeah, exactly. It’s a comfort. It’s like a pacifier. And it’s like, man, you hug people. Or like, I hug, you know, and it’s just like, you feel good, that physical touch and then emotional connection with people like in person like this, like, I feel so energized and you just don’t get that, you’re dead when you’re just sitting at home on your phone all the time.

Mike Ayala: Yeah, yeah, totally. I think the long-term effects of this are going to be huge on us as a society. And, we could talk about this in a lot of areas and I’m sure we’ll get into it, but you know, whether it’s real estate, whether it’s investing or any, I think the gap is widening. I was having a pod call this morning with the guys from gobundance. There’s five of us that have a call every week. And when you really look at the types, so there’s a restaurateur here in Phoenix that’s really flourishing. It’s the Fox group and he’s built a lot of the great local restaurants and the cheesecake factory actually bought him like a month before COVID. But part of his like contract was he had to open an X amount of restaurants. And so, he’s opened like two restaurants since COVID started and they had record-setting openings, but then yet there’s these, all these other restaurants that are failing, right? And you look at Chick-fil-A, you look at McDonald’s, you look at the lines that are outside of these fast-food restaurants. Here’s my point in this, the gap is widening. I don’t care whether it’s business. I don’t care if it’s real estate. I don’t care if it’s restaurants, the gap is going to widen. These lower-end restaurants are busier than ever. And the higher-end restaurants are busier than ever. And the middle ground restaurants are going out of business. And when we bring it back to, this is the real reason why I said that the long-term effects of this, like there’s certain markets where people are locked down, there’s no interaction. We’re literally stopping. We’re removing a year or a year and a half or two years of progress out of certain people’s lives and livelihood.

Elliot Smith: Not only removing the progress, but taking away all the progress they made.

Cole Ruud-Johnson: Or 40 years of progress they built, just a family owned restaurant and just gone.

Elliot Smith: And I can speak to that even more. I was talking to my friends they live in Kirkland, very successful Couple. They have three kids. They saw the writing on the wall last year. They put their kid in private school because Washington’s locking down. And so now there’s like a line out the door. There is going to be, people are not going to put their kids in public schools because they are passing these Sex Ed bills and these things that people don’t agree with, there is going to be a gap that, and I guarantee we listen to this podcast in 10 years between the haves and the have nots, not even only in business, but between kids in general, we keep talking about wanting to take care of the underprivileged. We’re screwing the underprivileged. And like, people like me that have money or have built a business. I’m not going to put my kid in that environment where they get brainwashed to teach a certain way or certain things. So, those schools are going to lose funding. They’re going to get worse; teachers aren’t going to want to go there. They’re getting, you know, so some of these teachers are making more money teaching classes underground with people’s kids than they are actually at school. And the gap is going to widen so immensely. And like, if you’re listening to this, that means there’s going to be opportunity. But you also, if you look at it from a humanitarian side, that means there’s also going to be poverty. A lot of heartache, a lot of broken homes, a lot of drug abuse, a lot of things, but there’s also going to be opportunity. Cause there’s people that don’t have grit that are going to fail, not like grit like Cole, and there’s going to be guys like Cole, they’re going to just take more and get more.

Cole Ruud-Johnson: And I kind of get to watch it from a different lens because my age group that I’m in, it’s a really weird time for everyone when you go through early twenties is a weird time. And a lot of stuff’s moving. So, seeing my friends come out of school in this world where everything’s shut down, they can’t do anything. And you know, they’re going to, instead of getting into life at 21,22, they’re not going to get into the normal life till they’re 25. Cause we’re not going to be in a normal world back for a couple of years probably. So, it’s just, it’s intense. And like it is a great way to put it, the gap is widening in everything.

Mike Ayala: Yeah. Well, and so coming back to that personal interaction, you know, the lockdown and the kids, you were talking about Monte being locked down and not having that social interaction. It’s the same for adults. You were talking about just the energy here in this room right now. We’re present. I think it’s early December 2020.

Elliot Smith: First day.

Mike Ayala: Yeah. And so, the reason why I started saying that there’s pockets. There’s places, there’s literal places in the country that are locked down and then there’s places, you know, Cole, you said this, when you got here today, you’re not used to shaking hands right?

Cole Ruud-Johnson: I flew in from Seattle. Yeah. I was in San Diego. I’ve been living in San Diego and even there it’s locked down.

Mike Ayala: Well, and by the way, I’m not here to get political on COVID or anything. But the reality is we’re literally taking a gap. We grow from each other, back to this partner conversation. I firmly believe. And I don’t know if I said it in a podcast or a post, but I think two people can accomplish a hundred times more than one can. One plus one isn’t two, one plus one is 10 or one Plus one is a hundred and we’re totally in general. So, bringing it back to the gap widening, the people that are not living in fear and are not hunkered down. I’m in gobundance. And this is, and I’m not saying this to brag because I know a lot of people are hurting. There’s a lot of people hurting right now. But if I talk to a hundred gobundance guys, 99.9, not an exaggeration, I’m going to put the 0.9 in there are having their best year ever. Why? Because of that opportunity, because of buying into, you know, I say this all the time, but free shit isn’t free. And we’re out here figuring it out and we’re grinding and we’re going to, I don’t mean grinding in a, like a hundred-hour, we’re making stuff happen.

Elliot Smith: I am thinking that the government actually gives a shit about you. That’s the problem. People believe that the government cares about you. You know, like these politicians, it doesn’t matter. Trump, Obama, Biden. It’s all run by corporations. And it’s so, I mean, at the end of the day, they don’t give a shit.

Cole Ruud-Johnson: I think right now, the reason that you’re saying 99.9% of your people, your friends are succeeding is because we’re so starved right now for connection, for interaction, the people that run successful businesses and care about people like with our clients, like we’re calling people right now. It’s like, they feel double special because of what’s going on. So, I think it’s the, it can be the worst. It is just how you look at it. It can be the worst season of worst chapter, or you can sit down and reflect. So, what is going on right now? There’s money out there to be made, there’s opportunities that are still around. How can I best maximize in this chapter? It’s going to end and it’s going to be like, oh crap, I could have used the, it’s a pause. I think it’s like a big pause where people, I think the major issue for a lot of people right now is we’re having to sit down and reflect, and they’ve done it before. They can’t go to work. They can’t go to the gym.

Elliot Smith: Everything’s slowing down.

Cole Ruud-Johnson: Can’t see their friends. They have to sit on their couch and think about their life for the first time in 5, 10, 15, 20 years. And I think a lot of people who have businesses, it’s something we’re doing every single day. Like I’m sitting down at least every week and reflecting on my whole life. So, I think the more people learn to do that, they’re going to take off faster and faster.

Mike Ayala: Yeah. It’s so interesting too, because you know, a big part of that, we have a skill, whatever our skill is, right. Everybody has a skill, but the more you hone that in the more it relates back to people. And it’s interesting. Cause like talking with Elliot, Elliot and I are the personality types that can run people over because we’re so focused. We’re so driven and yes, I love people. Like I’m, I used to say this all the time. Like when I’m at home, I’m one of the most passive, like enjoyable people anywhere. But I used to run people over left and right. Like I was a freaking bulldozer and I still can be that way. It’s my, like my nature, but I’ve worked on it a lot, but then you’ve got people on the other side of this and it’s interesting just even, and none of this is right or wrong, but it’s finding a central ground. And so, skills are important. That’s what we’re transacting in. Whatever our product is, is important. But the human interaction piece is the most important part of it. We were just talking about this before the podcast and we’re sitting in my office and you know what used to be an office of 21, 22 people. There’s like three people that show up here every day outside of me and Dylan Burns when we’re making content, there’s like three people here. And those are the people that are on sales and operations and they love people. So, they’re showing up, they’re interacting, they’re working together as a team. And, but then you’ve got certain support type skillsets that don’t actually like people, and they’re locked in closets somewhere or their house or their office. And we haven’t seen them for six or eight months. Now you tell me, and if any of my employees are listening to this, I’m sorry, but you tell me what employees are top of mind and what employees are going to succeed and grow. And let’s just say, hypothetically, that I had to close this company down, what employees do you think I’m going to take with me? The ones that I haven’t seen for six months or the ones that I see once a week and hang out with. And so, the human interaction piece of this is so much more important than the product or the process or the skillset. And we’re losing that.

Elliot Smith: At that point if you don’t see them, they’re just a number, they’re just an overhead at some point. And so when I need to cut overhead, it’s not, it’s like when people always get mad at hedge funds or when they go buy these businesses and cut employees, you know, they need cut expenses. Well, the first way to do it is employees. Well, when they buy the company, they’re not people to them at that point. They’re just overhead. They’re just numbers. And so, you have to build those relationships. So, it’s like, when I look at, you know, when Cole looks at me, he’s like, he’s not only looking out for my best interest, but Monte and Chrissy and my family as well.

Cole Ruud-Johnson: I mean, we live four hours away from each other, but I think we do a great job of seeing each other. What is it? At least probably every two months, at least every two months you have to, otherwise it feels like this weird. Like, I don’t want to text you every time something good happens. Like I want to be in person. I want to hug, high five.

Elliot Smith: Or we send videos. Cause Monte loves Cole. He’s like, every time I get on the phone or I’m like, he’s like Cole, he wants to call Cole. So, we sent videos to him where we do video messages and things.

Cole Ruud-Johnson: Yeah. I think it’s huge. I think people, we’re emotional beings. We remember people and experiences. Like if you are a sales guy that locks up a deal from home, it’s different than if he’s in the office in high five and go to lunch. It just creates a different atmosphere.

Mike Ayala: Yeah. I was watching a video from Cameron Harold yesterday on Facebook. And he was talking about that, like you know, who are you eating lunch with? And he’s like, even in the zoom era, like, okay, if you’re, and by the way like, I’ve got my belief. I’ve traveled all over during COVID. I’ll go to jail. I’ve been to jail before. Like I’m not, I’m not buying into this.

Elliot Smith: I ain’t going back. Catch me.

Mike Ayala: If you believe that you need to stay at home still, like, how do you get seen? Because there’s ways still, like you were talking about doing the video message, like, you know, Monte wants to see, he thinks you are the phone.

Cole Ruud-Johnson: Exactly. He wants people.

Mike Ayala: So, you know, for our employees out there that are listening right now, you know, even if you can’t go into work, we just, so you know, we just happened to tell everybody if you want to go into work, great. If you don’t great too, but maybe you work for a company that you can’t go into work, but there’s still ways, there’s still ways to be seen. You know, as business owners, we’re super creative. We’re constantly thinking about how to get more eyeballs, how to get more relationships. I don’t think the average person thinks about that. And so, if you’re sitting in your office and you’re working from home, I would just encourage you to think about how you can get seen. Even if you can’t be the minority of the people that are coming into my office, there’s still ways to be seen and be heard, right?

Elliot Smith: I respect people that have different points of view on COVID. Like if you have a sick family member or you have something that’s high risk or you got your concerns or whatever, that’s fine. But you know, I built a fricking bad-ass computer and got cameras and I’m doing zoom meetings. So, whenever anybody wants to do an onboarding with our call center, like it’s not over phone. Even if they call me in on the zoom link, I say, Hey, I’m not doing this. We got to do it over zoom. I need to see your face and you’ll be on a computer. Cause I want to be invested into you as much as you’re going to invest into me. And I want this to be a long-term relationship. And just a quick phone to tell you about our service, that ain’t doing it. And I’m not going to be invested in you. I want to see you. I want to know your emotions. I want to know how you carry yourself. I want to know; can I make you laugh? Can I, you know, can I connect with you on a personal level? And if you think about zoom enough, like it’s not the, still the same thing, but it’s pretty dang close to a certain extent.

Cole Ruud-Johnson: Yeah. I mean, I see people like my mom, still in Washington, just shut it down again. So, she can’t do open houses. She can’t,  she thrives on meeting with clients and she loves that, but she’s still going to do, like now she’s starting to do zoom happy hours or zoom house tours, or she’ll drive around all day Facetime People and will walk through houses. So, like, and then there’s agents that aren’t going to do that. They’re going to sit at home, using it as an excuse to not show houses, you know, not be productive. And it’s like, the gap is widening. If you actually want to be in the business and want to do it versus the people that, you know, COVID is the time you have to decide if you’re, you know, one foot in, one foot out or not because you can’t be anymore.

Elliot Smith: Because everybody that has started that, we first started letting people do part-time callers, everybody that was one foot in one foot out has fallen off the guys that are using our call center, like full on, are growing exponentially because they’re all in. And so, it’s like, it’s just, you can see it on a day to day daily life. There’s guys that, any way that you’re half in, like not like one foot in one foot out you’re going to fail. Right now, is the time like, if you’re listening to this and you’re on the fence about starting something, this is the time to take the risk, go do it.

Cole Ruud-Johnson: You can use COVID as an excuse too if you fail.

Elliot Smith: You know, that’s a great time if you want to go start your own side hustle, you know, and you’re working from home, get your work done. I got plenty of buddies that are working full time, full time. Cause how much time do you work in the office anyway, maybe four to six hours. So, they’re working four to six hours getting all their shit done and doing it late at night. It doesn’t matter. Then they’re out grinding during the day. And it’s just, there’s no excuse right now.

Mike Ayala: None, none. I put this up a while back, but when I first decided to leave and start my first business, and this is how I said it. So, what was the worst thing? What’s the worst thing that would happen? I’d have to go back to the job that I was at. Like, what’s the risk in that? We spend so much time worried about, you know, and we started out talking about this earlier, just taking the risk. But so many people are so scared of it. What’s the worst thing that’s going to happen, you’re going to learn something?

Cole Ruud-Johnson: I think they’re scared of the personal growth side. Cause like I feel like running, getting into business or side hustle, whatever it is, it forces you to change the human being in such uncomfortable ways, especially those first, because I’m still in that kind of initial first couple of years, I’m constantly in this like uneasy state of change. And I don’t think it’s the, for some people that I know it’s not the failure thing. It’s more that they’re going to face themselves and overcome some parts of themselves that they do not want to look in the mirror and deal with that. The work ethics, they don’t want, they don’t want to deal with that part on the self that wants to sleep all day. They doesn’t want to get up at six. They don’t want to face that, that side of themselves. So, I think it’s more the…

Elliot Smith: Yeah, totally agree. It is like, you know, we had a call with our partner last week, Tucker and it’s and he explained it very well. You know, the first three months that we really, we are working on this call center doing really good and we haven’t plateaued, but we need to build some foundations. And we all got to stretch ourselves a little bit. And Tucker’s like, this is like the point of the business, where it’s, you go through hips and valleys, where you go, Oh, it’s all happy then it’s you got to grind and then you can get enough and you get higher. And then there’s always plateaus. And it’s like, you got to be able to do that. Like, especially for me, the hardest part is like, I’m an instant gratification guy. I’m not a, you know, I do stick to things, but I have a harder time. It’s always, what’s the next thing, the next thing.

Mike Ayala: You guys got a rope tied to him?

Cole Ruud-Johnson: He’s figured it out. I think he’s facing that part of himself.

Elliot Smith: I’m trying so hard.

Mike Ayala: That’s the excruciating growth.

Elliot Smith: Because I don’t want to let them down. And that’s, I put roadblocks, in my life I put roadblocks. So, I hire a trainer because I need to go to the gym. I don’t need a trainer, but I need him, so I show up every morning. So, now, you know, there’s peaks and valleys where it’s like oh, this is all great. And then it gets hard for a little bit and you really have to grow and it might not be growing monetarily, but it’s growing personally as Cole said. And that shit’s hard.

Cole Ruud-Johnson: It’s the hardest part. I think people that, like when I, when I hit that setback, we were talking about, I almost wanted to just be done in business. Cause it was like forcing me to look at myself and change everything about who I was as a person. And that’s not, it’s not easy to do that, especially, it’s not easy to do that every single year, two years or three years. It’s brutal.

Elliot Smith: And it’s constant. You’re always going to change. You always need to be different, better, faster, stronger.

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Episode 84