#002 – Trevor Shirk used to find bombs for a living. Now, he’s a successful entrepreneur who has built a 7-figure business.
But, the journey has not been easy for Trevor. He shares his emotional struggles after one of his direct reports was killed in battle overseas. He recalls the times when his business had burnt him out to the point where it was hard to get out of bed.
However, Trevor has learned a lot of skills to strengthen his mental armor. In this candid episode, Trevor and I discuss mental health topics like: perspective, comparing yourself to others, something he calls “One Special Thing,” and much more.
This transcript was done by a machine. We apologize for any errors.
The decisions that you make will just like kinda, they’ll eat you alive and then you won’t be effective. The yardstick that you’re measuring yourself against is this glamorized magazine cover. Psychologically you need to do that to have that like self care, like to maintain the machine, you know, that is you that’s got to endure. I can get caught up in the moment and so angry about something that it consumes and my young the world and if you don’t invest in it now, you’re going to pay later. And a thank you. Mental health for entrepreneurs is probably something like
hello and welcome to overcoming the mind. My name is Joey Randazzo
Today’s guest is Trevor shirk. Trevor used to find bombs for a living, nothing short of one of the most stressful jobs in the world. Yet as you’ll hear in this episode, Trevor shares how being an entrepreneur is much, much harder. Trevor started his first company while still in the military in less than three years later. He has scaled this business now known as Stratix solutions up to seven figures and he is positively impacted more than a hundred small businesses. Trevor has had his fair share of obstacles along the way. And you’ll be hearing all about those in this episode.
Just a heads up, this episode is going to be a little out of order. So my last question to Trevor, I was where we really, really got deep into mental health and entrepreneurship. So I’m gonna start by playing that first and then after we’ll get into Trevor’s story about starting his business, dealing with the loss of one of his soldiers overseas in some other really interesting things that he’s been through and has learned a lot from.
Any last things that you want to share about mental health in entrepreneurship? I would just throw in that if it’s kind of like that health thing, um, if you don’t invest in it now, you’re going to pay later and a think, uh, mental health for entrepreneurs is probably something like that. If you don’t feel coming from someone who pretty much almost burned out I think twice now to where I was ready to throw in the towel. Like you’re going to have to practice self care and invest in keeping you running it optimal speeds. Like, uh, it’s, you know, like maintenance in a car. Like it’s that important and a lot of people can’t get past the fact that they are the heart of their company. And if they see it as like, no, no, no, I can always push myself and push myself and I’ll figure it out and I’ll make it happen.
You know, until one day you can’t, and then you’ve basically sabotage the success of the organization. And I had a good team members like you, Joey, that would always like encourage like kind of you need to take a break. Maybe you need to go spend a day doing something else. And I think that’s part of it. You just, you invest in an hour, you pay for it later and unfortunately if you don’t, if you don’t invest in it, you potentially could lose it all and costs other people a lot of stuff. So it’s almost like you have to be operating at that level and you owe it to your team and your company and your mission to, to hold yourself accountable to invest in them.
Yeah. Because I didn’t, I don’t think I was fully aware, but I don’t know if it was while I was with working with you, but you had told me after the fact that you went through a time where like it was hard to get that. Is that right? Oh yeah, yeah,
yeah. I mean when you, the downs are down in the highs are high and I think you have to like understand that it’s, that’s part of it. But you’ve got to learn to like get yourself out of that funk. And I mean, it’s never going to go away. Your, as humans, I think you have to deal, you’re going to have emotions, you’re going to more and you’re going to be grief, have grief, you’re going to be happier and be sad. That’s part of life. And it’s okay to be in those moments. But unfortunately, like if you get to a point where you can’t function as an entrepreneur, CEO, founder, whatever, you risk a lot more than just your own success. It’s the company, the mission, the, a lot of things that, you know, I think you have to invest in yourself.
Absolutely. It’s making a regular investment instead of, you know, you, you, I think you said this a lot, it’s putting money in the bank so that when, when times gets tough, you have that savings account to pull from. And it’s with that, with mental health. I mean like when times are great, you know, you’re more likely to be in a good state shirt. That’s easy. It’s in times are always gonna turn, you know, and you don’t know when that’s going to happen. There are things that are out of your control and when that time does happen, if you don’t, if you don’t have money in the bank, then it can be hard to get out of bed. It can be hard to deal with seemingly smaller things that, that once,
um, that’s a thing I wanted to throw in was like, it’s in those places where it’s stressful and high stress that the biggest opportunities are found. Like you don’t achieve anything if you’re not willing to feel some of that. Like anxiety
like yeah, like it’s just unfortunate. It’s like that’s it’s a necessary thing and that’s why you got to have the money in the bank. You’ve got to have done the leg, you’ve got to have invested in it so that when those high stress moments come, sure it’s going to be stressful. Like everyone’s going to deal with stress but you don’t shy away from those things like you’re able to take it on. You’re able to look at it objectively. Like you said, you’re able to think, okay, well what’s the problem here? What are the courses of action that I can take that are going to be at your best, solve this problem and then sure it still, there’s going to be stressed, there’s going to be ups and downs, but you’re just able to manage those better.
Absolutely man. Like it is developing armor that you’re like immune to and more importantly like you’re able to cope with it. Like it’s, it’s stepping onto the battlefield and having like, Oh I have everything I needed to be successful. I’m going to feel some stress. I’m going to get afraid. I’m going to like feel some anxiety, but you know what, like I’m gonna cope with that and I’m gonna deal with it and I’m good. Like I got everything I need. Like, and I think that’s key that I’m learning through this debacle, which you know a lot about like is it’s in this moment where it is the most nasty, darkest that if I can come through, if the company can survive, it’s, it’s our greatest moment of triumph. It gets, it’s like the negotiating with our big client. Like that’s, that opportunity was extremely stressful, but it was in that moment that like we were able to realize a ton of value in and it was the, those are, that’s what defines success to me is like persevering through those moments and, and standing up to them and like, you know, being willing to assume that risk.
And that’s part of the game. And I think, you know, if he clear on that outcome and it’s worth it, then it makes sense. It’s like, you know when you’re in these firefights overseas, like you could be behind a wall that’s safe, but you can’t win a fight if you don’t get out behind the wall. But getting up on the wall you could get shot. So it’s like you have to override the primal part that’s like, I’m safe here, I’m staying here. It’s like, no, you’re going out there and we need to do this because it’s the only way to win. And that’s what I’m realizing, Oh this is, it’s like, Hey, this might be a ton of anxiety, am I not? It might be hurting or other areas of my life and it might be disruptive, but it’s, it’s this growth that I needed to have and it’s, this is the true moment of opportunity is like, Hey man, we, we come through this.
Either way it shakes out, we come through it. This is a defining moment. Like if we have to rebuild, you know, are we going to do something else? Who knows what it’ll happen. But man, it is defining what that moment this is the, this is where it’s made, you know, in that struggle. So yeah, being able to look at that and appreciate it and I think is a big thing for your mental health. Cause if you’re like, Oh, it’s like hitting that ice with that, you know, Wim Hoff thing, man. Yeah. When you get into it and you’re like, alright man, now I’m getting through this isn’t that bad. That’s where you’re like, that’s where you’re earning your stripes and that’s, it’s like that moment when you’re starving, cold bridging, but ultimately you graduate ranger school and that goes with you the rest of your life or your arranger. You know, like that’s, it’s those moments that define you. So yeah, that, that,
that really connects with me. Like what you said about that training in the armor. We’re both, we both come from a background of being physical performers. You know, I haven’t played college basketball and there was no doubt. Like I knew that if I didn’t put in the training every day to work on my ball handling or get stronger in the gym, lifting weights or work on my jump shot that I knew that I wasn’t going to perform at a high level yet. Yet I, I don’t think about it that way with my mental health. Like okay if I don’t go to see that counselor, if I don’t do the meditation, if I don’t get enough sleep, if I don’t get physical activity cause I know I need that for my mental health then why am I expecting to be good? Why am I expecting to perform at a high level? It doesn’t make any logical full sentence. Yeah, exactly man. Yeah. Like if, and I think that’s key. Like it’s you, it’s like what was that thing? I had my thing, you don’t skilled sailors don’t co you got to like navigate rough seas. You got steel is made by heat and pressure. Lots of it like over and over like it, it’s part of like, I look at it like it’s a principle in nature, like strong trees have, you know, deal with harsh wins. I get. And Ray Dahlia talks a lot about like he looks to nature for principles and these principles become how he sees things and it’s like, you know, and I think having gratitude then about the struggle and the pain and the friction. Like, like, you know, I’m going to walk through this deal and get it over with or not over with or whatever, but I’m going to be grateful that it happened because I think it’s part of something I needed to experience to ultimately end up where I need to go and to have the impact. And so I’m going to be grateful for it. And I think once you’ve flipped that switch, now
Joey Randazzo: it’s not so bad. As you can tell. Trevor has really interesting sense of perspective. Everything for him always comes back to that perspective. And you’ll see why in his story, we’re about to play the beginning of Trevor’s story and, and he’s been through a lot of life, you know, he’s worn those shoes down and he’s done a lot. And I think that’s what’s given him that perspective. So see [inaudible]
I grew up in an area like a, the town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania outside of Pittsburgh. And I kind of grew up in this like a world where, you know, both of my grandfathers in some way worked in steel mills. Uh, my father was a coal miner for a large portion of his life and it was kind of this, you know, blue collar, hardworking but somewhat gray skies, like, uh, mentality where life simply like work, work, work and provide. And that’s, that’s life. Um, you know, and so, but growing up I kind of always, I think wanted more. And I always looked at like, you know, ways to kind of really evolve and get to the next level and just be better. And I was always like reading books and always, I’m just trying to learn more. I loved, you know, learning. And so ultimately I was in high school at that time, nine 11 happened and the one plane, the flight 93 was probably about 25, 30 minutes from my house where it was crashed.
And, uh, one of my classmates actually, you know, was in civil air patrol and I mean he took off out the door and, uh, it was an eyeopener in the sense that, you know, was sitting in study hall and all of a sudden I’m watching this live. At that point, I definitely knew I would serve in the military in some capacity because I just felt like this urge that, you know, that was, I’d always kind of, I grew up watching top gun and had a cousin who had joined the Marine Corps and I looked up to him and I always kind of thought about the military as an option, but that was kind of sealed the deal for me cause I was in 10th grade at the time. So then ultimately, you know, my mom’s awesome and she, uh, instead of me just enlisting out of high school, she was really a headstrong about you’re going to somehow do school, go to college because you get good grades and the military in some capacity.
So we started researching and looked at like Marine ROTC and ultimately one of our, one of my mother’s clients and her daycare business had mentioned about going to a military Academy and I had never, I didn’t even know what they were, how they worked, any of that. They introduced me to that. And then from there I kind of got hooked on this idea of going into one and ultimately went through all the steps you have to do and all the hoops you had to jump through to get admitted and ultimately got accepted in a West point. And so right out of high school it was, you know, probably finished high school two and a half weeks before I went to West point. And then was kind of on this track where, you know, being 18 and just being gone, like, and that kind of continued. I did the four years at West point.
I studied environmental engineering. I’m graduated degrees from there and commissioned into the army as a second Lieutenant, an engineer officer, and started through all the training to become an engineer officer. And then from there I went into, I competed and secured a slot to go to the Army’s ranger school, which allowed me to kind of really go through something I’d always wanted to go through and was really challenging and tough and it had privately like food and sleep. It’s really a leadership school where you learn to lead people under most stressful conditions. Um, and then after that I kind of went into, uh, the 10th mountain division out of Fort Polk, Louisiana, fourth brigade. And from there I became an engineer platoon leader and ultimately ended up in Afghanistan doing route clearance or a counter IED mission. And then later I became a battle space owner, which means I was kind of in charge of an area in the country where I worked a lot with like district sub governors and police chiefs and people as we were the Americans that represented that area.
But the real home run I really look at for my time in the military, it was just that time doing counter IUD where we were my platoon and I would go down this road ahead of anybody else and we would look for find these buried or concealed IUD or bombs that were meant to blow up on, you know, civilians or American forces or African and friendly forces. And that was kind of our one thing we really got good at. And I really look back and I’m really proud of because we just, we were, we got really good at finding the ideas. I had an amazing team, really great leaders that worked for me and that we just pulled together and really did a great job on that mission. Um, you shared a little bit, I know, sorry to interrupt, but I know that you have a quote story there about some tactical things that you and your team figured out about finding those IED.
And I feel like that did translate into your, your journey to entrepreneurship. So can you share a little bit about that you employed? Yeah. One kind of, you know, principal that you’ll see a lot throughout I think everywhere. I can’t think of that place where you might not, but it’s usually a lot of very few actions that drive a lot of the outcomes and results. And what we figured out was that, you know, if we had this 20 kilometers stretch of road to clear these IDDs from, if we have to walk in manually clear every foot or meter of that, it’s going to take a really long time to do and it’s not feasible. So what we learned was that most IADs would be concentrated in a certain area and that area had some kind of maybe terrain advantage or history or supporters in that village.
Something that meant that this area, we should focus a lot more time there. So what we did is we would kind of look at these heat maps, heat map softwares that would show like the concentration of past ideas. And from that we can plan a mission and know that we need to really focus here. It was that 80 20 principle on steroids where you know, you can kind of ignore this area because the likelihood of there being something there is slim to none. And it allowed us to be able to accomplish a lot more with, you know, limited time because you can only do so much time out on a mission like that where you would get kind of, soldiers couldn’t keep doing it for that long, but also it just, you would lose a tactical advantage if they know you’re going to be on this road slowly clearing the enemy could, you know, Mount a serious attack, you know, a mile down the road and have six hours to prepare for it.
So you kinda gotta be, and it was that kind of targeting methodology of looking at where we should focus. That really allowed us later to kind of put together a marketing program that was really focused and targeted that delivered results. The outcome, kind of more asymmetric outcomes, like focusing on this 10%, these 10% of the actions of all the actions we could do would produce 80% of the outcome or the value that could be derived. And that kind of thought process is what really helped us, you know, found and kind of grow and scale our company that we have right now. Absolutely. So now can you share a little bit about the, the process that this company has been through, um, from start to finish. Another has been ups and downs. You, you’ve established yourself in this field, in the Denver area. You’ve, you’ve built something that has added tons of value to a lot of different people, a lot of different companies.
But I know along the way there has been some, some personal obstacles, some, some obstacles within the organization. Can you share a little bit about those? Yeah, I mean, you know, kind of a typical startup is we, you know, you start with this idea originally we thought, Oh, we’re going to do marketing in this one industry and become the best at it and the experts. Um, and then we kind of figured out as you jump in and go full time and really commit to it, you find out that Hey, this first assumption we made that, you know, doing marketing just for tattoo removal clinics just isn’t going to be feasible or what were offerings and not really what they need. And through those iterations of kind of failing and figuring out that what we were doing wasn’t that valuable, we ended up kind of stumbling and using that targeting to kind of, you know, or stumbling, which forced us to ask new questions, which kind of drove us to really think about, you know, what, what really matters.
Like what lever can we pull that will produce that outcome for the client, which has led us to kind of build an, you know, launch and pilot our whole hyper-local strategy and process that has since become, you know, very valuable to a lot of different, you know, business owners. But along the way, I mean we’ve struggled with, yeah, making bad hires, bad team members, culture fit, all that kind of wrapped up into like team as kind of a struggle because you know you’re, you think when you’re, when you’re starting a company struggle with the, the idea that you need all this help but in reality you probably really don’t. And for me I would default a lot to like well just bring someone on and give them the task and then that frees me to continue like work on something else and I would kind of rush to make that decision on the spot when in reality the smarter move would have probably been to really examine and say like, Hey this, we don’t need to hire this position yet or maybe we’re not ready for that role.
And then more importantly look at people and say like are they a good culture fit first? Like do their values align with the company? That was a huge mistake that has cost us dearly and set us back significantly was just if somebody values in their, their mentality, their culture, their way, their beliefs don’t like align with your team that already is there or the way you’re taking a company, you’re kind of setting yourself up for failure because now we’re later, that person’s going to do something that’s out of alignment and that thing that’s out of alignment could potentially cost everything. And you know, one bad, it’s like that kind of, you could have a hundred attaboys like well done, but you screw up once and that’s how people remember you and or that, you know, could do more damage. And we’ve kind of suffered from that where some bad choices that I’ve made have led to, you know, residual effects that we’re still kind of overcoming at the time. Um, so from additionally all the, go ahead. Go ahead.
For now. I’m just going to say those, those I was, I was involved with, with, uh, with Trevor during these, these times of hiring people and, and, and culture fits not working out. And I know for, for me it put a, it did put a toll on me. It’s challenging, you know, you get excited, you from the outside, you think that you’re making the right decision and then, uh, when that doesn’t happen, it just, it sucks and it, it, it hurts. So do, did you put a lot of pressure on yourself, you know, you said you made some bad decisions and it sounds like you’re still, uh, you know, everyone thinks about some of those decisions that they’ve made in the past, but was it, what, did you put a lot of pressure on yourself during those decisions? Did you feel like, uh, just share a little bit about those mistakes, quote unquote, that you thought that you made and how they’re, how they’re still affecting you?
Yeah, I mean the, so I did absolutely put a lot of pressure on myself in especially after the fact like, uh, you know, the decisions are tough to live with in the sense that, you know, like you, you almost have to like can, uh, move past them and understand that Hey, that was part of the journey and that was the learning experience and that’s what I needed to learn because otherwise the decisions that you make will just like kinda, they’ll eat you alive and then you won’t be effective and you can’t help. It goes back to a similar kind of scenario when like in, unfortunately I’ve been involved in this. When you lose somebody in like combat overseas a lot of times like you’re not in this situation, that act has happened. There’s nothing I can do right now. But if I don’t stay in this, more people are going to get hurt in potentially killed.
And so that’s where, you know, as an entrepreneur, I think I’m at where I’ve seen some of these decisions have such a toll. But the reality is I have to stay in the game and show up and be present and really be my very best because if I don’t, then more people are going to feel pain or potentially lose their jobs. Things like that where the stakes get high. But I guess the coping way that I would recommend is just to really, you know, like I think you learn things. You need to learn at the time as you need to learn them so that you can kind of fulfill a bigger purpose that you’re heading towards. And for me, I think it was good to go through these kind of tribulations where I’m able to learn from them. The key is that you learn from them.
I think it’s one thing, you know, I’ve always told this to people, it’s like a isn’t really the first mistake that gets you, it’s the second and third order effect of that mistake that you figure out. And a great example would be a bad hire can lead to driving other good people in the company away, which leaves you vulnerable because you don’t have the best talent. And it’s already hard enough to succeed without the best talent. And if you lose a team member who maybe you invested a lot of time in upfront, like training, they know the product or they know the scenario, they, they have a lot of experience and you can lose that just because of you polluted kind of the well with one, you know, person who wasn’t a great fit and that so yeah, those mistakes definitely eat you alive, but you gotta put them in a place where you can really learn from them.
And I think that’s the key is if you look at it like it was a learning experience and how do I never do that again, then it becomes worth having gone through that. And I think most people would say like the mistakes they make, like you don’t, don’t want to not have them. It’s just you’ve got to learn from them and evolve. Because if you’re not evolving, I think you’re kind of, you’re really not getting anywhere. Does that make sense at all? Joe does for sure. No, I feel like with entrepreneurs, I’m, I’m, I’m definitely new to the game, but, but,
uh, there’s, there’s a pressure to make those, those right decisions to start with. And then when you, when you’ve quote unquote fail, you make those wrong decisions. It’s, it’s hard to have that perspective sometimes. Uh, especially for, for entrepreneurs that may not have partners or may not have a team yet, they might be smaller. When you’re by yourself, it’s you, you get caught up, you get in those mental loops where you start, you just continue to think about those decisions and you start to doubt yourself because of those mistakes that you’ve made. And it’s a matter of that perspective. Like you said, just looking at it as a learning experience because I mean, you know, we have that, we have that drive, we have that passion, we want to accomplish something. But when those, those mistakes continue to bring us down and we don’t have that perspective, then it makes it difficult to wake up and get back at it and do the best that we can.
Yeah. Do you think that military experience, uh, I mean it, that’s a mind. It’s a mindset. It’s a leadership training that you went through and that you experienced. I mean, you’ve shared a little bit of the story of how you lost one of your soldiers. Uh, and it was a decision that you had to make to, uh, you know, you had to make a decision in that moment and you feel like you made the right decision, but it still led to, you know, an outcome that, uh, is tragic. So how did, how did the military shape your mindset?
Yeah, I think, I mean the military is good in the sense of you in scenarios like that you’re forced to prioritize. And I think going all the way back to West point, like they purposely give you more work than you’ll ever be able to achieve. Like more homework, more stuff, and you just learn to cope with that overwhelming feeling of everything is coming at me. And I think, yeah, it, um, you know that training absolutely helps as an entrepreneur and I think it comes at you pretty hard as well where it’s a different type of stress. It’s, it’s really easy in the military because it isn’t, I only want to say easy, but you’re so well trained that you, you have confidence in that scenario because you’ve been through a training simulation that’s very similar or maybe not completely similar cause you’re dealing with real, you know, bullets, real violence, real destruction.
But you know, in real pain, real hurt. But then the reality is though you’ve practiced this over and over, that’s part of it is, you know, there’s a reason training is such a big part of the military is like this whole concept that you train for the things you know, that could happen and you kind of educate for the unknown. That’s, you know, like kind of the military mindset on developing leaders. And I think the unfortunate part is a lot of people jump into owning a company. They haven’t been through any of that training. They don’t have any of that education. And now they’re in a stressful scenario where they don’t have that confidence because they haven’t been through some type of training or experience before. It’s like a, you know when you’re a young startup and you struggle to make payroll and make sure people get paid, you know that to me at first was a really stressful thing knowing that, Oh man, we don’t have the money right now to make it and we only have four days or three days to get it.
You know that the first couple of times that that happens, which I think everybody that started a company and scaled it has like dealt with that cash crunch is you, you know, you after the fifth or fourth time, whatever it is, you start to get more comfortable with it cause you’re like, Oh okay, Whoa, I got four days and this always happens on this day and we’ll pull it together this way because I’ve been through that before. I think that having been that path is what the key is, is that you, if you keep it in perspective that Hey, this may have been a challenge this week, but next week if this same thing comes up, I will have dealt with this before and therefore it won’t be such a stressful event. And I think that’s kind of the normal path of evolution for a human is like as you grow and you experience more, you develop more of a capacity to deal with more stress, more things.
And one of my, I don’t know who I was talking to in the last week, but somebody who was talking to said something about like, Oh, and then life will get easy. And I just kind of counted really fast with like you, I don’t think it ever gets easier. I think it just, you become, you grow into being able to handle the level which you’re at. And then if you’re kind of driven, I think at that point you jump to the next level and you play at a higher level and now that higher level requires that you operate at this capacity. It’s kinda like a, a lot of athletes growing up. And I was one of them where you would play like I played hockey and if they put you with the kids that are maybe a little bit older or at a higher level and you play with them, you play up to that level and then you kind of grow where that level is not so challenging.
And then they put you in the next level. And you know, I think it’s kinda like, uh, how does being an entrepreneur you as you go through more and more trials or tests or kind of, you know, tribulations. If you stay in the game and you can survive, then you, you become built so that you can handle more of that stress and cope with it. And it’s not so, you know, taxing the third time you’ve dealt with it. Now the first time is, you know, always going to be that stressful. And I think there’s so many things you can do to like deal with unknown’s today. Whether that’s like, you know, if you’re about to have a panic attack like breathing or um, meditation, all these things that are tools to help you kind of cope with stuff. But you also have access to knowledge and you can, if you’re willing to work through the problem, I think you can, you can sit down and be like, all right, I don’t know the answer to this problem, but who does and who can I call?
Who can weigh in on this? And I’ve had to do that a lot where, you know, having like an advisory board, having mentors, people that I can pick up the phone and say, man, I’m really struggling with this. What are your thoughts on it? Can you give me some advice? That’s been huge and I think that’s a huge asset to have. I’m sure you went through dozens of other things that that added a lot of stress as a, as a new entrepreneurs, there’s just so many unknowns. You don’t, you don’t have that training. How did you, how did you handle those? Like obviously it’s stressful and what was your, like what did you do? I mean, you might have done the wrong thing mentally or the right thing, but you know, early on if something like that happened, what would you do? Yeah, so what I would do and what I would recommend people do is first off, as you have to like keep it into perspective.
Like for me it’s easy to kind of put into perspective because I knew that, and this is gonna sound cliche, but it’s like I knew that nobody was going to die because of this, you know, nobody was going to, this wasn’t a combat thing where the stakes are that people get hurt and there’s permanent, you know, outcomes like they’re gone. Um, so keeping that grounding to that like, Hey, this might get bad, but the worst thing that happens is we shut the company down. Nobody, you know, and I have to like get a job to pay people back what they were owed and people have to go find another job. Like that was, and as much as that like pains an entrepreneur, like throw the towel in, like that’s not that bad. Like when you start thinking about that’s the worst that could happen, then it doesn’t, you kinda, I think diffuse some of the, that anx that fear around it because you’re like, well, if that’s the worst that can happen then you know, now let’s start working on ideas of how to not let that happen.
And I think that was the key for me was like, all right, now I have this problem. You know, and then trying to get more clarity on the problem I think is a big deal too. So if you’re an entrepreneur and you can, you know, kind of grounded into, Hey, this isn’t a big deal, I’m going to find a way through this. I don’t maybe know how yet, but I’m going to keep that kind of macro big picture perspective that it’s going to work out. Um, which is a struggle. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that’s easy. Um, I struggle with that as well where I can get caught up in the moment and so angry about something that it consumes, you know, my world and I can’t get out of it. And I got to kind of disconnect and think, all right, the world’s going to continue to turn times happening.
I’m every minute I dwell on this, I’m, you know, not living my life to the fullest and getting that big perspective and then start like saying and defining that problem and maybe even add that part redefined like what’s the worst that could happen? But continue to find that problem. Like, Hey, if we can make payroll, chances are that means we’re overstaffed. We don’t have enough clients or customers, you know, we didn’t, whatever that problem started unpacking that until you can really kind of figure out that root cause of it. And then you might have to make an uncomfortable decision. But I mean I’ve had to do that where, you know, it’s like a, I might like someone, but I had to let them go because the reality is it doesn’t work financially for the company and the company has to financially work to stay in business and provide the value in, take care of its team members. So you know, you have to make a hard decision. But being able to get down to that, what’s the root cause I think will help then create a course of action and start planning out like a game plan. Like you know, it’s, but you got to understand that. Seek to kind of understand what is true first. Then look at it and say alright this is the way forward that works. Like here’s a game plan. It’s hard attack.
It’s hard not to get emotional sometimes. I mean like you, something like that happens and you start to think and act emotionally and instead of looking at the facts and uh, yeah,
yeah and you have to, yeah, you can’t get caught up in that emotional part. You have to like get rid of not get rid of it. Cause you’re, you’re human, you’re going to have it. But you have to like defuse it and kind of look past it. Because I’ve had where I’ve been supercharged emotionally and fired up and angry. And unfortunately when you’re in that state, like there’s some place you’d probably look online and it will give you the fact that you lose your con, your cognitive ability to reason and then you start making mistakes and those are the mistakes of second and third order and mistakes that really get you in trouble. And that’s what I like. You gotta be careful about those.
If you’re in, if you’re in a room with someone and that that comes up, you know, they say something or, or the situation arises where you start feeling that way. Do you remove yourself from that room? Do you try to just take some deep breaths to like not allow that, that lack of reasoning to, to come out and just automatically have a reaction type response or how do you in the moment, I mean because in theory it’s we want to be able to take a step back and evaluate every decision that way or every single stimulus that hits us that might be negative to be able to take that breath and look up perspective. But it’s harder a moment.
Well I think it’s, it’s like there’s a lot of different ways to attack that, but for me, a lot of times I do have to physically get out of that environment if it’s that hostile or that instigates that kind of response for me because it’s just the reality is like I, you know, if I’m sitting across the table negotiating with someone who makes me so angry that I can’t logically sit there and make good decisions and I have to step back and let things kind of cook off and calm down, then start thinking logically and like, what do we know to be true? What is fact here? What are they trying to get out of this? Like, you know, was that comment even true? Like, um, things like that where you can start to reason through the problem. Uh, the other thing is absolutely like breathing, meditation, all that kind of, cause when you get to that point where you’re emotionally charged, you’re not, you, you, that’s that kind of fight or flight and you need to be able to bring that down so you can think through the problem.
Um, and I think a lot of that too, like building confidence before you go into scenarios like that. Prepping, like thinking through like, all right, what’s, if you know that something’s going to be contested or heated as a way I kinda call it. Sometimes it’s like, then how do we diffuse that? Like, what, let’s play that out and visualize ahead of time. Like them saying something that’s so ridiculous that’s gonna cause me to be really angry. Like, how am I gonna like blow that off and kind of like shrug it off and be like, just kind of ignore it and move onto the next point. Like, yeah, I’m just going to forget that you guys said that and let’s move on. Like that way you can then focus on the outcome you’re trying to get to. And a lot of times having that outcome really clearly defined.
Maybe if you’re going to sit down with someone and it’s going to be contested or heated or you’re angry with them and say like, listen, here’s where I’m trying to get to with this. So that way a lot of those little things that maybe are heated or contested become irrelevant and you can kind of take away, I think some of their power by focusing on that outcome or the goal, um, is a, been in negotiations in the last couple of months that have definitely been heated. And then, you know, the thing that I’ve done too is I just sit and take notes, really detailed notes because I think that it physically helps me do something. I’m taking note of it and I’m keeping detailed notes so that I can go back and follow that conversation later and kind of digest what was said and really think on it. And I think that’ll help me.
That’s something that I haven’t thought about until now is certain things can, can trigger me to, to, to get into different moods or different States of mind. And I think that when those things happen, I automatically think of what I’m gonna say or do. Yeah. Like I automatically like it even if that person is still speaking or I, I can’t focus on anything else but like how I want to respond or how I’m reacting to it in my mind. I think that taking notes or just, that’s basically just a form of being aware and like staying in the present moment. Right. So you have to continue to listen to them. Yes. To continue to be aware, uh, of the situations that you can write it down. I mean, I think that’s a really powerful tool that I haven’t thought of. Um, because it, it’s hard to stay in that present moment when you start to get emotionally charged. You start thinking of what you’re going to do, say what you want to do, what you should’ve said before. Uh, and, and then from there, you, you, you don’t hear what they’re saying and you don’t try to understand the other side of it.
Yeah. Yeah. And I think that clarity of the outcome and then maintaining a personal kind of control that self-control, which is a factor of your self awareness, like you said, like you have to just really self aware that, Hey, this is a trigger for me, then you can kind of mitigate that. Right. Bye.
You know, like just being prepared and that being prepared can, can go into other parts of the business too. It’s not just in the relationships. I mean, people have goals and they want to be prepared for those goals and they expect those goals to happen. Um, which is, is hard.
So how do you manage those goals versus expectations? Yeah, yeah. I think like that’s a struggle because people set these really audacious goals in the part of you that is entrepreneurial is like, yeah, we can build this to some ridiculous level really fast. And I think that’s good. Like I liked that Tenex thinking of, Oh, we’re, you know, if it’s going to take the same amount of work to grow by 10% and muzzle grow by, you know, 10 X. um, the problem I think though is when, if you beat yourself up for not hitting a goal so badly that it’s counterproductive, you start that negative feedback loop I think we talked about earlier. And I think you have to balance it with having some aggressive like audacious goals. And you also have to have some that are 100% achievable so that you’re not, yeah, you don’t ever want to be complacent, but you don’t also want to be like, where some of these goals just leave you feeling less and less, you know, productive, good, effective, whatever you want to say because they’re so ridiculous.
Um, so I think with expectations and managing goals, I think you have to weigh that, you know, the expectation. If you don’t hit a goal, absolutely learn from it and be like, look at bring out the positive things that you know you were part of the company when we didn’t hit goals and metrics and it was like, Whoa, what did we learn though? Here’s what happened. Let’s figure out what lessons learned from that that we could leverage. And I think that, you know, the expectation maybe isn’t to become perfect, like perfect in every way. It’s to pursue excellence and just get better and better every day and learn and evolve. I think that’s, if you focus on that you’ll, you’ll be able to deal with, you know, like not hitting, not meeting expectations, but as entrepreneurs you struggle with it because you want, you expect the world out of everything and everybody and you want to get there tomorrow, not 10 years from now.
And if you don’t stop and celebrate wins, that’s a big deal too. Entrepreneurs never celebrate like there they’re on to the next thing. The moment they achieve it. And I think you actually got to benchmark that and say, yeah, we’re going to celebrate this moment, this milestone because it’s good to stop and high five each other and say, we did this. You hit it well done. And that’s something that we, and that’s something that we did do when we were working together is trying to find those moments of being able to celebrate. Um, yup. I feel like for me at least there’s, there’s this story out there about entrepreneurs that I think we all, we all see here about the unicorns. We hear about the failure to success and these, these stories that we almost feel like we need to to be that story,
uh, in is, at least for me, that’s one of the challenges as you, you hear of these, these people that they have this idea or you know, they start to grow their business and it’s, it’s kind of a rarity that these stories happen. There’s not tons and tons and tons of entrepreneurs that get to that point, but those are the stories that are being told. And then you start to compare yourself to those stories. You want to be that person. And so even if you do have, uh, something to celebrate, you’re growing and you’re, you’re achieving stuff and you change a client’s life, you know that you’ve done that many, many times. You have, uh, you’ve, you’ve worked with a lot of people over the years and you’ve absolutely transformed businesses. Like some businesses were, were ready to close their doors and you help them not only keep those door open, but, but actually grow.
Trevor Shirk: But sometimes it’s hard. It’s hard to celebrate those successes when you’re comparing yourself to everyone else, you know, quote unquote everyone else, all those entrepreneurs. So is that something that you struggle with as well or that you, you’ve thought about? Yeah, absolutely. Like you, you, the yardstick that you’re measuring yourself against is this glamorized magazine cover. And that’s just not real. Like that’s not the majority. That’s, yeah, those are the rarities. And a lot of times they’re even, it’s so doctored up that image, that perception that you have that it’s not really true. And I think, yeah, if you, we struggle, and I know I struggle with that where I look at that and I’m like, that’s what we should be like. But the reality is that we don’t know that what that took to get there. And um, I think that incongruence there where you, you think like you’re a failure because you’re being sold and inc magazine or whatever, entrepreneur magazine that has like top 40, you know, what is it hundred 30 under 30 or something and you’re like, Oh, I’m over 30 shit.
Trevor Shirk: Like I’m a failure. And it’s like, no, you’re fine. You’re on your path. Absolutely. It’s figuring out where you’re at. Yeah. And then we both have have, have done that. Sam Oven’s course. It’s, it’s about who you’re becoming, right? Like, yeah, stop looking at where you’re at. And, and you know, I struggle with this where I compare myself to others and, and going back to that real quick as, I mean there are people in my life where I want to, you know, I want to do well in business for them and I want to be able to impress them, to make them proud, to get to that level where you think that they will then be proud of you. Right? Like, you know, and I’m making up these stories in my head, I need to get to X, Y,Z so that this person in my life will think that I’m like success. Yeah. But I’m not looking at it for myself, but what do I want actually want and why do I want that?
Trevor Shirk: No, I think you’re 100% on it. And that needs to be heard. Is that like if you have that clarity of who you’re becoming because that’s taking you to where you want to go and who you are, then a lot of this other stuff becomes a less of a challenge is like, well it might be uncomfortable to say no to going to, you know, friend, I haven’t talked to you in 10 years wedding, you know, but in reality like I’m so set on where I’m going, but that’s and who I’m becoming to be that person who succeeds in that place, I’m going to then it, it takes some of that anxiety out of it. Cause you have a priority, you have a focus, you can see it. Yup. That’s it.
Trevor Shirk: You don’t have to chase the 30 under 30 list or the 40 under 40 lists if, uh, if that’s not, you know, what you really want to do and you’re just comparing yourself to those other people. But exactly. One of the last things I want, one of the last things I want to talk about is how being an entrepreneur affects sort of your more, your personal life and your personal relationships. Uh, I know, I know you to be one that wakes up early for the people listening. I used to, uh, I live in Portland, Oregon and I used to travel to Denver a couple of times, uh, about once a month actually to, to meet up with Trevor and the team and, and get stuff done while I was there. And Trevor’s one to wake up early, you know, I’d be sleeping in his loft and we’re, we’re out the door by sometimes five, 15, five o’clock, maybe even more. 45. Uh, so you, you’re a go getter. You have that drive, you know how to work hard. Uh, how does being an entrepreneur, um, affect your, your personal life?
Trevor Shirk: I think being an entrepreneur, meaning that it permeates all parts of your life and you have to accept that. Like you’re like you, there’s a great diagram and I often dig through it and think about it, but it basically has a circle. And Ana, you have all these like kind of like a wheel of fortune sections that are different parts of your life, whether it’s like finances, family, friends, social, you know, spiritual. And I think at any given time, like this whole myth that you’re in balance that you should have balanced. I think I don’t buy into that. I think there’s seasons of life where certain things carry the day and there’s certain things that you should absolutely never just neglect, but you just have to understand like, uh, I came from a, a role in the military where I was super fit and we worked out a ton.
Trevor Shirk: We’ll start a company and having all these requirements on my time means that I can’t invest that part of my life that was really physical isn’t as well. Now on a scale of one to 10 it’s like a three versus three years ago it was an eight. But the part of me that’s like w, you know, professional life of building a company is like a nine of focus. Whereas, you know, when I was in the military, transitioning out, I didn’t really wasn’t focused on my career in the military. I was focused on physical in that role. So I think it, you just gotta understand that it’s gonna affect areas of your life and you have to really think about what areas, you can’t afford to lose anything on. Like a good friend of mine, Jesse would always say like, you don’t miss the things that come around once.
Trevor Shirk: And if you have something that’s gonna like sometimes things don’t come around again like in, you know, you could always do that meeting next week maybe or you do the same meeting every week. So if you miss it, maybe not a big deal. But you know, missing that in one championship baseball game or something for a kid might be something only comes around once. So you don’t want to miss that. But you know, it absolutely affects every area of your life and you just have to be prepared for it and cope with it and find ways to not, you know, like, like one thing that one of my mentors has in cocaine it into me that I think is really powerful is he calls it an OST one special thing. Like you got to build a company, you know you have all these people in your life that matter to you right now.
Trevor Shirk: Maybe like it’s your cousins or your sister and her, your nieces, you name it like well the reality is you’re probably not going to be the best uncle in the world if you’re going to be the best entrepreneur in the world. Some of the things that are nonnegotiable, like you know, being a good son or a brother, you know, and my sister like to me those are things that I don’t want to have achieved all my business goals and look back and regret that I didn’t spend more time with my family. But I also look at like a lot of that time I would spend with my family isn’t really that quality of time. So the one special thing concept is you pick with those kinda first circle around you, family members. Maybe that’s your mom, your dad and brother, sister, certain cousins, uncles. Maybe you just pick one special thing you do with them every year and you stick to that thing.
Trevor Shirk: Like my dad and I do this hunt together every year and I’ve promised him that I will be there for that hunt. You know the only thing that will stop me from being there as if my wife is sick and I have to be there for her. Other than that, like I will be there for that hunt a block it off every year. It’s the same time every year and that’s our thing we do together and that allows me then the rest of the year to kind of say like, well I’ve already kind of honored that commitment. Now I can go back to be in full tilt. Yeah, I haven’t heard of that concept but like it’s almost like you could apply that to a daily thing too outside of outside of the business is, was that one special thing for the day? It doesn’t necessarily have to be a person, but I’m thinking about, for me there are certain things where if
Trevor Shirk: I don’t do it enough then that really affects me mentally. Like I needed to get in the gym. And so for me, that one special thing each day is I had to do some sort of physical activity. So I’ve made it a priority over the last about month. Now that’s the first thing I do. I wake up early, you know, wake up at five 30 or whatever and I get my meditation and I get my workout done before I turn my phone off. And that’s been super helpful because there before that though, I would, I would wake up and immediately I’m reacting to the day. Like I didn’t, I had that one special thing, but I wasn’t making a priority. So I wake up at five 30 or six and then you’re immediately reacting to the day like, shoot, okay, let me check the email, let me check Slack, what’s going on, what did I miss, what do I have to do?
Trevor Shirk: And at that point you, you’re mentally like for me, my, my day was mentally starting off on the completely wrong foot. Uh, and so I really liked that idea of the one special thing and, and doing it as you said, but also making it like a daily, what’s the one special thing that’s going to help you mentally, uh, be stronger and healthier that you can do every day. And then if you can do that before doing any sort of work, uh, then making that a priority in the morning, then that’s only gonna make your day probably more productive as well. From a business standpoint. Not only are you going to be in a better mood and, and have more energy, but you’re probably gonna get more done. And I think psychologically you need to do that to have that like self care, like to maintain the machine, you know, that is you
Trevor Shirk: that’s got to endure. And that’s a big thing with the entrepreneurship stuff is, at first I thought it was like you, it just all about the grind and hustling harder, but a lot of it is not hustling harder as much as it is hustling smarter and being able, you know, something I struggle with is just saying no, like you know, thinking through, but I’m trying to reorient on that longterm where I’m heading so that I can make better decisions and it won’t be so hard to be like, no, I can’t do that. Like I’m not, it’s just not feasible for me right now to do that.
Joey Randazzo: Thank you for listening to this episode of overcoming the mind. Big shout out to Trevor shirk. He’s a, he’s been a mentor of mine for a while. I really respect him and I’m glad to call him my friend. To check out Trevor’s business Stratix solutions, you can go to Stratix, S T R a T T E X. Dot. C O to learn more, please subscribe wherever you are listening, and you can go to overcoming the mind.com to get access to our exclusive newsletter where we share resources and really cool information about mental health
Speaker 2: and entrepreneurial
Speaker 3: [inaudible].