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ETOP Podcast with Richard Walsh W/Inventor Rob Kessler-Million Dollar Collar

ETOP Podcast with Richard Walsh W/Inventor Rob Kessler-Million Dollar Collar

ETOP PODCAST


Interviewer: Hi from the ETOP Podcast with my guest today, Rob, he is an inventor. One thing in particular that I love is the Million Dollar Collar.  We're going to talk about this and about life in general. As a business entrepreneur, as an inventor as just creating a life that you work around. Right, you create, just to get some insight on this and his world, my world. We're going to have an awesome conversation. With no further ado, Rob come on board. How are you doing buddy?

Rob Kessler: I am doing fantastic, excited to be here.

Interviewer: Awesome, I am glad you could make some time. I know you have a lot going on. We're going to talk about this too.  You're in California now right?

Rob: I am which means it's pretty early here so I had to make some special arrangements. I had to get the dogs over to the dog walker this morning.  A little earlier than normal, I had to wake him up but he's cool so it's all good.

Interviewer:  Poor dog, it's tough being a dog, it ain't easy. You've been making cross-country trips, you're relocating to Georgia is that correct? 

Rob:  Yeah, we moved to LA about 5 1/2 years ago, we just bought a house in Georgia so we're driving everything out there on Monday so the adventure continues.

Interviewer:  That's great man, that's great.  I just love the concept and here is something I always take away, and I always tell people about. Being an entrepreneur, being a business owner, and a successful one always helps, but it gives you options. That is one of the great things it gives you options.  So I tell people that, I tell my kids that when you are able to create income and larger amounts of income and you have a business and then you have flexibility. Sometimes you can be tied to a business if it's a physical location and things like that. If you create your businesses correctly especially in this age there's portability that you're allowed where you have those options where other people aren't. Do you agree with that?

Rob:  Yeah absolutely, I think it's not about the money, it's about freedom and being able to make choices based on what you want. My wife is a super badass stunt woman and she is .... there is a lot of work in Georgia right now so she went there about 4 weeks ago and I've been here trying to manage the house and the dogs and my businesses. She just went there to check it out and within a couple of weeks she was like let's do this and so we're unloading stuff here and found a house there and now we're going to uproot and move over there so it's the flexibility and the freedom that success can provide. 

Interviewer:  Yeah absolutely there's another point that you just brought up  and you may not realize it. The ability to make decisions, so you made a decision. She went, checked it out for a quick consultation let's do this, and you do it you don't hem and haw.  You make a decision quickly and you change your mind slowly. You do it, you get there, you start to adapt and that's similar things that happen in business, there's a good correlation there, I like that. 

Rob:Yeah exactly.

Interviewer: Fill us in a little bit because I am fascinated by the Million Dollar Collar and I tell you as I did in email, never heard of it before then I meet you on the pod booking site right. I look at it and think this looks cool and we shoot back a couple of emails and honestly, you're going to be on the show. It's great.  The next time I pull up Facebook Million Dollar Collar is the first ad on my Facebook feed.  They're listening.

Rob: Oh yeah facebook is listening for sure.

Interviewer: I don't think you're creepy, I actually love the whole ability for that to happen.  I don't think people see the power of what is really out there tech-wise. I was kind of fascinated so I'm like okay it's my feed all the time so I'm now obligated to get some.

Rob: It all came about from my wedding day. I am a very casual guy. I don't like to wear ties, I really haven't since worn a tie since I had to go to the Magic Castle. In the last 12 years, I think that is the only time I had to wear a tie. So when I got married I was definitely not going to wear a tie.  We got married in Jamaica on the beach so it was just a casual fun wedding. I went to a dress shirt which is a go-to thing for a guy. Before I could even say I do my brand new shirt, freshly pressed was a sloppy crumbled mess and it just drove me nuts. I was just tugging at my collar all day long just trying to get that thing to sit decent on the biggest day of my life. We spent thousands and thousands of dollars, we flew a photographer down so it meant the world to us to have a good-looking wedding and my shirt just let me down. 

I came home from Jamaica, I started googling and looking for what's out there and it seemed to me that everything was based around the collar, some kind of collar stay that to me didn't solve the problem. The problem was there was no structure in the placket which is where the buttons and the holes are down the front of the shirt that's the part that I wanted to reinforce so after seeing that there is nothing out there I literally started cutting upon dress shirts and finding every kind of plastic in my house and shoving it down the front of the shirt and testing, and testing and trying and failing and testing and it took almost 3 years to perfect. 

We ended up developing the material that Million Dollar Collar is and got it patented within about 3 years. It was a weird crazy journey, I've never done anything like this before i just figured it out one step at a time.

Interviewer: That's awesome. Again it's the drive behind any entrepreneurial pursuit is problem-solving.  You had this problem so that's usually an indication that you're not the only one unless you are an absolute nut job and you're off the wall.  I love it, it's amazing and that's 3 years of work, that's another thing I want to talk about.  3 years of testing, 3 years of trying to make this thing work and you're not changing the world per se you're changing the collar can have a big effect. it was a time in and the repeating testing to make this come together and then get a patent to protect your invention because you want to take this thing to market and make money off of it.  Now you have a great collar and now let's let everyone else have a great collar and it's interesting the time it takes.  Even for something as simple as this, obviously 3 years you found out it wasn't so simple right?

Rob:  Oh man, it's still to this day, you think you have the greatest thing and people still call you crazy.  It was weird I would get close and it would totally fail. We actually did a Kickstarter and we were going to make our own shirt, the design was totally different, we did not get funded on our Kickstarter which turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  We got unequivocal feedback of why are you trying to compete with all the other brands?  Why not license the technology? Why can't I upgrade the shirts I already own. So we designed the shirt and spent thousands of dollars designing a shirt and had pre-production samples and scrapped all that and listened to the customer and said, "Okay let me change the design."  

Now it's a universal fitting piece that can go into any shirt and we've been talking to brands to license it for the last 5 years. The problem is while we're coming out with this technology because no one is wearing ties the big guys are coming out with stretch collar technology so the guy whose neck is getting bigger can ... `I don't know what they were thinking but that's how far behind the times these guys are. 

Interviewer:  That's a whole other topic figuring out the average American costs trillions.  Ours is the stadium seats, they're going to change all that so why not collars. You could get a double chin holder that could be next. I like that though because when you think about it. That's a very good point, why don't you license it out? That can be an easy route and it's a great route for different products.  The cost of production managing it out basically you license it and give it to them and they run with the marketing and they do everything else right? 

You're basically going to supply them, you make your margin on the product, give it to them and they run with it from here. I like the little bit of adversity you had.  How do you control it, what's really going to happen?  Because I would be concerned about what's the knockoff going to be on my product here? With the shirt, it is definitely a blessing in disguise because when you create a shirt but tell me if I'm wrong but you're stuck in a fashion zone. You have a shirt that can be unfashionable in no time and then your whole product is finished.

Rob: There are so many more variables.  My product is very small, it's very light, I can fit $10,000 worth of inventory in a shoebox and we did start making shirts in the last year and it takes up half my garage right now and I only have a few hundred shirts. It's insane the amount of variables but when you're a business owner like you and I had talked about before we got on here, you're a problem solver. You have to find the solution, the tricky part of Million Dollar Collar is it's sewn into a shirt. The beauty is every single dress shirt is made the same. There are always two layers in the placket where the buttons and the holes are and there are two layers where the collar band.  So my product slides in, it hides discreetly inside the shirt and once it's in it lasts the life of the shirt. 

That's what took 3 years to figure out. How to make it a material that will last through washing and drying, and dry cleaning and laundering and all that. Americans typically don't alter their clothes as much as Europeans do. Like we sell a ton in Singapore and SouthEast Asia. The rest of the world seems to be into alterations and so because of this challenge of having it to be sewn in we started going to dry cleaning trade shows to hook up with dry cleaners.  The guy who is already going to pay to have his clothes cleaned and pressed by someone else probably cares about the way he looks and that he is going to like our product.  We went down that route to make it easier.

Now we have wholesale accounts with brands you already know that we buy the shirts, we upgrade them and we sell an upgraded version of a shirt you already know. Then we made our own shirts. We are always constantly finding ways to make it easier. We have a mail-in service where you can mail in 5 shirts and have them upgraded. Always trying to find a solution to the problem. 

Interviewer: I love that. That is what it is. You keep re-engaging the customers, the guys who bought it the first time and put it in himself, and now guess what we can do this for you. Now you can send me your stuff, now you just opened the service door to generate an additional income for your business. I love that.  Maybe whatever reason, maybe it was a hassle to have that mail-in. I love that.  That's good stuff, that's how you elevate your brand, you keep it front of mind, it's not just one thing they bought once. 

I'm like you. I think I wore a tie once or twice, maybe to the daddy-daughter dance with one of my kids.  I love the adaptability aspect of this, cause a lot of people I think, think you make a product and you're done. A lot of people you talk to made this product and it's going to ride forever and that never really is the case. There are a lot of different aspects of product marketing and maybe it's great right out of the chute but how do you make it ... The ability to reconnect with your customers and not upgrade but give them another reason to spend money with you.  That's what we are looking for as entrepreneurs, we want repeat business. It's always easier to keep a customer than get a new one so you're always trying to keep one.

Rob: Early on we were selling .... We offer a 5 pack for  5 shirts, 10 shirts or 20 shirts and it seemed like people were getting on board right away.  People who saw what we were doing and saw it quickly were like give me 10, give me 20. Okay unless a guy has 50 shirts in his closet we're not going to hear from him again for a while. It was definitely finding other ways to reconnect, we hooked up with a couple of other inventors like me that have great accessory products that don't compete with us which are a great value and a great product line so we've got a couple of other guys. So we have these other accessories that we've got. You're absolutely right you have to always be in touch with those customers. 

Interviewer: Another good concept is expanding your brand. Bringing on that next product. You did it really wise because you get someone else.  You're an inventor but you're not going to think about every single thing that is going to go along with this or do you need to. You're going to find someone else who has already got it and partner up with them.  

I am reminded about how Dollar Shave Club was like that right?  You started out with a blade and for a dollar a month and who is a guy who in a few years sold that thing for a billion to Lever or whoever that was. Then he started not shaving creams but face stuff and soap. They would send out surveys all the time. Why do you take a shower in the morning? Is it to wake up, is it to be clean? They kind of did some cool survey of their existing customers and then they would bring a new product on.  It was fascinating. I'm  just telling you this because I have been a dollar shave guy for years. I'm bald so I just shave my head so I don't have any use for hair products. But I get the blade and they easy shave butter and whatever. 

I love the fact that you're creating an accessory and partnering with those people then building your brand. I would imagine long term, I don't know how much time you actually spend looking down the road a bit. I imagine this can really go to a lot of places. Do you see a lot of room for growth with your business?

Rob: Well typically a business is going to have multiple product lines but to me, a billion shirts were sold in the U.S.  in 2019 so I have a massive market that I can go after with the after-market version, the licensing version.  There is a ton of opportunity there, we're really close, on the brink. We're getting the first round of shirts for our dress shirt line. We decided to pivot that also. If none of these guys want to license our product and the reason we found out, for the most part, is they can make a shirt for so insanely cheap that even spending not much on my product is adding way too much cost to the bottom line so to get to that volume, we haven't been able to break away and get into those licensing deals.  

We decided let's do a shirt and build our own brand, we watched the UNTUCKit guys go from nothing to 200 million dollars on a nonproprietary technology which is just a shorter shirt so we figured with our technology we could build a brand around it.  Like I said there's a lot of challenges to owning a dress shirt.  There are so many variables like inventory and style.  We are actually pivoting that company also and I am super excited about what we're doing and I'll be the first to share it with you on here.  We can digitally print any logo on fabric and so instead of .... 

Think about the trade show guy or any branded shirt where you're buying the shirt off the rack and then embroidering your logo on the left chest, it's an afterthought. We can take your logo, print it on fabric and cut and sew that fabric into our shirts, into the key areas. Into the collar band, inside of the placket, inside of the cuff, your logo will be built into the shirt and not just some cheesy afterthought embroidered shirt.  It is an actual shirt with your logo in it. It is a game-changer, no one is doing it, I have no competition and we are going to take over the market with that style.  Think of hotels or car dealerships or banks or anybody that has somewhat of a uniform and they want some branding tied to that.

Interviewer:  That's spectacular thanks for sharing that with me, that's cool. That's the uniqueness of it, when I go and I have a screen printed t-shirt and I am going to get the embroidered of the logo on the left chest it is that shirt with a logo on it. I think what you're saying is you have now integrated it into the actual shirt right? So it's like you had a custom shirt made that you didn't have something embroidered on the pocket.

Rob: I think it's a better statement and it's not so much in your face, it's there but it's not screaming at you and plus it's got our technology built-in so I look at hotels a lot and you still see the higher end hotels are all wearing ties well they have to even if you unbutton just one button and you're wearing a jacket all day you know the collar can end up under the lapel of your jacket so you're constantly adjusting. They want to look their best and look professional.  Our shirts will give you a casual look, with your logo and still you look like your customer. 

Overdressing, who is still wearing ties regularly other than like lawyers and politicians. This is just a totally unique thing.  The business I had before I moved to California was actually a screen printing and embroidery business so I'm very, very familiar with that style and the people that I dealt with in that world.  I think this is just such a unique opportunity, it's something so different than what they're looking at, I'm super, super excited and we're getting our first round of shirts from our factory in the next 2 or 3 weeks. I am over the moon waiting for these things to come in. 

Interviewer: That's awesome. I'm a big fan of iron, I'm a marine, and a big fan of a crease so we always look good. So I do all the ironing in my house. Not that my wife can't, we have six kids and she's busy. So I'll take the ironing.  When you say the one button, I'm pressing the crude out of that thing. I get mad because it gets that funky little wrinkle. That's why I have a great appreciation of what you've done. This will save me a huge amount of time. When I do have to do that it's a focus so that's cool. You're going to do huge things with that. That's going to be so unique and classy.  It's such a cool upgrade because when you put the work shirt on and you've got that thing on the patch, you have the embroidered.  It can look good but when you integrate it like you're saying you're just going to feel better.  People pick up on subtleties too. 

Rob: Wait till your work shirt is your favorite shirt in the closet then we can start marketing to them and launching out the rest of our shirts. That's an easy sell then we have a minimum order of 50 pieces so now I have 50 customers that have my shirt on with my technology and your work shirt is your favorite shirt in your closet.  Okay, what else are these guys doing? You look at some of these bigger places, if we can land Chase bank that has 200,000 employees that are a game-changer.

Interviewer:  That's genius. I love it, I love it. There is all that on the clothing thing you've got that design stuff and you can get your own designer online and you can get a box of clothes and you can accept it or reject it and do all that. You are in that wave where people have all that too.  There are a lot of places to go with that. 

Rob:I am friends with the guys that ... I have friends that are in the subscription business and they're getting almost 30% of their stuff back. That is way too high and to me, that's a logistical nightmare.  We can enter a company with our sample set of shirts and say here is what we have, everyone can try one on there are all different sizes, orders of 50 we drop-ship them straight to them. It's one shipping cost, one production cost.  it costs us $10 to ship a shirt right now and that's significant.  If someone wants to exchange it's $30 in shipping on a $100 shirt.  There's no margin-left. 

To me simplifying the process and selling a lot of shirts to one person is a lot better than selling one shirt to one person and maybe having to exchange two or three times.  We're all about customer service, and just because we're not standing in front of you in a retail store doesn't mean that we're not going to give you a 1000%.  This means it ends up costing us a lot in the long run so we're just trying to find ways to overcome that and make the process easier and profitable. 

Interviewer: Yeah, that's a very good point because that 30% point will kind of break you. You're going to get depressed after a while you're going to widdle away those margins.  Like you said in the textile industry the cost per shirt is so small for these guys whether it's the Asian market or whatever.  they're not going to .... it's competitive when you get costs that low to produce something it's incredibly competitive. That's why they said we're not going to add that kind of cost to build your thing in. I get that but there is another door to open for you to create this. 

I want to emphasize that sometimes no is a really good thing to get.  You think it sounds great and you go and they say no and then they give you unbelievable marketing research. That's what they just gave you with a no, they gave you the research then you say what will work and you figure this out and it's pretty amazing. So no's can be a really good thing.

Rob: Then I'm going to be a billionaire because I've heard so many no's it's not even funny. 

Interviewer:  Get in line, join the club.  I'm an optimist so I like to see the good in these things. People have to take no the right way. 

Rob:  Totally. If you take it and it slaps and you go pout in the corner you're never going to be anything. I hear no and I say let's look at it another way. The underlying reason that I started making our own dress shirt is I wanted to get the production big enough so I could get to the biggest manufacturer so I can walk in and say I need 10,000 shirts or 100,000 shirts with this technology built-in and force them to make it a shirt with it in.  That's how my mind works, if I can't get there through the front door then I'll get through the side door and the back door and the roof, and I will dig a tunnel underneath and come out in the middle of the floor if I have to. You're exactly right on the nose.

Interviewer: It doesn't matter what the business is you have to have that attitude. It's pivoting in different directions to go and use it. I like using those as research and no is just research.  That's all you're doing because you might start getting consistent no's from different people for different things and then it's really giving me an indicator okay there's something wrong on my end.  

Why aren't they accepting this or what do I have to do to move this product forward so I really like that. It's important for people to understand when you're creating a niche. You have a niche you've found and now you have to exploit the niche. There's a lot to it, it sounds easy, you are the only one with this technology, you have to patent this should be easy. But now you have to find a way to take what you've designed and patented and exploit the niche to the highest level. You're going way above what you initially started with which I love.

Rob: The goal is for this to be ubiquitous in every dress shirt.  There's no reason it shouldn't be in dress shirts, they were designed to be buttoned all the way up and worn with a tie.  For the last 10 or 15 years, people have stopped wearing ties, statistics say 80-90% of shirts most of the time are worn without a tie. So why .... it makes no sense to have this, you can still button your shirt with Million Dollar Collar in and wear a tie. We have a lot of guys in New York on Wall Street in their day jobs who would wear a tie all day and pop it off and go to a happy hour afterward that absolutely love our product.  A lot of tie guys love it too because you still get that gap between the first and the second button even if you are wearing a tie. This gives it enough structure to hold it together.  There really is no reason not to add it, I am just going to keep going until it is in every shirt. 

Interviewer:  Just what you said, that's another marketing avenue.  You just discussed why you can have this with a tie. The downside with the tie on you get that first, second button you get the bubble, this makes it look good. After you want to pull that sucker off and go off and have a drink, you still look great. I am just breaking this down because these are things that are so important when you're marketing a product. When you get something, but you have to go to every level, every crack, every crevice and decide this is how you reach the maximum audience. You could have said, they wear ties all day they're not really my customer.  But you went underneath the tie literally to show them what they're missing. I love it. 

Rob:  Make everybody a customer. 

Interviewer: That's it. That's the goal of every business you need to be a monopoly. That's good, everyone must use my product. From there Rob, you got this going and you work on this so you said your wife is a stunt woman which I think is spectacular, you're moving across the country and going to set up there.  What's more in the future? Let's move it out of the business realm, let's talk about the personal aspect. Let's talk about life in general because we want to escape the owner's prison, creating the freedom and the ability like I said the flexibility and balance you out all the way.  I know you have worked at that and what have been your results balancing all that stuff out? What was your process?

Rob:  We decided 6 years ago to move to California and it was because we would come out here once or twice a year and every time we came home we were like, "We just met the most incredible people out there." So we wanted to put ourselves in the mix to meet people, grow business. My wife had no idea what she was going to do when we moved to California.  She had a gym that was successful in Milwaukee, she was named the number 1 trainer in the city within 2 years of becoming a trainer.  She had no idea what she was going to do.  We thought she was going to work for Beach Body Corporate or something like that. We got out here, the plate was wide open, imagine the freedom to be able to say you have 18 months to figure out whatever will make you the happiest person in the world.  You don't have to worry about any bills, anything we had stashed away enough money and sold everything we had to move out here. 

She found stunts and couldn't be happier working in that industry. One thing that she did from her youth she has always ridden horses since she was 8 years old.  Having a horse and a large property where we could have horses has been a dream of hers since she was a little girl.  She didn't dream of a big wedding, we had a little beach wedding with a few friends and family.  She dreamed of a property with horses on it.  We're able now after 5 years of grinding and paying expensive rent here in California and making the connections, we're buying 5 acres with this house and we'll be putting up a fence and a little stall and she's going to have a couple of horses.  

That's the stuff that we work for, to have the things that really, really bring her joy. During COVID and the lockdown, she started riding 3 days a week.  She said, "Man if I didn't work another day in my life and I could be around horses I would be the happiest person on the planet."  Everything led to that. We also own a yacht charter business which actually in the being of COVID we thought was going to be the thing that drowned us, but it was the thing that saved us.  That's the one last thing that's tying us to Los Angeles.  As soon as that business sells I'll be moving to Georgia. I'm going to actually be living on the boat for hopefully the next 5 or 6 weeks we have a couple of people who are interested. Once that sells we're total freedom, and I can do my business from there, we can ride horses during the day when she's not working, we have two dogs and they have all the yard to run around in not the 5000 square foot lot we lived on here in Manhattan Beach.  

That's what it's all about and that's what we're working towards next. Once we get a Million Dollar Collar a little bigger we want to get another boat down in Florida, it won't be a charter boat but will be a personal boat that we can actually go and vacation and do weekends and things on and travel a little bit more. We traveled more since we got to Los Angeles than we did all the time in Milwaukee so it's been fun.

Interviewer:  That's great. Milwaukee's is only hours from me so I've done a lot of work in Milwaukee.  I know why you left. 

Rob: Freezing cold. I couldn't deal with the cold anymore. 

Interviewer: I think what a lot of people do and I talk about this often Rob is we build a business and a lot of people are driven by their quest for money because it's a measuring stick and that's their thing of success. A lot of people don't really take the time and we discussed the exit strategy.  What's the real purpose? Where do you want to go? You guys wanted the property, you wanted horses, you want to have a life outside of this, you want to have flexibility, the portability, you want to be able to do these sort of things you love, get the boat, the personal boat and all that stuff.  

That's what you use the business for, use that as your economic engine, your vehicle, to get you the things that are going to make you truly happy and add to your life together and you will grow from there. Tell me if I'm wrong but I think you will always be involved in business? You just understand the development of it and the distance you are able to keep from it without it obsessing you to the point where nothing else can take its place right?

Rob: Right now we're working on taking the income and investing in passive income. The goal is to surpass your passive income from your active income then you can't ever have freedom if you're constantly having to work.  The cool thing with Linda is she gets paid for doing the work and then she gets paid residuals forever. Once that work is done she still gets income off of the work that she did. We've owned a couple of commercial buildings, who would have thought selling those 3 years ago and buying a boat would have been the best decision we ever made.  We did that, we would like to get back into some sort of real estate investing. Then you can take that income and just have it. Being able to know that there's money coming in every single month and you don't have to worry about it. Making money while you sleep is the only way you're going to have freedom.

Interviewer: That's what we preach in my ETOP Academy, create that passive income to replace your business income. If I need $80,000 a month how am I going to do that? We lay it all out going forward, this is what I have to do, then you have a plan for it, you are able to direct things into those accounts to build that passive income to get to that endpoint. It's not that you can't move the goal post as you get closer if you're having a great time and you want to do more like you said you have to create residual income is a key to long-term business success because you can't.... 

I have been in business for over 30 years and I've suffered, '08-'09 I suffered greatly.  I've seen tons of ups and downs and to think that it's going to last forever is the first biggest mistake you can make, right? You have to plan to create that passive income because that's going to keep you afloat or it's going to transition your exit from your business. It may be on your terms or it may not be on your terms. The economy can dictate it one way or another where you have to go and if you have nothing building on the side you're going to have nowhere to go. That can be really, really difficult. 

Rob:  Yeah, exactly the passive stuff is .... you have already paid taxes on the regular income so the passive income is tax-free and it takes sacrifice. Living here in Los Angeles typically people here are going out to dinner all the time, they're going out with friends. We didn't really do that, we had people at our house or go play volleyball with friends, we didn't do a lot of the LA things because we knew that there was a bigger goal down the road.  We did what we had to, we had a lot of fun with a lot of friends but we passed on a lot of fun and exciting things because you just can't do everything.  That's the thing it takes a little bit of sacrifice and the ability to be able to say no even though it is really something that you want to do, you can't just do everything and have everything right now sometimes you have to sacrifice if you want that goal. 

Interviewer:  It's discipline, it comes down to discipline if you ever have kids you'll find out you have to teach a lot of discipline.  They have a lot of wants, a lot of desires and they don't have the discipline to achieve them.  They want it now and there is no discipline aspect in there so I am big into fitness and gyms and everything so I get it. You want to reach certain goals. There is some discipline aspect in everything we do whether it's business, fitness, creating the life you want. 

To really create that life you really want with the passive income or replace your business income that is a disciplined road. You were in LA and the temptations had to be unbelievable of all the cool things you can do, you have to say no. It's back to that no is the teacher.  You learn to say those no's so you are able to have what you guys are now moving into, it's so cool.

Rob:Especially here, you try to go to dinner and have a couple of drinks and you're going to spend $200 or $250 really fast. Man, it took a lot of work to make that kind of money. Moving from Milwaukee where we owned a commercial building with tenants that paid for the mortgage and a duplex with tenants that paid for the mortgage to $2500 a month in rent. It was a huge change and we .... 

We had to budget differently, we had to change the way we did everything. It worked out, we did some fun things, we missed out on some things and we made a lot of great friends, the balance is key. That's one thing my wife and I give to each other, I'm the guy that if I made $5K I'm going to go blow it and have a hell of a time, that was so much fun and I wish I had that money. She's like okay I made $5K I'll spend maybe a couple of hundred bucks and stash that away for a rainy day because she's got that discipline on that side. We really balance each other out, let's have some fun, and also let's be conscious of the future. It's good.

Interviewer: I was going to ask you that question. Was it a struggle to create that discipline? I imagine if you were both like you there would be the trouble? You may not be going to Georgia.  Sounds like you have a pretty good partner there, that's awesome. 

Rob: You always butt heads when you're different like that but I think that is what makes us really appreciate each other from the beginning is that we are different.  She can see that there is value in having a blowout and having some fun, going nuts and being a little irresponsible and I see that there's value in having somebody who is fiscally responsible and putting that money away and making sure that we're good, we don't have to worry if a big bill comes up or something or we want to get a new car. We don't have to worry about where we're going to come up with a down payment.  She makes sure that we are in a good position and that happens with our boat business, our personal finances.  She's incredible when it comes to that. 

Interviewer: I have a similar wife, same thing. One of the greatest things I ever heard was regarding marriage especially.  If we were both identical one of us would not be needed. That's really important you want that dichotomy, right? I definitely know I don't want me, one of me is enough for the world.  My wife is very different and that has worked out very well for raising kids and keeping things balanced and that is good because I'm a little thick. I need someone to straighten me out once in a while so it works out well. 

Getting the personal boat down in Florida, would be great for a little vacation time and everything else.  She's working there, you have your business going, maybe expand a bit on the property and all that kind of stuff and just have that freedom. I know this is early, anything else on the forefront regarding the business? Things that you're interested in, that you're playing with or are you staying solely focused on the collar business, the shirt business? You're going to maximize this and you're not letting yourself be distracted.  How do you operate with that Rob?

Rob: It took us almost 5 years now to find a Facebook ad company that knew what they were doing when it came to our product. We were with a dozen other companies that plugged and played our product with everything else that they have done and because of the installation process and the extra step that ours have, it was just different. We finally found a company that knows what they're doing and our sales are really starting to show. 

I've always had other stuff on the side because Million Dollar Collar wasn't quite there yet and now once the boat business sells the focus is going to be on Million Dollar Collar and then our goTIELESS custom printed shirts. I think for the next few years at least the goal is that. I have other inventions in mind, other ideas that I want to pursue. I really want to give Million Dollar Collar the full attention that it deserves and the connections I have made over the last 5 years. So now I am 8 years into, from the concept of the product to h5 years of sales. We're 8 years in so our overnight success could be happening any day now.  So hopefully we'll hit gold soon, we've made some really great connections and we got some brands we're actually talking about putting this in on a big scale. 

Interviewer: Every overnight success only takes 10 years, it's perfect ...

Rob: We're knocking on the door. 

Interviewer:  It's good to hear and I'm glad because you resonate with a lot of things we talk about here on ETOP and that focus on your business.  Like you said you had to get this off the ground.  We know the 3 years of product research and development and getting the patent and now you have 5+ years of sales. Now you are starting to get real traction, now you're coming up with the next things. You did what you had to do to get to that point but now you understand.  This is where a lot of people get messed up. They keep the shiny object syndrome going and distract them and look for the next things instead of really honing in day and maximize this business until it is as big as you can make it.  

Then you have other things you can move, but you have built things, you have things in place for people to run the company.  it will be going but it's still not 100 percent there I think that's important and I want to emphasize that because there's so much work to do and there's so much focus that needs to happen to really maximize a brand and the product. You are right on target with it and I love to hear that.  you are really dialed in on to make this thing be all that it can be instead of just staying on one narrow path.  You can widen it so you've got a couple of different streams of income in a sense because you have a little alter on the brand. 

Like you said the preprinted shirts and the collar itself and the ordering.  I love to see that and I am glad you're really going to focus and build that because, from everything you told me and looking at this and everything else I think there's a huge upside to what you're doing, it's a market maker.  You are really creating your own niche that's going to be something really sizable. People are going to be man, "Where did this come from?" it will be that thing that it'll be overnight but it only took 10 years, that's what it will be to people but you know you had to put in the time.

Rob:We just noticed that there hasn't been any major improvements to dress shirts in quite a while. To me the two biggest advancements in dress shirts is one where collar stays which was in the 1888 or 1850 or something so a long time ago and then in the 1950s  non iron became a pretty big thing. Outside of those two things there really hasn't been a major shift in dress shirts. We feel like we have the product to do that especially in this market.  You have billions of people across the world that wear dress shirts. Working with drycleaners I thought if you had 15 or 20 shirts that's a lot. They have customers that have 30, 40, 50 shirts and it's insane. 

The guys that get into it and really love it, this should be a eubiciuous thing in dress shirts.  There really is no reason that it's not in every shirt, there's no downside to having it inside unless of course you like a really sloppy look. We have a lot of people comment on our ads and say they like the before I am like style is personal and you can like it. I am not telling you that you don't look like a slob and if you want to look like a slob you can. I'm just telling you that there's another way. 

Interviewer:  This is just a funny story. There was a guy in a church I was going to he did announcements before the pastor came out and Rob I kid you not my wife would look at me and he looked like he took his shirt .... and this is every Sunday, That thing was balled up in his back pocket and he took that out and put it on. It was like do you know how to iron.  So I was like Dude I need to talk to you.... there are those people where it just doesn't matter. You have to find the balance  every week, it's like a year and a half I don't think he owns an iron, I just don't think he does. Like you said get the no iron shirt at least do yourself a favor. I totally relate, it's a cool thing. 

Rob: It takes all kinds to make the world go round so you're never going to have a product for everybody and you just have to have some fun with people that ... we have people that take jabs at us constantly.  I even went onto a guys instagram, he said light starch easy peasy was his response. My response is like okay 40-45 mins later when it starts to crumble and then I go into his feed and he has pics of him with sloppy collars everywhere. Is this the light starch you're talking about? How are you going to come and be a keyboard warrior and make a comment on your product and you're not even .... People are weird.

Interviewer: All it takes is a seatbelt to wreck your shirt are you kidding. As soon as you sit the whole thing ... I have to drive somewhere and it's going to wreck my shirt. I totally get it, that's one of those things you can build a tribe online you get these incredible happy customers, use it as kind of a marketing thing. They will attack that person for you, you won't have to go on his feed you'll find your customers going yeah dude I checked out your feed. They'll be doing it for you, you can just sit back and go this is hilarious they'll take care of those guys in a heartbeat. That's when you know things really click when you're building that strong tribe of people who are just fanatics, raving fans of your product which I imagine you have a tone. 

Rob: We're starting to get some people to do that for us and this one guy said something about buttoning your shirt up and wearing a tie like a civilized person. He spelled civilized wrong and he just got lambasted. People were all over him.

Interviewer: You have to be careful when you talk smack, there's a lot of proofreading involved when you talk smack.  That's why I keep my mouth shut out there. 

Rob:  I am an observer online, I am not very active at all. My wife is because she has to for business but I am ... You won't see me commenting on ads or maybe friends. We will go back and forth a little bit but I am not out there like that. 

Interviewer: That's good so as we're getting to rap this up here that I want to ask you. I do a little bit of social media and I struggle with it myself. I just don't have the energy for nonsense. I don't watch tv, okay I'm odd but there are things I look at that I can't believe and  people talk about it. People do business differently but when you're focused on building a company and you're focused on your product right and your service and there are things that take a back seat. I think social media is often used as a distraction, as a toy and not a tool as a thriving entrepreneur really trying to have something happen it really is a distraction that you need to be disciplined and cut out of your daily routine. Would you agree with that?

Rob: I find myself scrolling through Instagram, with us with the house right now we haven't had our own place since before we moved to California. We've been renting for 5 1/2 years, 2 different apartments and a house now.  And now we have our own thing so we've been spending a lot of time looking at furniture and stuff like that and even that's like a time waster.

I deleted Facebook a long time ago, I only have an account now to manage and run my ads but now we have this other company so I don't even need to do that. It's a whole man you can lose yourself for 20 minutes, half an hour, what can you do working on your business that would be better then scrolling through instagram and looking at that stuff. No one cares that I'm eating a steak for dinner. People who take photos of their food I just don't understand. I used to use Facebook to be connected to people and then I have ...

Interviewer: You're exactly right it's a time suck when you're focused on your business that's where it needs to be it's consuming or producing and you want to be a producer. When you're consuming social media that's an issue that's not moving the needle in your business at all. It's not getting you closer to your goal post at all, it's going to make you angry, it's going to make you distracted and it's going to put trash in your mind that you don't need. It's going to take away from the big goal, which is providing for your family, achieving the big goals that matter like you are and it takes discipline.  It's geared to keep people engaged even though it's nonsense. 

Well Rob this has been just outstanding what a great conversation. I love the invention aspect, I love what you've done and the niche you created in this, the product expansion. Everything that you're doing is like so so on point to grow and scale in a business. I was researching to get you on here and I saw the path and I'm glad it's all been confirmed, this is such the right way to do things. You're really taking a business that has potential and potential is great but if you can't maximize it it doesn't mean anything. You're taking the potential of something that started out and I don't want to say small but a very simple idea and you are really, really catapulting it into all aspects of the niche and it's going to be phenomenal. I know you're just going to be huge. 

Rob: I hope so I appreciate it we've put in the work we're 8 years in from the conception. You can't be successful at something if you give up and the one thing that has kept me going is my undying perseverance to make this thing what I always envisioned it could be and there's days that I just want to crawl in bed and say screw it and there's days that I do.  And I wonder what the heck am I doing with my life and those seem to be the days that my wife is on top of the world and she's extremely supportive and there're days that she's even what am I doing with my life and I happen to be doing good and we counterbalance each other. We're always supportive and having a teammate in this has always made it possible for me to get to where I am and so I couldn't be happier and more fortunate  to have a woman like I have in my life. 

Interviewer: That's good to hear because I've been in business for over 30 years and as I talk to other business owners just like you those are going to be the similar stories that you are going to hear. it's the perseverance that makes you successful, it's not the product, it's the perseverance, it's 8 years in, it’s 10 years in, it's 20 years in, and not quitting. You're always going to have the up and down. You're always going to have the bad, I have days where I don't do anything, I'm at that point where it's like I will be way more productive if I don't try to be productive. 

I'm just in a mindset that nothing is going to function, I'm not going to write well, I'm not going to deliver well, I'm just going to chill for the day. Do something for my kids, do something else, I'm just going to get my mind off it. I don't make it a long term deal but a day, a half a day, knowing when to say it's time to push away from the desk a little bit is important. It is a common theme with all the people I've interviewed, all the people I've known through my whole career working in businesses. It's a solid theme. 

You're in the mold, you're right there and you're doing things .... your timing is going to pay huge dividends  and again congratulations to you on thank you again for having the time to be on the show here this has been awesome. Good luck on the big road trip to Georgia.

Rob: Thank you.

 

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