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Why We Work with Brian Vee - Episode #104

Why We Work with Brian Vee - Episode #104


Why We Work - Brian Vee

Brian Vee: I am Brian Vee and this is Why We Work. Today I have the great pleasure of speaking with Rob Kessler.  Rob is an inventor, boat Captain, a serial entrepreneur, and the inventory of Million Dollar Collar. Today I want to find out from Rob how he's been able to take some of the skills he's learned in other industries and transferred them over to what he's doing now. Join me today in my conversation with Rob Kessler. I'm Brian Vee and this is Why We Work. Today I have the great pleasure of speaking with Rob Kessler.  Good Day, fine sir.

Rob Kessler: How are you Brian, good to see you.

Brian: I'm well it's good to see you as well, we got to have a little chat here a moment ago and I really appreciate you coming on here, taking the time and sharing with people what you have to offer and what you have to offer in the space of work. What industries are you in currently and what are some of the things you are up to nowadays?

Rob:  It's a good list. I am an inventor first of all that is my main thing. I invented Million Dollar Collar so think collar stay except for 9 inches long and it goes down the front of your shirt where the buttons and the holes are so anybody who's watching can see that my shirt just pops right back in. Most people don't wear a tie with a dress shirt these days and after seeing my wedding photos and seeing how bad my shirt looked I decided to come up with a solution.  I invented Million Dollar Collar about 8 years ago, my wedding anniversary is in a couple of days so it's 8 years ago.

We also have our own dress shirt called go tieless which is the first shirt designed to be worn without a tie with my technology built-in obviously. I am also a 50 ton about to be 100-ton master captain, so I have a yacht charter business here in Los Angeles. So we take people out for pleasure cruises and get out and enjoy the weather, look for dolphins, have a couple of cocktails. I mean they do I don't but when the government decides we can work we run that business but we're in between right now.

Brian:  You are in a few different industries and I know you're in several more. When did it all start for you, Rob? What was your first job maybe as a pre-teen teenager, what was the first one that got you out of the house to make a dollar?

Rob: Well I wanted my driver's license so Mom said if you want to drive you have to pay for the insurance so the only way to do that was to get a job. I'm from Milwaukee, Wisconsin where we have the world's largest music festival. It's called Summerfest, it's 10 days long, we have 10-12 stages and for 12 hours a day on all 10 stages there's music going constantly and it draws people from all over the world.  There's a little pizza joint there where I was serving slices of pizza and that was my first job. I ended up going to work at the restaurant, I  worked all the festivals all summer long.

Brian: How old were you then?

Rob: 15, 15 1/2, or whenever you can start working.  I did lawns and stuff when I was younger than that, it wasn't an actual job but I started cutting all the neighbor's lawns and things. The first job that got me into thinking about entrepreneurship and really doing my own thing was when I was 16 I got a job at a Sportworks, volleyball store and I was a highly competitive soccer player.

Brian:Sorry, what was it called?

Rob:Was a... It was called Sportworks, it was a little soccer and volleyball store in my town from day 1 the owner gave me a key to the front door, he gave me a code to the alarm and he put all this faith and trust in a 16, 17-year-old knucklehead.  Left me and all the other guys and we all poured our heart and soul into it. This guy just made us feel like it was ours, and within a year I had worked my way into the finance side of it and was helping with ordering and helping with books and learning that side of the business and it just felt like it was my business and it was really, really amazing.

Brian:Did you find it's hard to know what you thought then. That made school a little bit more lively in some of the subjects you were learning? I didn't have that experience but especially if someone is pouring so much into you and you're getting to experience different aspects of the business, you weren't just delivering pizzas, slices to someone you were behind the scenes and working with money and all that. Do you find that that might have helped you with your idea of the purpose of school?

Rob: I actually was the opposite, I couldn't wait to get out of school fast enough to go do that.  I just wanted to be a part of it. After high school and I graduated college I had that job and I would go to work a couple of hours in the morning and then I would go to a couple of classes and go back to work for a couple of hours and go back to a couple of classes and then go back and close the store

So, then the stuff I thought I was learning in school was not applicable to what was happening in real life. I had a really hard time with school, about 2 years in I had started sluffing off on classes, I was taking the minimum amount of credits required and after two years I was about to drop out.  I took a long hard look at life, I was making $14,000 a year at 18 or 19 years old and I thought I was in hog heaven.  I took a long hard look and I decided to graduate, I was the first person in my family to ever graduate college.  I caught up in the last two years, I still worked full time throughout all 4 years of college. I was able to catch up and graduate in 4 years with my degree in marketing while working full time. I am one of those people when I get a goal, I just stick to it. I am just bull-headed and just barrel through and just keep going.

Brian:  So as you started to get a little bit more perspective on the need for college or to finish it at least, what were you thinking you would do with it? Was that part of the soccer and volleyball store as well, did you think you could use this with it? Or you were going to go off on a different adventure?

Rob: So, about that time I was going to quit school the 2 owners of the soccer/volleyball store parted, and the guy who hired me and gave me all that confidence was being advised by my father who had his own business. He had several jewelry stores. So Tim and my Dad were working together.  Time was trying to buy out the other owner, he didn't want to sell so it went the other way and Tim literally walked into my Dad's office one day and said, "I'm coming to work for you." My Dad was like, "I don't have a job for you."  He said, " I don't care, whatever you want me to do if it's taking out the garbage I don't care what it is but I'm coming to work for you." I ended up following him 6 months later and so I went to work with my Dad with Tim.

Brian: Why did he want to work for your Dad? Was there something he saw in your Dad, the industry he was in?

Rob:  My Dad's pretty visionary, he broke all the rules in the jewelry industry and became the 3rd largest independent jeweler in the country. If anyone is in the jewelry industry they know our family, our business. If you were anywhere in the state of Wisconsin and you ever had a radio on you know our name. My Dad ran 3,000 radio ads a week.

Brian: What was the name of the business?

Rob:  It's called Kessler's Diamonds and it was unlike most jewelry stores where you could get watches, and crystals and colored stones, and all that.  It was diamonds, diamond engagement rings, totally diamond focused. He also implemented the strongest warranty in the industry where everyone says yeah we have a lifetime warranty you just have to come in every 6 months and have it all checked out. After the first 6months or the second 6 months, you forget about it, and then your warranty is void with no loopholes nothing.  Never had a sale after 1991 or 1992. My Dad hated negotiating in life so I am not going to do it in my business, so he just set prices, there are no negotiating, no sales, there is no up there's no down this is the price take it or leave it full warranty behind it.  He just exploded from the smallest independent jeweler to the largest in Wisconsin in about 10 years.

Brian:What would have been the reason you didn't get into it earlier? Or was it something that you wanted to go on your own?

Rob: The jewelry business?

Brian:Yeah, into the jewelry business?

Rob: It just never was an opportunity, my dad and I would butt heads a little bit when I was a teenager and growing up and so during college and after college, we got closer, and can you imagine going in and spending 5, 6, 8, $10,000 on an engagement ring from an 18-year-old kid? It's just a little bit where do I belong. My sister, she did, she was much more mature than I was, from 18 till today she works for the company, she's been there, she's the head buyer now and so she's been in the company for over 20 years. That was her path.

Brian:So as you went into the business and you moved into being a boat captain and inventing the shirt that you have now the Million Dollar Collar what are some of the skills you have developed and are able to transfer over into the work that you do today?

Rob: One of the things I really learned throughout the years is customer service. Even with Million Dollar Collar being an online business I respond to emails as fast as I can, I try to do everything I can to make it right. That's something I learned from my dad if you just take care of people better than they expect then it's going to be a good thing and it's going to come back in spades.  Customer service no matter what we do, we just always try to go above and beyond what people's expectations are no matter what business we're doing.

Brian:  How did you get into being the boat captain that you are?

Rob:  I always just loved being on the water, my aunt and uncle were in Detroit so I would go over there every summer and spend the 4th of July on their boat. My wife grew up on boats as well so she spent some time on boats and we just had the passion. We ended up getting a little ski boat in Wisconsin before we moved out to California. It just always has found a way into our lives because it was something we were passionate about.

Brian:  Was it a little nerve-racking, were you hesitant about starting your own touring company?

Rob:  It's always nerve-racking starting a business, but I always think big and go big too.  My first house wasn't a house, it was a duplex and I really don't know how to do any of these things now I have to learn how to do it on two houses in one house. It turned out great. My downstairs tenants, I always had a tenant and they always paid the mortgage and so I never paid a mortgage payment for 9 years. Then we bought a commercial building and so the same kind of thing. We got both our businesses up and running and then we rented out half of that business and those guys paid for our mortgage so instead of me buying a thing or doing a thing I always try to make it pay for itself.

It was nerve-racking for sure especially when it took 5 months to get licensed through the city of Los Angeles and we couldn't really run our business and so we have this asset that is costing us thousands and thousands of dollars a month and we can't even operate. It was a little scary in the beginning as the money was dipping down quickly.

Brian:  So you're in real estate for a period of time are you still in real estate?

Rob:So I had my residential real estate license in Wisconsin for 15 years and so I started buying commercial real estate.  I do want to get back into it. I really am passionate about it.  I went to college to do architecture originally because I would rearrange my bedroom all the time and that soccer and volleyball store I would rearrange it so I could see conceptually and spatially where it could go and where it should go.  I really thought architecture was the way for me and University Wisconsin Milwaukee was the number two architecture school in the country so it was insanely competitive, you had to carry a really high GPA and I just wasn't a student that could compete with that. I ended up going into marketing and getting into real estate. Where I am from is the east side of Wisconsin, east side of Milwaukee, all those houses were built in the 20s and 30s, so really, really amazing architecture and lots of detail, and old craftsman and so I got to tour all of these amazing houses and then help people buy them so I thought that was the best of both worlds.

Brian:  Carrying over the skill of taking care of people, customer service, that is not better seen in real estate where you are helping people get their homes. Sometimes their first home is one of the biggest investments of their lives and if you can be that person there that they can trust and always go to with their questions, help them find their dream home then you have it made.

Rob: Yeah, I like to say I sold the three biggest things that people buy, houses, cars, and diamonds. So, I think customer service especially when you get to that level, that price point is that much more important.

Brian:  So now that you're in with the Million Dollar Collar promoting that as well as your tieless shirt what is some satisfaction but also some difficulties you have with this venture?

Rob: So the hard part with Million Dollar Collar is that it's sewn into the shirt. The reason that is because both sides of the placket, that part with the buttons and the holes, is visible. I looked at doing an iron-on, I looked at all kinds of different ways to do this and financially the least expensive way was actually to sew it in.  In the U.S., at least in the U.S. people are somewhat lazy, we don't put a lot of value into tailoring and altering clothes. People here just buy it off the rack and either it fits or doesn't. In the rest of the world where we sell a lot of products without a lot of advertising people are going to the tailor all the time. They're always taking those shirts in or out and making sure the pants fit right and so it's not as big of a thing to overcome. 

Overcoming that was a challenge with Million Dollar Collar so our original focus was direct to consumer and then we spent a lot of time working with dry cleaners and tailors and going to trade shows and introducing the product to them because the guy that's dry cleaning your clothes he cares about the way that he looks that he's paying someone else to clean his clothes so we thought that customer was there. So we're in about 650 dry cleaners and tailors now so that has paid off and we're pushing back and getting back into the licensing side so we're looking at big brands to take the technology and install it during production because it's almost seamless into their production process.

Originally after we got the patent went right to the manufacturers and they thought it was cool but we didn't have any numbers, we didn't have any sales.  We just had this idea and that's why we went right to consumer and built up the sales base, we sold about 325,000, 330,000 sets so far so now we've got that.  People love this, we're getting 5-star reviews, people are saying this has totally changed the way they look in dress shirts. We know that people want it now we have that leverage to go back to the brands and try and get it licensed to them.

Brian:  You make a point with the dry cleaners. Here in South Korea, every little section of apartments has a dry cleaner and they're relatively close. They're a really big part of everyday life whereas in the United States or Canada not many people... There are businesses and they do well but it's not at the forefront of most people's thinking of getting my shirt altered or doing something else to my clothes.

Rob:  It's just one more thing to have to do, it's one more stop you have to make. Fortunately, the dry cleaners, some of them are paying attention and they have pick up and drop off services which makes it a lot easier. When I worked at the car dealership and at the real estate they just came to the business.  I just hand them a bag of dirty shirts and on Monday morning or Tuesday morning I would get all my shirts back and I would have my clothes for the week.

They're starting to think but what we found so far is that most of the dry cleaners are just this is my business, I launder shirts, they don't make much money on it. If they make 75 cents laundering a shirt because there is so much labor involved, that's a lot of money. We thought we were offering them this really great opportunity and the business guys have gotten on board but it's been a lot harder to get to the dry cleaners than I thought it was going to be.

Brian:  We can order online the collar correct?

Rob:  Yes.

Brian:  What is the proper name for the mechanism that goes into the shirt?

Rob:  So, we call it a placket stay so that part of the shirt with the buttons and the holes is called the placket. We're not called perfect placket because almost nobody knows what a placket is so Million Dollar Collar puts you in the right region.  It's called a placket stay.

Brian:  So we can order those and just take them to our own tailor if we so choose.

Rob: Absolutely every order comes with really detailed instructions. It's literally open an inch of stitches, slide it in, sew it back together.  Don't sew too tight otherwise it works great and will last the life of the shirt. There's a video on our website about how to do the installation in the shirt.

Brian:  What is some satisfaction that you're getting out of this?

Rob: Well, a 5-star review is totally unsolicited, people put up a photo and tag us on social media and it's like they care enough about the product that they have gone out of their way to say I look great and this is why.

Brian:  I wore a shirt today, I didn't do it on purpose it was my next one in line oh this is perfect it falls down naturally.  As you mentioned the skills that you have, the skills that you carried forward, how are you staying productive with using your skills and staying on top of all the businesses that you're in? This year has been a little bit different but what gets your feet on the ground and into all your businesses each day?

Rob: There are just certain things I need to do.  I have a list hanging from my computer that blocks out 30 min time schedules to get this done, get this done, get this done. So, make sure I get my social media posts out.  I am always on emails unless I am in a project, if that thing bings I want to respond especially if it's a customer so I make sure I'm on top of that. The boat is challenging in that there's always something that I could be doing on it. Little projects to fix here and there or an oil change or whatever... wash it down. It's a nice...

The boats actually amazing because if I didn't have that I would sit on my computer all day long and be emailing people or doing quick books, just focused in and you can't be creative or I can't be when I'm tunnel vision on this one thing.  Being in the boat business when I'm driving and people are doing their thing I get an opportunity for my mind to wander and I don't have to feel bad. If I'm on a computer I feel like I should be working on something. If I'm driving, here are the people I have been talking to. Maybe this is an avenue and my creativity can spin off.  It's been really good for me to step away  and have that reason that I have to get away and to be able to think outside the box.

Brian: It's good because you're still getting paid. If you were out on your own boat, let's go for a ride today then you'll start feeling guilty and all that. Do you have, knowing that you served pizza when you were 15 or so as one of your first jobs and mowing lawns as well and other people who changed their career... Do you have any tips for people who are getting into work one way or another?

Rob:  I would cut the grass at 13 years old, 14 years old, this is what is totally screwed up. My dad would pay me 5 bucks to cut his lawn and the lady next door was paying me 10 or 12 or 15 dollars.  This is just... he's putting a roof over my head I get it now but at the time I was like this sucks.  I literally would think when I was 13 and 14 years old cutting the lawn, I am going to cut this grass so good that a neighbor across the street is going to come over and say, "Dude you really cut that grass good."  Nobody ever did but I always cut it like somebody was watching and they would see that lawn was cut really well and that they were going to come over and compliment me. I think it was Wilt Chamberlain that said, " Give more then anybody expects."  I just want to give more, I always do more than what people think they are going to get.

Brian:  It's a really good point, however you want to look at it, to do whatever you do as if someone is looking for the benefit of it. You do it well even if no one is looking however you want to look at it, it's still the idea of doing it to your best and I think that's a good message, especially for younger people but for older people too. Whatever we're doing don't be slacking off and cutting corners and taking the easy way out. 

All of us do it to a degree, no one does everything perfectly. But it's great advice for people to really think why are you doing this thing, and who could be watching you? Who's going to see the work that you've done at the end of the day?

Rob:  I think it comes down to integrity, if you're walking down an alley and you're unwrapping or eating a candy bar and you think nobody's around and you just throw the wrapper on the ground because you think nobody's watching. But if you're out on the main street you would stick that wrapper in your pocket and wait to you get to the garbage can to me it's integrity.  Doing what you would do whether someone's watching or not.  That's served me well.

Brian:  I think when I was younger I didn't have that as much and if I did do it, it was because I thought someone was watching. I wouldn't someone to think something about me but doing those things regardless of who's watching and being of integrity it's something we can all learn from and take pleasure in knowing. I wouldn't say be proud but to know we're setting a good example. If no one sees you're doing it's the right thing that was done.  If the next person walks by and sees garbage on the ground, what fool just threw that or dropped that.  They might not see it directly but indirectly they'll see these attempts we're making to help people and do things that are right. 

Rob is there a mistake that you would have made that you bring with you into your work and maybe it encourages you to do things differently?

Rob: I don't know. I tend to focus on the solution and not the problem as much. Things are going to happen all the time, I definitely made mistakes in life and my career even in Million Dollar Collar.  The first time we went to a dry cleaning trade show in Las Vegas, 4 days, every major dry cleaner was there, all these huge brands were there. Dickey’s which is a huge brand which was right down the aisle from us. We barely scraped enough money together to get the three of us there and a couple of people we hired for the show. We had this little 10 X 10 corner booth and it was spilled over for 4 days straight.  The guys, from billion dollar Dickey's were like, "What are you guys doing down here, are you giving away cocaine and drugs and cash? Why are there so many people here?" 

We had built up a really good direct consumer business and I dealt with the shipping, I was dealing with the logistics and it drove me crazy when the post office would lose an order because it looks bad on me.  You never think it was the post office that lost it, the guy that shipped it did. I don't own, even Jeff Bezos doesn't own the shipping company yet. This third party drove me crazy.  I hated that customers weren't getting their product. 

We had almost 400 dry cleaners that represented 2,000 locations of dry cleaners in the U.S. alone that were like this is the best thing ever, sign me up here is my personal cell phone, here is a copy of my birth certificate. They were in love with what we were doing. So I told my guys to shut off my Facebook ads to direct consumers because we were going to be in 2,000 dry cleaners overnight.  It's a couple years later and those 2,000 locations still aren't there. I jumped the gun and shut off the revenue source we had thinking that something was going to happen that hadn't happened. I'm a lot more cautious to shut things off at this point.

Brian: Well, you're living that too with being an entrepreneur  and doing different things, being a boat captain. I think this is wise advise inadvertently as well in that we need to be ready for the changing flow.  While you might have had a good revenue option, a possibility, opportunity and it may be there tomorrow.  You had to keep this other thing coming as well, we never know, especially I heard someone the other day when I went to school COVID wasn't on any of my tests or in any of my books to experience anything like this. So, to be pliable, to be able to be stretched and use our different skills and different industries and to be able to make income in different ways I think is a wise decision.  You learn from that mistake.

Rob: A great book I think it's Stephen Covey, is Who Moved My Cheese.  It's a 45 minute read, a 30 minute read if you're a quick reader.  It's all about being able to see that things are changing and adapting to the situation and not waiting for it to happen.  I think especially during this day in age you have to be fluid and able to adapt quickly.

Brian:  You adapted when you found you weren't interested in school but a couple of years later do you have a view of education? Does it hold true today? And what about exercise? How do they play a role in your life?

Rob:  My personal view on college depends on what you're trying to do.  I'm a big fan of Gary Vee and I think he's hit on the head, instead of going to spend 50, 60, 70 thousand dollars going to college and getting a degree and then trying to go and get a job in the industry that you love with no skills I think you're better off going to find the top ten people in that industry in your town or wherever you're willing to go and say I'll give you  10 grand or I'll come work for you for free I just want to learn and spend the money because I learned more in that little soccer/volleyball store then I ever did in college.  If you're passionate about interior design I don't know that going to college for interior design is the way to go. I think finding the top interior design firms and just I don't care, give me a broom. 

Like Tim said to my dad, " I don't care what it is this is where I want to be because this is where I know I will learn from the best."  My Dad ended up paying him, and hiring him.  He said he was going to be the next person to take over that company because he was so passionate about what was being done in my dad's eco system that he had built.  If you could put yourself into that mentality and it's so different then what our parents thought of, my wife and I talked about it the other day. We've done several different things, we've been together for 10 years and we've had commercial properties and she had a gym and now she's a stunt woman and now we have a boat business and we're talking maybe about leaving California. 

The last generation would get a job and work for 30 or 40 years and that was the thing they did.  Now we hop around every few years doing something different because we like the challenge, we like learning something new and that's not wrong.  We struggle sometimes, but that struggle builds the hustle, and it's been great for us.  Some people like security, my mom give me a job, give me a thing, I just want to know there's revenue coming in every two weeks.  I get my paycheck and I don't have to worry about it. My dad was the opposite so I got the best of both worlds.  My wife and I just figure it out. It's just so different now you just have to think of a different way to do it.   

Brian: With the struggle and the challenge where do you place exercise?

Rob:  Well, if you see my wife here in this photo she's a stunt woman, always had six pack abs, she's starting her own online fitness business, she had a gym so she's definitely more into fitness then I am.

Brian:  She drags you along and you're feeling guilty as you eat a donut?

Rob:  I definitely eat much better, I used to eat a whole frozen pizza with ranch dressing when I first met her. I don't dip anymore.  I work it in, the cool thing with her new site it's all based on 10 minutes.  It's not about...

Brian:  What's your wife's site?

Rob:  It's called TranformationRoomFit.com and it's all about 10 minute workouts because everyone has 10 minutes in their day and you don't have to go to the gym for an hour to feel accomplished sometimes it's peeling away 10 minutes and doing something for yourself.  Just get the heart rate up and the blood flowing and that impact, that 10 minutes a day can impact you a lot more than thinking you're going to go to the gym for an hour, 3 days a week and it just doesn't happen.  I've been much better at just peeling off and saying I'm shutting everything off in 10 minutes and I am going to go do 100 push-ups or do my pull ups or dips or watch one of her videos and get something in every single day because health is much more important than anything else.

Brian:  I should have had that yesterday.  Yesterday I had a class to teach so I put my exercise clothes on before the class. It was just here at home I didn't need a suit or a Million Dollar Collar for this class anyway.  The other classes I do, and I had my exercise clothes on all day then I didn't exercise.  I used every excuse in the book even in the end I was eating chips with my exercise clothes on.  Like you said do some push-ups, watch the video and my dear wife did her exercises yesterday and I didn't feel guilty.

Rob:  It's tough. She's so good at it, she really came up with it because like today she's on set and sometimes you'll have some time in between shoots or in between takes or scenes or whatever and she's sitting in her trailer.  She's like I don't want to sit here and twiddle my thumbs. I need stuff I can do even if it's for 10 minutes and I don't need to get sweaty but I need to get the blood flowing a little bit and get a little energy back in.

Brian:  That's what you're doing with your business when you go out on the boat, you're thinking about these other things. While she's out on a set she's taking care of herself which is part of her business.  You guys have that same thing going for you.  Rob, what is an overarching goal that you have, whether it's for the Million Dollar Collar or some of your other ventures you're in?

Rob:  So the big goal with Million Dollar Collar is to be ubiquitous.  There's just really no reason why it shouldn't be in every shirt, I love when a customer gives me a review and says this should be in every single shirt.  Because it is so lightweight and flexible you can button up and wear a tie so it doesn't affect you if you want to wear a tie. If you don't want to wear a tie it's there so there's really no reason not to have it. I think it's the next collar stay.  They say in the U.S. at least 90% of the dress shirts most of the time are worn without a tie.  We're talking to the biggest brands in the world and they're saying oh no we're coming out with a stretch collar. You are so far behind, who cares if you have a stretch collar for 10% of the market who wears a tie every day.  We have the thing for the 90% of the market who don't wear it. I feel like Million Dollar Collar hopefully will be in every single shirt or most shirts made. That's the big goal with that.

At goTIELESS we're actually pivoting a little bit. We were going to make our own dress shirt and compete in that world.  I have an idea and a little concept that we're pivoting the company and we're going to take it in a little bit different direction but it's going to be insanely cool and a huge company.

The boat business we can go either way, we could grow and add two more boats under our license, we've had clients out that have said, "Dude I can go to a Michelin restaurant in New York and I get better service on this boat then I do there.  If you want to add more boats, or need financing or whatever you want to do you want to expand this business I will fund it."  There are people who have come out and have literally said that to us.   Our plate is really full, we have 6 or 7 LLC's between my wife and I active right now.  We're very into a lot of things and we're trying to fine-tune it a little bit and focus a little bit more.  Who knows where the world is going to take us?

Brian:  That's common though, you're an entrepreneur, you're an inventor so you're going to have other things on the horizon, you're going to have other things up your sleeve, things that you're not necessarily saying right now but things in the works.  Are there any other things that people or anything in particular people may not understand about you, Rob? So they can have a better appreciation of the work that you're doing?

Rob: It's all about the hustle and the grind. As long as I make a little bit of progress every day I'm working in the right direction.  This is taking longer than I thought it was to be where I needed to be or where I thought it would be but giving up doesn't allow it to grow anymore.  I've been sticking with it though ... I've heard 10,000 no's and we're starting to hear yes's and we’re starting to hear people turn the corner and I think coming out of COVID any of these brands that want to compete in the market in the next couple of years are going to have to innovate.  Dress shirts have been made the same way for 100 years, they're going to come out of this and stand out they're going to have to innovate. So hopefully that works in our favor.  I'm very accessible if anyone has a question, anybody wants to know about the patent process or where I've been or if they have... I love talking business so if anyone wants to reach out I'm available. They can email me, connect with me on LinkedIn and we'll have a conversation. I'm happy to help any way I can.

Brian: What I find fascinating about doing this podcast and talking to people like yourself is especially people who have different things going.  You're able to not like a child, like a baby but say well this child, this business is on the go, I received some no's, it's going, we have some difficulties. You're able to separate these different things, and it's not yourself, it's not like I'm failing in my business.  No I have 2 successful things going on over here and I find that really interesting how you're able to differentiate between the business side of it, your personal life and say I'm putting my effort into this baby, this thing right now watching it grow and see how far I can take it.  I find that really interesting about business people.

Rob:  Well again I think it comes down to focusing on the solution and not the problem.  I think people get caught up in oh I had a flat tire on the highway and why did this happen to me and boo-hoo.  So you got a flat tire, how do you fix it.  Is it a run flat, get to a place to get a new tire if it's not go change it.   Find the solution and let's move on. Problems come up all the time, they can drag you down. 

The other thing is living in Los Angeles it's either going to inspire you to see Lamborghinis and Ferraris and McLarens all over the place or it's going to make you insane and hate all those people.  To me it's inspiring  that means that it's possible.  I drive our boat and I look up houses that are for sale and there's a 110 million dollar house one of the places where we anchor and people that come in from out of town are like how much are these houses ?   One is 110 million dollars.  you can't even fathom that kind of money but it's right there.   I live close to it and I can see it and that means that somebody that I know that I know that I know knows the person that owns that house.  That's crazy.

Brian:  That would be great for you to be a real estate agent there too. You want that life?

Rob:  Yeah.

Brian:  Right, because you could be taking people on the tour.

Rob:  I thought about it.  I love real estate but I really wanted to focus on Million Dollar Collar and it's been good.

Brian: Is there any adversity that you've faced Rob that you use in your work to either motivate you or maybe bring you down at times but in the idea of encouraging other people who have faced adversity?

Rob:  Yeah, look I did not have a super spectacular childhood.  My dad and I have probably gone through probably 5 or 6 years total of not speaking or seeing each other.  That was brutal especially when you're 13, or 14 years old and developing and growing and becoming a man and I don't have a father.   I've been through really, really tough and dark times.  I would drive, weirdly I got my license and my way to just decompress would be to drive around.  I told you I loved architecture, I grew up on the east side of Milwaukee, there are all those beautiful homes and I would just drive around.   There were days I felt so down,  there's a bluff right there and I don't have to deal with this anymore.  I don't want that to define me, I don't want... Whatever the problem was I didn't want that to win.

You look at Oprah on paper she should not have been, she should not be where she's at based on her childhood and the things that happened to her. You can either focus on the problem or focus on the solution.  Bad stuff happens to everybody and it's how you want to handle it and how you want to look forward.

Brian: Rob how can people get in contact with you?

Rob: So the main email is Rob@milliondollarcollar.com, that's my personal email that is open all day long, every day or find me at LinkedIn, Robert Kessler or Rob Kessler.  Just look up Million dollar Collar and you'll find us.

Brian:  One final question there Rob why do you work?

Rob:  I want the eventual freedom, that's part of it.  I watched my dad grow his business from nothing to massive.  He sold the company to his employees two years ago and it was doing 35 or 36 million dollars a year in revenue from literally zero in his lifetime which is pretty amazing to watch.  I see what he gets to do, he helps out his family, he takes us on vacation every once in a while, every few years.  He gets to do stuff, he has freedom, but he loves the challenge. He is actually very involved in Million Dollar Collar and Gotieless and now I talk to him every single day. We're working on different problems, we're together, we're growing and so the success of having done something is exciting to me. 

I meet somebody new or a friend introduces me to... oh this is Million Dollar Collar you have to meet Rob.  People that think my product is amazing is rocket fuel, it's the best feeling ever. I just couldn't do nothing, I need to feel like I'm accomplishing something. The hardest thing moving from Milwaukee where I had these commercial buildings and our house that had this basement full of tools and moving to Los Angeles to an apartment was getting rid of all my tools.  I don't have my saws and i don't have my cameras and I gave it all to my brother-in-law. It took part of my manhood away.  I need to fix stuff, I need to use my hands.  I had a screen printing business and I loved actually screen printing because I could see it go from a blank t-shirt to this design that someone handed me and I created all this stuff in between and I made that shirt happen.  That was cool, I just liked seeing it grow and develop something.

I like building stuff, I like other ideas in my head, I need to get through the first couple to get to the next one to get to the next one. If you look back at the last 10 or 15 years what I did that rolled into the next thing that rolled into the next thing that brought us the yacht that is now this great business that we're figuring  out what to do next and it's just cool to look back.  I think people get caught I think in the moment  and they forget to look back for a minute and say where was I have years ago?  Dude you've come a long way.

Brian:  I believe you have come a long way Rob.  Rob Kessler and inventor, boat captain, serial entrepreneur, and with a great name and a great product, The Million Dollar Collar. I appreciate the time you've given me and I appreciate the work that you do.

Rob: Thank you, I appreciate it!



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