Smarter Destiny Podcast: Quick Proven Growth Tactics From Founders You Can Use ASAP
Smarter Destiny Podcast: Quick Proven Growth Tactics From Founders You Can Use ASAP
#88 - Tony Whatley - The Side Hustle Millionaire

Tony Whatley is a serial entrepreneur, a business mentor, speaker and best-selling author. He is best known as co-founder of LS1Tech, an online automotive community which grew into the largest of its kind and sold for millions, only five years after starting. Tony is a strong advocate for building large online communities, and has built groups with over a half-million combined registered members. In 2015, Tony decided to focus on building businesses full-time, and left behind a multiple six-figure salary range to do what he loves.

  • 00:50 – Intro
  • 03:20 – The start of the entrepreneurial journey
  • 07:43 – The american dream
  • 09:04 – Pursuing mechanical engineering
  • 10:30 – The first business: creating a revolutionary circuit
  • 11:02 – The second business: designing web pages
  • 12:40 – Launching LS1Tech
  • 20:56 – Building a community
  • 28:32 – Managing your community
  • 33:26 – Exiting the company
  • 43:07 – Becoming a mentor
  • 49:50 – Overcoming stage fear
  • 53:08 – Where to find out more
  • 54:00 – Rapid fire question round
  • 54:25 – What superhero would you be and why?
  • 54:54 – What is one thing that people incorrectly assume about you?
  • 55:26 – What is the most pointless subject taught at schools and what would you replace it with?
  • 56:10 – What is one amazing act of kindness you either witnessed or done yourself?
  • 58:05 – What unusual or underrated food or drink should more people try out?
  • 58:57 – What is one mistake in your life and what did you learn from it?
  • 01:00:41 – What does the first 30 minutes of your day look like and when does it start?
  • 01:02:36 – What do you do or where do you go to get inspired?
  • 01:04:50 – Who do you idolize above everyone else and why?
  • 01:06:27 – What book do you read or gift the most?
  • 01:08:36 – What silly thing should people do more of?
  • 01:10:10 – If you could change one world problem with one wish, what would it be?
  • 01:11:23 – What makes you happiest?
  • 01:12:22 – Any asks or requests for the audience?


Martyn Cook (00:01:14):
Okay, ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to another smarter destiny podcast. So at this time we have my friend Tony Watley into hell. So he is a bestselling author of his book side hustle, millionaire, where he talks about his true account of building a multi seven figure business and exiting for multiple seven figures part time. You know what, a couple of hours a day or an hour, a day tops whilst that just grows and makes beautiful money whilst he goes out and does his using which we’re going to get into that term. And what that means on this show. Aside from that, he’s actually a business coach. He has a massive group and he teaches want to be business owners and business owners all the way through, through, from North all the way to the eight and nine figure kind of range. And he’s got different products and services available for that.

Martyn Cook (00:02:08):
This guy is a massive advocate of community and building large communities that stick around for a long time. And we’re going to drill into that and what that means and how to do it on this very show. Here’s a professional podcast guest I’m podcast host he’s been on over 200 shows as a guest and pushing 200 as a host of his own show, three 65 driven. So we’re in for a real treat guy. So prick up your ears and let’s welcome Tony Whatley to the stage today, Tony, how’s it go? Hey Martin, thanks for having me on the show. I can’t wait to get to know some of your listeners and hopefully drop some value for them to take away. Let’s do it. Let’s make that our motto today, Tony. So whereabouts in the world are you? I am currently sitting in Houston, Texas, which is actually my home city. You know, one of the oil capitols of the world, and I love it here. It’s got a really

Tony Whatley (00:02:59):
Variety of all kinds of things to do, and it’s a very diverse community as well.

Martyn Cook (00:03:05):
So if you guys are just listening and not watching, you need to watch because Tony has got this beautiful blue hue going on behind him, it looks very, very calm. And then on, on my screen, we’ve got the bright new brew yellow. So we’ve got a real, I’m trying to think of a superhero. Is it, is it Wolverine in his early days was blue.

Tony Whatley (00:03:23):
Yeah. Yeah. I think he was even in the Michigan Wolverines, a football university team here. There’s also blue and yellow. It’s kind of funny. Yeah,

Martyn Cook (00:03:31):
We got we’re representing today. So the way we like to kick things off on the show, Tony is we like to go back to a point in your past where something happened, some kind of conflict perhaps, or some kind of realization or some kind of something that really is pivotal in your story and set you on your path as, as an entrepreneur. So if you’ve got a time in mind, please, could you take us back to that time and paint as a word picture?

Tony Whatley (00:03:58):
I’d say, I’d start back in grade school. When I had childhood bullies for the listeners context, I’m half Japanese, my mother’s Japanese immigrant. We grew up in Texas and I get to experience racism. Although I don’t have the dark skin that most people attribute to racism. We definitely had some bullies because you gotta realize when I was young, I’m 47 for context, there was a lot of people that were still angry about world war II and Japanese people individually. You know, so basically my mom and my sister and I, we seen racism even though we don’t really look Asian when you think about it, but they’ll know in a small town who your mother is. And so I learned that really just kind of try to not stand out, even though I’ve always been that personality to wanting to stand out and do things and challenge myself and always improve.

Tony Whatley (00:04:41):
I learned that I just needed to be quiet sometimes because I was always a threat of violence. I mean, this wasn’t just name calling back then. So for a long time, I was trying to figure out my own individual story and how I was going to do things. And I grew up lower middle class. We didn’t have money. My parents were blue collar, hard workers. My mom was a cafeteria worker in the public schools. And my dad worked in the oil refineries here in the Houston area after he got out of the U S Marines. So I got to learn that to disciplinary and parents. My mom was the educational disciplinarian. That was everything else disciplinary and being a Marine Sergeant. And when you think about that, I just basically understood that if I needed to get something, if I wanted to achieve anything in life, I had to figure it out for myself.

Tony Whatley (00:05:24):
We were only getting Christmas gifts and birthday gifts. There was no allowance, nothing like that. We couldn’t go to the store. They weren’t going to buy us. If I wanted video games or skateboards or bicycles, I had to go figure out how to do that. So at age 10, I was the one pushing the lawnmower around the neighborhood, knocking on doors, asking if I could note, you know, wash your, you know, wash your car, mow your yard, walk, walk the dog. So it was always being very resourceful. We think about that as entrepreneurship now, but it really, it was a necessity for me to get what I want. So I was looking at things as objectively, if I want this, how much does that cost? How many yards do I need to go Mo Hey, if I get this on a route, I can go to back to these three yards every week and make $30 a yard.

Tony Whatley (00:06:03):
So that’s how I kind of thought about things. And it was just grown out of necessity. So growing up lower middle class, and it’s actually a pretty affluent area because of the school systems that we moved to. I was able to ride my bicycle around as a kid and look at these big houses in different neighborhoods. And I was always curious, like, how do they have so many cars? When I only knew two people live there, I got four cars in the driveway. How do these houses have so many windows on the front? My house only had two windows on the front of the house I grew up and it was smaller than an apartment. And I remember being a child was always having one view out of that house. So when I saw the big houses for the first time, I was like, wow, there’s, there’s a lot of windows.

Tony Whatley (00:06:42):
I wonder what the view looks like in that one door, that one door, that window. So, and the funny thing is I always was curious. So I would sometimes see the neighbors outside doing things. And I would say, excuse me, sir, what do you do for a living to be able to afford a house like this? I was like, kid was curious and they could tell that I was actually not saying things rude, like being rude and be like, Hey, how much is this house? Like, I get asked that I get asked that with the cars and stuff, I go drive a fancy car. People I can tell if they’re genuine or they’re not, people will be like, there’s two ways to ask, how expensive is that car? How much did you pay for that car? Or what do you do for a living to afford that car? You can tell which ones I’ll spend more time answering. So you’re on about the, the, just the directness, right? I’m very direct, I guess, I guess from a, from a Japanese mother and a Marine dad, they’re very direct both. And we don’t like to sugar coat things. And it’s just, that’s how I always have been. I realized that some people don’t like that approach, but I’m really not here to coddle their feelings either.

Martyn Cook (00:07:42):
I love that. And so, so as a child, you’ve realized, okay, so Christmas has just gone. I’ve got 11 months until the next Christmas. Ah, but I need some, I need some money. I’ve got my eye on a new video game,

Tony Whatley (00:07:52):
Whatever it, whatever it is. And so you’re, you’re hustling. You’re going around the neighborhood, the affluent neighborhood and mowing lawns and knocking on doors, washing cars and so on and, and making a buck. And so I guess you’re learning during this stage, the, the, just the, the, the, the power and the gratification that comes from an honest, hard work and, and, and, you know, money in exchange for services. When did that graduate to, I think like most people in the middle class here in the United States, the race is always to get to the six figure income level. I mean, the average here is around 50,000 a year for most households. So to double, that just seemed like an American dream. That’s really how it’s portrayed. It’s not accurate anymore. We all know that a hundred thousand dollars actually is not a lot of money. It’s a comfortable life, but it’s not a lot of money.

Tony Whatley (00:08:39):
So those dreams were set back in the 1960s, 1970s, when a thousand a hundred thousand was actually a lot of money. I think if you do the appreciation, they start looking at the inflation that we’ve seen. I think you still have to earn something like between 400 to 500,000 today’s dollars to see that have that same American dream that people had in 1960s. So when you put that in perspective, why has the United States hold onto the stupid dream of six figures, which is literally a hundred thousand dollars for over 50 years, when you think about that, and it’s like, why are they doing this kind of thing? And they haven’t changed their goals. And it’s, it’s understand a lot of people try to do what it takes to get there. So as a kid, I learned, how do I get to a hundred thousand dollars a year?

Tony Whatley (00:09:22):
Well, you know, when you’re hanging around with a bunch of other people who haven’t figured that out, you get a lot of bad advice, even from your parents sometimes. So they always say things like, you need to be a dr. Martin, a lawyer, an engineer. I mean, these common things to just keep repeating, we hear this. And I said, okay, well, I guess I’ll, I like cars. I’m a car guy. I’ve always been a car kid. I said, maybe there’s some kind of engineering I can do. That’s related to cars. So that’s what I did. I pursued mechanical engineering. And I said, Hey, mom, dad, I want to go to college. And they’re like, Oh, cool. You got two options. I was like, what is that? You can either work full time and pay for it yourself, or you can join the military and they’ll pay for it.

Tony Whatley (00:09:59):
So it was like, damn, it’s like, I guess I’ll work full time as us. What I did at age 18, I started working the chemical refiners, just like my dad did. And I would go to school at night. And on the weekends, I would wait tables at restaurants. So here I was being sleep deprived, broke anxious. Grades were kind of just barely getting by because of all this things that were going on. I just had a lot of stress and I did, it took me seven years to graduate school. And I finally started making over a hundred thousand dollars, maybe a couple of years into my engineering degree. But the thing is, is that, that wasn’t what I was wanting to do. Martin. I’m a car guy. I love cars. The whole purpose to get that degree was to go into automotive industry, to maybe design and work on the cars I dreamed about.

Tony Whatley (00:10:39):
But the thing was, is Detroit literally paid half of what Houston did in the oil industry. So I decided to stay in my home city and make twice the money and actually be able to buy the cars that I would be working on and enjoy those from a different perspective, but that didn’t scratch the itch. So I said, okay, well maybe if I start a business and cars, maybe if I can build something that’s in automotive space, I would find that that niche that I think I wanted to scratch. And I said, okay, the first thing I did was a failure of entrepreneurship. Okay. I created these little circuit boards. I’m very good with electronics. And I did this developed in a design this little circuit board that would add about 10 to 15 horsepower to a Chevy Corvette Camaro, or a Firebird. And it was a plug and play.

Tony Whatley (00:11:23):
You literally would unplug a part of the harness, the wiring harness, plug this little circuit board in, and it would fool the sensors of the engine and then give it more output. But here’s the thing is I could design that and I could get home from work. And I would sit at the kitchen table with my little soldering pen and solder and my little resistors and circuit boards. I would buy from radio shack and I would build these little things. And it would take me about an hour to build each one about $35 on parts. And I would sell them for $75. So a lot of people were thinking, well, that’s $40 hour. That’s pretty good, but it doesn’t scale Martin because I was already the only market share leader. I was the only one that had this product. It was a very limited market of people buying them, even though they were selling pretty well.

Tony Whatley (00:12:05):
And just the tower, you know, the time commitment alone, I was, I could only build about three per night maximum. So you can start to see like, okay, for $40 now that’s cool, but I’m not working 40 hours a week doing this. And there’s not even 40 hours worth of customers that would buy these. So it kind of came to this dead end realization that this doesn’t scale. I need to figure out how to do things to make money while I’m sleeping, while I’m on vacation while I can do other things. And luckily the internet was kicking off. This was 1996 for reference. And I started thinking about what if I started building webpages? I can teach myself Photoshop. Cause I’m a creative, I’m an artist. Maybe I can figure out how to do this stuff on a computer screen. And maybe I can build these things called web pages.

Tony Whatley (00:12:47):
And cause there’s a lot of companies back then it didn’t have website presence. And so that was my next side. Hustle was teaching myself Photoshop, Adobe illustrator, how to code HTML. And I was building these really rudimentary simple two to three page websites just to build a website for these companies and trade them maybe a thousand bucks or sometimes even trading them car parts for my cars. It was a really good bartering system. And then I said, okay, this is starting to get busy. I’m making good money. These are taking me a little more time, but they’re paying me more. I’m not making these little widgets anymore. And then I just started to do that for next few years. And then I launched the [inaudible] tech in 2001 and grew into a massive community. Number one, it grew to over 300,000 registered members for perspective, we had over a hundred thousand unique visitors per day in that website and we generate a lot of money from advertising.

Martyn Cook (00:13:36):
Amazing. And so, so just to recap on that. So the first business that you said was the first

Tony Whatley (00:13:42):

Martyn Cook (00:13:44):
It wasn’t, it wasn’t so much of a failure. It was just a failure. If your goal is not exchanging time for money. Right. But actually you’d invented a pretty cool thing that for a niche, a certain niche customer, I can see 10 break horse power. It’s not, not too shabby, not shabby, but NSF, do you say

Tony Whatley (00:14:03):
One driven LS, one

Martyn Cook (00:14:06):
Tech.Com. So tell us about a less one I know that it was a community as you said, you got up to a hundred thousand visitors a day, but really what was the service?

Tony Whatley (00:14:18):
Why did it grow so fast? What were you providing for your customers? I think it’s important to point out the perspective that I didn’t have dreams of earning millions of dollars when we launched this. I think a lot of people think that they need big goals, but I want to illustrate that if you execute properly, it can arrive at that goal. But that was never the intention. I had one business partner in Chicago. I was in Houston. He kind of ran the North side group of the larger community that we were hanging around on. I had the Southern group that I was leading. So we kind of combined forces because we knew we’d have a great audience writing initially. And we really were thinking small because me making $40 an hour to hand soldering widgets was kind of my frame of reference me having an engineering job.

Tony Whatley (00:15:03):
And probably at that time making around 90,000 a year, that was, that was my income. So I didn’t really think about things as serious as a business because that’s the way most people approach side businesses or side hustles. Now they really think really small. They’re not thinking about anything. They’re thinking it’s supplemental income to most people. And so our car notes, my partner and I both had brand new cars. I had a, I had a Trans-Am and he had a Camaro and I said, you know, these are $500 a month. I was like, if we can make $500 a month, it’d be like having a free car Martin. I’d be like having a free car, doing something we actually enjoy. Wouldn’t that be cool? It’s like, yeah, that was our goal. $500 a month. Each within six months, we’re making about $10,000 a month profit.

Tony Whatley (00:15:46):
And then, and only then we started to get a little bit buried by the amount of ads and, and the, the business side of things. And we said, wow, I think we’ve got to go create a LLC. I don’t know what that is, but I think that’s what we need. So I’m putting this in perspective that we started something and it started to growing because we were operating it properly, but we didn’t have all the answers. A lot of people out there that are just building companies, they think they need all the answers. They go hire coaches. They listened to dozen podcasts like yours and mine. And they’re just doing all these different things and they never actually get started. And I never find success, but they don’t realize that the most successful entrepreneurs, probably a lot of the ones listening, just took actions and started figuring out how to build an actual business that was making a little bit of profit and just kind of rolled that profit back into the company, kept investing it kind of growing.

Tony Whatley (00:16:35):
And that’s what we did is we took it very seriously. We didn’t invent the market forum. You know, we didn’t invent that whole nature, that business model, we just saw the other ones that were out there doing it poorly. We were members of another one that was the number one market share at the time. And it was just doing it poorly. And here’s the funny thing is, is like, it’s a great story on why we actually started it. We were all members of this other site. There was a number one didn’t really have any good competition, but the guy that was running, it was not paying his bills. And the server host would basically just hard delete the files because he wasn’t paying his bills on time. And after this happened about three times in one year, we were the ones creating the content for the guy.

Tony Whatley (00:17:15):
I mean, we’re free. We’re writing how to articles, how to make your car faster, how to modify, how to do this. Talking about unveils. We had all this content we were creating for the dude. We could see he had advertisers. So we knew he was profiting, but he wasn’t paying his bills. And finally, we approached him, said, Hey, we see you’re making money. Why don’t you pay these bills? So we quit getting our hard work deleted. And rather than take that rather than take that as constructive feedback, he actually threw an attitude. And he said, well, if you think you can do a better job, you should go start your own website.

Tony Whatley (00:17:48):
And you know what? It never even a thought in my mind until I was challenged. I’m not the type of person that people want to challenge because I’ll be like, Hmm, could I I’m very logical. Could I do that? Well, yeah, build webpages. Could I rent a server? Yeah, I could do that. Could I learn how to install the server hardware and this paid software? Yeah. I could probably do that. Could I create logos? Absolutely. Can I do some marketing? Yeah, I could do that too. So it’s like all these check boxes, like, let’s go do that. And there’s the funny thing we started it and we were kind of a little cocky, said, Hey, we started it. So now when he was like, well, when you get 10,000 members, you can tell me how to run a business. By the end of the year, we had passed them.

Tony Whatley (00:18:26):
And I made sure to screenshot that and send it to him, said, I guess we can teach you how to run a business. Now, too, that guy fall off long time within a year, we took number one market share. And that’s the thing. I also want to point out for entrepreneurs or someone that’s got a business or an idea or a product idea right now, you don’t have to reinvent things. You don’t have to be creative or an inventor at all. Most people think again, like I have to invent something, I’ve got to go for that blue ocean strategy. They always think they got to do something new. But the reality is that over 90% of the businesses that exist today are just better versions of something else that existed. But elsewhere, they’re just doing things one to 5% better or a little bit differently than what’s existing.

Tony Whatley (00:19:07):
So don’t overthink the idea of just what are the things that you gripe about an existing products or services and how can you improve just one little aspect or component of those that could be the next million dollar idea for you? So these are things that I want to just really point out is like, I didn’t think big, I wasn’t planning on being a millionaire with this. I didn’t understand like how to make these things grow. I just kind of learned as I went and that’s the important message I really want to get to people that are maybe listening, trying to figure out how to do things, but just really they’ve got to get started. So we grew the company Martin just really by doing giveaways and by building a network by having live racing events and car shows around the hot spots of the country, where we knew that the largest network was.

Tony Whatley (00:19:49):
And I started to understand that if I could get people off of their computers and actually go meet in person, they’re going to build a lot stronger bonds between the members of the community and become lifelong friends. People have become lifelong friends. People have gotten married from meeting on our websites. People have gotten divorced from spending too much money on our websites, but there’s a lot of ways to build a community. And it starts with building a strong community with the bonds between the members. It’s not about the ego of the owner. A lot of people nowadays think about the follower business model. They want to be the follower and stand on the top of the Hill and go, you guys are all just here for me, cause I’m just super awesome. And the lines of communication for those type of peoples, between them to end the individual people in the community.

Tony Whatley (00:20:31):
I knew 20 years ago that if I could build the bonds between the members of the community, that was strengthened my brand because they would all come back to hang out and they would all tell their other friends about how awesome it is. And then it would just grow like a spiderweb exponentially. And that’s what it did. So as a community, if you’re building a movement or any kind of force to be reckoned with, you gotta understand, it’s not about you. Everybody will recognize you as the owner or the leader, but it’s not about you. You need to put your ego aside and focus on building a strong community and then it’s going to serve way more people in the end.

Martyn Cook (00:21:04):
Perfect. And so there’s a few things there that that really rung to rung true. And you said it’s not about the blue ocean, it’s just about doing, doing your thing just a few percent better. Right? And, and you said how you the focus was about getting the, getting the members, engaging with each other and moving putting your ego to one side and not, not, it’s not about you. It’s about the members. And so in practice, what does that look like? Because the reality here is you’ve got a bunch of members already embedded to a certain degree on arrival. Ego-Driven forum site, right with the founder being a little bit ego driven. And your mission was to launch your own, get a certain number of those people over, but also to get some that the harm on any forums, how would you go about that? What, what one, what was your offering to, what was the, the why behind people coming onto your site? And three, if it’s different to two, what was it you were doing just a few percent better than, than the competitor for want of a better word?

Tony Whatley (00:22:14):
So the reason we had people coming over is because the initial people we brought in as support staff, they’re basically volunteers, freelancers that we had hooked up with car parts or send a little bit of money here and there to do things. We’d realize that those were the value contributors within the other existing communities, not just the one that we came from, but we knew that these people were the ones who are answering all the technical questions, even though they didn’t have to, they were contributing value by creating how to articles. And there were largely just really underappreciated by the owners of the existing entities. And so we said, okay, this person’s a leader, this one’s a contributor. So we just really looked and cherry picked, I think we started with five people initially go looking back and said, okay, these are the guys that are kind of the leaders of their respective areas of the country.

Tony Whatley (00:23:00):
And they’re creating value and they’re doing their own meetups and stuff like that to get people out. It’s like, those are the people we want as our, our leaders. So we pitched to them, they were starting this new thing and they knew us as leaders, you know, for larger segments. They’re like, man, anything you guys are involved with we’re in, because we were also major contributors by answering questions, creating articles, doing all these different things. So we were content creators. And instead of consumers, that’s the same thing that we’re seeing with Facebook and Instagram and things like that. I was doing this back in 2001, we sold the company in 2007. Facebook didn’t even come out to 2008, 2009. When you think about this. So we really had a very similar business model of content creation to build your influence, your personal brand. People recognize you.

Tony Whatley (00:23:43):
They know like, and trust you. And therefore you get to take that personal brand and go create something for your own. I would say that’s very similar nowadays. Like let’s think about Facebook groups. If you want to understand and do this, go on LinkedIn, go on Facebook, create some groups, build a persona or a value creation, go join some groups, answer everybody’s questions. Encourage people, inspire them, teach them things. And soon enough, you’re going to have this reputation of being a contributor that everybody admires trust and likes. And when you decided to go write your first book or launch your own course or build your own company, you’ve created so much value for years. I’m not talking about doing this for weeks. I’m talking about for years, go do this for years and commit to it. And this is why it’s going to open up.

Tony Whatley (00:24:29):
Most people want these instant results, but they always get passed by somebody like me who understands that patients will deliver the actual value in the longterm duration. So what did we do differently from the other websites? You said, well, first of all, we always focused on user experience. A lot of times people don’t think about user experience from the free market, the free customers. They think that if you’re not buying something from me, then you’re a second class citizen and I get to give you a lesser experience. That’s how a lot of people really think. And it’s unfortunate. But I think of, as we actually had two different customer bases within the business model, we had the advertisers, which were paying us thousands of dollars to be advertisers there, to compete with magazine articles, which were charging eight to 10 times more. At the time we had the power of speed and efficiency to get their message or their product out instantly versus press media, which took two months.

Tony Whatley (00:25:22):
You know, you, you basically supply them two months ahead of time. And then they would publish two months later. So we beat them on price by 10 X, beat them on speed by months and months in advance. So they started to see the value of advertising on digital versus print. Now that was another customer base. We protected their interest by not letting other people who were not advertisers, you know, promote their stuff. We didn’t allow that we just guarded the people that were advertising. So they enjoyed that aspect. The other customer base was the members. They were using it for free, but they had such a tremendous amount of value presented to them because they got to see the, how to articles and the videos and how to make the car faster, how to become a better driver. They got to interact with the leaders of the industry who are the advertisers who were allowed to interact if they had an advertising account.

Tony Whatley (00:26:12):
So we were able to marry and create conduits of communication between the actual industry and the racers and the people. They admire. The people that read about magazines. They were all hanging out on our website. We even had general motors and Cadillac and Chevrolet and Pontiac. All of them were major advertisers on our websites. So when you’ve got the brands that your community is built on endorsing your product, and we were the only one they were doing because we built relationships with them by attending conferences and seminars, getting to know their marketing managers in person and building those strong relationships over a years. Again, doing things contributing value. This all led back to having this major community. We did things different. So the thing is, is these people that were using it, hundreds of thousands of users, they were using it for free, but we never said, well, you know, since they’re not paying us, we can just give them a crappier service.

Tony Whatley (00:27:05):
No, we focused on user experience. We noted that we would monitor the server logs. If things were slowing down on performance, we would say, Hey, we need to upgrade servers. And we would stay ahead of that. Other companies, other forums, other websites, they would be miserable and they’d be crawling. You go click on something. That’d be several seconds for something pops up. And after enough people complain, they would go finally upgrade. You know? And we were like, no, we’re like, we’re going to upgrade about two to three months ahead of time. Just being seen, look our percentages. And nobody ever experienced a real slow down with ours. We were always upgrading and adding more people to support the staff. And it was really just a group of freelancers that really helped. And we had zero actual employees. And that’s a, that’s the thing is, as people think they need to have a big company with a lot of employees, people think that they need to have a storefront or brick and mortar location to feel like it’s a legit business. There’s a lot of ego around business ownership and entrepreneurship. And they just like to have all their ducklings near them and stuff like that. But your employees, guys, I built a multimillion dollar company with zero employees working less than one hour a day. And I didn’t even have to do that. I just enjoyed using it as a user, as a consumer, just to understand the experience was good or not. And building relationships is where the real value in the background was really what formed that company.

Martyn Cook (00:28:23):
Amazing. And so I get, I get the impression that yeah. Value before everything else is, is a key key way that you live your life. And I think, I think there’s been a few stories that you’ve already told, which have illustrated that I’m curious when you’ve got a community and we can graduate into, into your, your current community and just a second. Cause I’m sure there’s a lot of overlaps. Anyway, but so the thing is the service speed. That’s a, that’s a predictable thing. You can look at graphs, you can go, Oh, actually the usage on our website shows that it’s low. We need to upgrade. What about when engagement drops? What, how do you approach a drop in a gate and engagement, which might be less objective and it might be completely subjective. Like it feels a bit quieter today. How did you address that? And turn that?

Tony Whatley (00:29:18):
I find that engagement, even in Facebook groups, I’ve gotten pretty big groups. Myself. I think of engagement in a community is based on the core values and the principles of the group. How many times of interview have joined a Facebook group? They’ll say entrepreneurship group, because there’s thousands of them out there. You join it. And everybody’s just posting motivational names or spam or talking about their stuff on a self promo. Or maybe somebody is actually asking a legit question and you’ve got passive aggressive assholes that are like, you should use the search feature or you should go use Google or they’re just being rude. Or like, Oh, if you’re asking that you’re too much of a rookie to be in here, like, why are you even in here? So you get assholes and stuff like that. Those were what caused the decrease in activity. Because people who actually would like to participate are watching how you as a leader, run your community.

Tony Whatley (00:30:07):
And if you’re not protecting the members of your community from being willing to participate, they’re not going to participate either. They’re going to go, you know what? I know the answer to this. I would love to answer this question, but I know if I do that, some asshole is going to come in here and like start talking shit. And I don’t really have the time for that. So they just avoid participating. So the way you have to understand a community as a leader is that you treat it like your house. You’ve got to treat your community, just like your house. If somebody were knock on your door as a solicitor, would you answer the door would just tell them to go away. That’s how you got to think about it. If someone were to walk in your house, Martin, let’s say you’re having a dinner party.

Tony Whatley (00:30:44):
You’re not invited guests. Somebody shows up unannounced, they’re belligerent, they’re calling other people names, they’re yelling in your house. What would a homeowner do? Would they just tolerate that? Or would they be like, get the fuck out of my house. That’s how you have to treat your community. You have to guard that you have to protect the people inside your house. And when you start to do that, your community will admire and understand that this is why I don’t belong. This is why I’m here. We don’t allow the passive aggressive. Even in my Facebook group, people that are rude or passive aggressive, or just trying to talk shit or argue for no reason, other than argue, we just boot them. I have a very thick skin after managing hundreds of thousands of people. Like we don’t have to tolerate that stuff because if you make the value worth being a part of that community, even the assholes will kind of get quiet and quit doing that because they’re getting a lot more value than they’re occasional, you know, rage posts that they want to go create, start trash.

Tony Whatley (00:31:39):
Like if they understand that they’re going to do that, they may actually lose access to the value. So that’s how we did this. He got thinking about this automotive erasing site, dude, testosterone, ego dudes, wanting to fight. I mean, you’ve got all kinds of stuff going on out there. It’s a very alpha dominated community, but we were able to manage that properly and control that properly by creating enough value that everybody felt like they were confident and safe enough to participate without being attacked. So we see a lot of that breaking down in Facebook nowadays and Instagram and LinkedIn, just especially political stuff that’s going on right now. I don’t tolerate that on my personal feed. If somebody comes into my personal feed as calling other people names and being a total asshole block, like I don’t care who there could be. Like my mother not being like blocked.

Tony Whatley (00:32:27):
I don’t care because I control my feet. I control the access to my audience and I protect them even on my personal pages. So some people will be thinking, well, that’s censorship. Well, you know what? If that’s what you want to call it. I don’t know what you’re talking about because when you think about it this way, we always hear in America, you’ll see people talking about, Oh, freedom of speech and Mark Zuckerberg’s censoring us. And they get all butthurt about it. But me as a former community owner, I understand the challenges of owning a community and they don’t understand what freedom of speech actually means. They don’t understand that. That just means the government’s not going to come haul you away for saying something bad about the government. That’s all. That means nothing else. Now you’re doing that on a privately or publicly owned page. That’s not government entity. You have no protection. Most people would understand that there is no, there’s no freedom from consequence. There’s freedom of speech from the government, but there’s no freedom of consequence. So when people start to understand what the consequences are, losing value, losing your account, getting kicked off a website, they start to behave a little bit more because the value just has to be a little bit better than the pain.

Martyn Cook (00:33:34):
Perfect. And it’s such a great way to put that in such, such brilliant ammo for anybody listening and who just needs a little soundbite to throw in the way,

Tony Whatley (00:33:44):
If someone commanding freedom of speech. And when they really mean freedom from consequences of result of what they’ve just said in that speech. And so you, you, you had this this forum, this community, and at some point

Martyn Cook (00:34:01):
An irresistible offer came your way, or perhaps it coincided with,

Tony Whatley (00:34:05):
If you’re looking to the next challenge, what Alyssa let’s briefly touch upon upon that, and then go into what happened next for you. I guess in the course of owners owning that website, we had been approached a few times by potential people wanting to buy the site. They saw it as a viable business, obviously, cause they can count the number of advertisements that were shown. But the funny thing is, is that at the time very few companies understood the valuation of a digital product or a company like that. So we would always be, you know, I think any business owner will laugh about this because when someone’s like, Hey, would you like to be mean it was like to sell your company? Well, the normal response is what what’s your offer? What do you think it’s worth? Because as business owners, we’re curious of what the market perception is.

Tony Whatley (00:34:54):
And we know generally what it’s making so we can create our own valuation, but a lot of times people would come up and they would say something that kind of reminds me of dr. Eva when he did the $1 million thing, they’d be like, we’ll buy your website for 100,000. I’m thinking, wow, you think is that, would you like to buy the advertising package or is that, you know, what, what are you, what are you asking you buying the website or ad package here. So they didn’t understand the revenue that we’re understanding. Cause we didn’t flaunt it. I mean, why would you do that? We had an 88% profit margin based on what we we’re building. And we were making $50,000 profit a month at the peak. So a hundred thousand dollars, like, yeah, let me sell that for two months of pay. Cool. Yeah, that’s stupid.

Tony Whatley (00:35:41):
So finally about 2006, we were approached by another company. It looked a little bit legitimate and they had a different approach. They said, we’re interested in buying your product and your assets. And we just acquired this company, this company and this company. And we recognize those three companies because they were all in the automotive space. They were also big forums, just different genres. I think one of them was a Audi and one was a BMW. And so every forum had its number one market share. We were number one for general motors. And I said, wow, those guys sold. They’re pretty close to us in size, just different, you know, Marquis and let’s hear what they have to say. And so I remember getting with my partner, John and said, you know, you know, we’ve got these really busy careers. We’re doing really well. We’re both making multiple six figures in our own income salaries.

Tony Whatley (00:36:30):
We’ve got different businesses that we have launched off and you know, it’s like, okay, we’re kind of, kind of getting tapered off on this community. Are you ready to leave on this and go do something else? And then he and I were both agreed like, yeah, I think, I think we’re both ready because for one, it was largely Camaro Corvette, Firebird, but then ended production of the Camaro and fire back in 2002. And here we are in 2006 approaching seven. So like, I don’t know if they’re coming back or what, but we’re just going to be talking about classic cars at some point. Or, you know, we didn’t know that there was a new guy, new Camaro going to come out 2010 and things like that. So you just had no crystal ball. So it was like, have, this might be a good time. We’re starting to get near the top of the plateau without actually plateauing.

Tony Whatley (00:37:10):
And we’re looking at the money. And we said, okay. Yeah, I think this is a good time to exit. And so we come up with this number in our head. And the funny thing is that their first offer was more than double what our minimum buyout was because we didn’t understand valuation either. We were, we just said, Hey, what would you like? I’d like to pay off my house. And I’m like, yeah, I’d like to pay off my house. He was like, cool. So we had this number, right? It came back more than double their first offer. So we’re like, Oh crap, this is real. This is like a real offer. So I think we need to hire a lawyer that understands M and a mergers and acquisition. So we hired one and the guy’s like, well, their first offer is always the lowest. What do you guys want?

Tony Whatley (00:37:50):
And I said, okay, well we want to, we want to be millionaires like after taxes. So that was our next pitch. And basically they accepted it. I said, okay, they didn’t even hesitate. Like sounds good to us. Come to find out. We could have probably gotten about 30% more understanding valuation and going through that entire process was a whole year long process of going through the discovery and legal contracts and agreements and all this stuff back and forth. But that was such invaluable experience because so few people have ever gone through a, a buyout only about 10% of companies ever get sold. And it’s because 90% of companies simply aren’t worth anything to a buyer. So we were doing everything right to create valuation. We had recurring revenue. We had membership, we had people paying years in advance for advertising because of the discounts we would apply.

Tony Whatley (00:38:39):
We had the server logs. We had hundreds of thousands of email addresses value in that alone for pitching to advertiser. So we understood that we were doing all these things to create valuation. And also as founders, we weren’t overpaying ourselves. We had good jobs. We were investing that back into the company and showing a really high level of profit within the business and be happy to pay taxes on that. That’s a great place to be, to pay taxes on a lot of money because that’s a good problem to have. So we did all these things, right? And that’s why the valuation was multiple seven figure exit. So when you understand that a lot of people do things wrong. Especially small business owners. They do a lot of things like hiding money or buying assets and spending money to reduce their tax burden. And they realized that that’s really going to punch them in the face if they decide to sell the company.

Tony Whatley (00:39:23):
So you gotta go in the United States three to five years is basically the look back that they’re going to look at back on your business, determine your valuation. And therefore you got to change your business strategies. The last three years, if you plan an exit strategy, most people don’t realize that they want to sell their company because it’s a knee jerk reaction to something maybe their health fades or their partner wants to quit, or there’s a divorce or somebody, God forbid dies. It’s always something that’s catastrophic that puts you into a tailspin and make you think about selling your company as a reaction. But if you weren’t prepared for that last three years as a minimum, it’s probably not going to be worth much. If you weren’t doing things the right way.

Martyn Cook (00:40:02):
It’s, it’s very interesting. Like you said, like most people don’t go through the, the, the selling of the company. Now we actually which you sold a company in lockdown, which is probably the, I think it’s the fourth asset or company that, that have sold over over time and it doesn’t get easier. And, and, and, you know, it’s almost like when you speak to a fellow author but obviously in this case, when you speak to a fellow a person that has sold a business, you sort of want to go, good job, brother. Like you got through it at a boy kind of thing as well. Whereas if you haven’t necessarily gone through it, you don’t know that. Actually there’ll be a lot of tire kickers. There’ll be a lot of time wasted as though it’d be a lot of people that break your heart at the last second, when they get cold, dude get cold feet. There’s a lot, there’s a lot of stuff.

Tony Whatley (00:40:49):
So that money is in your bank account until that money’s in your bank account, it is not sold. I’ve seen so many companies deals fall down like literally the day before closing day.

Martyn Cook (00:40:59):
Well, we had that. We had one buyer literally day before the money was due in said that he had an issue with a different, a different thing going on a different investment that you’ve made and that turned toxic and it affected his money. And so, yeah. And, and even then, like, if you’re selling a business, one piece of advice, I mentored one of my friends on this recently, he’s he’s going through it. I said, you’re going to have to choose the point where you would pop the cork on the champagne because there is no point in it. Is there going to be a point where someone goes, it’s official, you’ve done it. There’s turning back. No one can reverse the deal. There’s just going to be a point where you’re happy that you’ve, you’ve made enough momentum and it’s, it’s it’s least likely to fail. The money is obviously in your bank. And you’re going to throw caution to the wind and celebrate something. That’s a milestone because no, one’s going to tell you

Tony Whatley (00:41:49):
Date. Now you can put the coat, don’t count your money. Don’t count your money before it’s in your bank. That’s a, that’s a key because a lot of people will be thinking about how they’re going to spend it and what they’re going to buy and how they’re going to invest it and how they’re going to do something else with it. And then this shit happens and they don’t have anything. So yeah, I, I think I was still in disbelief until I logged into the bank account that morning after it’d been wired and seeing it actually in my account. And I’m like, is that real? Is that real? I guess it is. And then I called my father, like, he’s like, yeah, I goes, he goes, so I sent him as half and we both kind of celebrated at that point, but it was a year long process. And there was a lot of stressful situations in there. A lot of bickering, a lot of lawyers, you know, lawyers always make money. You think about that

Martyn Cook (00:42:33):
The more, the better for, for a lawyer. Yeah. And even things like that, you said, you know, Oh, I just transferred him the money. Have you guys, anyone listening who thinks it’s easy to send a million dollars to someone else you haven’t done it. Right. You’re like, it’s not easy. Banks will cost you that there’ll be people in between you and the person you’re sending the money to stop at you sending the money. Like, you’re like, Hey, stop it. It’s my money’s let me send that. And okay.

Tony Whatley (00:42:58):
Yeah. I think the hardest, I think the hardest is writing the check to the government for taxes after that, by because you have to write this check for six, seven figures sometimes. And it’s like, wow, like this is more than most people earn their lifetime. I’m just paying taxes and that much.

Martyn Cook (00:43:13):
So so with that out of the way in the dust settling and yeah, hopefully waited, maybe it may be a month, wait a month. When you get big windfall amount of money, wait a month. Or before you start spending it, just let the dust settle. And the excitement going, you can get a bit logical again, and then you can buy some toys. If you want, after this is all settled for you. You, you started looking at different areas. So, so you, so you’d been in the, in the cost space, but then you wrote a book about side hustle businesses, and you’ve launched a a community more in the business building business mentorship space. Can you tell us a little bit about

Tony Whatley (00:43:53):
Transition? Yeah. It was a big of a change. So even while I was running that company, I was helping mentor and coach people privately. So if you were a friend or someone in my network, people were always coming to me, advice on how to build their companies for the last 15 years. I’ve helped people build seven and eight figure companies. I’ve built at least 12 people in the seven figures that I know of, probably a few more, the company that created and launched a lot of big successful companies from people starting in their garage is selling parts or services based on advertising on my own website. So my dream was able to build a lot of dreams for several other people. And they’re always telling me like, you’re getting all these good results, like, look at the results. I’m getting your taught me all this.

Tony Whatley (00:44:38):
Like you should be teaching this. And the thing was Martin is that I had a very comfortable life, good income family, multiple businesses. I didn’t feel like I needed to put myself out there and get on a spotlight to be able to teach things, because I didn’t want to have that criticism that goes back to that whole bullying thing. Right. I didn’t need to avoid, I could, I could live perfectly fine without doing that. Okay. So for most of the years, I basically was always reaching for different excuses and I hope there’s a listener, understand that maybe they’re out there reaching for excuses themselves on why they’re not putting themselves in the spotlight. I’ve got kids, I’ve got a marriage, I’ve got a steady income. I’ve got a business. I don’t need to do that. Like all these things that are keeping you down, but what happened is I raced cars.

Tony Whatley (00:45:21):
I used to be a photo journalist and contributing editor for automotive magazine. So I’m always racing cars, extracting lap times and quarter miles, writing articles, doing videos. And so it was very common for me to get the keys thrown to me from manufacturers or shops or manufacturing, parts, go, go test this car and give us some results and set a record maybe, and then, you know, write up an article so that, okay, cool. I’ll do that. Well, in the end of 2015, I was actually in, in a pretty major car accident while I was racing cars. And that really changed my life in that moment because I’ve been in different times where the car has got out of line, but never something like this because they put it in perspective. It was a 1000 horsepower Dodge Viper. It’s twin turbo. We’re trying to make a nine second quarter mile pass to be the first of that generation to go run nines.

Tony Whatley (00:46:08):
I have a lot of experience running those cars. I have cars like that myself. So the problem is at the top of the top of third gear, around 130 miles per hour, I don’t know how many kilometers that is. You’ll have to do the conversion there 30 miles per hour, fast, this fast, and basically something in the rear suspension broke and the car lost control. And it really put me towards, I let hard left turns towards a concrete wall. So I’m in a two door sports car, 130 miles per hour approaching a concrete wall. And in that incident, I thought I was going to die. I actually muttered to myself in that moment. Well, here I go. And obviously I lived, but the thing was really crazy. It was, I was really calm and peaceful in that moment. I was thinking certain death and it was not fear.

Tony Whatley (00:46:50):
It was not panic. It was just basically calm serenity. And even after that accident and I’ve managed to get myself out of the car, the paramedic did the inspection on me, looking at the heart rates, all my vitals. And even she said, you’re remarkably calm for someone who had just had a major accident. She was asking me a lot of questions that I don’t know if I had a concussion, you know, because she’d never seen that before. And I said, no, I’m really just very calm right now. My head, my mind was really clear and what I was really thinking, and I want the listeners to understand this, because this is an exercise to go through that for themselves. I was thinking about why am I still here? Like the car was mangled. The entire was smashed, ended up to the front of the windshield.

Tony Whatley (00:47:31):
There was two wheels off the car. Every panel was damaged, fluids stripped for hundreds of feet. And I was like, and I’m here and I’m not injured. And I’m calm. Like this is just a weird, it’s just weird. And so I started thinking about what if I would have died? What if I would have died? How would I have been remembered? And I started thinking about that. It’s like, well, how many other people do I know who have died recently? And the car scene or the motorcycles. And so how were they remembered? And it’s always the same Martin, even in the entrepreneurship world, you know, people that are doing things that are good. So, and so was a nice guy. And so, and so, you know, successful business or so, and so has nice cars or whatever, very superficial things. And I get it. If you’re a dirt bag, maybe you aspire to be remembered as a nice guy.

Tony Whatley (00:48:17):
Maybe that’s your goal in life and, you know, go chase that goal. But the thing is, I’ve always been a nice guy. So when someone’s like, Oh, here’s someone that was a nice guy with cool cars. I’m like, does that really? How I want to be remembered? Is that really my life in a, in a, in a description. And I said, well, that that’s good. But what it’s telling me is that I’m not doing enough. It told me that I was basically hiding and not making enough impact in this world within my potential. So I really started to really think about that. And, you know, shortly after that, I basically resigned a multiple six figure oil and gas career. And I said, this is no longer serving me. I need to go do something that’s going to impact. Thousands of people is what I used to say again, thinking small, just like when I started my business, I’m going to impact thousands of people by teaching them confidence and business principles to start their business, because I want to change not only their lives, but their lives of their legacy, their children and their grandkids are going to change because I’ve created some kind of a change within them in this present moment.

Tony Whatley (00:49:16):
So I said, well, what’s the best way for me to do that. What’s the best way for me to take the love for entrepreneurship and business and get my message out there. It’s like, well, I want to write a book. I need to write a book. I’ve had this book in my mind for five, six years, but I was always afraid to put my words out there. I was really just being a bitch to be honest, like, cause I could avoid it. I had a comfortable life. I didn’t have to do it. So I started to call myself out and started to put my purpose ahead of my fear and knowing that it was going to be uncomfortable to put things out there and the fear of potential criticism and haters and naysayers and things like that. I said, okay, but my purpose is stronger than my fear.

Tony Whatley (00:49:53):
So I’m just really focused on that. And I was writing this book. Okay. And I had an editor that was looking at chapter by chapter and the guy’s helped over 200 people become best sellers on Amazon. It’s a strategy. And you told me the formula and like the content that we had to focus on and it’s just like hiring a coach really? And I said, okay, he’s going, man. This book is going to be incredible. It’s going to do really well. He look at me, I’m typing it myself. I didn’t use a ghost writer. I like writing. I typed it all myself, wrote it all myself, blocked it out on my calendar. And he’s like, you know, you may like start getting interviewed or, you know, things like that. If people really like this book and I was like, well, shit. Like, like I have stage fright.

Tony Whatley (00:50:33):
I’m not good in front of the camera. I avoided the camera. Only time I was in front of the camera before may of 2017 is when we’re on vacation because my wife likes to take photos. So occasionally I would be in front of the camera. But most of the time I was taking photos rather than doing that. I didn’t like my recorded voice. I remembered the bullies that I had and putting yourself out there. And I was like, man, this is really uncomfortable. I remember standing up to answer a question at a business conference one time and getting the choke throat and the sweaty palms and the body core temperature. Starting as I got stage fright, I didn’t want to stand in front of anybody. So I was like, crap. They might have me on podcasts. They might have me on stage. They might have me on TV and you could just feel them the panic.

Tony Whatley (00:51:14):
And I was like, okay, I’m a Daredevil by nature. I love stunts. I love taking risks. Even as a kid, I like going 200 plus miles per hour in a car like adrenaline. I said, this is a fear that is kind of exciting. It’s some, it’s a new fear on discovered of public speaking and communication. So how do I overcome this fear and being an entrepreneur, it’s about solving challenges rather than running away from them. So I said, okay, I need to invest in myself. I’m not the right person yet to do those things, but I can get there. I believe I can. So I joined Toastmasters and now hired a speaking coach and I did social media videos every single day for over a year. There’s the three 65 driven, leading into really what I was building. And I knew I sucked Martin. I knew I sucked completely.

Tony Whatley (00:52:00):
I didn’t know how to say things. I would say I’m a lot and lose my point and not knowing how to communicate. I’ve mispronounced things all the time. And I would do 10 takes of these videos. I would sit in my car and do 10 takes and finally get one that I was willing to share. Now I can go hot seat, not even worry about that. Go live because I did enough reps and understand how to do these things. I’ve stood on stages with thousands of people in the audience and our rocked it. And I loved it and I loved the adrenaline of that. So it was something that was a fear of mine that I invested in myself that became a passion. Now I actually teach other people, became a president of a Toastmasters for over a year and seeing all these other people transform in business and personal lives and everything that they’re creating is what really creates the gratitude and the fulfillment for me.

Tony Whatley (00:52:44):
So go chase your millions of dollars, but realize that fulfillment comes when you start to give back. And so now I’m on the legacy journey and the book sold over a thousand copies in the first day and it’s like, well, I impacted thousands of people. So there was that small dream again. I was like, well, what do I say now? Do I, do I go impact tens of thousands? Or do I say a hundred thousand, all these weird questions, right? And it’s like, Nope. The next logical thing is millions. So people ask me today, what’s your purpose is, is the impact of generational legacy of millions of people by teaching them business principles in confidence. And that’s what I do. And I transform people in business owners. And it’s something that I started back in 2017. It’s been remarkable. It’s gone crazy. The book has gotten me on radio and TV in several stages. And like you mentioned, over 200 other podcasts as a guest, but this is all because I just put in the work and I do the reps.

Martyn Cook (00:53:38):
And so where can people who are interested in

Tony Whatley (00:53:41):
And learning more about you and what you’re putting out into the world and your mission, where can they go to find out more about these things? My website is three 65 and I’m very active on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook, but everything’s there. I’ve got a community that’s a really affordable and $365 a year, dollar a day for entrepreneurship and about 170 members in there. We’re highly supportive. We ask a lot of questions that get special content. Another group is three 65 driven entrepreneurs on Facebook is about 3,500 members there. So I’m using the same principles for building community by creating value. And my goal is to reach millions of followers and millions of people in these communities because cumulatively built communities with 600,000 people. I’m competitive against myself. So, Hey, I want to have a million person community. Boom. And I have no doubt. You’ll get there.

Martyn Cook (00:54:31):
Tony. Thank you so much for sharing so far. At this point, we mix it up a little bit. We shake it up and we go into the rapid fire question round, ask the questions quickly. You can answer them quickly or you can take your time. And sometimes we’d go off on a tangent, but we always come back folks. And we always come back. Are you ready? Let’s rock man. Are you two thumbs up, up for this

Tony Whatley (00:54:57):
Question? Number one, tiny. What super hero would you be and why I’m iron man. Even when people say I kind of look like him. And the thing is, is because mechanically minded loves cars is just a normal dude that has built themselves into a superhero. And so, yeah, I definitely would say iron man is who I resonate with.

Martyn Cook (00:55:17):
Yeah. Put some glasses on you and some and shape the, the beard a little bit. Yeah.

Tony Whatley (00:55:22):
I can see that. Yeah. You look, you look like mr. [inaudible].

Martyn Cook (00:55:26):
Hmm. Question T what’s one thing that people often incorrectly,

Tony Whatley (00:55:31):
I think a lot of people look at your snapshot of your life in a present time. And they think that maybe it was easy for you or you maybe you were born into success or inherited it. So I think that successful people get unfairly judged. They don’t realize that the hardships that we’ve gone through, all the tragedies, all the different things that we’ve learned to become who we are. So I would say that most people just assume that I was born with this, or I had this ability and I was always like this.

Martyn Cook (00:55:58):
What is the most pointless subject to,

Tony Whatley (00:56:01):
And what would you replace it with? I think with schools, standardized testing is what’s ruined our education because nowadays, instead of teaching kids, how to actually think and ask questions and actually learn and challenge things. And our school systems here in the United States are all about passing standardized testing to get more funding from the government. So basically they would say, Hey, little Martin, I want you to these answers. Here’s the answers word for word? So when somebody in a standardized testing agency asks you this question, you just regurgitate this answer. I don’t, you don’t need to know why you need to know it. You just need to remember this. So they teach kids how to pass tests instead of teaching them how to become educated, to do things. And that’s unfortunate. That’s kind of gone that way.

Martyn Cook (00:56:44):
What’s one random act of kindness. You’ve either witnessed or done yourself.

Tony Whatley (00:56:48):
I think for me, I always look at anything as related to children or I look for anything that’s related to elderly or disabled, mentally or physical, you know, because I always think about, we need to help people that can’t help themselves. I realized that there’s a lot of people out there that are struggling and going through some negative things in their lives. Right now I’ve done that. I’ve worked three jobs, I’ve been broke. I’ve had to figure out how to do things and what I really don’t have a lot of tolerance for as people who are unwilling to change themselves within their abilities. So I really try to focus on helping those who have no voice and those who can’t do things for themselves, but everybody else, I just look at them as they had just had a bunch of excuses. And I don’t tolerate that because I came from such a narrow get tough background.

Tony Whatley (00:57:29):
So I sit on a board of a group, it’s a nonprofit it’s called. I can help hashtag I can help as an anti bullying company for children. So it’s really to teach kids how to use social media in a positive manner. Every year we do a large event. Last time I was at Facebook headquarters and Instagram headquarters. So very well big produced things, but a lot of big name sponsors. And this year we’re supposed to do that in New York, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. I was going to be the host of that show as well. And I just love to help kids become confident. And then here’s the beauty of that group is because they mix in entrepreneurship with the anti-bullying. So we actually have a shark tank panel. I think you guys call it something different and [inaudible],

Martyn Cook (00:58:13):
And Harrington was the foreword on my book Lake. I’m familiar with drag.

Tony Whatley (00:58:16):
Yeah. So we have that actual thing on stage. And we bring in the donors from the big companies to sit on there and the kids, they pick 10 winners across the country to come present their idea, to change the world and this entrepreneurial. So it’s kind of fun that they get to go through that exercise and then they pick one winner and that’s cool. That’s a really cool event. Nice, well unusual

Martyn Cook (00:58:39):
Or underrated food or drink should more people try out,

Tony Whatley (00:58:42):
Oh wow. Underrated food. I would say I’m generally some, somewhat of a picky eater. So I’m not too exploratory when it comes to food. I’m very much a bit mus or oinks or chicken box. I’m pretty safe with that. I do have a lot of passion around a craft, beer and wine, my wife, and I’ve traveled the entire world going to wine tours. Cause she loves doing that. But honestly, I don’t really have an answer for a creative thing. That’s that’s under, I guess, under appreciated because I haven’t explored that. What’s your favorite food? I would say that changes with time. I would say when I was kid was probably pizza and probably anything with like a big steak or like meat potatoes now, because I extra says six days a week and I need a lot of protein. So I just love to eat a lot of meats, I guess. Yeah.

Martyn Cook (00:59:28):
Nice. What’s one mistake you made in your life and what did you learn from it?

Tony Whatley (00:59:34):
Several mistakes. I would say number one would be to think about your partners. Since we’re talking about context of business here, a lot of people start partnerships based on friendships. They think like, Hey, let’s go climb this mountain together. And we’ll both be rich. We’ll be hanging out at the top of the mountain together. But most people don’t realize that a partnership needs a strategy in play. I’ve had to fire partners before and I’ve had to kick certain partners out of a group of partners. So I understand that partnership is not about being friends. It’s good if you’re friends, but that’s not even necessary to be friends, to be honest because it’s about business strategy. It’s like, what are they bringing to the table? Is there some strategic Alliance that you’re going to join venture with or something that they’re bringing to the table. And also don’t ever partner with somebody that’s got the exact same skill set as you, because now you’re going to be kicking each other and stepping on each other’s toes trying to overthink.

Tony Whatley (01:00:22):
So there’s gotta be clear boundaries set. And I actually, I have a few business clients that are partnerships and I meet with one on two days of the month and then the other one for two days a month. And I kind of act as the intermediary and try to create boundaries and respect. And the company blows up and does great because of that. Because a lot of times people just step on each other’s toes and they try to micromanage the other side. Or you may have one guy that’s marketing and one guys that’s operations, and they’re always trying to intermingle and do things, but you create these boundaries, the processes, the communication channels between them and understand what is the strategy is the number one thing I says is try not to be a partner avoided at all costs, unless there’s a reason for them to come in, whether that’s a financial windfall that they’re bringing in as an investment, or they’ve got a network that people that you can potentially tap into to build your company and scale it, there’s gotta be something else and just be friends.

Martyn Cook (01:01:12):
What does the first 30 to 60 minutes of your day look like? And at what time does it typically start?

Tony Whatley (01:01:17):
I typically get up around five 30 in the morning, go to bed around 10:00 PM. I don’t waste any of my morning. I’m a morning person for context. I think everybody needs to understand where their biological productivity hours are. I’m a morning person. So between 6:00 AM to noon, that’s when my mind is on fire and I’m looking to do creative work, create content, write the next book, launched business ideas, interact with things that require a little, really heavy analytical or creative process. Now come after lunch. Like most people, I start to kind of a little bit, feel a little bit, I guess, lethargic sometimes. And the thing about corporate working 20 years in oil and gas, you couldn’t do things like take a nap. Okay. And there’s also the stigma that if you go take a nap that you’re somehow lazy, right? This, these self limiting beliefs that are created by society, cause people that could not have the ability to do that.

Tony Whatley (01:02:08):
We’re just basically showing other people that could. Now there’s a reason that big companies like Facebook and Google and these big powerhouse is actually having that branch for 20, 30 minutes for the employee. That’s because they discovered just like I have by experimenting, working at home for the last five years that I can sacrifice 30 to 45 minutes of my time to get a huge increase in mental productivity on the backend where most people will just struggle for three or four hours and really not be productive. So maybe that’s listening to this, maybe thinking about that less, less time you read something or you’re doing something and you look, I don’t even remember what I did the last 15 minutes. If that’s you that’s because your brain is basically needing a recharge and you should not try to struggle through that because of your ego. Like, well, I’m not lazy. I don’t take naps. You know, a lot of people will say that too, and I’ll go, I’ll go lay down for 30, 45 minutes, wake up and I’ll get another three hours of productivity on the back end where I would have otherwise struggled. So that’s a tip.

Martyn Cook (01:03:07):
Love that. Where do you go? What do you do to get inspired?

Tony Whatley (01:03:13):
I like to travel the world. I think that it’s very important. I think the even 50% of the people in the United States do not even have a us passport the residents here. So that shows that half the countries never even left the country. Most of them have not even left their own state, which is ridiculous. When you think about it, cause there’s so many opportunities to see things I’ve had the benefit of working in England. I’ve actually worked in Bristol. I’ve worked in Newcastle, I’ve worked in London, I’ve worked in Paris, I’ve worked in Africa. So I’ve had a lot of global perspective to see what other countries do well and do wrong. And understanding that is really going to help you as an entrepreneur because you’re not going to just have this echo chamber, so to speak of your own country and how they do things and how the regulations are there, how the customer base is there because you actually may get better product and service ideas by visiting other countries and seeing what they do better. And maybe able to take that and bring it back to your own home country. So get out there, travel the world. It’s a great way to just understand perspective and understand how the world works as a global economy, because too many people are focused on our local economy, their government economy, but they’re not understanding the entire global economy and commodities that come with that.

Martyn Cook (01:04:21):
There was so much inspiration to be had from, from travel. I always say change of location, change of mindset. It’s, it’s being physically in a different location. It will bring

Tony Whatley (01:04:33):
Different thoughts into your brain, just that alone, but get out there, you know, when it’s safe again, you know, it’s funny, you mentioned that energy thing. It’s so true. How many times have you, you just arrived at new city and you feel like, like a negative energy and you’re like, Hmm, this isn’t for me. You just know like your gut feels telling you, like, nah, but then you go to some and you’re like, wow, this is amazing. And it’s not always about the scenery or how up level or down level it is. It’s just, there’s an energy about every location. And maybe if you’re sitting in a city right now and you’re feeling negative energy, or you’re feeling blue or you’re feeling out of place, maybe you need to go explore and see that you’re missing something out. Maybe you’re actually holding yourself back by remaining where you’re at a hundred percent. Who do you

Martyn Cook (01:05:20):
Utilize above anyone else? And why?

Tony Whatley (01:05:23):
Honestly, I’d say that goes back to my parents. I mean, I think that I admire them for working so hard and giving me the opportunities to do what I’ve achieved and having that discipline because a lot of people really undervalued discipline and I was able to carry what I learned as a child into adulthood to give you an idea of discipline. Cause a lot of people roll their eyes when they understand that I did not miss a single day of school from kindergarten through graduation, not one perfect attendance for 13 years because my mother being a Japanese immigrant and her generation women were not allowed to go to high school. They basically got through junior high and then they went and worked on the farm. So she valued education so much because she didn’t have that opportunity. And she wanted to go like the boys did that.

Tony Whatley (01:06:07):
My sister and I, we just didn’t miss school. Even if we’re sick, we’re getting on that bus. But that work ethic and the ability to show up every single day kind of sucked as a kid. But looking at as an adult now I get it because I show up every day and that’s really what the brand is three 65 driven because every single day where you should be looking for ways to learn new things, to improve, to evolve. And a lot of people just are in this complacency circle that is going through the motions day to day. I’m always looking to learn new things, meet new people, challenging myself, and try to improve on a daily basis.

Martyn Cook (01:06:41):
A hundred percent I took listens to the show will absolutely know that I talk in terms of 1% improvements. It’s the title of the book and yeah, 365 days folks. That’s 365.

Tony Whatley (01:06:51):
The opportunities to improve yourself by 1% and 1% compounded 365 times. What book?

Martyn Cook (01:07:00):
Well books do you read or gift the most honestly

Tony Whatley (01:07:06):
Probably read most of the newer or the most popular personal development and business books probably in the last 10 years. I usually tend to go through a book a week. I like audio book because I can listen while I’m commuting or, or I’m at the gym. I really replaced the music as much as I love music. I replaced that with learning. I’m always listening to audio books or podcasts now. So anytime I have an opportunity to stick those things in, I’ll listen to that. But what I’ve gravitated towards in the last really the last year is the classics. So I read books like self-reliance from Ralph Waldo Emerson right now I’m looking at a Socrates book and learning the Socratic method to brush up on the questioning skills. That’s been really powerful to read those things looked at different books from the Greek mythology and things like that.

Tony Whatley (01:07:50):
Cause I understand that, you know, here’s the thing about human nature is we don’t change. One of the things that were made people successful and experts back then were this in their mindset. And it’s fun to go look and read books that are thousands or hundreds of years old and seeing it’s the exact same problems they had back then to the exact same problems we have today. But why not learn it from the masters who discovered this hundreds of years ago, instead of worrying about the modern ones, the modern ones are a little easier to understand and the language, but also find the challenge and read that. So if you go route read Ralph Waldo, Emerson, self reliance, it’s very difficult to read because it’s a higher level vocabulary. And the sentence structure is a little different. Some of the words you spell it a little bit different, but when you realize that when this was written in the early 18 hundreds, it was a different way of reading.

Tony Whatley (01:08:35):
People would read one sentence at a time and they would go, what does that sentence mean to me? And they would try to translate that one sentence at a time and go into deep thought before moving onto the next sentence. Nowadays, we just kind of try to read and get through the book as fast as possible. And the sentences all kind of just relate to each other. And it’s easy, easy to read, but you have to change the way you read and go, okay, I’m gonna read this. What does that sentence mean to me? What are those words? Did he use those words on purpose? What does that really tell on me? Okay. I got that. Okay. And the next one. And so it’s a different way to read. So it’s been fun to challenge my mind in that way. Nice. Well silly.

Martyn Cook (01:09:10):
Should people do more of

Tony Whatley (01:09:12):
Laugh at themselves and not take themselves so seriously? I think a lot of people, even the people that are egotistical, they just want to present this persona of like stoicism. And they just want to be like, I’m just always serious or they’re always got their tie on their jacket on. And they’re basically just going around trying to be super serious. But the thing is, you set yourself up for failure. As soon as somebody ridicules you or criticizes you. And I want to preface this because understanding if you start to do things like I’m doing and you’re doing, and you’re putting your word out there or you’re standing on stage, you’re building your social media, your influence. And you’re actually literally putting yourself out there for potential criticism. If you’re doing anything worth noticing, you will have critics, you will have haters, you will have naysayers.

Tony Whatley (01:09:54):
And if you’ve been super serious and stick up your ass, you’re going to fall because you’re not going to be able to laugh at things that they’re saying, you’re going to take it too serious as a character attack. But somebody like me that follows me on Instagram or Facebook, I post funny shit all the time about me. Even my face I’ll do stupid things or I’ll just make people laugh. And that’s also part of who I am. So when somebody comes in and talking trash, I’m not going to take it all serious and go, Oh, he’s attacking my character. I’m super serious. And I’ll just laugh with them. Or I might just do something funny or towards them. So humor creates endorphin release. We stay positive. Other people want to be around you when you’re being funnier. So learn to get a sense of humor and learn to not take yourself so serious.

Martyn Cook (01:10:42):
If you could change one world problem with one wish, what would it be?

Tony Whatley (01:10:46):
One world problem. Honestly, I think that I would like to see disease.

Martyn Cook (01:10:54):
I think that

Tony Whatley (01:10:55):
That’s unfortunate that we lose millions of people around the world. We’re going through a global pandemic right now. That’s killed hundreds of thousands of people as well. You got to understand that a lot of these things can be solved. We’re going through a lot of medical, I guess, breakthroughs. We’re seeing different ways to create better immunity. We understand that the diet and exercise important. So we’re learning how to stay longer living. And I think I was reading somewhere that we actually have the potential to live about 120, 130 years, if everything was done right. And the advancements in the next, I’d say the next 20 years while allows lifespans to live that long. But the thing is, is most people are not investing in themselves and take care of their own body. Health and fitness are number one, no matter how successful you are, you got to take care of yourself. That should be your number one priority, especially if you want to live longer and be more productive or create more impact in the world.

Martyn Cook (01:11:47):
Amazing. And then final question, Tony, and you’ve been fantastic thus far. Don’t let us down with this final answer. What makes you

Tony Whatley (01:11:56):
Happiest for me making other people happy? I think the transformation and seeing other people improve, I’ve always been the teacher type personality. I never wanted to be an actual teacher because they don’t earn enough money to have the lifestyle that I dreamed about. But even as a kid skateboarding, for example, I would learn new tricks. I would master them and then I could not wait to teach my friends how to do that. And I would encourage them and encourage them and encourage them until he did it. And then we would get to win together and it was fun. So I’ve always been a teacher. I’ve always been a mentor. I’ve always been that person that was giving advice, creating value, helping other people. Because I get this from my mom, her serving food to children for 30 years as her career, seeing their happy faces and talking to them and encouraging them and asking, you know, telling them have a great day. I got to watch that as a childhood and it’s, it’s helping other people, dude. It’s all about helping other people. Amazing.

Martyn Cook (01:12:52):
And so just before we wrap up, have you got any asks or requests that the audience to know?

Tony Whatley (01:12:58):
I would say that if I impacted you in any way, I’d love to hear from you. You can, you can find me on Instagram or Facebook and I’d love to hear if you’re going to get any questions, love to hear from you and, you know, tell them, tell them that Martin sent you.

Martyn Cook (01:13:11):
Sounds good. Well, Tony, thank you so much for taking the time today to share your, your story, to share your, your advice and guidance on building successful communities, your anecdotes, all of the, the tip bits of experience. I like to call them that were sprinkled throughout this incredible interview. I’m, I’m truly grateful for your time. I know that the, the audience listening today have had a tremendous time listening to as well. So just thank you. Thank you. Thank you. But

Tony Whatley (01:13:39):
Hey Martin, and thank you for having me on the show has been an honor, and I literally love to get to know you. That’s awesome, dude.


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