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You’re listening to biz ninja entrepreneur radio. This show was created for entrepreneurs, business owners, marketers and dreamers who want to learn from the experts of today and drastically shortcut their own success to build a business that supports their dream lifestyle. Since 2011, Tyler Jorgensen has been interviewing business thought leaders from around the world, a serial entrepreneur himself, Tyler also shares his personal insights into what’s working in business today. Welcome to biz ninja, entrepreneur, radio.
Tyler Jorgenson 0:38
Welcome out to busy ninja entrepreneur radio today, I am grateful to have a friend of mine, Ira Gaston, who is one of the people in the agency world that I’ve talked to for years and just kind of run things by he’s been an entrepreneur for a while now and an agency owner and agency partner and worked in marketing. And we’re going to talk about stories. And we’re going to talk about the importance of great branding. We’re gonna talk about his entrepreneurial journey. Welcome to the show, Ira.
Ira Gostin 1:06
Happy to be here.
Tyler Jorgenson 1:07
I don’t know how long you’ve been doing it. But when was the moment in your life that you first realized that you were an entrepreneur
Ira Gostin 1:13
mean that I was like, a little different than everybody else? Yeah, probably I was about 15. Okay. Just I had ideas in my head. I was like, How do I do that? How do I make this happen? And it hasn’t stopped. So it’s been decades. You know,
Tyler Jorgenson 1:30
it’s interesting. I, I say this a lot on the show. To me, the entrepreneurs, like the people who have the entrepreneurial personality, they know by the time they’re teenagers, right? There are people who have become entrepreneurs that maybe they were thrust into an opportunity or something, but the entrepreneur personality comes out around that teenage years, what was your first jump into the into entrepreneurship,
Ira Gostin 1:53
so I, it’s going to kind of tie in with the storytelling because I had these parallel paths. I wanted to be a photojournalist when I was 12 years old. And so I was, even at that age, I was freelancing for the little local weekly newspaper, rode my bicycle. Money was horrible. And but I kept having these ideas. And I grew up in Lafayette, California. And we had a lot of racecar drivers in Lafayette, for some reason, it was just they all went there. And so at 16, I formed a PR agency with a friend of mine, called Rhys media. And that was the first you know, so there was kind of freelancing as a photographer, and then there was, we had a business and we tried to build a business and, and we didn’t know anything about risk. We didn’t know we barely knew what we were doing. But we tried to build this thing up. And I’ve been fascinated ever since of how to build and grow a business and and take it to the next level and either decide this is a thing, or it’s not a thing or keep going at it or whatever. So I’ve started a dozen different businesses over the years sold a couple of them. And I absolutely consider myself an entrepreneur at
Tyler Jorgenson 3:17
heart. Yeah, you’ve you’ve definitely been through the ups and downs of starting businesses running businesses scaling. And, you know, overall that time, you know, starting in journalism and photography, and now you know, helping big industrial companies really understand like their brand story, I’m sure you’ve learned a lot like through the challenges of it. All right, I want to get into what you’re doing now. But before we do that, I love asking this question, what was one of the biggest mistakes that you made, or biggest trials that you faced? And how did you overcome
Ira Gostin 3:47
it? Three things? Because it’s not that they all kind of tied together. Yeah, you know, getting a degree in journalism, you avoid everything that has ology in it for anything in the business college or anything that needed an Excel even though Excel was a baby when I was an undergrad, understanding the books is absolutely critical. I love entrepreneurs that are passionate about the idea and you got to understand where the money comes from, and you got to understand where it goes. And you have to be able to live and breathe that you have to be able to tell your story. And you cannot be a successful entrepreneur. If you cannot stand up and tell a roomful of 5000 people why they should invest in you might start is just telling grandma and grandpa or a couple of uncles, but you got to be able to tell that story and get them to believe in you the way you believe in yourself. And then the third thing is understanding risk. And that’s the most complicated thing. Entrepreneurs all have a little broken gene somewhere in our brains that we deal with risk different than other people. And it’s not Good or bad, it’s different. But you know, think about if you’re an entrepreneur, if you identify as an entrepreneur, you know, someone that is like, whoa, not me, I want to go to a job, I want to go there work, you know, my 20 years or my 40 hours a week I go home, I play on the weekends, nobody calls me I don’t have any questions to answer. And a 40 hour a week job, I would go nuts. That to me is just like a half time week. So but there’s a risk element and all of that, and, and, you know, do I take everything I’ve ever earned and put into this business? And, you know, if I’m scared, that’s okay. But the risk is important. Learning how to be comfortable with that. And think it through is super important.
Tyler Jorgenson 5:48
It’s interesting, because there’s a difference between understanding risk tolerance or understanding risk. And entrepreneurs tend to have a higher risk tolerance. Yes, but it doesn’t mean you should have risk negligence, or risk ignorance, right? You don’t want to just pretend that there is no risk. There’s things there’s downline impact if things don’t work out. And so I think having an awareness of it is something that sometimes early entrepreneurs fail to do they just complete naivety or whatever it is, they just go headstrong, and sometimes that happens, and maybe it’s needed early on in your journey. But I think you’re right, I think all of us learn at some point, man, every decision we have carries inherent risk. And we might have a greater risk tolerance, but we want to make calculated risk, right and strategic and still have strategy involved. And I think a big part of that comes down to being able to tell your story. I love how you worded that, the ability to stand up and tell people why they should invest in you. Because whether they’re investing in it as a shareholder, investing as an as a team member, or investing as a client working with you isn’t investment, either in time or dollars, or whatever it is. So how do you help businesses really, truly understand that part of it being able to tell their story
Ira Gostin 6:56
and some some businesses, it comes really natural, some, it’s difficult. The first thing we do is we have a process called Vision Quest. And you know, we make it kind of a fun thing. But we really try to get to the core of okay, so you sell and make widgets. So what’s different, what’s unique? What’s what’s exciting, what is interesting about this, and we get through that process, and then we kind of help them stitch the story together. And it’s not me writing something and then saying, Okay, here it is memorize it, it’s really a partnership, because I don’t want a business owner to go wow, that’s kind of cool. But that is so not me. Because if they can’t express that, and believe it and live it, then it failed. So some people just struggle with it. And whether it’s a an elevator pitch, or a the the little pitch they give at the Rotary Club, when at the luncheon when they talk about their business, there has to be some work put into that. So that resonates with the recipient of the story. I think
Tyler Jorgenson 8:03
that’s probably something that gets so neglected, especially because there is the story that we we think we need to tell, right that sometimes has the wrong, maybe it’s ego focused or its defensive. Right. But then there’s the story, the story needs to be told for the consumer for the client, right? It’s, it’s a story about you, but it’s not right. It’s about the client. It’s about what the client’s journey needs to be. You worked with some great big companies, right? And you’ve worked with a lot over the years. What are some examples of some either specific companies or just some stories that you’ve been able to help craft?
Ira Gostin 8:37
So what you just described is what we call with them? And it’s the the client or the the company saying to their customer? What’s in it for me, right? The customer is the hero of the story, right? It’s, well, it’s a business story, it’s still a little tiny story, whether it’s a movie, or a tweet, or it’s a little, it’s got a beginning, middle and end and a hero that every story has to have that your customer should have be the hero of your story. So I’ll give a better example than anything that I’ve done. The best company out there for making the user feel like they are always the center of the universe is apple. And if you’re you know whether you’re an Apple computer fan, or you don’t like them or and when one of my favorites is when you have to think back. This is a couple of years now. But when the iPod came out their ad just had a picture of this little gizmo. We didn’t know what it was because we’ve never seen one before. And it had one line 1000 songs in your pocket. And now it’s all about me like whoa, I get to have 1000 songs carrying with me, you know, as opposed to my cassette player with four boxes of tapes or and if you look at Apple’s marketing It’s always about the customer. Another company that does that is Pepsi, the Pepsi generation, right? They want you to feel like you’re part of something. If you drink Coca Cola, and you’re not into Pepsi, it doesn’t even faze you, you don’t, it doesn’t resonate with you. But if you sort of identify as a little bit of a rule breaker or, you know, little James, Dean s, or Steve McQueen ish, you know, all of a sudden, you’re a Pepsi guy, or a gal. And those all they reach into your heart, and they squeeze. It’s an amazing thing when you look step back now, and don’t do this while you’re driving, because billboards are bad, but But you know, look at magazine ads and look at TV commercials. And, you know, I’m getting to the point of the age where nobody’s talking to me on television anymore. So it’s pretty funny, I’ll watch something and have no idea what they’re talking about. But you have to take your business. So if your business or your you’re putting something together as an entrepreneur, you have to be able to turn that around. Of not, hey, look, what cool thing I’m creating. But would this cool thing be something that you’d like to have in your car, briefcase pocket, whatever,
Tyler Jorgenson 11:19
it’s the ability, the transference, right? Of like, okay, not Yeah, this is cool, but it’s not about it being cool. It’s about how it’s going to help your life or how it’s going to impact your and people in marketing often say, you know, people are driven by status, whether they want to admit it or not. Right, so how is this gonna help them elevate their status, whatever that is, even if their status is they’re the most frugal person in town, right? But it’s about that transference, right? And the ability to how is your product actually going to change their life, whether in you know, we use that term, sometimes too much. But at the same time, it’s really like even a simple product that can save you a couple of minutes washing the dishes is still an impact, right? And it’s just like, Yeah, you can’t just go are sponges blue, and their sponge was yellow. Right? It’s got to have a stronger impact than that. So you a couple years ago, you launched g8 strategies, you’ve you’ve done a few other agencies and things in the past, what’s the big focus for GA,
Ira Gostin 12:09
so we are an industrial investor relations firm, and public relations. Yeah, we work in precious metal mining, or we have clients that are mining companies, manufacturing, for some support industries around that, previously had another agency that I was a partner in. And we were a little more general service. And we did a lot of different things and some hospitality and travel. But I really love the mining space. And I just decided this time around, we were going to really focus and just really work with the kind of clients in that area. So we’re having a blast, and we work with some pretty cool companies and helping them tell their stories.
Tyler Jorgenson 12:54
It’s amazing when you look back on your amazing career, and you see people that are just getting started maybe in in the marketing space. Or maybe they’re the beginning of starting a business. What are some pieces of advice that you give them as you look back and applying the all of the knowledge and experience and wisdom you have into today’s marketing economy?
Ira Gostin 13:14
Don’t stop learning. I am a lifelong learner. I just finished a brag a little bit here. I just finished the entrepreneurship and innovation program at Stanford School of Engineering was in that program for a year. It’s a postgraduate program, you don’t get a degree. It’s just I wanted to take these classes and really learn how to create more innovative work. I’ve gone to Columbia University and NYU Colorado School of Mines. And in what happens to that process is we tend to, you know, it was when I lived in Long Beach, so a million years ago, I’m driving up the 405. It’s dusk. I remember this moment, like it was yesterday, and there was a muffler shop, and it had the sign that kind of hung over the freeway, and I have no idea why they had the sign. But it said the most dangerous the most dangerous statement of English language, but that’s the way we’ve always done it in quotes. And it is so true complacency will absolutely kill the entrepreneur. Because if you are not constantly stoking that fire, and coming up with new things, and looking at better ways to build that mousetrap, you’re gonna run out of gas. The huge thing is just constantly be learning.
Tyler Jorgenson 14:41
I really do too. A couple of previous guests have mentioned very similar things. And Bedros cool Ian who is a friend of mine, his term for it is never peak right like you got it there’s no there’s no peak right there’s you’re not ascending this growth mountain, right it is a cause less words. And then well, and then, you know, the Tony Robbins of ideology of Kenai are constant and never ending improvement, right? It’s growth hat is perpetual. It’s constant. It’s continual. And so yeah, there might be stages of life where you can’t focus as much on learning as much on growth because you’re focused on implementation or other things. But the the growth mindset is been the number one factor that I’ve been able to identify between people who are able to navigate challenges versus people who hit a wall and fail, like and stop right? Irritability. And it’s a, I don’t remember if it was Stephen Covey or something, but he had the rules on on failure, right? It was like I never see failures, failure, but only as a learning experience or as a learning opportunity. And he had a bunch of different ones like that. But it’s interesting if we have a growth mindset. And if we never stop learning, then we face challenges as learning of moments, instead of as speed bumps or things that are holding us back. It’s like, okay, I can get better here. What can I learn from? And it’s one of the big conversations I have with my team, whenever we have something that doesn’t go well in the Asia, but hey, what could we have done better? And there was a while where I would get pushed back to that. It’s like, well, it’s not always us, like, no, it’s never just us, but it’s a relationship, right? What could we have done better?
Ira Gostin 16:16
Right? How could we have helped that process? It and you know, somewhere in all of this, you know, my entrepreneurial journey, I, you know, would be working on one thing, and, and then I would get frustrated and, okay, you know, where’s my resume, and I go get a job? Well, one of the things that I times that I did that I wound up being the head of Investor Relations at a mining company that was getting ready to IPO. So that’s how I kind of jumped into that industry. And so many of the principles of being an entrepreneur are very similar to things that you do on an IPO. They’re just, they’re just tweaked a little bit. But so what I’ve tried to do is take those back and say, Okay, we took a company from a $6 IPO and $5 billion market cap, and how do we take those ideas and bring them back to the entrepreneur. And, you know, it’s all relative, it’s, it’s really, and I’ve been, I’ve been fortunate the jobs that I’ve had, I’ve worked for bosses, CEOs, that were like, just be an entrepreneur in your department, like, just run your department, I’ll talk to you at the end of every quarter kind of thing. And just get results. And they left me alone to run the team the way that I thought so, you know, it wasn’t, it wasn’t handed in fries out through the window, but hipped on that too. So just not for very long.
Tyler Jorgenson 17:44
Yeah. And, you know, again, sometimes, one of the first businesses that I started scaling, I had some partners in it. And I remember, we were all really young, in hindsight, you know, we thought we were old at the time, but we’re, you know, mid to late 20s, they were like, We’re gonna build this amazing multi billion dollar company. And we realized at one point that some of our senior leadership had never had seen, like, even middle management experience, let alone senior management experience in a large company. And not that it can’t be done. But it’s a lot harder if you’ve never, at least had some experience. And I always go back to the fact that like, even the founders of Google, like the board, didn’t allow them to be CEO for a while, like, and because they didn’t have the experience yet. And even though it was like they created this company, right, and you face the founders dilemma a lot where the founders get to a point where they don’t have the talent to get from the current level to the next level. So I think it’s great when entrepreneurs take those moments of almost like, stepping back into we’ll call it the real world, right, and then come back into entrepreneurial space, because I think every time you do that, you get a bring, you get it, like tighten the tighten the gap and bridge the gap a little bit between the two. And I think it’s powerful. I mean, I know one of the times you worked, you worked for Starbucks for a while, and I think they’re, they’re a phenomenal example of systems and processes and how they support team members and, and you can apply that into like, when you go into another company, I don’t Oh,
Ira Gostin 19:10
absolutely. I right there on that shelf is my whole Starbucks manual. I when I kind of quit my life as a photo journalist, and I had left the Associated Press and it was in Reno and decided I was going to go to grad school and get my MBA. That was the catalyst that I personally needed to get it you know, there was just too many things I didn’t know and so I got a job at Starbucks and it was a beautiful time because it grad school all you’re doing is working on systems and processes and and I had you know, this amazing company that would be able to write about So under
Tyler Jorgenson 19:47
this title, one of the coolest titles I’ve seen on LinkedIn for a long time. Customer amazement, Manager I’m gonna have to change some of my team’s titles to that
Ira Gostin 20:00
I loved being able to say yes to the customers because that was their, you know, program. And it’s just it makes sense. We’re going back to the, you know, that management training, I had a friend of mine who had an admin. And he traveled quite a bit. And she was struggling with a lot of the travel arrangements, and she’d never worked in travel before. And I said to him, I said, you know, ask her if she’s ever been anywhere she had not, she’d never been on a plane before I go book her a weekend in New York, just I don’t care how much it cost center to New York, tell her to book give her a bunch of stuff to book, send her by herself, or you know, with a friend or a hug, or it works out. But let her go experience that travel life what it’s like checking in a hotel at 11 o’clock at night and find out it’s No, it’s not the one on West 54th. That’s the one on East 50. Like, let her stumble and see. And he did it. And she had this amazing time and never had another single problem again, with anything. Like she got it because she was loving what she was doing for her boss at that point. And sometimes we forget that, you know, the people around us and our team, maybe they don’t get it doesn’t maybe it makes sense to me. And I’m, you know, I do that I already rattle something off. And then I have to stop and go. Okay, let me slow it back down in the normal person mode, and kind of reiterate, and then anything we want to talk about? Oh, yeah, I didn’t quite get this part. Okay, I get it now. Cool.
Tyler Jorgenson 21:40
Okay. Yeah, it’s amazing how often our own confirmation bias our own the bias that we have our own life right now our own perspective that we think everyone should have this, everyone should already know this, because I experienced that I know it. And that to me, I think you just summed up what marketing really is. And to me marketing is is that that communication that bridges to a consumer, the experience and what they should know about the company, because the company knows it, the team at the company knows it. But the the stranger that saw the internet ad or the stranger that saw the television ad, they don’t know it. So marketing is that communication, that experiential transfer, and and hopefully that you then get a feel a little bit of that experience of the trip to New York or whatever it is. Yeah. So to me, I love that you talked about like, you know, the nine to five and some of that sort of thing, because to me entrepreneurship, and going through these challenges of starting a business mean nothing if we’re not living the life that we want to live. So what is one item on your personal bucket list that you’re gonna accomplish in the next 12 months?
Ira Gostin 22:42
Nothing. New travel is all wonky right now. So, but we just bought a new RV. And so we’ve had a couple of our V’s go the way we wanted to, we wanted something a little smaller. It’s just my wife and the dog. So you know, the kids all have their own things, and you know, they can get a tent. So I want to spend more time in the RV. And if it’s a weekend where I have work to do, we have places we can go where I know where there’s internet, and I can tethered to my phone and I can still work, but I can have a like view and and find that little happy medium. And it’s yeah, it’s important. It’s, it’s as important as sharpening, you know, Covey’s line of sharpening the saw, you also have to rest in between sharpening the saw, because if you don’t let your brain kind of cycle down a little bit, you’re going to burn out. So
Tyler Jorgenson 23:45
yeah, I fully agree. I think that’s something that in growth economies, it’s really easy to forget, because there’s this almost fear of missing an opportunity. But I one thing I’ve learned is that there is never a shortage of opportunities. So you’re great at that.
Ira Gostin 23:58
I love seeing where you’ve been to and things that you’re doing. And it’s just balanced.
Tyler Jorgenson 24:05
You got it. Yeah, and I just I’ve long accepted like there will It will never be a perfect balance. But I’ll do my best to blend them as best I can. And if I’m going to make a mistake, it’s going to be on the mistake of having experiences with people I love you know, and so well I appreciate you coming out on the show. People can find more about you at G H, er G eight strategies, letter G number
Ira Gostin 24:27
eight strategies calm.
Tyler Jorgenson 24:29
Yeah. And you can find him on LinkedIn. And wherever else you can google Ira Augustine, thank you so much for coming out to the show to all my entrepreneurs that my business is wherever you are listening, watching, streaming or whatever it may be. It’s your turn to go out and do something.
Thank you for tuning in to biz ninja entrepreneur radio. What you didn’t hear was one more very important question that Tyler asks each guest if you want to be a fly on the wall when the reveal secrets are shared, go to biz ninja.com/vip and get your access today. Remember to subscribe so that you don’t miss any future episodes and our one last favor. If this episode was meaningful to you, please share this podcast with a fellow entrepreneurs so they can grow along with us. Biz ninjas, it’s your turn to go out and do something