The Transcript Is Auto-Generated And May Contain Grammar And Spelling Errors
If you’re listening to business inja 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 Jorgenson 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 business, entrepreneur radio, I am your host, Tyler Jorgensen. And today we have a good friend of mine, someone who I’ve shared some amazing life experiences with Tom round of 100 T shirts, formerly envision tees, the man behind some of the coolest PR stunts I’ve ever seen, and a good friend. So welcome up to the show, Tom.
Tom Rauen 1:00
Hey, glad to be here.
Tyler Jorgenson 1:02
All right, Tom, you are one of those guys that I’ve known for a while and has always you’re like a kindred spirit, because you’re willing to do cool things and try, you know, even if it seems way out of the box. But let’s dial it way back. When was the moment that you first realized that you were an entrepreneur,
Tom Rauen 1:19
I would say like back in grade school, you know, somewhere between buying and selling baseball cards and going to card shows. And then my mom was an entrepreneur, and with couple different businesses. And she had an account with Ty Warner, which was Beanie Babies. And so we were selling, so I was helping her out. And I saw this craze kind of coming along. And we started selling Beanie Babies on these online forums and then set up an eBay account back in it was like the late 90s. And I mean, we were one of the first people on eBay. And, you know, we’re making 1000s of dollars. I mean, I had the whole setup in the living room of shipping out waiting checks to come in, checks are coming in. We’re shipping out Beanie Babies all over the country. And I think that was like, Okay, I kind of have this entrepreneur business mindset as well.
Tyler Jorgenson 2:18
I love the people that remember eBay before PayPal existed before people realize like, PayPal actually solved a huge problem. And now it’s just normal. And now PayPal is like, Oh, well, you mean PayPal, we use Venmo or cash app or all these other things. That’s awesome. And did you did you get stuck with any bad investments in your beanie baby days? Or were you just a great, great seller of it all?
Tom Rauen 2:40
No. I mean, we still we still have a collection. But you know, it was like we saw going down. And then you know, the thing was, is it was a low thing. You know, our cost was,
Tyler Jorgenson 2:54
I think we’re buying them at $2. And regular retail was $5. So even though like after the fact like everything kind of faded, it was still like a nice toy that parents would buy for their kids for $5. So like, the value is always always there no matter what. Yeah, if you’re buying at cost, you’re in a good place. If you were buying $5 Beanie Babies at $10 You’re in a rough spot, right? And that’s a good lesson in all business. Right? Make sure you’re buying profits are made at the purchase a lot of times, so you are not a single track entrepreneur, right. You do a lot of different things. Give us a short list of some of the things you’re currently working on. Or at least involved in.
Tom Rauen 3:37
Yeah, so we got a t shirt business dimensional Brewing Company, microbrewery here in Dubuque, Iowa, Midwest luxury limos, private coach service, do some coaching consulting, real estate, commercial real estate investing in triple net lease properties to like McDonald’s, Starbucks, Arby’s, just got to Sonic and then Applebee’s under contract. So that’s kind of fun. And yeah, that pretty much runs out few other investments
Tyler Jorgenson 4:06
a while. Yeah, you say like, Well, that’s it. That’s all I’m doing. But that’s a lot. So you’ve got a lot of different things going on. The main thing that you do is 1800 T shirts. And you’re known for your really out of the box promotional strategies. Share with us some of the like things that you’ve done, that have helped you to promote your company.
Unknown Speaker 4:25
I guess the key for me is like, I love, I love to have fun. And I know that customers want you know, something that’s fun. And so I always look at ways I can stand out and do things differently. So, you know, traditionally, when I got in business people like, oh, you need to put an ad on the radio or you need to put something in the yellow pages. And I was like, no, like, I want to do stuff different than what everybody else is doing. So I always just look at what everyone else is doing and saying, Alright, how can we do this differently? And I also like, big thing. So anytime we’re driving or We go somewhere. And like, you know, it’s like the world’s biggest ball of twine, or like the world’s biggest belt buckle and forex is at Billy Bob’s. So I always like the big thing. So you know, we’ve got our mascot here at wearing T shirts is a cow. So we’ve got 33 foot tall inflatable cow that we put out in front of the building that gets attention. It creates memorable, you know, people want to take a picture with it, share it on social media stuff, like always look at big things, like what’s going to gain attention. And then like what’s going to be sticky and shareable. The other one, notably, is the Guinness World Record for wearing the most T shirts at one time, I put on 247 T shirts at once. So you know, just doing stuff different and outside the box of everyone else. And that one is so on brand, too, right? Like,
Tyler Jorgenson 5:51
I mean, obviously, the T shirts, and you guys make T shirts and everything else in that industry. But that story is not just I put on 247 shirts, right? It was a pretty intense thing where like it was life threatening. Even at one point, you know, you’ve said that people have called to ask you advice on how to do it. And your advice? usually don’t? Right. You know, I feel like there’s a lot of parallels to how you market to how you run the business as well. In entrepreneurship, what’s one of the major obstacles or challenges that you faced? And how did you overcome it,
Tom Rauen 6:23
I think the biggest one is probably team culture, and just personality types within the business. So you know, up until just a couple of years ago, I didn’t really know a whole lot about this, you know, of, you know, an Enneagram, and taking this assessment, and just like all these other personality profiles, and how they sync up and how they work, either with each other or against each other in your business, and how that can affect the culture and stuff like that. So in there’s also, you know, like The Five Love Languages of business and appreciation in the business. So once I started to learn that it really helps to make sense of like, oh, wow, this is why that didn’t work out. So well. Or this is why we had some turnover in this department or in this this kind of phase or time in our business. And, you know, once I learned that, like, a lot of things started to click, and now we proactively focused on that to make sure we’re getting the right people and the right people in the right seats, and the personality types and everything else are going to fit together.
Tyler Jorgenson 7:30
So when you think about that, and what you’ve learned from it, what’s your advice to someone who’s maybe a little farther behind you in their entrepreneurial journey that’s just starting to build a team.
Tom Rauen 7:39
Learn more about it, you know, it was like, it was so crazy. Like I thought, you know, I was in business for 10 years before I even knew anything about this. And it was just like, oh my gosh, so, you know, I think just asking other entrepreneurs and saying, like, you know, what, what have you dealt with on culture? And how, why is it affecting your business and personality types, when it comes to hiring, and you know, who to hire and what spot and how that fits together? So I think, you know, being proactive, and knowing that ahead of time really helps save a lot of time and headache and money as well.
Tyler Jorgenson 8:15
Yeah, it is amazing. How many times will one I think most entrepreneurs enter entrepreneurship and business ownership, substantially underprepared. But you think they’re under prepared and understanding finance or understand in under prepared and understanding marketing. But it’s amazing how much of it comes down to team and leadership. And you can build an amazing idea or an amazing business, but if the team that’s running, it isn’t running, well, a lot of times that business won’t take life. And so that’s refreshing to hear. I don’t we don’t get that a lot on the show people talking about really focusing on team and culture and you know, employee development and team development. That’s, I think that’s really neat. So you with 1800 T shirts, you guys are not a small little like corner, out of your garage, t shirt printing company. What are some of the big goals you guys have for winning 100 T shirts coming
Tom Rauen 9:06
up? You know, so we’ve always had this goal, we made the Inc 5000 List three years in a row. And from a growth standpoint, it was always like, let’s let’s keep making an inc 5000 list and in hitting those growth benchmarks, and now, like we’ve changed that focus, like we still want to do that. But our focus now is let’s land on best places to work. So whatever workplace best workplaces awards, there’s no Inc has one couple other big notable places have those, like if we can win those awards, the revenue and the other growth and everything is going to just happen as a byproduct. So again, going back to that culture and team and everything else, like I know the only thing that’s inhibiting us from growing faster and bigger is having those that right, the perfect team and a great workplace for everyone to be in Yeah, it
Tyler Jorgenson 10:01
makes sense. And I like that shift from just numbers growth to really being focusing on the quality of the company. It’s exactly what you were just talking about. Now you are in an ultra. Runner, I think that’s the right term, right? You run far, often, what parallels are there to running and long distance and endurance running to being an entrepreneur,
Tom Rauen 10:24
there’s a ridiculous amount of parallels. So, you know, when I’m running 100 miles, there’s a lot of a lot of times where I want to quit overcoming a lot of mental barriers, where I run into whether it’s just mental or physical obstacles, or even emotionally, and when you hit those breaking points you push past and that you realize, you know, what you’re capable of doing when you have that same stuff in business. So I think it’s built tenacity. And it’s just built up a lot of, you know, thing overcome. So when I’m dealing with difficult situations at work, or, you know, during the pandemic, and things like that, I’m like, well, this isn’t that bad in comparison to other stuff I’ve dealt with. And so it’s easy for me to kind of just like, shift and be like, you know, what, we can make this happen, I’ve gone through worse, or I’ve been through something like this before. And so I just put things in perspective a little bit easier. And I think it’s just that tenacity that you build up.
Tyler Jorgenson 11:24
Yeah, absolutely. I years ago, I did like a blog post on running and like the some of the parallels that I had, because I back when I was, you know, 60 pounds lighter. I was a runner. And it is it is fascinating how many parallels there are? Because anything that is hard, right, we take lessons from, and there’s usually parallels to other things that we do in our life that are hard. So you’ve got you gave us the list, right? With 100 T shirts with dimension brewery? How do you juggle all of that you’re clearly not running, you know, 40 hours a week of the day to day of each of those things? How do you divide your time as a, between the things that you do and the things that you lead?
Tom Rauen 12:02
Most of them, we’ve got really good teams in place. And again, you know, going back to like, like, I couldn’t do it, without anyone on the team. So it’s having really good teams in place. At the core of it. I’m the visionary, I have the vision, I put that together, I get these ideas, and then give that to the team to run with. Sometimes, they’re like, No, there’s no way we’re doing that. Sometimes, uh, yeah, but we got to dial it back a little bit, whatever it is, because typically, my ideas are very outlandish, kind of over the top. So we find that happy medium. But really, just like, most of my time is focused on envision vision on the day to day stuff. In the other stuff, we just have really good teams and everyone in place, you know, making it happen. And, you know, I’m just helping out where I can. Yeah,
Tyler Jorgenson 12:53
I love that, I think the only way you can really run more than one thing is to really not run more than one thing, right? You’re putting other people in charge of running those. And I talked to some entrepreneurs and basically say, like, Hey, this is you, this is your time to be basically a board member, or chairman of the board. And then there’s gonna be, there’s some companies, you’re gonna be the CEO, and then there’s some companies, you might be the general manager, but you it’s hard to wear that same role in more than one spot, if it’s if it’s an operator role. And you mentioned the visionary, what is what’s the difference between a visionary and an operator,
Tom Rauen 13:27
so the operator is, you know, actually getting the work done. So, you know, as visionary, I’ve got the vision, I know where the company wants to go, I, I have the ideas of, you know, what we want to do and how we’re going to get there and the clients we need and the products we want to do and all that sort of stuff. But then, you know, it’s going to be on those ideas. And like, where the rubber hits the road? It’s like, how is this actually going to get done? Who are we going to put in place? What are the systems and processes that are going to have it done? Now, that’s not saying that I’m not like doing any of that I do a lot of that. But that’s not my strong suit. So, you know, as, as I started out, I didn’t even realize that either, you know, we’re we’re building over the first 510 years. And it’s like, always, there’s always some sticking points where it was like, Man, why are we doing this, you know, over and over again? Or, well, we didn’t have a system in place, where we now have the processes kind of refined down. And then, you know, I learned about the visionary and an operator and everything else. I’m like, crap, I’m totally not an operator, I can limp through it, but I just can’t do it effectively as effectively as, you know, a really good operator can. So it’s like knowing that role and being able to hire to fill that role. That’s where you get the rocket fuel and you can really go far with that.
Tyler Jorgenson 14:53
I think one of one of the biggest challenges that I see in businesses, especially small businesses, or businesses that have a small leadership team is visionaries in the role of operator, and especially if there’s two visionaries in a business, and one of them’s trying to operate as the operator, that seems it that is like a time bomb. Because the person is not doing what they really want to do, they just are doing it because they feel they have to. And so if there’s not a time, hey, here’s where we’re going to, here’s how we’re going to get you through moving from this to that stage, because that we all may have to wear that role while we get something started. And that’s fine. But it’s really near impossible to stay in that long term and still have joy and satisfaction in in the job that you’re doing. And that’s, that’s something I think, is really fascinating. For entrepreneurs, like, how do you avoid burnout?
Tom Rauen 15:44
For me, it’s just, you know, finding where it brings me joy. Traveling is one of them, you know, spend time with my family running is, you know, a huge kind of stress reliever. So, you know, it’s just like finding those things. And then even within the business, yeah, there’s hard days, there’s stuff that you don’t enjoy doing, but it’s fine, the stuff that really charges you up, that really fills your cup and brings you that joy that you want. So it’s finding more of that in the business and delegating off, or trying to minimize some of the things that are causing stress or just like not fun. I think a lot of times, like it took a while as we grew, but it was like firing bad customers, you know what I mean? So like, it was like, customers that, you know, are just a pain in our butts. And not just like following the rules the way that like we want to do business, like it just made doing business with them difficult. And you know, you hate to do it. But it’s like, if this isn’t a good fit, it’s not helping us out, it’s not making our life easy. And it’s not making it as easy as well. So that’s when you just have to, like, move on and find better fitting customers that are going to bring you joy. And you know, not be difficult. I remember, you know, we had some customers that literally were were like cussing out a sales rep over something, it was like, these are just t shirts, it’s not, you know, we take it very seriously. But at the end of the day, there’s a lot more pressing things going on in the world, besides a t shirt, right, and that someone doesn’t have to be yelling, you know, in everything at, you know, one of our sales reps sounds like, you know, go yell somewhere else. We don’t need that here. We just want to work with people that, you know, we want to be around and hang around and people that share the same core values and stuff as we do as well.
Tyler Jorgenson 17:36
Yeah, the the idea of firing customers took me a long time to understand. And I think the simple truth of it is that one customer can take up the energy of replacing that like 10 more, right? And so they hanging on to bad or bad is always a tough word. Because sometimes it’s just a mismatch, right? Yeah, maybe they’re not a bad person, but maybe just what their expectations are totally wrong with your based on your services. You know, we’re a marketing agency. And so for us, we have that all the time and say you hired us to do X and Y, you’re mad about QSR. That wasn’t our that’s not our responsibility. So well, but you should have seen it or you should have known. It’s like, okay, this is an internal thing. Not this isn’t something you need to be pushing on us like in so what I found is like that might be if that’s what you’re needing, then we’re not the our scope and the contract you signed isn’t the right agreement that you need. And that one person that I used to hold on to so much. It’s like, man, if if I take that energy that my entire team is spending on that and put it into, like just finding another client or just even simply getting it back, then it’s weird how like the universe conspires right, and you end up growing. But it took a long time for me to get to that point where I could say it, I think it’s that scarcity mindset versus abundance mindset right there. There’s no shortage of people that need t shirts, right. And so there’s no shortage of people of businesses that need marketing. And, and so there’s just always an abundance of opportunity out there. Do you you know, how do you handle competition? You know, do you see it as as a threat? Or do you see it as just more people in the industry?
Tom Rauen 19:15
No, just more people in the industry. And that goes, you know, we we host sales, marketing events for other people in the industry. We go to the trade shows, and you know, I host educational things there as well. And so my idea is, the better we can make the industry and the more educated we can make the industry the better. Like we all look and we can all do together. There’s plenty of business out there for everyone. So I don’t really look at anybody as competition. We’re all you know, working to serve our clients the best that we can and the more I can help everyone else in industry and we can all help each other out. Like just the easier business gets.
Tyler Jorgenson 19:56
Yeah, I totally agree. And I’ve seen I’ve seen that you do. You train Essentially, you train potential competitors, to how to run better business. And I think there is an absolute truth that as all of us in an industry get better, it makes it easier to serve our clients. And it makes it easier to provide a higher quality because people are not upset at each other, right? It’s never, you know, just like, it’s, sometimes you have to fire a client, it’s really hard to have a client come on board that just had a really bad experience somewhere else, because they bring their like PTSD over to you. So, alright, let’s talk a little bit more about some of some of those really cool extreme, like big marketing things you you’ve done in your, in your journey. Tell us a little bit about like, you do something you call like, newsjacking. Tell us a little bit about what that is, and some of the things you’ve done there.
Tom Rauen 20:44
Yeah, so I love getting anytime I can get free publicity. I, it’s great. And so I always look at, you know, ways that I can get featured in newspaper, get on news station, like whatever it is. So I’m always looking for that hook or that angle that you know, is gonna get some attention gonna get some eyeballs, and the press is gonna want to pick up and really run with it. And in turn, like it gets, it’s free advertising free exposure that you can’t pay for front page advertising on, you know, the Wall Street Journal, or New York Times, or Chicago Tribune and stuff like that. But you can get on the front page and advertise your business by having something interesting to talk about, by having something crazy. That’s different than any other news story out there. So, you know, it’s in part of like, get that, but then also just have like, something fun to talk about. A lot of times the news stations always like, you see negative stuff a lot of times, it’s like, alright, let’s give them some fun. And even the readers and viewers something fun and memorable to read about instead of, you know, all the negativity has happened in the world.
Tyler Jorgenson 21:55
Give us a real example. What’s one, what’s one that you’ve done in the last few years? Alright, so
Tom Rauen 22:01
one of them was the pope racquet. And we did that during March Madness, so and when the Pope resign, they’re trying to pick a new pope. And so you’ve got all the Cardinals throughout the world. And then you’ve got the media, you know, on March Madness, as well. So we took all the Cardinals, and we put them into brackets, basically like March Madness brackets, we put odds with them. And we were like, alright, fill out your bracket, instead of an NCAA team, it was like fill out your bracket of who you think is going to be the next pope. And that caught a lot of wildfire because it was different. Like it took two trending topics, we mash them up together. And you know, it created this kind of like headline where it was like, wow, this is different, this is unique. And you know it, it got a lot of attention. Another one was when we’ve got the polar vortex blowing through the Midwest, and the temperatures are like negative 50 degrees, right? Like, people are trying to, you know, freeze cups of water that are thrown in the air and turn into snow before it touches the ground. People are doing like screenshots of their phone or their car dashboard, we’re seeing negative 50. Because just so crazy to see that number. And so I decided like, hey, let’s just see, like how long it would take to freeze a t shirt outside. So I took a t shirt outside, got it wet. And it froze in under a minute and kind of like took on the shape of a mannequin. So it was kind of cool to see. And then I brought it inside, it knows what’s gonna happen. But it had like a little hole in it from where one of the seams was. And literally, I ripped the t shirt and half like a piece of paper. And so it was just like something different in odd. And it was like, wow, that, you know, got people thinking, and that when that video went viral, got picked up by all the major news stations actually on a worldwide scale, got licensed out to science show and stuff like that. So I was getting licensing royalties from it, and just got a ton of exposure and it was something that was fun. And really, you know, I just came up with kind of on a whim.
Tyler Jorgenson 24:16
So but you do these really neat things, but you actually get the exposure. So is there something that you do once a shirt once you get a video like that to help make sure it gets in the right hands?
Tom Rauen 24:26
First you want to like when I when I put it out there, it starts getting some traction, then, you know, I’ll send it on some direct messages or emails or whatever to other media outlets to say Hey, check this out. It’s got social proof now because it’s getting a ton of shares or a ton of comments or whatever else. And then that kind of like validates the idea of like, oh, yeah, we need to get on this because we don’t want to miss out on it. Right. So then they’re gonna post or share they want to do an interview. And so then like once you start doing that, and then it’s like, oh, we’re in this paper, this paper, this paper and on this hand this, they’re like, oh, we need to get on it. And once you start getting a number of outlets to pick up on it, then hopefully the AP picks up on it, when AP picks up on it, then it gets mass distributed kind of all over the place. And so that’s kind of the goal with that. But then it’s also capturing the journeys, not just that getting featured in the paper or getting featured on the news. It’s taking pictures of the cameraman when they’re there, and the behind the scenes of you know, the news truck in front of your building, in getting like that pre media publicity, and then posting that as well. So like the anticipation builds, and you start getting a lot of comments and mentions that and then you actually have the media event where, you know, it’s in a paper on that Friday, or it’s on Friday night news. Well, somebody was busy or out of town that day, they missed it. So you’ve got to keep posting even after it. So you follow up. You post screenshots, you do a follow up thing, you know, you get the paper printed out you hanging on the wall at the office, stuff like that. So there’s like the pre media, there’s the actual when you’re getting in the media, and then there’s the post media events. And when you tie them all together, it creates just kind of a full campaign for, you can go beyond that, if you’ve got physical products, or you’re mailing stuff out, you can print a copy of it off, and include it with all the products you ship out that way your customers are seeing that with the product kind of reinforces that, you know, your great business to order from and kind of tells the story and things like that. So there’s a lot of stuff that you can do with it beyond just getting featured in the paper being featured on new station.
Tyler Jorgenson 26:47
I so I love that the idea went from like, yeah, you just do this. You just kind of look for trending topics or do fun things to you know, I have a full system. And here’s what you do before. Here’s what you do during and here’s what you do after. And I love that about you because you’re always so understated. You’re very strategic. But it’s like yeah, you just kind of do it. And then it’s like no, but here’s this the super detailed system. All right, we’re coming up to the end of the show. The final question is always and you do this better than most people, right? But business to me is about creating a lifestyle that you actually want. What is one major item on your personal bucket list you’re going to accomplish in the next 12 months,
Tom Rauen 27:24
taken Friday’s off during the summer to spend with my kids. So like three and five right now. And so when they’re off school during the summer, every Friday is at home with them.
Tyler Jorgenson 27:35
I love that. All right everyone. Thank you so much for tuning into business entrepreneur radio with Tom Rauen and go check him out at one 1800 t shirts.com. You can also find them on on social media what’s your Instagram Tom?
Unknown Speaker 27:49
Tom Rauen 247
Tyler Jorgenson 27:51
That’s a hard one to find. You can find him everyone to my business pages wherever you’re listening. It’s your turn to go out and do something.
Thank you for tuning in to business Njaa 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 real 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 entrepreneur so they can grow along with us. Biz ninjas, it’s your turn to go out and do something