Reinvent Yourself, Reinvent Your Business

With Damian MasonEP 31

This week’s guest,Damian Mason, has quite an interesting story. He started out his career as a comedian dressing as Bill Clinton at corporate events and ended up becoming a renowned keynote speaker in all 50 states and seven foreign countries.

Today, he shares with us how he reinvented himself, and how you can do the same.

Damian is a businessman, agriculturist, speaker, podcaster, writer, and consultant whose passion centers on two subjects—business and agriculture, and he is one of only 900 public speakers in the world to hold the Certified Speaking Professional designation. In this episode, with real-world examples injected with energy and humor, Damian provides thought-provoking, practical tools for adapting your business to the future. As he says, “Reinvent, because nobody cares how good you used to be.”

He also discusses the four traits every business owner needs to have to be successful and breaks down the practical steps to reinvention—including changing one’s habits. This episode with Damian is terrific—and we went into many details that I didn’t even know we would be covering. I highly recommend you give it a listen!


Reinvent Yourself, Reinvent Your Business—with Damian Mason

Damian, thank you so much for joining me. 

Thanks for having me, Meny.

We got to know each other through somebody that made an introduction, a friend of ours. One thing we right away saw that we have in common, which is we both host a show and similar themes. By us, it’s delivering no-nonsense business advice. Your podcast is Doing Business Better. We both share the same passion. For our readers, before we dive into a lot of good questions and a lot of good conversations that I prepare to speak with you about, tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your journey.

Many years ago, I was a lighting fixture sales rep working for the second-largest manufacturer of lighting products in the world, Cooper Industries, which is part of Eaton Corporation. I won a Halloween costume contest in 1993. I dressed up as Bill Clinton. I have always been a funny guy. I was always able to make people laugh. I was the youngest of a large family. When you’re the youngest, a large family, you’re funny, you can get attention. I could imitate people. My company started using me at trade shows and sales meetings where I would have to dress up as Bill Clinton. I didn’t get a promotion and I thought it was the lineup for, they said, “No, we’re not going to do that.” I thought, “I’m going to start my own thing.” I quit my job in 1994 to become a political comedian. My act was, I would dress up as Bill Clinton and deliver humorous presentations and the persona of Bill Clinton.

You do everything you can imagine starting. You’re doing gigs in somebody’s basement, you’re doing parade routes and open mic nights. It was a struggle for the first couple of years. Things started to click when I said, “This is an act for corporate groups. This is an actual smarter audience.” People who read the paper like political comedy. This is not a club act. I then made it smarter and I built my business based on this. I was your basic farm boy from Indiana. I was still paying off my college debt. I had a three-year-old Chevy Lumina. I said, “No, I’m going to make this work.” When I quit my job, I had three gigs lined up, totaling $1,200 of gross revenues. That’s the story that every one of your readers gets. They probably remember those starting.

One thing that mattered and you’d know this. I ran it like a business. They were people thought I was a joke because comedy does not get the respect or the credence that it should. It’s almost like people think it’s not legitimate. You know this and I know this. If Meny Hoffman walks into the room at a party, “What do you do?” “I’m a business consultant.” “What do you do, Damian?” “I’m a comedian.” “You’re a comedian. Say something funny.” It’s like, “Screw you. I’m not working.” There’s this lack of respect that the business of comedy gets.

I took it to where I’m like, “This is my business. I’m going to save and invest.” Every day that I was on an airplane, I was reading the money section in USA Today. I’m reading The Millionaire Next Door. I’m reading business books and I’m reading a business publication and The Wall Street Journal. I made myself smarter because I said, “This is the act. You’re the act and that’s the product, but I’m going to run this like a business.” From there, I bought real estate, started putting investments into place. I own farms and I owned different things. I always said that one thing was the revenue source for the bigger business.

How much of that activity in the earlier years have shaped up to what you’re doing in the public arena?

[bctt tweet=”In running your own business, you must do something that’s a little out of your comfort zone because it keeps you crisp. ” username=””]

Political comedy went by the wayside. My act was dressing up as Bill Clinton while presidents changed. I went through a hard tumble in 2002, 2003 and 2004 because after 9/11, the country was not a fun place. People did not want comedy at corporate events. They didn’t want political comedy. I’ve got an outdated president that’s no longer in office. I know that business is going to slow down because of that but I didn’t count on terrorist attacks that killed 3,000 Americans and completely changing, not only the complexion, people didn’t want to get on airplanes for a year. People did not want to go to large events. The business suffered. I went through the thing of cashing out, selling real estate and living off of an asset, which is a terrible situation to be in trying to rebuild.

The one big lesson that I talk about with my audiences is about reinvention. I thought it was going to take me a year to get the next thing going and it took five. There are people that are good at what they do reading your blog. They think, “I could do this next thing.” They probably could but I’m not sure it’s going to be a 30-day adjustment. It may be a three-year adjustment. I reinvented myself and went through a lot of different things. I was in the landscaping business for a while. Thought about getting a real job. The big story I like to tell is it was 3 to 4 years in. I told my wife, I said, “I’ve called everybody I know. I’ve scheduled lunches, I’ve got a job offer. I’m going to go sell medical devices starting January 1.” My wife said, “Don’t take that job, Damian.” She said, “I know you’re a hard worker and I know you’ll be good at it because you’re a great salesperson, but your spirit will be crushed. You are made to be self-employed. You are made to be running your own business.”

I don’t want to live with a Damian Mason whose spirit is crushed, who lost his zest. That’s a good thing about having a great partner and understand you. A point that I was making is in business you need support, but support is not someone telling you, “You tried.” There is no try. There’s do. Real support is truth and critical feedback. I try to align myself with people that can deliver truth and critical feedback. I don’t need cheerleaders. You want a little pat on the back once a while for a job well done. All this, “You tried, maybe next time.” No, you need someone that can give you the truth and critical feedback.

I was liberated after my wife told me that because I’m like, “I kept thinking I was a failure because everything I’ve thrown at the wall here for the last several years hasn’t stuck.” Within six months, things started to stick and then I started writing books. I started delivering presentations and I started making better investments. I’m doing the landscape business and then I’m swapping properties. The business came back in all facets. The benefit there is when you get honest with yourself and sometimes it takes them helping you do that, about what makes you tick.

This is a great segue into my conversation that I want to have with you. You speak a lot about reinventing. Let me play Devil’s Advocate. Our readers probably will have the same question. At which point are you reinventing? Some people it’s going to be too late by the time they start thinking about reinventing. From the flip side, people will say, “Everything is working.” Why shift when everything is still working? First of all, give us the perspective and then we’ll talk about practical tips on how to start the process. In general, how do you look about reinventing?

What you said there is dead on. That’s what most all of us hear. We’ve been hearing this forever. Humans don’t like change and all that. Reinventing is about changing what you do, how you do it. What you said is accurate. Why would I need to reinvent when this is working? The basketball player only knows how to slam dunk. If the slam dunk works all the time, why does he need to learn how to have an outside shot? That’s true. There’s going to come a time when somebody is bigger than you and stronger than you and you can’t do a slam dunk. You better have one other aspect of your game. I was doing fine and I thought, “I know political comedies have run its course. I’ll take a year retool and get going.” There’s a couple of reasons why you got to reinvent even when things are good. You got to start rolling out new offerings even when things are good because of two things. First off, the marketplace will have you pigeonholed if all you ever do is, you’re a slam dunk guy.

No one will ever see you as a person to throw the ball behind the three-point line. You’re only known as the slam dunk guy. You’re only known as Bill Clinton. I had great clients that used me 4 or 5 times, and then a year later I said, “I’m doing this now.” “If we need a Bill Clinton guy, we’ll hook you up.” I’m like, “No. I’m over here. I’m delivering comedic presentations with a bunch of points about running a small business.” “We don’t need Bill Clinton because you get pigeonholed.” The reason you start reinventing even when you don’t have to is because A, the marketplace has new pigeonholed. B, it brings a different element to your game when things do change, and C, it takes you out of your comfort zone and that’s a valuable thing. You know this from running your own business. You must at least apply 10% or 20% of your week doing something that’s a little out of your comfort zone because it keeps you crisp.

This is important, and people reading this need to take note because we sometimes are bogged down by doing it, delivering the customer, which is fine. That’s what we need to do. You got to find time to work on your business. Sometimes it’s beginning of the year or sometimes it’s even daily or a weekly basis, you got to carve out of the time. I’ve spoken to a CEO, Clate Mask. He’s the CEO of Keap but formerly Infusionsoft. We spoke about growth in general and I asked him point-blank, “What if a person doesn’t want to grow?” “I’m comfortable.” He gave a couple of reasons, one of the reasons he mentioned you said. He added something else, which is important is your client will lose faith and even what you’re doing is great because they feel that you’re not reinventing. You’re not constantly pushing yourself to the next level. If this is what you do and the other guy’s doing the same in that person is up to the market, up to the service. For that reason, people don’t realize that.

Reinvent Yourself: The reason you start reinventing even when you don’t have to is that the marketplace has you pigeonholed, bringing a different element to your game when things change and taking you out of your comfort zone.

There’s a bunch of elements to it and why I preach to my clients about the need to reinvent. First off, everything becomes a commodity over time. It doesn’t matter how specialized you think you are. Eventually, Elon Musk will be viewed as a commodity. There’s not a whole lot of difference between Toyota Camry and a Honda Accord. There’s a commoditization effect. When a commodity becomes the mindset, then it becomes how cheap you can offer your services? If you’re reinventing by changing some crinkles and a lot of people are like, “I reinvented.” No, you print up new business cards. That’s not reinvention. Reinvention is you changed your product, you changed your customer base, you changed your image or you changed an industry. That one’s hard to do.

The other three generally go hand in hand. You change your product, you change your customer base by changing your product and you alter your image. Usually, any successful reinvention, many involve all three of those. You’re not commoditized. Secondly, you do it to stay ahead of the marketplace versus catching the marketplace. When you’re catching the marketplace, your only ability is you’ve got to produce it cheaper and sell it cheaper. That’s a commodity mindset. The other reason you reinvent is that the marketplace is going to change on you. You’re like, “I find it interesting.” For instance, there I was many years ago dressed up as Bill Clinton. I deliver an event in Las Vegas for 500 salespeople. Afterwards, I’m standing there taking some photo ops dressed up as Bill Clinton.

Following the show, “That’s funny. What are you going to do when Bill Clinton’s not in the office?” I’m thinking, “I’m going to keep figuring that out.” Those people asked me that question, never once thought about their demise, never once thought about their own need to reinvent. I don’t want to say arrogant, but it’s almost the lack of self-awareness. I’m thinking, “What are you going to do when your company gets bought by the Chinese and they replace you as somebody who works for $7 a day and you’re out on the street because you have no education, your skills are limited and all you do is glad hand around and sell some widgets?” That’s the reality of it.

If you’re so in it, people don’t realize it.

There was this idea that these people thought, “This guy wanted to reinvent but I’ll never have to.” Is that arrogance or stupidity or maybe all of the above? It always was never lost on me. “What are you going to do Bill Clinton’s not in the office?” I’m like, “What are you going to do when there’s no demand?” I’m doing gigs for companies that don’t exist anymore, payphone companies, companies that printed the yellow pages. The reality is there’s a lot of people that almost have a bigger comfort zone than they should be thinking that their industry won’t change. The marketplace is going to continue to evolve.

Before we get into a little bit of the how-tos, I want to ask you a question that you’re the right person to ask because you have the personal side and you have the business. I’ve seen many times where people will not separate themselves from their business. Meaning to say, “This is who I am, but I only focused on reinventing my business.” Sometimes if you’re the leader of that business, you have to reinvent yourself. In your case, you were the business when you kept them being dressed up as Bill Clinton. You had to re reinvent yourself and then figure out, how I can make this into a business? Is this separated? Is this a point that people need to be aware of?

The good thing about having started the way I did and still, you’ve got to look at and there’s this product known as Damian Mason. This product is a personality on a stage at a conference in Las Vegas, talking about the marketplace changes for your business. The books that I write, we’ve cranked out books and you say, “That’s a product.” One thing that you learned having come up through comedy, for instance, I always looked at what the product was versus what the person was. If I say to my wife, “Lori, does Damian Mason do this?” I don’t mean I’m so arrogant I’m talking about myself. I mean the product. A long time ago I read an interview about Walt Disney. He said, “Walt Disney doesn’t smoke, drink and cuss, but Walt Disney smokes, drinks and cusses.” He knew there was the guy that comes out in front of the Magic Kingdom that introduces Sunday night’s episode of the Disney show. There was a man.

You must view yourself from the product standpoint and then you have yourself as a personal standpoint. If you’re going to reinvent, you first off, start with what’s the product need to do? What does the product need to look like to be relevant in the marketplace? You bring back the personal and say, “I’ve got to also drive this. I am the driver of this. That means I’m going to change how I think.” I had a podcast guest that would say something smart. “If you want to make small changes, change how you do things. You want to make big changes, change how you see things.” That’s pretty valuable. That’s smart because we all can say, “You know what I did? I stopped checking email first thing in the morning.” That’s valuable. It’s a creative thing. I forced myself to do that and like, “I’m not going to wake up and look at email. I’m going to wake up and write a chapter in a book before I even check email.” That’s how I do things. When I go for my hike, I’m thinking about the marketplace and where I even fit in. I’m trying to change how I see things.

[bctt tweet=”If you want to make small changes, change how you do things. If you want to make big changes, change how you see things.  ” username=””]

That goes hand in hand, which why businesses need a visionary. That’s exactly what they’re seeing. They’re not doing it. They see something that they want to achieve. 

One of the four critical traits of entrepreneurial success that I talk about in my book Do Business Better is vision. It ties right into that. When I was asked, and this is something that I know all your readers can appreciate. The person that’s reading this that runs a chain of dry cleaners or owns three Arby’s franchises or has an accounting firm. They’re saying, “This is all cool.” I bet you they’ve been asked by people, “What’s it like running your own business?” “You’ve been pretty successful, Roy, how do you do this?” “Tina, you’ve got three employees and have your firm. What do you think the key to success is?” Years ago, the story I like to tell was I went to an entrepreneur class as the guest lecture and the kids in the class all said, “What does it take to be successful running your own business?”

I said, “I’ll answer, but for the fun of it. Since you’re all students, what do you think it takes? Maybe you’re going to start your own business someday.” Everyone, I’m going around and talked about the need for a formal business plan. You’d have to be thorough in your business plan. They’d been taught that by their teacher. It was always the teacher whose parents were teachers who had never run a business. She got out of the textbook and said, “It sounds like this business plan is the whole key to success.” They asked me and I said, “I’ve never had one.” Have you ever had one? Do you probably have many, but do you look at it?

Even when we have now, it’s a single piece of paper where would you put up the vision on.

I told the students, and this is something I put in my book, Do Business Better. I said, “It comes down to four critical traits.” You can learn these a little bit, but they’re also innate. If you don’t possess a certain degree of these four traits, you’re going to struggle running your enterprise, whether it’s a freelancer, E-lancer or owning a company with 100 employees. Risk tolerance, driving ambition, resilience and vision. You’ve got to change how you see things and you’d better be looking at what the marketplace. I would say the commodity mindset looks at what the company down the street is doing. The leader that is setting the commodity mindset people back is always looking at what the marketplace does months from now or even longer. Risk tolerance because you and I both know there’s going to be a month where you don’t make any money. People come to me. I’m sure you get this also, “I want to start my own business. I got this great idea.” What do you tell them?

Not every idea is a business, not every business is an idea.

I always say, “Can you go six months without making money?” They say, “Didn’t you hear about my idea?” I said, “I love your idea. It’s great. It’s the most brilliant idea I’ve ever heard in my life. Can you go for twelve months not making money?” “I’d go with six months.” “I stopped it. Can you go for twelve months?” “You hear what it is.” “Can you sleep at night if you have every nickel you possess, invested all in. You put your chips, roll them out there to the poker table. Can you sleep at night if you have every nickel invested and you’re not making any money for 6 to 12 months?” That’s what separates people, the drive and ambition.

I always point out they didn’t know the ambition gene. They’re not born ambitious. It’s disciplined. You say, “It’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and a lot of people are phoning it in. Meny and I are going to work on this new thing because we think that it’s important to get that done.” That’s discipline. Resilience, I already told you my story about going through the rough patch, but it doesn’t make me unique. Other business operators have gone through rough patches. The market turns on you. The set of circumstances, something catastrophic like 9/11, whatever is the resilient person says, “I refuse to be beaten.” That’s probably in my opinion, the biggest one of the four. Where are you going with your vision?

Reinvent Yourself: The hardest person to beat is the person who refuses to be beat. Looking at that in your business means that you can admit that you’re not infallible.

I want to elaborate a little bit. Whenever you speak to a show or even in general business people or you listen to a good interview, the concept, especially on social media, everybody’s busy learning from your failures. I don’t have failure moments. I have learning moments. It’s Kumbaya. It’s good because as business owners, we got to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and continue. You said something that gave me the spark of clarity, which is its resilience. It’s not the failure itself that you’re learning from and continuing. It’s not willing to fail, which is, I got this. I’m a resilience. I’m going to continue because I have this vision where I want to go. I’m not going to let one stumbling block have me quit my whole journey. It’s not the actual failure that you learn from and therefore, you’re successful. It’s the chemistry that you as a person, have after the failure that helps you continue. What do you say to that?

It becomes popular to talk about. There’s no such thing as failure. There are lessons and all that stuff. There’s a little bit of Kumbaya to this. I sleep pretty well, but I had times in my mid-30s where I’m like, “What have I done?” To say, “It’s the lesson.” No, that’s Kumbaya. It’s stressful. You’re like, “I lost $500,000 of net worth. The phone isn’t ringing. Nobody would demand my services. Every decision I’ve made seems like it was a bad one. You want to tell me those are learning moments?” No. After a year you’re like, “I can’t sleep. I’m stressed out. I’m a mess.” Resilience means you say, “I’m not going to be beaten down. I’m going to get back up.”

I point out in my book that the old statement that if you didn’t have a coach that told you this, you were robbed as a kid because the old coach used to say, “The hardest person to beat is the person who refuses to be beaten.” If you can look at that and your business, we can admit that we’re not infallible. We can admit that I’m stressed out. Yes, I’m stressed out. I lost a bunch of money. My biggest client went away. Whatever that thing is, that’s okay. That’s life. That’s work. Every day you say, “I’m not going to be beaten.” That’s how I look at it. One of the things that drove me, I always said, “Can you learn resilience?” I don’t know. Can you learn resilience?

You have to have your why. That helps you out. When I write my goals, it’s the goals. It’s the why I want. Why is that important to me? My dates, which would make it timely. When you look at your goals and you have why next to it, it constantly reminds you. Let’s say a family goal. I want to do this because of X, Y and Z. I want this financial goal because I want to do down payment for my house, whatever it is. If you constantly see the why, you become better at resilience because you can’t give up there. That didn’t change.

First off, I make the point that I don’t have a business plan, but I’ve had goals from day one and I set them in business, financial, personal. Those are the three categories. I have a big long one. What you said is telling and I talk about that in my book. My goal when I quit my sliding sales job was two things. I wanted to be more creative than selling lighting products, rewarded and having compensation. Mine was creativity and compensation. I wanted it not to be, “The regional manager decided I’m worthy of a 3.5% percent raise.” I wanted me to be more in charge of my compensation. You talked about why it was creativity and compensation.

As you evolve and you’re not a 25-year-old kid anymore, you’re going through things. The big why for me became wealth, not that I can go and brag at the Country Club. I don’t even go to Country Clubs. I don’t have any interest in any of that. Not that I can have the shiniest Rolex. I don’t have a shiny Rolex. It’s not important to me. Wealth so that I can have independence. Wealth buys the ability to make a choice. Second big long-term goal. Why as you say it? Fulfillment. Plenty of rich people that are completely miserable. I want to enjoy my life. When I go to bed, tired knowing, “I did good work.” Location because I’m from a farm in Indiana. I own the farm.

I was raised on along with a few other farms back there. That’s great. I don’t want to be in Indiana from November until May because it’s gray. It’s cold, wet, icy, snowing. Location is important to me. I have a house in Arizona that I live half of the year. The wealth, it buys fulfillment. You go to bed knowing you’ve done good work. Location, because if you were to live in Barrow, Alaska, on the tundra where it’s dark three months of the year, you do that, that will be depressing for me. Wealth, fulfillment, location.

You have to know yourself. This leads to something important. I tried to preach a lot, which is a success. Success is what means success to you. Somebody is putting out something on LinkedIn saying, “This is my successful moment. I have arrived at this destination.” You don’t know what they gave up in order to achieve that success. If this works for them, great. You have to know your inner self. You have to understand what’s important to you and your business. Sometimes you could see two companies. Sometimes, “They achieved this. They already have 50 employees, we’re still at nine.”

[bctt tweet=”Not every idea is a business. Not every business has an idea. ” username=””]

Maybe they went for quantity versus quality. For what works for you, you don’t have the leadership style to have 50 employees. You don’t even have the resources and financial comfortability to have 50 employees. It works for them, great. You have to do what works for you. We’ll live in such a competitive world that we sometimes forget to even analyze yourself and understand what could you achieve and what is important to you. As soon as you had achieved, you’re able to articulate what’s important to you. It’s easy for you to decide what the next move is.

We were talking about success, is that what you’re saying?

Yes. Even achieving your goals. The soon as you arrive at a destination, which crystal clear what’s important to you, it’s much easier to define goals that are matched up to that.

One thing is goals provide me a roadmap. I look at them every day that I travel. Let say I’m hopping on a plane to go to Omaha, I can get out my goals and I look at them because then I say, “It’s June, I’m almost halfway through the year. How am I progressing on this?” You do identify or picture of success is. Some of that short-term, I know people that say that “Your goals are every year. That’s short-term thinking.” I’m like, “It’s been short-term thinking for 25 years. It’s not short-term.” It’s a picture of success. An example I use about that success thing is, it’s good to have a picture of success and it’s okay if it evolves.

When I was a twenty-year-old working in a ceiling tile factory, paying my way through college, I thought that someday I was going to be rich. I was going to have a Mustang 5.0 Convertible with a personalized license plate. Not being arrogant, but I could have three of those. I can own three Mustang Convertible 5.0 with personalized license plates. That’s not my picture of success anymore. I picture success has evolved. The important thing is that you don’t give up. There are people to say, “I’ve changed what I think success is.” No, you gave up. You threw in the towel. You decided to do this. You were lazy and you decided it was too much sacrifice. You’re pretending that living in a house trailer and being on welfare is indeed a success. No, it’s not. You never thought that you gave up and you gave in. It’s okay to evolve as long as you don’t give up on it.

I look at things more like I’m in my 50s and I say health, fulfillment with the business, but also making sure that the relationships are there. No, I dumped some relationships. There are relationships that you used to nurse along and you realize, “This is draining. This thing I’m still trying to maintain.” Because you had this relationship when you were in college, you haven’t any common with that person. That person drains you. Those are the things that start thinking about what success looks like is prosperous relationships, prosperity in your business. Money set aside so that if on Tuesday your wife wants to go and have an extra hour and a half-hour lunch, you can because you’re at that point. Those things. The goals except for the success, you then continue to say, “We’ve got that one crossed off.” Not more and more. The idea is reidentifying what you can do even better.

We heard a lot about reinventing yourself, understanding where you want to go as a business, as a person. What would be practical or no-nonsense advice for someone that’s reading, wants to take 1, 2 or 5 hours to start the process? What would you suggest?

They’re probably good at doing something or maybe they’re in an absolute slump. When you’re up against the wall and you’re in the corner is when you have no choice but to reinvent. First off, I say is check your parameters. What are you good at? Where have you gotten to where you have to reinvent? In other words, where’d you get too comfortable? Be honest with yourself. Most people can’t because of being self-critical. The great thing about having a comedy background is if you want to turn it into a business, you break down tape. I say this all the time. Look at yourself from your customer’s perspective. In comedy, I’d go back to my hotel room, play the tape and I would hear my show the way my audience heard that show. You get much better.

Reinvent Yourself: To be successful in business, use everything you’ve ever learned. When you talk about reinvention, use every tool in your toolbox.

As many of you read your show, you say, “I stepped on it over there.” Be self-critical, breakdown tape. To do that, you must view yourself, your business from your customer’s perspective. Look at yourself the way others see you, not the way you see you. Step number two, reinvent. Harness your talent stack, one of the things that I did to get going again as I started working in the agricultural sector. Here I was a political comedian. Get washed out. My investment companies are supposed to go public. All that goes South and like, “I’m screwed. What am I going to do?” I’m funny. That’s a talent. I certainly know how to run my own business.

I know how to do agriculture because I was raised around it and my degree is in Agricultural Economics. I started making myself a speaker consultant to agricultural groups because I could do those things. Probably the person that used to reinvent and they need to start. Critical analysis, breaking down tape, see yourself from your customer’s perspective. Be honest about where your vulnerabilities are. I’m selling yellow pages. Nobody even uses the old page anymore. Jot down every background that you’ve had, every job you’ve ever had, every education, every class you took, something that’s common throughout your lifetime, what you were raised around and say, “Where can I create an intentional congruent, where there’s a little golden thread that goes through all these? That’s where I should be applying my effort.”

It becomes a lot easier when you can capitalize. The old thing that I point out, Steve Martin says in his book, Born Standing Up. The first night on the Tonight Show, he does his set, they cut to commercially, he walks over and Johnny Carson, the legend that he was says, “Son, to be successful in a business, you got to use everything you’ve ever learned.” That’s when you talk about reinvention, you use every tool in your toolbox and say, “Wait a minute, I forgot.” Many sitting there saying, “I worked for three years in the widget manufacturing business, why don’t I pull some of that knowledge out of that?” That’s how you do it.

Your book Do Business Better, I didn’t get to read a lot of the book and we learn a couple of the chapters. What will you say for readers, what is in that book that they should pay attention to? 

We’ve covered a lot of courses, the four traits, but it’s about habits. You probably have some good habits. You probably have a couple of bad habits you manage and I’m not talking about smoking or picking your nose. The things that drive your business forward. I would say that there’s a mindless routine. People love to say, “They fell into a routine.” It’s mindless. It’s a rope procedure. You don’t think about it. A habit is more intentional. A habit, even if it’s smoking, it’s active. You have to go and do something. You had to go to a store, buy cigarettes, get matches, buy a lighter. Go through the process. Habits are active, if you can then look at what you do with your business each day and say, “What’s a habit that I have that is going to compound?” They’re compound interest. You do something every day. You’re not healthy because you go out and run. You’re healthy if you run and then again on Friday and on Sunday that’s the way habits are. I look at that a lot.

One of the things I talk about in my book is the habits. I laid that out. There’s another part of it also because we’re all individuals. You had previously said about the personal versus professional. It’s neat to say you grow to separate those two, but it’s not real. One thing that you got to do is make sure that they are incongruence. If you ever look at somebody who knows their finances, their marriage, their business, their physical health is in a terrible situation. These things move lockstep together. I don’t believe that you do separate the personal professionally. Yes, you do. The reality is they all tend to move in the same direction at the same pace. You and I can know that. I can name all individuals. Business, finances, relationship, health went to crap. You’ve got to be honest and say, “My business and my life do go together.” That’s okay.

Let’s close with four rapid-fire questions. Number one, the book that changed your life? 

The Millionaire Next Door.

Number two, a piece of advice you got that you’ll never forget?

Selling is like shaving. Do it every day or you look like a bum.

Number three, anything you wish you could go back and do differently?

I wish I could go back and be a more mature, thoughtful person. I am at age 50, I wish I could go back and be that way in my twenties. That’s the old thing about wisdom. The trick is to try and get wisdom before you die.

Number four, last question. What’s still on your bucket list to achieve?

I want to get to where I’m not feeling overwhelmed. That’s not necessarily an achievement. Like you say, climb Kilimanjaro or learn to skydive. No, it’s a personal thing that’s about my business. You’ve run your own business for a long time. You tend to take on a lot of projects. The thing that I want to achieve in the next few years is the content without complacent. I’m not feeling overwhelmed that I haven’t done enough, and that is a big challenge for all of us that run around in it.

Damian, thank you so much for joining us. I know your time is valuable and that is the name of our readers. We’ll forever be grateful for sharing some of your time with us.

Thank you for having me on.

My pleasure.

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Guest Bio
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Damian Mason

Damian Mason is a Businessman, Agriculturist, Speaker, Podcaster, Writer, and Consultant. He is a true mix of an entrepreneurial-minded, agriculturally educated businessperson colliding with a comedian.
Damian speaks on the three subjects he knows best: Business, Agriculture and Food. Since 1994, he has spoken to over 2,000 audiences in all 50 states, 5 provinces, and 7 foreign countries.

He speaks to corporations, associations, and various trade groups delivering insights, information and inspiration in an entertaining package.

Damian is a graduate of Purdue University. He also studied comedy writing and improvisation at The Second City - Chicago. Damian is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and the National Speakers Association. He is one of less than 1000 public speakers in the world to hold the Certified Speaking Professional designation.

When he’s not traveling for work, Damian can be found on his Indiana farm with his wife Lori, or escaping from winter at their Arizona residence.

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