Episode 32: There’s a Thin Line Between Confident and Delusional

This week, Karen Clark Cole, Paul Downs, and Jay Goltz talk about whether their businesses need another round of government support, whether in the age of COVID they monitor their employees’ behavior away from the office, and whether there are aspects of running a business they would like to be better at. One thing they say they are all good at is taking action when an employee has to be shown the door. As Jay tells us, “If we didn't figure out how to fire, we're not on this show, because we're out of business at this point.” Plus: Did Paul keep his promise to see if he could connect with someone at Google to discuss his AdWords campaign?

Episode 32: There’s a Thin Line Between Confident and Delusional

Guests:

Jay Goltz is founder and CEO of Artists Frame Service and Jayson Home.

Paul Downs is founder of Paul Downs Cabinetmakers.

Karen Clark Cole is co-founder and CEO of Blink.

Producer:

Jess Thoubboron is founder of Blank Word Productions.

Episode Highlights:

Jay Goltz: “If we didn’t figure out how to fire, we’re not on this show, because we’re out of business at this point.”

Jay Goltz: “Could I dig in and make myself be a better manager if I wanted to be? Yeah, sure. I just decided that it’s good enough.”

Karen Clark Cole: “Have you had anyone on staff who just thinks the whole thing’s a hoax? And what do you do about that?”

Full Episode Transcript:

Loren Feldman:
Last time we spoke, Paul, we talked a lot about digital marketing, and we gave you some homework to do. You were going to see if you could make contact with an actual human being at Google and see if you could figure anything out about your AdWords campaign through the years.

Paul Downs:
No. I can’t blame Google because I actually didn’t really try to dig up a number and call somebody and talk to Google. What I did was I checked with my AdWords guy and said, “Hey, what do you think about this whole concept of there’s a Google person?” And his take on it was that that was true for a time, that he ran an AdWords agency with multiple clients and a big spend. He used to have a person who came down from New York every month, and that stopped a couple of years ago. He said—I have no way of verifying this—that Google outsourced all their support, a lot of their customer relationships, to India, and it’s been pretty bad since then.

So I started looking into other things besides just Google, trying to take a look at my entire digital campaign and think about the things we could do. I’m sort of in the middle of that process right now, so you could call that a failure on my part, if you want. I think that would be fair.

Loren Feldman:
Okay, I will.

Paul Downs:
What would be terrible would be if I call Google and there’s a helpful person on the other end who immediately fixed my AdWords campaign, and then I would just look stupid. I suspect that won’t happen, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Loren Feldman:
Are you going to?

Paul Downs:
Possibly. After these conversations on the podcast, I tend to sort of retreat like a whipped dog from whatever plan I had going in, so maybe you guys will actually get me to do it.

Loren Feldman:
I think you should do it.

Paul Downs:
One thing I didn’t really bring up in the last conversation was that every interaction I’ve ever had with Google was, from their end, designed to get me to get more clicks from Google, and that’s how they declare victory. Like, we gave you more clicks, what’s the problem? And there’s nothing about any of the discussions I’ve had since the last podcast [episode] that led me to believe that their goal is any different. So as I said, rather than just dive into that and have an interaction with Google, I’m thinking about my entire digital marketing strategy. I’ve been talking to my AdWords guy. I’ve been talking to my web guys, my SEO guys, and we’ve engaged—not engaged—but we asked for RFPs from two different digital marketing agencies, because I’m more interested in—

Karen Clark Cole:
Yay, you’re outsourcing! Listen to that.

Paul Downs:
—seeing what could be done. Because I knew that there were more things than we were doing. We heard about things like geofencing, which are very interesting, where—if you’re not familiar with the term—you can identify target addresses that you’re interested in and then identify all the people who work there through their mobile phones and then serve them ads. That’s an interesting strategy because we could go after architecture firms or anybody we thought was a potential client. There’s a whole world of these dark arts approaches that I’m just getting my head around before I decide to do one thing or another. So I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to give you a lot of news of progress, but that’s sort of how I roll with these things.

Loren Feldman:
All right, well, we’ll pick that up with Laura again next time.

Loren Feldman:
I want to talk about what I think is kind of the big news today for business owners, which is that negotiations in Congress about another stimulus package that would help individuals and business owners seems to have broken down. Marco Rubio, the Senator from Florida, tweeted that Congress isn’t going to pass more COVID-19 relief before the election. I think that’s what most people believe is the case at this point. I’m curious what you guys think about that.

Karen Clark Cole:
You know, we already got ours, and so regardless of what happens, we’re not planning to apply for more. But I think there’s a lot of companies that need it, for sure.

Loren Feldman:
Jay, what do you think?

Jay Goltz:
It was a lifesaver. I shudder at the thought, if I wouldn’t have gotten it, where I’d be today. So it did work.

Loren Feldman:
You’re talking about the PPP that you got.

Jay Goltz:
Yeah, the first round, it worked, and it did what it was supposed to do, and my businesses are open. We’re doing fine. So I personally would not try to take more money, because I don’t need it and there’d be no reason to do it. But I certainly know there’s lots of businesses that are in the entertainment business, catering—through no fault of their own—need more money, and I hope that they can help those companies out.

The whole thing with the payroll deductions, not having to pay your payroll taxes, to me is just insane. I don’t know who’s gonna do that. You know, they’re saying, “Don’t collect the taxes for the rest of the year and then double up after the first,” like, why would someone do that? I don’t know how that’s helpful.

Karen Clark Cole:
That’s what we were wondering. We cannot figure out why anyone would do that. It just seems bad.

Jay Goltz:
Yeah, terrible.

Paul Downs:
I didn’t even mention it to my employees because it’s so stupid.

Karen Clark Cole:
Yeah. Same with us.

Jay Goltz:
Something’s gotta be pretty stupid before you don’t mention it to your employees. This one did fit that category.

Loren Feldman:
Paul, what are you thinking in terms of further rescue loans or stimulus?

Paul Downs:
Well, I am glad that we got it. I think it’s kind of miraculous that, for one moment, the two warring sides were able to agree on something that helped a lot of people. In retrospect, I think we probably would have survived at least until today without it, but it made my life a lot easier, and I have more cash on hand today than I’ve ever had in the business. But I’m not sure that—

Loren Feldman:
Can you explain that, Paul? Because the purpose of that loan obviously was to keep people employed, and a large percentage of it had to be paid out, at least under the initial terms of the loan, paid out to employees. How did it result in you having more cash than ever?

Paul Downs:
Mostly because we were about to have more cash than ever anyway. We were coming off a string of good months, in terms of profitability, and then the receipt of a couple of payments for very large jobs where we basically got all the money at the end. I probably would have had about 400 grand on May 1st, and I ended up with about 700 grand on May 1st because of the PPP loan. That has given me all the way through the summer the ability to ignore the danger signs that I see for my business and commit to keeping people employed today. I’ve been much less conservative about employment than I would have been because I’ve got this huge cash cushion.

I could pay back the whole PPP loan. I got $347,000 and I’ve got $707,000 in the bank right now, and prior to 2020, I would normally have anywhere between $150,000 and $300,000 on any given day, so a much more comfortable cushion. Now, part of that is because I stopped paying myself, and part of that is because we were lucky with the timing of payments, and part of that is the PPP loan. It all looks great today.

My business is going to be affected in the medium- and long-term by the COVID situation, so would I take another PPP loan? I mean, if they offered it to me and said, “Do you think you’re going to be affected by COVID?” I would say “Yeah,” and I would take the money. And then if it turned out I didn’t need it, I’d give it back. But I would be willing to get more.

The other thing they could do would be to make the expenses that we had associated with the first loan actually deductible, which I believe was the intent of Congress, and then the IRS issued a regulation saying, “No, no.” So the PPP money that we have forgiven ends up being taxable to the owner in a way, and I haven’t really figured out how much it is, but that’s a little bit of a dark cloud, in my thinking.

Jay Goltz:
So correct me if I’m wrong: the reason why you have cash is—unlike my business that was absolutely door-locked, business stopped for two months, so I was paying people with that money—because you’re not a retailer and you’re working in a factory, you didn’t have any complete shutdowns, correct?

Paul Downs:
Well, we never completely shut down because the sales and engineering and project management were able to work from home. The factory shut down for six weeks. But then when we came back, we had work to do. The PPP loan really encouraged me to get those people back into work as soon as we possibly could.

Jay Goltz:
But did you use that money to pay them while they were home?

Paul Downs:
I didn’t get the money until April 28th, and that’s the day we opened.

Jay Goltz:
So the answer is, the difference between you and I in this category is, I took my employees off of unemployment and paid them to sit home. You didn’t. That’s why you have the cash, and that’s why I used the cash.

Paul Downs:
Right. The day we got shut down by the state, I told everybody who wasn’t able to actually work, “You’re now laid off. Go get unemployment.” They did, and then when they came back on, we started paying them out of PPP funds.

Jay Goltz:
I’m guessing I got the money sooner than you did. That’s why I was able to use it and take them off of unemployment.

Paul Downs:
I didn’t get it until the day after the program ended.

Jay Goltz:
Right. That’s the difference. So people who have the money, have the money because they didn’t use it to pay their employees to sit at home. The people who don’t have the money, who used it, used it to replace unemployment. So it really depends on whether your business was shut down, and now that Paul mentioned it—I didn’t think about it—the timing of when you got the money. So there’s all kinds of scenarios out there. Some people used up all the money, some people are sitting on the money, some people are going to pay back the money. It’s all over the place.

Loren Feldman:
Well, there’s also the issue of forgiveness. Paul, do you expect to be able to get the entire loan forgiven?

Paul Downs:
I did the calculation, and we would get about $300,000 forgiven, as far as I know. Although nobody really knows how these calculations will work out. My bank is supposed to be setting up a calculator that we would use, but they haven’t really done it yet because the law kept changing. I don’t know even when I have to make the first payment on this thing.

Loren Feldman:
You have to apply for forgiveness, and I think you can do that now, can’t you?

Jay Goltz:
Yes and no. I just got a notice from the bank.

Paul Downs:
Not my bank.

Jay Goltz:
The big bank bought my little bank and now they’re telling me—this just happened yesterday—“Well, there’s a line. It depends on when you got it.” It’s still not orderly. I can assure you. There’s still a lot of things up in the air.

Paul Downs:
Yeah, my bank just said, “Don’t do anything. We’ll tell you when you can apply.”

Jay Goltz:
Yes. Ours pretty much said the same thing.

Paul Downs:
And so I’m like, “Okay, it’s 1 percent money, worst-case scenario,” so I’m not worried about it.

Jay Goltz:
Doing nothing is always something we aspire to. So when someone tells us, “Do nothing,” grab it.

Loren Feldman:
Karen, where do you stand?

Karen Clark Cole:
We’re the same. We believe that we fully qualify, but we’re again doing nothing. Happy to take that, as Jay points out.

Paul Downs:
It’s the easiest thing to do.

Karen Clark Cole:
There’s plenty of other things to do.

Loren Feldman:
Karen, is your business still holding up?

Karen Clark Cole:
Yeah, we’re fortunate. But had kind of delayed effects of all the shutdowns. Our August and July have been slow and losses for us. They’re typically slower months for us anyway, but they were bigger losses than we would have liked, for sure, and planned for. We see the day after Labor Day as the beginning of the year, essentially. We call it the “Hundred Day March,” and so that’s when everything starts firing up full cylinders for all of our clients for the rest of the year. We are really focused on closing business, making sure we’ve got the right balance of employees and contractors and work. That’s always our biggest constant moving target to balance that so we don’t have anybody what we call “sitting on the bench.”

Loren Feldman:
I want to ask you about one aspect of this that I really haven’t seen discussed a lot. What kind of approach have you taken with your own employees about their behavior, especially their behavior away from the office, which presumably is something you wouldn’t have had any interest in discussing in the old times? But now, if somebody is going out to parties or traveling or not being careful, that can have a huge impact on your company. Have you addressed that with your employees?

Karen Clark Cole:
I’ll tell you how we do it is, we can’t control their lives. There’s no way, but what we do is we control what we can, which is our office environment. We’ve only got one of our five offices open. California is not allowed to be open yet. So in Seattle, we’re open. We’re still encouraging everyone to work from home whenever possible, and most are—the majority of people are. But we have some in-person research studies that we need to keep running.

The whole office is set up according to the protocol of our governor and the state, with Plexiglas and dots on a floor and signs everywhere and capacity in each room and sanitization stations everywhere. Then we take everyone’s temperature when they come in, and they have to fill in a health form. That’s our way of protecting ourselves. Of course, it’s not foolproof, but that’s the most that we can do. Then we have all kinds of protocols in place. If somebody is sick, or they feel sick, or they’re waiting for test results or any of those things, we have a shutdown protocol.

Loren Feldman:
Jay, how about you? If one of your employees wants to go to a motorcycle rally in South Dakota, are you okay with that?

Jay Goltz:
Yeah, we had that, and I had a long talk with all the key managers, because Chicago put out a notice saying, “If anybody’s going to the following states, they need to quarantine.” So we went through the whole, “Are we supposed to interrogate them every week and where they’re going?” And we came to the conclusion—and we all felt good about this conclusion after 30 minutes—we’re having them sign off a thing that says, “If you go to any of the following states, you are to quarantine for two weeks. It is your responsibility to tell us if you’re going to these states.” I don’t want to turn my managers into interrogators, and if they’re dumb enough to go to Wisconsin, as an example, and then come back after—

Loren Feldman:
You’re in Chicago, so Wisconsin is right next door.

Jay Goltz:
Yes, it’s 30 minutes away, 40 minutes away. We’re putting it on the employees to self-report, and getting the managers out of the middle of it, and if someone comes back and tells us they went there, we’re quarantining them, because we’re following all the rules. Because if anything happens, I want to be able to say, “We followed the rules and I’m trying to keep everybody safe.”

We’ve probably had three people who have stayed home for 14 days because someone in their family got it. I think out of everybody—I’ve got 110 employees—I think we only actually had one or two who actually tested positive. The rest were precautionary, so knock on wood, six months into this, we’re holding our own, but it has brought up issues that you never had to deal with before. Are you the parole officer? Are you supposed to interrogate everyone Monday morning? What did you do this weekend? We decided that that was on them, and so far, so good.

Loren Feldman:
Have you had anything with employees snitching on each other?

Jay Goltz:
No, though that was the concern. They come back and they start talking about, “I was in Wisconsin…” and I hope we made it clear enough to them to speak up themselves. So I’m happy to report, I’ve always said from the beginning, I’m trying to control collateral damage, and we haven’t had any collateral damage. Every single employee out of 110 is here, and some of them are quite nervous, and some of them have anxiety, but we’ve gotten through it. We’ve got the Plexi up, just like Karen was saying. We’re doing everything right, and so far, so good, but it’s been challenging, to say the least.

Karen Clark Cole:
Are you using the approach of trying to educate them on where it’s safe and where it’s not and what’s okay and what’s not and why?

Jay Goltz:
Absolutely. We’re telling them what the whole story is.

Karen Clark Cole:
And have you had anyone on staff who just thinks the whole thing’s a hoax? And what do you do about that?

Jay Goltz:
Shoot them. [Laughter]

Karen Clark Cole:
Jay!

Jay Goltz:
No, I’m just kidding! Did humor leave us too?

Karen Clark Cole:
Well, Laura’s not here. I’m trying to be like her.

Jay Goltz:
All right. That was okay. Um, no, I don’t have anyone here—that would be a little difficult to deal with, frankly, given that I have a friend whose mother died. She’s 67 years old and died. We as a company, and I think most of the people here, take this very seriously. I have not heard about anybody who was mocking it. I haven’t heard of anybody who’s rolling their eyes.

Karen Clark Cole:
Well, you know they’re out there, right?

Jay Goltz:
I don’t know that they’re here. And yeah, they certainly are out there. You can turn the TV on and see it every night. I don’t think there’s anyone who works for me who has made that clear. That wouldn’t go over well with anybody because this is very serious, and there’s 193,000 dead people now.

Karen Clark Cole:
We have to be careful of, when you fire somebody… well, actually we don’t legally have to have cause for dismissal, but it doesn’t hold up in court very well. I would hope that this would, if it’s a reason for dismissal.

Jay Goltz:
Yeah, I haven’t had any of those problems, luckily. I feel for someone who does, because that would be a difficult thing to deal with in the situation that somebody is not being respectful to the situation, because I’ve got to tell you the opposite. Most of my employees—the ones I’ve talked to—everybody’s very concerned about this.

Loren Feldman:
Paul, how have you approached this with your employees?

Paul Downs:
Well, first of all, we’re a much smaller company, and so it’s easier. 21 working in the office, in the shop. Our policy has been that, if you want to work from home and you can work from home, you can do it. If you’re concerned about COVID, you can modify your schedule to the extent possible. At the shop, we’re also wearing masks all the time. Whenever you can see another person, you should be masked. If you’re in your own office with the door shut like I am right now, you can take your mask off.

My guys seem to be pretty serious about the masking. We’ve just gone through a whole summer out on the shop floor where it has been pretty hot, and they’re working with tools and sanding and what have you, and a mask is… it’s uncomfortable. But I didn’t see anybody scoffing at it.

In terms of a policy, we just say, “If you’re gonna go to something that’s risky, some big gathering, you need to notify us,” and then we sort of figure out what to do about it. I haven’t been notified by anybody that they’re about to go to Sturgis or any of these things. I don’t think any of them have. We’ve had a couple of people who said his daughter was at a sleepover, and it turned out somebody there was exposed. So he’s home for the week, and got tested just in case. But I haven’t really been as vigilant about it as I could be. I’m not following whatever the governor has to say because we’re not traveling much for work, and my guys drive to work. The one who used to take a train is now sharing a car ride in two days a week with one of the other employees. I think that we’ve kind of settled on, we’re going to act as if everybody might be sick while we’re here, and then not get too much more excited about it. That may be a mistake, but so far, it’s worked.

Jay Goltz:
I have to add my entire accounting department is working from home, which is three or four people. Not great, it’s okay, but it’s like, I’m literally the only one here sometimes, and there are times where it’s inconvenient or problematic with invoices. It’s okay. But it’s not great.

Paul Downs:
I would say that the biggest effect for us is that it’s much harder to talk to people when you’re wearing a mask, particularly depending on what kind of mask. We’ve got one worker who insists on one of these homemade cloth ones with a coffee bag inside or something. He already is not a native English speaker, and it’s just really hard to understand. But we’re trying to make the effort and accommodate, just like we would anybody who’s got some kind of impediment, and it’s like a 5 percent degradation. I’ll say five to 15 percent degradation in communication efficiency at any given moment. But we’re working around it. Everybody gets it.

Loren Feldman:
All right, so in the time we have left, I’d like to try something a little bit different. I’d like to ask each of you: Is there something, when it comes to running your businesses, that you wish you were better at? Anybody want to go first?

Paul Downs:
I think Jay should go first.

Jay Goltz:
There you go. Because I’m the oldest. Well, I recognized years ago that I’m 75 percent entrepreneur and 25 percent manager, which means that I get distracted, and I like figuring out ad campaigns and writing copy and figuring out new ways to make customers happy. The everyday—having meetings and following up on reports—is why I didn’t go into accounting. So it’s a regular little struggle.

Not long ago, I said to my production manager, who’s been with me for 23 years, I said, “You know, Dale, I’m 75 percent entrepreneur and 25 percent manager.” He goes, “No, you’re not. You’re 100 percent entrepreneur.” I appreciate him saying that because there was some truth to it.

Loren Feldman:
Have you hired somebody to be the manager?

Jay Goltz:
What I did is, I have five key managers, and every last one of them has been with me for more than 20 years. I think I made up for that by having key employees who are in charge of their thing and keeping them around. You know, it’s working. Would it be better if I were more of that person? Yeah, sure. But I’ve also gotten to the point where I don’t want to. At some point in life, you just say, “You know what? I could make more money if I did this, this, and this,” and I just decided, “Yeah, I probably could, but that’s okay.”

Karen Clark Cole:
Do you mean you would save money in the business, and therefore you would make more money?

Jay Goltz:
That if I were to discipline myself more to be a better manager, maybe I would make more money, but that would require me doing more than I really want to do, and it’s okay.

Loren Feldman:
I asked you if there was something you wish you were better at, and it sounds like the answer is no.

Jay Goltz:
No, I just said, I—

Loren Feldman:
You could be better at it, but you’re okay with the way it is.

Jay Goltz:
Well, when you talk to someone like me, if I wanted to, I could. I could if I wanted to. I would like to think whatever I would need to do… Like, you can’t make someone better at writing creative advertising copy, but could I dig in and make myself be a better manager if I wanted to be? Yeah, sure. I just decided that it’s good enough.

There’s a breakthrough. It took me many, many, many years to figure out in business—at least, this is my personal opinion—that there is such a thing as good enough. That good enough is good enough. And that if you don’t accept that, you can spend—which is what I used to do—your whole life torturing yourself with trying to be perfect. I’ve accepted that, yeah, I’m good enough at it. And you know what? I’m a much happier person now. Much happier.

Karen Clark Cole:
And I always say that you want to focus on what only you can do, and that’s being an entrepreneur, because not everyone has that in their blood. You want to outsource everything else. The minute you get a chance to hire somebody, hire somebody else who’s really good at that thing that you don’t super love, and chances are, they love it, and they’re really good at it.

Jay Goltz:
The entrepreneur albatross is torturing ourselves about everything we should be better at. And I’m suggesting—

Loren Feldman:
That’s what I’m trying to do, Jay. That’s my job.

Jay Goltz:
And you failed miserably. I would say, in this particular case, that if you’re making enough money—and I believe there is such a word as enough money—and you’re happy, you know what? IOt’s good enough. One of the beauties of being an entrepreneur, I don’t have to answer to a board of directors that’s going to tell me, “I want you to have those meetings.” No, I’m not going to, because I don’t want to. To me, that is the number one aspect of being an entrepreneur: I’m gonna do what I want, and I don’t have to answer to anyone. Paul, you with me?

Paul Downs:
Yeah.

Jay Goltz:
Okay.

Paul Downs:
I mean, the whole question is sort of a weird one.

Karen Clark Cole:
I agree!

Paul Downs:
Because it’s premised on, you wanted to get a different result than the one you’re getting.

Jay Goltz:
Or a better result.

Paul Downs:
Yeah, so I’m sort of with Jay. I’m fairly comfortable with where my company is. COVID is sort of a meteorite strike from out of nowhere, but in other respects, I’m pretty happy with the way things are going, and so if I wanted to fix myself, it would mean that I would be heading in a different direction: more growth or a bigger car or whatever. And that’s just not me.

Loren Feldman:
But Paul, even in the last episode that we taped, you brought up the issue of digital marketing, and I don’t think you used the words that you wished you were better at it, but you talked about the evolution—how you’ve handled it differently through the years—and I think the implication was that you’re still learning and that you would like to do it better. Am I wrong about that?

Paul Downs:
But getting to Karen’s point, that’s not a question of whether I have digital marketing skills. It’s a question of whether I need to be performing the specialist functions that the company needs to do or whether I’m comfortable with somebody else doing it. I’m usually very comfortable, and I don’t think it’s necessarily a problem, or something I need to fix. I’m picking certain battles just because of the scale we’re at. Karen has a different resource base than I do to hire people and I have a different resource base than Jay, and we’re just in different places, so we do different things.

Okay, I wouldn’t mind being able to type 120 words a minute with no errors. How about that? There’s a straight-out skill that everybody would benefit from. I can’t do the texting thing for anything. If I could figure out how to do that, it would save me minutes a week, and I would be much happier.

Karen Clark Cole:
Loren, I walk around with a stack of magazines. I’m not kidding you, I put them in my bag, I take them out of my bag. I put them on the table in a nice place that encourages me to read them. And every day I say, “I wish I could read faster. I wish I could read more.” And I literally just carry them around, and I kind of hope that by holding it, something will seep in, because I really want to know what’s in there.

Loren Feldman:
How’s that working for you?

Karen Clark Cole:
Even on the airplane, I said, “Okay, this is the flight for the magazine,” and I couldn’t even get through it because I’m a slow reader, and I thought, “I just wish I was faster.” So that’s something that torments me, and I think it would make me a better entrepreneur and business owner and all that good stuff if I could get through more content.

Paul Downs:
Yeah, actually, let me just add something, that when I was 17, I was a junior in high school. My mother said, “You’ve got to learn to type,” and this was back in 1977. And she said, “You’re going to take the typing class,” and I did. I was the only guy in it, and that’s probably had more effect on my outlook towards either doing stuff myself or not than anything else, because I can actually type about 90 words a minute. I can do all kinds of stuff just myself that would be way more of a pain to explain to other people. I think that there’s something about having all these skills that really changes your outlook towards your own business. If I couldn’t type, I would do it completely differently.

Jay Goltz:
I’m gonna have to count how many words I type two-fingered now because I don’t even know.

Loren Feldman:
Paul, I’m with you. I took typing in high school, and I was completely bored by it and thought it was ridiculous. It was probably the most important thing I learned in high school.

Karen Clark Cole:
I agree. I say that all the time. I think it was seventh-grade typing: the best class I ever took.

Jay Goltz:
All right, well, I didn’t take typing. On my deathbed, I’m going to say my last words: “If only I would have taken typing, my life would have worked out differently.”

Karen Clark Cole:
You can still. Maybe you should take it as a night class.

Jay Goltz:
Wow. Okay, I want to say something extremely serious for everyone who’s listening who’s an entrepreneur. Ambition is our greatest asset, and it’s also our greatest weakness. If you read the stories of some of these—some, not all—of some of these super successful people, they are tortured individuals who have messed-up lives. And I’m telling you, at some point, you can say, “You know what? I’m doing really well. I have a nice life, and everything’s just fine.” You don’t have to spend your whole life torturing yourself.

Karen Clark Cole:
You can’t stop the hamster wheel just like that. It’s not that easy.

Loren Feldman:
You guys have taken this question—it’s really interesting to me—to the extremes: either very focused, smaller details, like the ability to type, or big macro issues, like are you happy with the way your business is basically performing? I really thought I would hear from you something more along the lines of, “I still haven’t figured out how to fire people well.”

Paul Downs:
We’re all really good at that.

Karen Clark Cole:
Yeah.

Loren Feldman:
Okay, good answer.

Karen Clark Cole:
Do you want us to fire you right now?

Loren Feldman:
Stand in line.

Jay Goltz:
You know what, you’ve hit a core of something very interesting, to what Paul just said and Karen. Yeah, if we didn’t figure out how to fire, we’re not on this show because we’re out of business at this point. We’ve been in survival mode since the day we started. We had to develop certain critical skills to run your business, and hiring and firing are certainly two of them.

Karen Clark Cole:
I’ll tell you that hiring is a whole lot harder than firing.

Loren Feldman:
But more fun.

Karen Clark Cole:
No, the only reason that you have to fire is because you did a lousy job hiring.

Jay Goltz:
Probably.

Paul Downs:
That’s not true.

Jay Goltz:
I think it’s usually true.

Paul Downs:
You can have to fire people—we call them layoffs, but they’re firings—through no fault of your own.

Jay Goltz:
Okay, it’s a layoff, but that’s not firing. That’s a layoff.

Paul Downs:
All right, so I’m gonna give you an answer that is probably more in the spirit of the question. I wish I was less interested in facts and more driven by belief. Because I’ve seen it be very effective with other business owners, people who can just set a goal for themselves, and it’s like, “I’m going to get there. And now all I have to do is figure out, ‘How do I get there?’” I’m much more caught up in what’s actually going on, and that gives you endless opportunities to think of why things are going to prevent you from getting to any particular place. I tend to wallow in that.

Jay Goltz:
That’s heavy. I get what you’re saying. That’s heavy. It’s really about confidence, and it’s about, “Oh, I can pull this off.” And yeah, that’s another core entrepreneur thing. Then there are some times where you have that confidence, and you’re plain wrong because you don’t have the facts like you have. There’s a combo thing going on there. There’s a thin line between confident and delusional, and I’ve been on both sides of it.

Loren Feldman:
That is a good point to end on. As always, my thanks to Karen Clark Cole, Paul Downs, and Jay Goltz. Appreciate it, guys.