Craig Schulze hooked up with Jack Delosa - one of Australia's leading entrepreneurs - on Jack's Elevate leadership retreat weekend where some of the most prominent entrepreneurs in Australia attended, covering all sorts of areas from tech to operations to lifestyle.
The retreat included an incredible Yarra Valley wine tour, high-performance mastermind sessions and to finish off the weekend Craig interviewed the man himself - Mr Jack Delosa. In Part Two we share with you some compelling messages and insights Jack gives into what it takes to be an incredible entrepreneur.
In this two-part series, Jack and Craig share their entrepreneurial journey insights. In part two Craig asks Jack all about his incredible entrepreneurial journey, and the big lessons learnt on the way.
Jack Delosa has been in business effectively since he was around 18 years of age. Along with the journey, he's had many successes, and learned many lessons in business and now leads - as the founder - one of the most prominent education foundations in Australia called The Entourage. He's had a TV show called The Entrepreneurs, featured on Sky news every week and he's a best selling author.
Jack's story will resonate just as much with network marketing leaders as it will with traditional business leaders. The hard-won lessons are equally applicable.
Jack Delosa built an incredible business, but also had some immense challenges along the way. I'd like you to share Jack's journey so people get an understanding of what it takes to be an entrepreneur. - Craig Schulze
JACK DELOSA'S STORY
Jack Delosa's passion is educating entreprenerial business owners, and although he did go to university, he only lasted about three months. Jack says his real apprenticeship happened out in the real world.
I think that whether you go to university or TAFE or go straight into running your own business, you're going to do your apprenticeship, period! It's just that often as entrepreneurs our learning is self-driven, self-initiated. We set the curriculum. Also, it's carried out in the real world under the guise of trial and error. So, it's an incredibly effective way I think for entrepreneurs to get a foothold in whatever industry they want to excel in. - Jack Delosa
Jack has built incredibly successfull businesses, but also has had some enormous challenges along the way. One government decision left his multi million dollar business in a very tough situation - however he prevailed and navigated his way through to be where he is today.
So, yeah, I started my first business at the age of 18. The problem with me starting at the age of 18 is that I thought I knew everything. So as you progress and the further you go, the more you realise that you don't know and don't understand everything. However, that was a critical introduction to business for me. - Jack Delosa
It was discouraging, and it was stressful. It was hard. It was anything but successful.
At the age of 20, I was in over a quarter million dollars worth of debt. You know, we were spending money that we didn't have, we were going backwards. - Jack Delosa
Most people would give up right there
Jack was working harder than anybody else he knew. So as things got harder, he grew to realize it was critical for him to understand - firstly what not to do, and secondly the things he had to do in business to move forward - and perhaps most importantly the emotional fortitude required to sustain and maintain and have longevity in the game.
Jack's first big win.
Fast forward a few years, I started a company called MBE Group in 2007, and we would help small to medium-sized companies raise money from investors who acquire and sell businesses. That was my first home run. So with MBE, we helped organisations transact hundreds of millions of dollars. - Jack Delosa
At the time it was one of Australia's fast-growing companies, and so that became the foundation to go back to what Jack's dream had always been, which was to start a training institution for people that make an impact in the world.
So that's what gave rise to The Entourage, who is today Australia's largest training institution serving business owners.
In 2015 we went into accredited education with the government - so it was a regulated space that comes with qualifications - such as diplomas, advanced diplomas - that also came with government funding. So we went into that space incredibly successfully. It was one of the most successful launches the country had ever seen regarding going into that space. And not just by size, or by quantity or by growth - but by student success rates, student engagement rates, student retention rates. We were able to take the muscle that we built in the independent world - or the nongovernment world - and demonstrate that capability in a regulatory environment. - Jack Delosa
After being in that space for about three months, the government started to make changes that profoundly affected Jack's business.
So if you can imagine a whole bunch of students all around Australia going for education that the government is funding, and Jack's business providing the resources to make this happen - So, with everything committed and up and running, the first change was that the government weren't going to provide the promised funds.
The government were going to withhold cash from the industry for about six months, but Jack now had a massive cohort of students moving through The Entourage - the revenue and the students were valid, but he did not yet see the cash required to operate that was promised by the goverment. So, six months became nine months, and that represented a whopping six million dollar cash flow lag.
Then in October 2016, as they started to sort of pay that money which replenished some of the financings that I needed to do along the way to bridge that gap, they announced - we found this out from the front page of the newspaper - that they were going to change the entire space. At that point I decided - right - we're coming out of this space. I can't build anything substantial or sustainable with the government, they're too unreliable, they don't care, and they're very incompetent. - Jack Delosa
Jack's business was three months away from a monthly loss of 800,000 dollars. So began the most challenging period of his life.
We restructured the organisation. We went from about 90 people down to 40. We refocused the entire institution on our nongovernment training and education - our independent training and education. - Jack Delosa
Jack needed to rescale. However, it taught hard lessons - He learned more in that year than he had in the previous ten years. It was the hardest period of his life. Because when you're a week away from commercial death at any given moment, you don't sleep very well, you don't eat very well, you don't think very well, regardless of what you're doing.
We were managing investors, banks, lawsuits, students, and while we had (and still have) a family feel culture at The Entourage, we needed to execute around 40 redundancies in a day, which was incredibly painful. - Jack Delosa
"So it's like going through hell for a period. However, I became a better CEO, a better entrepreneur, a better human being. It knocked a lot of arrogance out of me that needed to be knocked out of me."
Jack's team transcended a huge step through that period...
Where we sit today, we are undoubtedly the best version of us we've ever been. That is primarily due to my team, and secondarily due to the lessons that were thrown up from 2016. - Jack Delosa
ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS A JOURNEY
Craig and Jack alike have been on a personal business journey, having incredible successes, then challenges, then more successes, then more challenges. Entrepreneurship is a journey, and it is a process, and you have to be patient. That's one of the critical things - patience is everything for success.
The further one goes in business people have this misconception that "when I'm doing a million bucks my problems will be solved" - and then they're not. "And then when I'm doing 10 million, my problems will go away"- and then when they get there, those problems don't go away. And "when I'm doing 50 million...", and at some point, they realise that as your organisation grows, or as your career grows, or as your relationship grows, or as anything grows - so do the challenges. It doesn't become easier necessarily. The Olympic athlete finds their sport every bit as challenging as the amateur. It's a fascinating principle to think about. - Jack Delosa
What were the critical elements to the culture of Jack Delosa's team, and how important is culture for business?
We call ourselves a high-performance team with a family feel. The reason we don't say we're a family business is that "family" should come with unconditional love, in no small degree. So working at The Entourage - and you know working with people - it's not unconditional. You need to perform. You need to earn your spot every week, every day. You have to earn your Jersey every single week. We used to say we're a family - we now say we are a high-performance team with the family feel. - Jack Delosa
Jack explains how you build that culture is through the organisation's DNA. Every organisation has a DNA. Picture an organisation as an organism or cell - in and of itself - and there's a soul to the organisation that is composed of VISION and VALUES in terms of why it exists and what's the impact it wants to make.
Vision is what the organisation is becoming. So your vision is focused on the differences you want to make. It's outwardly focused. Its contribution centric. It's not focused on itself. It's the difference the business can make in the world, and we're not talking about philanthropy.
A great example is Jeunesse - it has a really clear vision. I think vision is so important because everybody wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves. And everyone wants to do something meaningful. Everybody in the world is in pursuit of one thing and that is fulfilment. Everybody is pursuing what they believe will give them fulfilment. And so vision is so incredibly important. Because it helps give meaning, and from meaning stems fulfilment. - Jack Delosa
Values are principles that govern and guide who we are and who we must be along the way. So the values are a set of agreements and commitments that we make to one another - concerning how we're going to be showing up as our best selves.
So I only recruit people that are innately inspired by our vision, that I deem to have the emotional fortitude and strength of character to fight for the mission, and are incredible human beings, and therefore can embody the values. - Jack Delosa
Jack Delosa's Entourage business has a whole bunch of people who have very, very different skill sets, but there's a huge values alignment, and that lends itself to a solid cohesion.
THE POWER OF AUDIENCE
Jack shares insights on building a long term audience, and the value and power in having avid followers.
We have an advantage now, as the larger corporations need to go through legal departments, marketing departments, or through managerial approvals just to do the simplest things- and we don't need any of that to film and share unfiltered conversations of valuable insights for our market.
If you think back 20 years ago if you wanted to reach audiences or reach people you had three channels. You had TV, print and radio. Then you'd need to rent eyeballs. You needed to rent 30 seconds from Channel Nine, or half a page from the Sydney Morning Herald or the Herald Sun, or from media in whatever State you lived in. Otherwise, you'd need to rent 30 seconds on Nova or Triple J, or whatever it might be. So it was expensive. Those with the largest advertising budgets had the loudest voice.. - Jack Delosa
This magical thing called the Internet came along, and it gave the underdog entrepreneurs a huge advantage because we can create our own media channels to gain audiences - and educate, inform and entertain them with content that helps them make more informed decisions.
The reason that's so important is because of a key principle called recency and frequency.
Recency and frequency says "when a customer makes a buying decision, the company that is front of mind, is the company that contacted them the most recently, and the most frequently."
So the challenge for us as entrepreneurs becomes, how do you touch your audience and speak to your audience, frequently in a way that's not pushy, spammy, or annoying. The answer is to add value. Think about what your customers want and give it to them, through content and information channels like books, eBooks, videos, blogs, articles, podcasts, whatever - Jack Delosa
Help prospects get the results that they come to you for, before they buy from you, to build relationships and achieve recency and frequency.
What that does is it allows you will occupy the space in your consumer's hearts and minds. For instance when they think of health and nutrition products, or anti-aging products, or when they think of training for business owners, you are front of mind.
Your audience is the number one asset that you can own as a small to medium-sized business... actually as any sized business. - Jack Delosa
If you don't have a profile with a following, or don't have access to a contacts list, where would you start to rebuild a list and how would you do it?
Entrepreneurship is about alchemy. What's alchemy? It's creating something out of nothing. And so the principles inherent in the answer to this question I think, are the fundamental principles that enable great entrepreneurship. - Jack Delosa
In 2006 Jack Delosa had no profile yet - he didn't have a contact list in his particular area. And so he did this:
Janine Allis was - and still is - an incredible iconic Australian entrepreneur. And there was a magazine that was really prominent about ten years ago called Think Big magazine. And they were a personal, professional, development magazine. And so they would host entrepreneurs and anyone who was doing anything amazing - they would write stories of these people. And I knew they were a lean team, they didn't have a lot of writers and editors, and that sort of stuff. And so I reached out to - so I didn't have an audience, I didn't have distribution, I had no way of contacting Janine Allis, etc. And if I reached out to Janine Allis and said I'm going to start this company one day, and can I interview you - she would have said "but who are you?" And if I reached out to Think Big and said "can I write for you" - they would have gone "who are you?" And so what I did is I reached out to Think Big Magazine, and I said "if I interview Janine Allis and write a double page story on her - will you give me two pages in the magazine?" - Jack Delosa
Think Big came back to Jack and said "if you interview Janine Allis we will definitely give you a double page spread!" And so then Jack went to Janine Allis, and said "Hi Janine, I write for Think Big Magazine. We want to do a double page spread on you. We've got distribution of 140000 business owners across Australia. Can you allocate 45 minutes for me to interview you?"
And she said "absolutely I'd love to be in Think Big Magazine. Thank you. Yes! When do you want to come out?"
And I went out and interviewed her! And so this what I mean by creating something out of nothing. I didn't have distribution. I didn't have Janine Allis. But by going to Think Big and just outlining the strategy as to how we could interview her - and then going to Janine with distribution that I didn't own - I was able to connect the two! it gave me my first column in a magazine. - Jack Delosa
And so how would you do that today?
I would do the exact same thing - I'd just do it digitally. And so I'd go to an elite daily, or go to a news dot.com, or I'd go to a blog or a media platform that is semi-prominent - find Tier 2, Tier 3 media outlets, and work out what content they want access to - what people you want access to - and then be the person that brings them all together. - Jack Delosa
THE IMPORTANCE OF STORYTELLING
Storytelling is important because you need to be able to not only speak to the minds of your audience - but also the hearts of your audience.
Storytelling is such a primary mode of communication and an instinctive level. You know, going back tens of thousands of years, for human beings, that it's a really effective way to reach people's hearts, without necessarily triggering critical faculty or critical thinking. Because people can learn from stories - see themselves in stories - and therefore be moved by them. - Jack Delosa
People join people in business.
I often ask people. "would you recruit yourself in business?" People join people. And they join you because of your vision. They join you because of your story. So make sure that you work on developing a really good story that people want to join and follow you in business. - Craig Schulze
THE POWER OF PERSONAL GROWTH
One thing I've always tried to embed in all my training and education is - you will earn to where you grow. And your wealth will grow to where you grow. So you need to become that person. - Craig Schulze
How important ongoing personal growth for the entrepreneur? And how powerful can it be for their business long term?
I'd say it's both fundamental and critical, and I don't use either of those words lightly. Fundamental being, it's a fundamental that you need in order to build. And critical being that you probably won't survive without it. And it is similar in terms of the more I learn, the less I know. You often find people that don't know a lot about a lot - are really certain in their views. Because they're seeing this much and they think they've figured it out. And then when you actually start to learn more, you go "okay - I really realise I don't know a lot." And I'm never, regardless, even if I live to 120 - I'm not going to be able to figure it all out. - Jack Delosa
Success comes more from how you navigate "not knowing", than what you think you know.
I think the further you go in life and business, the more you experience destruction of ego. Which I think is also a necessary evolution to go on. And with that comes a thirst for knowledge. And the more one can commit to, and dedicate time to learning, reading courses, the more their life will grow in direct correlation to that. - Jack Delosa
Personal Growth Is About Building And Developing A Skills Mindset
People will use time as their excuse quite regularly - but for me, exercise and education, it's done at the same time. So I want to be healthy, I'll go or jump on some cardio, but at the same time I'll have my podcast going, and I'm learning and growing at the same time. So, I'm doubling down on my time. And that's sort of how I've been able to continually be on top of gaining in that area. - Craig Schulze
Skills and mindset are learned. Jack Delosa's mindset in the tough period in 2016 to carry forward must have been incredible - a lot of people would have quit (which is the easy option) but quitting is not an option. Skills are learned, and you can use them to build and develop a mindset to successfully work through any challenge.
Yes. And that's the key thing for me is, I view life through the lens that everything is a skill. And so marketing is a skill, sales is a skill, product creation is a skill, operations is a skill, finance is a skill, leadership is a skill, management is a skill, raising money is a skill, running Gyms is a skill, being a vision based leader is a skill. - Jack Delosa
Most people go through life thinking "oh I'm not good at that" and they shy away from confronting and shining a light on what they're not great at. And so that means they're completely limited in what they're able to look at. If you're never willing to look beyond your existing circle of competence, you're never going to venture into uncharted waters.
When you approach everything from the position of it's just a skill, you go "OK I suck at that - you know what, I'm probably gonna suck at that for at least another three, six and maybe 12 months. And that's even if I dedicate time to learning. But I'm okay to suck for a while, because I know that if I really put in the time and effort that's dedicated to learning, then after 12 months I won't suck so bad, after 18 months I'll be okay, after 24 months I'll be pretty good, and after 36 months I will be great." - Jack Delosa
You've got to develop your skills. Get out of your comfort zone. Challenge yourself. The big success always happens outside of your comfort zone.
WHAT NETWORK MARKETERS CAN LEARN FROM JACK'S STORY
There are many take-aways from Jack's journey that are applicable to network marketing leaders. Here are a few:
- Accept the challenges - the more you grow the more you will be challenged
- If you don't have a list and don't have a method of distribution - find a way to connect the two with people who allready have lists and methods of distribution
- Persistance is everything - never give up
- Be in "front of mind" in your market and create our own media channels to gain audiences - add value and educate, inform and entertain them with content that helps them make more informed decisions.
- Leverage your time to develop your skills needed to succeed - no excuses
- Join a company with a culture and values that resonate with you
- Don't let what you think you know - or what "you don't know" - stop you from getting out of your comfort zone - you will never know everything, so stop worrying about that and get skilled at the things that will challenge you to step up and venture into unchartered waters.
- People join people. And they join you because of your vision. They join you because of your story.