Kenmond Sanders is one of the most interesting people you will ever come across. In his story below we touch on everything from his belongings getting repo’d to his world adventures and travels (he was in Cabo last we spoke); his company going bankrupt to becoming a cash millionaire. He’s made money any way you can think of: from pushing a wheelbarrow to selling t-shirts. And he is the co-founder of the National Fishing Association. …that’s no typo. We didn’t know if we should laugh at the irony or applaud him. We talk about failures he’s had, obstacles he’s overcome, and what it took for him to get where he is now: 17 years to an overnight success.
note: CLICK HERE FOR AUDIO OF THE FULL INTERVIEW if you are more of a listener. Each section below also has audio clips that skip to each specific question during the conversation.
What's your why?
KS: I think my why has changed over the years, you know? Initially when I first got in business I was just a broke college student and I actually had to move back home, back to Augusta from Georgia Southern, to help my mom pay bills. And I ended up getting three jobs because I could make more money with three jobs than I could with one job. They used to call me “Kenmond the Jamaican” even before I started going to Jamaica. I worked 3 jobs and I started a business because I figured that I could make more money. So, what I did was I wrote down a list of all my bills; what it would take for me to go back to Georgia Southern. I found an apartment and it was like 400 dollars a month for the rent, my car note was 250, insurance 150 dollars, I got some furniture from a rent-to-own shop. Don’t ever do that. That’s like $115 a month. Gas and groceries – my bills were going to come up to 1100 dollars a month and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to work a job and I wouldn’t be able to find a job that would pay that kind of money back then and also be flexible enough that I could go to school. So, I got an opportunity to start a business for a small amount of money and I figured I could make that money with my business and go to school full time. So that was my why.
CC: How old were you then?
KS: Nineteen. So that was my initial reason for getting involved and I did that and made money and that was good.
CC: What did you do?
KS: It was a company called Excel communications. So what I did was back in the long distance days I sold long distance and I also built a sales team of other people selling long distance and was pretty successful doing that. I built a few thousand people. I used to go all over the country doing seminars and workshops and trainings and stuff like that in the business. I had a lot of college students that would get involved. They were from all over the country. That’s how I got started and I did that for 6 years. And it just all evolved from there. My grandmother had the same car for 21 years and her car looked like it had cancer. You know what I am saying? It was a beat up car and it didn’t work well and it eventually put her down. I wanted to change it. I wanted to make enough money to buy her a car. I did that. So I was able to buy her a car, you know, I was like 25 years old and the why just changed over time. Once you check one off you have another one. I think my why right now – I have a couple of them – but one of my whys right now is to be a cash millionaire. And it’s not so I can have a Lamborghini or Ferrari or anything like that, you know, that doesn’t interest me so much because I can buy a Lamborghini right now. But ultimately what I want to do is to teach sales, leadership, and marketing to the youth because in school they don’t teach things that you need in the real world. Aside from the sales, leadership, and marketing, how to balance a checkbook, what a FICO score is, how to get good credit, how to start a business; Any of those things. So, I ll say it like this: you can have a speaker that comes and speaks at an event, right? And the person can be like a motivational speaker and that motivational speaker can talk about success. They can talk about living your dreams but at the same time they go to a job that they don’t like. You have these relationship gurus that talk about that they have been divorced three times, they’re single and they talk about having the perfect marriage. I don’t want to be a hypocrite. So, when I get to speak, you know, this is a guy that is a cash millionaire and started from scratch. He did it himself with just hard work and determination. Nothing was given to him. So, this way when I speak and I’m coming from a place that you should listen to me. So that’s part of my why right now.
CC: How old are you now?
CC: Do you have the goal of you want to be that cash millionaire by certain age?
KS: Oh yea. I’ll knock that out this year. Hahah. That’s going to be done. Another part of my why is that my parents worked so hard; my mom worked way too hard for me to be anything else other than successful.
CC: What did she do?
KS: She did a few things over the years but mainly she worked at a hospital for a private doctor for some years. He died. Then she worked for a hospital and her whole department got downsized and they just laid her off for old age. I grew up in a two parent household and my dad worked hard his whole life. Still working. He just sent me some videos this morning of him working. He is in construction. I want to show them what success tastes like. Last year I was able to take my mom and my dad to Jamaica, just to show them. I think that you should take care of the people who took care of you. My mom, my dad, my uncle, a couple of people in my life, especially my mom, she would always encourage me. I’ve been in business for going on 17 years now. So you know, there are a lot of ups and downs and a lot of failures. And in those down times instead of saying, “Just quit”, she would always encourage me and say, “You can do it. You can make it. Just try again.” So I just really appreciate her for that. My dad, not so much. He would be like, “Go get a job! You’ve been trying this entrepreneurial thing for too long.” He’d say, “Go get another job!” and I’d say, “I’m not getting no job!” Anytime I needed something, he would never tell me no. So, he was supportive but he wasn’t as verbal as my mom. So, I just want to show them what success feels like and tastes like. So, next month on the 10th of February I take my dad and my uncle to Brazil. We were out there in November and I said, “you guys have got to see this.” And I took my mom and her friends on a trip while there were there in Brazil with me. So, just the little things like that just really gets me going. That’s what I want to do. I want to show them what it’s like to be on top.
Most entrepreneurs really have their identity tied to their work. How do you separate business/personal?
KS: Well, while I am in Cape I am working. So, I don’t have much of personal life. I don’t go out to bars. I stopped doing that way back in my college days. When you really want to become a successful entrepreneur, I think that your business actually it’s not like you work 40 hours a week or 60 hours a week. It actually becomes a part of your life. When I first started my business, if I was awake, I was working. And the only time I wasn’t working was when I was sleeping or eating. Then I was thinking about and dreaming about working then. So, while I’m here I’m working and then when I take vacations I don’t do much work.
CC: You are familiar with one motivational speakers, so you know Eric Thomas1. One of his talks it leads up to this saying, “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.” That’s one of my favorites. That reminds me of you saying that; a lot of people they want to separate it more so than just work and then vacation. It’s like, “OK, I’m off at 5 I’m not doing anything.
KS: And another thing that gets me is a lot of times people would work hard for somebody else than they would their own selves. So, when you work 9 to 5, that’s for somebody else. Back in the day somebody said, “I got an idea. I am going to start this business” and if you go to work for them, there is nothing wrong with that, but you are helping them build their dream. Right? So, that’s 9 to 5 for their dream. But then from 5 until you go back to work again then you have some time where you can work on your own; something that you want to do with your life. It’s not just go to work and pay bills and come home and go to sleep and go back to work and pay bills. In the time that you are off, you should devote at least an hour a day minimum working for yourself. I just decided long time ago that I wasn’t going to be one of those guys that works harder for somebody else than they will for themselves. So, when I got my chance to start my own business, I busted my behind. Like Will Smith say, “When the other guy is watching tv, I’m working. When the other guy is playing video games, I’m working. When the other guy is making love, I’m making love too.” But I’m working real hard at it. No, seriously, I think I threw my tv away in like 1999 and gave the the PlayStation away in 1999 and I’ve had tv’s but I didn’t have cable. I can’t remember the last time I watched tv. I just decided that the people on tv, the people playing sports, you know when they were little kids they said, “Hey look. I’m going to make it to the NFL. I’m going to make it to the NBA. This is my dream.” And when you watch them on tv then you are watching them living their dreams and I can’t get too excited about that. I am in the process of living my own dream and I haven’t accomplish that yet. I am more focused on that. I’m in my own lane.
CC: I did the same thing a few years ago: threw away my tv; no Netflix or anything like that. And it’s from Tim Ferriss2. You said dedicate an hour a day working on their own business or for yourself and what so many people say is, “I don’t have enough time” after they get off work but you add up the time that you’re spending looking at news watching tv and that adds up. It’s like another second job. Some people look at it as their get-away but a lot of it is junk. It doesn’t benefit you any way at all.
What is your morning routine?
KS: Morning routine. It’s pretty much the same. Wake up say my prayers, I start off my morning when I read 30 minutes a day. If I don’t read something I am learning something. So I’m in marketing. I’d be looking at a training course and if I’m not doing that I’m learning a new language, so I’m in the process I have been doing 30 minutes of Portuguese or Spanish a day. Most of the time it’s reading a book in the morning. After that it’s eat breakfast, leave the house, and then I go to the gym and I work out at Healthpoint. I like to work out in the morning. In my mind it’s like I want to get 2 W’s out during the day; two wins. I’ve already won physically by going to the gym and I’ve already won mentally learning something, so if I don’t do anything else that day then I know I am still getting one step closer to my goals in those areas. Since I started out with 2 wins, from there I go to work and and now let’s make some money. That’s pretty much my morning routine.
CC: Ok, let’s break that down a little bit. The first thing you do is your prayers. So spirituality is an important thing to you.
KS: Yes, I got to get up and thank the Lord. He woke me up. Some people wake up dead. I wake up in the morning saying, “Good morning, Lord!” Some people say, “Good lord, it’s morning.” So I am just thankful that I woke up today because some people didn’t even see January 11th.
So, I say my prayers, I thank God for giving me another day, and even more importantly than my morning routine is what I do the night before. I write down a list of things that I need to do the next day. One of the great things about owning your own business is that you are your own boss, right? One of the worst things of owning your own business is that you are your own boss!
You have to stay focused and you have to have things that you know you are going to be doing every single day that’s going to move your business forward and help you make money. What I do is I write down a list of the things that are going to help me make money; my to-do list. I write down the night before so when I wake up in the morning I know what I need to knock out that day. So I don’t have to wake up in the morning wasting time trying to figure it out. So that helps me run a little smoother. But then I wake up and thank the Lord and I talk to him just like I’m talking to you. I talk to him throughout the day, “Whatsup, man! I appreciate that, man. I know that was you!”
CC: Alright and then you read. Book? Kindle?
KS: Book or audio book. And for the longest time I would be too excited to sit down because I Just have all this energy. If I’m not sitting and reading a book then I’m sitting down listening to a book.
CC: Are these business or self-development books?
KS: Mostly. This morning I was reading a book by a guy named David Shands3. It’s called [Dreams are Built Overnight]4. This is his brand it’s called Sleep is for Suckers. So he’s done a clothing line and then he also wrote book. Anyway the point of the book is how to go from having a job to owning your own business. I just bought it to show him support but as I started reading it, it’s actually pretty interesting and I recommend it to some people who have a job looking to transition.
CC: And that’s another thing from Eric Thomas in his talk, he’s interviewing 50 Cent and he says, “When do you sleep?” And 50 says, “Sleep? Sleep is for those who are broke!”
KS: And it’s funny that you keep mentioning him because Eric Thomas wrote the foreword for David Shand’s book
CC: And then you go to the gym. So I was watching a YouTube video of you pumping out 315. Are you are still doing that?
KS: Yes, so that’s one of my goals; what I use to do before going to Jamaica. I had to be able to bench press 315 because then I know that my body looks right and I am in the right physical shape going down there and take my shirt off.
CC: And you were at 161 when you did that.
KS: Yea I just had a lot of energy, baby! I did chest today. I started lifting weights when I was 16. When I was in high school for track and I couldn’t even lift 2 plates. I couldn’t do that. But by the time I turned 17 I was able to lift 225 and max out at 275. I plan on being here for a long time, so I do things to let my body know; I eat organic food, try to eat healthy – I know you saw me with the Oreos the other day! – drink water, and also workout, and just let my body know that , “Hey, I’m going to be here at least until about 130.”
CC: Are you lifting every day or what’s your routine?
KS: I lift about 5 days a week. I break up my body parts. Monday is chest, Tuesday is arms, bi’s and tri’s, Wednesday is legs, and Thursday is back, and then Friday is shoulders.
CC: Do you do cardio?
KS: Not really. I don’t do much cardio. Because it’s so hard for me to gain weight and so easy for me to lose weight for my body type that if I go running I lose about 10 pounds! I try to maintain or gain weight.
How do you de-stress?
KS: Workout. I don’t get really stressed. I live a stress free, drama free, and now I am debt free, thank the Lord! There is not a man or a women in the world that can say Kenmond Sanders owes them a dollar. So I just payed off my student loans in December. But if I do get a little stressed, I find that if I just go workout and take it out in the gym and I get mad and talking to the weights, by the time I’m finished with my work out I feel better; I’m burnt out anyways.
What is one thing you find to be true that most people would disagree with?
KS: It would have to be that you can create your own life. I think a lot of times people think that life just happens to them and they just have to take whatever life gives them. But no, that’s not the case. The life I live right now and you look at me a few years ago – one of my businesses went bankrupt. I lost everything. I figured that if I was at the bottom the only place I could go was up. So I decided to write down how I want a perfect day to go. A perfect day for me would be that I wake up, say my prayers, read for 30 about mins, go work out at the gym, and go to work. I wrote down a list of how my perfect day would go and now I live my perfect day. I’m not in the place necessarily where I want to be. I’m still working progress but I live my perfect day every single day. So I wrote it down; how I wanted my life to look. For everybody it’s different. I’m not married and I don’t have kids, but for me, I wrote it down even back when I was broke. Now I’m living it. So the point I’m trying to make is that whatever it is that you want to do; if you want to climb a mountain, or start a business, or get a six pack, you can do that. If you have a job that you don’t like, or if you’re in a relationship you don’t want to be in then you can have an ideal relationship and you can have the ideal business. You can do it. Whatever it is that you want, I feel that you can do that. And most people don’t think that they can.
CC: Why do you thing that is so? Why do you think a lot of people don’t believe that?
KS: Because whenever you try to tell somebody that you are going to do something, somebody else is going to say you can’t do it. It’s just easier for people to say that you can’t, “that’s impossible”, “it can’t be done”, and a lot of times it comes from the people that are closest to you. It’s your family members and I think that the reason that they don’t want you to be successful isn’t so much that they are afraid of how successful you can become but it’s about how bad you’ll make them look. By you becoming more successful going out and living your dream and they are still standing in the same place and doing the same things that they’ve been doing every day will make them look bad. It’s like, “well dang, he is doing it. So I can do it too but I’m not doing it.”
What are you really not very good at?
KS: Oh man, I’m not good at a lot of things! I’m a big procrastinator believe it or not. So there are things that I know that need to be done especially in my business. I know it needs to be done and I can do it and its easy. It’s just that I don’t feel like doing it! Some things I just do not like to do. So how I work around that: now I hire people to do the things that I don’t like to do and it’s the things that they love to do. It’s like they were born to do. I don’t like to clean the house, so you hire somebody. I know a lady named Annalee in Georgia. It’s like she was born to clean. She can transform your oven. She can clean places like you would never even think of cleaning like the back of the refrigerator. So in my business I have hired a couple of people that do these things and it just runs so much smoother. So we’re 11 days now into January and I can already see a couple of other things that I don’t like to do. This weekend I was thinking about something and I didn’t feel like doing it. I did it but I didn’t feel like doing it. I know I need to hire another person to do this one particular job that I don’t like to do. You just hire somebody and it gives them the opportunity and it frees you up so you can focus on more of your strengths. So I just play to my strengths. I don’t try to deal with my weaknesses.
What is an obstacle you've overcome personally?
KS: I’m overcoming obstacles all day, every day! Even just being where I am right now, making the income that I make, living the life that I live. I think coming from where I come from that was an obstacle. I’m not going to say I am the most successful person I know from my area, but I have failed so many times in business and most times it only takes one failure for somebody to quit. It’s like one time it didn’t work out how it was supposed to work and they quit and they’re done. One obstacle is just me overcoming my failures. I was in the network marketing business and I was in a large organization with thousands of people. The company ended up getting bought out by another company and it went bankrupt. So now I am supposed to have a business, thousands of customers, but now I have nothing. So I had to start over again. Then I get into real estate and start making money. I cashed my first 5 figure check: $13,288 and 48 cents. You always remember that first big check. So start making money in real estate and then it’s 2008-2009 and the economy collapses. So I lost all my business in real estate. Even in Facebook, last November was my biggest month at the time. I made $53,000 in a month and the next month Facebook shuts my account down. They shut my ads account down. They said, “No, you’re not a real person. Kenmond Sanders is not a real person.” So, they said, “Ok send us a driver’s license.” I send them my driver’s license. They say, “Oh no, show us your passport.” I send them my passport. They said, “Oh no, you’re not a real person.” So they shut my account down. It’s like every time I’m almost about to make it it’s like life is saying, “We are going to see how bad you want it. We are going to see how bad you want it. Do you or no? You just kind of want it. You don’t really want it. This is going to make you quit right here.” So I’m always overcoming obstacles. It’s the life of an entrepreneur.
CC: I was just reading a book called the Innovation Paradox5 that talks about how some people even when they go through or they have a failure and then they are successful, that those failures are always in the back of their mind and they always feel like a failure even though they’ve done stuff to be successful. So how do you deal with that?
KS: It’s funny that you say that because in the first 7 days of the year I made more money than I did in 2012 and 2013. In the last 4 days, I only made $40,000. So I’m thinking to myself, “Man, 40 thousand, that’s nothing.” Like I am a failure. I felt like that this morning when I was at the gym and I did a little quick check. But you know when you put it in perspective, you are making top 5% to top 1% income earners so I just had to slap myself. I had to slap myself because it’s all relative. I am doing well. I know I am not doing as well as I can do. I don’t really measure myself to other people. I measure myself to my unused or untapped potential so I just want to really for this year maximize, just want to see how well I can do. Because even last year I did good for myself but there were a couple of months where I just played around and didn’t do much. This year I want to max it out.
What is something you're still searching an answer for?
KS: I don’t think I am looking for any answers. What I am saying is that I have these goals. I don’t look at the news so I don’t get upset about what’s going on in the economy or with the president or who is running or anything like that. I don’t argue on social media. I have goals. In the morning time I am thinking about my goals. I am so focused on my goals and accomplishing my goals that I am not trying figuring out what’s the meaning of life or anything like that. I am just focused on achieving my goals.
We witness pictures of you traveling the world, videos of you weightlifting, hear motivational talks, and see internet marketing webinars. So what is it that you do?
KS: I can make it sound fancy but to boil it all down basically I sell stuff online. So I’m an e-commerce guy. Ever since the internet came around, I’ve always wanted to make money on the internet because I felt like as long as I had a computer and an internet connection I would be able to make money; just following the rabbit hole. You just try to learn. I’ve bought so many courses online, spent thousands of dollars, course after course. I’ve done so many things online to try and make money. I’ve done SEO stuff. I knew nothing about SEO, but I learned! I’ve built websites for local businesses. I had never built a website before, but I learned! There was AdSense while I built my own website and try to drive people from Google hope they would click on the ads. I did some stuff on YouTube. I did affiliate marketing. I payed a guy $9000 for him to teach me affiliate marketing. And it was $1500 a month I had to pay him. He said, “You can pay me $8000 upfront. Either one.” Like I had $8000! Even after that I didn’t make any money in affiliate marketing. I built a little list but I didn’t make any money out of it. I was just trying and trying and trying and finally a couple of years ago a guy named Donald Wilson came out with a course called Facebook Ads Cracked6 and it talked about making money selling t-shirts. I am thinking of all the thousands of doors I’ve knocked on. I’ve knocked on so many doors until my knuckles bled. I used to go to cities and just to knock on doors and go to apartments so I could knock on a bunch of doors in a close area just to sell stuff. And out of all the phone calls Ive made, I knew I could sell a t-shirt. I started doing that. It took a little while, about 5 months. And I spent another 3 to 4 thousand dollars before I sold my first t-shirt. So from selling the t-shirts, the evolution was going into physical products. I’m in fashion. People don’t know I am in fashion. I’m the co-founder of the National Fishing Association7. I don’t even fish. We sell a lot of fishing hooks, fishing bait, tackle, fishing rods, all kind of stuff. So it just evolved from that and again just following the rabbit hole. That’s actually why I’m here in Cape.
You are also a part of quite a few masterminds so why is networking and mentorship so important to you?
KS: Think and Grow Rich8. It’s one of the first business books I read. First time I saw the book when I was around nine years old, my dad had it on the shelf, and I said, “pops, what’s this book right here,” and he said, “this is the book that will teach you how to get rich.” So I said, “Oh, this is the book I need to read!” I started reading it but my 9 year old mind could not get it. It was just way over my head. My idea of the book from 9 up until 18-19 was that’s a book for smart people and I am not smart enough to understand this book. I read it again when I was around 19 and it made a lot more sense with my more evolved mind. The book it talks about the power of the mastermind. And I am in a couple of masterminds but one of them is $25,000 a year to be a part of and everybody in this mastermind makes 7 and 8 figures. When I got into masterminds I was extremely nervous about being in it, number one, because there were 9 guys there and all of them where making 7 figures, a couple of them making 8 figures, and then it’s me. A couple of them where making 6 figures too, but I remember calling my friend Terrence and I said, “I’m all nervous about being in this mastermind with all of these big time gurus and then it’s me.” And he said, “No no, you’re doing good too! How much money have you made?” I didn’t even know. So I went and calculated it up and at the time I had made $101,000 in the year. So I thought, “I’m a 6 figure guy too!” and I didn’t even know it. You know, the super successful people they think differently than normal people. Normal meaning, just regular people just doing the normal thing. No disrespect to the normal people. If you are trying to be a world class athlete and you’re trying to go to the Olympics then I think you should get in masterminds or hang out with other people that are trying to go to the Olympics. If you want to be an IT guy, then I think you need to find the most successful IT guys and you need to hang out with them. I hang out with other successful business owners because I’m going to be a successful business owner. My definition of success is different from other peoples definition, but I want to build a business that’s 7-8 figures. So, I am hanging out with those people and they are stretching me.
CC: What kind of stuff do you do? I’m assuming that everyone just teaches each other.
KS: Yeah. So, in the masterminds we talk about best practices. We talk about what’s working in my business. We talk about what’s working in your business. What’s the number one thing that’s working in your business? We do these things called hot seats where somebody will say what’s their number one problem, what’s an obstacle they need to go over and everybody talks about their problems. But everybody else in the mastermind would help this one person to figure out their problem. So it’s really cool because you have all these successful people from different walks of life and different backgrounds that show you different angles and perspectives on solving your problem. It’s like synergy. It’s a couple things: synergy, energy, and systems. Synergy is when you get one and one and it doesn’t become two. One plus one becomes eleven or one hundred and eleven or one thousand and eleven just because of the mastermind. You have a small group of people all focusing on helping you. It’s a great thing and I highly recommend it.
Whether from a mastermind or someone that you've just met, who is the most influential mentor you’ve had?
KS: That’s a tough one too, because at the time I was working with a mentor I would say, “That’s the most successful mentor right there!” And different mentors have helped me for different reasons over the years. My first mentor, Ron Williams, really helped me believe in myself. He helped me to see my own greatness.
CC: Let’s talk about that because you said one of the problems you believe that a lot of people disagree with is getting started on their own. And I think there are a lot of different problems with that. People wonder how do people start. With Ron Williams, what did he do for you?
KS: Yeah. Imagine you have a piece of rope and you put a knot in this rope and another knot in this rope and another knot and let’s just say it takes you 20 years of tying knots in a rope. That’s your way of thinking. You’ve been thinking this way for all these years. You are not going to untie these knots overnight, right? What Ron did was he told me one time, “Hey man, you are a great speaker. You have a lot of energy. You can become a millionaire.” He told me this. He was the first person to say I could become a millionaire. So I said, “ Hey man, I want to buy a helicopter. You think I could do that?” He said, “Yes, you can buy a helicopter!” It wasn’t BS. He really believed I could buy a helicopter. We would talk about buying islands. We would just think big. And he would say yes. He was already successful and he said I could be successful too. But he told me over and over and over and whenever I doubted myself he would always encourage me. At the time, my circle of influence weren’t people who encourage you. A Young lady introduced me to him. From there I just started to slowly but surely change my circle. If you hang around 5 broke people, I guarantee you’d be the sixth one. All my friends wanted to talk about video games, girls, sports, girls, and that’s about it. TV maybe. I wanted to talk about business and entrepreneurship, making a bunch of money, making $100,000 a month, or millions of dollars. They wouldn’t want to talk about that. They would talk about 007 and Wrestlemania, playing video games and playing basketball, and how many girls they’ve had sex with. That’s all well and fine but I wanted to talk about making money. Because you would always lose money chasing women but you would never lose women chasing money. I think the person who has most greatly impacted me financially speaking is Nishant [Bhardwaj]9 because I never made 6 figures in a month until I saw him do it. I never made a six figure check until I saw him doing it. And this is a guy who came from India 8 years ago to go to college and he was working a minimum wage job. And that’s why I say that a lot of Americans are lazy because there are a lot of jobs out there but you don’t want to work them. The foreigners come over and say, “Man, look at all these jobs! And they pay $8 an hour! And I can get more than one!” He was working a minimum wage job, graduated with a master’s degree still working a minimum wage job making $800 a month. He’d send $400 a month back to his parents in India. He ended up getting married and having a baby and got another minimum wage job. So now he’s working two minimum wage jobs. He swallowed his pride and ego. He has a master’s degree but he was making pretzels at a mall down the street. So then finally a year or two he got picked up by a “good job.” They start paying him $30,000. He got a promotion. They started paying him $40,000, and another promotion to $45,000. They move him around Texas and Florida. He wanted to start a business so he quit his job. He quit his good job. He started a business and instead of making $45,000-50,000 a year, he started making zero. And instead of working 48 hours a week and making $50,000 a year, he started working 80 hours a week and making zero. Makes all the sense in the world, right? So he started his business. To fast forward, this guy when I met him a couple of years ago and that’s right when he was just starting doing well. When I first came to Cape he had made a $130,000 that month.
CC: And how did you connect with him?
KS: I met him on the internet, believe it or not. I was in a Facebook group and he would contribute to the group. He would help people out and one of the keys of my success over the years in business is finding a mentor. I think if you find a mentor that’s already successful doing what you are doing, you pay the mentor. What ever it takes, it doesn’t matter how much he charges. You pay him and this person will shorten your learning curves. Where it might take you 10 years to figure something out or 5 years to figure something out, they could show you in a few months. So, you have two guys: Don Wilson10, who was the one originally teaching me and then I didn’t know anybody in the industry, and I see this guy in this group, Nishant. He had just made a $5,000 check. One guy was making millions of dollars. I didn’t have enough money to work with him. This other guy just made $5,000. I want to be friends with him! I met him in the group. I just reached out to him and I started adding value. I would show him different ways of making money, send him chocolate, send him cookies, call him, sing him happy birthday, what ever it takes, anything I could. I would never ask for anything because I believe that when you first meet somebody – a lot of people go wrong as they go asking, “Give me. Give me. Give me.” Why would that person give you something versus the other million people asking them? It’s like a bank. You go to a bank and you try to make a withdraw then there are non-sufficient funds. If you don’t have anything in the bank you have to make a deposit first. So I deposited and deposited and deposited for few months and then I said, “Hey, by the way man, I am working on this. Could you show me how to do this or point me in the right direction?” Eventually overtime he kind of warmed up to me and then we started making money together. Long story short, we started making more money together from hundreds to thousands and then we became friends when I moved up here. So that’s how I met him. But this guy, you know, could barely speak English when he came to America, no friends, no connections, none of that; nothing that we as Americans have that we don’t even realize that we have. Now he is a millionaire. And he is just so humble that he doesn’t tell people that but I’m going to tell people! I already didn’t make excuses anyways. You’ll never hear me making excuses. Either I’m going to do it or I’m not going to do it. But I’m not going to say that I’m going to do it and then say, “Oh, I couldn’t do it because…” If I say I am going to do it, then it’s done. It’s already done. You can put that in the bank. When I look at the obstacles, I just call them not big problems but just minor obstacles that I had to overcome and I do it every day. I don’t make excuses because I know that Nishant came over here barely speaking English, built a big business, positioned himself in the marketplace, made a lot of money, and also helped his parents because his goal when he first came here was to work one year and then go back to India. But he came over here and made a bunch of money, paid off all of his parents debt, and now his parents are here in America right now! He just got them a visa. He flew them over here and they are here right now. It’s amazing. So, no excuses. We can’t make any excuses. If he could do it, I know we can!
CC: I want to call it an obstacle book but people are wondering, “How do I get a mentor?” And I think you touch on that pretty great: just provide value anyway you can at the beginning. Don’t be out there just asking for stuff. And it starts to attract what you want.
KS: Yea. You definitely have to add value. He had just created a course. I bought the course. I didn’t even really have the money to buy the course but I bought the course. I sent him a message. I said, “I bought this course. I’m not even going to use it. I’m just buying it to show you support because I think you are a cool guy.” He responded back that it was so awesome. This is back before when I didn’t even know him. I just bought it. And then on top of that I gave him a testimonial for the course. Testimonials drive sales. When you see testimonials, that encourages other people to buy. So I gave him my testimonial. It wasn’t a real testimony at the time. I knew I would be successful and I knew that eventually I would figure out how to work this course and I would make money and everything. And I did. And then he put my testimonial on his next product. I thought that was cool. You just go add value. If you want to be a horse trainer, find successful horse trainers in your area. Find out their birthday and what kind of wine they drink. You have to add value.
CC: Do you know about James Altucher11? He is another guy that has talks. He has made millions and lost millions and made millions and lost millions. He talks about his failures and all that kind of stuff. He touches on a point that you made. If you wanted to interview an Olympic athlete or if you just wanted to learn about just to learn not even to do it, he wouldn’t go to the Olympic athlete right now. Just like you didn’t go to the guy who was already making millions. He would go to the Olympic athlete maybe from 5 years ago. Just like you wen to Nishant who was making $5,000. It’s kind of a shortcut in finding out and learning about what you want to do or whatever you want to learn. They are very similar concepts for people that are just starting out.
KS: So, I saw myself at the time like a D player or F player and I didn’t want to reach for the A player. I was going for a B player or a C+ player. I can learn from this person. They are still humble. They haven’t really made it yet. That’s how I was looking at it.
Other than deciding to work for yourself, what is the single most important decision you’ve made that contributed to your success?
KS: After working for myself, the best decision I made was just not to quit. A lot of people decide to work for themselves this week and then next week they change their minds. I think that’s the biggest thing; to just make the decision. With my first business I said, “If this business makes a million dollars or if I fail at it, I am just going to stay with it or I’m going to start another business.” I’ll be 80 years old saying, “I want to be rich!” But I am never going to quit. That old saying that says if you are willing to stand for forever, you won’t have to stand for long. And I just made a decision that this is what I am going to do with my life. I’m an entrepreneur. I’m too talented. I’m too smart to just waste it in the cubicle. I have great ideas in my head and I think I can turn those ideas into money and this is what I am going to do. The decision to stick with it and see the job through just like a stamp on a postage; just stick to it until it gets there. I think that was the single most important decision.
Do you have employees that work for you? What do you look for when you’re trying to find someone?
KS: Hunger! I am looking for somebody that is hungry! Seriously. It’s the mindset that is more important than the skill set. Because I can teach what I do to anybody. I’m not going to say I can teach it to a monkey but I can teach what I do to anybody. If they have a few skills that’s great but if they don’t have the right mindset, if they’re not hungry, because I want somebody that is young. A lot of times the older people are just set in their ways and are defeated already. Life has just beat them up so bad. But the younger people, they are young and hungry. That’s the number one thing I am looking for. Of course somebody that is honest and somebody that wants to show up and go to work every day. But if you are hungry and you can run, we can make a lot of money together.
CC: It’s funny because my next question was how do you keep them motivated but it seems like the people that you find they are already motivated.
KS: But at the same time you do have to motivate them and how I do that is simple. I just find out what it is that they want out of life because I have my definition of success and you have yours, but they might say I want to do X, Y, and Z. Well, I am going to show them how working with me can help them achieve their X, Y, and Z. I really get into their lives. I get into the personal lives of my employees. I’m not being nosy. I am nosy! But I’m just really concerned. I think it was Ziegler. He said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” In addition to that, if you help enough other people to get what they want out of life, then you can get what you want out of life. So, I am really helping them get what they want out of life. This is something that one of my employees sent me over Christmas. It says, “Merry Christmas. Thank you very much for everything; for being patient, understanding inspiring, and a cool boss. And thanks so much for the Christmas bonus you sent me days ago. I couldn’t thank you immediately at that time because I was feeling guilty with my shortcomings and so shocked that I don’t know if I truly deserve it. Anyways, these blessings are really a big help for me financially. Most especially, we have now moved into a new home and I did not expect the additional expenses. But you really helped me big time. Thank you again. I am really looking forward to more things to learn from you in the future.” So, I already knew that she takes care of her younger siblings and I knew she was moving into a new house and I knew it was going to cost extra money because we had already talked about it even though she doesn’t remember telling me. So, I sent her a bonus. I was going to send her a bonus anyways. But I sent her a little extra bonus to help her with her living expenses and moving expenses. I think that when people find out that you actually do care about them and you want to see them win; and I tell them that, I say, “Look, I want to see you win.” Because people don’t want to see you win. That’s why we have to win big.I want to see you win and I want to know what it is they are trying to work towards. Once they know that you care about them, they are going to stick with you longer and they work harder for you too.
CC: How many employees do you have?
KS: I have one in the Philippines. I have one in India. I have two full-time employees. I have two part-time employees. I have one in Bangladesh and one here in The States.
CC: How do you find them?
KS: The ones overseas I found on a website called Upwork12, which used to be Odesk and the one here in The States was from word to mouth.
Which is more rewarding for you: is it making your business a success or is it keeping it successful?
KS: Where I am right now, I think it’s making it a success and I know everybody has different answers. The business that I am in right now is not necessarily something that I want to be doing. I think that the ability and the skill set that I have is very important and I think that I’ll be able to make money with it at anytime just in case something goes down or I have to make some money. I know I can do that. But where I am in these business, it’s not really what I want to be doing. I don’t necessarily want to be in fashion or be in fishing or anything like that. I like to see these businesses as assets. I can build a business up and I can turn it around and sell it. Sell it to someone looking for an income producing asset online; here are all my customer lists. Here is everything. Here is how much it is making every single month. Make me an offer. Versus a real big brand that I would like to keep like what I’ll be doing helping the kids. That is something that is longterm that I would like to be my legacy; What I’ll be doing until the death of me.
CC: Did you meet Tyson Schaffner13 when he was here [with Patched Overalls]14? He pitched at 1 Million Cups15. It’s not identical to what you’ve talked about but he does this thing where he has kids submit applications for what they want to do with their life. But very similar it’s like you are teaching them the skills to eventually do what they want to do.
If you could travel back to day one of your work and have 15 minutes with your former self to communicate any lessons you’ve acquired with the intention of saving yourself mistakes and heartache, what would you tell yourself?
KS: Just at the top of my head, I would tell myself that everything is going to be ok because I’ve been really up and I’ve been really, really down. I’ve been depressed. I got evicted out of my house, my car repo’d, and that was really, really, really a low point in my life. I mean depressed, depressed. Can you imagine me being depressed? I think I would tell myself, “Listen, Sanders. It’s going to be ok. We are going to make millions, baby! We’re going to do it!” Because it’s always easy after its done. Everybody always believes in you after you’ve made it, but before is when you question yourself. And before is when you have people that don’t believe in you and that just messes with your mind and you might not be as productive as you could have been because you are so into your head, thinking, “are you making the right decision?”. Because 1 year in, 2 years in, 5 years in, 10 years in, I would see my friends with jobs, with good jobs and you see them prospering: buying houses, buying cars, and here you are still broke. You know, you have ups and downs and ups and downs. If I could talk to my old self I would say, “It’s going to be ok. We are going to win.” With me knowing that then I think I would have been a lot more successful just knowing that. But then again, that would have taken some of the fun away too.
So we have some questions on Codefi.
CC: How did you hear about us? Was it Nishant?
KS: No. I told Nishant about it. Yeah. I want my referral fee. Ryan Evans16 told me about it. One day he said, “Oh man, there is this new business. It’s so cool.” This was about a year ago. I just moved here in September-October and he told me about it around November. That’s when I joined. So, I told Nishant about it because we had another office in Fruitland and it was really just us. It was [in a building with] a construction company and we were in a small little office and it was boring and I never liked going to the office. It was hundreds [of dollars]. I would rather work from home. I found out about this place and we checked it out. It was nice. It was different and trendy. You are around some good energy. So, we decided to join.
CC: That was my next question. What made you all interested to join?
KS: Just look at the space. It’s awesome! It’s cool. I am sitting in a freakin Lego table right now. Its cool. You are around other people that are moving and shaking in their own lives and they are going some place and you are around that good energy and I am thinking to myself, “I’m not going to let you all make all the money! I want to make some too!” It’s good. Personally, I work better by myself. That’s why I try to wear a hoodie all the time. I was telling a guy last night, if I have on my hoodie and I can sit in front of the computer, I can sit in front of the computer and work until I just have to use the bathroom or die of starvation. This is how I focus, like a horse with blinders on. But at the same time it’s good to switch it up because sometimes when I am at home by myself I am not as productive because I might play around on the internet or something like that. I know if I come to the office I know I got to get some work done. Because I’m not going to drive from my house to here and not do anything. So, it’s good to switch it up. I like to be around the energy. I like the layout of the place. I like the other people and the other members.
CC: How do you envision successfully using the space?
KS: Just feeding off you guys and your energy. I come here and I see my picture on the wall and I say, “That’s somebody important right here.” So I have to live up to that! Just coming in and getting work done and banging it out.
CC: Then we do have our selfish question: is there anything we could do to improve?
KS: Definitely. One thing you can do to improve is to put a big picture of me right in the front and as everybody walks in so they can see me. That’s about the only thing I can think of.
CC: I like it. We’ll do a photo shoot.
Rapid Fire Questions
CC: I’ve heard you don’t drink alcohol. You’ve never touched it. So, it may take it away but what is your go-to drink? Some people use alcohol, so what’s your non-alcoholic drink?
KS: Strawberry lemonade. I’m a lemonade connoisseur. I like to try different strawberry lemonades. I don’t have one that I really like; probably my moms! I had a strawberry lemonade yesterday from Chik-fil-a. It was really good. Sometimes it’s too tart but when they made that one they did good.
CC: If you could have dinner with anyone in the past or present who would it be and why?
KS: I would have dinner with Jesus. He is the only perfect person to walk the earth.
CC: Would that be the last supper or what?
KS: No, not the last one! Like a private dinner. Just to have a conversation with him.
CC: We are going from Jesus, who was completely selfless to a selfish question: what’s your dream car?
KS: Dream car. I have a few of them. Like an every day car, I would say like a Jaguar XJ17. Nothing too fancy. It’s nice. I can drive it every day. It’s a sedan. I can fit my family in it.
CC: What’s one hobby or skill that if you had more time, money, or resources you’d love to do?
KS: I need to speak more. I think that I have a story and it’s not for selfish reasons. There are some people that you can talk to you and you can reach them. It’s like pastors in the church and that’s why there are so many different types of pastors and so many different types of messages that you can go and listen to. Some people you can reach, I can’t reach. Some people I can reach, you can’t reach. I think there are some people that have my name on them and I am kind of wasting my gift if I don’t go out and speak. So I think I need to get out of the circuit more and start doing that.
CC: Have you ever heard of the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour18? It’s people in their 20s or 30s that have been successful and they tell their stories. They travel all around the world and you go to different campuses and tell your story.
CC: Who do you think of when you hear the word: successful?
KS: Me. No. I think of Nishant. Who else do I think of? When you say successful, the first names that pop in my head are Bill Gates19, Opra Winfrey20, and those type of people. I think I am successful too and it’s been a long time coming, baby. I deserve my success because I pushed a wheelbarrow. Look at this! When I tell you I pushed a wheelbarrow for years while I was building my businesses, that’s real. I didn’t paint that on. So, I deserve all the success I am getting right now.
CC: You mentioned Think and Grow Rich. Is it that one or is there another book that changed your life?
KS: Yeah. Definitely. Rich Dad, Poor Dad 21. [Robert Kiyosaki] 22 really changed my life and to follow up that book with The Cash Flow Quadrant 23. When he talked about he four different quadrants: the employee, the self-employed, business owner, and investor; that was a big eye opener for me. Other books: How to Win Friends and Influence People 24. Another book that I recently read is called Outwitting the Devil 25. It’s another Napoleon Hill book. That’s in the top 5 books. Kiyosaki really changed my way I think – how you think a certain way – do other people think like me or am I just crazy? But when I read that book, it was stuff that I thought about intuitively but I was never able to put it in concrete terms The Kiyosaki books just like really put into this is really how I think. I want to be a business owner and he just broke down everything.
CC: Last question here: what question would you have liked me to ask you?
KS: That’s a good one. I ask that question to people too. “How many years did it take for me to start making some big money?”
CC: You said you started when you were 19 or so? And you’re 36 now; 17 years of grinding.
KS: A lot of times people look at somebody like me and they will say, “Man, he just popped out of nowhere. Look at this guy. He’s with the gurus and he’s in this country and that continent.” But they don’t see all the years of hard work, sacrifice, and dedication.
CC: What do they say? Overnight success happens in 10 years?
KS: Yeah! It took about 10 years for me to be an overnight success. So it took me a little longer than that. I’m in the slow class. It took me 12 years. I had ups and downs but consistent few years before I started making some decent money. That is an interesting question and one I’m probably going to add to ask people. Because there are a lot of people looking at successful people and say, “Oh, that just happened.They probably just started.” Because they don’t know their story behind it. Yeah. We live in a just-add-water society. Instant microwave. They see the celebrities on reality tv shows that go from nobody to overnight [success] and they want that type of success. But that’s not reality. That’s like hitting a lottery or getting into the NFL. You have 10 million people trying to get in for 10 spots. The real sustainable stuff is when you actually have a skill set and you work and you grow it and you’re building your own thing. It’s going to take years. You’ll be 10 years older anyway. Might as well be building something of your own.
1 Eric Thomas motivational speech
2 Tim Ferriss
3 David Shands
4 “Dreams are Built Overnight”
5 “The Innovation Paradox” by Ralph Keyes
6 Facebook Ads Cracked
7 National Fishing Association
8 “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill
9 Nishant Bhardwaj
10 Don Wilson
11 James Altucher
13 Tyson Shaffner
14 Patched Overalls
15 1 Million Cups
16 Ryan Evans
17 Jaguar XJ
18 Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour
19 Bill Gates
20 Opra Winfrey
21 “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki
22 Robert Kiyosaki
23 “The Cash Flow Quadrant” by Robert Kiyosaki
24 “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie
25 “Outwitting the Devil” by Napoleon Hill