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This is the biggest show of the year (and not just because we gave away $3,000 in prizes).
I share my vision for the future. We’re building an agency, we’re starting a non-profit, and we’re extending the sabbatical concept from weeks to years.
Moving forward, we’re paying employees to take off every seventh week AND every seventh year.
I share how I’m changing the future of work and building the best place to work in the world.
I give a tangible analogy for how you can make more money by learning to think in bigger units (starting with sugar cubes). It will completely revolutionize the way you think.
I share the revelations I had two weeks ago where I recognized the completely underutilized talent pool we have and how we’re going to pivot that into a full-service digital marketing agency.
We’ll then deploy the agency against the software company we’re launching in 2017 (CommunityTalk).
This episode will change your life and you’ll come away thinking much bigger than you ever did before.
This truly is only the beginning.
P.S., Did you see: 2016 Year in Review »
Highlights, Takeaways, & Quick Wins:
- We have the best talent pool of creative professionals inside the Community.
- We’re starting a creative agency called seanwes media where we’ll hire members from from the Community exclusively to work on client projects.
- seanwes media will generate cashflow that we’ll use to continue to fund our software company, CommunityTalk.
- Since 2014, we’ve paid employees to take off every seventh week. We’re expanding that: Now, all employees are paid to take off every every seventh year as well!
- The fact that we’re paying our employees to take off every seventh week and every seventh year creates a story.
- What our employees do on their year off also creates a story.
- Within 10 years, seanwes will be a billion-dollar company (I share how and why in the show).
- Within 20 years, most companies will offer sabbaticals to their employees because of our example (they’ll be forced into it to remain competitive).
- We’re starting a non-profit even though I have no idea what it’s for yet (I explain why in the show).
- Team members will be encouraged to spend one of their 7.42 sabbatical weeks per year volunteering at the non-profit.
- You will only attain what’s big to you only when you learn to normalize it.
- Teaching what you know accelerates the implementation of that knowledge.
- The way to prevent burnout is to go all in on a break.
- The goal of sabbaticals isn’t to not work, it’s to free yourself from any obligations.
- Employees are your greatest asset.
- Find good people and empower them.
- What people do in their time off creates a story.
- Happy people do good work.
- If you want to have a big impact, you have to think big and act big.
- 02:38 Sean: I’m going to be sharing a really exciting story today about the future vision of not just seanwes, but I believe that we’re going to change the future of work. If you’ve ever wanted to see what a billion dollar company looked like years before it became a billion dollar company, you’re in the right place. I’m going to tell you what it’s going to be like in the future.
Building Blocks – How to Make More Money by Thinking in Bigger Units
- 05:37 Sean: I have a lot of goals. One of those goals is not to build a billion dollar company. That’s not actually a goal of mine, but I started looking at the trajectories, and I realized that it’s an inevitability. Most likely, by the time I’m in my 40s, maybe sooner, seanwes will be a billion dollar company. I’m going to tell you how I know that, how we’re going to get there, and the things we’re going to be changing in culture along the way, and as a result of doing that. Jason Fried, who started BaseCamp, the project management software, said something along the lines of, “Making money is a skill.”
- 06:52 Much like playing an instrument or anything else you want to do. Everyone wants to become good at something immediately or overnight, but making money is a skill. It’s something you get good at. There’s a lot of people listening that are at different places, different levels, and some people have never made $100 outside of their day job. Other people might have made a couple hundred by selling a phone or gaming console, but they’ve never made $1,000. A few people in their past have mowed lawns, repaired computers, and did odds and ends to make $1,000 on the side.
- 07:39 Maybe over the course of a summer they made $3,000 or $4,000, but they didn’t make $10,000. We’re all at different levels and we’ve all had different accomplishments. We’ve done different things and we understand what it takes to produce the result that we want. We understand if we mow a lawn, we can get $80. We understand if we buy a phone at a discount and sell it on Craigslist, we can make a profit of $200. We have different ideas of what I would call building blocks.
- 08:09 Over time, as you start to level up, you learn to think in bigger units. I always say if you think a million dollars is a lot of money, you might make $100,000. If you think $100,000 is a lot of money, you might make $10,000. It’s all about how you’re thinking. It’s about the level at which you’re thinking and the units in which you think. If you think a million dollars is a lot of money, you might get $100,000. That’s just how it works.
You have to normalize what’s big to you.
You will only attain it when you normalize it.
- 08:42 Sean: In order to attain something big, it has to be normalized. What was once a big thing to you needs to become something that is no longer big relative to what you now think is big. You have to change the units with which you think. Originally, making $1,000 was really hard for me. Now, I understand what it takes to do that. I understand how to produce a course, perform services for clients, and how to manufacture, sell, ship, and market products. I’ve come up with systems and processes for those things, as well as brought in team members to do those different tasks.
- 09:28 I start thinking in bigger units. Think of it this way: imagine a sugar cube. Line 10 of those in a row. If they represent money, that’s a lot of money. You figure out what it takes to come up with that row. How do I systematize and come up with a process for creating a row of 10 cubes? You then take that row and repeat it 10 times. Now you’ve got a plate—a foundation of 10 rows. Once you’ve systematized that and you’ve learned to think in bigger units, you no longer think of them as sugar cubes, you think of these plates.
- 10:30 You stack 10 plates on top of each other and now you’ve got a mega-cube. Once you know what it takes to come up with that cube, that becomes a unit for you. That is now a building block you can use. You can say, “Let’s get a team together and we’re going to stack a bunch of these blocks on a pallet. Then, we’re going to get a bunch of these pallets and load those into a shipping container.” An 18-wheeler can carry one of those containers, but you’ve seen ships with tons of those containers on it.
- 11:13 Then, you start thinking in terms of barges. You’ve got different docks for these barges in different countries around the world. It’s all about thinking in terms of bigger units. As you level up, you learn to think in bigger units. For instance, we’ve created several courses over the past several years. Originally, I did it myself. I figured out what the course was going to be about, validated it—made sure there was a market fit, talked to people in the audience—come up with the course concept, write out the list of modules and lessons, outline the lessons, script them, set up a camera, set up a teleprompter, set up the lights, set up the audio, set up recording, edited the footage, published it, marketed it, wrote the copy for the landing page, designed the illustrations, and sent the emails.
- 11:59 I did all of that before and it took me forever! It took me months and months to do the work, as well as learn how to do it. Eventually, over time, we systematized it. I brought on Cory to help me with video and other team members to help me with writing, editing, marketing, and emails. We’ve come up with systems. Now, we can think in terms of a unit, like a course, and we can say, “Let’s make a course for that,” and that’s a unit.
- 12:29 When I extrapolate out and look at the future, as we level up these units, I’m realizing, with time, that it’s an inevitability that we will be a billion dollar company. There’s a lot of things that we’re doing. We’ve got seanwes with our membership, our shows, our flagship programs, the mini courses, live trainings for members, seanwes conference, and CommunityTalk. Some people don’t know that they can go to CommunityTalk.com to check out the software that we’re building.
- 13:10 For several years now, we’ve been building our own proprietary community messaging system, and we’re going to be making it available to others so they don’t have to shoehorn Facebook groups, forums, and Slack into some kind of community system. We’ve built the best community messaging system in the world from the ground up and it’s called CommunityTalk. All of these are just individual pieces. I had several revelations two weeks ago while I was in the shower. Things started clicking for me.
- 13:49 After that, I had to lie down in silence for two hours just to think. Things started connecting for me. It was as if I was sitting in the middle of a room with Lego Bricks piled all around me—just raw material of quality bricks to build things. I’m sitting in the middle looking at the instructions to build one set. Potential was everywhere!
- 14:35 Ben: In the Lego Movie, Emmet is a normal Lego figure. There’s nothing extraordinary about him. At some point in the movie, he makes a shift to becoming a master builder. They did this fun thing in the movie where it was almost a Matrix style “sight” that he had. He could look around and pieces would be highlighted with the piece number for him.
- 15:21 He could visualize all of this stuff and he could put it together in his mind before it ever actually came together. I envision you looking at the Legos and instead of looking at a manual for a specific thing, you see all of these pieces and you could suddenly see how they would all fit together.
seanwes media – The Agency
- 15:48 Sean: I thought, “What are we even doing here?” It started blowing me away. I’ve had an idea of creating an agency called seanwes media and my plan was to do it in about five years. I don’t know why I overcomplicated it, but I was thinking it would take a lot to start up. I thought we’d need to set money aside and hire people, which is expensive. I overcomplicated it in my mind, but suddenly I realized that clients pay up front.
- 16:23 We don’t actually need all of this upfront capital. I’m constantly saying that client work is the best place to start because it’s the fastest way to make money! For some reason I tend to overcomplicate things and I think too advanced. I thought we’re going to build this massive agency, instead of doing some work for one other person and getting paid, and then scaling that.
- 16:55 Ben: Can I give you some credit here? You did follow your own advice because you started with client work doing lettering, which grew into something that followed the same path—clients, products, and teaching. You followed that path, but it evolved into something different. You started with the sugar cube of lettering and then you built a row of ten, which was your products. Then, you built it out into a plate, which was teaching and courses. Now, you’ve got something you can stack and it’s like it has come back full circle.
- 17:36 People don’t know this, but this show is actually just me learning in public. It’s iterating in public, documenting the journey, sharing what I know, and teaching as I go. In real life, I probably apply 40% of what I talk about, even though I know these are all things I should be doing. I know the right things.
- 17:59 Aaron: It just takes a couple of times for it to sink in.
- 18:05 Sean: You know how you listen to the podcast and you find yourself saying the things you hear on the podcast to other people, but you’re still not doing them? It hasn’t fully internalized; it’s just head knowledge. I go through that too and I go through it with my own words! Not all of the things I know are things that I’m implementing.
Teaching what you know accelerates the implementation of that knowledge.
- 18:29 Sean: Things started clicking and I started recognizing all the opportunities I was missing. People would come to me and say, “Do you have any recommendations for this or that?” and I’m constantly pointing them in the right direction. I’m realizing, I should just be saying, “Yeah, us!” We teach people how to build and grow an audience-driven business. We teach content marketing, copywriting, sales, client work, professionalism, design, videography, etc. We do this for ourselves and we teach it, but we’re not doing it for other people.
- 19:06 Why are we not providing, as a service, every single thing we teach? That’s when it all clicked. We’ve got hundreds of people inside the Community who are the most talented people in the world. We have the greatest talent pool in the world of driven, ambitious, creative, talented professionals with good heads on their shoulders and a good mindset. They’re professionals and they’re eager and ready for work!
- 19:33 We’re trying to help them do that! Why would I not be taking on jobs and saying, “We can do that campaign for you. If you’ve got a great product or service, we can market it for you.” seanwes media will be a full-service creative, digital marketing agency. I would get the job and it would be like, “We’re going to make you $100,000, the job is $30,000.” Then, I go to the Community and I hire individual Community members on contract basis. As we continue to work, as we get more jobs, as I keep them busy to the point of full-time work, we actually bring them on full-time and we make it a formal deal.
- 20:19 I see within two years this scaling fairly quickly, to the point of having dozens of contractors that turn into 40 or more employees in this agency. This agency would then make money for itself to be able to pay people in the Community—the most talented people in the world. We’ve got this killer membership with thousands of dollars of value inside it, and it’s $99. We have people investing in themselves $99 a month to be here and to be around the best people.
- 21:01 We don’t do free trials. We don’t do $1 trials. We don’t just let anyone in and as a result, we don’t have a tremendous amount of revenue from it—which is fine, because I’ve never been about the revenue from the Community—but what we do have is the best people in the world. That’s why seanwes conference was so amazing. That’s why the conversations we have every single day are so good—because these people are good and the filtration device is in place.
- 21:27 Business owners: imagine if every candidate you had for a job opening had to pay you $99 a month to be considered. Think about the quality of that person! Think about how invested that person is in what you’re doing.
- 21:57 Ben: That’s not usually how it works. Usually, you’re looking for a job and you put together your resume and you send it out to as many places as possible to see what’s going to stick. People who are a little bit smarter get a little more specific and target a handful of positions, but there are very few who would actually consider paying money.
- 22:30 Sean: That’s our unique advantage! Actually, you haven’t even heard the best part yet. I haven’t shared the entire story yet until this episode, but I’ve shared this with a few people in the last two weeks and every single person I’ve shared it with immediately asks, “Where can I sign up? How do I work for you?”
We have this incredible advantage of the Community and I’ll never go anywhere else but the Community to hire people.
- 23:14 I’m not interested in going anywhere else. I can hire a developer who I meet randomly or I can hire a developer who’s in the Community, has a great mindset, and who’s on board with our principles. It’s a no-brainer. I’ve been telling people quietly that I’m watching in the Community to see who’s invested, who’s providing value, who’s in there answering questions, and who’s humble enough to ask questions and not just sit on the sidelines and not participate.
- 23:56 You get out what you put in. I’m paying attention to those people and I want those people. Not only will seanwes media make enough money to pay people, but it’s also going to spin off enough revenue to create capital that we can invest in our startup SaaS company. Because I want to bootstrap, I don’t like to be beholden to stakeholders and investors because I think I know the best way to do things and I don’t want to owe anyone else. I’m going to bootstrap it, but this spins off revenue to give our team members raises, be able to pay people well, and to invest capital in the startup company.
- 24:45 Here’s the great part: let’s say we’re making $60,000 form seanwes media, the agency, and our current payroll is $40,000 for the people we hire. That’s roughly $20,000 in profit per month. If we go six months, we’ve got $120,000 set aside. That means we have enough cash in the bank at that point to sustain the team for three months without worrying about money. What do we do at that time? We now have a full fledged media agency to promote our software company. Their job for the next three months, or even one month, is to come up with an awesome campaign to promote CommunityTalk.
- 25:46 Ben: Basically, the same thing you’ve been doing for other people, but for your company.
- 25:50 Sean: Exactly. We have our own in-house media team. Every single thing that we launch—the conference, physical products, courses, software—we have an internal media team to deploy against those campaigns. That’s the model, but I also decided something else.
Sabbaticals – Paying Employees to Take Off Every Seventh Week and Seventh Year
- 26:18 Sean: For those of you who don’t know, a few years ago I started doing what I call Small Scale Sabbaticals. I was working really hard for the past 11 years, 18-hour days, 7 days a week, pretty much 365 days a year. That’s why I am where I am—I’ve put in that time. Before someone has put that much time into a business, they’re probably in their 40s. I’ve put in a ton of time and I love my work, but I was realizing I was heading toward burnout. I knew I would reach the point where I was going to burn out. I’m an all-on or all-off kind of guy. I’m obsessed or I don’t care at all.
The only way to prevent burnout is to go all in on a break.
- 27:14 Sean: I’ve heard of people taking off a year every seven years and that’s kinda crazy. Most people take a day off every seven days, but why don’t we have something in the middle? Why don’t we have Small Scale Sabbaticals? On a whim, I decided to take a week off every seventh week. I’ll work six weeks and I’ll take a week off. I’ll work extremely hard for six weeks and then I’ll go all in on a break. I’m going to schedule nothing, make no commitments for that week, and I’m going to do it.
- 27:48 Long story short, we’ve been doing that for a couple of years now. Originally, I thought, “How am I going to make sure my team is working when I’m on my break?” Then I thought, if I believe in this concept, I should also give it to them. For the past couple of years, all of our team is paid to take off every seventh week. How has that been?
- 28:14 Aaron: It has been phenomenal. There are weeks when I’m really tired from working and I just need to rest. Some weeks I spend a lot of time working out and recharging that way. There have even been a couple of weeks where I have shot an entire mini-course or finished recording almost an entire course, just because I had the freedom to do that and I was fired up about it. It’s amazing to be able to say, “I have five or seven days to do whatever is most important. We don’t get that often, because so often a priority is given to us. “Go work on this thing,” or, “My family has to have help.”
- 29:04 Cory: Not only do you get to rest from the six weeks of working really hard and putting in the hours working on cool projects here, but you get that rest. Rest is important, but it also gives us time to work on a side project or travel.
- 29:29 Sean: It’s been really good for me too. I feel rejuvenated and recharged. I feel like I can sustain this level of drive and ambition. We’ve been doing this for years now. Earlier this year, I decided that I’m also going to take off every seventh year. The first year since I started doing these sabbaticals is 2020. Honestly, I’m scared to death. I can’t imagine not working and that’s a scary thing to me, but I also remember feeling that way about taking a week off. You feel like taking a week off is a million years.
- 30:11 You think, “I’ll travel across the world! I’ll write a book!” It’s not a long time. It seems like a lot of time, but it’s really not. I remember the first sabbatical I took was easy; it felt like a vacation. The second sabbatical I remembering saying, “I can’t do it. There’s too much work to be done.” That’s the thing though, there’s always more work to be done. Why did I end up doing it? Because I made a public commitment.
- 30:42 I had been blogging and podcasting about it. I had told people, “I’m going to do this thing,” and I put it out there. I got my back against the wall, so I had to grit my teeth and take off that second week. By the third sabbatical, that’s where it clicked for me and I’ve seen it repeatedly with people on our team. That third sabbatical is where it feels right. You look forward to it and you crave it. I’m trusting the process.
It scares me to death to think of taking a year off, but I’m trusting the process because I know it will be valuable.
- 31:24 Sean: I know it will give me clarity on the work I’m doing and the purpose I have in this world, because I think we can easily get distracted from that. We can get caught up in the rat race of things and start reacting to things that are thrown at us. We show up for things that other people committed us to. That’s not rethinking or evaluating the things we’ve chosen to spend our time on. We only have one life! I just don’t think I can get that kind of clarity and perspective on my life without taking a large step back.
- 32:02 I’m trusting the process. I am going to take a sabbatical year in 2020. It took me a year or two to understand this and make a rule for myself, but the key to sabbaticals is not to schedule anything for the sabbatical until I’m on the sabbatical. What do we do with margin? We look at our calendar and we’re like, “I have all this time!” When was the last time you had a gap on your calendar and someone asked you if you’re available for a thing you wanted to do and you said no?
- 32:44 Ben: It feels impossible.
- 32:49 Sean: We want to fill the time. We fill time by habit. We don’t create margin automatically. I have an event in Google calendar for a week that’s set to repeat every seven weeks. It happens automatically. It doesn’t matter if it’s a holiday or not, it just happens. We don’t question it. We know when it’s going to happen years from now. I would see that gap and people would say, “Want to meet for coffee or a call?”
- 33:20 I would say, “Yeah, I’ve got time!” but I’m working so hard in the six weeks that I’m on that I would get to that week and all I would want to do is collapse and rest. I would look at my calendar and see a bunch of obligations. The rule I made for myself is that I cannot schedule anything for the sabbatical unless I’m on the sabbatical, because:
The goal of sabbaticals is not to not work, believe it or not.
The point is to free yourself from any obligations.
- 33:51 Sean: If you want to work, you can work. If you want to work on that one fun thing that would get cool results but can’t ever be the priority because there’s more important things, you can do it. Sometimes I’ll spend a sabbatical nerding out on InfusionSoft because it’s fun. Maybe you want to make a course, write a book, or record a podcast—you can do that if you want to. The point is to free yourself from any obligations. I said I’m going to take off a year.
- 34:18 What happened when I started Small Scale Sabbaticals and I started hiring people? I realized if I believe in this concept, why am not giving it to my employees? I believe in this concept from the Small Scale Sabbaticals all the way up to the full one. Every seanwes employee is paid and forced to take off every seventh week and every seventh year. You work at seanwes and you get paid to take off every seventh week and every seventh year across the board.
- 34:59 Any subsidiaries, any companies, and anything I do for the rest of forever—we are doing sabbaticals. I’m committed. This is where people say, “Where can I sign up?” Committing to this also gives me a lot of context in that it makes me really think about hiring. They say, “Hire slow, fire fast.” I need to really think about the people I’m bringing on and I need to make sure they are the right people. I have to consider that. A lot of people think that I’m crazy.
Employees Are a Company’s Greatest Asset
- 35:41 Sean: Let’s roll back the clock 10 or 15 years, before the startup boom. If you were to say, “I’m going to put ping pong tables, couches, espresso machines, and free food in the office,” people would have laughed at you. They would think, “What are you talking about? That’s going to distract people. People aren’t going to get work done and they’re not going to be productive.” The reality is that no one is doing more than two hours of focused work in a day!
- 36:08 Aaron: We’ve had a conversation about how it’s hard for us to do four hours of focused work, but that’s because we’ve invested a lot of time in learning how to do that. Two hours of intense, focused work is really hard.
- 36:24 Sean: If you want to get some clarity on your life, download the app RescueTime. You’re going to get such crazy clarity that you won’t even want to see it. It tracks every minute of every app you have open. You tell people you wrote for an hour today, no you didn’t.
- 36:48 Aaron: It was 23 minutes.
- 36:51 Sean: You switched over to Chrome, Twitter, and Facebook. You were distracted. I had Aaron keep me accountable last week. I produced the Audience Building course, finally. We produced it as if we were going to sell it for $199 and we’re going to be giving it away for free. There’s 20 lessons in it. I came up with it in 2015 and finally produced and shot the whole thing in the last two weeks. I knew I was going to get distracted and I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it before Christmas.
- 37:41 Aaron: You came to me and said, “I’d like to do this course in the week before Christmas, but I don’t know if I can get it done.” I was like hold on! If this is what you want to do, what do we have to do make sure it gets done?
- 37:58 Sean: I was off of my early wake schedule with the traveling and conferences and stuff I’ve done in the last couple of months, so I scheduled a 6 a.m. call with Aaron three days last week. That means I had to be up at 5:30, which I wasn’t doing. When I did that, one of those days, according to RescueTime, I spent four hours and 25 minutes writing! It is possible, but it’s also really hard. For the most part, people aren’t getting two hours of focused work done.
- 38:43 The people laughing at you 15 or 20 years ago at suggesting that you put a ping pong table, video game room, and espresso machine in the office—because “people will get distracted and they won’t work eight hours”—are already not working eight hours! The startup world figured it out. Now they’ve got the ping pong tables, just watch Silicon Valley. They have all these crazy perks, so when you’re going to some other company that wants to hire you, you walk into a boring office and you’re like, “Where are your ping pong tables?” They realize they have to compete and do something about it.
- 39:24 I was sharing this with a friend and he asked, “Why do you think more companies don’t realize their employees are their best asset? Why don’t they invest more in them? Why don’t they give them sabbaticals and time off like you’re doing?” There are two reasons: internal bureaucracy (stakeholders, investors, complications where one person can’t come in and change everything) and they don’t have to. “You’re going to leave our company because we don’t have sabbaticals? Where are you going to go?”
- 39:54 We’re going to come into these industries and we’re going to ruin it for everyone. In 30 years, everyone will have sabbaticals at every company. That is going to be result of this, the net effect. Some people are excited and want to work for me when I say this and the other people are business owners who think I’m a little crazy.
- 40:19 Aaron: I already work for you so I’m excited about this, but my initial reaction to this was, “Are you sure, Sean?” Now, I know I’ve got to help you figure out how to make this actually happen. Let’s do it!
- 40:36 Sean: I am sure, but the reason people are skeptical is because I’m going to lose money. It’s the reason you can’t implement it in the first place. People say, “This doesn’t make sense. We’re losing money. We’re wasting money. We cannot do this.” I say that we’re starting with this. We’re committing to sabbaticals and we’re building everything else around them. Why do you have two days that you don’t work every week?
- 40:58 Because the entire world is built around weekends! Someone calls you on Friday for a meeting and you’re busy for the rest of the day, you say, “Let’s talk on Monday.” It’s really simple. You build around your weekends. It’s the same exact thing. If I’m right before a sabbatical and people want to meet me, I say that I’m available in eight days and they respect my time. It’s not that complicated, but people don’t start with it because they don’t believe in the concept.
- 41:27 Trust me, I’ve thought through this. Here’s the worst case scenario: someone works for the company, they take their seventh year off paid, and they don’t come back. They leave the company and start their own business during their off year. It goes well and they quit the company. I’m ok with that, because I invested in someone’s life and they’re going to have nothing but good things to say about our company. That will just spread.
- 41:55 You’ve got this insane concept of sabbaticals, which is paying every employee to take off every seventh week and every seventh year, and that’s a crazy story that will spread. When you’re talking to your friend about time off in a few weeks, you’re going to remember this conversation. You’re going to talk about seanwes. What people do in their time off creates a story.
- 42:23 Every single person creates their own story. You don’t have to do anything during your sabbatical. I’m not going to make you do anything. You can do whatever you want. The point is freedom. Go travel the world. Go pursue a side project. Renew your secondary passion. Make music. Create art. Start a business. Leave my company. I don’t care. I want you to do what you want and I want you to be fulfilled.
There’s no sense in rejecting the concept that we’re well-rounded human beings, with all kinds of different needs, and work is not the only thing.
- 43:05 Sean: I recognize that. You can sit on your butt and watch Netflix, but when you come back from the sabbatical, we talk and share about what we did during the sabbatical. Aaron says, “I made a course,” and someone else says, “I enjoyed my time off and it was nice, but maybe I’ll make something on my next sabbatical.” Cory Miller worked on a music album for seven years and never finished it, but in two or three sabbatical weeks, he recorded the entire album.
- 43:37 These are small examples just with the week off. Imagine what the year creates! Imagine the film that Cory produces in his year off. Imagine the stories people tell. We’ll promote those stories. We’ll use our internal media agency to create a campaign around their story to promote their side project. We’re going to make it successful, we’re going to launch it, and we’re going to tell the story because it’s good all around.
How Sabbaticals Will Get Us More Clients and Make Us Immune to Competition
- 44:02 Because we have an agency, clients out there are going to be looking between us and other options, just like we all do in the grocery store. We pick something up and we think an item looks similar at about the same price of something else. You may choose a product from a company that’s more environmentally friendly. Why not? People are going to look at seanwes media and they’re going to know about sabbaticals because this is the story we’re telling.
- 44:36 They’re like, “These people are paid to take off every seventh week! These are happy people. Happy people do good work.“ When they’re comparing to seanwes media and another agency that does the same exact service, guess which one they’ll go with? It’s huge.
- 44:56 Ben: I think about it as a father. Say I was working for seanwes or a company that did that kind of sabbatical cycle. In the amount of time it would take between my child being born and when they graduated, I could potentially have two full years where I’m more focused on what they’re doing and their development in different stages of life.
- 45:31 That could be the first year of their life, which is really hard, or it could be later on when they’re starting to show interest in different things, and it could be in their teen years when they’re preparing for adulthood. How precious to be able to have that time to invest in your family relationships? That sounds like a dream. I would love to see this happen in a way that causes other companies to get on board and for that to be a common experience for parents.
- 46:16 Sean: I don’t have kids of my own, but having employees is similar in a lot of ways. All I want to do is help Cory Miller achieve his dreams and goals. I’ve already done it. I’ve made six figures for myself doing what I love and that was fun, but my mission in life is to help people get out of a soul-sucking day job, stop doing working they hate, find something they love, and help them support themselves and make a living from it.
- 47:12 I want people to do fulfilling work. I want them to be in a place where they feel like they can create the most value. I’ve always hired proactively. I don’t wait until we need a person and there’s a spot we’re desperate to fill from Craigslist. I hire proactively. I hire the best people. I’ve got a list of six to 10 people that I want to hire, just because I know:
When you get good people together, good things happen.
- 47:42 Sean: Not naively, but it really does all work out. I’m not worried about it, I just want the best people. I want to invest in them. I want Cory Miller to be able to get his daughters any Christmas present they want. That’s what I want for anyone who works at this company. I feel like I’m a time traveler. I already know the future. I have hundreds of millions of dollars, we have billion-dollar companies. It’s not in a long amount of time this is going to happen. I’ve traveled back in time to this moment because this is an exciting time.
The Non-Profits I’m Starting (That I Don’t Yet Know What It’s For)
- 48:36 Sean: We’re not there yet, but it’s about being happy right now where we are. I’m just really excited about where we’re going. I know in the future I will have a lot of money. I’ll have everything I could ever need—every desire fulfilled—and I don’t just want it all for myself. I want to give back. I want to be a philanthropist. Right now, I could right a $1,000 check to a charity, but what I’d rather do is invest that $1,000 into the business and in a year write a million dollar check to charity.
- 49:10 I want to invest their money for them in the business so I can give back in a greater way and have a greater impact. I was talking through this with a friend and I started thinking. Why do we give to charity? We want to help a good cause. What does a charity do? You hope they’re good stewards of your money. You hope they’re not wasteful and you hope their values and principles align with your own. You hope they do the right thing. Why don’t we just start that?
- 49:40 Why don’t we just apply the way that we do things—our values and principles—to a nonprofit? I was telling my brothers over Christmas break that I don’t have a deep, burning desire to any particular cause, but I’m not worried. I know the right person is going to come along and I’m going to say, “I want to give you all the resources you need to do this in the best possible way.” That’s all I want to do. I want to say, “Cory, you want to do film. All I want to do is give you the resources to be able to do that in the best possible way.”
Find good people and empower them.
- 50:28 Sean: My younger brother, Cameron, is 18 and the fifth oldest. Over the weekend, I asked him about his future and he said he was thinking about college, but that he wanted to run a coffee shop by age 25. That’s seven years from now. Laci and I have always dreamed of owning a coffee shop. Laci was a barista, she loves making coffee, she loves people, she loves food, and she’s been in that industry for many years. I said, “Cameron, we want to do a coffee shop!”
- 51:05 I told him he either has to get investors, who have a stake in your business and tell you how to run things, or you make the money yourself. You can either make the money—$500,000 or a million—for the next decade to invest, or you spend that seven years getting really good at your craft. You can either run the business or you can own the business. If you own the business, you’re not going to be the one doing the work. If you love making coffee, you don’t want to own a coffee shop. You’re not going to make coffee or engage with people.
- 51:40 He said, “I love making coffee and engaging with people.” I said, “Then don’t own a coffee shop, run a coffee shop. To be clear, if you want to own one, tell me your goal, and I’m going to do whatever I can to make you successful.” We have people on the team who don’t want to work here forever. I know their goals. I know they want to do their own thing and I’m going to give them the biggest push that I can.
- 51:59 If you want to do this here, I want to give you the resources to do it. I told Cameron that he’s the coffee guy. I’m going to work on the resources. If you want to do this in seven years, then we’re going to do this in seven years. I told him to spend the next seven years becoming the best person at coffee in the world. That’s who I want—I want the best people. I’m going to set this up in the best possible way and I’m going to give you the resources. He’ll establish the processes, tell people how to interact with customers, decide what he wants to sell, and how he wants to make it.
- 52:34 That’s what I want to do in life! I want to give people those resources. My thought is to start a nonprofit. I don’t even know what it will be for, but I know in 20 years, I know that the world will not be able to imagine this nonprofit not existing. I know that and I don’t even know what it is because I know the right person is going to come along and I’m going to give them the resources. This is totally optional, but how cool would it be if we took one of our 7.4 sabbaticals a year and spent that week working at the nonprofit? You don’t have to but it’s an encouraged cultural thing—how cool would that be?
- 53:31 Aaron: I love that.
- 53:34 Ben: That sounds pretty amazing. What’s exciting about that is, of the people you know now who are part of the team and connected to seanwes or are part of the Community, represented there are so many world-changing ideas that are set to make the world a better place. It’s exciting that there could potentially be a resource for those ideas to actually get legs and accomplish the things they set out to do.
- 54:10 It could be that they accomplish it at all because they wouldn’t have the resources to do it on their own, or they’re able to do it much faster. I know you don’t know what that’s going to be, but leaving it open-ended is almost more exciting, because there are so many possibilities.
- 54:37 Sean: That all came to me in one evening, so I was pretty overwhelmed. It all suddenly became clear. When I think about the building blocks—every one of the pieces I’ve described is just one piece. It’s pretty cool. I’m really excited about the future.
- 55:01 Aaron: We’ve got a lot of work to do and I’m excited about that. I’m also excited to see how all the Community members play a role in this company and all the different building blocks. We can’t do this by ourselves right now, but this isn’t the end of it. We’re going to need more help.
- 55:22 Cory: Sean has always said, “I want seanwes to be bigger than myself.” It took a lot of growing pains and bringing people on and hiring, and that was a big move. All of these building blocks will eventually build bigger blocks and I’m already seeing the future being much more than just Sean. That’s really exciting.
- 55:53 Ben: Ed Williams said earlier, “I wonder if we’re going to see any new purple names after today’s episode.” I thought that was funny because maybe there’s not necessarily an announcement, but in order to accomplish the vision you have for this company, there are going to be tons of new purple names that will pop up in some segment of time after this episode.
- 56:40 Aaron: I’m thankful to Sean for his values and being willing to share his vision for the future, because I think a lot of people might thing similar thoughts but don’t believe it. They worry that by sharing a vision so big that they want to have an impact on the world because self-doubt kicks in and says, “You’re dumb. You can’t have an impact on the whole world.”
- 57:12 Sean: When I announced this, I got an email back saying, “A little humility wouldn’t hurt.” There’s going to be people like that that think small. He doesn’t understand the context of where we’re coming from. He doesn’t understand that:
If you want to have a big impact, you have to think big and you have to act big.
- 57:32 Sean: If you want to get people on board with that big vision, you have to communicate that big vision.
- 57:37 Aaron: It’s like that quote, “Aim for the stars and you’ll land on the moon,” because if you aim for the moon, you’ll never make it out of the atmosphere. If you don’t try to have an impact on the world, then you’re guaranteed you’re not going to have an impact on the world. You’re just going to stay in your same little bubble, in your same city, with your same group of friends, because you’re never trying. You’re never asking, “What do I have to do to change the world?”
- 58:17 Sean: I believe in our values so much that I think the world would be a better place if we were able to do things at a large scale. Doing things at a large scale requires thinking big, acting big, and empowering a lot of the right people. You have to find the right people. It’s all about the right people. If you have the wrong people in your life, you have to get the wrong people out of your life. They are in a hole and you’re trying with one hand to pull them out of the hole. It is way easier for them to pull you down.
The Billion-Dollar Company (Before It’s a Billion-Dollar Company)
- 59:23 There was a conversation in the Community that was really good about why it’s ok to be a #2 in a world the praises only the #1. Because entrepreneurship is big, a lot of people want to be the #1. It’s tough. If you love the thing that got you into the game, you don’t want to start a massive business and hire a bunch of people, unless you’re ok with not doing that thing anymore. You’re not going to do that anymore. You’re going to have to do a lot of different things and you’re going to have to delegate. Someone said, “I would love to be a #7 at Pixar.” Yeah, but you have to be able to recognize a Pixar before it’s a Pixar. That’s what people can’t do.
seanwes will be a billion dollar company, it’s only a matter of if you believe it now or you need to be shown it later.
- 01:00:25 Do you have what it takes to recognize potential, and recognize something that’s inevitable before it happens? You want someone popular to promote your work? You want to attach yourself to an influencer? You cannot do it after the fact, because they have all kinds of demands on them. You have to do it before they get there and acquire that kind of influence. How do you know that? If you could quantify that, then it would be a super power. It is! The way you know is, you look for people with a good mindset who are taking action. That’s it! That’s why I hire people. I don’t hire for skills, because the right people who are taking action can channel that energy.
- 01:01:08 Or, I can help them channel that energy the right way. If they have the right mindset, if they’re positive, if they’re not speaking negatively, if they’re not thinking small, if thy care about value, if they don’t cut corners, and they’re actually taking action now where they are—they’re doing what they can with what they have—that’s how I know. That’s the person. I’m going to attach myself to that person because the only thing that can happen is greatness.