Over the past few episodes, we’ve been discussing passion. Owning a business and getting involved in the everyday minutiae can make it difficult to keep the passion and vision top of mind. To expand on this topic, we spent time with our friend and entrepreneur Jason Perez, talking about the passion-driven culture he is dedicated to in his business. With that being said, we come to you with episode #49 of the Cultivating Business Growth podcast where we dive into being a visionary as an entrepreneur.
What we cover in this episode:
- 01:46 – Introduction to Jason Perez
- 05:51 – Mindset – no option to fail
- 10:05 – High-level visionary
- 17:58 – Risk-taking
- 22:28 – Relationship building
- 25:57 – Leading by example
Introduction to Jason Perez
Jason Perez, entrepreneur, advisor, and co-founder of yardz comes from a pedigree of construction and entrepreneurship. He has sat on several boards and has been a trusted advisor for a widespread of companies. As CEO of yardz, he brings a high business aptitude mixed with a passion-driven culture.
Jason’s parents emigrated to the United States from Cuba and he attributes much of his entrepreneurial fire from what he learned from his parents. His parents were starting over in a brand new country and knew they had to succeed. Failure was not an option. Leaving their lives in Cuba behind, they saw what they’d sacrificed and everything they’d done to be in the U.S., so they were very focused on every goal they set. Jason shared with us, like many others, his parents came to the U.S. with the vision of the American Dream. He remembers his parents saying, “It doesn’t matter where we came from, what matters is where we are going.” His parents always had their eyes looking forward. “I just remember, as a child, being able to do things that a lot of my friends didn’t get to do, and it was all because my parents would write something down and say, “Hey, we’re going to go on vacation to this place.” Or, “We’re going to get this thing,” or, “We’re going to have this experience.” A year, two years, three years from that point, we’d actually be doing it.”,” he told us. His parents were wonderful examples for Jason and his three brothers. They set goals, sometimes lofty goals, but then had the tremendous work ethic to achieve those goals. Now, all three Perez brothers are entrepreneurs.
Mindset – no option to fail
We talked about how challenge births innovation in episode #43: Stay Innovative and Always Challenge Yourself. What’s going on in the world right now is creating rapid innovations because the landscape has changed so drastically this year (2020) and many business owners must find a different way to operate in order to continue moving forward. Jason excels at keeping that mindset that failure is not an option. He called this a great attribute and also shared this could be a tremendous vice. He lightheartedly told us about a video of Arnold Schwarzeggar he’d seen where Arnold says, “Do not have a plan B because the second you build a plan B it’s because you don’t believe strongly enough in your plan A.” Jason shared with us how there is truth in that statement because if people look at a plan B, it weakens their plan A due to the potential that they might fail. As entrepreneurs, you’ve got to hold onto your vision and believe you aren’t going to fail. Acknowledge that there will be bumps in the road, but those bumps give you the opportunity to pivot or expand. Jason said, “the reality is, as a visionary, you have this drive and this mantra of no option to fail. But, you set guardrails, get really good people around you, and understand business fundamentals, to make sure that you put yourself in check.” When that happens, you’re able to think to yourself, “Hey, I’ve got to change something, or it will fail.”
The relationship we, PJS & Co. CPAs, have with Jason, is one where we get to sit down, look at plans for the business, and ask Jason questions about his business fundamentals, cash flow, budget, and what changes may be needed. Jason knows discussing these topics is needed to succeed. He said it perfectly when he said, “The no option to fail doesn’t mean my ego’s so big that I’m going to keep on going the direction I want, to get to that vision. The no option to fail is making sure that you put all the right things in place so that you don’t fail.
Business owners have to make sure they have the entrepreneurial mindset to step back from their business, by analyzing and treating it just as that; a business. Many people go into business doing what they enjoy and are trained to do, like being an attorney, accountant, dentist, etc. Coming from this very skilled technician’s perspective can make it difficult to simultaneously run the business and create a business plan. It can be easy to forget to stand back and look at the business from an investor’s viewpoint. Jason has always had a good grasp on this mindset and has skillfully remained the high-level visionary. He doesn’t get stuck in the details and we asked him about how he does this.
He explained that when you’re starting a company, you fill every role, even after hiring the first few employees. This means you’re still getting in the weeds quite often, while also trying to sell the vision to your team. He advised that he’s learned through strong mentoring relationships, it’s imperative to surround yourself with very strong people. According to Jason, “The key to staying out of the details all the time, and maintaining vision, is something I like to call ‘vision and focus’.” He went on to explain how vision is looking at a mountain from afar and seeing the route it takes to get there, from start to finish. Transitioning to focus turns that overall route into steps by grabbing the rock and climbing the mountain and figuring out what you need to do each step of the way as you transverse that specific section of the mountain.
“I think when it comes to vision and focus, for me in the business application, my focus is always on a three-month sprint,” Jason advised. He has advisory meetings with us where we all sit down to determine what the focus will be for the next three months and identify the milestones that need to be accomplished in order to continue making strides in the direction of the vision. He emphasized, “I think every entrepreneur needs to keep the vision in their mind, but also have small increments, milestones, that are highly focused, so they can drive those next phases of the business and get to where they need to be.” To drive the momentum forward, even while you’re in the weeds, keep track of the vision and revisit it on a regular basis. No matter the challenge you face along the way, focusing on the vision can help you overcome.
To balance being in the details and pivoting back to the vision, every day Jason reads the same note on his desktop when he turns on his computer. The note never changes, but it gives him the vision and motivation for the day. This note is about purpose. Jason describes it as saying, “Whether good or bad, I’m giving myself to God, my company, and my family. Whatever happens today, I know it’s going to be for the better of something.” He explains that this note reminds him of optimism and the understanding that, “whatever I deal with today, something bigger is coming tomorrow. I’m building on top of today. Good or bad, it doesn’t matter because I’m building something bigger.” Sometimes one little optimistic reminder, focused on the big picture can keep your mindset positive.
Tackling risk wisely is an important aspect of business fundamentals. When asked about whether or not Jason thinks risk-taking is an inherent ability or learned, he shared his opinion that people may be born with a small amount of ability to take risk. However, he also said there is a tremendous amount to learn about taking risk. For him, he learned through examples from his family and believes it’s important to learn at an early age. He is already teaching his children about the blessing of being an entrepreneur, how he got there, and the story of his parents and grandparents. He wants his kids to see there are things you can do to be prepared; you can have a plan and a strategy.
“Risk-taking is really all about faith,” says Jason. He continued, “If you can have a vision of things that are currently not seen, things that you hope for, and you see other people do the same and they come to fruition, you start to realize in your own life that these things will come true.” Jason now has three businesses and attributes his ability to learn from each to his faith and perception of less risk, which was learned. “Because I’ve had success before, I’ve learned now that it’s possible. On my fourth, fifth, or sixth one, it will be something that’s innately learned.” You may understand the fear of the unknown you had before you started your business. After it was up and running, most likely that fear decreased tremendously or maybe even completely. Like many things in life, after you experience it, you understand what to expect and fear of the unknown diminishes or disappears. Many times, fear can also be easily overcome depending on the importance of the reward, especially if the reward plays into your purpose. Overcoming the fears, making the leap, and taking the risk can come more naturally when something important to you, like your purpose, is tied to the outcome.
Jason mentioned a few times the topic of relationship building. He attributed much of his leadership style and what he does in his companies, to mentors he has had in the past. When we asked him, how important would you consider relationship building in effectively building your business and communicating your vision, he responded with, “It’s paramount.” What a priceless response! He went on to talk about how relationship building is essential, as an entrepreneur. Jason advised, “From the start as an entrepreneur, you’re driving people to believe in you, and the vision, they go hand in hand. The more people trust you, the more you build relationships with them, the more they’re going to trust your vision.” Jason, like many other business owners, isn’t focused on selling his vision to other people. People quickly make up their minds as to whether or not they’re going to believe in you or not. His focus is on having good relationships with others because, as he says, “the reality is, your relationship is going to build and bridge the gap to your vision. People have to believe you’re genuine, that you actually have a vision, and that you believe in your vision. You have to be trustworthy. I think when you’re real…people are going to see that, and they’re going to follow you and your vision.”
Leading by example
Leading by example goes hand in hand with relationship building. Jason agrees, “People need to see you do it first, to build that culture. You can’t build culture and tell people, ‘This is what we are about.’ and not walk the walk.” In order to lead by example, you have to start with yourself. Before you can lead others, you need to train your mind and your thoughts. Jason said, “You have to be your own example for yourself” and went on to recite a famous quote from Mahatma Ghandi, “Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.”
One thing to remember is to actively look at what is important to you and embody that. For Jason, giving is important. With that, he starts by giving to his employees and then he gives to charities and other causes. He understands the value of putting into action what he genuinely believes is important. He doesn’t get in a place where he simply goes through the motions with his business. He knows what’s important, puts it at the forefront and makes pathways for that. When employees feel like they are cared about, as a part of the company mission, they have positive feelings about who is leading them and they see, and become a part of, your vision.
Jason’s emotion and commitment are clearly seen as he continues about leading by example when he said, “ At the end of the day, being an example means that you’re putting yourself out there. Essentially you’re saying, ‘I am being an example because I want people around me to be better. I am at the service of other people, because I want them to be better.’ As a founder, immediately that should be a humbling, very low ego environment.” He continued on saying, “What I find is a lot of people that think they need to be visionaries, or think they need to be leaders, come out with almost this dictatorship mentality. ‘I’m the leader, everyone’s going to listen.’ But, that’s not how it works. How it works is, ‘I need to be the example, and I need to put myself in everybody’s shoes, and let them see that I care about them. And let them see that I’m here, to do the right thing, so that everyone can be better.’ As a leader, it’s natural to want your people to have a desire to reach your vision and to do that, you lead by example. Jason said it best when he said, to get closer to your vision, “it doesn’t come by pushing people. It comes from letting people come to you.”
In today’s episode, we had the pleasure of speaking with the Cofounder of yardz, Jason Perez. He shared with us some of his experiences as an entrepreneur and where it all began. Part of Jason’s drive and how he operates his business comes from his background and upbringing, including his ‘failure is not an option’ mentality. He talked about how, as a business owner, you can wear many hats and also talked about what he does to keep his focus on the vision for the company. Jason had to take risks to get his business where it is today and talked about how some risks are learned and some are innate. Lastly, we dove into the importance of relationships as an entrepreneur, and that played into our final topic, leading by example.
Links mentioned in this episode:
- Episode #43: Stay Innovative and Always Challenge Yourself
- Arnold Schwarzenegger: “I HATE PLAN B!”