SMART AF

How to get you and your business from where you are to where to want to be.

 

Ep. 117 You Can Figure It Out

by | Smart AF Podcast

figure it out

You Can Figure It Out

An essential part of being an entrepreneur is being able to figure things out, and the uber-successful seem to harness this great power. However, this isn’t an exclusive superpower, it’s readily available to all of us.

In this episode, Torie Mathis and her cohost Sean talk about how YOU can become a figure-it-out superhero in your life, and the one way you can continue to grow this super strength. Because everything is figureoutable.

Listen or watch the full episode below:

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EPISODE TRANSCRIPTION –

(transcription is auto-generated)

SAF 117

[00:00:00] Torie: Right after Sean and I bought a house, I was able to find a job, the dream job in publishing. So in commercial design over an hour from the house for $7 an hour part-time. 

[00:00:15] Sean: Yeah, I still remember that conversation.

[00:00:26] Torie: Hey, what’s up. It’s Torie Mathis, your host. And I am here with the one and only Sean Mathis, founder of Miles Through Time Automotive Museum. 

[00:00:33] Sean: What’s going on. 

[00:00:34] Torie: You know, last night I was on my phone and I found this video of the last time we were in Mexico. I went down to speak at a convention and the entire speech was about how being a business owner there’s so much that we just have to figure out. Out. And I really believe that any of us can figure so much of this stuff out. And I think some people just don’t give themselves enough credit for figuring things out. 

[00:00:59] Sean: It’s easy to go. Holy shit. I don’t know what I’m doing. And the excuses they’re like, it’s in your face. Don’t do it then. Right. It’s so easy to just say, I don’t know how to do it, therefore, I’m not going to do it. And I think that’s a lot of times is the big difference between somebody that actually jumps in and you know, creates their own business and lifestyle versus the ones that don’t. 

[00:01:22] Torie: Well, I think it’s even beyond just your own business though, man. Does that come in so handy, but I think it’s just in life, like there are so many things that if you just push has past that point of a little bit of uncomfortableness you can figure anything else, anything out. When I joined the army they actually told me when I went down to join that they didn’t want me.

They had this big, long list of all these different things that I had to do in order to join. But, you know, I had already mentally prepared myself that that’s what I was going to do. I wanted money for school. I wanted to travel. I wanted to leave California. I wanted to go and do other stuff and see other things and meet people.

And I decided that that was what I was going to do. And the list that they gave me. And I had to go through and spend my entire summer figuring out all of those things. One of the things that they said was that I had to have a high school diploma. I switched schools in high school and ended up going to not the greatest high school, had whole bunch of problems.

And so when I was 17, I graduated early, I took my high school proficiency. I moved out and I started working and I started taking college classes and discovered that it is very, very difficult to take college classes and work and have, well, you know, your own little household and things like that. And so after several years of doing that, like the army was the direction that I really wanted to go.

But the army said if I didn’t have an actual diploma, they would not accept that they would not accept a GED. It had to be an actual diploma. They, they wouldn’t take it. So I actually spent the entire summer and did a year and a half of high school in three months. 

[00:03:05] Sean: So, so even though you were, you had less than a year’s worth of school, or you, you got done early with school, right.

But it wasn’t a diploma you then had to spend an hour or an hour, a year and a half longer just to get that diploma. 

[00:03:19] Torie: I spent, it would have been a year and a half because I was a junior when I left. And so I spent three months doing a year and a half of school. Damn. Yeah. While working. So. It was very uncomfortable. I had to travel all the way across town to do it, but I knew that, like, that was what I needed to take my life to the next step. 

[00:03:37] Sean: There was no virtual learning. 

[00:03:39] Torie: No virtual learning. At that point, I may have had a computer shit. 

[00:03:44] Sean: And how many people do we know that that didn’t necessarily have the exact same response from the military, but it was similar enough to where they said it was enough of a blockage that they wound up never joining. 

[00:03:59] Torie: I think that sometimes, and I don’t know if it’s. Institutions do this or jobs do this, or maybe just life does this. Like, you don’t want everybody going for everything and getting everything, if that makes sense. So I think a little bit of a challenge, a little bit of uncomfortable keeps out the people that aren’t serious about it anyway. So I think it’s good that there are some of these complicated things that we have to go through so that like, because there’s not room always for everybody and everybody can’t do every single thing. So this kind of keeps out, keeps out some of the risks. 

[00:04:32] Sean: But it’s some of the hoops you have to jump through for things are literally just to prove that you’re willing to do it. And I think a lot of companies, when they hire you, you know, when you’ve got to go through the first interview well, first you apply online indeed or something, right? Like that. Then you go through some question on air or questionnaire and then maybe you get to write an essay and then you got to do a phone interview and then you gotta do. A web interview a video interview, and then you can go meet somebody and it’s like, why they’re doing all this to see if you’ll actually follow through with it, because you do enough steps and I did that when we moved from North Carolina to, to make that move. I was, I honestly, I was scared to leave corporate world and, and that steady paycheck. And so I wanted to have an actual. Paying job for us to move across the entire country. And, and I wound up going and finding this, this company Granger, and it was a bunch of hoops to do. I wound up doing video chats with them and, and phone in her in tons of stuff. And then finally it was like I think ultimately it was my.

My connection with the air national guard. And the lady that was interviewing me was also in the international guard and North Carolina. And that bond between all the hoops that I jumped through. And then we’re both on the same page. I got offered the job and we were able to go over there. But I mean, it was, I, I had never had to experience it before cause I started at Pepsi at 19 years old and you know, my brother got me the job and I kind of just went through there. And then when we moved, it was. I guess becoming a cop was kind of a, there was a lot of hoops for that. I mean, there was physical stuff at that one too. I mean, there was a lot of different things. It was nothing hard.

[00:06:09] Torie: But there was all of these like personality tests, personality tests, there’s a physical test. I had to take a mental evaluations and stuff. Like they didn’t want cuckoos in there. 

[00:06:20] Sean: It was it called when you find out if you’re lying polygraph. Yeah. I had to take a polygraph. There’s all kinds of crazy stuff for that one. And again, any of it, none of it was. Difficult. It was just something I had to do, but each one of those things. Stopped somebody from going? 

[00:06:36] Torie: Absolutely. Probably a lot of people, you know, even when I got out of the army, I ended up breaking my hip while I was in. And after September 11th happened, they told me I wasn’t fit for duty. And again, like I had a lot to figure out, but because I was injured while I was in the military, I was offered a really great program called vocational rehabilitation. But man, they made me do so many things to even see if qualified for it. And then once I did that, there were very strict rules on what I could do.

And I took like a week of all of these different personality tests, because they wanted to make sure that if they were going to retrain me as something, they were going to pay for all of my schooling, that I was going to have to do something that they knew I would be successful in. So all of these tests and things like that were ways that I could tell if I was going to be successful at it.

And they told me I was going to be a commercial designer. So, I mean, I could have went in there with all kinds of things and ideas of what I wanted to do. Like that was one of the requirements that I had to do. Totally. Wasn’t the plan. I think it was an awesome one. I think that it totally fits my personality and what I do.

Like it like that. It definitely worked that, you know, that was a great way for me to, to move forward. You had some figuring shit out in the military too. 

[00:07:49] Sean: Yeah. Initially I was a crew chief on eight tens. That’s what I went into the military for. That’s what I signed up for all my bonuses. They all went with being a crew chief on a ten’s went through a year’s worth of training on how to do that.

Came back. It mind you I’m 19 years old at this point. By the time I come back and the whole point of it was to go to school, air national guard. They will go to go to school full time and have their national guard pay for it. And so that’s what the plan was. I come back and I find out my parents are getting divorced.

Therefore there’s nowhere for me to stay. And the whole going to school thing kind of just didn’t happen and wound up moving from Idaho to California because that’s where my brothers were. My mom decided to move down there. The guard base at that point was eight and a half hours away, something like that.

So go to a guard drill, and it was, it was a day to even get there. How long did you do that? Quite a few months. And I, the thing is, is I missed a bunch of them. I mean, it, oh, that gave you a bad year. It gave me a bad year. I tried super hard. It just, and I’m young and I’m new in the military. I mean, I had everything going against me.

Initially I tried to join the guard that was in Sacramento. They didn’t have anything that my job actually was going to. To be similar as, so the only thing they were offering was to send me back to training, like, yeah, I just got back. I was in no interest. I had no interest in going back. 

[00:09:26] Torie: I sent you back though.

[00:09:27] Sean: Yeah. Wow. Yeah. So my only other option was to go to Reno, Nevada as a C1, 30 crew chief, a completely different aircraft. I actually. It was a crew chief is the job title, but then I was more of a specialist in the RNR shops. I worked on flight controls and tires and all that kind of stuff, but I never went to school for that, you know, so I spent a year training on, on just to come back and get thrown back into something completely different that I had to learn everything from scratch.

[00:10:00] Torie: When we moved back to Idaho, did you go back to eight, 10 and then when I. 

[00:10:03] Sean: Yeah. And then well actually we, we went to Afghanistan for C1, thirties and did all that kind of stuff. 

[00:10:09] Torie: Sean actually was in a C 30 all the way to Afghanistan from, from Reno, right? 

[00:10:17] Sean: Yeah. And when we moved from California up to Idaho, I then transferred again back to the original base, back to eight tens, which was kind of surreal. And at that point, my year’s worth of training on eight tens was about worthless because I only remembered so much and then made my military career a lot more difficult than it probably should have been. But I did it, you know, it, nothing stopped me from it being able to do anything. 

[00:10:45] Torie: Do you think some people might’ve been like, oh, I’ll have to switch planes and maybe they wouldn’t have moved because when you’re in the air national guard or in the reserves, like you’re stuck to your base. Like, and so moving basis is probably not the easiest thing to do. And again, they don’t want everybody to very easily, like just hop around all over the place. It’s not to make it a little bit hard. 

[00:11:07] Sean: Yeah, but then again, you know, in my mind there was no option to be like, well, I got to stay here. I looked for alternatives and I found him. 

[00:11:17] Torie: Yeah. When I got out of college for advertising, I ended up getting a job AT and T doing data entry, which is definitely not the plan. But right after Sean and I bought a house, I was able to find a job. The dream job in publishing. So in commercial design over an hour from the house for $7 an hour part-time. 

[00:11:42] Sean: Yeah I still remember that conversation. Luckily at the time I was making decent money for Pepsi. And so it was one of those things. I mean, that’s what you want to do. Go do it. Otherwise you go down that rabbit hole of working at a miserable job. 

[00:12:01] Torie: That was one of my biggest fears. Like even when I was younger, younger, like, cause they’re always like figuring out what your major is, what your major, what your major and that scared the shit out of me because I saw all these people that spent all this time and all this money going to school and then they never did what they went to school.

[00:12:16] Sean: I got lucky. It took one class for me to realize I didn’t want to be an architect anymore. 

[00:12:22] Torie: It’s good though. I think the personality tests might be an awesome thing. Like whatever personality tests I took and there was a shit ton of them. It definitely was a perfect match for 

[00:12:33] Sean: Literally my entire high school, all four years wanting to be an artist. I wanted to draw and that’s what I thought I was like, I’m just going to draw houses and floor plans. Right. It’s fun. Right. But it never went any farther. I never got to like figure. Nobody told me these are the classes you’re going to have to take. And none of this other stuff that went with actually being an architect.

So, you know, after all the military drama and divorce drama of my parents, and I finally go back to a community college, which is what I meet Torie. I finally get started on what it takes to be an architect and that, that very first AutoCAD class, I lost interest completely. 

[00:13:15] Torie: Think that was a bad teacher or you just, it just really wasn’t for you.

[00:13:18] Sean: It was definitely a bad teacher. I, yeah. And I dunno, I just, I might’ve had a reality check and, you know, things change just because I wanted to do and be something for four years. Doesn’t mean I have to live with that forever. That’s true. My, my, my circumstances changed and I didn’t want to go down that route. And you know, I wound up getting a job. Business degree. 

[00:13:47] Torie: Yes. Which served as a box check for several jobs that you had? 

[00:13:51] Sean: Yeah, I got paid a little bit more for Pepsi. It gave me a little bit more when I was a police officer. It was intended to make me an officer in the military. 

[00:14:02] Torie: I gave a student loans to pay off forever. But you know, I think all of this figuring stuff out and pushing through all these times really prepared us for being an entrepreneur, because I know there’s since you’ve started your business, there’s several times that you’ve asked me like, well, like what about this kind of stuff? And, and there was a lot of stuff I had to figure out and I was able to likely I can’t.

Luckily, I came with some QuickBooks experience because I did some office management stuff. I took a couple of QuickBooks classes and I think that was one of the best things that I think I’ve brought into our you know, our business world. So I’m glad that I had that, that we were really able to kind of have kind of like a foundation of system accounting type stuff with it, but there’s been just so much stuff that we’ve had to. Really figure out like, because nobody trained me. I didn’t go to a business school. I, and even if you go to business school, it’s not like you’re taught how to run a business. Like not like a day to day. Like, no, no. 

[00:15:00] Sean: Even after I got that business degree and an associates in ma management, business management in my, you know, they’re, they tell you, you get these degrees and then you go out and get these great jobs. So, I mean, at the time, I had applied for hundreds of jobs all management. Yeah. Like I got a business degree. I got a management degree. I deserve to be in management. Right. Nobody would hire me. 

[00:15:27] Torie: No, you don’t have any experience. You just have a piece of paper, which 

[00:15:29] Sean: I don’t tell you that shit when you get all the student loans.

[00:15:32] Torie: Oh my gosh. I went to school for advertising, but once I had my own business, I didn’t know how to get customers. I didn’t know how to market. Yes. I could make some like billboard or some advertising, like, you know, some magazine advertising campaign, but as for like legitimately how to run a business and how to market, like, I just test stuff. 

[00:15:52] Sean: And I think a lot of that’s going to be the OJT type stuff. I mean, you can read as many books and have people tell you everything under the sun, but until you actually go out there and attempt to do something yourself, you have no idea. 

[00:16:07] Torie: Do you think that people don’t do stuff because they think they need to already know how to do it before they actually.

[00:16:12] Sean: I do. And I think people are afraid to fail and you shouldn’t be. 

No cause it’s some of those big failures that I’m like, Ooh. 

Miles Through Time for example you know, when that opportunity fell on our laps to go and do that. My first instinct was to not do it. Why because I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.

[00:16:31] Torie: That wasn’t my first instinct. 

[00:16:32] Sean: Again, Torie and then there’s going to be more in the future. We’ll talk about, but for this, I had like, I like cars, but I don’t know anything about this kind of stuff. And at the time I had just left. Corporate world, you know, so I had only been working full time with Torie for very short amount of time. So my mental state is not what it is today. I was still, you know, paycheck to paycheck, kinda steady type things. Now, all of a sudden I quit that and now we got to create this new business thing. I don’t know what I’m doing on it, but we wound up doing it. 

[00:17:11] Torie: And see, that’s a thing though. It’s like eight is okay if you don’t know what you’re doing.

[00:17:16] Sean: No. And the thing is, is I would have regretted it for the rest of my life if we wouldn’t have at least tried. And the thing is, is it wasn’t like we, we went into it and it was an instant success, you know, no issues, super profitable. This shit was hard. I mean, it was a lot of time, a lot of money. There was three years we didn’t make anything. 

[00:17:37] Torie: You know, but even though you didn’t know what you were doing, you’ve come a long way and it’s taken a little while to figure things out and it’s taken a while to kind of kind of find your way. There’s been some big changes, like moving locations. You know, but it’s, it’s not something that I think should have ever stopped you.

[00:17:57] Sean: No. And that’s, I mean, that was the key thing you said is it, it took a while to figure it out, but. I did figure it out. And you figured out a whole lot together. Like we figured out how to make this thing work. So even though, you know, we didn’t make a whole lot of money or any money initially. The learning experience from all this was massive that then is a stepping stone to where we got next. 

[00:18:22] Torie: I think something that I’ve realized, and I, I think it’s good to like, look back at the past experiences that you’ve had, because then you can kind of give yourself a little bit more credit for things that you’ve gone through. Cause I think we kind of forget or downplay some of the things that we’ve done, but I think something that we’ve talked about this before that I am totally okay with a setback.

Because every time we have these setbacks, this like, you know what we’re like, what the fuck are we going to do? Like that is when like big stuff comes afterwards. It’s just like that. Getting down to like jump right back up. Like you have to have these setbacks. You have to have these hard times to figure it out. You have to go through those times in order to bump up to that next spot. Otherwise it’s not going to happen. 

[00:19:05] Sean: Well, plus it makes you appreciate it that much more, you know, it just, it means more when you, when you had that little step back and now all of a sudden, you know, you’ve propelled yourself forward again, I get, it feels good and you need those wins. It’s important. 

[00:19:22] Torie: But to get those wins, you have to have that setback. And I think that that’s the part of the journey and I’ve come to kind of embrace it a little bit. Like I remember the first time that we lost like a really big client that they decided, and, you know, for whatever reason we, we parted on good terms and it was like, yup big chunk of, you know, the money that we had bringing in and it scared the living do-do out of me. man, we had moved, not that long ago. 

[00:19:52] Sean: We had, we had just moved to a beautiful home on the lake and then Miles Through Time started and we lost our biggest.

[00:20:01] Torie: One biggest paying client. Yeah, it was, I was a little bit nervous there, but you know, It’s amazing that like and you know, we’ve lost other clients before, you know, or you know, since then and everything, and now like, I’m like, it’s cool. Cause it makes room because you only have so much bandwidth for anything, whether it’s you know, kids events or business or clients, or there there’s only so much bandwidth you have. So when you lose something like that, it’s sometimes just got to make some room for new stuff to come in. 

[00:20:30] Sean: It’s one of the main reasons this podcast hasn’t been going. Two years, three years. 

[00:20:35] Torie: You only have so much bandwidth. Yeah, for sure. And sometimes like some things have to be moved around and sometimes things have to be uncomfortable for awhile. Like when we, when I took the $7 an hour job, that was part time. Like we had to cut back a little bit, you know, we didn’t go out as much. We didn’t eat out. You know, we didn’t do some of those things until things built back up and you know what that ended up being one of the greatest jobs that I ever had, it gave me so many skills that I still do today. Like job costing type things that my job, my boss taught me there. Like how to figure out like some of these like amazing skills that I got, that you would never think, you know, that I would’ve got from some part-time job, but I was able to work there long enough and work my way up.

The experience that I got there is, you know, still using that today. I used to say. 

[00:21:25] Sean: Well, before the economy crashed, it turned into the high paying dream job. And then the economy crashed, but it is the, it, it is the reason. You are an entrepreneur, right? 

[00:21:35] Torie: Yeah, absolutely. Cause when I went to college, yeah, that was not the plan. I never even thought of that. I never thought of having my own agency or being a freelancer or anything like that. I was just going to try to get a job. 

[00:21:47] Sean: Dang job. I was going to try to get paid as much as I could at that city. I mean, that was the initial plan. 

[00:21:52] Torie: Yeah. The publishing house that I worked for was all real estate clients. And when the real estate market crashed we ended up, you know, going from like 55 clients. And just a couple of months and we had some people like leave without paying. I mean, it, it was pretty disastrous. 

[00:22:09] Sean: Completely step away. So you, you eventually, at the end there, you were running this company. 

[00:22:16] Torie: Yeah. You, you could definitely say that, but I, I think she knew it was gonna go go under. And so he did not go down with the ship? No, she left her first maintenance, but that’s okay. It’s again, though, fucking shit happens. 

[00:22:32] Sean: Like it’s such a fantastic experience though, too. Be at the helm of a business going down that, although it wasn’t yours, you got to experience. What that’s like. 

[00:22:44] Torie: Well, right. And it’s really hard though, because I didn’t get to, like, it was so out of my control, like I had no say in things ever right until like that very end when it was all going down. I’m the one that had to actually call the big owner and let him know exactly what was going on.

Yeah, it was weird. Like, it was definitely a crazy time. But you know, looking now at like all this Corona virus stuff, it’s very similar that like a lot of people losing their jobs or closing up businesses or, I mean, these kinds of things like they happen. And I think that. Though that though they’re hard. And though there’s difficult times sometimes we just, we need to shake things up a little bit. 

[00:23:31] Sean: Well, we had one client who was in South Carolina and he owns a bar and we do his website and all kinds of stuff. And when all this Corona stuff started happening, I talked to him on the phone and together he was on the same page as me. We were just like, you just got to get through it. You know, this is long as you possibly can and the game is to outlast everyone else. And he did. And even though we’re not out of this yet, I mean, he’s already come out on top. Oh yeah. You know, and a lot of that was just a mental state instead of giving up and going I can’t do this and nobody, nobody right now as a business owner and has any experience in what we’re currently going through. This is all new. So it’s easy to be overwhelmed and be like, I can’t do this. 

[00:24:18] Torie: I freaked out I was cool. And then there was like this one day that I was. Oh, yeah. I freaked out and it took me a couple of weeks and then I was like, okay, we got this it’s okay. It’s okay. Yeah. And you know, you’re right. Nobody’s gone through this, you know, and in 2008 with the real estate agents and stuff like that, the ones that did hold on and didn’t just leave and go do something. Maybe they’re the ones that they are, the real estate agents. You know what I mean? Sometimes some of those.

Especially, like there’s a lot of people that aren’t really real estate agents they’re bored or they’re, that’s a bridge job. It’s kind of in between. I know a lot of real estate agents that actually are real estate or that just kind of do it on the side. It seems like there’s lots of sides to people.

Yeah. So if you, if something bad happens or you have a little bit of these difficult times, like if it’s not really like your thing, like that’s the time that people do jump ship, like are, if you’ve already decided that, you know, you’re not a hundred percent in, you know, when you’re a hundred percent in, I think it’s a little bit easier to push through.

And you know, all of these times have just made it that like, okay, mental note, maybe this, I need to prepare a little bit differently just in case this happens, whatever your buffer is, you know, have some type of contingency plans. But the next thing that’s going to happen. We’re not going to know how to go through it either, you know, and hopefully, we hold on.

Hopefully, it’s still our thing. And hopefully, we can figure it out. Because that’s just part of being a business owner, probably being a damn human, you just gotta figure things out. And I hope that people realize that, that, you know, you can figure these things out, whatever it is. Yeah.

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