While there’s no one secret ingredient or magical elixir for finding success in business, intrepid entrepreneur Jesse Itzler said he believes there’s a common thread among all the prosperous companies he’s either been a part of or observed up close: boldness. Each was resolute and determined in their own way, whether in concept, product delivery or big-picture impact on global commerce.
“All the great companies that I have been around have not been afraid to be bold,” Itzler told RC in preview of his keynote address at the 2019 International Roofing Expo® in Nashville. “They take calculated risks and through those risks break away from the clutter and manage to stand out.”
Roofing contractors can work the same way. During his speech that annually kicks off the industry’s largest expo, (Monday, Feb. 11 at 9:30 a.m.) Itzler said he hopes that attendees are surprised by his unconventional success story and inspired to create or build upon their own.
“This is going to be exciting for me,” he said. “I’m hoping they’ll be inspired to get out of their daily routine, think outside the box. I also hope they have some good takeaways that they can apply immediately to their business and personal lives.”
Itzler’s unconventional business journey has included stints as an author, an MTV rapper and music producer for one of the most successful ad campaigns in professional sports. He made his first big splash in business in 2001 when he cofounded Marquis Jet — the world’s largest pre-paid private jet card company, which was eventually bought by Berkshire Hathaway/NetJets. He followed that success by helping pioneer the coconut water craze with Zico coconut water, which became part of the Coca-Cola Co. in 2013. The success followed into his personal life. Itzler married Spanx founder Sara Blakely in 2008, and the couple lives in Atlanta with their three children.
He said roofing contractors can expect to hear some interesting stories and anecdotes about lessons learned during his experiences along the way. Many are incorporated in his best-selling book “Living with a Seal: 31 Days Training with the toughest Man on the Planet.” The book offers a light, but heady glimpse into what life is like with a true-blue U.S. Navy SEAL — for 31 days. Itzler said it was a transformational experience for his entire family, and he often reflects on it to share how he applies the lessons learned to help feed his “life buckets.” He believes everyone in the room can do the same.
Tap, Tap, Tap
Among the keys to doing so is finding the courage to define and strive for goals, which often requires ignoring one self-defeating inner voice, while pushing another – more positive one to surface. He calls it ‘listening to the tap on the shoulder.’
“It’s a defense mechanism that most of us have,” Itzler explained. “It’s like our human nature has it built in — when things get hard or a little uncomfortable, our brain is wired to send a little tap on the shoulder and say “Hey, STOP!” And a lot of times, success or especially heroic success and overachieving happens when you ignore that little tap.”
Over time, Itzler said it’s become about developing strategies on how to tap into that reserve tank each of us has. To get more out of life and to live up to your potential in all areas of life. To him that often means going into a place that may be a little uncomfortable sometimes.
Continuing to move forward is always a priority for Itzler, and it often requires tapping into those reserve tanks of energy, creativity and innovation and inner drive. For him, it’s an unwavering desire to finish what he starts.
“There are lots of factors that come into play, but for me one of the most powerful things is momentum,” Itzler explained. “Once you prove to yourself that you have the ability to go beyond what you THOUGHT your limitations were, it becomes addicting.”
‘Shut Out the Noise’
Though he doesn’t have as much experience with roofing in particular, Itzler said the takeaways he hopes to provide are transferable to any business. As someone who’s looked at entrepreneurship through a big-picture lens, he said roofing contractors can and should look beyond norms and not be afraid to bring their ideas forward.
There is no cookie-cutter answer, but now, at age 50, Itzler said he understands the challenges to bringing good ideas to market can be complex. Yet there’s no replacement for determination.
“Sometimes the challenge is getting ‘buy-in’ from others. Sometimes it’s cost. And sometimes…people just think you are crazy,” he said. “Whatever the challenge is, I have always trusted my intuition and shut out the noise.”
Failure, too, is part of the calculated risk. And in its own strange way, can be part of the reward, he said.
“I don’t like to fail, but I’m not scared of it,” Itzler explained. “I have always treated failure as ‘not trying’ vs. the outcome. Once you redefine failure as your effort as opposed to only grading yourself on the results it opens up a lot more opportunities.”