Knight Eady: Michael Eady

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Michael Eady believes in the power of sports to transform lives. So much so, that he founded his entire company on this belief. Knight Eady is a sports marketing and event management company based in Birmingham, Alabama. I've really enjoyed watching their growth since their start in 2013 and I'm inspired by how they're building this company. I sat down with Michael to pick his brain on company culture development and how he's been forced to change as a leader.

How do you know if this episode is for you? Here's a few things we discussed:

  • Why sometimes leaving a "secure" job is your best option
  • How to think about work culture and the advantages of working with Millenials
  • The importance of partnerships that balance your weaknesses
  • The value of intense self development

Books we discussed:

The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday

Zkano Socks: Gina Locklear

In its heyday, there were over 100 active sock mills in Forty Payne, Alabama. However, due to outsourcing and cheaper overseas manufacturing, all but a few of them have shut down their mills for good. That did not deter Gina Locklear from starting her own sock company, Zkano, in 2008. I’m fascinated by stories of people who defy the odds to start something they believe in, especially in an industry that is so challenging. Gina was kind enough to invite me to her mill, show me around and talk to me about how she got into the business and the adversity she’s had to overcome to make her dream a reality. 

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How do you know if this issue is for you? We discuss: 

  • The power of grit and why sometimes you just need to keep going
  • Why conventional wisdom should sometimes be ignored
  • The importance of attention to detail and the value it creates
  • Why prioritizing your team in good times and bad is so important

Check out Zkano online. These socks are incredibly comfortable and make for great Christmas gifts: https://zkano.com/

Steel City Pops: Jim Watkins

In 2012, opening a storefront that only sold popsicles may have seemed like a pretty crazy idea; but today, Steel City Pops is a growing brand with new locations opening all over the Southeast. The founder is Jim Watkins and this is a true grit and grind story of a leader who dreamed a dream and wouldn't give up until he succeeded. I'm a huge fan of Steel City Pops and Jim's story is as inspiring as it is insightful. 

 

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    How do you know if this episode is for you? We discuss:

    • How to build and develop an autonomous and responsible team
    • When you should bring more people into your decision making process and why
    • Why determination is such a valuable trait when starting an endeavor
    • The unexpected challenges growth can bring

    Mental Floss: Will Pearson

    There’s no roadmap for the entrepreneurial journey, no one to tell you what to do, how to do it and when to have it done by. The leaders who prevail are the ones who just keep going, trying option after option until they find an effective path. This was true for Will Pearson, who started Mental Floss out of his college dorm room and eventually grew it into a quirky business with millions of fans. There’s something to be said for believing in an idea and relentlessly executing until completion. 

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    Here are a few of the things we discussed in this episode:

    • How naivety and a lack of industry knowledge worked in Will’s favor
    • The importance of keeping an open mind in looking for new opportunities and revenue streams 
    • Why business growth is a process of gradual shifts and organic evolution
    • The advice Will would give his college self, any anyone else starting something today

    Check out Will’s new podcast Part Time Genius, you’re bound to learn something interesting!

    Tricia Wallwork: Milo's Tea

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    Growing a tea company from a regional brand with a few product offerings to a large CPG (consumer package goods) with a national presence is no small feat. Tricia Wallwork started her career as an attorney before switching course to join the family business. On her path to CEO, she took on many roles and learned the company from the inside out. Today, the company is growing at an incredible rate and Tricia was kind enough to share insights she's learned from her journey. 

    How do you know if this episode is for you? Here's a few things we discussed:

    - How to create a loyal fanbase through attention to quality

    - Key lessons for young professionals looking to advance in their career

    - Why stepping away from work to unplug is so important

    - Daily habits that enrich the mind and body

     

    Check out Milo's Tea on: 

    Facebook

    Instagram

    Twitter

    The web

     

     

    WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?

    This is the final episode of Season 2. I've learned a TON from the leaders I've interviewed and I hope you have, too. Here are 5 of the most valuable lessons I learned: 

     

     

    Bringing New Life to a Struggling Company - Liz Pharo

    We've all been forced into situations that we didn't know how to handle, where the only choice was to move forward. That's exactly where Liz Pharo found herself four years ago. After the unfortunate passing of her father, Liz had to decide what to do with Momentum Telecom, a struggling company he owned. Rather than duck and run, Liz decided to make some major changes within the company's leadership and bring in a new CEO. Since then, the company has done a complete 180 and is now not only profitable, but expanding. Liz had guts and vision and is a woman and leader we all can learn from.

    How do you know if this episode is for you? Here's a few of the things we discussed: 

    • Overcoming difficult obstacles in pursuit of a big goal
    • Making decisions based on a mix of data and gut instinct
    • Why clear goals are so important for a team
    • Asking for help and why humility is vital to growth

    Connect with Liz: 

    On Facebook

    On Twitter

    Momentum Telecom

    The Transformative Power Of Insane Challenges - Kent Stewart

    There's no question that if you want to grow, you have to make decisions that put you outside of your comfort zone. Each new level of discomfort leaves us feeling stronger, more confident and better equipped to take on the next challenge. My guest today is a man who pushes himself physically, mentally and emotionally farther than anyone I've ever met. Kent Stewart is attempting to climb the highest mountain peak on each continent. He's climbed six so far, with only Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, remaining. Hands down, this is one of my favorite Bold Future interviews. I like it so much because Kent is an amazing man and leader and because I don't know anyone else who has even attempted something like this. I left my conversation with him inspired and changed. I hope you find it as impactful as I did. 

    How do you know if this episode is for you? Here's a few of the things we discussed: 

    • Why big challenges are so important and what they do to us
    • Choosing goals and the importance of visualizing their accomplishment
    • How to get momentum toward a goal that will help you see it through to completion
    • Automating our decision making through strong daily habits

    Connect with Kent: 

    On Facbook

    On Twitter

    His company, Reli Title

    Anthony Hood, Ph.D, Professor, UAB Collat School of Business

    Today, we dive into the world of academia to hear form Dr. Anthony Hood. Dr. Hood has done some very interesting research about friendships in the workplace and the implications they can have on culture. Admittedly, academic papers are outside of my usual business and leadership musings, but there are a lot of great lessons for us to learn here. 

    Jonathan Owen, Camp Director, Camp Straight Street

    You may not think there's much you can learn about leadership from a kid's summer camp, but Jonathan Owen is not your typical Camp Director. I've had the privilege of knowing him since we were in high school and over the years I've seen him develop into a deeply caring and compassionate leader. For 9 long weeks during the summer, Jonathan is the Camp Director at Camp Straight Street. Tasked with the extremely challenging and delicate responsibility of caring for children, he is their friend, confidant, entertainer and minister. Jonathan has continued to shape the camp into an amazing ministry to children and a resource for the community. I love Jonathan's heart for people, his desire to see his staff develop as leaders and his sincere belief that every child matters. 

    Bebe Goodrich, Founder, Icebox Coffee

    Bebe Goodrich started Icebox Coffee in her garage with just a bag of coffee and a bucket. Though she began with no entrepreneurial or business background, she has grown the company over the last few years to be a nationwide player in the coldbrew coffee market. Bebe is a remarkable person with relentless resolve and an attitude that is inspiring. I love that Bebe is vulnerable enough to admit she doesn't have all the answers and is willing to seek the help she needs to propel her forward. She is definitely a leader and entrepreneur that we should all seek to emulate. 

    Check out Icebox Coffee:

    IceboxCoffee.com

    Connect with Icebox:

    On Twitter

    On Facebook

    Book Bebe mentioned:

    Atlas Shrugged

    William Bell, Mayor, City of Birmingham

    Public officials are scrutinized more intensely than maybe any other type of leader. With so many responsibilities to so many different people it's impossible to keep everyone happy all the time. Today, I talked with Mayor William Bell about his path to public office and what he's learned during his tenure. We also discuss how he handles adversity, naysayers and persistent detractors. As with any city, there's always room for improvement, but Birmingham is on a positive trajectory in many regards and it was an honor to sit down and talk with Mayor Bell. Enjoy!

    Connect with Mayor Bell:

    On Facebook

    On Twitter

    Tony Summerville, Founder & CEO, Fleetio

    There are a lot of people who talk about starting businesses, but far fewer who go out and make it happen. Tony Summerville founded Fleetio, a fleet management software company, in 2012 and has been building a solid team both locally and remotely all over the country (and Mexico). Tony is a doer and I am grateful for his friendship as well as the inspiration he is to entrepreneurs and leaders everywhere.  I hope you enjoy his story and the rich lessons we can learn from him. 

    Connect with Tony:

    Fleetio

    Twitter

    Facebook

    Book Tony mentioned:

    First Break All Rules

     

    Thanks for listening!!

     

    Bill Clark, Head Football Coach, UAB

    I love hearing stories of leaders who have prevailed against great adversity and today's guest, Coach Bill Clark, has experienced his share. In 2014, it was announced that the UAB football program was being cancelled and he would need to find employment elsewhere. Coach Clark decided to fight for what he thought was right for his players and the community and find a way to reinstate the team. The battle was hard fought and painful, but the lessons he shared about his journey are invaluable. 

    Connect with Coach Clark

    Coach Clark on Twitter

    UAB Football 

    Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director, Equal Justice Iniative

    I am super pumped about this interview with Bryan Stevenson! He is one of my all time favorite leaders and I am fascinated by him and his work. Bryan is the Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and is doing very challenging but extremely valuable work in the criminal justice system. His book, Just Mercy, is a #1 New York Times Bestseller and is a compelling case for fighting for what's right despite the obstacles and seeming hopelessness. There's a lot to learn from Bryan and I hope this episode both encourages you and challenges you to think about what you're willing to go through for the benefit of other people. 

    Ep 10: Living and Giving with Deon Gordon, Director of Business Growth, REV Birmingham

    Episode 10 is finally here! My sincerest apologies for the delay. Today's guest is Deon Gordon. He currently serves as the Director of Business Growth at REV Birmingham and is working on some really incredible projects including CO.STARTERS and the Biz 1.0 Workshop series. I'm really excited to see the impact he will have on entrepreneurship and business growth in Birmingham.

    It's hard to believe this is the last interview of Season 1. Thanks SO much for listening!

    What you'll learn in this episode:

    Why saying 'No' is so incredibly important and how to do it strategically. 

    The importance of testing business ideas beyond your loving friends and family.

    The power and effect of serving, both on yourself and others. 

    Get to know Deon: 

    Deon on Twitter

    Deon on Facebook

    REV Birmingham

    Books mentioned: 

    Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

    Good To Great

    Ep 9: Local Insights with Author and Entrepreneur, Carrie Rollwagen

    My guest today is entrepreneur and author, Carrie Rollwagen. Her new book, The Localist, documents her journey as she shopped at only locally owned businesses for an entire year. I wanted to interview Carrie because, in addition to leading a company (Church Street Coffee and Books) she is also leading a movement. Her voice for small businesses and local shopping has encouraged her wide following to think about the purchases they make and their impact on the community. We need more people like Carrie speaking out and I am excited to share her insights with you. 


    What you'll learn in this episode: 

    Why truly listening and responding to your community of customers is crucial.

    The importance of thinking past personal preference for product offerings.

    Why we need both big businesses and small shops for a healthy community. 

    Thoughts on how to publish a book and why you should consider it.

    The importance of books and the future of the book publishing industry.


    Get to know Carrie:

    carrierollwagen.com

    Carrie on Facebook

    Carrie on Twitter

    Church Street Coffee and Books



    Thanks for listening!


    Ep 8: The Future of Work and Real Estate with Derek Waltchack, Principal Shannon Waltchack

    In his 20 years in the real estate industry, Derek Walchack has seen plenty of ups and downs. Despite the recent recession he and his team have led Shannon Waltchack to become a thriving and dominant broker, investor, developer and manager of commercial property throughout the Southeast. In this episode, we discuss the current state of the real estate market as well as the trends he sees brought on by advances in technology and the Millennial workforce. 

    In this episode, you'll learn:

    How Millennials are changing work environments and what it means for businesses

    Why real estate matters and the impact it has on cities and people

    What's it's like to take a big risk and see it pay off

    Basic guidelines for making wise real estate investments and some pitfalls to avoid

     

    Links to books and articles we discussed:

    Real Estate Riches by Dolf de Roos

    Article by Derek: Last Decade's Playbook Won't Work

    Longform.org

     

    Get to know Derek and his company:

    Derek on Twitter 

    Derek on Facebook

    Shannon Waltchack on Twitter

    Shannon Waltchack on Facebook

    Birmingham's Building

     

    Thanks so much for listening!

     

    Ep 7: Surviving and Growing a Startup with Jonathan Robinson, CEO, FreeTextbooks.com

    Jonathan Robinson is a straight up awesome dude. I've had the opportunity to get to know him over the last few years and I've been extremely impressed by his passion for people, growth and entrepreneurship. No doubt, running a startup is difficult and Jonathan gives us some great behind the scenes insights on how he thinks as a leader and what he wrestles with. The outlook for FreeTextbooks.com is very bright with him at the helm and I'm excited to see where he takes it. 

    In this episode you'll hear thoughts on:

    • Why delegation is so important for company growth despite its difficulty
    • The difference in Founder and CEO and why it matters
    • What it's like to move a team across the country and how to keep them united
    • The importance of mindset and what might help startups in Birmingham
    • How to juggle work and family in the context of a startup

    Connect with Jonathan and learn more about FreeTextbooks.com

    Jonathan on Twitter

    Jonathan on Instagram

    FreeTextbooks.com

    FreeTextbooks on Twitter

    FreeTextbooks on Instagram

     

    Thanks so much for listening!

    I am in the process of thinking through Season 2 for the podcast and I would love to get your help. If you could hear from any leader, who would it be? The qualifications are pretty straightforward: effective leaders with a compelling story we can learn from. Please let me know if you have any suggestions by sending an email to  jeremy@boldfuture.co Thanks!