The Baker, the Entrepreneur, and the Guy
Who Didn’t Know What He Didn’t Know…
I grew up in small business…
Working in my parents’ bakery, I learned the importance of hard work and determination.
Watching them run their own business, I developed that same desire to someday create something people would love and control my own destiny.
But I also watched my parents constantly struggle to make ends meet.
Running the bakery was far harder than either of them was prepared for. They assumed that if they sold a great product, then people would buy it.
But that simply wasn’t the case
We failed and had to close the bakery. Then life got pretty rough…
We lost everything – our business, our savings and even our home. We had to move in with my oldest sister, living in her basement.
So when it was time to go to college, I enrolled in the school of business. I figured my degree in entrepreneurship would surely fix past mistakes.
So after graduating with my business degree, I decided to go into business with my parents and start another bakery.
I was determined to do it better this time…
ImageCake was the first online bakery where you could upload your photo, personalize a cake with that photo, and ship it anywhere in the country.
My father and I developed proprietary packaging so it arrived perfectly. We even won the Crystal Apple Award in 2003 for best new product at the New York Incentive Show, beating out tech giants like Timex and Sony.
I was 28 years old and it was awesome.
We were shipping personalized cakes to some of the biggest companies in the world, like Microsoft and IBM. We had movie stars and famous performers as clients, like Jay-Z and Jennifer Lopez. Imagine making a cake for Jennifer Lopez!
I thought we had built the perfect business…
This was going to be our ticket to independence, wealth and a legacy for my family.
But just like before, ImageCake failed. By the end of 2003, despite the awards, despite the high-profile clients, despite applying everything I had learned in college, ImageCake fell apart.
Only this time, I had no idea how it happened!
I made so many changes to the business model based on what I had learned that I was sure we would succeed – and for a while we did.
But then It seemed like the deck was stacked against us somehow, preventing any long-term, sustainable growth. As a result, we had to shut down ImageCake.
I was in massive debt from the business…
Here I was newly married and expecting my first child, I had no job, and now I couldn’t even afford to pay my rent.
So my wife, Kerstin, and I moved in with my older sister and lived in her basement, just like my parents and I had done when I was a kid.
I resorted to selling my vintage Star Wars, He-Man and Transformer toys on eBay just to buy groceries.
I was DEPRESSED and I was ANGRY.
I thought I had done everything right with my business…how could I have failed?
Kerstin wasn’t happy…
Here we are newlyweds, we were supposed to be happy, but instead we found ourselves constantly fighting (and then some).
Our marriage was off to a rocky start.
And I felt like a BIG DISAPPOINTMENT
She just wanted me to “go get a job”
But I didn’t want to just get a job. I wanted my own business and I wanted to figure out how to do it right.
All that education and I ended up, literally, exactly where my parents had ended up.
Sure, I watched my parents fail. I had watched dozens if not hundreds of businesses fail over the years. But I thought I knew better and I thought I was doing things better.
And that’s when it hit me: doing the same things better doesn’t get you different results.
If I wanted to get different results then I needed an entirely new way. Because the deck is stacked against you if you just do the same things as everyone else.
That’s when I realized that I didn’t know what I didn’t know when it came to growing a business.
But who did know?
College certainly didn’t know. But the best companies knew. They grew steadily year after year. They weathered all sorts of storms and came out stronger while everyone else drowned.
So I went to work for the best companies to figure out what they knew about growing a business.
I knew that to be the best, I needed to work with the best and Kerstin was pretty happy about it too 😉
… Now fast forward to 2009
I was running the digital marketing for many of the top companies in the world, Fortune 500 companies like Ford, ADP and AutoNation as well as 10,000 small businesses across every niche you can possibly imagine.
I won the Google Agency of the Year Award and managed over $400 million in marketing budgets. I had a multiple six-figure income, a gorgeous home, and a beautiful, growing family.
And I finally learned what the best companies do to create real, long-term growth.
I finally discovered how business owners, founders, and entrepreneurs could achieve their dreams – independence, control, wealth for their families, and a legacy they could pass on, without the pain I experienced in trying to figure everything out on my own.
After working with so many small businesses, I realized that when it came to growing, most didn’t know what to do, how to do it, or have the resources to make it happen.
So after more than a decade, I left the corporate world (with Kerstin’s blessing) in order to distill what I discovered the best companies were doing to grow…
To make business growth so easy-to-understand and simple-to-execute that every business has the same opportunity to grow.
Back when I opened ImageCake with my parents, I just wanted to show them I could make our bakery a huge success. I wanted them to be proud of what we had built together.
But after learning how to achieve success, I determined that every small business should seek greatness and have the same opportunity to compete, no matter their size.
And this developed into the mission to Democratize Marketing…
To level the playing field for every business to grow and succeed by sharing exactly what they need to do, how to do it, and the resources they need in a way that is easy-to-understand and simple-to-execute.
By supporting this Mission you help reach the Vision to directly impact the growth of 1,000,000 businesses by 2026.
When we grow small business, together we can impact not just our local communities but also our world by supporting the non-profits, charities, ministries and causes that drive positive change.
Thank you for visiting and for your support!
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