The Uncommonwealth Podcast – Shawn Rubel

ShawnRubel

Here is the transcript from The Uncommonwealth of Kentucky Podcast with Shawn Rubel.

 

Chad Webb:

On today’s episode of The Uncommonwealth, we have Shawn Rubel, the founder and CEO of Eezy. Shawn was kind enough to give us his time today as a very busy entrepreneur in Bowling Green, Kentucky. So, Shawn, we appreciate you jumping on here with us. 

 

Shawn Rubel:

Thanks for having me. Happy to be here.

 

Chad Webb:

Absolutely. And also Jason is here as well. Excuse me, Jason.

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah, I’m here. 

 

Chad Webb:

Okay, great. I got that out of the way. So, Shawn, would you mind just introducing yourself? I know that I did that, but maybe just give us a brief introduction of you and your job, and then we’ll go into the details of how you arrived at where you’re at today?

 

Shawn Rubel:

Sure. So as you said, I’m the CEO and founder of Eezy, it’s a double E Z-Y. I live right here in Bowling Green with you gentleman. Not with you, but in the same town. I have a beautiful wife named Jen and three kids ages 12, nine, and six soon to be seven, and a little dog named Lou. I’ve been living in Bowling Green here since 2004 I moved here for a job. So, it’s going on a while. But yeah, that’s me in a nutshell.

 

Jason Heflin:

And so, originally, you are from-

 

Shawn Rubel:

Ontario, Canada. So, yeah, I grew up there my entire life, moved down here for a job, met my wife, and put down some roots. It seemed like a good place to raise a family at the time, and it has been. Bowling Green has been good to us, so no complaints there. 

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah. Awesome. Well, fun fact. Chad is half Canadian. Shawn is full Canadian, Canadian-American. So, if you guys start telling Canadian jokes under your breath that I don’t get, then I’m just out of the loop.

 

Shawn Rubel:

Chad, I’m not even sure how we met. But I’m sure we were just drawn to each other. There’s usually… If there’s any sort of Canadian in the blood we just come together around [crosstalk 00:02:00].

 

Chad Webb:

That’s right, yeah.

 

Jason Heflin:

Do you have some maple syrup shots?

 

Shawn Rubel:

There you go. Yeah. 

 

Chad Webb:

Yep, yep. So, you said you moved down from Ontario for a job? 

 

Shawn Rubel:

I did. Yeah. 

 

Chad Webb:

What job was that?

 

Shawn Rubel:

A company in town called [Hitcents 00:02:17]. So they hired me as their first graphic designer. So I’m fresh out of college, moved down to some town in Kentucky that just had barely heard of. Those guys were kind enough to give me a job. So I worked as a graphic designer for about two years. And then from there, I moved on to Camping World. And that’s probably where we started getting to know each other. I know both of you I think have spent time there at one point as well. So, I spent two more years there. And around that time too is when I started tinkering on my own stuff, and spent two years there in marketing, on the marketing side. I learned a lot about the internet and how it works and how you can make money on the internet and all that kind of stuff. And so, two years later, I just decided to go out on my own and start tinkering.

 

Jason Heflin:

Shawn, what was your formal training or your education leading into that first job at Hitcents?

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah, so out of high school, didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I thought I wanted to be a teacher for a while. And I ended up… I knew I was into design an art coming out of high school, but I really didn’t know how to apply it. I ended up enrolling at Niagara College in a two year degree in like Visual Arts and Design fundamentals. I got a diploma from that program. And then that rolled into university to where I got like a fine arts degree in university, which then allowed me to get a work permit and move south of the border to start working.

 

Jason Heflin:

Was that a tough process to get the card and be able to work here and then become… How did that work?

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah, so it’s good question. It’s actually a funny story. So, when I had moved into university. I’m not sure, I’ve never been to a university in the United States, but in Canada we had all these requirements we had to do. And I was in these crazy classes like chemistry and just stuff that I didn’t care about, and was not doing great and failing a bunch of classes. And I was like, “Why am I even doing this?” Around that time, I’d realized I did not want to be a teacher anymore, and I had made up my mind, I’m just going to start my career in graphic design. So, it caused me to ask all these questions of do I actually need this degree that I’m applying for here, or that I’m going through the process trying to get?

I went home and talked to my parents about it, and they just said, they supported me, whatever I want to do, and I was like, “I think I want to drop out. I don’t think I actually need to do this.” So they said, “Yeah, sounds good. Whatever you think.” So, that morning I woke up as a dropout and I was like, “This is going to be great. I’m going to figure out how to start my career as a graphic designer.” And the first thing I did was I messaged a buddy of mine who was in California at the time working as a graphic designer at a company. He’d had the same career school process as me. He went through the same programs I did, and he was working in California as a graphic designer. So, I messaged him and said, “Hey, how did you get across the border? How did you get into the United States working as a graphic designer?” 

He showed me and he said, “You need this visa, and this visa, and this visa.” And basically, if you look at the requirements, you have to have a university degree. So I was like, “Well, I guess I’m going back to school.” So, I just packed up my stuff, and literally went back to class that afternoon. So I managed to graduate. That was six months into it, so I still had, I think, probably two more years to go to get my degree. So I ended up getting through it, passing, got my diploma. I applied for the visa, went for the interview, and the guy just stamped and approved it. And I was like, “No, no, don’t you need to see my diploma is right here. I just spent three years.” He was like, “Oh, yeah. Yep, sounds good.”

 

Jason Heflin:

Oh, wow.

 

Shawn Rubel:

I spent an extra two years of my life trying to earn something that he may not have actually asked for in the moment.

 

Jason Heflin:

Well, that’s a good analogy for what happens with people domestically as well. I mean, how many people have you hired, and how many times have you asked to see the diploma?

 

Shawn Rubel:

For what we do, it’s just not something we ever care about. Depending on the role, you would look at that. And just recently, we hired a guy, and I happen to look, figured out where he went to school. And he had his MBA, and I was like, “Oh, that’s great. This guy’s got his MBA.” So especially for design and art, it’s all about the portfolio. We get graduates coming to us, and they’re like, “I graduated.” I’m like, “Great, but where’s your portfolio?” I’ve got to see your work. And oftentimes students will feel like, they’re kind of like, “Well, I just graduated. I don’t have a job. How can I produce any work?” Well, you got to figure it out. You’ve got to go do work on side projects, and you’ve got to design things for friends and create a great portfolio. A lot of the student portfolios we see all look the same because they all went through the same classes and can’t stand apart when you’re doing the same thing as all your competition, you’ve got to be different.

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah, so on the question of moving here, how difficult were the requirements once you were here to stay here?

 

Shawn Rubel:

It was fairly easy. The company I moved over for, they’d just write a letter that they’re sponsoring me. They’re saying, “We are an American company. We require this guy for reasons. Here’s what he’s going to do. Here’s how much he makes.” It was a temporary thing. It was a one year permit. Then I got it renewed for a second year. And then I ended up getting married in probably year two or year three, and then I ended up renewing it again, and the guy gave me a hard time. He’s like, “Hey, man, you can just keep renewing this thing.” And I was like, “Well, I’m getting married. Here’s all the paperwork and stuff.” And he’s like, “All right.” I ended up working with a lawyer here in town, and he helped me file the paperwork for all the permanent residence stuff. So, I became a permanent resident, and have been a permanent resident for the past 15 years. And then, just last fall, I got my citizenship. Here to stay.

 

Jason Heflin:

Awesome. Yeah, cool. Well, we’re glad to have you.

 

Chad Webb:

That’s one thing that I have done recently. Probably in the last 10 years, I’ve probably looked it up three or four times just what’s required to become a Canadian citizen, just because why not? Not a lot of people have that opportunity, and just reading the information because my mom was a Canadian citizen for my level, not my kids, but for me I am a Canadian citizen. But to get a passport, you have to have a citizenship card, which proves it. So, I have to have her birth certificate and things like that. I haven’t gone into the… I don’t know what the implications are of holding… I don’t know if you can hold two passports, things like that, or what that looks like, and also what the tax implications and stuff like that.

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah, it would be a good option to have if things went down the toilet here in this country, but hopefully knock on wood that’ll never happen.

 

Jason Heflin:

So, Chad, your family is from Timmins?

 

Chad Webb:

Timmins, Ontario is where my mom was born, yeah?

 

Jason Heflin:

Shawn, where’s your family from? Because it’s a big place, Canada, Ontario?

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah, Ontario is massive. So, when I was younger, my dad and I would head north on fishing trips, and we would drive 24 hours north and you’re still in the province.

 

Jason Heflin:

Wow.

 

Shawn Rubel:

Timmins, from where I grew up, I think is maybe 10, 12 hours north, straight north. So, I grew up in Southern Ontario. So, I was 40 minutes ride outside Buffalo, just over the border. So, the little town I grew up in was called Jordan. It’s right in the Niagara region right on the shore of Lake Ontario. It’s beautiful up there, and I love to get back there. I haven’t been up there in quite a while now just because of COVID, pretty strict to cross the border right now.

 

Chad Webb:

I mean, it is amazing when you go up that far north. I have family in Sudbury, Timmins, and Ottawa. And so, when we go there, we try to… Because again, we don’t get up there very often. I probably haven’t been there in five years, and I would like to get up there in the next couple years with my daughters, but it’s just amazing how there is literally nothing between towns.

 

Shawn Rubel:

Do you drive up there or do you fly?

 

Chad Webb:

We usually drive.

 

Shawn Rubel:

Okay, yeah, that drive is once you get past Toronto and keep going north, the towns gets smaller and smaller and smaller, and there’s less and less up there. 

 

Chad Webb:

Yeah, I mean, it’s incredible. It’s just, you’ve got to be prepared. You got to know where you’re going and be able to get there in the same trip, otherwise, there’s nothing to do between these places. It’s nice. There’s lots of trees, I guess, if you’re into trees, but that’s about it.

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah, me and my dad, I can remember taking trips up there. And we would head north, I think I’m number 11 or something straight north, and then it just starts heading west as it goes around the lakes. And we would turn off on some sort of dirt road and just keep going north until that eventually turned into a field. We’d just run out of road. 

 

Jason Heflin:

Shawn, you have an electric car still?

 

Shawn Rubel:

I do. Yes. 

 

Jason Heflin:

Is that a difficult thing up there? I mean, what’s that like?

 

Shawn Rubel:

I would not be driving my Tesla up there. That’s for sure. Tesla’s really good at mapping out all the stopping points. So, I’m sure if I looked it up, and I’m sure there’s charging stations all along the way. I did drive my car up there to my parents place when I first got it, and it was fine. Given the choice, I would probably take the family minivan just so I can have more freedom. When you take long trips like that in the Tesla you have to route through their chargers. And then you have to stop at each charger and charge, which it’s nice for a relaxing trip. You can get out walk around. But that’s typically not how I like to do road trips. I just want to get there and keep going.

 

Jason Heflin:

Well, that’s a good segue into… I mean, is that how you are in your business life, too?

 

Shawn Rubel:

I would probably say those that know me would say yes. It was recently revealed to me, someone told me one time that once I can see a path then I sprint down the path. But sometimes if I can’t see a path, I tend to waver and stall, and not actually take the path. So yeah, I guess that’s how I take road trips, too. 

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah.

 

Chad Webb:

Shawn, when you got finished at Camping World, was Eezy the first company that was created, or did you start… Because I know Eezy is kind of like a family of brands.

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah, so let me back up. So when I first got hired at Camping World, one of the things that I really wanted to do was… Let me back up. So I was a graphic designer and got hired into a marketing job. So I went from looking at colors and shape and form all day in design programs to staring at numbers in a spreadsheet all day, and it was terrifying. I freaked out and thought, “Oh, no, what have I done? I have completely derailed my career.” 

So, I would come home at night and realize that I needed some sort of creative outlet, and I needed to keep working on something. I just needed a project. And at the time, I knew how to design a website. So I thought, “Well, I think I should try to design my own website, and then take all these learnings that I’m going to learn in this job and apply them to my own project on the side on nights and weekends. Jen and I had just got married, we didn’t have any kids. So we’d come home at night and watch Wheel of Fortune and go to bed. That was our life for the most part.

I would do a lot of tinkering and design things sitting on the couch or on my laptop. So, Brusheezy was my first project, and it wasn’t out of… I didn’t build it out of this love of Photoshop brushes, or anything like that. I built it out of a desire to build a thing. And the thing that I wanted to build, I didn’t want to produce content for it. I knew that I was not a great writer, and I knew that I didn’t want to have this responsibility of being required to dump content onto this thing all the time. Now, little did I know that that is a requirement, but at the time it seemed like a big responsibility to me. So, at the time as a designer, I realized that, hey, there’s all these Photoshop brushes all over the internet. There didn’t seem to be a great central source for Photoshop brushes. So, I built a website and launched with the goal of being the central source for Photoshop brushes. 

And then I come home at night and just email people, message people, talk to them, get in forums, ask them if they wanted to submit their Photoshop brushes, and eventually hired a person to just as a side project, I’d pay him a couple bucks every time they uploaded a new Photoshop brush. So they would be required to go out and email the people and get the content in the door. And then I was just trying to make a couple bucks. So, I would email people who I thought might be interested in advertising. And lo and behold they said, yes. 

So, started going well. And then what I did was I duplicated that whole process and built Vecteezy. And both of them started growing pretty quickly. It ended up… What really launched Vecteezy was it ended up getting to the homepage of Digg back in the day. So, if you remember, Digg, Digg was kind of like the Reddit before Reddit was a thing, and it went right to number one on the homepage, and it picked up a ton of press, and links, and traffic. And then from there, it was just growing and making money.

So, got super fortunate. I don’t know if it would have ever turned into a thing if it didn’t get on Digg. But yeah, so then I just started tinkering on it, and working on it. So by the time I left Camping World, I had those sites running, and I was doing a lot of affiliate marketing on the side. So, Facebook had just launched there… At the time, they called them flyers. It was Facebook’s first attempt to make money. And they said, hey, you can post a flyer here and you pay per impression. I had done a lot of research and realized, hey, there’s programs out there I can go out and pick up a link and promote some sort of like insurance offer or some sort of other website and get paid a dollar if somebody can sign up for this thing. 

What I did was I started buying ads on Facebook, and tinkering again to see if I could get people to click on these links. Well, if you think about that perfect storm at the time, everybody’s on Facebook, but all sudden an ad shows up, one ad appears, and it’s super targeted. Like, hey, are you a 35 year old business owner in Bowling Green, Kentucky? Click here to learn how you can grow your business. Everybody was clicking on those ads at the time. It was bananas. So, it was I had a lot of irons in the fire, so to speak at that time, and it was making money. And I just looked at that and said if I can just dedicate more time to this, I can make it bigger. 

So, put in my notice at Camping World and ventured out on my own. And the mistake I made over the next couple years was that I started to spread myself too thin. I thought it would be too easy, and I could just keep working on more projects, and more projects meant more money. That was the biggest mistake. I bought some brand off these two guys called Outdoorsy, tried to work for a while.

 

Jason Heflin:

Huge mistake. 

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah, huge mistake. I tried to work on a classified marketplace for RVs, huge mistake. I just kept building things, and assuming that they would just make money if I could just build them. And the reality was I was just blowing a ton of money and wasting a ton of time. And competition was seeing what I was doing and growing quickly, and competing with me. So, it took a couple years for me to realize that. And then eventually I just realized I needed to double down and focus on what was working, and that was the Eezy sites.

 

Chad Webb:

I mean, that is just… It’s abundantly clear looking at other entrepreneurs, and just… I mean, just people in general. Once they… It’s like the, what is it? The goose that lays the golden egg type thing. It’s like I figured this out, that means I can figure out anything. I think Jason and I have to pull ourselves back many times and be like, “Well, we know what we’re doing with CrowdSouth, so why don’t we tweak that to try to make that the best version of itself?” Versus being like, “Why don’t we also open up CrowdSouth’s real estate office, and CrowdSouth’s burger restaurant, things like that. 

It’s like these things are… There’s lots of opportunities in other places, and we think that we can take the work that we’ve done as business owners in X and put it in Y and Z and you’re still going to make… But all you’re really doing is taking time and effort away from the thing that you know how to do really well. I think that businesses do that but I also think that people do that a lot. It’s you think that because you’re good at one thing means you’ll be great at a lot of things. Well, why not just become more focused on that one thing, tweak it, make yourself more marketable, and just a better version of that, which allows you to grow in the future. 

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah, I can remember looking at… So, Vecteezy is our biggest website, and I can remember really thinking about selling that because I felt like I ran out of ideas. I didn’t know the path to grow that. And it was probably getting 20,000 visitors a day, and hit a flatline for a while, and I thought, “I have no idea how to grow this thing any bigger.” But the reality is we’re in a space that’s massive. Everybody needs images, and we’re playing at a global level, and you’ve just got to figure it out. So you got to spend time and effort, and when you’re working on all these other side projects, you’re not thinking about how to grow the one thing that’s already making money, you’re thinking about how to grow all these other things that aren’t making money, and it’s totally opposite. 

So, yeah, I think entrepreneurs, we’re attracted to the shiny things. Like new ideas, we get excited about that. But at the end of the day, it can be risky. And you can really waste a lot of time and money. So, I struggle when I come on Twitter, and I see people with… They call themselves a serial entrepreneur. What does that mean? Are you really successful at launching business after business after business? There are plenty of those folks out there. But usually the ones that do it don’t call themselves serial entrepreneurs, they’ve got a portfolio to back up what they’re doing.

 

Jason Heflin:

Right.

 

Chad Webb:

I think there’s only one person that’s a serial entrepreneur, and that is someone like Kellogg’s, or something like that.

 

Shawn Rubel:

There you go. 

 

Chad Webb:

Yes. The people that are actually making the cereals, they’re fine. 

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah.

 

Jason Heflin:

I think Shawn, one thing you said that when you told your story there, you started with a problem that you were solving. And I think that’s a lot of people will start a business, a lot of entrepreneurs start one, and there’s not a… They’re falsely creating a problem that they can, because they have the solution when you really saw a problem in your industry, and that was with the images and finding or the brushes and finding those. It was a niche, which I loved. And then you moved into growing it, and then you moved into expanding it, and then getting sidetracked. Man, that’s such a classic path, and then coming back. But that’s where the people can get derailed. They get sidetracked, and they stay sidetracked, and they never get anywhere. And you said, “Okay, I’m going to focus back in on what’s working, I’m going to make that the best it can be.” And that’s what has happened, it seems like.

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah, one of the defining moments that happened to me years ago was when I was working on the sites, the sites like multiple things, I had a contractor that was working on Vecteezy. He was great. We had a great relationship. And one day he disappeared on me, as in didn’t respond to emails. We would talk every day and one day he just wasn’t online. I’d call him, I messaged him, and he was gone. And turns out, he was having some problems in his personal life that I didn’t know about, and he was gone. I panicked where I thought, “Oh, this guy, I have no idea what’s going on, and yet I’m here trying to grow this tech business and I have no help. I’ve got one guy who’s on the west coast, and he just disappeared on me. I’ve got to put more measures in place if I’m going to turn this into a real business.”

So, eventually, I reconnected with him, and it was fine. But that was a very scary moment for me. I literally didn’t even know where my servers were. I had no idea, and I was making my living off of this business. So after that, I thought, well, I need help. I can’t do it all myself. And I need people to help me and to be responsible for the things that I don’t know how to do. Around that time I happened to find Adam Gamble is now our CTO.

Just on Facebook, we had mutual friends, and I put a post on Facebook and said, “Hey, I’m looking for some programming help.” And it just happened to hit him at the right time when he was starting to explore new job opportunities. And we connected and we started working together. And eventually he was like, “Hey, you got a house of cards over here. This thing is about to fall apart, and it’s going to take me six months to rebuild it. And by the way, I’m looking for a new job. So, looks like you need me and I need you. So let’s start working together.” We’ve been working together ever since. So it’s been fantastic. 

And then of course, Richard Fontenot, our other partner too. He was instrumental as well. Just again, my background is graphic design. So I started working with partners. We start generating a lot of data and I would start looking at these numbers and the data and think I have no idea what I’m looking at here. I need help sorting through the data doing, projections, and Richard was always there to help, and we just started working together, and eventually I hired them both full time and we just started building the business.

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah, that’s great. Richard seems like a good… I know Richard a little bit, but he seems like a good partner. He’s a good… He’s very open, it seems like. He sends me talent that you guys, for whatever reason can’t hire at the time and, hey, this is a great person, you should take a look. I try to do the same thing with him. But I think it’s great to have somebody like that who’s not you. You can do what you do. But I mean, that’s Chad and I. We’re very different personalities. We agree on the core philosophies, and how we’re going to move the business forward. But when it comes to certain things, I’m the guy, when it comes to other things he’s the guy. We just know our place. I’ll just say, “Hey, maybe you should take this,” or he’ll say, “Maybe you should take this.”

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah. And it’s so important to have that trust because I think the reality is I used to think I could just do everything myself, and you just realize that the older and wiser you get, the more you realize how much you don’t know, and how much you need to bring in to help. So now my core focus is just hiring the smartest, most talented folks, and get them in the door, and get them going because that’s how you grow. 

 

Chad Webb:

So, that philosophy that you just mentioned, the hiring philosophy you have. I know that over the last even before… Definitely before COVID, but it feels like you guys have been on a mission to hire quite a few people. And a lot of that, even as we say was before COVID a lot of that was remote either way, right?

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah. So last year, we… I don’t have the numbers off the top of my head, but I’m guessing maybe we hired 20 plus people. So, a lot of folks I work with right now, I’ve never actually met them in person. I have no idea how tall they are we joke. It’s a complete interaction of just on the screen, and that’s it. And that’s there’s a learning curve there. There’s oftentimes, it’s uncomfortable when you don’t get that face-to-face interaction, especially if you have internet issues or something like that. It just creates a whole new barrier to communication. So, for the most part that’s been great. It’s just something that we’ve all had to deal with, and then learn to get over.

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah, we’ve made a few hires during the pandemic, three maybe, Chad?

 

Chad Webb:

Yeah.

 

Jason Heflin:

Three, and it’s funny, the low hanging fruit is always your network. So we went there first. And so, yeah, in a couple of those instances we were able to pick people out of our network. So, that made it easy. They slide right in, you know their strengths, you know their weaknesses. But for us, it’s a challenge to see, to have someone… So, you’ve got to figure it out, obviously, because they sit wherever they sit, it doesn’t matter. You’ve got checkboxes, however that looks on your side. So, I mean, it’d be interesting to hear, and even maybe if you’re not involved in it day to day, but how that works, how that hiring process works during the pandemic, or just in any case when you’re hiring remotely, and you’ll never meet that person.

 

Shawn Rubel:

Sure. So for us, one thing we were doing is before we made the final offer, before the pandemic we would fly the person in depending on the role. If it was a higher level role, we may fly them in. I think, we hired our head of content, Paul Friesen, he’s up in Hamilton, Ontario. So another fellow Canadian. We started talking and just brought him in for two days, put him up in a hotel across the street, and it just makes things so much more… For one, it’s easier to hire, because they have that level of like, “Okay, I see what they’re doing. They’re a real business. I’m not trying to get scammed here or something. There’s real people behind the business, and it just makes the conversation so much easier.”

Since the pandemic, that’s one thing that we haven’t been able to do, and it’s tough. I mean, hiring is hard all around. So you want to do whatever you can to make sure that you can close. You can close the deal and get them on board. And a lot of times when you can’t meet them face-to-face, you don’t know what they’re thinking other than unless when they ask you or send you this formal email. And a lot of times when you bring them in you can have a more relaxed atmosphere and joke around and get to know the person on a deeper level, and that really helps. So, yeah, so we’re just at a point now where… You asked about the process. The process is different for every person we hire. 

 

Jason Heflin:

Okay.

 

Shawn Rubel:

For example, if we’re hiring… We have a job opening for a designer right now. And again, the first thing we care about is the portfolio. So, you waste a lot of time talking to someone when at the end of the day the first thing you care about is the portfolio. So, we always try to go through and check the most important things out first. So in that case, we would get them to fill out a form and say, “Show us your portfolio,” and we go through all the portfolios we like. Then we get a handful of portfolios, and then we start talking to people as opposed to you talk to a bunch of people, and you’re like, “Yeah, this person’s great. But they’re not super talented.” So, we focus on the skills first, and then get a collection of folks who are right in line for what we’re looking for. And then we start having conversations with them. 

One thing we did late last year is we hired a recruiter to help us full-time. So her job is literally going through LinkedIn. She’s messaging people. She’s sitting down with the hiring manager. She’s going over criteria for what we’re looking for. And then she’s searching for those folks. She’s putting the job posting up. And then when those applications come through, she’s just combing through them all. One thing we realized is that last year, this time last year, Richard and Adam and I were spending all our time on hiring, and it was great, but it wasn’t the best use of our time. So, we’ve worked on that process, brought in Caroline, she’s out of Atlanta. And she’s been fantastic. And she probably does a much better job getting people interested in our business than we would. So, she’s been great.

 

Jason Heflin:

Well, that leads me to another question, which is kind of a two part question. One is, how many team members do you have? And then do you have an HR person? And I guess, if you do, when did that happen?

 

Shawn Rubel:

The answer is yes, we do have an HR person. What was your first question?

 

Jason Heflin:

How many people do you have, and then when did you make that decision to bring in an HR talent?

 

Shawn Rubel:

Okay. So, we are going on 70. If we’re not on 70 yet, we’re very close, one or two away from 70. We hired an HR person, if I get this wrong, man, he’s going to kill me. Probably two years ago now. Again, there was so much work that Richard was doing around HR, like managing our most important asset, which is the people that work for us. And we realized that we could hire for this and put the job posting out, did a lot of interviews, and we found Maddie, and she’s been amazing. So, that was I’m guessing we were maybe 30 or 40, maybe.

Again, I’m a little fuzzy on the numbers. But it was around that time where we realized, okay, we’ve got to hire. And then we hired Maddie. And for a long time, Maddie was just focused on hiring. And we realized, well, we could probably… There’s a lot of other things that Maddie needs to be working on, we could probably hire someone to focus specifically on hiring, free up Maddie to focus on more HR related things. And we just keep scaling and expanding that way.

 

Jason Heflin:

How do you feel? I mean, do you still do contract workers, or is it all payroll? I mean, is it a blend? Does it just depend?

 

Shawn Rubel:

We actually just started scaling up some contractors this quarter. We’ve got a really aggressive quarter from some stuff we’re working on right now. And all of us on LinkedIn, I don’t know if you guys get this, but I get hit up every day by multiple recruiters overseas. It’s always some recruiter that says, “Hey, I’ve got programmers, whatever you need. I saw you’re hiring rails programmers, I’ve got a bunch of them.” And we usually shy away from that stuff. But this year, we thought, “Okay…” We knew specifically on some specific roles we needed. And we thought, “Okay, let’s try it.” I think we’ve got three of them now. And so far, it’s been going pretty well. So, they come in, and they get familiar with our tech stack, and we can slide them right into our process, and that’s been great. 

So, yeah, we’ve started that, and it’s going well so far. And that’s great because these projects we’re working on right now, we’ll be able to take the current team… The current team has a ton of stuff to do already, and we’re trying to accomplish more, but the more of what we’re trying to accomplish will come to an end, and then it will be ready to go. And then the current team can slide over and start developing and optimizing it and making it bigger. So, it was an attempt for us to move quicker and get more done this quarter.

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah, smart. I’m seeing a lot more of that. I mean, over the years, it’s just become more of a standard practice. It seems like for scalability.

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah, it’s been helpful for us. We as a general rule of thumb, we like to get people fully embedded in the culture, and in the team, get to know each other. You bring in an outside contractor, and usually just an outsider. That’s not great for getting to know someone and establishing a rapport. And so, we’re trying to build a culture at Eezy of people we want to be around and people we want to work with. We just feel like we’ll have a better company at the end of the day doing it that way.

 

Chad Webb:

Yeah. So, you’re mentioning the scaling piece. I can’t remember when it was you and I talked before the New Year. There’s a book called Scaling Up. I don’t know if you ever heard of that. It’s [inaudible 00:34:42] Rockefeller Habits or something like that. You get it there. 

 

Shawn Rubel:

Vern Harnish. 

 

Jason Heflin:

There you go. 

 

Chad Webb:

There you go. So, one of the things that’s on my list of projects to go through. It’s been on my list for a year now. But I’ve really gotten to the first, just the first few chapters, but the interesting thing I believe that’s the book at the beginning where it talks through these plateaus you hit like zero to 10, and then 10 to 100 people, and stuff like that. Are you seeing truth in that? You hired to a point, you flatline, and then you hire again, and then you flatline? Do you see that? Instead of it being a steady increase in either employees, but also revenue, things like that? Do you see periods of growth, plateau, growth, plateau, things like that?

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah, we’ve seen plateaus before. Currently, we’re in a growth stage. So, that’s been great. So I don’t know what’s going to come next. For the most part, our growth has come online as steady and gradual. So, we haven’t seen a lot of growth and then plateau and then growth and plateau again. It’s been a slow climb, slow march upward. The business has to fundamentally go through shifts as you start to grow. So one thing we’re talking about right now is just reorganizing the entire team and the way the team works. It just depends on the project. But from an operations standpoint, it makes sense to start breaking out into smaller teams. Right now we’ve got this weird combination of a few small teams, but then a big main team, and we’re moving people around, and swapping people in and out. There’s a lot of work there and a lot of organization that needs to happen.

The good thing is that… And when I say this, I’m mostly talking about engineering. So, these are programmers or engineers that are doing a lot of coding. When there’s a lot of context switching like that it’s great because these guys end up being super valuable to us. They know the entire stack. They have knowledge of every corner of the business. And when you start focusing people on very specific teams, that engineer maybe a rock star on their very one specific thing they work on all day, but they don’t know anything else. And they’re essentially, if you ever tried to move them, there’s going to be a huge learning curve for them to get up to speed once you move them. 

So we’ve really, I think the engineering side of the business has done a fantastic job moving folks around and giving them context on the entire stack. And also, they rebuilt it two years ago now. So that helped as well. Again, talking about the House of Cards earlier, Adam got it up, and got it running, and got it pretty secure. But he had said to me, heads up, we’re going to have to recode this at some point. We’re going to have to update it, and he bugged me for a long time. And finally three years ago I said, “That’s fine, go do it.” Him and his team of probably 10 guys at the time rebuild the thing from the ground up, so it was shiny and new. And then they were able to even develop much quicker. So, that was the first time we said, “Okay, we’re going to build this thing to scale.” And to build this thing to scale we’ve got to break it down and rebuild it from the ground up. And they’ve done that, and we’re scaling now. So it’s been great.

 

Chad Webb:

I know you said you do have quite a few engineers, what is something that you do to hold… What is the accountability factor in your company in terms of with engineers on… Do you base it on dates? And then how do you meet those goal posts? How do you project manage the process of development?

 

Shawn Rubel:

Sure. We’ll sit down. As leadership, we’ll sit down at the… We’re always talking. I make it sound like we sit down once a quarter, but we have a good idea, and we put together a plan quarterly. So, four times a year, we’re rolling out new large initiatives. Internally, we call those big rocks, and it’s the concept of have you ever seen the analogy where a teacher stands in front of a class and holds an empty jar? He says, “Hey, kids. Is the jar full?” And they say, “No, it’s empty.” And he puts a bunch of big rocks in the jar, and then he says, “Is it full now?” And they say, “Yes.” And then he takes smaller rocks in, and then sand, and water. 

The idea of our big rocks is what are the most important things that we can do in the next 90 days to push the company forward? So, it’s very focused on growth. We define our list of big rocks, and then additional priorities that we want to get accomplished in the quarter. And then we sit there and we start making a plan for it. And then we start splitting it up. And for the most part, we have a good idea of what the team can accomplish. We’re not perfect. We sometimes over project, under project, but we’re not giving them major initiatives where it’s completely impossible. But a lot of it is unknown. We don’t know how this is going to go once we get into it and we’re going to have to spend 30 days approximately figuring it out.

We try to work in… The team works in two weeks sprints, and then there’s a design sprint in front of that and everything starts falling like dominoes. So, it’s up to the leadership to make a plan, build out a roadmap, do estimating, meet with the team, decide, okay, how long do you think this is going to take? They do what’s called T-shirt sizing. So we think this is a small job. We think there’s a medium job or a large job. And then, okay, let’s talk about a large job here. And you just keep breaking it down. You just keep slicing it thinner and thinner, and figuring out, okay, how long is it going to take for this? How long is going to take for this?

A lot of times they come back and say, “Hey, heads up, your projections were way off. It’s going to take us double.” Or, “Hey, we found a way to get this done quicker than we originally thought.” So, as long as leadership is understanding that it’s hard, and that’s something that Adam Gamble has done a great job of is curving expectations of like, “Hey, we’re going to try our best to get this done on this timeline, but I can’t guarantee it. So, I’ll continue to update you and let you know how it’s gone along the way, so you can adjust everything else that you’re working on. But it’s hard at the end of the day because you just don’t know how it’s going to go.”

We’ve got product owners and product managers that part of their job is to try and estimate all this stuff and get it into a roadmap. And then we size it, we give it a points value of like, okay, this is going to be… This is a five point ticket, this is a 20 point ticket. And then you sit there and then they have a pretty good idea of what this team can accomplish. We think this team approximately does 20 points per sprint. Okay, whatever that means, here’s 20 more points. So they start to get a sense of cadence overtime for each team, and we report on it. Reports go out each week to management, so you can get an understanding of who’s working on what? Where are the hiccups? Where have we succeeded, and where we fall short? And then you’re just constantly trying to optimize it over time?

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah, I like the big rock analogy, specifically for those who are trying to grow a business and they’re still in that early phase, or they’re in a growth phase. I think that’s a big… That’s a filter that people can’t pass through sometimes. They’re focused on the sand granules, when they need to be focused… We faced this challenge at one point to where… And we still do it sometimes. We’ll get into the minutiae. We’ll start looking at very detailed things. And then we have to say, we’ll check each other sometimes. Like, “Hey, you don’t need to be worried about that. Don’t worry about that. They’ll figure that out.” 

We need to focus on the big rocks and how we’re going to push those along. And it’s such a… We see it in our industry a lot anyway that a lot of our peers will just hit a ceiling because they want to be involved in the daily work. They want to be at the photo shoot. They want to be coding the site. They want to be setting up the ad campaign when they just need to decide what the messaging is, and move along, or shake the hands, and then move to the next person, and they just can’t get past that.

 

Shawn Rubel:

That’s a super difficult thing. I struggle with it as well. Personally, I have been in product way too long. And when I say product, I mean, the day to day of building our website, and launching new features. And the reality is there’s much smarter people on the team that can handle that. And the CEO having hands in all that can cause a lot of issues as well. I’ve had a lot of eye opening conversations through the years where I bring people in, and they’re like, “Hey, Shawn, you don’t need to be working on this. Let me take care of it, and I’ll push it forward.” 

It’s scary because then you start to feel like you’re losing touch, like it’s a control thing. You start to feel like you’re losing control. It’s something that you literally have to do if you want to scale the business. You can’t do everything. You have to have the realization that there’s other people out there that can do it better than you and you got to rip yourself out of the day to day. I’m currently going through that. I’m in the process of trying to hire a director/head of product who can run it, and it’s a super scary thing, but it’s required to get to where we’re going. So I’m looking forward to the day when we can install someone in that position.

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah, I mean, I think it’s a challenge that all business owners of any business will face is when do I back up and let somebody else do this? For any role, I think the humble factor is even what I do today, there’s someone else out there that can do it better. At what point do I hire that person, and I just get out of the way? And so, that’s something Chad and I tease about all the time. There are people that do what we do better than what we do. And maybe someday we will be at a point where we will hire those people to come do what we do, and we’ll do something else, whatever it is that we’re better at.

I think there’s an ego thing with a lot of business owners where maybe they are better at those little things and small things and they just need to get out of the way and hire their own boss. I wouldn’t say that to everybody. It’s not the case for you. But I think it’s important to say because there are people out there that were really good at this thing, they built a business around it, and now they’re trying to be a business owner when really they’re a manager or they’re a day to day kind of person. That’s where they need to be. So, it’s a struggle with I think entrepreneurs. 

 

Shawn Rubel:

Absolutely.

 

Chad Webb:

Well, Shawn, what’s one of the things I’d say in the last, I don’t know, call it, I guess, maybe since you started even though that’s quite a while ago. What’s the one or two things that you’ve switched up, or the change that you’ve made that you saw produced the most fruit for the company? A decision that you made, be it a hiring decision, getting rid of an entire business unit or something like that? What was something that made the biggest influence on your business?

 

Shawn Rubel:

The biggest one I would say is hiring somebody who’s in charge of the tech. Like I talked about earlier when I found Adam. Adam, he’s an owner in the company now because I realize I can’t do this myself. I’ve got to have other people invested for the long run. So having Adam was probably a huge decision. If you look back the trajectory of our business, we really didn’t start really growing until Adam came on board, fixed the tech stack, fixed server setups, and really built it to scale. Not that it was broken when he came in, but it was built in a way to do what it was intended to do at the time, which was just be this hobby site that made money for Shawn.

Adam really came in and said, “Okay, we’re going to build this thing to scale globally, and get traffic all over the world. And we have to have a good structure.” So, I would say that was a huge move for me. I was scared to death when I first hired them. I’ll never forget when I made this decision, where I was, and when I made it, and it was one of the best decisions. And then from there he comes in, and he starts saying, hey. He starts applying pressure in other ways of like, “Hey, we need to hire person to go do this.” And I’m like, “Yep, sounds good.” I probably wouldn’t have made that decision, but as soon as you have somebody else applying pressure and seeing it, and being like I’ll manage it. I’ll make sure they are good. And then you just keep going. So the business really started to grow once you can get multiple people in the door focused on the different areas of the business.

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah, I mean, that makes a lot of sense. Getting leadership in place so that you’re not in the weeds, and hiring the right type of leadership. 

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah. 

 

Jason Heflin:

Well, so what’s the… As we wrap up the discussion around your business, what’s the future look like for Eezy? I don’t expect you to say, this is what the next 30 years look like, but do you have a plan in mind, a long term plan for you and for the company?

 

Shawn Rubel:

I don’t think that long term right now. I think we’re talking about doing five year projections at the moment, and I think five years is such a long time away. Things are going to change so rapidly over the next five years. So, I have some rough ideas of how big I think we’re going to be and what we’re going to be working on and all that kind of stuff. But for the most part, I’m putting together a plan for next quarter, and the quarter after that. And then, we’ll wait and see. But yes, I mean, the vision for me and for Eezy has become a little more clear. One problem we have right now is we have a branding problem. So, we’ve got Eezy is the company and Vecteezy is the flagship product. I’d love to merge those two things under Eezy because it’s a shorter domain, and it’s a play on simplifying the creative process and that kind of stuff. But merging those sites is super scary from an SEO standpoint. If we don’t get through that unscathed we could shrink and not grow. 

So, that is something that we’ve been working towards, but it’s still far on the horizon. We’re not going to do it anytime soon. But with that being said we’re working on tooling. We see other opportunities of things you can build in the browser to continue to help creatives. Expanding our content. The content library right now for us is what we’re really focused on. And to get a library of millions and millions of images. There’s one site in our space that has 300 million images. Well, you’ve got to have some really good infrastructure, and really good search algorithms, and all that kind of stuff to just have a good search engine. So, we’re working on all that kind of stuff right now. Really excited about the progress there. But yeah, right now it’s short term tooling to just continue to scale. And then from there, I envision us breaking into other areas of simplifying the creative process around tooling to help designers find and design things in the browser. 

There’s a lot of companies right now that are building this signers in the browser. We use Figma. Figma is fantastic, and you can literally jump in and two designers can sit there in a single browser and design together. And one can be on the other side of the world. So there’s a lot of stuff we can do in the browser. The technology has just come so far that once we get our library squared away, we’re going to start moving into tooling. So, pretty excited about it.

 

Jason Heflin:

That’s cool.

 

Chad Webb:

That’s awesome, yeah. So on a more personal side, what are some things that… I know that you’re highly involved here in Bowling Green around Bowling Green’s hockey scene, whatever that may be. I know that the rollerblade as well as the ice hockey rink that’s downtown or that comes around in the wintertime. You want to talk a little bit about that, and getting involved with those things?

 

Jason Heflin:

And would you say Mighty Ducks is your favorite movie?

 

Shawn Rubel:

It’s up there.

 

Jason Heflin:

Okay. 

 

Shawn Rubel:

The hockey scene in Bowling Green is difficult because we don’t have ice. So we play roller hockey, and that’s been a lot of fun. It’s a great little community around the roller hockey league. I was on the board, and I recently just stepped off because work has been super busy. I just need to focus. What I realized is that that was just another thing that was occupying my thoughts. So, I have successfully handed it off to another gentleman in town and he’s fantastic. He’s run it, and he’s doing a great job so far.

I’m out of the management of that league now, which has been great for me from a mental capacity. In terms of that ice rink COVID really nailed us again this year in terms of couldn’t get the ice rink. I don’t know what the future holds. I’ve given up hope. It’s been… I feel like they had the chance to get it done, and they missed it. I don’t know if they’re still working on it. I don’t know what the future holds. But I don’t have high hopes. So, mentally I’ve just prepared myself to keep driving to Nashville when I want to play ice hockey. I hope I didn’t burst any bubbles out there of those [inaudible 00:52:12]. The downtown rink is fantastic when they put it in. It’s a great little Christmas thing to do with the family. But it’s just not a hockey rink. If you go to Nashville and play hockey down there, it’s amazing. Nashville is a fantastic hockey community. So, I may try and embed myself there a little more.

 

Chad Webb:

I also noticed on Instagram, you try to get out and go skiing a few times a year, don’t you?

 

Shawn Rubel:

That’s right. I just got back from Vail, and then a few weeks before that I was in Jackson Hole, love to ski. There’s not many things… Hockey and skiing are the two things that I really, really get excited about from a hobby standpoint. I do have some lower back issues, and that’s caused me some problems. So, that that second ski trip that I just got back from, took me a couple weeks to recover. My lower back had surgery on it years ago, and I think I blew out some discs. It’s not as enjoyable as it used to be. So I’ve got to figure out what I’m going to do about my lower back. But yeah, skiing is one of my favorite things.

I’ll go with my wife, and she doesn’t ski, so she’ll just hang out in the hotel room and watch Netflix and enjoy some time away for a little bit. And then I’ll go out for a few hours and ski and come in for lunch and go back out again. So, it’s good for me to kind of clear my mind. And I can do something that’s fun and exciting. So hopefully, I fully plan to be that 75 year old man on the slopes still skiing when I’m really old.

 

Chad Webb:

I mean, that’s awesome. That’s a good plan. Are your kids into it at all?

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah, I got my son. I got a 12 year old son couple years ago, took him out to Colorado to ski. I didn’t take them this year, but plan to get him back out there. My two daughters as well have been asking about it. So we’re going to try and plan a family trip here next year and get them on the slopes.

 

Chad Webb:

That’ll be awesome. That’s awesome. 

 

Jason Heflin:

It’s just a fun experience whether you ski or not, to be in a ski town during ski season and all the activities that go along with that.

 

Shawn Rubel:

Absolutely.

 

Chad Webb:

I was going to mention I  know your son’s… Is he highly into baseball, right?

 

Shawn Rubel:

No more baseball.

 

Chad Webb:

No more baseball.

 

Shawn Rubel:

He hung up the cleats. He’s a goalie in hockey. Yeah, he’s a good little goalie. He likes playing goalie. And so, we just… Our first practice is tomorrow, so he’s gearing up for that, and he’s super excited… Saturday, sorry, not tomorrow. But yeah, he’ll play… He’s tried all the things and just decided he really liked hockey. [crosstalk 00:54:43].

 

Chad Webb:

I’m sure you’re happy about that.

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah.

 

Chad Webb:

I know your daughters were playing… Because our daughters played soccer together I think one year. Are they still doing soccer?

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah, again, COVID has really caused them to lose it. 

 

Chad Webb:

Re-evaluate.

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah, for some reason they came home from school really wanting to do cross country. And I’m like, “Man, that’s quite the sport you want to start doing,” but they’re really into it for some reason. So we’re going to let them try it. If we talk again the next couple of months I’ll let you know if it was successful or not. But how about you guys, you’re going to do soccer again?

 

Chad Webb:

Now my girls they kind of stopped doing that. We probably just stopped doing it a couple years ago. I liked it from a… It’s a very simple sport for a young kid to learn. You just run across the field and kick the ball. We started basketball a year and a half ago, I guess. And then we didn’t have a girl’s basketball league this year. But my oldest has done volleyball a couple times, and she’s going to be tall. I think she enjoys it. I think at least for my kids, I don’t want to be the parent that’s like pushing them. But I think for mine, at least, you got to push them a little bit because they’d be totally fine just sitting on the couch watching TV. They’d be 100% fine with that. So it’s like, but once they’re in at any of these places, they’re having fun. They don’t want to get off the couch to get their cleats on or shoes on and go. So, I’ll fuss at them, they get up off the couch. And then we get there and they’re ecstatic to be there.

 

Shawn Rubel:

Absolutely. Kids need a little push. You don’t want to push them too much, but as long as you’re pushing in a positive direction, they’re usually all in.

 

Chad Webb:

Yeah, I’m not trying to make… I don’t expect them to be on the Olympic team or anything. I just want them to have their body moving and not completely watch Netflix all day.

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah. I’m a huge component of team sports. That proponent of team sports, I think that there’s that team dynamic that I think is super important in life. And if kids grew up their entire lives, never experiencing that the real world can hit them hard in different ways that they may not expect. So we try to get all our kids doing something every season. And man, it’s a hustle. There’s one thing about the pandemic is that it’s been nice, no kids sports. It’s been nice.

 

Chad Webb:

That has been nice. I mean, I know that we just signed up. You just said your son starts practice soon. We just did… The next volleyball league starts and for the next three weeks starting next week, it’s Monday, Tuesday, Friday night practices, but it’s only three weeks, and then they just move to games. It’s not a big deal. But it has been nice. It’s like there’s no reason to go out. I think you’re right. I think them learning, like you said, the team dynamic, but also having them try these different things to find something they’re good at and building self esteem and things like that. Realizing what it means to win, what it means to lose. Both those things are important.

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah, the losing thing is a huge part of it. Ethan has had some heart breakers in hockey. Losing the championship in overtime, things like that. That’s part of life. Getting so close, and not being able to win, super important life lessons.

 

Chad Webb:

Losing happens a lot more in life than winning, to be honest with you. So it’s like if you can accept those losses, move on, get better the next time, it’s always going to be good.

 

Shawn Rubel:

It’s the number one lesson. I’ve done some coaching too, and that’s been enjoyable. It’s been nice to be able to get out there and get to know other kids and they’re all different backgrounds and experiences, and to try and be a positive influence in their life is rewarding at the end of day. Again, it’s a lot of work, and it’s a hustle, and it’s one more thing that I’ve got to be thinking about but it’s what makes life interesting, right? If I was just all work and no play it’d get so boring.

 

Chad Webb:

Absolutely. I’ve thought through it a little bit, but have you thought through using your kids as interns, thinking through having them learn some of the things that might be worth it?

 

Shawn Rubel:

I get a little nervous when I start thinking that far ahead. Ethan hasn’t shown a ton of interest yet around what’s daddy working on? He knows his daddy owns a business, and he watches… He really likes to watch Shark Tank. Shark Tank has been something that me and him start watching, and he asks a lot of questions. But for the most part, the specifics of what I’m doing he hasn’t shown any interest in that. When I think about hiring him for an intern. I don’t know about that. I would love to try to work my connections and get them a job someplace else. But for us, even just hiring somebody… Even me just pushing somebody else in the org of like, hey. Other people start to feel this pressure of like, “Oh, the CEO wants us to hire this person.” I don’t know. Go do your own thing. I’m just making a recommendation.

 

Chad Webb:

I think the way that I think about it is just I would like them to… And maybe it’s not even hiring. Maybe I don’t even know if I mean working. I think a lot of it I just mean can you sit here, do not talk, but listen to how conversations happen in a business environment. I think a lot… I don’t know, I just think there’s a lot of value in that. I also think there’s value in understanding. Like you said, my daughters again, eight and six, they don’t have any clue what I do. But if they’re thinking about a marketing degree I’d be like, “Well, just sit in on these meetings and listen.” Maybe I mean, 16, 17 years old, something like that. Or even if they’re like, “Well, I’d like to be a teacher.” Well, then you need to go sit and listen at a school, at a fourth grade teacher or something like that. Or if you want to be a doctor, or a pharmacist, you need to think through that stuff. 

I think one of the… As business owners, you want to take the opportunities that are given you to share those experiences with your kids. So you are networked and you know people and things like that. But thinking through college and stuff, it’s like, I wish I would have tried a bunch of stuff before I got there and felt this pressure to make some decision. I mean, and the decision to do computer programming, and business management, things like that. I mean, that worked out for me, but I see lots of my friends who they’re not doing anything like what they signed up for.

 

Shawn Rubel:

True.

 

Chad Webb:

And so, it’s getting that education early on. It is different. I don’t know how you guys were, but I felt like my parents were always like, their generation it was like, go to college, get a good paying job. That’s what it is. I think these days, especially, I don’t think I would… If my daughters came home, and they’re like, “I don’t know that college is for me.” I think it’d be like, “I get that. You still got to make money to live your life. So, how are you going to accomplish that? Let’s talk through that.” But I think the pressure is much different now to go to college and get a degree.

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah, I get concerned when I think about that whole thing around university degrees and the amount of… I don’t know what it is. The pressure to go to university, and you get kids coming out with these degrees that are almost useless in life. Or it’s so hard to get a job in that area. Even in this town, the university just pumping out students with these degrees. I mean, that’s not doing them any favors, really. Now, of course, the kid has to take their own initiative to figure out how to apply that. There’s a lot of people that come out with a law degree and never go into law, or they get into something else. 

So, at the end of the day, my hope for my kids is that they for one love what they do, and they have a passion for what they do. I think that having… Telling somebody to follow their passions is often misguided. I love to play hockey, but I’m not going to go try to make a career out of playing hockey, and the reality is that the people who do make a career out of playing hockey are so rare. They’re phenomes. They’re all stars. They can make it to the highest level and actually make money. I have a passion for skiing, but I’m not going to follow that passion, and try to make a career out of it. I think the reality is figure out what you’re good at. Figure out what are you best at doing, and can you make a career out of that? And follow that road. 

If you’re good at doing what you’re doing, you’re going to enjoy it. You’re going to enjoy waking up in the morning and go on to work. And if you’re not, that’s when you have to take a long look in the mirror and figure out the path to get yourself in a situation where you’re happy again. I’ve talked to so many people over the years who just they’re in a career or they feel like they’re stuck and they don’t know what to do. It’s super depressing. I feel bad for them, but it’s tough. 

 

Chad Webb:

Yeah, I mean, I think that point of having those thoughts and thinking through what should I be doing doesn’t… Which means you might have to quit the current job you’re at. That’s not a failure. I mean, there’s nothing better in life than doing something you at least like. If you’re miserable, I mean, you’ve got to make that change. Or you need to understand, I’m going to be miserable a few more months, a few more years, while I’m working on figuring out what the main thing is. And there’s nothing wrong with that either. That will actually make the time a lot better that you’re there because you’ve got an end goal in mind. 

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah. Oh, go ahead, Jason.

 

Jason Heflin:

I was going to say, and you’re in control of your own attitude, too. There’s The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama. There’s The Art of Happiness at work, and that’s what that book is about. It’s like, if you find yourself in a place where you’re unhappy, examine it. I mean, is it the job? Is it the people, or is it you? Is it something about you that you need to change? So, reflecting a little bit?

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah, that’s super important, just self reflection. A lot of the folks that we interview, we look for that. In interviews, we’ll ask folks to, say, talk to me about a time when you failed, or talk to me about a time when you were unhappy or talk to me about situation when you did X and it didn’t go. Getting people to talk about negative experiences in life is a very important thing because a lot of times people will spin it in a positive light, and they actually can’t talk about something negative, and that’s a problem. We need to be able to talk about our failures, and then explain what we learned from them. That’s a hard skill to have sometimes.

 

Chad Webb:

It is.

 

Shawn Rubel:

If you don’t have that a lot of times you may not want to work with that person every day. 

 

Chad Webb:

Yeah, it’s good point. We’re at about an hour 10. So, I don’t want to keep you on all day. But any other questions Jason for Shawn? 

 

Jason Heflin:

No, man, this has been super good. I mean, it’s always good to talk about the things with other entrepreneurs that they… Especially people like you who have done such a good job. Like I said, classic growth and then getting distracted, but then understanding, speaking of being self reflective. All right, I need to focus on this, and then going back to it, and then taking it probably beyond where you ever thought it would be, I would assume, is that right?

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah. I mean, I knew early on that I… I specifically remember a conversation I had with my business coach at the time who is still my business coach. But I remember him saying, “Shawn, do you want to be the CEO of a large company like 100 plus people?” And at the time when you have 10 people and you feel like you’re struggling and you can’t figure it out. That sounds completely daunting. But the reality is that the business has continued to just grow over time, and it’s just this step by step process that you learn to manage over time. And now, I feel like my job has gotten a lot easier over the years because I’ve installed folks who are way smarter than me, can do a way better job, and things are getting handled, and it’s great. I just want more of that now. So now it’s like, yes, I can definitely see the path to even growth because when you get smart people in the door, things just start going. So, yeah, it’s been a good ride so far. We’ll see how it goes as we continue to grow.

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah. Awesome. 

 

Chad Webb:

Well, man, we really appreciate your time. Thanks for all the information you gave us.

 

Shawn Rubel:

Yeah, thanks for having me, guys.

 

Chad Webb:

Absolutely. Thanks, Shawn.

 

Jason Heflin:

Yep. See you man, thanks.

 

Shawn Rubel:

See you.

IMG_5607

By Chad Webb

Chad Webb (who is 40) is one of CrowdSouth’s Partners and brings years (not quite 40) of experience managing multi-million dollar website projects to your business. He loves hoodies, puffy vests, jeans and flip flops.

Like & Follow

Share This

About CrowdSouth

We are a team of web developers, project manager, creatives, search engine nerds, and social media buffs… but combined we have a breadth of talent that can get the job done, and done well.

More from CrowdSouth

Blog

Facebook is an active community of your target clients. This is how you can grow on Facebook to find new patients for your growing practice.

Read More
Blog, Podcast

The Uncommonwealth of Kentucky, a CrowdSouth Podcast, with Barry Davis.

Read More
Blog, Medical

Your branding is more important to growing your practice than you might think. What does your brand say about your practice?

Read More