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The Most Pivotal Moment in My Entrepreneurial Journey

Okay, story time.... HUGE significance tied to the Zoka coffee shop in Kirkland, Washington (outside Seattle) and my meetings this week of 8/22/23.

In 2019 I left Broadcast TV to start my business. And surprise, surprise...I learned some tough lessons right away.

Mason Buckles had asked me to put together a #videostorytelling proposal for his very successful Mortgage Brokerage (thanks Brianne Joseph). I felt great about it and had a mentor, Darran Littlefield, review it for me. Well...I got beat out on the bid. Mason was VERY gracious to tell me he went with Brandtegic instead and why.

Around that time I had a coffee networking meeting with Jeff Culpepper at Zoka Coffee Roasters. He told me about a younger guy, Austin Schneider, who was doing something similar to me for real estate professionals on Seattle's Eastside.

Jeff connected us and I looked up Austin's personal website. It said he had left a sales job at KING 5 News (I came from KIRO 7 News). Two BIG STRIKES! He was in sales and I was in news. He worked for our big competitor. Then it said he's the founder of Brandtegic. Oh, and he's about 10 years younger than me. STRIKES 3 AND 4!!!

I was FURIOUS! This young, punk sales guy from my competition had beaten me out on what was supposed to be a project that helped launch my business. My pride was more than just hit, it was like a one-two punch from Mike Tyson.

After sulking for several minutes I noticed that he was open about his love of Jesus on his webpage. I worked to swallow my pride...which was like swallowing a bowling ball. I thought maybe this young entrepreneur would share with me how he's building his business. So, I emailed him asking to meet.

And he was OVER THE TOP gracious with me. He shared how he was building his business and charging what he charged clients. We talked about faith and he told me about KIROS, a Seattle Christian business network. He also said, "see that sharply dressed bald guy over there (Alan Andersen)? He's part of the KIROS group and I'll introduce you two." I met Alan briefly at Zoka and then we got together a week or so later in more depth.

Well, that intro set off a chain reaction that has only snowballed since.

First and foremost Alan quickly became a dear friend, praying for me and supporting me through a very difficult season personally and professionally.

Alan always leads his intros with "the best thing that happened to me was getting fired from my job, having our house foreclosed on, and finding out we were pregnant...all in a matter of days."

Alan proceeded to teach me key business principals, as he had been an entrepreneur for 8+ years at that point. He pointed me to key business/life books and gave me his template for writing proposals. (He and I both now do work for Bob Alvarez and the awesome Circular Economy team at Shapiro).

That was January/February 2020. Fast forward to this day of August 22nd, 2023. Here's what transpired that day at Zoka Coffee:

  • I met with Jeff Rogers, an authentic mentor who Alan introduced me to back in 2020 right as my family moved to St. Louis for my rockstar wife's job with Boeing. Jeff is the co-founder of KIROS.

  • I met with Alan Pablick, an Emmy Award winning storyteller who I had worked with at KIRO 7. Alan is part of the Story on Purpose team now. He's been instrumental in building out the Instant Clarity Online Course, which we built for sales professionals and small business owners.

  • I had lunch (just around the corner from Zoka) with the One Accord Capital Advisors team of John Kaminski, Tyler Beutel, and Jeff Rogers (James Anderson not present). We were discussing a business that Story on Purpose is helping them sell with our sell-side video storytelling. Matt Skarin talked to me about this business two years ago. Here we are 2 years later. I learned in that lunch that the deal had a 500%+ increase in engagement over a typical deal they send to prospective buyers. And thanks to my team led by creative director Tom Herbig, the sell-side video content is getting GREAT feedback from the interested buyers.

  • I took a zoom call from Zoka with Matt Skarin, Bill Rochfort, and Andrew Markell about our progress building out, a total digital sovereignty solution for family offices and nation states that delivers them intelligence agency and military grade technology solutions, previously unattainable outside of 1st world governments.

  • I had a dynamite meeting with Chris Hare, founder of The Storied Future. Chris has been equally as gracious as Austin Schneider in opening up his playbook on how he's taken his experiences at Microsoft and Amazon to build a successful storytelling business that helps CEOs succeed through strategic narrative. Chris will be a keynote speaker at the Tom Hill Eagle Summit in October. I connected him with Sandy Waggett and he's going to bring an awesome presentation to a group of successful entrepreneurs.

  • I wrapped up my time in the Zoka/Kirkland area with a $33 parking ticket on the car my good friend, Shon Albert, let me borrow. But hey, you can't win 'em all! (I'm going to pay it, Shon...settle down)

So, you can see that Zoka Coffee is more than just a building to me.... Oh, and great friendly service there!



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