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[MUSIC PLAYING] coursera's competition for business model coaching, how to start a business
-Now, at some point in your idea forming phase, you actually had to start the carver. You actually had to do Step One.
DAVID ROBINSON: Right.
-Napoleon Hill, one of my favorite success authors, he says, "The time will never be just right, you must act now."
DAVID ROBINSON: Hm.
-What was the first step when you were learning how to start a business? I mean, you guys had the meeting. You and your wife were talking. You said, yes, we're going to do this. And then do you remember, was it getting the golden shovel and digging a hole? I mean, did you go out to the land and dig--
-No, digging holes was the last thing.
-OK. What was the first thing you did?
-Well, the first step is starting to assemble a team that can help you fulfill your goal. You have a certain expertise. You have a certain excitement and joy that you bring to the table. But there are a lot of pieces that need to come together.
You need community support. You may need financing. There's a lot of things that you're going to need.
So you have to start assembling a team of people that can help you, number one, strategically plan and think through what you're getting ready to do. And then, number two, a team that can actually help you accomplish what you want to do. You need experts in those areas.
If you're going to learn how to start a business, if you're going to start a school, you'd better be the expert in that area. Because you're going to be competing against other people who think they know how to do it. And so that was my step one, assemble a team that has the proper experts, has the proper financing, and the proper planners to accomplish my goal.
-Now, I want to take it back here just one step, because I feel like, again, if someone's watching this, you might go, yeah, well, you're David Robinson. You're 7 feet tall. You won some gold medals.
What am I going to do? I mean, I'm wanting to start a bakery, and I have like $7. And I'm working at Target. How am I going to do this?
Now, I can say, when I started my first business, I didn't have a lot of capital. I didn't have any capital, really. And I thought, well, you know what? I'm just going to go work construction, and I'm going to get capital that way.
And then when I came back, I had the capital needed. But I didn't have a team. And I remember trying to think I'm going to wage war against the world and win by myself.
-And quickly, I found out I'm going to need a little help here.
-And so, I reached out to some college guys. And I said, hey, guys, if I pay x amount, can you help market these events for us, and every time that you book a party, I'll pay you a little commission?
Now, I didn't have any cash, though, Dave. I couldn't pay anybody a salary.
-I just said, hey, dudes, if you book something, I'll pay you a little commission. And I had to make a team without a big budget.
DAVID ROBINSON: Right.
-And so I think these principles apply whether I'm starting a DJ company out of my dorm room, or whether I'm starting a school, we have to build a team of experts and get some financing.
-Or become the expert yourself. George Washington Carver, we go back to him, a great example. He had less than you did.
-Yeah, in my face.
-How does he start his empire? No, he started where he was. He became the expert. He became the expert in botany. He became the expert in painting. He became the expert in creating.
I mean, he makes milk from peanuts. He makes paints. He makes crayons from peanuts. I mean, so he became the expert.
And you can become the expert. You became the expert in your fields. You had to do that. You couldn't afford to go hire the expert.
CLAY CLARK: Yeah.
-And so, that's what it means to start where you are. That's what it means to use what you have. You don't have to go hire the team. Sometimes people will help you because they think your idea is a good idea.
-You can become the expert. You just said that. You can become the expert. To the person watching this, they can become the expert.
-Well, now, with the internet and the access to information we have that is unprecedented, you can become the expert. And sometimes, knowing where people have failed and where people have succeeded, you're in a better position than those people out there doing the job already.
I knew I had an advantage on many of these schools because they were already operating. And some of these schools, public schools, they're tied down by a system. They can't change. They don't have the flexibility.
So I had to look at what are my advantages in being a brand new school? I get to start something. I get to learn from what everybody is doing right now.
So there's a lot of things that you have right now that you can take advantage of. And you can find people that can help you learn. You can find people that can help finance your projects. You can find all kinds of things that you need, if your resourceful enough.
-What tools did you use to stay organized? Because here's something I see a in lot of businesses, OK. A lot of times I'll do a speaking event. And a young man will come up and say-- or a young woman or sometimes it's some guy in their forties or fifties. It's all different ages.
But they'll say, I've always wanted to start a business. How do you do it? And it's a great question. And I can help them.
But sometimes I'll sit down and I notice that they have a Post-it note over here. A sheet of paper with some chicken scratch. And they can't really discern their notes. And then they've got an email over here.
And I say, hey, you need to start to consolidate all your ideas into an organized system. So that you can at least start to improve upon your ideas and organize things.
-I could imagine building a curriculum. You'd almost go crazy. But what sort of tools did you use? I mean, do you use a daytimer and a to-do list? Or how do you keep your ideas organized, Dave?
-Yeah. I mean, you know, I would say for me, I was in a little bit of a different situation. I had an assistant to really help me. So I know where my weaknesses are. I'm not the most organized person. And so I got an assistant.
It could be your wife. It could be someone that's much more organized than you to put all of this stuff together and keep your agenda going. That's a real key.
And our minds aren't made to keep all of this stuff in our heads. We don't remember. We don't keep things prioritized. We don't remember that next week we have to have such and such done. Oh, my taxes need to be done by January. We don't remember those things.
So it's critical that we have some way to keep track of all of the items that need to be taken care of.
-You said the brain is not designed to organize all this. I know you're helping somebody out here. Cause I see a lot of entrepreneurs Dave, who they feel like there's something wrong with them that they can't remember that their taxes are due on the 12th or the 15th. And they have to file this document here and have this meeting.
And it causes almost a level of mental illness when you see an entrepreneur who's got so many ideas in their head, but nothing's written down. Or nothing's organized.
-Well, you've got to think of your mind-- in common days now, you think of your mind as kind of the RAM in a computer. Right? So it's not designed to keep everything that you have. It's designed to kind of shuffle things through to make it quick, right.
So your mind, that's how your mind works. You have this short-term memory that's wonderful. But it's not designed to keep everything in there. It's designed hey, what's most efficient? What do I need to remember right now? But then when it gets overloaded, things just kind of slip out of the back. There's not enough room.
We don't have the capacity to remember everything. So yeah. I mean, when we write things down, it increases our long-term memory dramatically. And as long as you have this, you're going to remember it.
So I think that's a critical part. And we can't think we're Superman. If you go to any great business-- I go to business meetings all the time now with all of these high-profile private equity firms. Every single meeting, every single person that comes in that room, I don't care who it is, some in that room with a pad and a pen. Every single time. And they're taking notes on the meeting.
And these are some of the smartest people that I know. But they're taking notes every meeting.
-There is a study I read. And I cannot remember where I read it, so I'm just going to have to make some general statement here. But it was talking about the retention of knowledge of executives versus everybody else. And it was talking about executives know that they have to retain information. So they are the best note takers.
And the average person doesn't take notes.
-So the average person will show up at a meeting or church, and they'll just kind of, OK. And then you ask them after the conference, the seminar, the church, whatever it was. The meeting. What'd you get out of it?
And they'll say, some things. I got some good ideas. But there's no action items. There's nothing written down. There's no--
But executives are the best. And I love that you just said, every one of these meetings you go to, somebody's writing stuff down.
-All of them are writing stuff down.
-And this is at the highest level. These are smart, smart people. So if the smart people have to write things down, think about us normal people. We really need to write things down.
We really need to keep track of what's going on. We forget what people just told us. We forget that we were supposed to call so-and-so.
We forget that we're supposed to follow up on this or that. We forgot what that guy said in the meeting. Who was I supposed to call? What was supposed to happen? And we forgot what he promised when we talked.
So those are things that are really critical that we cannot let slip through the cracks, especially if you're starting a business.
-I love it. So every executives write stuff down. That's a deep one there.
-Now, Peter Drucker, the management expert and author, he's credited as being kind of the founder of a lot of modern management techniques. He says plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work. Was creating Carver a lot of hard work there?
-Was it a lot of hard work? Yes, it was a lot of hard work. But I had a lot of people. I think I taxed just about everyone around me to their maximum. So, was it hard? Yeah, absolutely. I know I felt bad at times that I was asking everyone to do so much. But that's what is required if you want to get something started. You must know that it's going to take your time and energy, and it's going to be a great responsibility on your behalf.
CLAY CLARK: This is sort of a yes/no power question session. I want to ask these questions. Just kind of yes or no, here we go.
DAVID ROBINSON: OK, machine gun session.
-Here we go. Had you ever had experience before in writing curriculum?
-Had you ever had experience before overseeing construction?
-No. Oh, yes.
-Oh, you did.
-I did. In the Navy, that was part of my job.
-Oh, so that's one.
-I was a civil engineer, yes.
-OK. Now, have you ever had experience before in raising capital?
-No. OK, so. Did you ever had experience building an endowment, or some sort of--
-Fundraising. OK. So, you had no experience in three out of these four areas, but you didn't let that stop you.
-Right, exactly. when I was ambitious, and excited, and motivated. And I felt like I could find the expertise in those areas.
-I love that attitude, though. That's what we need to do, is start with what we have and just get after it, right?
-And get after it. I mean, failure is a part of the equation. You are going to fail at points. But that does not mean that everything is going to fall apart. You have to be resilient, and you have to be tough. So, those were what I saw as minor obstacles.
-Did you ever feel overwhelmed? I know that you are a pretty confident guy, and you're pretty put together, where you get up early every day and you express your thankfulness to the Lord. But did you feel overwhelmed? Did you ever have like a sleepless night, day, did you ever just feel overwhelmed, where you said, what am I doing? I mean, did you ever just have that moment where you ever felt like, oh, man.
-Yeah. I had a lot of moments like that. I can remember several times, being at a point where I thought, I don't know what the next step is. I don't know what I'm supposed to do. And that's a frustrating point. And I remember many nights where I sat up and I just prayed. I said, Lord, I don't know what the next step is. Everyone keeps looking to me for the answer, and I don't have the answer.
So there will be many times where you find yourself in that particular situation. And you just have to have faith. You have to continue to press on, and like I said, there are people out there who understand, who know, who have the answer. I have to find them. And in my case, I was hoping that the Lord would bring them to my door and have them ring my doorbell. Didn't always happen, but look at where we are now.
We started with a small school with 60 kids, and now we have 320. We have four schools in the city, we're building two more next year, and we'll have 20, and we'll double the number of low-income children going to college every year in the city of San Antonio when we're at full scale.
-Bam! That is awesome. Doubled.
-Amazing. So, yes. many of those times, those questions were answered. And they will be if you're diligent, and you're faithful, and your passion does not waver.
CLAY CLARK: Could you clarify when you say the word diligent, what that means to you? I mean, I know the dictionary definition is just a constant application of effort. But from your perspective, what does that mean to be diligent, when you say that? Because you use that term, and I just want to make sure I'm not missing what you mean there.
-Well, diligence is a focus, and a putting the feet to the asphalt. It is making sure that you're doing all the underlying work necessary to accomplish your goal. So diligence is a real key.
In a real estate deal, diligence is finding out all of the-- why is he selling? What's wrong with the price? What's the market like in the area? Who's building what? Who's my competition? Diligence is finding out the answers to all those things before you buy a property. So diligence is doing all of the little things that are needed to accomplish your goal.
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