Many entrepreneurs and business people lay in bed at night worrying about the future and what might happen. Learn how to overcome fear and how to achieve big things during this powerful training session.Sign Up to Watch
overcome fear video like lynda.com, business mentors
-My name is Clay Clark, and today I'm joined with Dr. Robert Zoellner, one of business mentors and a guy who started with almost nothing to build a successful business empire. And he's going to be teaching us today about how he's successfully overcome fear and worry and more specifically how you and I can overcome fear and worry in the road to starting a successful company. You see, we all encounter fear.
We all encounter worry. We all have doubts. We all have concerns, but yet it's the successful people who are able to overcome that fear and worry. And Dr. Zoellner is going to be teaching us specifically how he was able to look right into the eye of that fear and press on to victory. At Thrive15.com, we believe that knowledge without application is always meaningless.
So as you're watching today's episode, go ahead and ask yourself, self, what do I need to do to specifically apply these principles in my own life and business? Otherwise, today's episode may just prove out to be more meaningless than any songs recorded by Vanilla Ice, other than "Ice Ice Baby" or "Play that Funky Music" because that was a good one, too, right?
Dr. Z, thank you for letting me into your house, here. I like this chair.
-Yeah, they're kind of fun, aren't they? We've got this big great room, and my wife was, uh-- it was a challenge to get furniture that didn't look like it was, you know, in a little tea house or a little dollhouse. You know, I had to get furniture for this big room.
-Well, I love it. I love it. And today, we're talking about how to overcome fear and worry. And you, allegedly, own numerous businesses, and so I want to get into it here so that we can hear a little bit about this. I think the folks at home might want to know kind of your background a little bit. So tell me,as a business mentor how many businesses do you actually own at this point or are you involved in?
-Well, involved in and own are kind of two different things. But I started from scratch. I own five different businesses, but I'm involved in several others. I have some that are really businesses that I don't really count as businesses, but there's five full businesses that I own and operate completely.
-Which was the first one that you started?
-My optometry business-- back in 1991, I started an optometry office, and it's been going ever since.
-Well, I know as a business coach, I've worked with a lot of business owners all across the country, and I hear people that are constantly fearful about starting a business. Or they're fearful about doing what's needed to grow a business, kind of take that leap of faith to start it or to grow it. And I know I used to be scared out of my mind to start a business.
Now, obviously, you've been very successful today. But when you first started that business, if you can go back in time five or six years, but when you go back in time and when you think of when you first started that business, how did you get up the courage to take that initial leap of faith? Or how did you overcome the fear of the idea of starting your own business?
-Well, it's an excellent question. I mean, you know, to say that anybody that's starting a business is not afraid or not scared as we like to say, is wrong. But you just have to take that fear and channel it into the right-- you have to use that motivation and know that nobody's going to care about your business as much as you are. Nobody's on the hook or on the line as much as you are, and you have to fight through that.
You have to be able to say to yourself, I'm going to do whatever it takes to make this business successful. It's my number two rule in business. You want to be the pig at breakfast, not the chicken. You want to be involved. You want to be, I mean, committed and not just involved at breakfast.
-When you started, were you married at the time?
-And did you come from a well-off background where you just had a ridiculous amount of cash to just throw at business ideas?
-I wish I did. No, I started work when I was 13 at a Mexican restaurant washing dishes. I was the dishwasher. I came from a large family. We had very little means, and all that meant is that I was motivated. And I knew that no one was going to hand it to me.
And like a lot of great things about this country, it afforded me the opportunity to go out there and to chase my dream. And if I was going to put hard work into it and apply good, sound principles, then I could be successful. And that's what I did.
-Where did you get the capital to start initially? Did you go to the bank? Did you borrow from friends and family? I mean, because you had to start somewhere.
-Well, I found a business partner that kind of helped. We were in a symbiotic relationship. In other words, I was an optometrist, writing prescriptions, and they were an optical store. And so they helped me a little bit in that initial. But, yeah, I mean, that's the other thing I try to teach young people, is live below your means. You have to have a little bit of a war chest to get started.
And so a lot of it was from just saving my money. For a year, I had worked for other doctors and saved up money. So I had little, small war chest. I look back on it now, and I think, how did I ever do it with that? But, you know, you just have to make sacrifices and understand that there's a goal at the end of it.
-I used to wake up really freaked out all the time that, like, I wasn't going-- I felt like my hair was on fire, that I wasn't going to make it. And I know we had the time where we didn't have air conditioning because I decided we're going to buy yellow page ads. And so we had to just turn off the AC in our apartment. When you were starting, I mean, did you and your wife work in it together as a team?
-Well, my wife has a background in accounting, and she actually helped me keep the books originally. You know, when I first started, it was me and one employee. There was two of us. And we would sit there and part of the day kind of look at each and go, OK, what now? Let's do something. Keep something clean. Let's make some phone calls. Let's do something.
And it's amazing. I remember I came home after seeing just a few patients that first time. I was like, oh, I was so tired. What a busy day. You know, and now it's laughable about that. But I remember one of the early ads. I had three employees, now, and I always did an ad in the yellow pages.
And so I call my wife up, and I said, hey, come on up to the office. I want another pretty girl in the picture to look like I have more employees than what I did. So she ran up there, you know, put on a nice outfit and came up there and got in the picture with us so it looked like I had more employees than I actually did.
-Were you scared out of your mind at any point? Were you ever worried that you weren't going to pay the bills?
-You know, I mean there's always a little bit of that. But I have always-- and I'm an optimist optometrist. I'm an optimistic optometrist.
-Wow I'm going to diagram that out.
-But the thing about is you can't worry too much about it, you just got to get in there and work. You you've just got to make it happen. You've got to do whatever it takes to make something happen. I was talking to someone the other day and they were just bemoaning the fact that their business wasn't doing well. And I said, well are you open on Saturdays? And they're like, well, no I want to go fill in the blank. That's my golf day. I go, well, your competitors are open on Saturday. Do you have any late night evenings available? No I want to get home. And I'm going, well OK, and you wonder why you're maybe not being successful. It's doing the things, whatever it takes.
-Well Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the late president, he said that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. And I find as and entrepreneur sometimes, we get scared, but if you can take that nervous energy, like you said, and kind of put it into activity. How many hours of activity where you devoting to your practice when you first started? Were you open four days a week? Five days a week? Six days?
-I think when I started off, six days a week. Then I went quickly to seven days a week. And unless I was asleep, I was working.
-You were open seven days a week?
-You were there seven days a week?
-And what time did you wake up every day?
-Well, I mean, it kind of depends. My brain and my creative juices, I'm more of a late night owl.
-So, really, for me it was how late I stayed up working and planning and scheming, if you will. And so for me, I mean, the office opened at 9:00 and I would try to get there by 8:00 And so that means getting up every day by seven-ish. So for me, I mean, most of my stuff was done when the owl is out.
-But you're working 8:00 in the morning, at that point, to maybe like midnight?
-Seven days a week?
-I didn't see patients until then, but when I say "working," a little play on words there, I mean that I was always thinking about the business. I was always planning the next move. I was always clocked in. When you own a business, you're never off. You know that.
-Yeah, yeah. Well I think that's the big difference, though, when you jump out of-- Reid Hoffman, this is the guy who started LinkedIn. He says, entrepreneurship is jumping off a cliff and assembling a plane on the way down.
-Did you ever feel like you were jumping off a cliff?
-Well, you do at times, but then what you do is you get those hang gliding things and you jump off of it and you do it purposefully. And you're floating you're going, this is cool. You know, I mean, you just have to take all those scenarios, all those things, and turn them into a positive spin. For instance, after we got busier, I had a patient come up to me. She was visibly upset. She caught me in the hallway, and she's looked at me and she said, you're just the McDonald's of eye care.
-Oh, the McDonald's of eye care.
-Yes, I said, well thank you very much. And she looked at me like I meant that as a-- I said, well, let's look at it. McDonald's opens up a new store every 12 hours some where around the world. Everywhere you go, the Big Mac and the fries are the same. And it's clean. Who doesn't stop for the restroom?
-We do. We stop at McDonald's.
-Absolutely. So I said, listen. If I could just have a portion of the stores they opened up and be half as successful as them. I thank you very much for that. I gave her a little hug and walked on. And I could tell she was bewildered. But just like that, you took what was meant to be a negative and just flipped into a positive. You're jumping off the cliff and you're thinking this is bad, next thing you know, you're hang gliding down the--
-I'm going to ask you this here. Do horrible things ever happened in your companies today?
-OK. Here's an example. Maybe you can help me through this. I remember when I was starting my DJ company. Everything's going good, things are taking off. And one day we go out in the parking lot-- we have a home based office-- and I said, hey where's the trailer? And they said, it's on the back of the van. Well, did we leave it somewhere? No, I would know if we left it somewhere. Someone cut the lock there, it looks like. And then they found out all this equipment was stolen. And I remember that vividly going, oh my gosh, a third of our equipment is gone.
And then I had that moment where I started to freak out. And I had to kind of pull it all in and call the insurance company while trying to order enough equipment. Because it was like a Wednesday. To get all the equipment in time to go out and deliver the entertainment services we promised our customers. We were a wedding entertainment company. I had to buy the equipment, talk to the insurance company, manage staff. And I thought there was a lot of those moments that there were defining moments for me where if I would have caved in, I probably wouldn't have been as successful as we were. Did you ever nave any freak out moments like that where you're like, oh my gosh?
-Absolutely. Absolutely. We've been broken into, we've been vandalized, we've had bad things happen. The first time you're served a lawsuit, that'll make you have a couple of us sleepless nights. And then you realize oh wait, for $69 anybody can sue anybody about anything. I've got a legal team to take care of this. We're going to walk through this one step at a time. And they can't eat you.
-I want to bring this up, because I think there's people watching this right now who are dealing with worry when it comes to lawsuits.
-One of my good friends. And he's a "Thrive" mentor-- he wouldn't mind me saying-- we have Arthur Greeno. He runs the Chick-Fil-A's. He and I were joking about how you just can't own a business without being sued at some point. And if you own multiple ones, you're going to get sued constantly. For somebody who's watching this, who's being sued for the first time, what kind of advice would you give this man or woman?
-I mean, obviously, there's professionals. When your car is broke, you take it to a mechanic. When you get sued, you get some attorneys on your team. You need to make sure that you listen to the legal team, that you look around to make sure you get the best that you can afford. And follow their advice. That's the biggest thing that can happen. I'm in a lawsuit right now, and my attorneys the other day, I met with them, and they were like, I can't believe this. And I said, what? And they said, you've done everything we've told you to do. None of our clients do that.
And I'm like, well, and then I said, how's it going to look? They said, it's no big deal. It's just more of a prevalence thing. But you've still done everything we've told you to do. So get good help, listen to them, follow their instructions. And try-- and I know it's easy, but try not to let it wreck your life. Try not to let it steal the joy of all the wonderful things going on in your life from you. And that's what sometimes they do. They just make people just panic, you know?
-I don't know if I've become extremely dumb or numb over time, but kind of how I process lawsuits now is-- Napoleon Hill, the success author I'm into, he says that behind every failure, there's a seed of an equivalent benefit. And I've almost found myself cheering for them. I'm like, oh, I'm going to learn something good here! I have to say it, though, kind of trick myself.
-Do you have a method that you do now when something bad happens? Do you just kind of-- are you one of those guys who just immediately goes into prayer? Or are you the guy that has to go hit a golf ball? Do you have a move when the immediacy of a bad thing happens?
-That's an excellent question. I'm trying to think. I mean, I think what I do is that I try to gather myself. The one thing about being a business owner is now I have a lot of employees, and they're all looking to me. And so when bad things happen, a lot of them look to me to try to figure out how they're going to react. And it's kind of like the captain of a ship. If he's real panicky, and he's like, [INAUDIBLE], everybody, I mean, they're going to start jumping off the ship, you know? So I think for me and being a leader-- and owning a business is all about leadership-- you have to remain calm. And even though inside you may be doing flips, the first thing is you have to come to a place of calmness.
-So you're kind of like a duck where underneath the water you might be paddling, but above--
- --looking pretty good. [INAUDIBLE] ducks out there in the back. But I think that's-- for me, it's sit back, think about it before you react, stay calm, and then try to have the appropriate responses from that. When bad stuff happens, and when that worry starts to come up and you-- you know, you have to try to fight down those impulses. And yeah, I mean, prayer and putting it into perspective.
You know, we all have a high watermark in our life. In other words, we always have that, what's the worst thing that's happened to you? OK? And a lot of times what I'll do is I'll go, OK. It's not as bad as that. And I survived that.
-And I flourished, even though that happened. So I'm going to be OK. I'm going to get through this.
-So you're kind of the-- [INAUDIBLE]. I find myself doing that a lot. One of my best friends died in college, and my dad was battling cancer. And sometimes I just compare stuff to that. I'm like, well, it's not as bad as this. That seems to sustain me. Do you ever go home and talk to your wife about these things? Or do you try to not bring it home?
-It depends. It depends. Sometimes I do it just to kind of protect her, so she's not having to worry about it. I think, as a general rule of thumb, in my experiences at least, my wife definitely has a little bit more of that worry gene in her than I do. Now my wife, as soon as she tells me something, I get fired up about it, or I get-- now it's on my plate. She goes, oh, good! I don't have to worry about it now.
But at some point, we try to protect our wives to some degree. And we don't tell them everything. But yet, there are a lot of the bad stuff that happens that I need to talk to her about, and then we can process it together.
Send us your email address, and our team of elite minds will get right on it.