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-You've started this from-- at night, from literally 9:30 at night til 4:00 in the morning. That's when you are free. You are free for about 6 and 1/2 hours a day between those times.
-So if you're watching this and you don't have enough time in your schedule, that's a good time. Did you find yourself cutting out other things to make time for this, too?
-Yes. I was a big tennis player, loved tennis. And I loved to watch TV and just relax at night after my kids went to bed. That was my thing. And so yeah, I had to stop. I definitely for a whole year stopped, for the most part, going to my tennis club. But I didn't care. That's the thing. I didn't care. I didn't even feel like it was a sacrifice. Because I was so driven, I could not not do that.
-You're getting me fired up here.
-Oh, that's exciting.
-Now, Jill, most entrepreneurs that call me looking for help-- I'm a business coach guy-- they'll call me. And they have this big idea. And they want to turn it into reality. And they have very little time, and even less money. You're saying, hey, if you don't have enough-- would you say to the entrepreneur, if you don't have time, just stay up all night? Is this your advice?
-Yeah, no. I would say it's very unhealthy. Because I aged a lot for that year.
CLAY CLARK: Are you 22 now?
-Yeah, well, I'm 21.
CLAY CLARK: OK, all right.
-So no, I wouldn't-- here's the thing. If there's something that you're in love with, whether it's a human, whether it's a sport, or whether it's a hobby, you are going to find the time to do with it. Because you are going to make time for something else. It is just a fact.
So if you really, really love sleeping-- you can't survive without sleep-- then you are going to find time in the day if you really want it that bad. Or if it's just not that time right then, then there will be a time that you can find the time. But I truly believe that if that is your passion and you want to make it work, then you will find the time.
-I 100% agree with this. You're getting me pumped here. Now, a lot of entrepreneurs and potential entrepreneurs, these guys, they'll have this great idea. I know I started my DJ business-- I'm in my dorm room. And I'm like, I'm going to blow up the wedding entertainment industry. I'm going to build this big, old DJ entertainment business. But I'm cash-strapped. I'm idea-rich, very little money.
That's usually how it works. You have a ton of ideas, very little money. And then the people who have a ton of money have very little time. And so it's this weird thing. But you have this big idea, very little money, a lot of time. Where did you get the money to really start developing the idea? Did you pull money out of savings? Did you have a big garage sale? Where did you get the money to get going?
-What I did is I took $250. And I went online and bought materials that I needed to make my first cuff.
-$250. Actually, I took it from my husband. But it's my money, too.
-Yeah. I bought some leather. I bought some dye. I bought some materials to stamp. And seriously, I spent $250. And so I started making them and then gave it to somebody. And it was a girl that worked at Saks. And when she started wearing it, she said, I know 20 girls here that would want to buy one.
-I said, well, this is a hobby. I'm not putting a price on it. It's just a hobby. And she said, you have to put some kind of price on it. And I didn't even know at that point-- I've learned-- how to even judge your time, or even cost or materials. I was just like, OK, $38 sounds good.
And so they said, well, let's have a party for you. And we'll invite a bunch of people. I'm like, oh, I don't want to do parties. This is a hobby. So she said, no, let's have a party. And just bring all the cuffs that you've made so far. And so 100 people came. And everybody bought one or two cuffs. So I went home with a sizable amount of cash that I had never expected. That was sort of how it funded starting--
-And I just want to get specific on it for a second because I think a lot of men and women who watch this maybe get a little bit like-- the idea, you had roughly $38.
JILL DONOVAN: Yeah.
-And you sold 25 of them.
-I sold like 150 to 200 of them.
CLAY CLARK: Whoa.
-Yeah, at the party I sold like 150, yeah.
-And I remember the feeling when I first DJed my first show, and I got $5 a head for any kid that came to the middle school dance after the first couple hundred kids.
JILL DONOVAN: That's a big deal.
-I had an agreement with the counselor. And because it's a school dance, we never had more than a couple hundred kids. So I was like, anybody over 200, I'll keep $5. And I remember going home with-- I was like 16-- with like $1,000 and being like, this is the most money anyone's ever had!
-Did it feel rewarding, though, and validating-- not so much the money, but that people would pay for your idea that you stayed up all night making?
-It felt really, really humbling. Because it was hard, and then I thought, they feel sorry for me, all these people that are coming. And then I was like, well, if they felt sorry for me, they'd buy one, not two. So it still is very humbling when anybody buys one. And that it's not just the one, it just feels so-- if I even see anybody of my friends out there wearing it, I always think, well, they just thought they were going to see me. And that's why-- so it still is just very-- it's so touching to me to see people. But this night in particular, when that many people bought it, and I went home with, I don't know, thousands of dollars.
And because I was an accounting major, I never kept track of how much I was spending and how much I was making, because it, you know, just kind of came in and then went out, until my husband realized that's how I was accounting.
-Well, I think we all learn from either mentors or mistakes.
JILL DONOVAN: Yes. Mistakes here.
-And so I think some of the stuff on Thrive, when you get into some of the costing, I think it will-- I hope people can learn from our mistakes. Now Napoleon Hill is a success author that I'm a huge Kool-Aid drinker of. He wrote Think and Grow Rich, which is probably the best selling self-help book of all time. And he says, "First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans," as you mentioned, "then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination."
However, it seems like every day when I get calls and e-mails from entrepreneurs, they have these big ideas for these great products. They say, I'm going to make brownies that are going to change the world. I'm going to start making fudge. I had a lady the other day email me and she goes, I'm going to start an event-planning business that's going to change-- it's going to make it an experience-- it's going to be everything. And yet, when I meet them-- nothing wrong against the people, we all start somewhere-- there's very little organization. And so to help these people, and to help people who are in that boat-- I know I used to be this idea factory with no organization-- can you kind of walk me through how you stay organized, or how you stayed organized during the big idea phase. Because I know you had to get an idea for a new cuff, or a new product. How did you stay organized, and how do you stay organized?
-For the first year-- I've been doing this for 2 and 1/2 years-- so for the first year, it was just me. So I had nobody to help me stay organized. And because I have that entrepreneur mind now that was always going in so many different directions, again, it was the paper. It was my pen to the paper. I would never remember it, just thinking about, OK, this idea or that idea. Actually, I think of my brain as like this plate of pennies, and if you put one penny on then the other pennies fall off. So if I had an idea on here and it was from-- you know that game in the arcade where you put a penny in and you try to see how many pennies will come off.
CLAY CLARK: I've spent a fortune on that game.
-I have too. So my brain is like that. It's like this plate of pennies. And if I get an idea last week, if I get 20 emails and 20 new thoughts, well that penny falls off and it may never be recovered again. So unless it's written down-- which for me is huge, huge, huge. So when I first started, I fell in love with this idea of, oh my gosh, I made my first cuff, I'd have so many new ideas. And so I just started writing them all down. And they were not always on the same notepad. It was all over the place, but it was all contained in the same room. So somewhere in that room were all my ideas.
-Somewhere in this great room is where you kept it. You just threw it in that room, and you knew it was that room.
-Yes, and I knew that, eventually, I would organize it. And do some sort of-- which I haven't done that yet, but I'm still working on it.
-I worked, years ago, I can't mention the guy's name, because I don't want to get him in trouble. Or he hasn't given me permission to share this crazy story. But very successful person worth hundreds of millions of dollars. And he has this room like this. It is a crazy room. It's a room where you walk into the room and you're like, is this somebody who's got some psychological disorders? Or is this a genius? It's like Doc Brown from Back to the Future. But he has post-it notes, pictures, ideas, pictures cut out of magazines. And you're like, what are you doing? Well he's an inventor. And he says, well this idea, I can't lose that idea. So I cut it out of the magazine, and I put it on the wall. And it's sort of this bizarre way he collects ideas. But they make sense to him.
-But I think the idea is we need to turn those thoughts into things and have some sort of reminder. Do you keep track of stuff, though? Like when you get an idea right now, if you're driving home and you have an idea, do you put it into your iPhone? Do you email yourself? Do you call yourself and say, self, remember this. What do you do?
-Right now what I do is I email it to myself, but I don't email it to my regular email. I have a special email set up for me that is just for VIP, very important ideas and very important emails that I need to return. Otherwise, it will get lost in the hundreds of emails that come through every day. So my ideas go to that particular email.
-So you set up an email just for your VIP ideas?
JILL DONOVAN: Yes.
-I won't ask for the address. We're moving on.
-OK. So this is a great thing. Now, Jill, how did you go about getting your initial feedback so that you could know whether this idea or this product was, in fact, a crazy idea or destined for greatness? Because a lot of people-- I met a lady the other day. Oh, gosh. I wanted to hug the lady, and then I wanted to cry because I felt so awful.
Her and her husband had taken their whole life savings and had bought a business that is ridiculous, and it was a franchise that they had purchased, and I guess it was a license, not a franchise. There's no way-- I just did the math-- it's not even possible to make a profit, but they just were so enamored with the idea, and I don't think they ran it by anybody. How do you run your ideas by people to see if they were good? What was your process?
-You know, there's two lines of thought on that. One is, OK, get great feedback and wise counsel on whether or not this is a good idea or whether it's even workable, executable, or go with your gut, even regardless of what anybody says, you know it, you know that it's going to be good. And it's finding the balance between the two, because now what I have to do is more this.
CLAY CLARK: What is your preference?
-Really, my preference is going with my gut--
CLAY CLARK: Going with with your gut.
- --and letting it organically happen.
CLAY CLARK: Organically happen.
-Now, I will say, some of the wisdom that has-- or some of the wise advice that I've received on certain things have saved me money, but it has to be filtered, and you have to consider the source, because everybody will want to give you feedback.
-One thing I had heard-- this is a great, just unbelievable line of thought here. There was entrepreneur who told me, he goes, if there's only a million people in the whole world who are kind of like you, and they all like what you do, then you'll be OK.
JILL DONOVAN: Exactly.
-If there's even 100,000 people in the whole world-- there's 350 million Americans-- if only 100,000 think your idea is awesome, then you're good.
JILL DONOVAN: Yeah.
-But if nobody likes it, because you've run it by so many committees that it's just beige and no one really buys into it, then it's worthless to the whole world.
JILL DONOVAN: Yeah.
-So he was like, and I'm talking to the guy and I'm, like, what are you talking about? Because I was just trying to break it out, and he says, well, like rap music. He's like, I don't like rap music, but there's a lot of people that do, and if they ran it by me and then ran it by the people who like rap music, what would we have? It would be like countrified rap music. No one would want that.
-And it was just funny, but he was just-- the idea was trying to find something that identifies with a core base.
-Did you ever show it to anybody at all to get their feedback?
-Did you just like, you worked on it separately?
-I just worked-- and here's the thing-- and I don't even pride myself on having a great sense of style, but I knew what the general public liked already. I knew that, and my main goal was to take what people liked already and make it that much better and to create a product that they didn't even know that they needed yet, that they weren't even aware that they had to have that, that they were going to be obsessed with it.
-So you were trying to improve upon something that was already there--
JILL DONOVAN: Yes.
- --and then make something they didn't even know they needed.
-So, for example, the first product that I came out with was a leather cuff that was customized with your kid's names and their birthdays or your wife's name, anything that you wanted, and that's already out there. A lot of people were doing that. So what I did is, I discovered that is huge. People love customized bracelets or customized necklaces.
I want to take that and do it so much better than is already being done, so it's not like I created-- people have been wearing cuffs and customized things for decades. I just wanted to it so well that they wouldn't even consider looking anywhere else, because that was-- the quality and the uniqueness of it superseded anything else.
-I love it. I love it. Now, I think that's the-- Napoleon Hill writes about inventions, and he says there's basically these-- or he writes about imagination-- and he says there's the synthetic imagination, where you take an idea and improve upon it--
- --and then there's this original imagination, where you take an idea and you just-- like it's, you just came up with the idea to make a light bulb--
- --and out of nowhere, you just can-- so he was talking about for entrepreneurs, as a general rule, synthetic is a much better way to go. If you take something that kind of exists and improve upon it, and it seems like that's what you're doing.
-Yeah. Well, I know that people love jewelry, first of all. I know that people love bracelets, and so if I asked 10 different people if they liked it, then I'm probably going to get five who do, five who don't. It could be a very-- but then it sort of colors what I felt in the first place about it. So initially I just went with my gut. I had this one girl wear it, and because she wore it and all her friends liked it, that was enough for me to go, OK, I have something here.
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