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-So did you have any goals as a high school kid or middle school kid? Did you have any goals at that point? Like, A, when I get older, I want to do this, or was it more-- where were you at there?
-I was in survival mode. It was more of a what's going to happen tonight thing. How am I going to get out of going home tonight? How can I go somewhere else?
-I heard that you actually found a way to turn on the water when the city turned off the water or heat. Is this true, or is this false?
-No, that's true. There is a way to do it.
-Do you need me to show you?
-You want to talk about this off camera? I'm just kidding. All right. Now, after high school, let's go back to, you're maybe 17, 18 years old. What were your goals at that point? Did you have any? Did you start to get some goals in your senior year of high school?
-Yeah. About my junior year is when I started realizing important things. For example, who you surround yourself with is going to make a big impact on your life.
-How did you determine this?
-Well, I hated everybody I surrounded myself with.
-For anybody watching this, if you used to be his friend between the ages of 17 and under, we hope that you're doing well now.
-That's right. That's right. So when we moved to Tulsa, it was a situation where I looked at the people I used to hang around with, and they were really-- they would go drinking. They would do drugs.
And I was like, I don't want that in my life. I want something different. And so I sought out those people who seemed like they have it together.
-And I guess what I'm trying to figure out here is at what point did you have some sort of turning point? How did you-- did you just have an epiphany? Did you hit your head on the toilet seat, and you came up with the idea? What happened?
-So here's basically what happened. I was at a summer camp up in Wisconsin, and I called home because I was real excited about telling my mom some things. And she told me, we're moving tomorrow.
Well, I knew that I was still going to be at that camp for a couple weeks, and I was like, how is this going to work out? And she said, you're going to get on a Greyhound bus. Now, this was before cellphones and all those things. So I had to ride on a 19 hour bus ride that smelled like urine and beer, from White Lake, Wisconsin to Tulsa, Oklahoma.
-That's a prerequisite for the bus. No offence to anyone who rides buses. I've ridden buses. But the urine and-- was it the urine mixture with the cigarette smell that does it for you.
-I think it's because they make the cushions out of old cigarettes.
-[LAUGHS] Recycled urine and cigarettes.
-OK. So you're on the urine machine, driving. And so how is that going to work out with your mom?
-Well, what happened was, first of all, I wasn't-- I thought my mom would be there when I got there, but I was kind of nervous. Is mom going to be at the bus station when I get there? I don't even know if I'm going to the right city.
I didn't do well in school. My parents didn't mandate that I study. In fact, my parents didn't mandate that I showered or brushed my teeth, either. It was-- they were in survival mode as well.
And so I was heading to Tulsa, hoping that she would be there. But during that time, I spent a lot of time thinking about who I used to hang around with. Why do I keep getting in these situations? Why do I keep getting in trouble?
And I said, you know what? I'm going to try something new. I'm moving to a new city, I want to surround myself with those kids that I used to make fun of that would get good grades. I'm going to try hanging out with them and see what happens.
-So you just decided, hey, I'm going to change who I hang around with. I'm going to try something different. Because it's not working the other way.
-That's correct. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
-And I think a lot of people watching this have been doing the same thing over and over. Because I know I did for a long time, until I decided to make some changes. I want to ask you this, here.
Maybe we'll get some B roll footage at your house. Maybe we'll get some B roll footage of you in your incredible Mustang. If you had to describe it just with a verbal bouquet here, how is your life different today than it was back then?
-I don't think you can get any further apart, really. I mean, when it was back then, literally, it was survival mode. It was how are you going to-- what's tonight going to look like? How much fighting is going to happen tonight?
But nowadays, I walk into a very loving environment. Love my kids. As far as I know, they love me. My wife loves me. She thinks I am like-- I mean, what's not to love?
-Well, that's true. I've had a lot of women write in to Thrive, wanting to know if you're available. I just say, look, he's got the ring there, ladies.
-I mean, just look at his ring.
-So. And I've got a smoking hot wife at home. But it's entirely different than it was before. It is what I aspired for.
-When you said smoking hot, does she smoke and she's hot? Or--
-No. That's a prerequisite. No smoking in my house anymore.
-In terms of personal goals, we're talking about achievements. What have been some of the biggest successes in your life up to this point? Go.
-Well, getting married was a big achievement for me, coming from my background that I was in, but other than that, I wanted to have a job that was successful, and I got in with Chick-fil-A. When I first got in with Chick-fil-A, they gave me one of the stores that were-- how should I say-- needed some better performance?
-Like, at the bottom of the barrel, better performance? And that was one of my big goals is, how do I get to a store that'll make enough income to support me and my family well?
-Was being a business owner a big goal for you that you achieved?
-Yes. Yeah. When I was growing up, my dad was not a successful businessmen at all, and so you see all these guys on TVs that are walking around with suits and ties and briefcases. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that they're successful, but they look successful.
-And I was, like, I want to be that guy. Now, I didn't know what that would look like and so, of course, in typical Arthur fashion, we went all the way around before it got to that point.
-Well, I have a question for you here. As far as the business successes you have had at this point-- I want to kind of brag on you for a minute-- but I know you've had two, is it two Guinness Book of World Records-- I mean, two world records you set--
- --for the world's largest--
-And the world's largest sweet tea.
-World's largest sweet tea. Those are two records.
-I also know that most entrepreneurs, according to the Kauffman Foundation research, and then just talking to people I know-- talking to dudes-- they want to make $100,000 a year.
-Do you remember distinctly-- do you remember where you were when you finally made a paycheck that was over $2,000 for a week? Do you remember what that felt like?
-No. Was that an achievement? Did you care? Were you, like, yes! Or were you, like, I don't really care.
-No, I mean--
-Were there any financials benchmarks that you were, like, OK.
-Making a profit in my first store. I remember when I wasn't even making profit. When I first got my first profit check, I was, like, woohoo! I made money. This is awesome.
-Yeah. So it didn't last long. I probably owed it to somebody.
-OK. Now let me ask you this here. I know you're famous for two world records, and you're famous for that, but why do you set these world records?
-The biggest reason?
-What's the deal?
-Because they're fun.
-I am true believer in, if you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong.
-OK. Let me get this, so you're-- how old are you now?
-You're a 4-- so you're like a 37-year-old man at the time-- you're 40 years old at the time-- and you're, like, hey, let's build the world's largest ice tea, because this is going to be fun?
-OK. So it started with the milkshake. So we said, let's-- somebody dared me. I said, I'm going to build the world's largest milkshake, and they said, whatever, you can't do that. I was, like, really? So we built a five-foot tall milkshake.
-You built it right here.
-In Tulsa we built it, and we did it, and then I said, you know what? I'm going to go for Guinness, and so at that point we said, let's build the lemonade, a 9 foot-- a 9-foot, 840--
-Where do you get the lemons? Where do you get the lemons?
-Well, the lemons was the easy part. It was the cup.
-Where do you get-- so let's get into it real quick. Where do you get the lemons, where do you get the cup?
-I got the lemons from Sunkist. Sunkist was gracious enough to provide me 11,000 lemons that we had to cut and squeeze.
-Eleven thousand lemons.
-Eleven thousand lemons. And in typical Arthur fashion, we let our customers do it.
-How did you get the-- you call Sunkist? Hey, I want 11,000 lemons. How do you do that?
-I called Sunkist. I said, look, I'm looking to set a Guinness World Record, and I said, I want to make the world's largest lemonade. And they said, OK. What can we do to help? I'm a true believer that everybody wants to be a part of something big, but a lot of people don't know where to go, how to do it.
-Where did you get the cup?
-Now, the cup was interesting, because Walmart didn't have one, and I know Sam's always has big things, but they didn't have a big cup.
-How tall are we talking?
-OK, 9-foot cup.
-So I'm driving down the road, and I'm thinking about this--
-The actual cup.
-I'm trying to figure out, how am I going to make this giant cup? How am I going to make this giant cup, and so I went and visited a plastics company, and I went and visited a glass company, and I went and visited just a number of companies, and they kept saying, no, no, no.
-There will be a 9-foot cup here somewhere.
-That's right, and so I was driving down the road, and I actually saw a giant fiberglass pool that was kind of on its side, and I looked and thought, well, if they make a hot tub out of fiberglass, and they can make a pool out of fiberglass--
-They could make a cup. They could make a 9-foot cup.
-In fact, they may even have one.
-That's why I think every time I see a pool, I think of a--
-A 9-foot cup?
-Yeah. It's amazing.
-So do I.
-Now, let me ask you this. When did you get the inspiration to write your book? Because you wrote a book, "Dysfunctional Inspiration." When did you get the idea for this?
-My wife for years had said, you have a great story and you need to tell. But when you grow up in that environment and growth up with those two hurdles, you just think that's part of life. You don't really realize it.
First of all, I was like, nobody cares. I mean, I said, nobody cares about my story. They just care if I'm a jerk. And so we started talking about it, and I said, you know what? We're going to go ahead and do it. And as I started writing it, things start unfolding. And so once-- really, I wrote it because I wanted my team members to know that Arthur came from this situation.
I won't do it now because I'm a super-skilled interviewer. But when I read your book, I cried during two different points of it. And it was powerful. Because you don't know-- I know you as the happy-go-lucky guy who's having a good time.
But now I know you've chosen to be happy in spite those things. And I think that's pretty awesome. And I think that anybody watching this, we all have something.
ARTHUR GREENO: Absolutely.
-You had scoliosis as a kid. I stuttered as a kid. Clifton Taulbert, who's one of our Thrive mentors, he's overcome racism and poverty and everything. So everybody has something. But instead of using it as your excuse, you can use it as your motivation to kind of exit out of that world.
And now you're coming back to help people. And I think that's a really neat, neat deal. Now, let me ask you this. As you've experienced more and more successes, why have you become passionate about helping people? Why are you passionate about helping people? Why aren't you just seeing how much money you can spend on things you don't need?
-Well, for one, there's an old saying, it's lonely at the top. Well, I think it's lonely at the top because you're doing it wrong. I think if you're helping somebody get there with you, you're going to have someone to share with. And so I'm all about sharing it with as many people as I can so we cannot have one big party the top.
-I love it. Now, let me ask you this. Many people watching this are going to be struggling right now with some kind of physical pain. Scoliosis, I know you deal with some physical pain, maybe emotional thing. You had an alcoholic mother, a father who completely disappeared when you were 13?
ARTHUR GREENO: Yep.
Didn't see him again until you were 18. For somebody who's dealing with that, how have you been able to recover from that? How have you been able to just move on? Why aren't you stuck, still upset about that?
-Well, I learned at a young age to really look at, what are the benefits of this situation? How can I use this? And so, for example, with my mom was an alcoholic, I didn't choose to get enveloped in it and woe is me.
Instead I said, well, if I want to go to the water park which, in Hawaii, we weren't supervised a whole lot. So me and my friends would go to water park. We'd take the buses all across the island and go do it.
CLAY CLARK: Really?
-And so we were like, how do we do this? Our family doesn't have any money. How are we going to make this happen? And so we would go and pick up all the aluminum cans along the road and then go turn them in and get $30 and then go to the water park.
But it really helped me become independent at a young age. And so I was constant looking at, if I'm going to succeed, I need to figure out how to use this to my advantage.
-What-- I think a lot of people are like, I want to build the world's largest lemonade. Yes. And then they're like, where do I get the lemons? And they'll stop after one or two rejections. And I think the resourcefulness is now like a super power that you have.
ARTHUR GREENO: Heh. Yeah.
-And I think that's neat that you've been able to pick that up.
ARTHUR GREENO: Yeah.
-But final thought as far as for you, for any achievements, is there anything else you can think of that you're like, man, I'm just so proud of this accomplishment-- not in a braggadocious way but something that you look back at go, man, I'm proud of this achievement?
-Well, I'm proud of the fact that, first of all, what I overcame and the fact that I'm able to turn around and take that adversity that I was in and inspire others. I met a mentor at one of the local schools, as well. And one of the things that the counselor had told me, she said, you know what, you have a phenomenal story to start with.
She goes, but the really neat thing is these kids can relate to you. And a lot of mentors come in here and they can't relate to them because they don't have that story. And so it makes me very proud of the fact that I'm able to use that to basically help people achieve their goals.
-Awesome. Well, I appreciate you sharing, man, I really do.
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