May is Conscious Capitalism Month, and in keeping with that theme, Rule Breaker Investing podcast host — and Motley Fool co-founder — David Gardner recently went hunting for some particularly thoughtful entrepreneurs whose experiences would carry some lessons and entertainment value for us all.
The three he found — Suzy Batiz, Brian Schultz, and Miki Agrawal — certainly fit that bill.Batiz is the founder and CEO of Poo-Pourri and the inventor of its eponymous product; Schultz founded the Studio Movie Grill, a chain that merges movie theaters and restaurants; and Agrawal is a noteworthy author and serial social entrepreneur.
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on May 12, 2018.
David Gardner: Welcome back to Rule Breaker Investing! It is Conscious Capitalism Month, the month of May, here, for this podcast. Throughout the month I’ve been talking about it — we’ll continue to do so — featuring elements of Conscious Capitalism or the conference that happened in Dallas earlier this month. So, yes, I have yet another extra for you on a May weekend. I’m delighted that you’re spending some time with me.
It might be Saturday morning you’re hearing this hot off the wires. Wherever you download podcasts, or maybe you’re catching it on Sunday, or maybe you’re catching this months later, I know you’re going to enjoy this conversation.
For this Rule Breakers extra, let me describe how it came about. A great friend of The Fool named Audrey Robertson, who does some contract work for us and is a longtime employee, formerly, of The Container Store, was at the Conscious Capitalism Summit with me in Dallas. I said to Audrey, “Audrey, can you just find me a few interesting people? Some entrepreneurs? And just bring them in and let’s just talk to them.”
Audrey did a good job of that. I mean, it’s kind of a great place to find entrepreneurs. Because of the Conscious Capitalism Summit, there were about 800 attendees earlier this month in Dallas. A lot of them entrepreneurs. Some very successful and interesting people just wheeling around the hallway. You could catch them after the conference for a drink. It’s just a great opportunity to meet interesting people. That’s why I’m psyched to share this conversation with you.
What we’re going to enjoy, together, is three entrepreneurs [Suzy Batiz, Brian Schultz, and Miki Agrawal], and I want to say a little bit about them up front because I don’t formally introduce them during this podcast. We’re just sitting down and talking. So, you should know I introduce them in a certain order, and I’m going to give you their bios right now in the order in which they’ll appear in this conversation.
First up is Suzy Batiz. Now, Suzy is the inventor, founder, and CEO of Poo~Pourri. You may have seen this company’s products. It’s a company that devises and sells fragrant sprays for — you betcha — toilets. Suzy is an expert in entrepreneurial intuition. She’s a serial entrepreneur. She created an exponentially growing enterprise worth $300 million. That’s her company Poo~Pourri, and she did that without borrowing a dime or enlisting a single investor.
Today Suzy often will be teaching entrepreneurs — that’s something she did at the conference — the feminine approach to business. How to harness intuition, body intelligence, and creative energy to achieve, in her words, a natural flow state of success. That’s Suzy.
And then next joining in the conversation is Brian Schultz. Now, years ago while working on a senatorial campaign, Brian Schultz stopped into a combined movie theater and restaurant for a brief respite, and he immediately found his future business. Realizing how revolutionary this combination was, and how he could do a much better job of it, Brian would go on to found Studio Movie Grill.
Today his company makes $200 million a year through 24 theater-restaurants in 10 states, and true to the philosophy of Conscious Capitalism, all the way Schultz has emphasized that [and I quote], “The more you give, the more you get.”
And finally, we’re then joined by Miki Agrawal. Now, Miki is a serial social entrepreneur. She was the recipient of the Tribeca Film Festival’s Disruptive Innovation Award. She was named 2017 Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, and she was one of Inc. Magazine’s Most Impressive Women Entrepreneurs of 2016. She made the cover of Entrepreneur Magazine that year, as well.
Since she’s a serial entrepreneur, I can’t possibly go over the different things that she started. You’ll hear her talk about a few of them. I do note, for example, if you’re a fan of the farm-to-table alternative pizza concept called WILD [for example, they have three locations in New York City and one in Guatemala]. More on the way. Eatdrinkwild.com. That’s her business.
She also wrote a book through HarperCollins published a few years ago, and the title of that book I won’t say here, because she’ll say it on the podcast, but I should let you know that the title could slightly endanger my very proud label of “clean lyrics” on iTunes, because the title of her book contains a bad word. It’s not a horrible word. You’ll hear her use it. You can certainly briefly cover your ears, or those of your children if you’re listening together if a word that has four letters and starts with the letters “sh” is not to your liking.
Just realize that was her book. It’s a good book through HarperCollins. She does have a second book she mentions coming out this fall called, DISRUPT-HER. It’s kind of like “disrupter,” but DISRUPT-HER.
Enough of that. Let’s get started.
Gardner: And now I’m joined by… Well, actually I have a trio of entrepreneurs and great actors, not just in the business world but in the world of life, and we’re just going to bounce it around, but for each of you, just a quick, rapid-fire format where I want to hear your story. And Suzy Batiz, I’d like to start with you.
Suzy Batiz: We do have to say that Miki’s here with me, and we both really specialize in lower chakra. We are both root chakra kind of butt people. Just got to say that.
Gardner: Got it.
Miki Agrawal: The fact that there’s two entrepreneurs in the poop space…
Brian Schultz: Exactly!
Agrawal: Sitting right here.
Batiz: We are awesome.
Agrawal: We’re definitely in the poop space.
Gardner: I’m going to start by asking what your company is.
Batiz: My company is Poo~Pourri.
Gardner: And when did you start?
Batiz: I started about 12 years ago.
Gardner: How did it start?
Batiz: Well, I was at a dinner party and my brother-in-law said, “Can odor be trapped?” I had this “aha” moment, and I remember going, “Hold on! I can do that,” because I worked with oils. And I thought, “Oh, oil floats on water. I can figure out how to do this.” It took me about a year to formulate it and create the formula, but I did it.
Gardner: And Suzy, roughly how many bottles of Poo~Pourri did you sell over the last 12 months?
Batiz: Oh, I have no idea. I know I’ve sold about 50-60 million bottles so far.
Gardner: That is just amazing.
Batiz: There are people that know that.
Gardner: Yes, OK. You are the CEO, though, right? So, clearly, you’re just doing a great job knowing that.
Batiz: I should know. I should know.
Gardner: Suzy, I want you to brag about something, and then I’d like for you to talk about a challenge or mistake that you’ve made. It’s kind of a standard question for a CEO.
Batiz: I like to brag about the viral video that I had in… I don’t know. It was four years ago. In 2014, I think. Actually, I created a video that was not supposed to go viral and it did. At that point, we were only doing $8 million a year. We were a tiny company. Within two weeks we had sold all of our inventory and we were $4 million in backorder.
Gardner: That is unbelievable.
Batiz: Like it was pretty crazy.
Gardner: Were you expecting it to go viral?
Batiz: Oh, no! No way. Everybody kept telling me a consumer goods product cannot have a viral video. It doesn’t happen. Do not expect it. I’m like, “OK, great. Let’s just get online and test.” And then what happened is it got shared online, and then one morning BuzzFeed got it. Huffington Post. Everybody and it was just done.
Gardner: And for those who have not seen it [clearly not many, because it went viral], can you give the 10-second plot summary?
Batiz: Yes. It’s called, Girls Don’t Poop, and Bethany, our redhead English girl is in a toilet. She kicks open the door and she says, “You’re not going to believe the mother lode that I just dropped in here, much alone the creamy behemoth I just burst from my cavernous bowels.”
I could keep going on, but you can watch it online. I think that video’s had over 200 million views on Facebookand YouTube.
Gardner: Do you have people asking you, “I’m an entrepreneur. How do I make a viral video?”
Batiz: Yeah, and I tell them you don’t know. There are some formulas that you can do, and one of them is it has to be hilarious as hell. It has to be shocking. I don’t particularly make viral videos. I make videos that convert. I make videos that are meant to sell a product, explain a product, and demonstrate it, and then now. Buy now!
I even made a music video called, Imagine Where You Can Go. I said, “Has anybody ever made a music video with a blatant call to action?” People said no. I’m like, “Let’s do it.” So, we did. Have you seen it?
Schultz: Yes, I have.
Batiz: It’s great.
Batiz: It was I just wanted to do it, so we made a whole music video, and it was like, “Buy now! Click here!”
Gardner: Wonderful. And then before we move on to Brian, let me ask you. What is a hope that you have? What is a hope for your business or yourself thinking of the future?
Batiz: Well, my mentor tells me that I’m a hope addict. It’s really kind of funny, because hope is like my drug of choice, so I hope for a lot. I hope sometimes to the point of denial, which is why it can be an issue.
Gardner: You have a lot of things you could give as an answer to this question.
Batiz: I have a lot of things. But my overall wish in the world is that everybody understood that you can create any reality that you want. Like you really can make anything you want come true. That’s it. So, that’s my hope. If everybody knew that, we’d all be creating and be really happy.
Gardner: That is awesome!
Schultz: Really great!
Gardner: That is awesome!
Schultz: Absolutely awesome!
Gardner: We’re leaving that one right there.
Schultz: Yeah, just cut it right there. Cut the mic.
Gardner: Next we’re shifting to Brian Schultz. Brian, it’s great to have you here. Thank you!
Schultz: Thank you! It’s great to be here.
Batiz: What’s your company?
Schultz: Studio Movie Grill. We created the space of in-theater dining where you can eat and watch a movie at the same time.
Gardner: And how did that start?
Schultz: It started through a lot of different iterations. We started with one screen of sub-run movies, some warm beer, and some frozen chicken tenders. It kind of evolved into a full-service concept with luxury recliners and laser projectors, and 13 million guests a year. It’s been a fun journey. As a matter of fact, [in September I’m about to celebrate] 25 years of this journey. I’m a little bit older than y’all.
Gardner: That is awesome, Brian. Where was your first theater?
Schultz: The first theater was right here in Dallas, Texas on Greenville Avenue. An old, historic 1948 theater which is known for having the first-ever cartoon of Bugs Bunny right on the wall on the mural. It’s historic.
Gardner: Awesome! And where are you now that you’ve grown 25 years later?
Schultz: Now we’re in 10 states. We’re in 30 locations and just kind of spreading out mostly to communities that need a little shot in the arm and that really want great entertainment, because we get to be the place where the community takes us as a platform for showing content. Our purpose is, “Opening hearts and minds one story at a time.”
Gardner: And what is the consumer promise, Brian? If I’m a prospect [I’ve not yet been to Studio Movie Grill], what’s my experience going to be like?
Schultz: First I’d call you a guest, so I’d say it’s hospitality. On the lowest level you would be using us as a traditional movie theater. But really, it’s the hospitality of getting dinner drinks and a movie in a conscious environment with people that are really caring for you all at the same time, and then you get this community involvement at Studio Movie Grill. Just kind of gets a different guest that really engages with the movie, whether you’re laughing, crying, or just being scared. It’s kind of a neat environment that we set up, so it’s really communal, almost like being in your own living room with a really comfortable chair and just a killer, killer sounding picture.
Gardner: That’s wonderful. About a year ago on this podcast I had Danny Meyer on of Shake Shackfame, etc.
Schultz: I’m a big fan.
Gardner: I bet you’re a big fan. I was thinking — that’s what I’m hooking in here — I remember him saying that hospitality, by his definition, is when you walk into a place and you feel like those that are there are serving you. They’re for you — that scent — and I can see it’s clearly laced right into Brian Shultz’s business.
Schultz: Yes, it’s a big part of what we do. This Conscious Capitalism model has really helped us, so that we can really hit all the stakeholders, including our vendors, our guests. All our team members. And then the investors and community.
The community was the trickiest one, interestingly enough, because it started with me really advocating content that I was really into and really cared about; and now it’s evolved into creating the conditions so any community, any individual guest, can host an event through crowdsourcing or whatnot and get a message across, opening people’s hearts and minds. That’s actually the thing that I’m probably the most proud of, and my hope is that we can do it for more and more people across the country.
Gardner: You already anticipated my next question, which is what is a hope that you have?
Schultz: I was going to say. It’s not as cool as this lower chakra stuff that we’re going to be talking about later, but at least we’re trying to open things, so you know that’s good.
Gardner: So, we’re hearing from entrepreneurs who have private companies, today. Before we go to Miki; Suzy, Brian, has either of you thought about going public?
Batiz: I haven’t. I’m privately held, I’m debt-free, I’ve never had a loan, and I’ve never had an investor. Maybe I’m a control freak, I don’t know… But I feel really proud that I built the company with just the profits that I made.
Gardner: Remarkable. But you’re not going to share that with investors. You know, one reason people listen to Rule Breaker Investing is they want to hear about a good stock that they could buy, but it sounds like nobody can buy what you have, Suzi.
Schultz: You can buy a great product, though.
Batiz: Not right now. They can buy a great product. Exactly.
Gardner: What about you, Brian?
Schultz: I think we’re on a progression that we think a public exit could be really interesting, because our goal is really spreading this gospel and creating a positive wake in the world; so, the more we can grow across the country, public is one of the choices that we’d love to explore.
Gardner: And now I want to introduce a third voice to the microphone. A third guest. I guess a fourth voice, but I don’t count.
Batiz: I was going to jump in that the chicken nachos… I haven’t been in a Studio Movie for a while. I just don’t watch movies. But guys, those chicken nachos were so good. I remember them.
Schultz: Thanks. It’s actually interesting that you’d pick that one, because it’s one of my recipes.
Batiz: Really! That is so funny.
Schultz: That’s our trash can, so if I’m having a really tough day, that’s a comfort food. Now, we’ve evolved into sushi, and high-end different kinds of products, but we still want to make sure that we have the trash can nachos.
Batiz: Oh, the trash can nachos.
Agrawal: Can’t wait to try it.
Batiz: They’re so good! Like they’re really good.
Schultz: Frozen hot chocolate with Nutella beignets is kind of my favorite combo.
Gardner: [Laughs]. All right. Let’s turn down the lights and start a movie because I want to be served.
Batiz: Exactly. I want some nachos and beignets!
Gardner: My third guest is Miki Agrawal. Miki is a fellow board member of the Conscious Capitalism board of directors. Miki, you and I have gotten to know each other a little bit…
Gardner: I think you got to know my brother Tom maybe a little bit better.
Agrawal: I love you both. And your sister.
Gardner: Who is amazing, Miki.
Agrawal: First of all, she’s gorgeous.
Gardner: That’s kind of you to say. Now, because I do work with Miki, I have a little bio I can share of her and this is just fun to read. This is only a portion of it. Of course, we all have elaborate bios and I’m sure amazing.
Miki is an identical twin, half-Japanese, half-Indian French Canadian; former professional soccer player; graduate of Cornell University; and proud new mama of Hiro Happy. She’s also a serial social entrepreneur. You were on the cover of Entrepreneur Magazine a couple of years ago, Miki, and you’ve received a lot of acclaim for the things that you’ve started. You’re a serial social entrepreneur. Is that an accurate description? That’s your bio.
Agrawal: Yes, and I’m an author, too, actually. I wrote a book called, Do Cool Sh*t, which teaches people how to start businesses and I also have a new book coming out called DISRUPT-HER, which is all about how you can disrupt the status quo and invent whatever you want in your life.
Gardner: Awesome. Each of the other three of us tend to be sort of one-company people. We’re kind of building it up. We’re bootstrapping it. We’re figuring it out. You’re just touching off all kinds of good chaos in the world, Miki. How do you organize your time? What do you single out as your proudest achievement? Help us. You do so much.
Agrawal: I think I have a soft spot in my heart for all of the businesses. I think the restaurant is one of the thankless, craziest businesses in the world, as you know very well. The one thing that I love about it is when I first started in 2005, nobody was talking about gluten-free.
The restaurant is a gluten-free farm-to-table organic pizza concept. At the time nobody was doing gluten-free organic farm-to-table pizza for that matter, so I would have people coming in saying, “I haven’t eaten a pizza in 20 years,” and they would break down and cry. I’ve had people have their first dates in my restaurant and fall in love, and I’ve had people come after they’ve been to City Hall getting married, saying, “This is the restaurant that we love and we wanted to come here right after we got married.”
It’s like those kinds of stories have genuinely kept me going, because the rest of it is so hard. That’s what I love about the restaurant. It really builds community. It’s a place of gathering. You break bread in anyone’s home. The kitchen’s a place to break bread and I just love the food space. Luckily, I have an incredible partner, Walid, who runs the restaurant. I simply could not do it without him. He’s like the incredible operator.
Then from there built a period-proof underwear brand called Thinx. One of the things that happened was when I was running from one restaurant to another, I kept forgetting to change my tampon and pad and would have accidents and leaks. I’d have to run home and change. Interrupt my day. It was really frustrating, and so I created a period-proof underwear. It took four years to create this product. Also, at the same time, eliminate the shame around having a period. In fact, every human being is here because of it, so why have shame around it.
We created a product. You’re here because of it. You’re here because of it. You’re here because of it.
Gardner: All of us.
Agrawal: So, created a new product that was not one of the three feminine hygiene products that were invented in the entire 20th century. We thought this would be a really interesting product. It grew. We’ve sold millions of pairs. Over 25 million units sold to date. I’m very proud to have built that and eliminated shame in the period space.
Through that I also built a pee-proof underwear product that really looks at the urinary incontinence market. Depends, and Poise, and these awful products are making women not feel fully empowered. Wearing diapers and pull-ups again is just not cool, so we’ve created underwear that supports women during that time, as well; which is about one in three women. I just had a baby, and so sometimes when I sneeze, I have to squeeze my legs a little bit, which is normal.
Then, most recently, and what I’m working on [and focusing all my love and attention on now] is a company called TUSHY, which is bringing bidets to America. As you said earlier, I’m half-Japanese and half-Indian. Both cultures grew up with bidets. My family in India and Japan are like, “Americans are barbaric!” Why are we still using dry paper to clean the dirtiest parts of our bodies?
If you think about it, would you use dry paper to clean your dishes? No. Would you use dry paper to clean the rest of your body when you jump in the shower? People would call you crazy if you were like, “Oh, no. My dirty dishes are cleaned with dry paper I’m putting back on the shelf.” It’s crazy. So, we wanted to bring bidets to America and change that conversation. And with the low cost [a bidet attachment is only $69 compared to the Japanese bidets, which are thousands of dollars] which require plumbing and electric. This one doesn’t require plumbing or electric at all.
Schultz: What a weird connection. My mom actually wanted that, so I got that for her as a gift.
Agrawal: No way!
Schultz: But I did not put it together until just now. Wow!
Gardner: I knew we had this podcast to bring this moment.
Schultz: That is like karma!
Agrawal: Wow! That’s so crazy.
Gardner: This is what happens when you create real products in the real world that actually serve real people.
Agrawal: Thank you. I’d also like to add to not go to Tushy.com. It is a porn site. Go to HelloTushy.com.
Batiz: I’ve been there.
Agrawal: We’ve had investors. Like, “I’ve just invested in a company called TUSHY. Let me show you.” It was bad.
Gardner: Miki, I want to ask you the Conscious Capitalism question. How did you find it? How did it find you?
Agrawal: I was invited to speak in 2015…
Schultz: That was a great presentation. It was amazing!
Agrawal: Thank you. And I brought my twin sister Radha to present with me. And right after our talk, John and Walter Robb got up to speak [this was a time where Whole Foods had to lay off 1,500 people or something]. It was the first time in their 30 years of business they had to lay people off, and I remember seeing them just so vulnerable onstage. You see these Fortune 500 CEOs pretty much crying on stage.
And I remember sobbing watching them cry. Talking about how they had to lay people off. Walter was like, “Every time I go to bed, I have to just wake up and look toward the light. I just have to tell myself, ‘Look toward the light.'” I was so in awe by the vulnerability of these grown men who had a $16 billion business and just sharing that. I was like, “I want to be part of that.”
Business is very masculine. It’s very like, duh duh duh. And to feel that vulnerability, I think this is the Conscious Capitalism movement that really supports that. I met Suzy here. I met you, here. Just incredible people.
Schultz: And do you feel that’s starting to evolve and change a little bit? It’s just really interesting, because 62-64% of all college graduates now are women. As I’m seeing through our company of the management rank, more and more. We started off maybe like in the single digits and now we’re sneaking up on maybe 40-50% of female management. It’s really a thing that’s changing pretty dramatically based on education and achievement and focus. Are you seeing that at all?
Agrawal: I think in the entrepreneurial space, women are still not getting invested in. To raise money for my newest company, people were like, “Why are you capable?” And I’m like, “I built the same kind of company just last week.” It really was a challenge to raise money again. There’s a genuine gender-bias study where men are judged on their potential and women are judged on what they’ve done and they have to prove it again. It’s called Prove it Again Gender Bias.
And in business, only 6% of women sit on a decision-making board. With investment companies, only 4% of women are getting invested in. It’s real. Even having built a business of many millions of dollars, it’s still very hard to raise.
Gardner: If that’s true, and I believe Miki’s experience, I was going to say, Suzy, one way around that is you just don’t raise any money at all.
Agrawal: Which is why I’m so impressed by you, Suzy.
Batiz: I did not raise any money. And I get asked a lot about how it feels to be a woman in business. I always say, “I’m a person in business.” And they say, “Well, what if you’re at a table with nine men?” I say, “I’m at a table with nine people.” I don’t get too much into the women-men conversation. I’m very much pro-woman and I’m very much pro-man.
I’ve experienced in my personal relationships being oppressed by choosing a wrong date, but I’ve never really felt that in business myself. But I don’t listen to that. Like, when I walk into the room, I’m not walking into the room as a woman.
Agrawal: I agree with that, for sure. I definitely felt it, but I hear you.
Gardner: Well, we all have different paths, and we come from different places, and so you don’t know.
Batiz: And I don’t think about it. My company is 78% women.
Batiz: I know. I didn’t even think about that until somebody asked what percentage of my company is women. I was like, “Oh, don’t know.” We went to the (unclear: 24:01) like, “Oh, 78%! Who knew?”
Schultz: It’s really interesting. I get to see about 150 films a year… and I can just feel the energy. And it feels like we have this canary in the coal mine because all the stories are significantly changing where there’s female protagonists that aren’t stories based on a love interest.
Agrawal: Fool on!
Schultz: But we started studying a lot of these movies over time. My oldest daughter did a research paper. They went to try to find a film like in the 1970s to the1980s…
Batiz: There’s a term for that. What’s that term?
Schultz: Gender bias? I don’t know.
Agrawal: The term where women only talk with other women in films.
Schultz: Or are looking for a love interest.
Agrawal: The Bechdel Test! The Bechdel Test. Thank you!
Schultz: The Bechdel Test. It was interesting she was writing about that, and as she’s seen the change, it’s empowered her to study filmmaking to really tell stories from a different perspective. It’s so cool to see this wave of change, and not just on the male/ female perspective, but actually inclusion of minorities. I think that fits in our Conscious Capitalism model, as I get to watch a lot of these films that have about a two-year setup to get them to market. I can feel this wave kind of going, and as people watch, it really changes the view.
As a matter of fact, I was watching the Avengers Infinity War.
Gardner: Tens of millions of others just in the first week alone.
Schultz: That is our all-time record attendance. There were these teenage boys that come from an affluent, typical type of background, and seeing all these white boys chanting the (unclear: 25:52) cheer during the movie. Initially, I was annoyed. I’m like, “Why are these teenagers talking?” And then I was literally sobbing. I’m like, “This is exactly what movies can do and this is how our culture can change, by having strong women in strong positions, or characters in film.” These are the archetypes that people look at. Whatever it is might be in your book, it might be in the story, or it might just be a great person. That’s what our Conscious Capitalism I hope aspires to, is that change in the world in a positive way.
Agrawal: That and Wonder Woman.
Schultz: We love Wonder Woman.
Gardner: Well, the clock keeps pushing forward. We have a conference that we’re all part of and we probably need to get back to that. But before we finish up, I want to thank Suzy Batiz, Brian Schultz, and Miki Agrawal for joining us on Rule Breaker Investing, for the wisdom that you’re sharing, and for the good work that you’re doing in the world, and I want to ask you.
Can we just get one more gem of thinking from each of you before we go? We do have a lot of entrepreneurs who listen and invest with Rule Breaker Investing. You’re speaking to brothers and sisters in Startupville. I know that you have far more bits of advice than the one I’m going to ask you for. I feel like I kept going to Suzy first. Let’s go to Miki and flip it back around the table with a last in, first out approach, because we’re all businesspeople, too. Miki, what do you got?
Agrawal: I think my favorite saying that I share with everyone, including myself, is “iteration is perfection and stagnation is death.” The idea behind that is it’s the iterative process that’s perfect. It’s not about being perfect. It’s like once you’ve opened doors to your restaurant, you’re done. No, no. You have to keep going. You have to keep iterating. You have to keep adjusting. You have to keep listening and you have to keep figuring it out. And the ones who literally stop are the ones who die. They say that only less than 10% of Fortune 500 companies from 1955 are left today. It’s all about making those quick adjustments and just minor adjustments constantly.
Gardner: Awesome. Brian?
Schultz: Maybe I’ll take an investing perspective. As an investor, I’ve chosen to invest in people and products that really matter and make a difference. I’ve found that it’s just starting to really take off at the companies that have a great culture and do something that really matters in the world. [They] actually have the best returns, as well.
Gardner: I agree with you, although I don’t necessarily think that’s just starting and taking off, Brian, because looking backward you think about Raj Sisodia’s book, Firms of Endearment. I think this is possibly a timeless truth that maybe is only becoming more emergent, now, because more of us care and notice, and build that way as each of you has.
Schultz: And I want to appreciate you for bringing that to the forefront. It’s been awesome.
Gardner: Thanks a lot. I don’t think the world needed me to do that. It’s one of those things. The universe is conspiring to make all these great things happen, but I totally agree with your point and thank you, Brian. Suzy?
Batiz: I’ve never uttered this before in an interview or podcast, but it suddenly just popped in. I think it’s based on what we were talking about earlier. The advice that I have for someone like an entrepreneur start-up is keep blinders on.
Keep people around you that are positive. That believe in you. Like the people that are trying to oppress you or the negative naysayers — just really block them out. Literally keep blinders on like a horse, where they don’t matter. Don’t listen to them, because that’s what you’re going to need. You’re going to need that positive energy and positive spirit to just move forward. So, surround yourself by people that love you. People that believe in you. And that’s it.
Gardner: I love it! One of my favorite lines — and I’ve delivered it many times before in the two-and-a-half years of this podcast. Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can, or whether you think you cannot, you’re right.” I know you each know that, and obviously I happen to be surrounded by optimists because I do believe that optimism is a creative force. It’s not just a state of mind or an emotion. So, indeed, when you do believe [if it takes blinders sometimes to do it, Suzy], you end up, as you said earlier, anything’s possible. And you’ve demonstrated that.
Batiz: I built my business during 2008. It was one of the worst times in our economy. I remember people used to tell me, “Oh, my God, look what’s happening.” I don’t watch the news. I haven’t watched the news in 15 years. I really keep blinders on, literally. I don’t read any news feeds…
Batiz: My news is The Optimist Daily. And people tell me enough, so I get enough information. But I remember people would say, “Look! Look what’s going on! Look what’s happening in the financial world. Everything’s crashing. It’s burning.” My husband would be driving and would say, “Look! Look at that business. You’ve got to watch out.” People that were advisors would call me.
What I would always come back to is my reality is I’m abundant. I see what you’re talking about, but I’m profitable and I’m making money, so I would never let that fear get to me. I really kept blinders on. You know what? I hear what you’re saying. I see what you’re talking about.
Agrawal: What if you weren’t profitable?
Batiz: Then that would have been a different story. But I was. That’s what I mean. If you are profitable, keep those blinders on, dude, because what’s happening in the rest of the world or around you doesn’t necessarily have to affect you.
Gardner: All right. We’re going to leave it right there.
Gardner: And, in fact, we did leave it right there, but what fun I had with those three. An epic conference overall, and a brief reflection about that. I think some of my favorite people in business are often the founders of companies. The entrepreneurs. The people who had a dream and acted on it and made it happen. They usually have really bright personalities.
So, if you’ve got some entrepreneurs in your life [you may well be one yourself], we’re all, aren’t we, at heart entrepreneurs, and you know how fun it is to spend time with people who have really been there and done that and created real value for others in this world through businesses that in consciously capitalistic terms we say, “Elevate humanity. Businesses that really elevate humanity.” It was really fun for me to share that conversation with you.
That’s it for our weekend extra. Just a reminder. Coming up this week, the very next Rule Breaker Investing will be a continuation, the latest installment of my Great Quotes, Vol. X series. This will be Great Quotes Vol. 8. In past components of the series I’ve done the all Warren Buffett quotes edition. Often, I just pull some of my favorites without a theme, but this week, because it’s Conscious Capitalism Month, I’m going to be pulling lines that I found at the Conscious Capitalism Conference. Some great quotes for you. Some challenges to your thinking. Some inspirational quotes. I look forward to sharing that with you this coming Wednesday. In the meantime, Fool on!
As always, people on this program may have interest in the stocks they talk about, and The Motley Fool may have formal recommendations for or against, so don’t buy or sell stocks based solely on what you hear. Learn more about Rule Breaker Investing at RBI.Fool.com.