Lessons from Paychex’s Billionaire Founder

Built- Not Born- A Self-Made Billionaire’s No-Nonsense Guide for Entrepreneurs-

These passages stood out to me when I read his book for entrepreneurs

“Built, Not Born will give you an edge. It will tell you how to turn the odds of success in your favor, improve productivity and profitability, reduce risks, and avoid the many pitfalls lying in wait for unwary and inexperienced businesspeople.”

“Defying the status quo is what entrepreneurs do every day. I had spotted an opportunity, challenged an industry norm, and targeted all the “little guys”—entrepreneurs who weren’t worth the effort to other companies.”

“How many people have you had to trample on to get to where you are today?” My answer was, “None. I decided long ago that it was far better and more effective to bring people along with me.”

“I’m never satisfied with the way things are just because they’ve always been that way. The fact is, I see things a little, or maybe a lot, differently than other people, particularly other businesspeople. I made a business (and a good life) out of helping small businesses and entrepreneurs run their companies more effectively. With my customers I always felt that their business was my business.”

“Not everyone can—or should—be an entrepreneur, but not because of the risks involved. Let me be clear: nothing in life is without risk. Relying on a job can be one of the riskiest things you do. In this chapter we’ll explore entrepreneurship; the risks, rewards, and challenges; what you can do to start becoming a better businessperson; and why it’s the most exciting “job” in the world.”

“It was an even bigger risk when I left a good (but not great) paying job to launch Paymaster, and I certainly felt nervous about making the leap. But I’d thought it through, done my research, and determined it was a calculated risk.”

“For instance, if you’ve ever sat next to a food truck, eating your hamburger, and counted the number of patrons purchasing food and then multiplied this by the average amount spent and then extrapolated what the business owner would earn in a typical lunch period, you’re probably an entrepreneur. If you then went further and estimated the food truck’s operating costs and calculated its net profit, you are definitely an entrepreneur—even if you don’t realize it. 

“I was in Cuba recently on vacation and visited a cigar factory (I’m known for my love of a good cigar), and my first instinct was to ask questions: Where did they source their materials? What was their output? How many workers did they have and what did those workers get paid? I got a lot of pleasure figuring out the economics of  that cigar factory, its profitability and sustainability.” 

“You have to assess a business opportunity for what it is. You don’t have to love the  product or service; you just have to recognize the potential.” 

“I sold Bidders Guide a short time later, and the $3,000 I netted was the seed money I used to start Paychex.  Recently I ran into the new owners of the guide and am pleased to report that after fifty years, it’s still going  strong.” 

“Maybe that’s you. Perhaps on an entrepreneurial scale of one to ten you consider yourself a five. That’s good;  being honest with yourself is the first step to success.” 

“You need to be intimately knowledgeable about your industry. Being successful as an entrepreneur requires comprehensive knowledge of the workings of your business, your product or service, your market, and your industry. Sure, you can employ others to do the stuff you may not be skilled at or enjoy doing, but that doesn’t  mean you don’t need to fully understand every aspect of your business.” 

“You can choose whatever industry you want and whatever product or service you want to sell, with one caveat:  you need to know an enormous amount about your industry and what you are selling.”

“Personally, I look for two things when considering whether a business has a chance of success. First, I want to see that the business owner has worked in the industry. They have to possess intimate knowledge of their market, their product or service, and their customers—they have to be familiar with the environment. Second, an entrepreneur needs to possess a sense of reality. Too often passion overtakes common sense.” 

“These are people who don’t just do their job to a level that satisfies their bosses but take it upon themselves to  make the company as successful as possible—in a sense they take ownership.” 

“Some ended up working for Paychex, and others came to me later with business ideas in which I invested. I  helped them make the transition from working for someone else to working for themselves. I have always found  these types of people worth investing in; they give me a good return not only on my financial investment but  also on the time I spend mentoring them.” 

“Takeaways Entrepreneurship is not as risky as you might think. Being employed is not risk-free. Entrepreneurs constantly question and challenge business scenarios and always look for a way to make things work better or introduce a new product or service. Take a chance or sit on the sidelines; it’s your choice.” 

“Business plans should keep to the basics. The second piece of advice I’m going to give you is to keep it real.  Nothing turns off a lender or an investor more than exaggerated or poorly thought-out statements, promises, and  projections.” 

“If you can’t read and understand financial statements, one of your first jobs is to educate yourself. I’ll give you a  primer in the next chapter to get you started. If you are already familiar with and can read these documents, good for you. Now start improving your overall understanding of financial statements.” 

“Your plan should provide a realistic assessment of your competition and your strategy for getting a share of the  market.”

“There is a significant difference in the way different structures are taxed. Sole proprietorships and single-member limited liability companies (LLCs) are taxed directly to the individual owner on their personal tax return. Multiple member LLCs and S corporations typically file their own separate tax return and issue K-1s to  each member/owner, so the net income or loss is typically reflected directly on that individual’s personal tax  return (though they both have the option to be taxed like a C corporation).” 

“There are many examples of companies that were thriving but got swept away by new technology they were not  prepared for or could not afford to embrace—for instance, those in video rental, music CDs, the yellow pages,  pay-phone franchises, film processing, computer printout paper, and currently, newspapers.” 

“It’s very easy to get caught up in the trappings and glamour of being an entrepreneur, the excitement (and it is exciting) and the exhilaration. Because of it, you may not do a thorough job of looking at the facts. That’s where  big risk enters the picture.” 

“On the positive side, you generally have a product that has a good track record, and it can be measured against the success of other franchisees. The franchisor provides a proven pattern for operation or management, and they  are there to assist you in finding the right location and provide training for both you and your employees. On the negative side, they may limit your ability to make product changes or enhancements; to franchisors there is  value in consistency. Unfortunately, this may restrict your options when it comes to product definition. In  addition, you will almost certainly have to pay them a continuing royalty, a cost that has to be built into your business expenses.” 

“Choosing the correct business structure from the outset will save you money and taxes and may protect you from  legal issues down the road.” 

“Before you begin, do some simple arithmetic: estimate your operating costs for the first year, add whatever you  need to pay yourself (zero is a good number), and then figure out how many widgets or services you need to sell  to cover that amount.” 

“The way I look at it, if you are asking other people to risk their money, or in the case of banks, their customers’ money, then you should feel comfortable risking your own.

“Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is If you’re not willing to invest money in your own business, then you might want to reconsider your options. Sorry to be brutally honest, but the most help I can give you is a reality check before you go too much further. As I suggested earlier, it’s unrealistic to expect an investor or a bank to  invest in your business or lend you money while you are protecting your own personal assets.” 

Venture Capital Venture capitalists can be an option, but they are self-centered, tough negotiators with their own agendas. They want to invest and then liquidate, so their timeline might be very different from yours. If you are trying to build something long-term, you have to ensure the venture capitalists you are working with are on the same page. Another thing to beware of is that they may take advantage of the fact you might need funding urgently and use it against you when negotiating terms. 

“Going public is good for marketing. If you’re a public company your name is out there, and it provides a high degree of credibility. It makes recruitment of high-quality employees easier as they are more likely to seek you  out when you have a high-profile name.” 

“I liked running a public company, in part because I enjoyed working in an environment of discipline and structure. Institutional investors are mostly concerned about growth, but that growth has to have predictability.  As I said earlier, they don’t like hills and valleys; they look for steady, consistent growth. Fortunately, Paychex was a company that demonstrated very predictable growth. As CEO of Paychex, I made a lot of friends in the investment analyst community, and I enjoyed working with them. Too many CEOs seem to resent that community, primarily because analysts are very inquisitive. The less predictable your company, the more difficult they make your life. And that is reflected in a  fluctuating stock price. The more consistent and predictable your company’s profits are, the easier it is for  analysts to recommend working with your company and to recommend your company to their institutional  shareholders.” 

“Stock analysis is a very important part of a CEO’s day-to-day activity. Public companies must have a CEO and  CFO who like working with analytic institutions because they can make or break you as far as your stock price  is concerned. If the analysts don’t have a high level of trust and confidence in your company, and in you  personally, they are not going to be kind to you.”

“One last thing: you should never take for granted that your financial statements are correct. People make mistakes, so your statements can be wrong. Have someone you trust, a good financial person, look after your  financials.” 

“Back to Paychex . . . Servicing ten 10-person payrolls grosses 2.5 times more revenue than one 100-person  payroll.” 

“If you start your business and you are already married, you can get a postnuptial agreement that outlines what would happen with regard to the business should one of you want to take a different direction in life. There is nothing more serious than protecting your ideas, your investments, and your business from day one. I have seen many great entrepreneurs and businesses disappear because a relationship went south. From the outset you have to protect yourself and your business. You have to make it a major priority.” 

“Another example of a successful recurring revenue business is a sports franchise. When I purchased the Buffalo  Sabres in 2003, we had 5,800 season ticket holders. We grew that to over 15,000, and there was a waiting list.  Having that predictable revenue helped enormously with stabilizing the franchise. Recurring revenue businesses don’t have to be service based. There are plenty of examples of businesses that sell products that manage to create recurring revenue streams. Have you ever had drinking water delivered to your house? That’s a recurring  revenue business.” 

“Is there a large enough market? Can you make a decent profit margin? Can your company deliver? Does it have longevity? Do you have enough capital? Can you keep up with technological change?” 

“Overestimating the market is a perennial problem for entrepreneurs; optimism is built into their genes. This, of course, is a double-edged sword. In general terms, optimism is a good trait for an entrepreneur; otherwise, they would never consider starting a business. But overoptimism leads to inflated revenue expectations” 

“Your variable costs are for raw materials, manufacturing, distribution, license fees, and any direct labor costs  (e.g., piecework costs, etc.). Variable costs are costs that you incur when you sell something, unlike fixed costs  (e.g., rent), which you incur regardless of whether you sell something.”

“When you look at introducing a new product or service to the market, think ten years into the future and try to figure out whether it could be prone to extinction. For instance, is this a good time to start a newspaper, open a  camera retail store, or manufacture e-readers? Probably not. Consumer products and services have a shelf life,  some longer than others. Choose one with a longer shelf life.” 

“Product Diversification An important milestone in Paychex’s history was the moment Gene Polisseni, my best friend and HR director, and his associate Tony Tortorella walked into my office and told me we should be selling 401(k) administration. They outlined a well-defined plan and I liked the idea.” 

“It was this development that led us into other products, such as workers’ compensation insurance, employee handbooks, and a menu of other human resource services. Today, Paychex has revenue of over $1.8 billion in  payroll services and over $1.5 billion in HR services annually.” 

“Bak had one other major problem: their biggest customer, Microsoft, accounted for 90 percent of their business.  As the company’s largest buyer, it received a discount, which meant Bak’s profit margin fell to only 10 percent of their wholesale price. I talk in more detail about the dangers of relying on one or two major customers for the  bulk of your revenue in chapter 5.” 

“Always be aware of your gross profit margin and understand what revenues you need to cover costs and also  make a profit.” 

“Over 75 percent of products that were around five years ago no longer exist. Ensure your product can stand the test of time. Technological change can sometimes be like an incoming tsunami. Always be on the lookout for  ways to diversify your product range, especially by using what you already have in different ways or by  piggybacking products.” 

“What do I mean when I say it’s a sales problem, not a cash flow problem? I think the biggest mistake  entrepreneurs make is they have a tendency to overestimate their ability to sell their product or service.” 

“Understanding Sales Here is a fundamental truth: nothing happens in a company until someone sells something.  The importance of the act of selling something frequently gets lost in business school curriculum, where it is  usually combined with marketing.” 

“The act of selling and the art of negotiation are imperative to every business on the planet. It doesn’t matter what your business is; someone has to sell something. 

“There is no one better than you to train your sales management and salespeople. Let’s face it, entrepreneurs: it’s  imperative you learn to sell your product or service and, more importantly, how to be productive at it.” 

“What I will say is that you need to be creative when figuring out how to reach customers in your target market,  and you need to solve the prospecting riddle early on in the game.” 

“If you are out there prospecting and you come across a potentially huge customer, be cautious. You have to be careful when selling to what I call elephants. The “elephant” in this case is any major customer that accounts for a sizeable percentage of your overall sales revenue. These clients appear very attractive, and they can be;  however, they come with some baggage. Here are several challenges you will face if you focus on these “highly desirable” prospects and customers. First, they can take a long time to close, and you will face stiff competition for their business. Second, they are not usually as profitable as you might expect. Large, important clients expect heavy discounts, and as I mentioned, your competitors will also be trying to get their business, so beware of a  race to the bottom when it comes to profit margins. You need to ask yourself whether high revenues, low profit  is a good strategy for your company.” 

“Here’s a little-known fact: Paychex doesn’t have any customer that accounts for more than 1/1000th of its total revenue. That puts the company not only in a very strong position but in a predictable one, which the markets appreciate.” 

“When we left the restaurant and were walking back to his car, he said, “That went well, didn’t it?” My reply was that it was one of the worst sales presentations I’d ever witnessed. He was shocked, so I explained that he had failed to ask for the order, even though the owner had given him several strong buying signals. Chuck had been so wrapped up in his presentation he hadn’t heard, or noticed, that the owner wanted to sign on the dotted line.  The restaurant owner had said, “What do I do to get started?” and “When could we start?” Chuck, however,  single-mindedly carried on with his presentation.” 

“There comes a point when prospects have enough information to make a decision and will ask you questions that indicate they are ready to commit to the purchase. These are the buying signals; learn to recognize them and  when you do, move toward asking for the order.” 

“On some occasions a prospect may become silent; do not take this as a negative. They may be thinking of all the reasons they should buy. Let the silence go on for however long it takes, and you will be rewarded with an order.” 

“He or she needs to do this in an honest and ethical manner. Prospects make their buying decisions by weighing a  great many factors, including the benefits of your product in comparison to others on offer, price, ability to  deliver, reliability, and security, and whether they have faith in your company.” 

“One such stumbling block for your salespeople is disparaging your competition. Most potential customers will take a dim view of your company if your salespeople openly criticize the competition. This strategy of integrity first will put your salespeople into a stronger position when dealing with prospects. Competition exists in almost any enterprise that has ever been created, but rather than see competition constantly as a threat, look at the significant value competitors can bring to your company. What do I mean by this? Having competition helps you, maybe even  forces you, to keep your product line viable and more desirable to your target market.” 

“You need to set a high standard of morality for your employees, one that makes it a policy not to disparage the company’s competition. Do this, and your employees will respect you and be even stronger team players—they  will be proud to work for your company.” 

“The lesson here is to keep a very close eye on your competition. Are they offering potential customers anything more, or better, than your salespeople have in their bag? Your sales manager should create a feedback loop with all members of his or her sales force so that any information relating to the strengths and weaknesses of your competition is duly noted, and then you can compare their strengths and weaknesses to your own. Once you  have the results of that analysis, you can ensure their weaknesses become your strengths, while at the same time  matching them strength for strength.” 

“Respecting your competition and learning from them when they do something better than you is a sound strategy. Competition is good; good competition is better, as long as you watch the companies concerned  carefully and keep one step ahead.” 

“Hiring Salespeople The most difficult people to hire are often salespeople. First, it’s extremely hard to find people who are good at selling. Second, the whole issue of compensation—salary, salary plus commission, or  commission only—can be a minefield. However, Paychex has had thousands of excellent salespeople work for the company over the years, so I can assure you they are out there. Some would say hiring salespeople is like going to Las Vegas: it’s a gamble. You can do a lot of interviewing, you can check a lot of references, but in some cases, despite all of this, you’re not going to be successful in hiring the right person. Let me give you some advice based on my experience of hiring hundreds of salespeople in the constant search for those who can actually sell and reach sales quotas. First, if someone has prior sales experience, that’s a good start. It doesn’t  mean they are any good, but at least you are on the right track.” 

“The best way is to make it clear that your company will not indulge in the practice of poaching good people. Set an example, and hopefully you will gain the respect of your competitors. Another thing I have done in the past is  call competitors’ CEOs and openly discuss the issue with them. If you can get an agreement that neither of you  will actively engage in poaching, it can go a long way to preventing such activity.” 

“Having that depth of information allowed me and other senior managers to understand what was going on out in the field and take immediate action, when and if necessary. The simple  fact that we were collecting this information added to the level of accountability all parties felt; it also gave us  credibility when we needed to confront any issues in the field.” 

“Training Salespeople Training salespeople is paramount. They have to have the ability to make presentations to potential customers, in a way the customer understands, that show the features, advantages, and benefits of the product. They have to be confident enough in what they are selling to handle objections and close sales.  Ongoing sales training has been a major factor in Paychex’s success, and I can’t emphasize enough that you should make it an integral part of your overall sales strategy. Bringing together your sales team at least once a year for a sales conference and sales training, where you update them on your company’s goals and vision, will  motivate them and ensure they are recommitted to your company when they return to their territories. They will also have the opportunity to share success stories, along with any challenges they face, with their colleagues.  Ensuring your salespeople are completely familiar with the products they are selling is important. Knowing a  product intimately when talking about it, or demonstrating it, boosts confidence in both the salesperson and the prospect.” 

“The first was that I would do everything in my power never to work for someone else, and the second was that if  I was ever in a position of authority over people, I would never treat an employee so disrespectfully—ever.” 

“My HR Philosophy I relate the story of my father’s dressing down because that event was foundational to my  HR philosophy and my overall business belief of bringing everyone along with me and creating a good deal for  everyone. Working alongside my father that day made me question the balance of power and the responsibility of the person holding the power to wield it with integrity, fairness, and compassion. That experience was instrumental in forming my opinions on respect, leadership, empowerment, and organizational culture. A  leader’s number one responsibility is to create a vision of growth and success, a vision for the following year’s achievement level, and to empower his or her employees to do the same. That’s what I always considered to be  the most important part of my job.” 

“Changing the corporate culture, therefore, was not without its challenges. One such area of conflict with my partners and employees was our annual sales conferences, which were held at exotic locations such as Hawaii,  Arizona, Atlanta, or Disney World. Every year I’d get asked, “Why can’t we bring our spouses?” The argument given by those privileged to attend was that their spouses were part of their success. My counterargument was that to stay on budget, we’d have to halve the number of salespeople attending if we allowed spouses to attend.  Not only that, where did the definition of spouse stop? Life partner, significant other, any plus one?” 

“The vice president of HR summoned me to his office. He told me that the bank expected all employees to contribute to the United Way campaign. I repeated my position and was told that if I didn’t comply, it would go on my permanent record. I remember feeling threatened by someone who should have had my best interests at heart. My heart was pounding, and it felt as though I was back again standing beside my father in the macaroni warehouse. I promised myself that day that I would never demand any of my employees donate to a charitable  organization, let alone threaten them, no matter how good the cause or how important participation was to the  company or its image.”

“Respect Goes Both Ways I wholeheartedly believe that senior management should show employees respect, but  I’ve always felt it’s a two-way street. One of the things that always annoyed me at Paychex was when I walked  through the offices after everyone had gone home and found messy, cluttered desks. Maybe twice a year I would  walk around a random department after hours and find a desk that was particularly messy. I’d throw everything  on the desk into a waste basket. It didn’t take long the next morning for word to get around that I was always  watching. I expected desks to be free of clutter when people left for the day. I realize this may make me sound  like a control (or maybe clean) freak, but it was important to me and I felt it was important to our corporate  brand. We processed our customers’ payrolls, so precision was fundamental to everything we did. I wanted to  demonstrate that order and precision should be top of mind at every level throughout the company.” 

“Being selective is one of the keys to good hiring. There is a cost to educating and training a new hire, not to mention a transition period where the person is not performing to full capacity. This is especially true of salespeople. I’ve always believed in building a quality workforce through skillful and careful hiring and through superior training.” 

“I want a job applicant to have done their homework and to know a lot about my company; if they haven’t bothered to do their research, then why should I bother to give them my time? I also want to know why they left their last job or jobs. The answer to that question can raise a lot of concerns, or alternatively indicate I’m sitting  opposite a future employee.” 

“The pregnant pause is a most effective tool in any interview.” 

“It’s a good way to get started, with one proviso: if your competition is offering better benefits, you may  have to be more generous to remain competitive and attract well-qualified and desirable job candidates.” 

“It was another defining moment for me. I decided that if I was ever responsible for a sales force, I would deal with my salespeople very differently. They would be housed in good hotels, given decent meals and transportation, and treated with respect. How did this affect my overall approach to training? Six years after  Paychex went public, we’d outgrown our head office facility. The offices we had built in 1983 were no longer meeting our needs. Our revenues had reached a staggering $101 million, and our growth rate over the previous nine years was between 20 and 25 percent; by the end of 1989 we had more than 100,000 clients. We made the  decision to build a 107,000-square-foot addition onto our existing building, tripling its size.”

“The thought of visitors witnessing firsthand the importance of training excited me. Thousands of people visited our head office every year to learn about our products and services and attend sales training and other courses.  The idea of showcasing training at our head office demonstrated to sales trainees and others how important they  were to the company and the value we placed on their performance and contribution to the company.” 

“Training remains at the heart of Paychex; today, if you walk into the impressive circular lobby of the company’s  headquarters, you will stand at the reception desk and still be encircled by training rooms. Training is the core of our business, and that becomes obvious to every single visitor. And the people in those training rooms also know  they are extremely important to the success of the business.” 

“He simply didn’t understand boundaries, and he persistently harassed female employees.” 

“There are many grounds for dismissal, from poor performance and bad behavior to criminal activity, but there is another occasion where you may need to get rid of someone whose attitude is causing a serious problem, and  that is when they exude negative energy. When I owned the Buffalo Sabres, we had a player who fell into this category. The rest of the team didn’t like him when he was on the ice (off the ice he was a nice guy), and he was  affecting team morale. His work ethic was suspect, and on the ice he was an opportunist; he hung around the net waiting for a pass, so he could score and get all the glory. Although he was our top scorer, I traded him, and you know what? We won more games.” 

“Negative energy can come down to something as simple as someone who constantly complains or whines about  everything and nothing.” 

“I am confident that almost anyone with a desire to become an entrepreneur can become a better leader or manager. One thing I found from the outset of my business career was that I learned more about what not to do in business from those who failed than from successful companies. The fact you are reading this book shows you are open to learning new ways to work on and in your business. That attitude will take you a long way in business, and you are not alone; we are all learning new things every day to ensure our businesses survive another day, another year. Welcome to the club.” 

“They respect their employees, their customers, their suppliers, and above all, themselves.”

“I am convinced you can build a level of professionalism into a corporation’s culture to the point it will last forever, but you have to be committed and lead from the front. It won’t just happen. 

“Good managers and leaders, however, need a greater and deeper knowledge of the inner workings of their  business—the cultural dynamics.” 

“Often, entrepreneurs not only have large gaps in their business knowledge and experience but also are completely blind to their deficiencies. If you want to improve your chances of success, be honest with yourself  and recognize the weaknesses in your business education and your business acumen, and seek help from a  mentor or take courses to learn what you need to know.”

“When I ran Paychex, I never owned more than 50 percent of the company. After we merged, or consolidated, I  only retained about 30 percent. Did that put me in a difficult or risky position? Not really; so many stockholders would have had to come together to vote me out, the chances of that happening were very slim. Unless, of course, I did something really dumb that hurt the company and threatened their investment. In which case I  would have deserved to be ousted.” 

“I always practiced an open-door policy, and I wandered around the offices and sometimes ate at the cafeteria. I  believe part of being a good leader is to be close to the business—very close. Don’t ever get too far from the  front of the business. I used to go to the training rooms every couple of weeks and test trainees to be sure they were learning what they needed to know to be successful for themselves and for the company. 

To do that, you as the leader and the other leaders at all levels of your company need strong communication skills. Remember, one of the biggest complaints put forward by employees is lack of communication.” 

“Leadership takes many forms, but in essence you have to take a step back and put the needs of your company,  your customers, your shareholders and investors, and your employees first.”

“Success depends on you. You need to know your stuff. Good managers know their businesses intimately. Be realistic when assessing the market share your business might achieve.” 

“I am glad to report that after fifty-plus years in business, it’s my experience that any time you can get a good  deal for everyone, it will turn out to be good for your business and increase your chances of long-term success.” 

“firmly believe that in almost all cases it is possible to find common ground and work out a deal where both  parties get most or all of what they want.” 

“I always attempted to create win-win situations when doing any deal, but especially in major negotiations. Such was the case in 2002, when Paychex acquired Advantage Payroll Services Inc., based in Chicago, for $240  million in cash. This was a significant acquisition.” 

“The long silence, or pregnant pause, is something I have used extensively in business and is one of the most effective tools in an entrepreneur’s arsenal when used correctly. In this case I used it to remind my team to  respect my money, respect my investment, and not be cavalier or careless with our resources. I expect the same  from any company in which I invest and any charity to which I donate money and time.” 

“People often ask me how to deal with someone who is employing the pregnant pause, so I’ll share it with you:  you have to have the strength of character to outlast them. It’s not easy to sit in silence; it’s in our nature to fill the void. But if you don’t and someone else does, you can learn a lot of useful information. But never try to  outlast me—seriously.” 

“When I’m looking to acquire or invest in a business, I ask things like, “What’s the biggest concern you have  about your business?” or “How much of your own money have you put into the business?” Further along in negotiations I might ask, “If we go ahead and proceed to acquire your company, we would like you to continue working for three to five years. Are you willing to do that?”

Never underestimate the power of your public profile to influence everything in your company: employee morale, motivation, retention, recruitment, customer satisfaction, sales, media attention, investor interest, and more. Your public image is based on everything you say and do and on your overall corporate culture and philosophy. Let me outline some basic strategies that will help your business enjoy the type of respect and loyal  following Paychex has enjoyed for forty-eight years from employees, customers, and shareholders.” 

“everything we did centered around the paycheck. When you are considering what to call yourself, be cognizant  of where you think you would like your business to go in the future.” 

“Names should have longevity and shouldn’t restrict what services and products you might sell in the future and  at what location or locations.” 

“If you always appear and act professional, you will be professional, and that will come across in the very essence  of your business.” 

“Always ensure you pay vendors on time and build a reputation of being fair and prompt in all your dealings.” 

“You can fail many times, but you only have to be successful once.” 

“This can be a tough decision. It can also be fraught with danger. Before considering this option, be sure the business has a long-term future, that it is sustainable. Ask yourself if there are any new and improved products  or services coming out that will affect your market. What about new technology? How might that impact your business? Will it require extensive investment or make what you sell obsolete?” 

“I’ve learned more from watching people fail than succeed.” 

“The moral of this story is to avoid letting things happen; take planning seriously.”

“I learned through that experience not to enter a business where the market isn’t ready for the service you want to provide, that’s outside your area of expertise, or where current technology cannot meet the distribution needs of what you are selling. My regret is that I broke my own rules when I let others convince me of the validity of a  concept that went counter to my gut instincts.” 

“Missing Family A common regret I am sure I share with many entrepreneurs is not spending as much time with my family as I should have. This is a tough one because you are working hard building your company so that you can provide a better standard of living for your spouse and children. However, I do regret not finding a  better balance. Work-life balance has become a big thing in business in recent years, and I’m not sure how  qualified I am in giving advice on the subject, but remember it’s no good being successful and having no one  with whom to share that success.”

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Purpose: I create an empowering context for curious and hungry people looking for fulfillment, experiences, and creativity. We do this by developing their growth mindset, introducing self-love, and powerful group experiences. It results in people with strong boundaries, resilient mental health, and practical life skills

People leave with the ability to land their dream job, have autonomy and flexibility with their lifestyle, travel the world, and create from their heart and soul.


Davidson was once broke, insecure, low-confidence, and frustrated by doing all the wrong activities. Addicted to drugs, validation, and wallowing in self-pity. No relationship to family, and at the mercy of other people’s suggestions and opinions.

It was hell.

After spending $100k hiring different coaches, traveling the world doing workshops around the world, reading>1000 books, and through curiosity, have created the most effective system to remove people from that situation. My life’s work is to bring joy and abundance to people who as on a similar path as I was and bring back the joy and abundance of their life.

Through shared experiences and storytelling, I inspire and model behaviors that lead to a richer, more fulfilled life full of joy, experiences, passion, and ecstasy from the richness of relationships and being able to experience the depths of the human experience.

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