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S2E2 Transcript - The CEO Delusion - How to Take 3 Companies Public and Feel Unhappy with My Career

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Alright, so welcome to the Meaningful Jobs podcast season two. I'm your host Adrian and today


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it's my great pleasure to welcome you guys to Distinguished Guests in Stu and Trish. Nice to


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meet you. Nice to meet you Adrian. Nice to meet you too. So I guess before you know the interview


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will start I can give you guys a slight background story to what Stu and Trish are doing. So Stu


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has actually taken three public companies public before but I guess what is interesting about


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this episode is that we'll talk about how he felt the emptiness he actually felt


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despite having so much success in his career and Trish is Stu's wife and she's been really


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supportive of Stu throughout the journey but there's been I think a market shift in the


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bonding of the two of you after Stu realized perhaps the emptiness that his career success


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brought to him and decided to make some changes to it. So perhaps maybe you can start us off by


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maybe Stu you can tell us a little bit about your background story perhaps maybe. Well I'd love to.


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So yeah it's always hard to talk about who Trish and I are without talking a little bit about the


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spiritual aspect the Christian aspect without all that aside but yeah I grew up in the United States


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in the state of Colorado and my parents were divorced when I was 14 so what ended up happening


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with me is I kind of turned to myself to take care of myself sometimes when families blow


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apart it can ruin kids it impacted me in a different way as opposed to me you know going to drugs and


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alcohol at an early age or doing something self-destructive I did something somewhat self-destructive


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in the sense that I became incredibly self-focused to take care of myself sometimes self you know


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self-sufficiency is not a bad thing but if it goes too far then you end up becoming your own god


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and sort of what happened with me and didn't have a spiritual basis or center so I grew up that way


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and then Trish and I were we met when I got out of school I actually had a teaching undergraduate


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degree but we got out of school and Trish and I met at a bar in Tsar she was just like she is now


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smoking hot and so we so we kind of fell in love quickly and then when we met I just my attention


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started turning to business and so I went to business school in the United States of the


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University of San Diego and Trish was actually an aerospace engineer she was a rocket scientist


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I was in my former life I was an aerospace engineer I see I see yeah so that's where our


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lives kind of started was with Trish and I getting married and then moving out to make our wares


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and my I had one goal Adrienne and that was slowly maximizing shareholder wealth my friend


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it was about you know driving corporate value and became was fortunate in some ways I don't even


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know I was that qualified but became a chief financial officer first company I was with the


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age of 29 and actually went out and took the company called the FTC public when I was 31 years old


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and so that's quite whereas I'm yeah yeah where I'm 60 years old now I'm getting old


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you don't know thank you yeah but yeah but uh I was 31 when we took our first company publics


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that was what 29 years ago so I was known as the young guy then not so much anymore


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yeah so that's what happened Adrienne we kind of set off to make our wares our ways and


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that's how it all started for us. Before perhaps I ask you a little bit about what led you to your


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attitude change could you tell me a little bit about how you think you know why you think led


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to your success like what were the really important factors that gave you the platform to take three


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companies public maybe? Sure yeah you know there's the worldly success and the spiritual success and


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I think we need to kind of separate those a little bit so what I've learned is I've gotten older in


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life is those come together in a very healthy way when they come together because I'm in a different


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place now but at the time at the time it was really a product of hard work I used to have these uh


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these things that my grandfather would tell me that I'm not sure I agree that about these anymore


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because it's a little bit like Ecclesiastes but he used to say that if you're gonna dance you've


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got to pay the fiddler right every dog has every dog has his day these are all product really of


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comments of self-sufficiency hard work and and good things will come that's true I mean again we


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we live in an era maybe the work ethic is waned a little bit for a variety of reasons but for me


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I'm not the smartest bulb or the brightest bulb in the lamp I almost used the false analogy like


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the dog that barks against the wall you know that kind of thing but we should I'm not I'm not that


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bright after all but not too bad for somebody who you know achieved quite a lot of success I guess


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well I don't know so I bet you were asking why that was the case I think it was a product just


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hard work hard work right I mean I think I think I said that you know success is what 99%


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or 1% inspiration 99% perspiration and that's I've never been afraid to work really hard


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and that I think that's part of it I think character always comes through in character in


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the world may be different than character from a spiritual point of view of a character


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intellect number two are you smart and he goes and then skills number three and if you have a


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character of hard work in the intellect to be able to pick things up then of course the skills


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can follow particularly in today's age right I mean yeah what we're doing here with the with the


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podcast I mean the changing technology and all the rest of it's just happening faster and faster


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and faster so maybe the skills you have 10 years ago has nothing to do with the skills you need today


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so actually like what kind of you know industries did you get you know quite a lot of working


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experience in and what challenges you found yeah my experience came solely in technology right out


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of the chute I got out of business school and I went to work for a short period of time in the


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aerospace industry in the United States I didn't like it and my first executive role came in


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technology manufacturing I did that for eight years where we went from a private company of


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about 25 million dollars of revenues to about 1400 people over around eight countries with


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about half a billion dollars of revenues and when I only did we go public we had numerous secondary


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offerings and that was all technology and then from that space I got into the telecom industry


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moved from Colorado to the state of Washington and the United States Seattle which is kind of a


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technology hub yeah went to work in investment banking for a short period of time to do mergers


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and acquisitions in technology and then moved forward from that to become a CFO of a company


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called isilon which became a really big company which is now part of Dell Technologies so EMC


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isilon if you see these huge data centers with the nodes all of those nodes were created by


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isilon systems which is now part of Dell Dell industries so almost almost all of my business


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experience was in technology right right right I guess obviously the technological scene a few


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decades ago is really different from what it is now I guess well you got that right you got that right


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that's what I mean I mean literally the things we thought were the leading edge technologies and the


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you know the mid the early 1990s when all seemed like brick and mortar now but yeah yeah how would


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you say um right so you know after a few decades I guess you know in technology how would you say


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you managed to stay on top of the industry like because I've got a lot of friends who work in tech


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as well but you know due to layoffs or due to other reasons they might you know get left behind


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by the industry so perhaps how did you stay in top you think at the top you know my my story is a


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little bit different um rough the book Wall Street to the well and what the well is is it is the


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growth from business into a spiritual life that can still be applied and I could talk to you a


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little bit about what I'm doing even in technology today but what happened with me is on the Isilon


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IPO Roadshow the initial public offering roadshow and by the way I was in London okay okay yeah I


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was staying at the Savoy Hotel halfway through an IPO Roadshow where where if you know how IPOs are


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done initial public offerings you're going around the world selling chairs the United States and then


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overseas I was actually staying in the Savoy Hotel and I became a Christian I was saved and that was


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December of 2006 so that was what 17 years ago whoa but I was saved there and so what ended


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up happening with me is after that spiritual experience for me after that salvation experience


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a year later I ended up going through all kinds of brokenness and difficulties and then a few years


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later actually went to seminary and ended up getting out of the technology world and built the church


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so God used some of the experiences that I gained through the business world to build the church


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and then recently in the last year after 10 years of being a senior pastor back in the technology


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world again working with a company called Lifeverse as co-founder and CFO and board member getting into


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Web3 next-generation metaverse technology and blockchain technology and things like that that


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is the leading the next leading edge of the next Web3 stuff so it's interesting now because now I'm


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a Christian and getting back into the technology world so how did I keep up with it to the last


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10 15 years not very well not very well I'm learning that some of the things that were going on in


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technology 10 years ago or 15 years ago though I still have kept up to speed at some level aren't


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hardly even relevant anymore compared to what technology is going now right yeah yeah just


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that's why character and intellect are more important than skills so you have character being a hard


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worker and working 80 to 100 hours to come up to speed and then the intellect again that has got


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given for us to be able to process quickly to catch up is so much more important than what you


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may know today I think out of curiosity you mentioned about Web3 and metaverse before


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I just do you think these are the two things that will be you know the next perhaps the most


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important things in technology maybe in the next decade so what there's gonna be subsets of all


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about when people say metaverse Adrian nobody really kind of knows what it even means yet so


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when Facebook changes their name to meta we know what metaverse means is a confluence of all these


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different Web2 technologies coming together into a platform that's going to be virtual augmented


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reality virtual reality along with just next generation technology so the answer is yes I think


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that this is going to be the next wave it's going to take some years you're going to see a massive


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transference of wealth from Web2 stuff even some of the technology we were even using on this podcast


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right it's going to become more robust and more virtual and how it's done and so yeah this is kind


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of the vision of why I'm entering back into this space I happen to be entering into a space that


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is going to be a Christian metaverse but it's still a metaverse it's the same concept it's


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tokenization web3 it's the virtual reality augmented reality it's AR headsets and VR headsets


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it's AR VR even off of headsets through computers it's the minority report stuff that you can


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actually do stuff with your hands yeah I'm moving so I've moved into that space and I believe that's


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where you're going to see a massive transference of wealth in the future is from Web3 and metaverse


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stuff right I see well that's a great eye-opener you know for our audience and you know before I


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get back to you maybe I can ask Trish to maybe you know introduce yourself briefly as well perhaps


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maybe tell us a little bit about what you're doing because I think you are in a company called


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ENF broadcasting as a senior journal advisor so yeah tell us a little bit about yourself and


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what do you think are the most important factors to have a successful career maybe


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yeah so when Stu was in seminary I was the main bread only breadwinner for a while


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and so God was good and through just him orchestrating my circumstances I was able to


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get and you're meeting our dogs too they're very yeah yeah anyway I was able to get hired on with


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a ministry called EMF it stands for educational media foundation our biggest brands are Caleb


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and Erwin most people know us by Caleb and so I was I started out in business development and then


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that department got closed or shut down and God was just amazing because he moved me to where it's


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to an area where my gifting was going to be even stronger than it had been and so I was asked to


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interview for the engagement department which is all you know all about our donors and things of that


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nature so I got that job and I've been doing fundraising for like six years now and now I'm


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what's called a senior donor advisor and you know it's interesting I just took strength


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finders and I look at my top five and I'm like yeah it's no wonder I am doing well because


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God has me exactly where I need to be based on the gifts and the strengths that he has given me


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and so yeah so I'm doing very well I just I just was promoted in January and so yeah


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God has just been so good to allow me to have this job to provide for our family benefits and so on


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and so forth so so you mentioned about like your top five strengths which I'm sharing a little bit


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about perhaps like maybe your most invaluable strength you think you've got so my number one


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strength is activator so I am not an overly patient person when it comes to people wanting to wait


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in Dilley Dally and oh we need to think about it and pray about it a little bit more I'm like pull


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the trigger yeah let's go something and so yeah I that kind of thing drives me crazy and so I'm


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the one that's like let's cut to the chase let's get let's start let's get this done this is how


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we need to do it and so so yeah and then another strength that's really important in my line of


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work is my number three strength is relator and so I think that really helps when I am entering


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into a relationship with our donors is relating with them and they they feel that and appreciate


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that in me and feel really comfortable with me and then another strength of mine is communication


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so that's super helpful too and just being able to yeah communicate whether it's written word or


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spoken word so um you know going back to stew um I think as I alluded to at this beginning of the


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podcast there is you know a certain period of change that happened within you um that made you


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realize that you know taking companies public might not be as you know fun as it sounded


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or you actually managed to do so so maybe could you walk us through a little bit how that process


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works yeah I'd be happy to yeah so one of the things that happened with me and I think it happens


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with everybody Adrienne is often we'll have goals set for ourselves particularly when we're young


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and sometimes the most dangerous thing that can happen to you or the most blessed thing is that


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it'll actually accomplish them and that wasn't exactly what you thought right and sometimes


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yeah I mean it's really interesting isn't it if you people as they get older often we'll find out


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hey I accomplished this and it didn't exactly give me the kind of satisfaction or purpose that I


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thought it was going to give me and so that's what happened with me I was both the what I was


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blessed and cursed to actually realize a lot of my goals at a pretty early age but you take a company


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public at the age of 31 and then buy a house by the and I didn't grow up with money it was I was


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never mentored I think if one lesson I could say to anybody is that as you're successful or you're


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working your way through success is find those mentors in your life that have been there and


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done that and they could kind of teach you how to handle these things for whatever reason and I


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found myself in a place where I was making a lot and getting a lot early in life and I didn't know


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how to handle it and then I wasn't really understanding that the actual getting those things wasn't


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necessarily the purpose in life what really was the purpose is doing something of significance


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when that added certainty and all all of those kinds of things that were all after right I was


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such an economic animal that I was getting what I wanted on the balance sheet that it wasn't adding


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the kind of you know satisfaction to me in fact I remember with the third company after getting a


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little older by the term we took the third company public I was 43 years old so 31 and 43


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three different publics or three different companies going from small private companies to growing to


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the point of being able to go public and being worth a billion billion dollars I remember standing


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on the Morgan Stanley trading floor in New York City and looking up as we were getting ready to go


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public and then seeing the stock pot from like 12 bucks a share to 23 and being worth tens of


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millions of dollars and thinking to myself I don't even really even feel happy here I don't even


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even I don't even know why I'm doing this like what was my purpose right and this and that's what


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ended up happening with me Adrian which was that okay if I'm accomplishing what I wanted and yet


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I'm still feeling a sense of dissatisfaction in my life what's the real purpose in life


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but what is it what is it that we really should be working on and that's where a recognition of


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significance and where significance comes from started to occur to me and I was still a fairly


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young man I remember I was 43 like when I had my experience in London where I became a Christian


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I was still a young man 43 still a young man I'm still young yeah even 60s young I think yeah yeah


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well thanks for saying that I appreciate it yeah thanks man so that's what happened with me so and


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it happens and it was disconcerting so what ended up happening for me as I turned to things of the


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world like drinking as an example food and other things where I was trying to fill that empty hole


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in my heart with things that wasn't being filled with the money and the success and all those things


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of the of the world so I ended up becoming a functional alcoholic and later on dysfunctional


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and then in my life God kind of led me to get sober and and those kinds of things but it I had to


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kind of hit the bottom of understanding where certain purpose and significance comes from


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and boy I didn't have any mentorship if I could just ask if I could just add anything to people


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if you're getting kind of the things that you want in life at least you think you want and


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you're living your dreams put people around you that you trust that are older that are mentors in


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your life that can help you through that through those kinds of things and if you're from a family


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that has money sometimes that can be a blessing because you realize through your generations that


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it's not really the money that is where the the significance comes from it's what you're doing


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with it that really matters right of course so um yeah you just mentioned you know obviously


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how you became a Christian the changes that led to it um if you were if let's say your life is


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you're starting again from the beginning what would you do differently I guess yeah that's a


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pretty deep question because from a theological perspective some of that is based on God's will


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right yeah yeah I mean and I'm so I know you can get into that whole like who's in charge of who


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isn't and you know that whole thing but um it's always to be so deep early in the morning by the


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way it really is yeah in particular it's we're earlier where we are than where you are so you


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know usually we wait about two and a half more hours before we dive into this kind of depth


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but I don't I'm not a guy who looks back a lot. Patricia will tell you this I'm not I don't I


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don't I'm not a reflective person in the sense of what what what does this mean for 20 years ago


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what I do what I do think a lot about is um if I could do something different what would it be


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well I would love to have a closer relationship with God in an earlier stage in my life and not


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have been an arguing atheist in my 30s I think would have that worldview would have would have


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rendered truth into into my life so that I would have had a different kind of significance and yet


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again it's kind of God's work in our lives about how that some of that happens so that's what I mean


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about the depth of theology. I don't have any regrets about working hard I wish I would not have drank


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but even in that I learned a lot about myself so I don't know I'm not a real really reflective


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person I kind of see how God's hand leaves us through the ups and downs of life right um I wish


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I would have had a mentor I it's one of the big things I can I keep expressing I wish that I would


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have had somebody that had been there and done that like a business leader somebody worth 500


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million dollars that was being effective in their lives and have satisfaction in their life to be able


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to mentor me and tell me hey it's great to be successful but you know you're not going to be


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happy with 500 million dollars unless there's a greater purpose in your life um so yeah I would


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say something like that. Well well thanks a lot for that um I guess perhaps maybe Trish could you


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tell us a little bit about how you support it stew in this maybe journey of finding a greater


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purpose in life? Like the biggest thing I did is I didn't leave him. Which I guess was pretty hard


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to do. That's a start. It wasn't always that easy. Yeah when you have to deal with addiction that's


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really really hard but um yeah no I am super blessed in that um we did we had about 10 really


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really bad years in our marriage but um neither of us I mean we shouted out the word divorce a


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couple times but we didn't truly go down that path we always came back to each other and um


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I don't know I God I shared this with people before that I believe during that season


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that God was telling me that he was more concerned with my holiness than my happiness and so I just


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needed to stay the course and um and stand by my husband I had no idea what was going to happen.


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I had no clue that God was going to radically save him. We were unequally oaked for almost 10


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years in our marriage and so when you're in that situation you don't know if God's gonna save him.


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I didn't know if he would get sober. I knew none of those things but God knew and so um


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Adrian maybe maybe I could help help even put that into less um christianese language


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because when Trish said that holiness was versus happiness thing I think I think an appreciation


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regardless of where people are in their lives uh you know secularism atheism you know whatever


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religion I think it's an important recognition though that it's in the it's in the fire the


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gold is made. I do think that we live in cultures in US culture you know whatever culture in a


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European culture whatever where people don't understand that it's often the difficulties


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that we grow the most and and I think that that recognition whether it's using terms like holiness


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versus happiness but it's the recognition that we grow more during difficulties than we do during


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during good times and and I think if people could even have that perspective to understand that


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I mean look even growing a business as an entrepreneur you're talking about success


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entrepreneurship is hard right I mean depending on the industry you're in the maybe one out of seven


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businesses that start from the ground up will make it long term depending on the industry


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right maybe 50 percent so how do you make it through it well you make it through it by never


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giving up you make it through it you make it through it by um understanding that the difficulties


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or the time periods you're going to grow the most and learn the most and so whether it's in


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marriage like the holiness versus happiness but if it's in life in general if you're going to be a


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business person you've got to be able to get up over and over and over again and not only being


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willing to persevere when you get knocked down but understand it's actually in the knocking down


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that we learn more than the standing up part so that is a really important aspect of business


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success is never giving up and growing during the during the fire and understanding again the


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gold is purified during fire right it's not purified during the during the cold it's purified


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during the heat so that's a really important recognition right so well thank thanks for


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the deep sharing just now um so before we end I guess just one last question I always end with


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asking my guests about the most important soft skill that I think one must have


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to not give up in their careers and to have a successful career so could the both of you


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maybe tell me a little bit about the most important soft skill yeah no that's awesome I love that


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I like to think often about emotional intelligence people will call it politics people will call it


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organizational behavior organizational management I think a deep a deep understanding of human nature


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and where you get that understanding can come from variety sources obviously from our perspective


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we're Christians and so we we understand human nature through the bible but it doesn't necessarily


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have to come out from that direction so the best soft skill I have is the most important aspect


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of success is your interaction with people then the then then you move into the processes and


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you know the whole system mentality and the tools that you use to be successful so you have to


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better yourself in understanding who people are and how you interact with people and what motivates


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them and that's a soft skill right that's instinct a lot of that's instinct but it's also a proper


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anthropology it's a proper understanding of who people are so I would say for me that's


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incredibly important soft skill there are those people skills and you can learn those


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some people are better at it than others right some people are more extroverted introverted


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I'm an more of an introvert but you can actually learn about people and learn how to deal with them


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right right I don't know that I can I don't know that I can improve on that answer I was


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mentioning earlier that one of my top five skills is relator and and communication and all of those


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things have to do with people skills and so um yeah so I don't think I can improve on that answer


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so ultimately success depends on our our people around us right I know in business leadership


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as a CFO board member and all of that I always like to say hire people that are better than you


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be so be so confident in who you are that always bring on people that are better than you are


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and then you will and then pour into them and be joyful about their success and don't be


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threatened by them but be joyful about how they're successful and better than you and boy you'll go a


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long way if you can do that well look it's been a pleasure speaking to the both of you I think


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I and my audience have learned a lot about you know a greater having a greater meaning to life


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and work not just about money and reputation so thanks for taking the time to come to my podcast


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thank you absolutely thank you for having us thank you thank you



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