"I remember the moment that I learned what the word entrepreneur meant. I think I was in third grade, and in that moment I knew that's what I wanted to do. So it's just been this burning thing in me for such a long time."
Mitch Causey is the Founder and CEO of DemandWell, a digital marketing agency focused on attracting and converting traffic from organic search. Over the course of his career, he’s advised dozens of companies on their marketing efforts from mom and pop shops to the Fortune 100.
In this episode, he assesses his first year as a business owner, discusses how his entrepreneurial grandfather influenced his decision to start his own agency, and shares how he confronts some of the biggest fears he faces each day.
Listen now to hear our brief conversation and be sure to check out our full library of entrepreneurial interviews.
Joe: It’s so great to be back with you on this podcast! This is our second episode during this in between time. I’m calling it the “un-season.” Earlier this year, we launched Season One where we compared creating your business story to the way an artist would go into a studio and create his or her art. And as of last week, we actually recorded Season Two of the Metaphorically Speaking podcast where we talked about fear and specifically exploring how it affects our lives or careers and the things we offer the world.
Today, we continue our series of interviews with entrepreneurs — something that we’ve been doing for several years on our blog and just recently brought to the podcast. Here we just try to get to know entrepreneurs on a personal level, find out more about what their stories are and really what made them crazy enough to start their own business. And ultimately touch on when that plot twist that might have taken place that pushed them finally over the edge into entrepreneurship.
And today, we’re talking with Mitch Causey. He’s the Founder and CEO of Demand Well, which is a digital marketing agency near Indianapolis that focuses on attracting and converting traffic from organic search. And he just recently took the leap earlier this year towards entrepreneurship after years of great success building the brand of Lessonly. And now he’s kind of building on that experience to advise companies on the their SEO, anywhere from mom and pop shops to Fortune 100 companies.
I met him earlier this year. We had an opportunity to work on a project with a client, and I knew right away I wanted to interview him. He’s just a really passionate guy. He’s got a great work ethic, really infectious attitude, and seems really destined for success.
So, with no further ado, here’s my conversation with Mitch. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Joe: We’re here with Mitch Causey, he’s a great guy. He’s a guy with a great beard. You can’t see on the podcast, but he gives me a lot of beard envy. And that’s saying a lot, because-
Mitch, DemandWell: It’s actually a little short right now.
Joe: I’m not feeling quite as bad right now. Thank you for doing that for me.
He’s out here based … you’re in Fishers, right?
Mitch, DemandWell: Noblesville.
Joe: Noblesville. Okay. Kind of the Indianapolis, Hamilton County area.
Mitch, DemandWell: Yep.
Joe: I flew out here just to talk to him from Colorado. No, but it was a nice perk of coming out here. So Mitch and I…we got a chance to work together a couple times. I’ve just loved getting to know him as much as I can on a working relationship and every time we’ve connected personally it’s always been good for me. He’s got a good story. He just started his own business in February of this year.
Mitch, DemandWell: Yeah, February.
Joe: About what, nine months ago? 10 say months ago?
Mitch, DemandWell: Yeah.
Joe: So, he’s just getting started, but things seem to be moving along pretty quickly. So I’d love to hear more about his story.
We’ll start off pretty easy with the first question. Because I go to your LinkedIn, and it’s “Mitchell.” I call you “Mitch.” So what’s your preference?
Mitch, DemandWell: My favorite’s always Mitchell, but everyone calls me Mitch.
Joe: Mitch. Okay. You’re good with either one then.
Mitch, DemandWell: Great with either one. Probably prefer Mitch.
Joe: Mitch. Perfect. Then I don’t feel so bad. I probably won’t go to Mitchell, so I’ll be good.
Mitch, DemandWell: About half of my aunts and uncles call me Mitchell. They’re about the only ones.
Joe: My mom calls me Joseph whenever I’m in trouble.
Talk a little bit about where did you grow up? Where are you from originally? Your upbringing?
Mitch, DemandWell: Yeah, yeah, for sure. I grew up for the vast majority of my life in Southport. I don’t think it’s actually a city or a town. I think it’s just an area.
Joe: Yeah, okay.
Mitch, DemandWell: I could be wrong.
Joe: So it’s part of Indianapolis, right?
Mitch, DemandWell: Yeah, it’s part of Indianapolis. Indianapolis in the address — so on the south side. Grew up there. But fun fact, I actually went to a school called Heritage Christian, which is on the north side. So I always had a 30-minute commute to school.
Joe: — especially in the wintertime. I’m sure that was fun.
Mitch, DemandWell: Oh yeah. So I have somewhat of a location crisis where I grew up on the south side, but all my friends were on the north side. So I actually know the north side better than the south side of Indianapolis.
Joe: You went there all through high school?
Mitch, DemandWell: Yeah, K through 12.
Joe: Oh wow. Okay. Awesome. Do you have brothers or sisters?
Mitch, DemandWell: Yeah, I’ve got one brother and one sister. My brother is eight years older than me, and sister is six years older than me.
Joe: Okay. The baby.
Mitch, DemandWell: Yeah, I’m the baby.
Joe: I can relate to that. I’ve got seven siblings older than me.
Mitch, DemandWell: Oh my gosh.
Joe: Four half siblings. No, six half siblings and one full.
Mitch, DemandWell: Oh my gosh.
Joe: You’ve got two kids now, right?
Mitch, DemandWell: So we have a 15 month old and a negative one month old.
Joe: Negative one month. Yeah, I didn’t know it was that soon. Okay. Because I left here three months ago and I knew one was on the way. I think in my mind, it was happening sooner than that. Awesome. Wow. Exciting.
Mitch, DemandWell: Yeah. Both boys.
Joe: Both boys okay.
Mitch, DemandWell: First one was Marshall, second one will be Caleb.
Joe: Okay. No Mitchell?
Mitch, DemandWell: No Mitchell.
Joe: Mitchell Jr?
Mitch, DemandWell: We thought Marshall was close enough.
Joe: Yeah. That is close. Where’d you meet your wife at then?
Mitch, DemandWell: So we met in public speaking class our Sophomore year of high school.
Joe: High school. Okay. She was at Heritage too.
Mitch, DemandWell: Yeah. And then we started dating two weeks before we graduated high school.
Mitch, DemandWell: Yeah.
Joe: That’s interesting.
Mitch, DemandWell: Technically high school sweethearts.
Joe: Yeah, definitely. Is she from the North side?
Mitch, DemandWell: She is. She’s from the Carmel area. But she went around all over Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana a couple times.
Mitch, DemandWell: But they landed in the area.
Joe: Okay. Military family or something?
Mitch, DemandWell: No. Her dad was a just an executive at a lot of companies. So he’d be the CFO in this company, so they’d have to move there or VP of this in another company and have to move there.
Joe: I probably wouldn’t have asked that question three months ago, but we’re right in Colorado Springs which is right by the Air Force Academy, so I feel like half the people we meet are somehow connected to the military, or they were there years ago, or they’re not there now.
Mitch, DemandWell: Yeah for sure.
Joe: That’s crazy. So I’m always curious, just meeting more and more entrepreneurs, who just that balance of life and you’ve got your family, you’ve got your work and you’re putting a lot into your work to get it going I’m sure for you, especially as you’re getting the foundation set. I feel like just in talking with you, you’ve always been very upfront with me on, well, I can do that in three months or I can talk to you in four days. You’re very conscious of how much time you have and when your open windows are. So I imagine that falls into your family too protecting them and their time. Do you think that’s a fair assessment to say that you sort of have created some pretty good barriers around your family to protect them? How do you think you’re doing with that?
Mitch, DemandWell: Yeah. For sure. I think there’s different seasons in life. I talk a lot about seasons. I think back to my last job where I was employee number three, and ended up being there for five years. You’re up to 100 employees or whatever at that company and in that season of time, I limited 45 hours a week. No matter what. Just nine hours a day. No matter what. Calling it quits. If I didn’t get to something, it’s moving to next week. That was awesome. Can’t quite do that right now.
Joe: For sure.
Mitch, DemandWell: In a season of definitely for me, not where I want to be in terms of spending time with the family. But, my wife and I do date night every week.
Mitch, DemandWell: Have dinner with them and do the nightly routine with my son. Pretty much every night and then go back to work. Trying to find that balance. Hopefully this season of truly limiting work time will come sooner than later.
Joe: Yeah. I think that’s always, and I didn’t start out, I had the corporate career for a long time. So I think I did an okay job with turning off work and then it does get hard when you’re an entrepreneur to really … Especially when you work out of the house. I’m not sure, do you do that as well?
Mitch, DemandWell: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Joe: Everything blends together and you don’t know what hat you’re wearing at what time. And of course your kids don’t see that. They’re like you’re home, lets play.
Mitch, DemandWell: Right. Exactly.
Joe: No, I’m actually working until four or five.
Mitch, DemandWell: Yeah. Exactly.
Joe: That’s interesting.
Mitch, DemandWell: I think too, when we’ve communicated about time, I think a lot of that comes from more of a dedication to quality than not. I’d rather say no to someone for five months than yes, and then do a crap job. So I think more than anything that’s a big motivation for that. Just that I want to knock it out of the park every time when I say yes. So I say yes as few times as possible.
Joe: Yeah. That’s awesome. Yeah I think those are sometimes lessons learned the hard way. Put some barriers up, you don’t have to do it that way. As we talked about, you’re really kind of new in this game, you’ve been doing it since February, doing your own thing. How are you feeling about your decision to make the jump? Are you regretting it? You going back to work tomorrow at your old job? Or are you feeling pretty good about it?
Mitch: No way. That was my absolutely favorite job of my whole life so far. Just had a blast building the team collaboratively with everybody there.
Joe: That was at Lessonly right?
Mitch: Yeah. Lessonly. And working with that team, especially Max, the CEO. If you haven’t read his book yet, Do Better Work, it’s incredible.
Joe: Hopefully he’ll sponsor this podcast.
Mitch: Yeah. It’s such a glimpse into the wonderful person that he is. And that he brings to work every day to inspire everybody there. Had an absolute blast there, but over time was blessed with the opportunity to essentially replace myself entirely on the marketing team, including hiring an all star pro marketer to lead the team, named Kyle Lacy. I can’t say enough good things about him and really, everybody there. But, it got to the point where I knew that I could still contribute, but I also knew that I could probably contribute more and learn a heck of a lot more if I kind of spread my wings. And so I did, and I have. I’ve learned so much in the last seven months.
Joe: What are some of those lessons you sort of gleaned so far?
Mitch: I feel like I always get to the point where I think I know it all. As soon as you reach that point, it’s like, no, you know nothing. Honestly, it sounds silly, but one of the biggest ones that really even the first few months before I officially launched was just cash flow. That’s obviously so important, but when I was at Lessonly, I never had to deal with that. Never had to be the one managing that. And so, creating forecasts of okay, I need to actually produce this much and set up my contract terms in a way that I’m going to have cashflow when I need it. Stuff like that. I think that was one of the big ones.
Joe: Yeah. That is important. Such a mind shift when you’re responsible to set those things up. So your company is called Demand Well, which I don’t think we’ve actually mentioned. Talk a little bit about the name. Just as a content guy, I’m always interested in the story behind that and where’s that come from?
Mitch: Yeah. For sure. It kind of has a dual meaning. The more business, marketing side is to be the source of demand. Like a well is a source of water, so we are the demand well, that you can get demand from. Or we can help you create more demand. So that’s kind of the business pitch side of things. But the truer and I think better answer is just a challenge to me and to the customers I work with and anyone who joins my team to truly demand good in the world. There’s so many people that just don’t have opportunity right now for lack of clean water, being enslaved in trafficking situations, list goes on and on. But there’s so many people that don’t have opportunity and so, that’s the biggest one is that I can’t sleep well at night while that is the case. So I absolutely am demanding that we change that.
That’s one of the big reasons why I started this company in the first place, was to be able to have a significant increase in cash flow so that I can have a significant increase in cash flow out to people who need it more than I do.
Joe: Yeah. So do you have some partnerships or alignments that you’re already committed to, or you have visions for?
Mitch: Yeah. Absolutely. So some that my wife and I have really been giving to since we were in college and really want to scale as much as we can.
Joe: We probably also haven’t really mentioned this, but Demand Well does, I would say it’s SEO, search engine optimization. That’s probably a simplified way to describe it.
Mitch: Yeah. I kind of say two things. One is the SEO side and then once you get that traffic to your site, help folks actually convert that better with your conversion rate optimization as well. So kind of that dual focus as much as you can.
Joe: Thinking about your kids and thinking about SEO, and thinking about my clients when I’m trying to explain SEO to them, and they’re sort of like, why do we need it? Why does this matter? What does content have to do with it? So I’m curious from somebody who lives in the world a lot more than I do, how would you describe that to your kids? Describe SEO to your kids. Then maybe would help make sense for all of us.
Mitch: Right. It’s hard with my kids because they’re just forming and just making grunts.
Joe: So it’s my child. He’s five years old. He’s five. How about that?
Mitch: I feel like I typically say something along the lines of helping people get more traffic from people searching in Google. That’s the SEO side. And then on the conversion side is, then once those people are now on your website, how do you get them to do what you want them to do?
Joe: Seems to make sense to me. How exactly do you, you had talked about some late nights. Put the kids down, put the child down and then you’re back up. How do you serve your clients with what you do? Maybe walk through a day of what you’re tackling. Because I know you’ve done some work for my clients and there’s been, as you described it, as I’ll be offline for a while doing the work. And then you come out, you’ve produced a significant amount of research on this stuff. But maybe talk a little bit about what happens when you’re away doing research. What kind of stuff do you do for your clients?
Mitch: So typically, I will have some sort of an upfront audit, planning phase typically around 30 or 45 days. Like I said, I go offline. Sometimes I say I go dark. Don’t really communicate a whole lot. And then after that, ideally, working with someone on a recurring basis, whether that’s weekly or monthly or whatever it is, where we have those regular check-ins to make sure the things we talked about are actually occurring.
And so during that audit phase, I really look at three things. And it’s really kind of the three categories that I personally break down the Google search algorithm. That is ACE. All of that in a word is ACE. So A-C-E, stands for architecture, content and endorsements. Architecture are the really technical pieces like page speed and mobile usability, making sure it’s responsive. Having a secured server. Stuff like that.
On the content front, pretty self explanatory. It’s content. But specifically text based content. And help folks do a ton of keyword research to understand basically the whole universe of content that they should be writing about.
And then lastly is endorsements. Those are third-party websites that link back to your site. Google basically looks at each of those three categories, gives you a score, adds all that up, and that’s basically how they rank your site. So I’ll look at each of those three categories, put together a specific plan of understanding where they’re at today, where they should be and train them on how to bridge that gap.
Joe: Well I can attest to the in depthness of this report. We’re working through with one client and we could work on it for 10 years and it would still just scratch the surface I think. So it’s super intense. And you talked a little bit about that second piece, the content. Obviously that’s the world that I live in. The challenge, and probably you pay attention to this a little bit is the challenge to write for spiders. Things that are crawling through your site. And it’s the writing for humans who actually care about the content. What makes it legible. So maybe talk a little bit about that piece, just as it relates to my audience.
Mitch: Absolutely. That’s why I always bring up that second piece of conversion, because you could publish content that a robot has written on a all white website with no styling and just black text. And Google might rank that. But if anyone lands there, they’re not going to do what you want them to do. And so that’s where the conversion side comes in. So some of those factors are what are you saying? What’s the messaging? But it also has it laid out visually and stuff like that. That is equally important. I think a lot of folks sometimes focus on that first, to the detriment of search. Because they’re just not focused on including key words, including that intentionally non-human side. Is really difficult I think for most marketers to gravitate toward. Without much coaching.
Joe: For sure.
Mitch: So I think if I can help folks integrate that piece into it, typically the charts go up and to the right.
Joe: I agree. You’re educating not only your clients, but even in my position, marketers who have a grasp of what you’re doing, but my brain isn’t wired from that vantage point. I was trained to be writing. It’s easier for me to do that, and then I have to put it in there so that Google cares about. So trying to find that balance, that can be tough. But pushing me to think about it that way is good. Your brain is just wired differently than mine.
Mitch: Yeah. Exactly.
Joe: Probably a good thing. What we always try to tackle with these interviews is just to explore that plot twist that happened in your life that led you to start your business. And you kind of unpacked it a little bit earlier, but I want to get back to that.
Maybe we just back track a second and just talk about maybe your career path and specifically marketing roles — so maybe not your time at McDonald’s or wherever you spent time before that. But maybe as you forayed into marketing. Where did you start? What are some of the roles you played? Build up into Lessonly and then we’ll kind of dive into the jump you made.
Mitch: Yeah. That sounds great. When I was a Sophomore in high school, it was actually the same year I met my now, wife. That was a big year.
Joe: Yeah. I guess so.
Mitch: I took an internship at an architecture firm. I wanted to be an architect. Was there, loved it, but the one thing that every single person in that building said to me was, unless it’s the absolute most favorite thing you’ve ever done in your life, do not do it. Because it’s going to take you 10 to 15 years to get to the level that you think you want to be at. And by then, it’s kind of like the end of your career. And I so I was like, okay, I really like this, but I’m not going to do that.
Left there, ended up having a kind of, I can’t remember what they call it, but a gap class through school that was actually from a college that I ended up going to. Indiana Wesleyan University up in Marion, Indiana. And in that class, I kind of got the introduction to marketing. It was really intro to business, but part of it was marketing, and it was kind of the first time I truly understood what marketing was. Kind of was interested in that. Ended up having someone in one of my classes in college kind of get up in front of the class and say, “Hey, I’m making $100,000 online.” And I was like, whoa, I’m going to try that.
And I asked them what they were doing, they were doing affiliate marketing. And so I was like, okay, let me give that a shot. Tried it out. Made zero money. But learned a lot about SEO. So, from that point, I actually got clients outside of my dorm room in the SEO space. Actually then, right when I graduated college, I wanted to start my own SEO agency and instead, I was recruited to an SEO agency called Slingshot SEO. Which at the time was the 58th fastest growing company in America. And is now no longer.
Joe: I think you were there when I interviewed for a Marketing Director position.
Joe: I think I looked at your, is it 2012?
Mitch: I think it was ’11 and ’12.
Joe: So I think ’11 is when I interviewed there. So I think our paths crossed not knowing.
Mitch: That’s awesome.
Joe: Obviously I didn’t get the job. But it all turned out well, because then I started this thing.
Mitch: So I did that for a couple years. Had a blast. Had some awesome clients like Fed Ex and Sears and K-Mart and just able to learn so much working at that scale. So then I wanted some management experience, went in house at a company locally here at the time, called Defender Direct, now it’s called Defenders. It’s a ADT reseller. Just had such good experiences there learning even more. But I also kind of wanted a change after a year there, it was a little too corporate for my taste.
A buddy of mine who was employee number two at Lessonly called me and said, “Hey. We want someone to run marketing.” And so I said, “Okay.” Two weeks later I was there as number three. Scraped, scratched, crawled every day for five years for us to grow at the clip that we did. Like I said earlier, reached a point where just felt like it was time for me to move on.
Joe: And was that mostly your efforts with them, is that mostly through SEO practices? Were you doing sort of broad marketing like that? Or what were you doing?
Mitch: I was the only marketing person. So I was doing everything. As I said earlier, I replaced myself. I intentionally did that because I actually found out that I’m really bad at most things in marketing. And so I’d be like I’m terrible at event marketing. Let’s hire an event manager. I’m terrible at graphic design that makes people do what you want them to do. So, hired designers. Like we talked about brain wiring, we called it brand and demand. Brand being the kind of more creative side. Demand being the more science side. I’m very much on demand. That’s another reason for Demand Well. I hired a co-director of brand. So I was the director of demand, he was the director of brand for a while. Slowly but surely found out that I was not great at a lot things. And so would hire people to fill in those gaps.
Joe: So tell me, just from the SEO standpoint, you said you got into that in college, really thought that’s what you wanted to get in to. What was it about SEO that was super appealing to you? Because from my vantage point, there’s nothing appealing about it. Help me understand why you like to do what you do.
Mitch: I think there’s two sides to the coin. One is, I love solving problems and it’s one place that I’ve yet to see a situation that I could not eventually unpack. Some challenges are harder than others. But, I think to date, I’ve always had an answer for why something happened. Whether I liked that outcome or not, I’m pretty sure I know what it was that changed. So I love it from a problem solving perspective.
But what I love, I think even more than that, is I think Google is the greatest social experiment of all time. Think about, there’s no other social database that has billions and billions and billions of data points every single day of people searching. And so when I do keyword research, that’s actually my favorite thing in all of marketing. After having done all the roles, that is my favorite thing. Because it opens and unlocks the mind of the population as a whole and understand why do they search for this word instead of this word? Or why is that word searched so much more than this other word? Just kind of understanding that I think is just so fascinating. And that is really what keeps me coming back.
Joe: So you can get the answers to those kind of questions when you understand, not just that they search something, you’re able to explore the why?
Mitch: And a lot of it is inference. It’s like comparing different things and kind of drawing conclusions.
Joe: But you’re looking at a lot of data points to come to that conclusion. That’s awesome. So then maybe talk a little bit. So you were at Lessonly for a while, had some great success and it wasn’t the corporate experience you had just come from, so it really kind of jived I think more with you. What came to happen that just said, okay, now it’s time to go on to the next step. Because you’ve been part of a good success story. So, sometimes people would ride that train for as long as it’s successful, right? They still are successful. Talk about some of the things that happened in your life that maybe led you to make that jump.
Mitch: A big one actually starts back in I think 1961.
Joe: Back when I was born. Oh no, no.
Mitch: I don’t think either of us were around back then. But my grandpa was. A guy named Ron Jackson. When he was 27, he started a marketing agency called the Jackson Group. It was one of Indy’s top marketing agencies for decades. It was always top three for a very long time, until he sold it when he was 70. Like I said earlier, I didn’t really know what marketing was until college, but my grandpa who was my biggest mentor and probably my favorite person on the planet, he ran a marketing agency. But it was through that agency that he was able to provide a lifestyle for our whole family and just everyone that he touched, to live a life really beyond their means. He was a huge donor in Tech High School, local high school, where he went to high school. They have a turf field, all sorts of stuff. My grandpa is, he’s still alive, through that time, he was able to just really help others grow beyond what they could have done on their own. And that’s the mission of Demand Well is that we help others grow.
Kind of going back to demanding well in the world, help others grow by helping people who can’t help themselves. And also, help marketers be the best marketers they can be. Back to your question, that has just always been a burning desire in me, ever since I learned why my grandpa’s title of entrepreneur meant. I literally remember the moment that I learned what the word entrepreneur meant. And in that moment, I think I was in third grade or something. In that moment, I was like, I know that’s what I want to do. So it’s just been this burning thing in me for such a long time. And like I said, at Lessonly, went from a personnel perspective, really built out this really rock solid team, so I wasn’t as necessary I think as I was prior.
And also then, just from a personal front, my wife and I lived on a lake here locally, Morse Reservoir and we kind of flipped this old shack of a house into a little less shack-y of a house.
Mitch: And were able to sell that for quite a good profit. And so, we essentially for the first time, had seed money that we could live off of for a few months if need be. Thankfully, business has gone better than I expected and we haven’t had to burn through much of that. We have it there, just in case. And that was really the first time in our career that was possible. So if there was a matchstick moment, it was probably the flipping of our house, but the whole rick of wood sitting next to it was the burning desire basically to follow in my grandpa’s footsteps.
Joe: That’s awesome. Probably have a whole lot of conversations about the business growing up since you didn’t really know what marketing was until college. Have you since had a lot of conversations with him about owning a business and some of those things?
Mitch: Yeah. We’ve had some really great conversations lately. And the cool thing is, even growing up, I would go visit him there and we would talk about business, but it wasn’t so much about marketing. It was more about how to love your employees and how to treat your employees well. And essentially, how to create a great culture of loyalty and all that stuff. There’s people there today that still say they’re there because of my grandpa. Even though he hasn’t been around there for years.
Joe: Still a foundation there.
Mitch: Yeah, exactly. So I feel like I learned a lot about, really, just treating people well in general, but also, specifically, your employees and I think through the decades, he had to do maybe a round of layoffs here and there or whatever, just depending on the season or whatever. He would be in tears when he was talking about those times. It’s was just so important to him that he would take care of the people that surround him every day.
I got to learn so much about that. Our more recent conversations, it’s been really cool to hear more of the specific side on the business side and it was funny, when I told him just a couple months ago when I told him that I was doing this, the first words out of his mouth were, “Now how old are you?” I said, “I’m 30.” And he said, “Okay, good. I was 27, I still beat you.”
Joe: That’s awesome. So competitive. That’s great. Last couple questions, then we’ll wrap this up. Appreciate your time. Right now, we’re prepping for season two of the podcast, which we’re on kind of this in between season. We’re doing these interviews with entrepreneurs, but season two, we’re going to talk about fears and how we move and live through fear. So I’d love to get you a couple questions for you related to that. Are there fears, here’s how we’ve asked other people. Are there fears that keep you up at night? Which sometimes is a little bit dramatic. I know there are fears that don’t really keep me up at night, but they do cross my mind and they are meaningful. So maybe you hear it in a different way. But are there fears that impact you deeply?
Mitch: Absolutely. I feel like it could go very deep.
Joe: We only have about 15 more minutes left until the podcast place closes up.
Mitch: Perfect. Little known fact, when I was 26, was clinically diagnosed with obsessive, compulsive disorder. So, OCD. I think OCD has become a colloquially used phrase of you like to have a clean house. I’m OCD about cleaning my house or whatever, which totally cool, keep saying it. Whatever. But I actually have OCD and it has impacted me so much, but thankfully, when I was in that timeframe, got professional help from mental health professionals and they gave me just really, really, really great tools to use in that.
And the reason I bring it up around the idea of fear is that, that’s basically all OCD is. It’s almost like a constant fear. So is fear a part of my life? Absolutely. Every minute. It absolutely is. Some people call it the doubting disease. Which you could say the fearing disease.
Constantly fearing certain things. And it shows up in different ways for everybody. That’s a big thing for me is fear. But I actually think about my OCD as kind of like my superpower and not just to make myself feel better, but I think it has changed the way that my brain operates because I know that my brain is constantly fighting against me. I’m always on guard. I’m always questioning what do I feel? Versus what choice am I going to make about how I respond? What happens next? All that stuff.
So it’s really been so helpful to me to actually have had this disease because it has made me so much more intentional about fighting back against fear and giving me the tools to fight back where I think people that haven’t had it, maybe get fear thrown at them rarely and it’s in those times where you may not be prepared, but I feel pretty prepared to do that.
Joe: You’ve kind of answered the next question too. Because I was interested in people that we surveyed of how do you respond to fear when it comes up. You’ve kind of answered. A couple options, recognize and run from it, fight or challenge it, share with some others, pretend it’s not there, which is usually where I tend to go.
Mitch: Yeah, sure.
Joe: We’re all good, we’re all good. Right?
Mitch: Yeah. Yeah.
Joe: But you said that you kind of fight against it. What are some ways you do that I guess?
Mitch: Absolutely. So, for me, it’s really about time. And one of those tools that some folks helped me kind of create what they call stop words. So in the world of OCD, it’s essentially like the cyclical loop of whatever it is and so a stop word is just a phrase that gets you out of the loop. And I think we all get in that sense where lets say if I have a fear, kind of on the business side right now, it’s who should I hire? You can go through that loop all day long. Who should I hire? Who should I hire? Thinking about different parts of that. Just overthinking, overthinking, overthinking. But if you recognize yourself doing that, and you have some sort of stop word or stop experience. Literally, just stop if you’re walking. Literally stop or anything, just change your physical stance.
Joe: Physical movement affects the internal-
Mitch: Yeah exactly. Physical stance change, either say something to yourself, breathe in deeply three times or whatever it is. Literally it can be anything. We were just watching Inception and as long as you know what it means, then that’s what’s important. If you do that, then it just creates a break in that cyclical chain. And then that gives you just enough space that you can choose what the next action is.
Joe: That’s interesting. I think that’s so applicable to anybody. So helpful, because I do think we do tend to devalue the power of the physical, and we sometimes just become victims of our own minds in a lot of ways, and we just assume that it has total control, and there’s sometimes just through movement, through breathing, through those exercises we’re able to, as you said, stop it and halt it and retake control or at least break from it.
Joe: So last question. People think about words of wisdom that you can get from people from years of experience. I’ve been doing this for … Your grandfather, you’d have some great words of experience, words of wisdom from his experience, and I also think there’s a lot of value in words of wisdom that come from fresh experiences. So your grandfather would have great stories, but it’s been from a bygone era, and you’ve got experiences that apply today that are relevant and provide in my mind, just as much value. So maybe as you think about the next person ready to start his own business, even though it’s early on, what are some words of wisdom you’d pass along to that person?
Mitch: I think the two keys to my success so far are both relationships. The first is just having an unbelievable life partner that is my wife, that’s onboard. We made the decision in January of ’18 that we were going to make this change in roughly January of ’19. I would not have made that decision if she would not have made that decision with me. We do everything lockstep. When we notice that we’re off, we talk about it and get back together on lockstep. So her support just has been unbelievable through the whole process, and I literally could not have done it without her. Still can’t do it without her, even more so. I feel like day by day.
But then the other one, relationship wise is just the community. I’ve had way more opportunities in my sales force instance then I deserved to have at this stage. 90% of those have come from referrals, people sharing stuff on LinkedIn about me that I didn’t ask them to share, they just did. Stuff like that where the Indy community, the tech community, there’s an organization called the Orr Fellowship. Every community I’ve been a part of in the Indy area has really just stepped up in ways that I never, ever really could have even asked for. But they have, and so its interesting, the idea of an overnight success, it’s like I kind of feel like I’ve had an overnight success, but it took 10 years of me working to get there.
Joe: Yeah for sure. You’ve had a vision for a while. So it doesn’t just happen and people start knocking on your door. It all comes together. It’s been fun to watch, even from a distance. I was trying to do the math on how long you’ve been in business, because you’ve been so busy and had such success, I didn’t think it would happen since just February of this year. I’m glad we were able to partner, and hopefully we get a chance to do that again.
Mitch: Absolutely. Me too.
Joe: Cool. I appreciate your time.
Mitch: Of course.
Joe: It’s late at night, so thanks, after a long day of research and stuff, making some time for us.
Mitch: Yeah. Absolutely. Thanks for having me.
Joe: Yeah. It’s been fun.
Mitch: You’ve been listening to Metaphorically Speaking. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, please rate us on iTunes and subscribe on your favorite podcast app. For more information and to check out our full library of entrepreneurial interviews, visit keyholemarketing.us. Also feel free to send us an email anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for listening.
Joe: You’ve been listening to Metaphorically Speaking. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, please rate us on iTunes and subscribe on your favorite podcast app.
For more information and to check out our full library of entrepreneurial interviews, visit keyholemarketing.us. Also feel free to send us an email anytime at email@example.com.
Thank you for listening.