Million Dollar Monday

One Powerful Tip to Achieve Success Sooner

July 11, 2022 Greg Muzzillo
Million Dollar Monday
One Powerful Tip to Achieve Success Sooner
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Chad Agate has over two decades of experience as a serial entrepreneur, tech innovator, and disciplined coach and mentor. He has started and exited four businesses and is currently CEO of Spinach Pay, a privately owned company focused on building innovative solutions in payment processing. Agate has achieved success and inspired others to follow their dreams. He has earned his stellar reputation through focused determination and relentless discipline. Most recently, USA Today recognized Agate as one of the top 10 entrepreneurs to watch.

Chapter Summaries

  • 0:45 - Introducing Chad Agate
  • 1:45 - Big Mistakes
  • 4:01 - Life After Prison
  • 6:31 - Lessons Learned
  • 9:44 - Have a Strong Call to Action
  • 12:48 - Next Business
  • 14:30 - Morning Routine

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Key Takeaways

  • Let's figure out what I need to do to stop feeling sorry for myself and change the situation.
  • You're going to do something a lot of the times that either hasn't been done before, it's massive amounts of risk and we have to be optimistic. We have to believe we're going to be successful.
  • A lot of people, for whatever reason, find themselves in the prison of their own mind. They go through painful divorces. Maybe they had difficult childhood…whether they're real prisons or prisons in their mind, breaking free and just realizing there are other people that maybe have it worse. And that there's a brilliant path forward is a great learning lesson for all of us.
  • An entrepreneurial mindset is the belief that I can do this. 
  • Answer real questions that real people are asking, give them answers and create value and have a strong CTA, pull them through your sales funnels. 
  • As soon as you get after the tough stuff, the sooner you're going to achieve success
  • So I start my day, every single day, I'm out of bed by 3:00 AM. I think that's the first opportunity for me to win when that alarm clock goes off, I'm up. Immediately, I start my training routine, then I tackled the most difficult task of the day, whatever that may be. And I'm usually able do that before anybody else is awake. Start with the hard things. 
  • Do this one important thing…Eat the frog. Do the tough thing first. So important.
  •  There’s no secret. It's grit, it's persistence. It's sticking to it and not giving up. It's being wanting to work harder than anyone seems thinks as rational. Just keep going.
  • As soon as you get after the tough stuff, the sooner you're going to achieve success

Resource Links

Greg Muzzillo:

Helloand welcome to Million Dollar Monday. I'm your host, Greg Muzzillo, bringing you real successful people with real useful advice for people with big dreams. I understand big dreams. I turned an investment of $200 and a lot of great advice from some really successful people into my big dream proforma. That today is a half billion dollar company. Well, hello and welcome. I am very intrigued by my guest today who has lots of stories, even though he is still a young man, only in his forties, he has life full of great experiences. He's a serial entrepreneur starting and exiting four different businesses. He's made some huge mistakes along the way that he's going to share with us. He's done some incredible things, right that he's gonna share with us, because at the end of the day Million Dollar Money is about providing great motivation, great advice for aspiring and existing entrepreneurs. So please join me in welcoming Chad Agate. Chad, thanks for joining us.

Chad Agate:

Thanks a lot for having me here, Greg.

Greg Muzzillo:

All right . So let's start at the big mistake that kind of proceeded all of your successes. Let's just start there. Talk to us about that one, Chad, because it really differentiates you from every other guest I've had.

Chad Agate:

Sure. Um, at about 19 years old , living in the south side of Chicago, I was incarcerated for distribution of narcotics , um, and had the joys of spending , uh , being sentenced to five years in a federal prison. So it was a very, very difficult time. I would say a time where you spent a lot of time reflecting and quite honestly for the first part of it feeling really sorry for myself in things like how do you end up in jail for selling drugs? Like what am I doing with my life? And then there was one day I was flipping through feeling really sorry for myself, flipping through a national geographic magazine. And I saw a photo of a guy in some east Asian country. I really can't remember from the top of my head, but he was naked in socks. And I was like, okay . I thought my life was bad. <laugh> I could be that guy and let's figure out what I need to do to stop feeling sorry for myself. Okay . And change this situation. Um, that was a very difficult time. I would say,

Greg Muzzillo:

You know, there's a lot of people listening, Chad and I say, but for the grace of God, many of them, including me, maybe could have spent some time in prison. However, it doesn't really matter whether it's prison with bars. There's a lot of people who, for whatever reason, find themselves in the prison of their own mind, right. They go through painful divorces. Maybe they had difficult childhood. Maybe they were abused, whatever. There's a lot of people that live inside of prisons, whether they're real prisons or prisons in their mind and breaking out, breaking free and just realizing there are other people that maybe have it worse and that there's a brilliant path forward , um , is a great learning lesson for all of us. So . Alright , so then you get out of prison and then did you go straight onto college? What followed

Chad Agate:

I did. I went to university. Okay . And I said, you know, I'm going to put this behind me. This is not going to be the thing that limits my life. Right. And it was, it was difficult. You hear, you have this big smash to your ego, right . When you try to get a job at a gas station and they , you check that box that says, yes, I've been convicted of a felon. So it quickly happened. I was like, okay , I have no choice. I have to be an entrepreneur because I am not going to spend my life living like this. So I studied, I dedicated my time to becoming the best human being that I could be , um, studying, exercising , learning my craft. My craft was computer science programming , um, and got really, really strong at that. And yeah, after university, I started my first company , an information security company , that was , uh , little after nine 11 , focused on security audits, developing information and data security solutions

Greg Muzzillo:

And how , right. Right, right. And , and how long did you run that? Uh , prior to exit

Chad Agate:

Sure. That company we ran for about five years , that was actually one of our successful exits. I had a partner at the time. Uh, it was a successful exit zone and , you know , you're riding that high on, I was feeling really, really good about that business , um, which moved into my next business. It was a not so successful exit. And I think this would be one of those other big moments where you're like , oh man. After the fact, I was like, I learned a lot from this. It was like a pretty big failure. And that's then that one , um, I probably did everything. There was a voiceover IP company and I probably did everything wrong that someone could do when they're raising money.

Greg Muzzillo:

what kind of business was it again?

Chad Agate:

A voiceover IP. Okay . So we basically were, we built a enterprise level , voiceover IP soft switch. Um, and then again, I learned a lot about evangelical sales. So like con this was before voiceover IP was very popular. So I had to convince people first buy voiceover IP, then once I convinced them how great voiceover IP was buy voiceover IP from me. And we were competing at a time with companies like Cisco and whatnot .

Greg Muzzillo:

All right . So what were the big lessons you learned? What were the big things that maybe you did, right ? What were the big things that you learned never to do again?

Chad Agate:

Sure. There was a , a couple of big points and first I did everything that you could possibly do wrong in a VC deal . I gave up control of my board. I gave the VCs a security interest in all of my intellectual property iIn the event of the bankruptcy. They had sole right of refusal on our next round, just about everything one can do wrong. Um, I ended up missing my number by a very small amount. And for the longest time I was like, this is wild but in the event, I missed my number for very small amount. The VC firm ABC, the company, an assignment for the benefit of creditors. It's like bankruptcy light . They then , because of that, they got security interest of my intellectual property. And they were able to sell my intellectual property off to someone for 30 million . That was a very, very hard lesson learned for a very long time. I blamed the VC and then I took a step back and I was like, you know, if I was really , uh , missing a number by $10,000 a year end , if I was doing a great job, I probably would've let it go. Let's take another look at myself. And what was I doing? And quite frankly, Greg, I was not a nice person. My employees hated me. I just, I didn't carry myself well, I just tried to drive, drive, drive, drive, drive, drive to success, no matter what,

Greg Muzzillo:

You know, I think a wonderful lesson that you're sort of mentioning here is that everybody that's listening, that's aspiring to be an entrepreneur, is gonna miss their numbers. And uh, so because everybody going into a deal's optimistic and then the money people, whomever can be very brilliant about getting you almost backing you into numbers that they know you're gonna miss and setting you the entrepreneur up for taking maximum advantage when, and if you do miss a number.

Chad Agate:

Yeah. I would agree with that. And I would say as entrepreneurs, you have to be a little bit crazy and a little bit optimistic, right? Like, I say a little bit crazy. You're going to do something a lot of the times, it either hasn't been done before, it's massive amounts of risk in putting that out there and we have to be optimistic. We have to believe we're going to be successful.

Greg Muzzillo:

All right . So 30 million did you not get any of it? So you had intellectual property worth $30 million and you didn't get any of it.

Chad Agate:

Yeah , that's right. That's right. Hard lesson learned. Right.

Greg Muzzillo:

Ouch . That would kind of feel like knowing that you won the lottery, but not being able to find that ticket in your

Chad Agate:

Pocket. <laugh> <laugh> yeah , yeah . That was not pleasant

Greg Muzzillo:

Now . Alright .

Chad Agate:

That actually led to one of those. The next big learning , uh

Greg Muzzillo:

Oh, good

Chad Agate:

Please. It was, it was that point where I ended up feeling sorry for myself. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and blaming a lot of people. Sure. And it was like my VCs did this and this is their fault. And it led me to have a next big lesson. Like the real big lesson learned is like, look man, you wanna be the boss? You wanna be an entrepreneur, this isn't on anyone except for you. And that was a liberating moment liberating. And I'm gonna to be honest, terrifying that having that there's no one to blame and everything is my fault.

Greg Muzzillo:

That's right. What was the third business that you got into ,

Chad Agate:

Uh, after that it was a , uh , marketing agency, ah , I didn't do the, the, the sexy New York style or LA style marketing agency, again, I'm from the south side of Chicago. So I went and worked with mid-market manufacturing and wholesale distribution companies. My focus was on digital marketing. Mm-hmm <affirmative> inbound marketing, teaching people. How to essentially do that. My sweet spot really was companies that were between that 50 million and 500 million in revenue. And I'll be honest, we just made it so we could hit a home run every single time. Right. This is like, we were doing tricks that today probably wouldn't work back then if I was in a high volume eCommerce, it wouldn't work. But with mid-market manufacturing and WDS, it was a home run every single time.

Greg Muzzillo:

Why do you think some of those ideas wouldn't work today?

Chad Agate:

Um, well some of them there's the way browsers have worked, have changed a bit. Um, as far as like some of the tracking codes, you see some of this privacy legislation that's changing now, some of these kind of things. Uh , and there's just so many people that are employing this exact same tactics understood . You strip down some of the basics though. A lot of the basics work, right? Answer real questions that real people are asking, give out answers and create value and have a strong CTA get to pull them through your sales funnels. So some the core concepts, they work, the techniques that you have to adapt them .

Greg Muzzillo:

Yeah . CTA call to action.

Chad Agate:

Call to action. Exactly. Sorry . Yeah,

Greg Muzzillo:

Yeah , yeah . Yeah . So many people forget that it's a huge point, you know, and you just mentioned three letters, but so many people spend so much money or effort on sales calls and advertising and social media stuff. And yet there's, there's never like a , so what do you want me to do? What is the call to action out of all of this, right? Yes .

Chad Agate:

Yeah. that's funny. I still advise quite a few people on their digital marketing and inbound marketing. And they'll forget what the page is trying to do. And I'm like, your sales page is just trying to sell a sign up . Why are you trying to sell every product and service that you offer? And all you need is a sign up here. So let's keep it focused. Get the sign up , get them pulled through clear calls for action.

Greg Muzzillo:

Yeah. That's a mistake I've made. I I'll bet that's a mistake. A lot of people make a lot of people wanna tell , wanna tell the whole story and sell the whole enchilada if you will, but wait a minute, you only wanted people to like sign up for the next step, whatever the next step is. And that's what you gotta sell. You gotta sell whatever that next step is. That's one of those series of steps of getting people to where we wanna go, but we don't wanna sell where we want people to go when we only want them to just get on the first rung or whatever the rung is. And I can still see that in advertising today. Right. People just, yeah. What's the call to action. And how do you just market that? Yeah . Call to action.

Chad Agate:

Exactly.

Greg Muzzillo:

All right . So you successfully sold that and then you were onto another

Chad Agate:

Startup . Yeah . And this is where I'm at right now. Um, with an online seller of cannabis accessories in the United States, Australia and Europe and cannabis itself in Canada . Um, and this has been a very interesting ride . I'm gonna say that as an entrepreneur , um, some of my exits I was never able to vest in peace as I like to call it. Like you know , waiting out the vesting schedule . I'm like, okay , this is starting to feel like a job. It's time for me to go, and I'm gonna go do something else through this one. I said, you know, I'm gonna learn as much as I can. And I've gone through this process of beginning to scale into an over 500 million market cap and really understanding how does the large corporate world work? How does it, how working with investment bankers? What is that flow? Like? What is it like having multiple legal councils and how does that work? How is it to deal with large scale regulatory and learned quite a bit about this. And I would say being part of a publicly traded company now as a senior executive is very exciting. Very challenging.

Greg Muzzillo:

Yeah , yeah , yeah. Lots of pieces, parts, more pieces, parts than anything you've probably ever done all at once. Right. All that has to be done with all those pieces parts. I know we want to be a little careful about, because it is a publicly held company. So we wanna be sensitive to what you're able to say or not able to say, you know, obviously we talked a little bit about your morning routine, you know as a successful entrepreneur, who's been through the ups and downs of life, the ups and downs of business. Talk to us about your morning routine and the importance of that routine.

Chad Agate:

Sure. I like to make sure that I do something , um, that's painful or sucks every single day. I think that we grow the most through suffering. Um, and I like to make myself suffer. So I start my day, every single day, I'm outta bed by 3:00 AM. And I think that's the first opportunity for me to win when that alarm clock goes off. I'm up. If I sit there and try like, oh, I'm gonna snooze. Then I've lost for the day. And it messes up my entire day. Right. Um, immediately start my training routine. And then after my training routine, I tackle the most difficult task of the day, whatever that may be. And I'm usually able to do that before anybody else is awake. And getting done, start with the hard things. First, that little bit has actually moved my work, my business further forward than any other thing that I've ever tried to do any quick tip, any cheat, right. People ask, I need more time in the day. And I say, okay, make it. And you can easily make it Marcus Aurelius did it Benjamin Franklin did it, many, many great leaders do it. You want more time in the day? Give yourself more time , get up early .

Greg Muzzillo:

Yeah. And do that tough thing first.

Chad Agate:

Yeah . Eat the frog. Do the tough thing first. It's so important.

Greg Muzzillo:

Humongously important. Right? Cause so many people postpone doing the tough thing. No matter what the tough thing is, but that's not just during the day it could be during their week. It could be during the month. It could be for really the rest of their life . When I talk to people, I say, when you're postponing, that tough thing, whatever it is. And we all know what it is. Um, in my business, a lot of times it's just sales, sales sucks. And can we all admit it? Like, you know, we talk to all these other people and they make it sound... It's not, no sales suck being rejected sucks. So let's just get on with it and let's get the suck part out of the way, because what comes after it, the relationships that blossom from it, they're a lot of fun, but they're not gonna happen if we don't get through the suck part first. Right.

Chad Agate:

Exactly. Because

Greg Muzzillo:

That is really what differentiates at the end of the day. That's what differentiates so many successful people from the people who aren't is getting after the toughest parts.

Chad Agate:

That's exactly it. Like a lot of people do ask, like, what is the secret? How are you able to go from being incarcerated, to being so successful? Yeah . And there's no secret, man. It's grit. It's persistence. Yeah . It's sticking to it and not giving up. It's wanting to work harder than anyone seems thinks is rational. Just keep going.

Greg Muzzillo:

Yeah. Those are huge words. And I hope that the people that are listening understand, because I think sometimes people are looking for some kind of magic sauce and you know it doesn't take you long to be scrolling through any kind of social media or any kind of entrepreneurial websites . And a lot of people wanna be selling the secret sauce.

Chad Agate:

Yeah .

Greg Muzzillo:

Bottom line is there ain't no secret sauce.

Chad Agate:

No, when you're saying that it's reminding me of all the times that I was doing research for my next idea, as I'm sitting there scrolling through the web , looking at these entrepreneurial quick tips and you're like this isn't research, I'm just wasting time right now,

Greg Muzzillo:

Just postponing success. I say you're just postponing success. Exactly. As soon as you get, after the tough stuff , the sooner you're going to achieve success and success, you have achieved Chad. I am so proud of you to be able to share some of your difficulties at a level so many people don't get that raw and USA today has ranked you as one of the top 10 entrepreneurs to watch. And there is no doubt in my mind why now you're an inspiration. I appreciate your spending some time with me , Chad, thank you.

Introducing Chad Agate
Big Mistakes
Life After Prison
Lessons Learned
Have a Strong Call to Action
Next Business
Morning Routine