Craig Groeschel - The Art of Starting Your Business
— Our guest for today is a world-class leader, a fantastic communicator. And you started many different organizations. Bianca Juarez Olthoff, the founding pastor, you and your husband, of The Father's House in Orange County. And you also started In His Love several years ago.
— In the Name of Love.
— In the Name of Love, a prison initiative. You also have a podcast, called "Let's Go There".
— "We're Going There".
— "We're Going There," where you definitely go there. And you got a fantastic book as well, "How to Have Your Life Not Suck," which is really kind of a good goal.
— I wanna keep it simple. I want the title to explain everything.
— That's probably a good goal in life. It's great to have you on with us, and I've admired your leadership for so many years. And I love the fact that you not only lead something, but you started a couple of organizations. And I wanna talk to you a little bit about that. You started your most recent one a little bit later in life. I imagine there's some people that are wondering, when is the right time to start? What is it that cued you and Matt that this was a great time to start what you lead?
— So, let me first say that I love this podcast. I'm an avid listener to this podcast. I can markedly look back at where I was at certain seasons or places or even countries where I'd be running and listening to this podcast. So I am an avid podcast listener of yours, and now I get to be on the show. So thank you for having me, I'm obsessed with the show. So I think the beginning stages of starting anything always feel with a discontent. Like, there's something that is missing or something's wrong, or if I could dare to say this, I think I might be able to do this better. That kind of quiet discontent within turns into something that fosters a sense of ideas. What can I do? How can we go further, faster, and farther with this thing that I'm bringing to the market? So, for me, it's always started with this sense of discontent, and trying to provide something, a felt need, for somebody in my world.
— I like that. I can imagine there are a lot of people listening right now that wanna start something, maybe a YouTube channel, or maybe a nonprofit, or maybe a business, and I think there would be some discontent. And I also like the fact that you recognize and it's not even prideful to say, we can do it better than what anybody else is doing around, so I like that insight. What if you just have an idea, but you don't know if you're the right person to carry out the idea? How would a leader know that maybe I am the right person, this is the right idea, this is the right time?
— So, let's back this up to about 2015. 2015, I realized, I was, I labeled this a quarter-life crisis. I was 25 years old, I was a twixter, meaning I moved back in with my parents. I had finished grad school and I just was lost, I didn't know what to do. And going through that season and really finding, what resources were out there, what tools were out there, and stumbled my way into my 30s to kind of figure out, who am I, what am I about? So I realized that there's this gap, this vacuum, of resources that were simple. I didn't wanna come out with an almanac of how to survive your 20s, but I'm like, wait, I think there are some resources that I can provide for those that experienced a quarter-life crisis or those feeling like they had a failure to launch in their 20s, and now they're in their 30s trying to figure out life. So for me, it was, okay, I have these resources that I know I can create, let me just put my toe in the water, let me see if this resonates with people. So instead of, hey, let me start an NGO, I started seeding content out through social media. So I really would create kind of, if I could say, bootleg and boujetto, that's bougie and ghetto, all at the same time, these boujetto resources to see, hey, are people biting? So I think I'm a little bit more cautious, and I love research, I love data, I love marketing. So, for me, I wanted to be strategic. If I'm gonna invest time, energy, and effort into creating these resources, let me make sure that there's this need. So I just started seeding the water, and I'm like, okay, if this is a need, people will respond. Slowly but surely we started getting people who would send us their email, which this is super important in marketing and data acquisition, they would let us know stations and seasons of their life, they would take quizzes. And so from then I realized, okay, there's this groundswell of predominantly women, predominantly millennials, that wanted these resources. And so, for me, I was just like, this is where I feel I can add value. This is where I felt like I could speak in to the next generation's life. And I've always been passionate about the next generation. I just wanna create tools and be a leader that I felt like I never had, that mentor. So, you know, the book title is "How to Have Your Life Not Suck," it is created for millennials who are really feeling like, I feel a little lost. And I don't wanna come in as like the guru up in the sky, but more alongside as a guide. Let's go on this adventure together, let me tell you what I've learned, and there was a need.
— Yeah, there was, and I wanna go deeper, because that kind of raises some questions. Why in the world did you have the confidence? How did you know you could do it? I imagine there's a lot of leaders right now that may be, hopefully a lot of younger ones, too, that see a need, find a discontent, think they could do something better, but there probably would have been a lot of internal reasons or voices telling you why you're not the right person.
— And yet, for some reason, you overcame that and attempted something that others might say, maybe you're too young or whatever. What was the internal, whatever it is...
— The gumption, the hutzpah, the ganas, yes, the cojones.
— Yeah, give me like 18 names and I couldn't come up with one, but what was that in you? How'd you find it?
— You know, I'm gonna be really honest. I think I can whittle it back to being 10 years old. I am from Los Angeles, and to be specific, East Los Angeles, AKA the ghetto, so when we talk about these obstacles, when we talk about what made you, what gave you, what allowed you, what empowered you, I think it started at that young age. I'm a first-generation American. I couldn't read, write, or spell at the age of 12, not because I didn't have the resources. I just really struggled academically. I was morbidly obese, I weighed more than my father, and I think statisticians would've put me in a category, highest prone to failure, repeating the generational cycles of everyone living in the concrete jungle, and really perpetuating the plight of many women of color. And I just, from a very young age, I'm a woman of faith, so I have a faith background, so I will say this cautiously, but I just had a conversation with myself and with God. And I just said, "If You give me words, I will give You my voice". And there has been, and there will be, many people who will say, you can't, you shouldn't, you wouldn't, you're not allowed. And to me, this plight of, I was a 10-year-old, of saying, I can and I will, and I'll wave at you in my rear view mirror. That has never left me since a scrappy kid from the ghetto. It took a lot to overcome, and I think that that struggle as an adolescent that struggled as a teen, that struggled in my 20s, really gave me the gumption, the unction, if it can say the cojones, to say no, no, no, no, I'm gonna put my foot out there. I'm gonna take this step. And listen, if it's not for me, the doors are not gonna open, but if it is for me, there is no man on earth that can stop me.
— Yeah. Well, that's a pretty dramatic story to have been 12 years old and not able to read or write, and a lot of pretty strong reasons of why you probably shouldn't succeed.
— And I think that probably everybody, while their excuses or limitations or challenges may or may not be as dramatic, I think we all have our resume of why we aren't ready or we aren't good enough. What would you say to someone else out there who's kind of looking over the edge right now, saying, I'd like to start something, but I'm not sure I'm, whatever, smart enough, old enough, educated enough? What advice would you give to them if they don't have that same gumption that you had?
— You know, as someone who was illiterate for a number of years, I realized the power of your story. And if you aren't careful, if you don't write your story, someone else will. And so it doesn't matter, I mean, someone listening in the Midwest who is highly educated and lives in an affluent area will not resonate with my story, but they'll resonate with maybe feeling under-qualified, maybe they'll feel under-resourced, maybe they'll feel overlooked. If we allow other people to determine our destiny, to determine our future, then we've handed over the pen of our story and the pen of our life to them. And to me, I'm like, steal it back. Your story can only be written by you. It doesn't matter our backgrounds. Clearly there's so many people listening to this podcast that will not resonate with my story, but the hurdles in life are meant to be scaled and then told, 'cause they're inspiration for other people.
— Well, your story inspires me, and I've got a ton of respect for you as a leader. In fact, I was honored to help invite you to be a part of The Global Leadership Summit.
— Brother, you opened that door, and I am running through, okay?
— You're gonna run through and leave smoke behind, as you do, so we're excited to hear from you this August. And I think about your story and in the world we live in today right now, there are more starting opportunities than there were 10 years ago, and so that's good. And anytime you start anything, and you started a lot, you're kind of a marketing expert, you started a couple of nonprofits and you speak and write all over the nation and the world, there probably some basics on no matter what you start, if it's a for-profit business, if it's a nonprofit, if it's an online social media ministry, a platform, whatever, what would you say comes to mind as the top priorities of how a leader wants to think and what they wanna do in the early stages of a start?
— You know, I love three, I love the number three, so I'm just gonna whittle this down to like the three most important things that I've walked away with and learned over the last 10 years of starting things. And I would say the first one is, you have got to have a conviction that this is what you are meant to do. And I use that word loosely 'cause meant to do feels, like, ominous, it feels really big. But you just have that discontent and that you feel like you have the solution to somebody's problem. And so that conviction, because that conviction's gonna carry you through when you are tired, that conviction's gonna carry you through when you don't have the finances or the resource, that conviction's gonna carry you through to work hours because you can't hire that other staff member, that conviction is the thing that gets you up in the morning, and it's the thing that keeps you up at night. That conviction that I have the answer, I have a solution, I have a plan, I have a resource, I have a business, I have a dream that's gonna help somebody live better, that conviction is gonna be the thing that's gonna give you the gasoline to carry and to move forward. I think the second thing is, know your weaknesses. So I am a dreamer, I am a visionary, I'm a motivator. If you like the movie "Mean Girls," I feel like I can say, I'm a pusher, and I'm a good pusher. Where I lack is structure. And you know, I could see where we're going, I just don't know how we're gonna get there. So surround yourself with people who help lift your weaknesses. So, for me, even before there was ever In the Name of Love, before there was a prison initiative, before there was an NGO, before there was a church, there was my husband. And I'm Mexirican, so I love to have parties, I wear a four-inch high heels, I love lots of makeup, and my husband is of German descent. He's from the Midwest, shout out to the Midwest. And if you knows the Germans, the Germans are organized and good with the time, good with the numbers, good with the strategy, and so that was like the sexiest thing about him. Like, my family cannot show up anywhere on time, because Latinos are late, okay? We just can't. And I married a man who made up for a lot of my deficits. So even in In the Name of Love, guess who helped build out the business plan? Even with the NGO. And when we started our church, it was Matt who said, "I think that we're supposed to do this". And I said, "I think you're crazy. I don't think we're supposed to do this". But between us both, if we can use an allegorical image of he's the brain, I'm the heart, both are needed. And so surround yourself with people who kind of make up for areas that you lack, or maybe areas of maybe a deficit. And then the third is, this is where, whether you have a faith background or not, I think that it coincides with conviction, but it's that inner faith. It's this sense of hope. I am going to outwork what I feel called to, whether it's starting a business, whether it's being an entrepreneur, whether it's launching an online platform, I am convinced that this is going to work. If failure is not an option, failure will never be. And maybe this is the scrappy kid in me, but I'm like, we will see this out till the very end. And I think with those three values, you know, it's that conviction, it's that sense of surrounding yourself where you lack, and a sense of hope, faith, these words that might feel different to those without a faith background, I think that we can understand them in the natural of like, wait, I have this confidence.
— This is gonna work.
— What I love about your answers, Bianca, is, like you said, if your husband's the brains, you're the heart, and you're really bringing a lot of heart to this. And different leaders are gonna have different strengths, and so if I ask about a startup, a lot of people are gonna say, you gotta have your values, and you've gotta have it all printed out, and you gotta have this strategy, and you actually really do. But without what you're talking about, whenever the road gets tough, people are gonna quit. And so you do need that, and so just kind of recapping what you said, that conviction matters. The third thing you said is the faith, the ultimate belief, and the willingness to outwork anyone. The second thing you said is absolutely and completely important, it is having the right people around you. When you're looking for the right leaders early in a startup, what's interesting is you might not have the money to pay them there, they may not wanna come on and say, you're a startup, I believe in you. A lot of people wanna go for, you know, let's go work for somewhere that's more established and we know who's gonna be here for five years from now. Twofold question is, what are you looking for in the people, and how do you attract them to something that's not yet built?
— So, I love leading with vision, and because I'm a visionary, that's a little bit easier, and I am a lover of words, so I can paint the picture. And I love to say, I pay people an opportunity. I may not be able to pay people with, like, large financial donations or acquiring people through large paychecks, but I love to pay people in opportunity. But to answer that question specifically, one of the things that both Matt and I are really passionate about is in casting vision and looking for people that we want to attract. I think it was Abraham Lincoln, when he built his team, he brought in people that were completely the antithesis of him. And I never wanna be like an echo chamber of thought or think like, hey, my way is the only way. So I'm looking for people who think differently than me, that are not afraid to push back. I know that you're not a fan of Enneagram, but I am, and my wing is a challenger. So I'm a seven, I love a good party. My wing is an eight, I'm a challenger. So I don't mind a challenge. I want people to push me to think differently. I want people to stretch me. In building a team, I want someone that's gonna be like, absolutely with you ride or die, we could do this, let's take the hill. And then I need that skeptic that's gonna balance us out. Well, let's talk about the practical, you know? Let's talk about how much this is gonna cost us. Let's talk a timeline. So I think when we build a team, when I build a team, I wanna make sure that it's super diverse, that it's not just the same type of person, wanting the same type of outcomes. I want it to be robust and look different and I'm not okay with pushing back.
— Yeah, and I think that's great, because a lot of people would think the opposite too. They wanna get people that think just like them, and that's a challenge, because then if you're not around people that will push back occasionally, then you're gonna get yourself in a lot of trouble. I imagine that when you started your prison initiative, you recognized pretty quickly that without systems things are gonna fall apart.
— Yeah, at what point did you recognize, we need to start putting some systems in place? And could you give me some real kind of practical advice to someone who's starting something, where do we start in even learning to think and organize systematically?
— Absolutely, so when we started, I feel like I kind of like fell into the prison initiative. I knew that there were those that were incarcerated that needed resources for success. Why is our attrition rate so high when people are getting let out of prison, the recidivism is so high because there's no pathway for people to kind of get well again. And so started, I had a women's conference on a whim. I just sensed that I was supposed to go into prisons, didn't know how, and as luck would have it, I received an email in my inbox from a warden that happened to hear me at a conference in Texas and said, "Hey, if you're ever in Texas, if you're ever in Lubbock, Texas, we'd love to have you". And I said, "I'm going to Lubbock in three weeks. Let's make this happen". Well, I'm the visionary, I'm the dreamer. I'm like, hey, we just show up, it'll be fine, you know? It'll fix itself. And I had a staff member, shout out to Chelsea Baham, a staff member that really said, okay, well, we need to have a timeline, we need to have a structure, what's the flow? When I had those boundaries, then I'm like, okay, this is what I see, this is the timeline, let's make this happen. So, to use that as a case study, we're going in with convicted felons and murderers. If we don't have a game plan, this can go south, you know? And so the warden really trusted us and allowed us to have full run of not just, it ended up being the women were so excited that we had to have two conferences that day. And we realized really quick, this is our system, this is our flow, this is our structure. Here's the outcome, what is this gonna cost us? What do we need to do to get there? And I know this feels very basic, but when those systems and structures are in place, then the water can flow through the channel, and that's exactly what we want to happen. So we knew immediately, I'm the visionary, but someone had to put things in order and put things on the timeline, and I think from the very beginning, we knew that we needed to start with that.
— Yeah, most of the time, not all the time, but most of the time, the people that do have the courage to start something do lean more toward the visionary side. And the good thing is they can sell, like you can sell, they can cast vision, they can attract people. The downside is if they don't surround themselves with the right types of people, then you don't have the structure to sustain it. And that's why there's a lot of like, hey, we start and we die within two years. That can be a real problem.
— As we're talking, I'm just thinking about the person who might be listening and saying, well, that's great, because you had someone alongside of you. What about those of us that are starting and don't? I just wanna speak to them, because I didn't always have a Matt, I didn't always have a Chelsea, I didn't always have a Vanessa, these people on the team, anyone from our staff at The Father's House. So in those cases, I go back to conviction. If you know that you know that you know you're supposed to start this business, launch this podcast, start a blog, no one's gonna create structure and no one's gonna make your dream happen except you. So how convicted are you to do this? I fully admit, structure and numbers are not my strength, but it will become my strength until someone else can come and take it to the place it should be. So I think sometimes we abdicate our responsibility to start something because, oh, we don't have a team or we don't have an assistant, we don't have this. I'm the visionary, but I don't have someone to outwork this. Baby boo, you are your own engine, all right? You are your rudder, you are your engine, you are the sail, you are everything. So I just want to kind of remove any excuses that maybe people might have and think, well, I don't have that. Become that, and then as it grows, the right people will latch onto the vision. And if it's meant to be, it will carry on.
— So you probably had some assumptions going into starting something that were not exactly right. What surprised you, or something you learned along the way that you didn't expect?
— The list is long, but let me start with this one. The fact that I'm on the Leadership podcast and speaking at GLS is so humbling, because I'm not the quintessential leader. You know, I look at, quite honestly, I look at you, I look at some of these other people, and this is not...
— So, let me just push you for fun and say, what is the quintessential leader, if you're not? Oh, there you go.
— Well, wait, wait, wait, wait. Okay, no, no, I'm a challenger.
— No, this is important. I know you are, I know you are.
— You know, I look at... You know what it is? I look at everything I'm not. I look at structure.
— And I'm not gonna surrender.
— Okay, great, great. You have big biceps, but I am a Latina with will.
— There are so many people out there... This may be the most heated argument I've ever had, and we're laughing. There are so many people out there that are gonna say that they're not that, and I'm gonna look on you and say, you're a world-class leader. So if you are the normal traditional leader, then you may not be world-class. Let's not try to be with somebody else is. And that's why you're on this today is because you showed up with you. And I don't want anybody out there to give me that excuse, which is, I'm not what somebody else is. You be who you are. So, that's that's the only reason I'm pushing back.
— Because we'd rather follow people who are real.
— Always real than always...
— Always right.
— You do listen.
— You know, but the beautiful thing about this, not but, and, and I will say you are absolutely right. What I've come to realize is that I am a leader, but I feel like I have been the reluctant leader, and the beautiful thing that I'm learning now...
— And many of the best ones are.
— That's what I'm realizing.
— Actually think I'm gonna talk about this at GLS, so, sneak peak, friends.
— Anyone who's, like, really confident they have it all together probably has a lot to learn.
— And they're also annoying.
— Like, let's get real.
— Yes. So for everybody out there right now who feels reluctant or feels like they're not the quintessential leader, maybe you're the right one for the job.
— Ooh, yes, yes. And this is why this is my favorite podcast. So you give wind in my sails, thank you.
— You're kind, thank you. No, I'm just a big believer in what you do. And I'd love to, before we wrap up too, again, your book is really good, and I'll hold it up for the camera so people can see, "How to Have Your Life Not Suck: Becoming Today Who you Want to be Tomorrow". And I just wanna say, thank you for bringing, the title of your podcast is...
— "We're Going There".
— "We're Going There", you just do that. You just go there and you say things that sometimes other people wouldn't say, and you're also able to do things a lot of other leaders wouldn't do. And so I hope that there's someone out there listening, and wouldn't it be amazing if two years from now we got an email or we're out somewhere and we met someone who said, "I listened to that podcast, and because of it I started something"?
— I'd love that.
— So to whoever's on the, just what I don't want you to do, because you are salesperson, I don't want you to talk someone to starting the wrong thing at the wrong time, because that happens all the time. But I want you just to think about someone listening right now that probably does have an idea that's worthy of doing. And even though they don't feel completely ready, and they're not, because they don't know everything that they need to know, and that's part of it. Talk to that person and give them the courage to do what they may not quite have the courage to do.
— Your voice is unique, and there's only one you. And it sounds like an afterschool special or some cliche meme that we see on Instagram, but the truth of the matter is, is that if you have been uniquely fashioned with your voice and your story, your skill, your gumption, why let someone else take what you were supposed to do and make what you were supposed to make? I can't help but feel if we are gifted, which I believe we are, if we are crafted, which I believe we are, for a specific purpose, which I believe we are, I never want someone to miss out on the fullness of what they could have been or what their business could have been, what their book or their podcasts could have been. I would rather those listening take that shot, take that step, have the conviction to do what they feel like they've been called to do than miss out and watch a ship sail with someone else doing what was birthed in them months, years, or decades before. I just can't help but speak to those listening and saying, you never know unless you try. And you have to do it and you have to fail repeatedly, because what we haven't addressed is the topic of like, you will fail, you will fail gloriously, but the victor is the one who gets back up and keeps going. I think that that's the one thing that I have. I have that sense of conviction. I am resilient, and to the victor goes the spoils. Never give up.
— Well, Amy and I love you and Matt, and we appreciate you. And I'm looking forward to having you this year at The Global Leadership Summit.
— I'm so excited.
— For those on our podcasts, if you hear me mention that a lot it's because I'm incredibly passionate about this. It's, in my opinion, the most effective leadership conference in the world. And I'll be talking again this year and help in a leadership role. If you would like to be a part, there's hundreds and hundreds of sites around the US and then there's hundreds of sites in 61 different languages. So, Bianca, you are gonna be translated in 61 different languages.
— I'm excited, I'm excited.
— If you want a discount a ticket, you can go to globalleadership/summit and type in CGLP21. CGLP21. And again, thank you for being on today. You've been a fantastic guest. I enjoyed debating with you on that one subject.
— Any time. In the next month's episode, we're gonna talk about leading the most difficult person you have to lead, how do you lead yourself? I wanna tell you a big thank you just for recommending this podcast to your friends, posting on social media. If you tag Bianca, if you tag me, we may repost you. And if you are listing wherever you do, please hit subscribe or follow. Thank you for being a part of our Leadership community. We say it all the time, and you can help me out with this, because, be yourself, why?
— 'Cause people would rather follow someone who is always real than someone who is always right.