Original Interview: The Business Growth Pod: Do I Have What it Takes to Be An Entrepreneur?
Allan Draper: Hey, everyone. Welcome to the show. Today, I’m excited about our guest. He’s an entrepreneur at heart. His name is Maceo Jourdan. Let me read you some of the things that he’s accomplished.
He’s a serial entrepreneur with a little meat that goes behind that. That’s thrown around a little bit, but he can back that up. He built one of the earliest high‑frequency trading systems for the S&P 500. He’s also the founder of Canexxia, which is in the healthcare industry. Check this out.
He was the founder, chairman, and CEO of Retire3 Publishing, which is a Phoenix‑based publishing company. He started the company with a $25,000 loan and grew it to $26 million in three years. Welcome to the show.
Maceo Jourdan: Allan, I’m glad to be here.
Allan: This is awesome, man. What did I miss? My guests are aspiring entrepreneurs or they’re already established. I’ve got everybody, from somebody wondering if they should take the leap to people that do 10 figures‑plus a year in gross revenue. What do they need to know about you?
Maceo: First of all, if they’re doing 10 figures, they definitely need to contact us for potential investments. I’ll say that right off the bat.
Aspiring entrepreneurs and 10 figures
Maceo: Let’s start with the aspiring entrepreneurs and hopefully give them a good framework for, number one, understanding where they’re at really and then how to maybe get to the point where they’re looking at 10 figures.
The starter and the season entrepreneur have quite a few differences. I think one of the drawbacks of especially social media, with Instagram and this culture where you’re presenting a picture specifically to manipulate an algorithm, which like you said, I’ve got a lot of experience with, you wind up getting a skewed version of the truth.
I’ll start with some from left field. What some people don’t understand about the markets ‑‑ so stocks, forex, currencies, whatever ‑‑ is that the professional traders act almost in direct opposition to retail traders.
When most of the public is looking to buy, they’re buying from professional traders, which is the real reason why most people don’t make any money because guys like me were hired to pump stocks up to really high prices so that the people who were very rich could get even richer because they’ve got to buy low and sell high just like everybody else.
If you look at the media, and you look at websites and people that are selling information on how to make money in trading, they’re going to give you lots of other stuff as for what’s going to make you successful. Now, this is not just a philosophical point. Let’s talk about that beginning person.
Should I even be an entrepreneur? Let’s talk about that. Can you do math? I had a partner. I called him Mr. Accountability, jokingly. We’re working on a really large acquisition. I found out that he couldn’t figure 10 percent in his head. So if you said, “If there’s a million bucks, 10 percent is $100,000.” Right, you just chop off one zero.
With some further questioning, it turned out that the guy basically had a 5th grade math education. That’s going to get in the way at a certain point in business, especially where we were because no person in their right mind is going to invest $2, $3, $5, $10, $20 million in your company if they know that you as an individual cannot do 10 percent math in your head.
That’s just the way that it is, and it’s a smart thing to do. That’s one thing. What are your math skills really? I’m not saying you’ve got to be a PhD in math to grow a business. I’m certainly not. It’s more about the focus on where you really are.
For the starter entrepreneur, maybe somebody is coming out of corporate America, you’ve got someone just age‑wise as just naturally in their starter years, so 18 and up ‑‑ 18 to maybe 25, 27, 28.
If you’re under 23, the main thing getting in your way is that human brains don’t develop the ability to understand the future until you’re older than 23. It’s literally a physical development in the brain. If you’re 20, are you going to be able to build this business that’s going to be around for five years when you’re focused on the end of the week?
Not Simon Sinek with all of his “rah rah” or Tony Robbins with all their “rah rah.”
Actually, what can you go out in the world and do? I’ll cap it off with this. I had the honor of going through Special Forces Selection. I didn’t get selected, but I made it through. It’s one of the toughest experiences that human beings can ever accomplish mentally, physically, emotionally, and all that. To me, it’s a feather in my cap.
Get them on their feet and say, “Go get them, Tiger.” You want them to go through a little bit more than that.
One thing to keep in mind is don’t think of it like there’s any one person out there who is going to select you that wants to see some qualifications, but the market will. Customers will. Your competition will. There’s all of these forces out there which are constantly testing you. A better word would be proving you.
When the ancient Samurai would get their swords, the best swordsmiths who were making those weapons for them would make this thing with a massive amount of work and then try and break them. The Samurai knew, when they got this weapon, that it had been proven which is different than testing. They’ve gone through a real‑world trial of that tool’s ability.
That’s really all that I’m talking about. As an entrepreneur, if you’re saying, “Now what? I’ve got none of that,” I would say, “Excellent. Go find something that will put you through the gauntlet.” I was watching a video, and there’s this college student saying to an administrator while they were crying, by the way, “Your job is to create a safe environment for me.”
When I heard that, I thought, “Well, that’s not the real world.” Tell me one environment on the Earth that’s truly safe. When my daughter was walking in the backyard, I’d say, “It’s safe in the backyard.” She got injured. It’s a minor injury. She scraped her foot. She stepped on a pebble. Still, there’s no place on the planet that’s truly safe, let alone the competitive landscape of business.
Allan: Let’s take a step back and chat about Mr. Accountability, OK?
Maceo: I hope he’s listening. I might send him this link, just so I can rub it in his face.
Allan: This is great. I was listening to a portion of a Joe Rogan podcast. He had somebody on there. I don’t know who he was. He was probably somebody famous. All of his guests are. He said something about how he’s connected with GaryVee somehow, and it bothers him that GaryVee goes around and tells everybody that they should be an entrepreneur because not everybody should. Right?
Allan: Talking about Mr. Accountability a little bit, couldn’t Mr. Accountability start a lawn‑mowing business, landscaping business?
Maceo: Let’s take him in isolation. We won’t generalize for the moment. I would say probably not because the other thing Mr. Accountability spent a lot of time doing was sitting back and saying, “We should work smart, not hard.” As that partnership was ending, I would respond with, “You’ve been spending so much time thinking about working smart. You haven’t worked at all.”
So many people sit around with that cliché in their mind, thinking, “I’m going to get to work, but it’s going to be in a smart way.”
When you take somebody like me ‑‑ I would say I’m fairly smart. I’m not dumb, at least ‑‑ I’m going to get to work. I’m going to start testing things. I would say, in his individual case, probably not because he’s going to think of the 57 reasons why not to or what neighborhood should I start in.
Now, let’s generalize Mr. Accountability and why that person was saying not everybody should be an entrepreneur. If you are crushingly shy, you’re probably not going to make a good entrepreneur. I don’t know many businesses you don’t sell in even if you’re going to write copy. I’ve made millions of dollars writing copy, words on a page, physical pen and paper, all the way to today, digital copy.
I got those skills by going door‑to‑door as a kid. We had no money, growing up. I remember collecting cans. We’d get ants in the car, and they’d crawl up my legs because we didn’t have money. I sold candy and stuff door‑to‑door. In fact, one of my first jobs in junior high was a telephone sales person, so I’ve sold a lot.
I sold badly for a long time too, by the way. You don’t need to be crazy, skilled right from the beginning. I’m going to get started. Somebody who’s like Mr. Accountability, they’re going to fall for the trap.
Here’s the trap. If you look at GaryVee, Simon Sinek, Tony Robbins, even before social media, they have a distinctive message. The message is one of empowerment and opportunity, which in one hand is really positive.
However, you and I both know as entrepreneurs you’re going to have some setbacks and setbacks really suck. You might even go bankrupt. You might have your car repossessed. Your house foreclosed on. That’s rough. You may have to move back in with your parents.
When you’re going through that, it’s OK to feel like crap. You should be mad. You should be upset. You should probably wake up and start crying throughout the day. You know what I mean? That’s normal.
The challenge with those group of people is in order to stay on brand and to appeal to the mass, especially in social media where you’re going for views and you’re manipulating the algorithm. On YouTube, we all know you got to get past that two‑minute threshold. It’s really good if you get past 10 minutes. If you can get a big bulk of people past 10 minutes, YouTube will love you. Why?
Because you’re keeping people on their platform, and they’re making more ad dollars. What inevitably happens is this pandering to what’s going to keep people around versus what they want.
Personality traits of an entrepreneur
Allan: What are the personality traits of an entrepreneur? What is required? Is there anything required?
Maceo: The only thing I would say is required is the ability to do lots of work with zero reward. I’m not saying a little reward. I’m saying zero, maybe even negative. People are telling you, “You’re crazy.” If you can’t do that basic thing, you’re not going to make it.
Going through selection, there was no reward there. It was like beat down from getting off the bus to literally the graduation ceremony. Nobody’s giving you appreciation. Nobody’s telling you “Attaboy.” Nobody is motivating you. It had to come from within.
Entrepreneurism in general is a lot like that. I would say, number one, that comes across as using an old‑timey phrase. It would be like, “Stick‑to‑itiveness.” People also talk about discipline or other things.
Let’s break down discipline. People may interpret what I’m saying. I’m going to try and box them in and predict what they’re thinking. Let’s say somebody heard what I just said. On the sales thing, I have to be disciplined. Not really because discipline really boils down to your self‑image.
Years ago, I had a coach. He was telling me a story about him running. He wanted to run an hour every day. He tried all kinds of tricks, putting his shoes by the door, by the bed, all these tricks that people teach you. He said, “But you know what, Maceo. One day I woke up, and I went running, and somebody was talking to me.
He said, “I’m not really a runner.” My mentor, his immediate response was, “Oh, I’m a runner.” What he noticed is from that day forward, he had no problem getting up. He woke up without an alarm. It was never a challenge. What am I getting at?
What I’m getting at is, who do you think you are? What is your identity? Do you believe that you’re a hard worker? Do you believe, like my mentor, Mark, that you’re a runner? If you do, then your brain is designed to make you do the things necessary to complete that.
Right now, we are getting into issues like self‑esteem and other things. They do apply. This is where guys like Tony Robbins, Simon Sinek, more of the “rah rah” types. This is where they are on track, in that you can only achieve what you believe about yourself and what that means for possibility.
Allan: When there’s a entrepreneur that doesn’t have these key pieces, it’s not the personality that the…
Maceo: You’re making this tough on me.
Allan: Exactly, they aren’t the big risk takers. They’re not super outgoing. They’re not the type that can really envision success. Can they learn these things? Can they say, “Hey, let’s just go for it”?
Honestly, I think that’s one of the best attributes of an entrepreneur, is, “I have about 20 percent of the information, and I’m going to put myself out there, and I’m going to figure out the rest.” Can entrepreneurs do that?
Maceo: Here’s the good news. Absolutely. When I was coaching people and teaching them how to trade, they had a similar question, “Can I really do it?” What I would tell them is, “Just the fact that you’re here means that you can.”
It’s as simple as this. My mom, she recently passed. She kept us out of the ghetto, worked three jobs, had no advantages. I come from mixed parents. My dad’s Black. My mom was this little White Jewish lady from Puerto Rico. She just had really light skin and blue eyes, which of course everybody in Arizona spoke Spanish, refused to believe that she could speak Spanish until she rattle it off.
Anyway, she would never, in a million years, buy a course or get on Udemy, or anything like that. She just wouldn’t do it. It doesn’t mean that she is somehow deficient. I would say just the fact that somebody is listening to the sound of my voice in this moment. Just because somebody does buy the course, absolutely, that means you literally have everything you need.
Allan: They’re taking the initiative. They’re taking that first step, and they’re putting themselves out there, which is a huge aspect of being an entrepreneur. A lot of times, one of the biggest pitfalls that I see when I’m coaching people and I’m helping them getting their business up and going is that they have so many options or there’s so many things to choose from that they never actually do anything.
So many people come to me, and they’re like, “I have this great idea.” I’m the wrong guy to come to with that because I will make you feel bad unless you do something about it which is, at the end of the day, I think most businesses that succeed, I don’t think there are a ton of novel businesses. I think it’s who stuck with it, who pivoted when they needed to, and who just figured it out.
If I have somebody that comes to me, they have a nine to five. They have a couple of bucks they put together, and they’re like, “Look it. If I don’t do this, then I’m going to regret it the rest of my life.” What do you tell them?
Maceo: I actually tell them a lot. I’d start out asking some questions. The first thing, of course, we dive into some of the basic math. A friend of mine, Scott Channell, he’s got a great book on phone sales. I don’t get any affiliate money from the guy, but he stole one of my phrases, which is, “It’s all math.”
Or some other thing that people throw around to seem smart, whether they know the buzzwords or not. It’s more about, “Do you have,” what I would call, “country‑bumpkin‑style understanding?”
If you’re paying five bucks for the materials, and it takes you four hours to put the thing together, and you only get seven bucks for it, well, you’re making two bucks an hour or whatever. It’d be ‑‑ what’s two divided by four ‑‑ 50 cents an hour. I can’t do math and talk at the same time. I told you I was not a math genius.
Allan: I was going to bring out Mister Accountability there, but…
Maceo: Well, don’t get me started. Oh, my gosh. I asked him one time. I said, “You do know you have a calculator on your phone?”
Allan: That’s a big part of being an entrepreneur.
Maceo: Don’t get me started. It’s not like, “Let’s figure it out.” It’s “Figure it out.”
What resources should an entrepreneur have?
Allan: What are your resources?
Maceo: Exactly right.
Allan: A great aspect, a great personality trait of an entrepreneur is they understand what resources they have available to them. There was this guy that brought a good business idea to me one day. This was a couple of years ago. He wanted some help, had a detailed business plan. I thought it was a great‑looking model.
He was like, “I don’t know anybody that has money that could help me. I’m like, “I’m sitting here.” I know at least one person that you know that could help you out. Do you see that a little bit in entrepreneurship where this trade of, “OK, what are my resources that I can put together to make this business function”?
Maceo: I’ll go back and complete the answer to your question. There’s more than one thing. There really are no simple solutions. There are less complex solutions to simple questions. What I’ll probably do is investigate whether or not that person can figure it out. Ask them. Usually, give them a task or something like that and see how they do.
My basic filter is if somebody can’t google it, then you’re probably going to fail. You said it earlier, Allan. 20 percent, if that, of what you’re supposed to do. Look, there’s no one that’s just dying to answer all the questions you need to make you rich. We’ve got to forget about that. There’s nothing conspiring in this world for your success.
There are things that are conspiring to put assets in your path, but nothing is actively working for your success. That’s an important distinction. To cap off, what would you do? It would be more involved, try, and investigate where they are, and prove them. Rather than them telling you where they are, I’m going to put some really simple hurdles in their path to see. I’ll give you an example.
When I hire somebody off of a contractor website, like Upwork or Guru.com, or something like that, I will post the job. In the post, I will say, “In order to qualify for this job, you need to put turtle in the subject line of your email to me.”
Anybody without turtle in the subject line, I don’t even look at it, dude, because they can’t follow directions. Why would I want to hire somebody who cannot follow simple instructions? It’s easy stuff like that. So often people are focused on GaryVee is this or Jacob is that, or whatever they’re picking up on YouTube.
Let’s go back to the very basics. To finish off another question, what if you’ve got no redeeming qualities? Maybe then entrepreneurship isn’t for you. I’ll finally say it. There absolutely are a whole bunch of people that should be working, except for GaryVee. He changed his tune. He talks about some people might be a number two.
It might not have been that. There are millions and millions of people who really should just be happy to go to work, make the donuts, and then go home even if you have aspirations to the contrary. For whatever reason, maybe you just can’t hack it. Unfortunately, people don’t like hearing that, but that’s the way the world is. That caps that off.
Do entrepreneurs need a mentor?
Outside of putting a few hurdles in front of people ‑‑ I got my brain off track, but let me finish the thought ‑‑ this is where a true mentor can come in. I don’t object to people paying for mentors, but here’s the judge. The judge is that the mentor is willing to offend you in this new modern version of offensive.
What do I mean by that? What you were getting out was, you got to do some work here. “I’m sitting in front of you. Why are you not asking me?” A mentor is going to say something like that. “Hey, you should be asking me. Why aren’t you out there asking everybody?”
Filling that in and you’re telling that person, “If you’re not willing to pitch your idea to every person that you know and then ask them, who do you know who invests and stuff like this, then you should probably rethink whether or not you want to do it.” There are ways even to test mentors.
Mentors are absolutely willing to hurt your feelings and like the modern day version of that. Why? Because they’re jerks? No, because the way our brains work is that it feels good when people agree with us, and it doesn’t feel good when they don’t.
Obviously, if you’re posing an idea…Let’s say you gave me an idea. Let’s say I’m going to start this business where we’re going to sell USB hubs to blind people. I have no idea why they just came to mind, but it did. I’m going to tell you, “That’s probably not a good idea, man. There’s nine million of those on Amazon.” Right there, I just disagreed with you.
That hurts. That’s the level of offensive I’m talking about. I’m not talking about insulting people. There’s a guy on YouTube, Dan Peña, who does that well. I’m not talking about that level. I’m just saying somebody who loves you enough to tell you when you’re off track in as overt and aggressive terms to get your attention.
Allan: I love this idea. I love that you brought up mentorship, and I actually wasn’t even thinking about that, but you’ve hit on a couple of key points. When somebody is looking for a mentor, they need somebody that can just give it to them straight. I think that a mentor that does that, it says something about him or her.
One of those things is a person is busy. That person doesn’t have time to sit around and entertain things that don’t make sense, and they don’t have good ideas. Number two, that’s a confident individual. They could say, “You know what that USB idea? That’s a dumb idea.” They’re confident in their knowledge about a business or whatever area they’re discussing, and that’s a great point.
Maceo: Everything you could imagine. I’m just like, “That’s the environment.”
The people who mentored me in trading realized that they had to have enough respect for me to not use flowery terms. I keep going to the South for some reason, but a good Southern phrase I like is “going around your elbow to get to your wallet.” I could reach for my wallet like this, but if my wallet on that side….Hopefully, that makes on the video. It doesn’t make a lot of sense.
The mentor that’s going to give it to you straight though is also going to prove you. One of the things that happened overtly in the trading room, if you just walked in, was like, “Man, these guys are treating each other like crap.”
Trading is an emotional exercise. Losing money is painful. Modern science proves that it’s physically and mentally painful and emotionally painful to lose money. What we were doing was literally training each other, and it was overt in the trading room.
You get a lot of this in professional sports and things like that, especially in the combat arena. Talking about Special Forces and whatnot, there’s a lot of that stuff going on. A good mentor is also going to prove you to see where you are, so they may push back on an idea just to see how confident you are. Good CEOs will test you all the time.
Allan: I love that.
Maceo: This doesn’t make it out of the public, but if you talk to somebody work directly with Jeff Bezos or Steve Jobs, not some joker that was seven people removed or wrote a book on how he does presentations or something like that, or somebody that worked with them for six months, what they will tell you is they are constantly pushing.
Why? Because they know as a high‑growth company, it needs to be in front of the competition, so they need…Allan: I’ve read a bunch of these biographies. The consensus is these guys are jerks or whatever, because they keep pushing, and it’s never good enough.
Get off the fence!
Allan: Maceo, we’ve got to wrap this up, unfortunately. I’m going to give you a scenario. I’ve got an aspiring entrepreneur, hasn’t pulled the trigger yet, has that proverbial 20 percent of information and resources they need. I need you to get them off the fence and take action. What do you tell them?
Maceo: Do the math. Start with, what it is that you’re trying to sell, number one. How much does it cost you to put that thing together? How much is it going to cost you to get to market? Do you make a profit after that? That’s one layer of profit. You might call a gross profit.
If you get there and you can make enough money for your personal needs, then you’ve got a shot. By the way, in that really simple methodology, this is why I don’t sell courses anymore. How long was that? 45 seconds. I can tell you in 45 seconds, everything you need to know to build the next trillion‑dollar business. Why do I say that?
I say that because Amazon is not an ecommerce company. Amazon is a cloud company. Go look at their public documents. Their profit comes from AWS and all of these cloud services. Jeff Bezos, when he had Amazon spray painted on his wall knew he was going to be the cloud company.
Allan: No, there’s no way.
Maceo: By the way, if you keep those three things in mind, and you keep those three things under control, then as you grow, it’s not going to get out of control. You’re not going to get upside down with debt. You’re going to know how much debt to take on. The business is really very simple.
The next thing I would say is, once you’ve got the math, start with one person. Go sell your thing to someone. That’s it.
Wrapping it up
Allan: I love it. Nice and concise, short, easy to understand, but it’s true. Start small but do something. Hey Maceo, it’s been a pleasure having you. I wish we could have made this an hour and a half as opposed to 30 minutes. Where can people find more about what you’re doing?
Maceo: Our healthcare projects, you can get it at canexxia.com. We’re bringing hospital quality healthcare into the home. Then you can always go to my personal website, maceojourdan.com. I’m always willing to work with people.
Like you though, I want to see some results. I don’t do very much in theory anymore. If somebody wants to work on a project, I’ve got no problem giving them all the help that they can need but they got to show me some work.
Allan: I love it. All right, man, after my own heart. Thanks for joining us today.
Maceo: Glad to be here.
Allan: I’m sure our listeners just have so much to learn from this episode, especially as it relates to just getting that motivation they need to take the next step. Thanks for joining us. It was a real pleasure.
Maceo: Likewise, Allan. Thanks, bud.
Allan: I wanted to thank Maceo again for that great episode, great information about whether entrepreneurship is right for everybody and it’s clearly not. It’s my opinion that some people just really can’t live a fulfilling life being an entrepreneur. Your task is to figure out if you’re one of those people. Start with your why. Is your why for starting a business and being an entrepreneur big enough?
Make sure to leave me a review on the platform that you’re listening to this on. Also, make sure to subscribe so that you don’t miss any future episodes. If you have any questions, anything you want to chat about, reach out to me, allandraper.com, set an appointment, and let’s chat. Let’s get your business up and rolling. Till next time.