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Navigating Success and Stoicism | LaSean Smith

Today’s Guest LaSean Smith

By age ten, he was coding on a TRS-80 MC-10, kickstarting an epic journey that would see him rocking roles from the US Navy to Amazon's Director of Inspirational Shopping and even executive producing six indie films! Now, as the brains behind the game-changing book "Values-Based Business Design," LaSean's mission is simple: supercharge your path to freedom and help you reach for the stars!

Key Takeaways

  1. LaSean's Philosophy of Professional Stoicism: LaSean Smith introduces his concept of professional stoicism, focusing on controlling what's within one's power. This approach helps him navigate the challenges of life and business, emphasizing the need to understand oneself and stay true to personal values in decision-making.
  2. Impact of AI on Business and Personal Growth: The conversation highlights the critical role of AI in modern business processes. LaSean shares his perspective on how businesses need to adapt and optimize in the age of AI. He also talks about competing against oneself as a key to personal growth and success.
  3. The Journey to Financial Independence: LaSean discusses the importance of business ownership as a path to financial freedom. He reflects on learning from the unfulfilled dreams of everyday people and identifies common barriers in entrepreneurial journeys. His offer of free coaching and mentoring underscores his commitment to helping others achieve business efficiency and success.

Links for LaSean

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Matt: Well, hello and welcome back to Push To Be More. I'm your host, Matt Edmundson, and we are about to dive into another deep exploration of what truly fuels the journey of life. And joining me today, I have a very exciting guest all the way from Seattle LaSean Smith. And we are talking, from Capercom actually, I should probably say, and we're going to be talking about his unique life experiences, the hurdles he's had to push through, the way he recharges his batteries, and what he's doing to be more.

Oh yes, we're going to get into all of that, but don't forget, you can find all the detailed notes and a complete transcript of our conversation over at PushToBeMore. com. And whilst you're there, if you haven't done so already, sign up for the newsletter, because each week We will send you the shows, the insight, the links, and all the goodies direct to your inbox, absolutely for free, which is amazing and cool.[00:01:00]

So make sure you get a hold of that. Now this episode is proudly powered by Aurion Media. The magic behind the scenes that lets entrepreneurs and business leaders like you and me amplify our voices. By hosting our own podcast. But you might be thinking, why on earth would I want to start my own podcast, Matthew?

Are you insane? Well, let me tell you, my podcasting journey has been nothing short of transformational. It's not just A fact that it's a great marketing tool, but it's about creating community, connection, and amplification. It's given me a platform to celebrate my customers, my team, my suppliers, and I've created a ripple of impact, I love that phrase, far beyond what I could have imagined.

And I get it, the technical stuff can feel daunting, setup, distribution, getting the tech right, understanding the strategy, seems like a lot, doesn't it really? And honestly, Who on earth wants to get tangled up in production? Certainly not me. And that's where Aurion Media steps in. [00:02:00] They are the backstage crew, the experts that make sure your show goes flawlessly.

You get to do what you love, which is engaging with incredible people, having meaningful conversations. And Aurion Media takes care of all the nitty gritty details. So if you're wondering whether podcasting is the missing piece to your marketing strategy, and I probably think it is, uh, it's time to have a chat with Aurion Media.

Check them out at aurionmedia. com. That's A U R I O N media dot com. That is The Amazing Show Sponsor. Let's talk about The Amazing Guest. Oh yes, by age 10, LaSean was coding on his, I've no idea what this is, but it says TRS 80 MC10. Kickstarting, okay, that's, I missed that one. Kickstarting an epic journey that would see him rocking roles from the U.

S. Navy to Amazon's Director of Inspirational Shopping, no less, and even [00:03:00] Executive Producer in six. Indie Films. Dude, you have done it all. Uh, now as the brains behind the game changing book, Values Based Business Design, LaSean's mission is simple. Supercharge your path to freedom and help you reach for the stars.

And there is that song now singing in my head, LaSean, Reach for the Stars. Um, I can't remember the name of it. Reach for the stars. I don't know if that ever went across, uh, the

LaSean: I don't, I don't know if I'm familiar with that one, but maybe I'll know the melody if it, uh,

Matt: Maybe if I could sing, maybe if I could sing, that would be helpful, but LaSean, welcome to the show, man. Great to have you on. How you doing?

LaSean: Yeah, great. Uh, great to hang out, Matt. I am well. I'm here in surprisingly sunny Seattle. It's not always, uh, sunny, especially at this time of year, and, uh, we're squeezing in just a little bit more of summer.

Matt: Fantastic. Well, you know, make the most of it. Make the most of it. That's what I say. Have you always been a Seattle guy or have you, did you watch the film Sleepless in Seattle and think, I've got to go live there? [00:04:00] Yeah.

LaSean: I have lived in 11 cities, my dad was in the military so we moved around a bit as a kid and that kind of gave me the bug. And so I've moved around for school and business. And I came out here years ago, I got recruited to work at a software company. And I just Decided this was going to be the place I was going to slow down and set up shop.

And so I really love this area because it's a great intersection of really intelligent people. So you can walk into a random coffee shop and you know, you're going to meet somebody who's probably going to give you a really interesting conversation. And even though, you know, there are reports of all the crazy rain, uh, the weather here is actually pretty, pretty nice.

And the food is amazing.

Matt: I have no doubt, and obviously the coffee has to be good in Seattle, I would have thought. It's like a requirement, isn't it? And you're wearing a Navy t shirt. Was your dad in the Navy?

LaSean: Uh, he was in the Navy. I was also in the Navy. That's how I kicked off my career. I was, uh, on a mission thinking, you know, I'm going to be a software developer or I'm going to do something in media. Those were the things that kept intersecting throughout my [00:05:00] life. And, uh, I decided to kick off with the U. S.

Navy. Plenty of great benefits helped me, you know, not graduate college with debt. And so it was a great kickstart. But I knew, uh, you know, I was going to, Uh, kind of end up in, in the corporate world in some fashion and, uh, eventually in entrepreneurship.

Matt: And did you get to see the world with a Navy?

LaSean: You know, I didn't travel that much with the Navy, surprisingly. I was, uh, bouncing around in multiple places in the US, but as soon as I got out, I got a job at a few different startups and I did a lot of business travel. And then once I got, uh, I got to a corporate job, I worked at a company called Motorola that, you know, your younger viewers will never have heard of, but,

Matt: I had, I had one. I had one.

LaSean: There you go.

Made mobile phones back in the day, uh, that they're still around in some limited capacity, but, um, because of the global supply chain, we had to go all over the place and at a time where, you know, the, the green Amex could kind of be [00:06:00] spent on anything. So

Matt: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

LaSean: of, of exploring the world on someone else's dime.

And, uh, I met a lot of great folks.

Matt: No doubt. No doubt. Well, before we get into that, let's, uh, let's go to our sort of standard opening question and then I want to dig into, uh, a few of these things, uh, LaSean. But the question we like to ask all I guests at the stock, if you could, uh, have your, the show's sponsored by Aurion media right.

Specializes in helping business leaders, entrepreneurs. Make meaningful connections by hosting a podcast and I love it. I love hosting podcasts. You get to talk to amazing people just like yourself, but if you had your own podcast and you could talk to anybody past or present, uh, as a guest on your show, that's the only caveat is they've had to have had a big impact on your life.

Who would be on your guest list and why?

LaSean: That's a fantastic question to kick off, first off, and if you see, for anyone who's watching this, uh, on the video version, you can see a ton of books in the [00:07:00] background. I love to read, and I have this rule, you can't see my floor, there are many books on the floor, I have a rule that the book doesn't go on the shelf until I've actually read it, and so

Matt: Oh, wow.

LaSean: This pile that's starting to attack me for

Matt: Mm hmm. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

LaSean: And, um, but the reason I call that out is books, especially books that have stood the test of time, you know, not the latest, you know, business book that will be forgotten in six months, but, you know, books from decades, sometimes over a hundred years ago.

What's powerful about those books is it takes many times, 20 years of someone's experience. And it kind of hones it in into a very kind of compact vehicle. And so for about eight hours of your time and 20 dollars, you get this huge lift. And I remind myself of that when, you know, you ask that type of question, because I think like, all right, if I was going to.

interview someone, could I do a better job than [00:08:00] their biography or something else that someone else has written about them? And I think how I would answer that is maybe very different than others, uh, is that, I really love talking to everyday people and, you know, where I focus today is helping people get over the hump of starting a business.

That's where I get most energized. And growing up, I met a number of people in my neighborhood, family members who were, you know, dreamers who thought one day I'm going to go take this recipe and turn it into a thing. I'm going to take this. Furniture side hustle that I have, and I'm going to start a furniture business, you know, insert dream there.

And almost none of them ever took any action. And I would go. Interview one of those folks to really understand more of the fears, the anxieties, the kind of, you know, you know, family responsibilities and other things that stop them [00:09:00] because I, you know, back to, you know, what I do nowadays, I'm very interested and invested in this idea or concept of financial independence through business ownership.

And so. There's a lot of great famous people or other folks that, you know, I could say, you know, Steve Jobs inspired me for X or Jeff Bezos inspired me for Y and, you know, all of these types of entrepreneurs and I've had the good fortune to, you know, interact with these companies, work at something, some of these companies, but I think the real conversation for me would be Uh, really around mindset and how we can shake the things that stop us from moving forward.

And so one of those people from my old neighborhood, a good two hour conversation, you know, get kind of past that initial point and really dig deep because I think listeners would hear some of the same challenges themselves and that would be an episode that would really be a great kickoff.

Matt: Wow, that is definitely you're the first person to use that kind of answer, and I [00:10:00] thoroughly love this. And so the idea of talking to everyday people to find out why they didn't take action yet, um, and understand that mindset and dig into that a little bit. What do you think they would say? What do you think would be some of the common things you would hear?

LaSean: Well, I look at it somewhat like sales. This is what I would guess that. You know, in sales, if you ask someone, you know, why aren't you going to buy this today? Invariably, and this is, this is fascinating research. I don't know if you've ever done sales, but the first excuse is rarely the truth. And so you need to get to the second, third, fourth excuse, and that's when you really unpack it.

And so. I would apply some of that same pieces, you know, asking the five whys and really trying to get under there, you need to give someone, you know, the psychological safety to know that they can be vulnerable in the conversation, so you need the right setup and environment so you can even get to the answer, uh, but I think for some folks, they would do it.

You know, externalize the blame first. They would say, well, you know, I have all these life [00:11:00] responsibilities, or I haven't been able to raise enough capital, or I haven't met a co founder, or, like, there'd be all these things that they would say, um, but if we kept the conversation going, I think most of them would say, I'm afraid to fail.


Matt: to be

LaSean: uncomfortable being uncomfortable, um, or I kind of back myself into a corner with life's responsibilities and the anxiety would be too high to take that level of perceived risk, uh, while also keeping up to my current responsibilities. And so, you know, I think a lot of times you just got to keep probing to get to the piece, but so many of us struggle with that type of Kind of decision paralysis or indecision.

And I just think those could be some really interesting conversations.

Matt: Yeah, I, I, I'm loving that. And in fact, as I'm writing it down, I, I wrote down this because I always take copious notes to show whenever I'm doing podcasts, because otherwise I, I forget. My brain goes to mush, but it's, it's just super [00:12:00] helpful to take notes. So I have my, so I'm looking down by the way, I'm not playing cards.

Um, but it's one of those things I wrote down that phrase, the five Y's, which is a super powerful thing, isn't it? The five Y's, uh, which is, um, for those. You know, the four people on the planet that maybe haven't heard of what this is, it's basically just asking why five times, you know, you ask a question, they give you an answer, and you just ask why five times, uh, five different ways to there.

And you just dig deeper, don't you, into the, into the question. That would almost be, that would be a phenomenal podcast. You could call the podcast, I wonder if there's a podcast already called The 5

LaSean: If not, yes, it's a great concept. Right.

Matt: I'm loving that.

LaSean: For so many reasons, uh, if we get to the brass tacks, you know, I, I fancy myself, I call myself a professional stoic. Um, you know, mostly if we worry about the things we can control. Um, we're going to be able to move with more intention and our actions are going to [00:13:00] yield better results.

If we, you know, keep thinking in our head or with people around us about things we can't control, we won't get much done. And if you use that Five Ys framework, uh, I think many times after the first few answers, you'll realize, you know, The real blocker is probably inaction on your part, not some external factor.

Even though that might be a challenge, it doesn't mean it can't be overcome.

Matt: that's right. That's nice, super powerful. Where did that, um, the professional stoic mindset, where's that come from for you? Is that, uh, something you grew up with? Was that, is that a military thing? Is that something you got from your folks? Is that something you read in one of the 40, 000 books that seem to be behind you on the bookshelves?

Um, where did that come from for you?

LaSean: Well, when I first started to work, I got unimaginably lucky in that I was drawn to software development. And I showed up at the industry at a time where [00:14:00] you just didn't have to be good at all. To be successful because the whole thing was new and whoever was there was at the beginning and Through that process, you know, it was weird because I just assumed, well, this is what work is.

You just kind of find this thing that you enjoy and then people pay you great money for it. Like, it was just kind of a very naive way to look at the world. And as I explored more, Interacted with more people. Um, what I really realized was, number one, how fortunate I was, but number two, how I had fallen into a world where I didn't have to chase status.

I didn't have to worry too much about, you know, kind of what people might call politics. I call it people friction, but all the people dynamics of interacting with other humans and. Effectively asking or navigating permission to get to the next stage. And it was something that I was just shielded and protected from.

So a lot of great privilege in where I started my career. [00:15:00] And what I kind of came to the realization of was folks who were spending brain cycles sometimes, you know, their time, their money, um. Kind of navigating these, these status games, these, you know, these kind of weird, uh, things that don't get any real payoff.

They, they didn't seem to be winning, right? They're kind of just spinning their wheels. And, and so, I took a step back and say, okay, let's put my luck aside. How would this be more repeatable? And I really just started to seek out different types of philosophy. I found Stoicism. And I just started to think about, how can you think about some of the principles of Stoicism in the context of your you know, professional work life in your career.

And, you know, it's like, I look at this as like so many things that are very obvious. You know, if you say, how do you have the best body in the world? Uh, you know, defining the plan is relatively easy, right? It's, uh, you know, you have to have some type of consistent workout and you need to have some type of [00:16:00] decent diet.

Uh, the hard part is like showing up every day and like executing that plan. And And so when I think about professional stoicism at its core, it's about kind of compounding, uh, something you can control every day or every workday and not getting caught up on like, Oh, this new industry trend is happening.

I should chase it. Oh, you know, if I do X someone, so and so is going to give me a promotion. Um, oh, I can't quit this job because I have all this political capital built up. I just look at all of that as, it's just silliness. And the more you can get rid of those types of concerns, uh, the more you'll be in control of your destiny.

And I, you know, you, you kicked off a little bit of my background. I value personal freedom almost over every other thing I would get out of, you know, any type of, of working, uh, environment. And so as a result, I use that as a razor. And you know, the last thing I would say is, I [00:17:00] believe everybody, everybody should have some type of personal North Star.

And over the years, I've continued to refine mine. I've got it down to six words, three sentences, know thyself. Make things and stay free. And the reason I believe we should have a very concise, short North star is we're always going to be distracted. We're going to get good at things and people are going to ask us to do things that maybe we're great at, but we should not do things that are going to not give us positive energy.

And if we have some type of constitution, it can serve as. It's almost a decision rubric to help us, like, not break into jail and not let the inertia of our careers kind of take us somewhere that's likely not going to be where we really want to go.

Matt: well, there's a lot there, but that's an awful lot there. Let's dig into this a little bit. Let's start with the phrase you used, you were unimaginably lucky, which I thought was a great phrase in your working [00:18:00] career. Um, and you, you obviously experienced what you phrased was a lot of privilege, um, in that arena.

Where have you in, in your work not been unimaginably lucky, maybe unimaginably unlucky, or where have you not experienced privilege, um, that's caused friction, roadblocks, you know, challenge? Uh, we, so we know where it's gone well, where, where, where's it not gone so well? Let's,

LaSean: Yeah, the juxtaposition is, is actually at some of the same points, which is, I don't know if that's ironic, but it took me a little while to, to recognize where I was slowing myself down. And at the core, um, you know, while my parents really set me up for success in so many ways, um, On the flip side, they really came from a place of scarcity, where, all right, if you get a little bit, you got to hold on to that, right?

And, and didn't think of the world through the lens of abundance. And so there were many times [00:19:00] where, you know, I stayed at a job too long, I had an idea, and I didn't take the leap, because I was like, well, what if, what if, right? And it's just such a silly thing. And to make it more You know, I've started four businesses, uh, two failed horribly, one was effectively an acquihire, uh, the fourth was sold, and now I'm on my fifth, uh, that, uh, I've been running for about a year.

And so, through that journey, um, on that fourth business, where I actually got a liquidity event, made some money, kind of really reshaped my, my position in life, um, I had a job in a, in a, in a corporate software company and you know, I made decent money. Um, we had what's called restricted stock units, uh, RSUs.

And these are like stock grants that they give to employees and they, they drip them over, you know, four years or five years. So, you know, and at the time I was, I don't know exactly how old I was, but, uh, kind of early thirties ish. And [00:20:00] I was so stressed about quitting this job because I had about a quarter million dollars U.

S. And these RSUs. And I was like, if I quit, um, you know, this wasn't like, you know, any crazy money, but to my little world, it was like, yeah, I

Matt: It's a lot of cash.

LaSean: estate, or I

Matt: Yeah. Yeah.

LaSean: something else. And so I was like, if I quit. And when you quit, those go to zero, right? So any of the options that have not vested, they go to zero.

And so I just had this number stuck in my head. Quarter million dollars, quarter million dollars. And I just couldn't let it go psychologically. And finally, you know, I, I found the courage to quit, start this business. And the, you know, I remember a day we had a wire come in, uh, and, uh, my bookkeeper, Uh, she said, Hey, do you want to, you want me to move some of this cash into the savings account?

You know, you don't want it all in the checking. And I said, how much is in there? And it was 700 and some odd thousand dollars, right? And this was just a few months, it's less than six months after this business started, right? So. [00:21:00] It was so interesting. I was like so paralyzed by this fake number that was in some web dashboard that I would log into and it's like your future is, you know, you know, has to be at this company because, um, you know, you don't want to lose this 250 and a few months later, you know, value, enough value was created to make that a moot point.

And so that's been, I think the, uh, common thread for me where I haven't viewed the world Through the Lens of Abundance, and so I've left opportunities on the table, and that's part of the reason why I'm so energized with what I do now, is one, um, I have a very different mindset, and two, I'm like on the hunt for folks who are maybe two steps, uh, before my path to kind of help them navigate some of those challenges themselves.

Matt: Wow. As you're talking, LaSean, I'm thinking there's an old story. I don't even know how true this is, but there's a story

LaSean: Let us hear it.

Matt: that I, I [00:22:00] remember very well, um, about how, how they used to trap monkeys in the jungle and they would hollow out a coconut. Yeah. Um, and put a hole in the coconut which was just big enough for the hand of the monkey to go in.

You put peanuts in the, in the coconut and the coconut's tied, um, to the tree. The monkey would put their hand in, grab the peanuts, but couldn't get its hand out whilst it had held of the peanuts. Um, and the analogy is obviously simple, you know, it was, it would, it would refuse to let go of these peanuts and the monkey was trapped and then obviously the villagers could kill the monkey and eat it.

And You know, the analogy was very straightforward. If you hold on to peanuts, you know, you can get trapped in life, can't you? And it's, as you're talking about the story, um, as you're talking about your story with the share options, this is what I'm thinking. This is a story in the back of my head. But then the other part of my brain is thinking, it's still a quarter of a million dollars, right?

Which is, it's not an inconsiderate amount of money. Uh, you know, it's, [00:23:00] it's this. So what caused you What was your thought process in saying goodbye to that? Because I'm assuming you didn't have that and the 800 grand or 700 grand in the bank. You had to give up one, you had to let go of the peanuts, take your hand out to get the the other.

Would that be a

LaSean: Oh, yeah, I mean, so first off, I, I, I, Maybe had 20 grand saved up, right? So there, there wasn't a ton of runway when, when I quit and it was guaranteed the quarter million was going to zero. It wasn't a hypothetical. When I resigned and at that day, those would, those options would now be worth 0. And so I was going back and forth, you know, in this indecision, but you know, what, what really made the leap for me was realizing.

That, number one, I had gotten lucky multiple times, um, kind of showing up to the party early, and, you know, I work in technology, and I imagine this happens in certain other industries as well, but, [00:24:00] you know, I showed up in the early days of the PC, then the, you know, the early days of what would be kind of the dot com or web 1.

0, uh, then web 2. 0, kind of the phone era, like these different inflection points, and so I'd seen This on the PC and the website. And I just saw this inflection point, you know, that, that the mobile phone was going to be huge and. What I learned from those previous failures, I told you I started two businesses that didn't work out, was that, um, mostly, I just had the wrong approach to customer development and my operational model, but my thesis on kind of the customer pain point was, was pretty sound, and what I wanted to acknowledge was, if you show up to the party early, you have to be really bad at your job not to succeed, and I looked at that, and I was like, okay, This is the next, this is the next hockey stick.

I have to show up to this party, and that's what really gave me the justification to go move. I was like, listen, self, um, even [00:25:00] if you suck at this, you don't execute well, um, you're just going to go get another job, uh, but all these lessons are going to bridge whatever dollar amount you're leaving on the table, and this is kind of the, the calculus that I kind of taught myself through and, you know, kind of the regret minimization framework that you probably heard of where it was like, I knew it would nag at me like over the years, if something that I had this much conviction, um, was not, you know, moved, you know, taken with any action.

Matt: Fantastic. Okay. How old were you at this point?

LaSean: Uh, yeah, I think I was 30, I think I was 32, 33. Um, I sold that business around 35. Uh, and so, you know, that's another thing, right? I didn't make my first million dollars until that, that point. And looking back, it was like. I could have done this at 25, right? I just didn't have the right courage, I didn't have, I didn't have the right skills, I didn't know how to interact with people, there was a bunch of vocabulary that I didn't know, um, I did a horrible job [00:26:00] when I sold that business on the tech side, like, there's all sorts of things where I just like kept getting it wrong, and the reason it still worked is like, I just showed up at the right party, and I think for so many of us, like, you're playing the game on hard mode, it's, Like when I hear someone say like, Hey, LaSean, I want to start a bakery.

And I'm like, I don't knock a bakery. I love going to a great bakery. And what I try to get them to think through though, is when you start this bakery, um, imagine your perfect day. And for many, they describe, you know, inventing all these recipes and kind of like, you know, spending time on Instagram, like showing the world, all these things.

In reality, they're now like. a talent recruiter and a, and a, you know, accountant, um, or someone who's like always doing these, you know, these books and like, they're doing things that have nothing to do with running a bakery. And so really trying to help us understand, it's just like, if you want to show up to a party that is going to have you playing the game on hard mode, like make sure you deeply, deeply are convicted [00:27:00] about that particular path in life.

And if so, um, you know, you can go do amazing things, you know, everyone at the top of their. Their game, um, will be rewarded properly. But, um, that was kind of my secret sauce was just show up to a party where almost everyone could win, uh, because it was new. And then that way as I fumbled along, I could still be okay.

Matt: So, uh, what sort of parties, if I follow your analogy, uh, what sort of parties are you looking at now? Or if, if you were starting today, what would you be looking at?

LaSean: Yeah. You know, there's a lot of talk right now about AI and I think it's a bit of a misnomer. I've spent, you know, years on the software engineering side talking about. And building computer vision products and AI and machine learning products. And it's easy for us to start the conversation there. I actually don't think that's the transformative part.

I think there are two things that are being driven by that, that maybe are less obvious. [00:28:00] Number one, if you go way back to the 1950s, 60s, there were. Manufacturing companies, supply chain companies, you know, think of Coca Cola at a bottling plant. And what they would do is have people with actual clipboards and stopwatches measuring all the points where the bottles would move through their Um, Manufacturing Process, and they would find ways to go, uh, make it more efficient.

And, you know, over the years, we got into the 80s, 90s, uh, a lot of that stuff got forgotten because computers showed up and, you know, most people weren't starting manufacturing. You know, type businesses. And what AI is doing is making people realize if I want to use any of this AI stuff in my business, I have to understand my process.

And so these old concepts from the 1950s and 60s are being brought back because I Many businesses just don't even have their processes, processes documented, right? So, like, step one, like, do you even know how your business works? [00:29:00] And so, I think that's the first piece that once you understand that, it may not be AI that you use to make your business more efficient, but I love that AI is driving this conversation that until you get your process documented, you can't start the convo.

Uh, the second piece is, you know, in technology, it's very common that you have to effectively Re skill or up skill, basically reboot your whole, uh, training and development every two to four years. And, I think that's part of the reason there's a lack of empathy in the software industry, when people start talking about, oh my goodness, AI is, is gonna come for our jobs.

And, if you've worked in the software business, you're like, Well, you just go learn a set of new things, right? Like it's so instilled and obvious. And then there's someone in a different industry who's been doing the same thing for 17 years, and that's like, so, so, you know, nerve wracking. And so there's just a, I think a lack of empathy there.

And so when I look at. [00:30:00] What the next thing is, I really believe that we're on a wave of, uh, hyper efficiency because small businesses, big businesses are going to start looking at business optimization again. Uh, it's going to be in vogue and as a result. They're going to see all of these inefficiencies, uh, you know, a quick anecdote, um, you know, for better or worse, whether you love him or hate him, um, when Elon showed up at X, formerly Twitter, um, you know, there's a lot to be said about, you know, firing all, all the layoffs that he made.

Well The more interesting thing that I've seen, if you dig deeper beyond the headlines, Twitter's growth, and there's something, um, in, in consumer apps around kind of the maximum number of customers you can get in a certain window. And they had plateaued at that number around 2013, 2014. And so they kind of like had most of the customers they were going to get, um, you know, 10 years ago.

Meanwhile, they kept growing, [00:31:00] like, you know, like, like, like that number was not true. And so. We get into these growth cycles where all they had to really do is to say, all right, if we get back to the 2014 headcount number, um, like, like we haven't done anything detrimental to the business. And there's so many businesses that are making those types of decision growing in a way that's unnatural or on the flip side.

They don't have access to capital and they could serve a customer if they could just do more with the same set of humans that they have. And so when I think about AI, I think we have to go apply it to some use case. And for me, uh, business process optimization is just going to be a unlock for business owners all over the world.

Whether you have a two person company, A 20 person company, a 20, 000 person company, this is going to be the next thread, and then tactically, yes, uh, technologies like AI I think will be used to go make it real.

Matt: it's really interesting you say that [00:32:00] because I was, um, I've taken the last four or five weeks off work every, same time every year, I take, I take a chunk of time off, just unwind, just relax, sabbatical, whatever language you want to use, right. Um, and I came back and I've been talking with, um, Um, uh, the producer of the show here that Sadaf, uh, who you've met actually, um, talking with her, just reviewing all our processes in the light of AI.

That's all I've done since I've been back the last three or four days is thinking, uh, you know, let's look at our business processes, um, and how can they be adapted, changed, uh, made more efficient, et cetera, in the, in the face of AI. So I think it's quite an interesting one, isn't it? Every week, at the moment, it feels like what you can do with technology takes another big step forward.

Um, and so, uh, a lot of, a lot of those processes then can be updated, can be changed, can be, uh, thought [00:33:00] about. So it's, it's interesting you say that, and I, I'm inclined to agree. I'm intrigued to see where it all goes, you know, with the, uh, with the

LaSean: Yeah. Well, and just quickly on your particular point, I mean, because things are changing so rapidly, My thesis is that if a business owner doesn't have this process written down, they can't even make sense of all of this change, right? So, in the podcast example, you know, there's a couple of companies, Adobe is one, another company called Aphonic.

What they do, they have an API that allows you to do some of your post processing. Uh, you know, without, without your, your post process or your, your audio engineer, whoever you use, and it'll like remove the ums and it'll do all these things. And it's very similar to many products out there like Descript or what have you.

Um, but what's different is there's zero human involved. Uh, you set your, your recipe, if you will, you pass it to this. And anytime you drop a new file in your Dropbox folder or whatever, it sends another file back. And that may or may not be useful. [00:34:00] The quality bar may or may not be where it is. Like there are many things to go look at.

Um, but if you don't look at your whole process and say, Oh, here in post production, we do X, we spend Y in time, Z in dollars. Um, it's really hard to look at that and it almost can feel like noise if you don't understand, uh, kind of what your, your customer business, uh, flow needs to look like in the first place.

Matt: yeah, exactly, exactly right. And I'm enjoying playing with those set LaSean not, it's not like, uh, no, it's interesting. We, I sat down with Mark, um, here at the company as our head of technical, uh, across all our companies, really smart guy, um, just looking at some of the things that you can now do, which is just phenomenal and fantastic.

But, um, and people say isn't AI going to take our jobs like you mentioned? And I'm like, well, yeah. I think it will if you're mediocre, actually. Um, I think AI will get very good at doing a mediocre job for a lot of different [00:35:00] industries.

LaSean: A hundred percent.

Matt: and if you're exceptional, I think you'll, you'll use AI to help you level up. Um, uh, in a lot of ways.

LaSean: Well, another thing I'll insert here is I like to underscore the point your job is not. Equal to your company's future. So I believe AI will make quite a few companies go out of business. That does not mean that people who work there will be out on the street without a job. I think they will, um, you know, find.

Other places to work that maybe are more enjoyable, more businesses will be created. Uh, but I think the anxiety of the logo that I work for might go out of business, therefore I won't eat. I think that's something to kind of decouple, because many of those companies will. Just ignore these changes and they will go out of business.

And so, you know, no job at that company does not mean no, you know, kind of, kind of positive future for, for someone who no longer works there. And that, you know, I think is sometimes [00:36:00] hard for people to conceptualize. It's like, I've been working here seven years. If I don't work here, where? Like to your point, if you're amazing, especially you're leveraging these tools, there are going to be plenty of options for you to consider.

And so just having the right mindset that today's employee, employer may not be your employer, you know, five years from now, just getting comfortable with that, I think is, is, is really important.

Matt: Yeah, it's very freeing, I think, and like you say, dealing with the stress of that now is super helpful. I'm curious, Sean, just switching gears slightly, because I feel myself going down this rabbit hole, because I find it fascinating because it's been so long. But just sort of switching gears slightly.

What do you do personally to sort of recharge your batteries? How do you, I mean, obviously you read, I mean, if you're watching the video, you can see that you read, you know, you, you've, you've got to shed load of books behind you. Um, but what, what else do you do? Is that it? Are you just an avid reader and worker and that's your life, but are there other things that you do to sort of stay sharp, to keep your [00:37:00] batteries, you know, tip top?

LaSean: Yeah. For me, it's two things. The first is going to sound silly. Um, it's food and

Matt: not silly. That is genius. That's what that is.

LaSean: it's, it's like, it's my Like, you know, master screwdriver, like the first tool that I reach for, whether it is, I need to go to a restaurant by myself, I need to go catch up with friends I haven't seen, I want to go meet someone for the first time, um, whether it's a high end, you know, omakase restaurant for sushi, or it's a fast food place that, you know, is, is super convenient, there's usually an answer in food.

Uh, for many of the social, uh, questions that I'm trying to, to tackle, uh, and I find myself, uh, you know, even when I don't want to, like, I gotta hop in the car and I gotta, I live on the, in Seattle, the whole place is, like, built around a big lake called Lake Washington, and I live on the east side of the lake, and if I want to go downtown, I have to, like, drive the 17 minutes across the lake, like, this, all this sounds [00:38:00] silly when I say it out loud, right?

It's like, well, LaSean, like, that's not very much effort, and, but in my brain, I'm like, I don't want to do this, but then after I sit down, I'm I have the meal, I talk to this person, um. There's just like an energy that comes out of it. And so food is so magical, um, as part of my toolkit. The other piece is I really enjoy making things.

And these days, what that really comes together as is I like to bring together different folks, whether that's, um, people making. Uh, you know, a product. Um, I really love helping people make media. I've made a number of films, and over the years, what I've learned about that, that gives me energy is, the romantic part of being on a film set, I do not enjoy.

Um, it's like a logistical nightmare. You gotta like, like, it's just, there's always something wrong, right? Because you have a director trying to get the best performance out of a set of actors. And, while all that's going on, you also are like, You know, there's a catering business going on because these people have to eat.

You know, you might be in some random place. It's like, where are the [00:39:00] bathrooms? You know, there's some location issue and you got to work with the city or like, like, it's just a hot mess all around. But like, why do I still get pulled into that? Because when you bring all of these disciplines and these creators of different, you know, skill sets together, and you can make something unified, like I really get.

Positive energy around that. And so whether I'm investing capital or I'm, you know, playing a producer role where I'm kind of assembling these teams, um, I get energized and I'm ready to go back to software land when I do those types of projects. And so I call that making things. Uh, others may have, uh, you know, a different way that they would describe that type of work, but, but food and kind of, you know, helping others create, those are kind of my two levers that whenever I need to recharge, they give me what I need.

Matt: Fantastic. Food, I am 100 percent with you. Food with people, you know, I've been married 25 years. My wife is amazing and just about every night at our house, there's people around our dinner table who don't live in our house. [00:40:00] You know, there's always people coming in and out of our house, which is great and I love it.

Um, and, uh, I, I, I recently invested, I say recently invested is maybe is when I sold my company two years ago. I bought, um. A smoker, a trager, they're called trager smokers. And I never really cooked. I have to be honest with you. I've been married 25 years, never really cooked. I can probably count on one hand the amount of food I actually cooked.

Um, I was just never good at it. And I bought this trager. Wow, dear Lord. That was it. I was gone. I was smoking everything. You know, I was cooking everything, which was great. So I really enjoyed that. Um, so you've got making things, which is cool. Uh, you Make films, I make stuff out of wood, you know, it's quite interesting.

The final part of your North Star, which I thought would be good to sort of touch on, so you've got Know Yourself or Know Thyself, Make Things, Stay Free. Now, what do you mean by personal freedom? What does this stay free actually mean and look like?[00:41:00]

LaSean: Yeah. If we get hyper tactical for me, and I like to preface all of these things, it's like I'm a huge proponent of choose your own adventure in life. And so I'm not out saying you should follow LaSean's rule. I'm out saying, hey, if you see how random and weird my setup is, you should feel you know, free to go like design your own version of, of, uh, you know, the, the pieces of food on your, on your plate.

And so for me, very tactically, I found that like recurring business meetings, I cannot stand. Uh, so what I do is if I'm having an unstructured conversation that's not really work related, um, you know, maybe I'm meeting someone for the first time, but I'm not selling them. They're not selling me. Um, I'm on a podcast.

I am, you know, doing one of my coaching or mentoring sessions for free. Those I can, I don't mind where those show up on my, my schedule, but all of my kind of work work [00:42:00] meetings, I only take them on Tuesday. And. I don't have anything else on my calendar the rest of my week that I can't change, um, up until the last minute, you know, barring just being respectful, you know, if there's somebody that I'm connecting with and I don't want to bail on them, but I find that as soon as I let my schedule get filled in by the noise of recurring, uh, work meetings, I'm like, It's the, like, least happy time in my life, and every time, you know, I've gotten to, you know, about 120, 150 person organizations I was, uh, managing, I was like, why am I so miserable?

At the same time, you know, my manager's like, LaSean, you're amazing, we want to get you to, you know, so and so level, like, like, we see a future where you're managing a thousand person org, and blah, blah, blah, and I'm like, this job sucks! And so, for me, I just love the agency of being able to say, I'm getting up this morning.

I'm going to do whatever I want. If I, if I stay up super late, you know, I'm trying to [00:43:00] do better with sleep. Um, but I can just sleep in. I'm not like, Oh my goodness, I have to get up and I have to be somewhere. And so, you know, kind of true control over our calendar. That's the, the number one thing. And then number two is, Uh, I don't make any long term commitments anymore, and so if, you know, you think about someone who has a job or someone who has, you know, any type of life commitments professionally, where it's like, oh, in three months I have to do X, I don't have any of those, and what that allows me to do is I can take sometimes a whole week where I'll go and Read, not just books, but really boring, like, PDFs from PhDs of, like, written something.

And when I was working a regular job, I could just never make Either the calendar time or the mental time. Like, you know, just because you have the time of your calendar, you can be so drained from some other type of of work that you can't get into the place where you can actually connect the dots. And you know, as they say, you don't really learn something until [00:44:00] it forces you to change your behavior.

Otherwise you're just accumulating knowledge. And so for me, freedom is really about all of this. And then lastly. It's the ability, because of all of those things, to be able to move around the planet. And so, for instance, you know, I have, uh, a trip that I'm taking next week to Southeast Asia, and we had to move things around, and some, some dates got bumped, and it was just no stress.

It was like, okay, this was gonna be Tuesday, now it's Thursday, and it like, it didn't matter, because there was nothing to move. And so, I believe that there's so much untapped potential in people if they can just get a taste of that level of freedom, but for me, I'm willing to have less status, make less money to preserve that, and I find every time that I protect that, I just make more money.

And so, it's just a really interesting thing where the, the thing that I used to chase is now a byproduct by really protecting, uh, this thing I call personal freedom.

Matt: That's a really interesting point, I [00:45:00] had a business partner in the company that we sold and he made this point clear, it's where I learned it first, um, he would surf a lot and he would encourage me, Matt, go out, surf, walk, do whatever, I'm like, but dude, I'm supposed to be running this company over here, you know, what's it going to look like if I go and do surfing or whatever, he's like, trust me, if you've got a question, you've got a problem.

And you need to wrestle out an answer and it's just not helping, nothing seems to be happening. Get on a surfboard, man, by the time you come back in off those waves, you'll know the answer. And it's just that, it's just really interesting, isn't it, when you create space like that. Um,

LaSean: Yeah, I mean, for some people, it's, they exercise, they do a sport, they listen to music, they make music, like, whatever it is, uh, I think most of us know what that could be, and if not, that's worth an exploration, but yeah, it's this kind of time with yourself. It's like a, Uh, you know, a 10X version of, you know, time in the shower, right?

Like you just get this space where your brain can just be settled and it's almost meditative [00:46:00] combined with like this hyper productivity where you're kind of in the flow of solving your own problems and, and the ideas spark. And so, yeah, however people get there, I think it has to be part of your toolkit if you want to have a sustainable kind of path on whatever you're chasing.

Matt: Fantastic. Listen, LaSean, I'm aware of time, so I'm going to ask you this question quickly. We like to, we like to do the question box in every podcast, right? Now, I said to you at the start, I don't actually have the question box with me, I'm in a different studio. So what I've done is I've gone to ChatGPT, uh, and ChatGPT has given me 10, and I quote, thought provoking questions, um, so if you give me a number between 1 and 10, we will dive on that question.

LaSean: Let's go seven. We feel lucky.

Matt: Number 7, uh, the very biblical number. Uh, how do you define success and has that definition evolved for you over time?

LaSean: Well, I won't reiterate the North Star, um, but for me, success is competing against myself. And [00:47:00] I won't get into the details, but I created this structure that I, that I share with folks that I mentor called a life map. And it has six steps. Be, uh, become valuable, build new relationships, generate income from there, stay liquid.

Buy assets and then stay free. And when you're free, what can you do? You can spend more time with your friends and family. You can improve your health. You can, you know, do volunteerism, charity. You can start a new business without any LPs or investors. Like, there's all sorts of things that you can do. And I find that having a structured process, the same way I think about business process, having a structured process where you're like, this is my destination and here's my work back, to get there.

I just think it makes it a lot easier, both for you to execute every day, judge if you're spending your time right, but also, and this is super important, we know this, but don't always do it, to make sure we have the right people around us who are in service of that destination. And if you don't write it down, it's kind of [00:48:00] hard to assess, are these the right cheerleaders around me?

Matt: Fantastic. I love that phrase, I'm competing with myself. It's a great phrase. Listen, LaSean, I've thoroughly enjoyed the conversation, man,

it's been, and I feel like we're just getting started, as I always do with great podcast guests. If people want to reach out, if they want to connect with you, if they want to find out more about what you're doing, what's the best way to do that?

LaSean: Uh, the easiest way is old school email, uh, the email address is is grow, g r o w, at kager. com, that's c a g r. com, or you can just reach me on Twitter, I'm at l a s e a n, um, DMs are open, I don't charge for coaching, but if anyone is interested in this idea of making your business more efficient, I'm happy to do a free 30 minute convo, and really what I get energized again is about someone who is Trying to figure out how to make the leap, or they made the leap and they [00:49:00] need to get things more efficient.

The reason I make time for those individuals is, one, I want to kind of give back, but two, selfishly, um, I want to figure out, is there a piece of software my folks can go, uh, create to go solve that for people like the person I'm meeting with? And so, anyone who wants to have those types of conversations, uh, I invite and, uh, would love to have the chat.

Matt: Fantastic. Fantastic. We will of course, link to LaSean's information in the show notes, which you can get along for free with a And of course, if you sign up to the newsletter, it's gonna be coming to your inbox. Sean, listen one, uh, sorry, Sean LaSean, uh, appreciate you being on the show, man.

Genuinely loved it and really fascinating some of the stuff that you've, uh, discovered and come up with. And, um, it sounds phenomenal and so looking forward to staying in touch, finding out more, uh, but genuinely thanks for coming on.

LaSean: Yeah, great for the conversation.

Matt: Well, there we go, another fantastic conversation, huge round of applause again for [00:50:00] LaSean for joining us today, uh, and a huge thanks obviously to today's show sponsor, Aurion Media.

For all you change makers out there contemplating podcasting as your new vehicle of expression and connection, definitely connect with them at aurionmedia. com and contact LaSean if you want to make movies. It seems like a good split there. Now remember, keep pushing to be more. Don't forget to follow the show wherever you get your podcasts from, because we've got some more seriously great conversations up our sleeve, and I don't want you to miss any of them.

And in case no one has told you yet today, let me be the first. are awesome. Yes, you are. Created awesome. It's just a burden you have to bear. LaSean has to bear it. I have to bear it. You've got to bear it as well. Now, Push To Be More is brought to life by Aurion Media for transcripts and show notes swing by our website, pushtobemore.

com. Big kudos to the team that makes this show possible, including who I was talking about earlier, Sadaf Beynon and Tanya Hutsuliak. And of course, a huge shout out to Josh for our [00:51:00] incredible theme music. So, from LaSean and from me, thank you so much for joining us. Have an awesome week. I'll catch you on the flip side.

Until then. Keep pushing. Bye for now.