Today we’re rolling out Episode 111 and wow, it’s a good one. Rich Cardona is the founder of Rich Cardona Media, a prior Marine Aviator and has one of the most interesting and compelling stories you will ever hear.
Rich Cardona (00:01): I don't know anyone who's had the entrepreneurial playbook or all the tools, who hasn't just run into all kinds of crazy obstacles anyway. It doesn't matter. Like you just have to do it.
Intro (00:26): Choose not to live in a world of filters. Realize your mistakes. Set the foundation for your success. Get some wins, knucklehead podcast.,
Stephen Colon (00:27): Well, welcome to another episode of knucklehead podcast. I've got with me somebody who I've known from a distance for some time that I've known personally for a little less time, but professionally, I admire his work at Meijer, his attention to detail, his creativity, his, uh, his schedule, his drive, his ambition, and his, uh, his eye for the creative. And I'm excited to have rich Cardona, uh, rich Cardona media, uh, on the show. Welcome to Knucklehead podcast. How in the hell are you happy to be here, man? Uh, what's embarrassing is I was going to wear my dumpy beta shirt, but that doesn't fit anymore. I'm sorry.
Stephen Colon (01:09): For those of you who are listening, uh, rich has added a, what we call the freshmen 15, um, for the sixth time, uh, during quarantine. So he's added 40 pounds. It's not a camera that's Adam just washed it and it just shrunk. That's all. And it wasn't me. It wasn't me. I'm just messing with you. I'm just messing with you. Well, it's good to see you. I appreciate you taking some time. I know that you've got 15 things that you're juggling essentially on a daily, hourly basis. So I appreciate the, uh, the time and the conversation. Honestly, the, the, the interaction that you've had over the last year, you had a couple of days ago, you had, uh, released a video may even been yesterday, uh, on LinkedIn. So for those of you who are listening to rich Cardona, my suggestion is to go directly to LinkedIn, type in rich Cardona video strategist.
Stephen Colon (01:53): And what'll happen is Gary V will come up and then Gary is asking rich questions. So Gary just, he's, he's getting educated on, on how to do things, uh, from rich. Uh, but my suggestion is going to LinkedIn, connect with rich, and then just follow them, study them for 30 days, figure out the frequency, figure out the, the amount of time that he spends in a recording and then turning, uh, turning around that creative content and you'll learn quite a bit. You'll learn quite a bit about his process. You'll learn quite a bit about his attention to detail and he'll always leave you guessing about what's coming next. And that's what I appreciate about, uh, about rich. So rich, this is not going to podcast. This is a, this is where we talk about this failures, the screw ups, the, the things that you've, you stubbed your toe on that you're busted your nose that you wish you would have done a little bit differently, that actually led to the success that you're having now. And for those of you who are listening, uh, rich, I don't want to, I don't want to tell your story for you, but you weren't always, um, running rich Cardona media. You, you, you were doing some other things. So help folks understand a little bit about maybe some of your backstory prior to, uh, your corporate experience, maybe in the Marine Corps and a little bit about, you know, kind of who you are and where you came from, if that's all right with you.
Rich Cardona (03:00): A hundred percent man. I'll, uh, I'd actually like to start with the Marine Corps a little bit because I, I think really deeply about the Jockos and the David Goggins and then I think about them. And then I also think about the bags that you and I both know right that 10%. Uh, and, and I, and I really ask myself like where do I fit in between there? And I was probably just an average Marine, which makes, uh, me and you and anyone else who kind of fits in that category or maybe in, in, in between. Probably a great citizen. And I would say, you know, just a Patriot and someone who cares a lot, a lot about, you know, the country and organization and rigidity and teamwork and camaraderie and all that good stuff.
Rich Cardona (03:51): And the reason I think about all the time is cause sometimes I allow the thought of not being one of those guys as a reason to not make this podcast or make this content or make whatever. Sometimes I find myself like, do I need to write a freaking book now? Like I'm not trying to do that. Like, uh, now Jockos writing kids books. Like, do I need to do that? And what I've learned is there's far more of the people in my category than their category. And that's fine. And the reason I'm telling you this is because, dude, I was completely middle of the pack in boot camp. I was a four, I think, four year Sergeant, four years and changed. I was like, okay. To me that was huge. And then I did a boost, which was a precursor to me setup for anyone who doesn't know.
Rich Cardona (04:39): It's just essentially the law. I always like to say it's the last half of your senior year of high school and first, uh, you know, semester two of college. So it's kind of gets you back ready to go to college. So go to college. Uh, Florida state and okay, did decent there and then went to flight school, did decent at best and then I got to the squadron and I was, I was probably just a regular pilot, you know, like I had issues here and there sometimes I, you know, outperformed what I thought and, and then I retired so I looked back and I love my career and I'm so happy I did it. I wouldn't change anything. But in, in, in Marine talk, the type a, you know, the type of people you and I know when you're in, you know, there's really nothing special.
Rich Cardona (05:26): But now that I look back on the outside and I know Marine people like you and Chris and all of these elders, like I would hope people would say like rich is good the same way I say Stevens, you know, I'll recommend anyone to him. So it all changes. And the reason I'm mentioning this is because your identity just takes a complete twist and turn when you get out of that thing man, like there is no more rank. Like I've never asked anyone what the rank was. If they told me they were a Marine, I don't care if they were enlisted, if they were a major Lieutenant Colonel, I actually really don't care if you're a crusty general, like I'm not impressed. Cause out here it's all the same man. So that life I think is important to realize like you'll always be a veteran, but act two is entirely up to you. And I didn't even mean to rhyme right there. Dude.
Stephen Colon (06:09): That was good. You're flowing. Holy crap. We're spitting rhymes. This, uh, this afternoon, my goodness, it's important to talk about the things that you just said. Like it's, it's also very easy to gloss over, right? So if you're in today's workaday world, which, and the pandemic that everybody's, uh, essentially having to deal with in some way, shape or form, there's a new normal across the board. Sometimes folks are in survival mode and maybe you're stuck in survival mode after you've already gotten out of it because this pandemic has backed you into a little bit of a corner. So rich, it's important to, it's important to not gloss over the fact that even though you're comparing yourself to other folks calling yourself middle of the road, the reality is is when you look at the numbers and you look at the statistics, the context matters, context matters.
Stephen Colon (06:54): And that is you were a pilot in the Marine Corps in conjunction with the fact that you were one of the few that had gone from enlisted to an officer. So that means you were a Mustang, right? In the Marine Corps. That's what we call, yeah. I mean, so the idea is for those of you who are listening, who haven't joined, the military, didn't play sports. You know, you're a creative. You, you essentially get, gets your, you know, your worth by being able to go out there and do the things that you're interested in. I think it's important to study what he's talking about here because the context matters, I think. I think average is not the way that I would classify his particular career. Although he's using words to, to make it seem like it's, it's average or mundane. The experience that you were able to draw from that and the respect for process and building systems and understanding all of that training. That's what's forced you to be able to actually extract, I don't want to say creative process, but you, you, you're able to actually leverage that, that like dogmatic adherence to standards so much that it actually helps you, helps you produce quality creative output or outcomes as a result of that. Maybe I'm mischaracterizing but that's what I, I'm observing with your work.
Rich Cardona (08:02): This is really interesting man. I love when I'm on a podcast and something new pops in my head or someone puts something in a way that I'm like, what? And they just bring me somewhere else. I say it's funny and I'm not trying to be self deprecating by saying average, but when you're surrounded in a ready room of people I know I'm average student, like there's some just savages and some incredible Marines who I'm just like, who, I would always just be surprised by people who say sir to me and people who still say that when they track me down after, you know, I've been out a couple of years, I'm like, look like you are a stutter, you know? Lorraina you killed it, you know, whatever it is. It's just interesting. However, out here I don't feel average at all. And I don't mean because I was a Marine, I mean because I am hell bent on not settling and we'll get into my job and my corporate stuff in a little bit, but I have zero desire to fail and I won't because this is option a, this is option B and this is option C and that's it.
Rich Cardona (09:12): That being said, uh, I say I don't feel average because I know so many of us who are where I was a couple of years ago. And just like, what am I doing? But they're just like, I'm just going to stick this out because this is a safe bet. And you know what, man, that's just not how we roll, but we do out here and it's because we're scared of what's around the corner. And it's just a totally different type of fear. It's not rounds, you know, it's not, you know, a crash. It's none of that stuff. It's looking like a failure after coming from a prominent organization in which you had to perform at levels that everyone around us couldn't do. And it is really can mess with your head.
Intermission (09:56): Have you ever asked yourself why you haven't started a podcast? Well, I already know the reason. So do you, you don't feel like you're tech savvy. You don't feel like you got your message wired tight, and quite frankly, it's just, it's all this mystification going on. Quite frankly. Uh, our process helps to demystify that we're push button for podcast. We're Knucklehead, why Knucklehead? We lead with the fact that you don't know what you're doing. Yeah, we do. We've been there. We've actually been in your shoes. We take your spoken voice. We literally give a human voice to your website. You want to bring dead leads to life? Well, then you need to talk to Knucklehead. Essentially what we're going to do is we're going to take you through our process or we're going to help take your human voice and increase the process for you going from dead leads to life.
Intermission (10:38): How do I, how do I do that? Well, you essentially just take your human voice, put it in a directory, and let people consume more of you. Give your audience the ability to Netflix on you. They want to binge watch you. They want to binge listen. Give them the ability to take your voice along on that commute with them so you can get in touch with us, Steven@knuckleheadpodcast.com, or if you've got a really cool story stories at knucklehead podcasts, you can find us on LinkedIn and on Facebook and not go to promotions LLC and get in touch with us. Don't be a beta about the process. Don't let be fact that you don't know permitting you from getting some wins. So don't be a beta to get some wins and contact us today.
Stephen Colon (11:16): Yeah, it really, it really can. So I think to bring things back to your career, if somebody is going to go, so let's, let's, let's look at this. And I like to use contrast and compare in order to actually create a clarity, right? And so if there's something I don't understand, I always try to contrast what the opposite of, of whatever it is that I don't understand to develop some context. So if people are wanting to achieve success over the course of their lifetime, right. And they're wanting to be relevant to a group of individuals that they don't share a common background with, they have to figure out what information can they put out there that's relevant. How can you format something to actually, whatever you have to say in the information flow so you can have an opportunity to be relevant to those folks.
Stephen Colon (11:58): And you know, in a job context you have to have a resume or you have to have a background or you have to have a referral or you have to have familiarity with that hiring manager, something along those lines that gives you a fighting chance to go out and start creating income. Or you have to use the six inches between your ears as an entrepreneur to go and create processes and frameworks and systems for other folks to follow. So you can leverage the creative output of those individuals in order to actually create market value. And so what you've done in your experience as you've rubbed shoulders with some of the most, I want to say most prominent individuals, but probably the most recognizable individuals in the new media sphere, and you've been able to actually create this whole process that honestly, it's, I admire your, uh, your work.
Stephen Colon (12:45): I've said that about 16 times, but I admire the ability to leverage video, to capture folks attention and to tell a story. But let's back up to when you were working at Amazon because you were a pilot in the Marine Corps. So kudos to you. You're a rare, a rare guy, but you didn't come to market with just rich Cardona media while you were at Amazon. You, you actually went through the process of starting something else and were asked to change it completely after you like went wholesale into, I don't want to say the name cause I don't, I don't understand the context of the F word here. You know what it is. I don't, I don't want to say it. You tell me. You tell the story.
Rich Cardona (13:20): So look like I went to, I went to Amazon and I was, I just,
Stephen Colon (13:30): I love how you said that. I went to Amazon. You have many people like they go through the entire interview process and never make it. You went and got a job rolling in
Rich Cardona (13:37): Man. I'm not going to lie. I'm going to tell you right now how easy the interview was. I was freaking out and I did a phone interview, a couple of phone interviews and then I did another screen and I mean they were really easy behavioral type stuff. And then when I did the phone screen, I did just ask me some random question like, how would you start a business right now? And I was like, what? I was like, this is for operations. So dude, I did smack like, no kidding. I was like, okay. So I would start by walking around Carlsbad, California, where I live and I would look for failing businesses and, and I would go into each one of those and be like, why are they failing? And I think I used like a yogurt shop as an example. And I was like, okay, so my mission is to outperform them and to create something more elaborate, more affordable, more.
Rich Cardona (14:24): I don't know why. I just went through this whole thing and then like, he's like the feedback was like, okay. And then like interview over. I was like, what the hell just happened? Then I get a call to, I already moved on and then blah, blah blah. And then the last part, I think it was just kind of reaffirming that everyone else before you who interviewed you, it wasn't a complete moron for having you pass on. So I did that and then I got there. And then, I mean, dude from, from final interviews, like offer, it was like five days and I actually denied it. The first offer was like, Nope, good for you, for you. I love it. I'll tell you why. Because I talked to a couple of veterans and I was just like, tell me like, bro, or I talked to a couple, uh, army veterans, some, some females.
Rich Cardona (15:06): I was like, tell me the deal. They're just like, I'll tell you what, and no one seemed enthusiastic. Sure, yeah, I can understand. It's a multibillion dollar multinational, one of the largest companies on the planet, if not the largest. Now for listeners, whatever service you're in, you have said so and so has drank the Koolaid. So for a Marine, it's someone with the high and tight who's like, just lives, eats and breathes Marine Corps. I was like, I'm talking to people who've really drank the Koolaid because they can't even give it to me straight. So I said, no. And then months later, um, I was just like, uh, not, not feeling what I was doing. And I was like, Hey, you guys still cool? And they're like, yep. And they just like sent me an offer and they just gave me all these things. Uh, during this time I was in California, man.
Rich Cardona (15:51): I was like, okay, call that. So then I went to Austin, Texas and did this thing. So here's what I can tell you. Immediately, immediately on day one, I was like, Oh no, I just had this feeling. It was just unlike an environment I've ever been in. I was surrounded by 20 something year olds. I'm not saying anything bad about that, but like some of us were peers. Uh, my operations manager was a retired Colonel who was an Intel dude in the army. And it turns out like that dude couldn't lead anyone to save his life. I mean, unfortunately. And then there was other people like, uh, someone who was under me who was a major, who was HMX pilot, who flew around two different presidents and he was an area manager and he was heinous and he wasn't heinous because of him. He was heinous because the leadership was heinous.
Rich Cardona (16:41): So long story short, man, I spent two years there because I felt like I have the money, have the house, um, I'm supporting my wife, I'm supporting my daughter who came into the world, um, two months after I started. And that does during peak season, the worst time, you know, I had my laptop in the delivery room, like all that stuff, dude, it was just ridiculous. And all I was doing pro was just like outperforming a lot of people and also screaming for attention. I will tell you the biggest mistake I made, and this is so important for everyone, I started to reaching out to people left and right, trying to see if I was going crazy thinking that this system was dog. And I'm like every, I could look up anyone in Amazon and be like, Oh, they're a veteran. Oh they're in the veterans club. But I was calling people, calling people, calling people. And that was the biggest mistake I can make because like I said, like people had kind of drank the Koolaid and people were loyal. And once you've made it to like a year or two, like you're kind of really protective about your position, their stocking ball, blah, blah, blah. Yep. So, so what I actually did was just make a name for myself in the wrong way and then I had to fight back to kind of win people
Stephen Colon (17:50): over. So talk about that real quick just because I think for context here, here's, here's, um, I'm noticing what he's talking about and I'm observing the experience that I had. I think I told you about, uh, my running that I had with HR. And then when, when I take my run in, I was building and scaling a sales team. We essentially, for context, uh, this team produced probably two point $5 million in 2015. Right? The next year we produced just under nine in the year after that we were on pace to do 16. Right? This was my team at a food, at a food business. And so each unit of sale was about 30 to 45, 45 K. So we were producing a crap ton of volume from for context compared to what we were doing before. So I didn't give a crap about HR. I didn't really care about what HR saying was saying with, you know, you gotta play nice, you gotta do this, that and the other.
Stephen Colon (18:39): I'm like, listen, I'm out there taking market share from my competitors and I'm not asking for forgiveness for it. And as a matter of fact, my sales team is probably going to color outside the lines a little bit. So if that ruffles you the wrong way than sorry, you're just going to have to get used to it. It turns out that that was not necessarily the greatest approach because it, it ruffled some feathers on my team who then that person went to go talk to my, my HR director about, you know, some issues that they had. They had just wanted to put their two weeks in and go, you know, go back to their family. And I reached out like any good manager is supposed to and said, Hey listen, I'm not sure what's going on personally, but I can tell you that you've kicked ass and take names while you're here and whenever you get some stuff figured out you're always, you're always welcome to come back.
Stephen Colon (19:18): I just want to let you know that reached out and left. I left her a voicemail so that the HR director then went to the owner of the company stay stating that I was kind of stalking or trying to like communicate outside of you know, company. And I was like, what are you talking about? No, absolutely not. That's, that's not anywhere. No, as a matter of fact you're wrong. So don't do that anymore. As a matter of fact, and she didn't believe that politically the same way that I did. And she went on to add some color to the story that was not accurate. So I texted my wife exactly how I felt about this woman. I called her some choice words. It turns out I was texting her kind of my wife.
Stephen Colon (19:58): That was the Genesis of knucklehead because in the corporate world, in the corporate sphere, to your point, you have about a year or two and then you get really protective of your territory because that's years of your life that you've put into something, right? But it creates this dysfunctional behavior that doesn't allow you to actually have this creative energy to go and do new things and, and be in and take risks and actually speak your mind in a tactful professional manner and conduct yourself accordingly, uh, to actually go and attract partners and attract strategic relationships. What it does is it forces you to repeat what you're told, do what you're told when you're told, when, while you're wanting to do it. And it forces you to kind of be locked step with what the corporate objective is as opposed to understanding that that's just, that's got a shelf life. You have your life, you have your life that responsible for.
Rich Cardona (20:48): And so that means you also need to be able to believe in what it is that you're doing. And so knucklehead essentially was the Genesis of that. I realized that God, I was, I was a robot more or less. I was, I you make stupid ass decisions, uh, when you, when you're not intending to, uh, and, and in the corporate sphere and uh, marketing and your voice and the synergies between how folks actually consume information rather than being adherence to what the corporate world has to say. You can actually express yourself in a meaningful way and still accomplish significant economic value out there in the marketplace. So anyway, but my point is, is I feel your pain as you're telling me a little bit about your experience. It's really interesting. Like, you know why we're protective of it is cause that gap that you need to bridge is really uncomfortable.
Rich Cardona (21:37): Visceral, it's a weird experience. You're trying to fit in. You're trying not to over veteran yourself. You're trying, you get to the point where you don't lead with your military stuff and you know, like you're not desperate and you're like, okay, cool. But like you, I have to be so honest right now I think about this and I've been thinking about it a lot lately. I do believe I was an absolutely, really unbelievable manager. Uh, I just did things, no, no other managers did. I was next, next to my hourly associates. I taught them, I did all these things. We had like the number one performing shift, um, like in the country for a bunch of weeks. Like, like little things like not like, not little, but I know there's validity to it, but for sure. But when I look back at it, I was still very much in execution mode.
Rich Cardona (22:20): Like I knew exactly what they needed and I got to the point where I could deliver on all that so easily. But I also knew that everything else I was doing was for personal fulfillment that I didn't, I knew there's no way I was going to have the creative space to kind of take things to the next level or you know, I just, it was just really, what's the word? Like it, it just like, I was just like in a box. So as time went on, you say we make stupid decisions or whatever. Inadvertently. Look man. Like I subconsciously think I was just really disrupted, had destructive behavior when it came to drinking, when it came to practices at work, when it came to leaving early, like there was just a point where I just didn't care. So it's funny because I essentially quit before I was probably going to get fired.
Rich Cardona (23:02): And what happened was I look back on that a lot and I say to myself, I didn't make the decision to quit and they didn't make the decision to fire me. Like I made the decision the first time I stepped out of like regular rich. The first time I made a decision. I mean it was literally like, I hate to say it like this, but like a cry for help. I was like, all right, I'm just going to push this thing until I see what the hell happens. Until push came to shove, I forced myself into a situation that made me have to leave and then came my Genesis a little bit later of rich Cardona media. But I look back and I'm like, man, I could've dealt with that so much better and all this different stuff. And blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I still think about some of these managers.
Rich Cardona (23:43): So I'm like, if I ever see you, I'll kill you. Do you know all these things? And it's just so funny because all that bad experience actually matters everything to what I'm doing now because I am just trying to just unwrap all that negativity and just push it with positivity, obviously in the words of Gary V and just really, really help people out by making their brands and their awesome leadership and their company and their why and all that visible. Because I believe in them and I never would have been in a position to do that if I was still there as a senior ops or an AGM or some stupid position that would have me there 20 hours a day, you know? And just not even paying a tab. I might not even have a second daughter right now. Like I don't even know.
Rich Cardona (24:26): Yeah. So, yeah, man, I mean with you talking about having your laptop in the delivery room and you know, let's be honest, just Marines. We were missioned first and then second troop welfare, right? So mission is if you, if you don't have a mission, honestly that creates complete dysfunction because you've removed, it's like removing the bumper, uh, the guardrails. Whenever you go to a bowling alley, I don't know if you do you bowl. I don't know. Alright? So they have bumper lanes like, so you cannot, you literally cannot. Um, it's kinda like nerfing the world you, you cannot miss. But when you, um, when you eliminate those, you know, let's just say you're a 300 bowler with, you know, with the guardrails up, but then you take the guardrails off, you're going to suck because you're dependent upon, you become dependent upon and programmed by.
Rich Cardona (25:14): Uh, essentially that, that safeguard. And it's the same thing whenever you don't have a mission whenever you're out. And one of our mutual acquaintances, Hoffman is he, he's provided some systems and processes for folks that are kind of stuck in that rut to get out of that rut. And I think that that's a good mission to have. Uh, but the reality is is, you know, people are walking around in today's world plugged to their phone. That's the rubble. It's the remote control for their life and are walking around and they're, they're staring at their screens, you know, and everybody's got tendonitis from scrolling from the bottom up on their particular phones. And you've been able to create this, this process and this framework around getting folks to stop and pay attention to it. And I want you to talk about how much pain you had to go through in order to perfect that process.
Rich Cardona (26:00): So look, the thing is the creative process, what has happened ever since I left is this like how can it be better? You know, like how can it be better? How can you be better as knucklehead? And anyone I talk to, I always immediately think, and it's just by nature, how can this company or this brand or this person be better? And I always say the creative process is fairly easy because it revolves around one thing that the people in the company are far more interesting than the company period. Like that's just the way it is, man. Like I am so over the people who, who really truly think that your mission statement is what's going to sell someone. I don't give a shit. Like it doesn't matter the, in the company, your why. Even like the way you scale that sales team is so largely important.
Rich Cardona (26:49): Neither I've ingested too many stories like that or I just don't remember, but I don't remember that vividly. And now that's like going to be stuck and like pinned in my head. So the question here is, or, or to answer the question like, Howard, how do you get people to stop scrolling? Which is exactly my mission is to just not talk about what you do. Just talk about who you are. And that's so counterintuitive. Uh, you know, maybe, maybe it's counterintuitive for people coming from the military just because, because they don't think people understand. And maybe it's counterintuitive to the twelve-year corporate dude who's just like, why, why would I do that? Like I'm not trying to like shine the light on me cause then everyone's gonna think I'm blah blah blah blah blah. We are far more interesting and stories are just really intriguing to all kinds of people.
Rich Cardona (27:36): Period point blank. And your story and my story are going to be very different, but we could repeat the same mission, right? So I was like, Oh, how fun is that? You know what I mean? If you and I happen to be working for the same place, so when it comes to the people, just think of it. Just think of it like this. Forget entrepreneurship for a second. If I am a senior operations manager and you are auditing my team and you go up to some of my area managers or hourly associates and you're like, Hey, did you know that rich was a Marine? Did you know where rich went to school? Do you know where Rich's from? Do you know why he is the way he is? And if you can't answer that, then that probably means you have a dysfunctional crappy ass squad.
Rich Cardona (28:19): And that's why you're getting evaluated in the first place because you're not performing. When people understand what's at stake, just think of it like this man, the news, when you put it on the news, there's no emotion, right? There's no backstory. It's just the story. So you're just like, okay, so when you hear so-and-so was killed, or two people die in this accident or whatever, like you're not like super bent out of shape about it. It's just more bad news. But if you knew that it was Loretta and Ryan who'd been married for 20 years and that they were both Marine Corps veterans or this, this and this, and they have two children or two grandchildren that they're parenting because whatever, then it just becomes completely different. So when it comes to businesses, the brand, the mission, the vision, your history, your data, all these things are really irrelevant if you want to be memorable because that's all people do all day and they think that's what's effective.
Rich Cardona (29:16): And I am not trying to support people who want to be beta, right? Like I just don't like, I'm sorry. I need to love what you're doing and what you're about and I need to be able to unwrap you and just kind of really let you let other people in because that is what's going to take you to the next level. And you know this. But I'm a practitioner man. I'm a complete and utter practitioner of that. Otherwise I would never suggest it. And I'll tell you what man, like all this time I put in over the last, my first client was exactly 13 months ago. The business has been alive, so to speak, for about, uh, 18 months or something went wrong along those lines. My first client was just about a year ago and now like, man, it's just, it's just really coming in floods.
Rich Cardona (29:59): But if I didn't have the patience to just kind of continue to just be like, look, the story matters. The story matters, the story matters, the story matters. Then I'd be nowhere. I think it's important to package what you, what your experience was prior to you operating. Kind of as, can I say flyboys I mean is that a, is that a thing? Can I give it, I mean I understand that. I advise media. Yeah, there we go. So what is that? What happened to that? That's the really funny, let me, ah, this is just not gonna work for those of you. That's okay. All right. Take your time. Hey listen, those of you who are listening, my buddy rich right now is doing what we call in the Marine Corps. He is, he's not being a blue Falcon. I'm just kidding. He's, he's actually, he's actually setting up a video camera for a second perspective on this story and I love him and he's going, there's, this is going to end up on LinkedIn and he's going to have a LinkedIn video here in just a second.
Rich Cardona (30:49): So Flybuys I'm so glad you mentioned that. Sorry I didn't, I wasn't sure what you were alluding to earlier. So it was an, it was an army veteran who I knew and we worked at Amazon together and then we went into business together. But did we, I mean business together, there was no money coming and we just had an idea, we put it down and that was it. So it started with wanting to interview veterans to share their stories, share their transition stories, you know, a lot of stuff that kind of goes on. Now what really happened was I just kind of was like, Hey man, I'm like, you're not doing anything. You know? And again it didn't matter cause we were just, we weren't making money so I was just like, okay, no. So then I eventually just kind of like, Hey, I'm going to take over everything.
Rich Cardona (31:34): We tried to dissolve it. It was a nightmare. Like he really didn't care and everything seemed fine. I had the website, I had all this stuff and then like it just, I don't know what happened, man. I couldn't get permission to run the website or I don't know what, and we had to write Google and this and that and it was just stupid. So when it comes to that, the first iteration of it was just I think what we all experienced is the first iteration of a version of something that just matures into what we actually want it to be. That's all it really was a, it was nothing like what I'm doing now for the most part. Um, and it was just, I don't want to call it a stumbling block, but the biggest thing it was was the realization that I needed to be on my own.
Rich Cardona (32:18): You know, I didn't need to be partnering with anyone. Like I was the visionary, I was the one who's going after it, the other individuals, like in the workforce out of the workforce. And I was just like, you know what? Like just forget it. So again, not necessarily a great experience. It was a very confusing experience. I mean, none of it really made sense. We didn't have any, anything like, like legit. So I had to change the website name because I could not get him to sign off on all this and not by effort, but just by animosity and weirdness. So then I changed everything to rich Cardona media in June last year. And then now it's just my shit.
Stephen Colon (32:54): So, well, I love that. I love that story for a couple reasons. One, I just, I feel, uh, I feel your pain on having to put, put up with somebody who doesn't. Cause there's, there's one thing to somebody not have your back when it comes to whatever the creative vision is. But it's another thing too. Whenever you go to physically go to the website, and those of you who, who understand logging into a website, the admin dashboard and, and formatting, uh, all of those idiosyncrasies, all the things that I want to beat my head up against the wall. When I think about web building and digital marketing and infrastructure and SEO, all of those things, when you run it, it's, it's like trying to make a telephone call, but you're at a sales service. It's that frustrating. It's like you're, it's the people that hold their cell phone up in the air and thinking that they're going to get like better sales service and they bring it back down to their ear and then the cell cell signal goes away. That's how it's like when you don't have a right partner in business and that's exactly what I heard you talking about. It's like you have a cell phone completely functional, but it doesn't have a cell servers until you lift it up and then it goes away when you bring it back down to your ear, so it's pointless.
Rich Cardona (33:57): It's a really important topic really quick. I just want to say a couple more things like you shouldn't and don't need to have a partner in crime to start it off like it's, it's, it's far more disorienting and scary to do it on your own, but I truly just don't think, no matter how well you know someone, like once you really get in gear, it's going to be really hard to have someone who matches that charisma and enthusiasm and that drive. If you are not totally aligned and you will know, you will know that even though the paths may be parallel, that they actually don't converge. And if that happens to just, it's okay. I mean, you don't have to lose a friend and you don't have to do XYZ. Just be like, you know what? I think I'm just going to do this on my own and one of two things is going to happen.
Rich Cardona (34:44): You're going to go and you're going to crush it, or you're going to go and you're going to fail and they're going to laugh at you, and then you guys can laugh about it together or whatever it may be. But it doesn't have to be a partnership or anything to start off. You're better off surrounding yourself by people who know more than you in certain areas of starting a business that you don't, and leveraging them or having an advisory board. And look, I mean, no matter what, and you could tell me if I'm wrong, man, but I don't know anyone who's had the entrepreneur playbook, you know, or all the tools who hasn't just run into all kinds of crazy obstacles anyway. It doesn't matter. Like you just have to do it.
Stephen Colon (35:21): Well, there's a really, there's a really good book for those of you who like to read and you know, don't turn your, your ears off whenever you hear, when you give away the title here a little bit. But there's two stories about the discovery of flight. There was the Wright brothers, right? And then there was somebody else who also, um, I'm going to butcher his name, but essentially he had funding from the government. He had the press going out there and watching him go through, uh, the cycles, right. He essentially was the well-funded well oiled machine that was, um, isn't Simon Sinek doesn't. Simon Sinek talks about this and this power of why I think it was Langley as the guy's last name, where he talks about, uh, the discovery of flight. You know, and, and I, I could be off base in saying that this is a, this is a book, but it talks about essentially that, that discover or excuse me, that success principle that folks have.
Stephen Colon (36:12): And that is just the burning power of why that, that passion that gets you up. So what, what's your reaction when you, when you first hit your feet, hit the floor for the first time and the, the Wright brothers had that, they had people on their team that were excited about crashing planes until they figured out how to fly and nobody knew it. It was, it's barely even documented because nobody expected them to do it. Where I think is Langley stamp something standpoint. Langley, he, he is, he, he had the media attention and he quit whenever he didn't get all the attention, the subsequent attention that was supposed to follow the discovery of flight. It lends itself to what you're talking about when you surround yourself with folks who care. I think this is, it can be very disingenuous in today's world to use that term but truly care and they have buy into your vision and you have buy into theirs.
Stephen Colon (37:01): I think it's, I think it's a reciprocal process. Sure. If you don't have that there then it's almost all for not. But if you have those two components then you have a start of something that could be very special. And I think, I think you, you alluded to it when you were talking about if you don't have, if you have competing visions as opposed to complimentary visions when you're with a founding partner and you have the ability to take that next step without creating dysfunction, like literally test it out by stepping forward. And that's what I was drawing a distinction to your story, the huge conglomerate that he used, the United States Marine Corps, leveraging all the programs that allows you to have the ability and experiences that you had while you were in and then going to a gigantic company like Amazon, to all of a sudden being yourself when you're, when all your identity is completely stripped away from both of those organizations where you can really hide in the, in the, in the reputation of the Marine Corps and then the reputation that Amazon has. That's very exposing, especially when you're documenting everything the way that you did it is a totally different type of alone and unafraid or alone and afraid you are right. I never really looked at it like that. Like, okay, it happened once, happened twice. Uh, both of them by choice. It's like, now what? Um, I love that pressure. I mean, I, I, I mean, you know, that might come across wrong because things are going okay now, but I
Rich Cardona (38:36): literally do every day. I'm like, this thing could blow up tomorrow, blow up in the wrong way. Right. And I'm just saying, okay, that'll be interesting. I wonder what I'll do then. But being alone, uh, has really just taught me a lot that, that while we love the environment of depending on each other and being surrounded by people who lay down in traffic for you, and those relationships will last forever. That, uh, when it comes to whatever you decide for your life, like you're probably, aside from your family, the only one on board, truly on board. And then when you go to a company like, dude, look, this is how, this is my perspective. I'm not knocking traditional work, but I don't care how well you do or the friends you make at work or whatever. No one's going to be there if you get terminally ill to just be at the hospital with you every day, man, like you are, I'm replaceable at shit.
Rich Cardona (39:24): No matter what job you're at, no matter what company you're at, like there's always going to be a line of someone to take that position. So, so anyway, um, but yeah, like when, when I got to that point where it was just me, I just found that I was less scared. I mean I don't even know how to explain that, but I was just like, I didn't feel the pressure. I just felt like I am going to figure this out. Not because I had to figure it out. Like my family depended on it and whatever. But I will tell you the wild card in this all and that was my wife. She's the one who's like you can quit. And I was like dude is like just basically poking a, you know, a hole in a tire. I was like everything just dissipated. And I was like bet.
Rich Cardona (40:09): And knowing that she had my back and it was willing to have my back in a certain way, even if it meant we had to live with my freaking in-laws, which was brutal. I was a 38 year old dude with a family. It all worked out. So like that is absolutely the wild card man. Like one thing Steve and I are talking about is the friends and the business partner aspect, but the buy-in absolutely positively has to be there on the family side on just like a level that you are even scared to ask about. And I think that's what actually sets you free.
Stephen Colon (40:41): First of all, what we're talking about is a little touchy feely. Whenever you start getting into the emotions that are behind the words, right? And so when folks are listening to this and you go back and you go, you take a look at Rich's LinkedIn profile for instance, there's this, there's, there's this professionalism that exists whenever you're talking about a company or you're talking about his experience, but the, I want to say the messy middle, I can't really describe it other than to say it's the willingness and the courage that it takes to put yourself out there and the permission almost that you, that you get. My wife hates it when I use the word permission to her, cause she's like, you're not, you're not my son. You're, you're, you know, it's like you don't need my permission. You're a grown man. Go do your thing, but there's something different about that messy middle that gets that line that gets blurred rich.
Stephen Colon (41:28): And I think, you know what I'm talking about when when you're, you're going out there and you're, you're working for somebody or you're going out there and you're putting, uh, you're pursuing an opportunity. You just, you feel almost like you're going to be exposed. Like it's just a matter of time before you're exposed. And then when your wife goes, you know what? But it's okay. You're almost like that. I'm never going to be exposed. I'm just, I'm, I'm, I'm in. It's almost like you, I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I feel emboldened when my wife is like, go kick some ass. Like it's okay, go, go out there and make some things happen.
Rich Cardona (42:02): Yeah. It just allowed me to take it up a notch by notch and just be like, I'm just going to be an open book. I'll talk about it. I mean, look, Hey, before he asked, before we started recording, he's like, anything off the, off, off the table, you know, I'm like, Nope. Like I learned from all my mistakes. I could talk about all this stuff, I could talk about anything and it's not always that way. It just became clearer and clearer to me that the more I was able to do so the less surprises people would have if they decided to do work with us or collaborate with us. Because look, this is just me. If you come across one way, when I meet you at military influencer conference and through our conversations on the phone or whatever, and then on this podcast and then like somehow we go into business together and it's a totally different you.
Rich Cardona (42:42): I'm like, I'm out. Like I don't want to guess. I don't want to know what's around the corner. Like I just want to know who I'm working with, how we're going to work together. And that's it. And that is exactly what I try and make sure that anyone I talk to has the ability to do. And how do I do that by making sure exactly who the hell I am is, is on out there online. You don't hear me speak about marketing in this deep, crazy, educated way and all these years of experience. I talk about it from my experience. I'm an expert in marketing in my way. You know, and it's just funny cause my wife is always on these calls and I'm just like overhearing these calls when she's in the kitchen, I'm just like tearing it apart by these initiatives people want to do.
Rich Cardona (43:20): I'm like, who's going to know about it? How are they going to, how are they going to put that message out? That sounds like a terrible idea. All these things. But anyway, the point is this man, like I just became less and less afraid. I kind of already covered that. But you never have to worry. Like the truth is undefeated, right? Gary V always says that the truth is undefeated. So it's like, it took me 38 years to get to the truth. You know? And I've never admitted ever on a podcast until today, like how I felt about my Marine Corps career and where I stood and how I look back at it and that I now look at my Amazon career, even though I felt like I was crushing that I was literally just executing on people's behalf and I know I could have done all that stuff with my eyes closed.
Rich Cardona (44:01): So, so where does that land me now that lands me in a point where I am just like, I get out of bed, I'm like, let's go. Like, let's go. Like I'm so, I love it because I don't have any one or anything to worry about. Like no one's doing a fitness report on me and I'm not getting some stupid one-on-one that my manager forgot to do like last month where he forgets what he even needs to say to me. And that's the difference. And again, this is, I'm not saying that you should be an entrepreneur or anything like that. There are certain components and certain byproducts that you just don't see coming until you're in it.
Stephen Colon (44:36): Yeah. Well, I mean, you know yourself, right? And you know, regardless of which way you lean politically here, I think that, I think that it's important to draw the distinction between knowing what you're capable of, knowing where you're at and that gap between the two. Finding other folks that can help you color between the lines. And you touched on it a little bit whenever you started talking about asking other people that were part of that corporation, you innately knew that you innately knew that there was other folks that you could go reach out and touch the help, calibrate what you were feeling at that moment. Uh, as an entrepreneur. And we'll wrap with this before we transition real quick to the video question. And that is this rich, whenever it came to this new medium, whenever it came to the new career, how did you establish folks that you could trust and give you actual tangible feedback as opposed to maybe a course that somebody was Hawking or somebody, somebody that you didn't trust what they were saying but they were at, you know, how did you go and vet out the good actors from the bad actors so to speak?
Rich Cardona (45:38): It still happens. My radar's better than it was a year and a half ago, but it still happens. I really, if there's the biggest, biggest way I could tell you that right now is watching how much people put in to whatever it is they have going on. Um, my COO is just an absolute Savage and she's not a veteran, but she knows the veteran life because we are United by the first friend I ever lost in combat. It's long story and she's a Savage man. Like she works so hard, so detailed, you know, like dude, someone's late on a payment. She's the one, she's like, Oh, I got it. Like I'm like, Oh man. So, so that's like internal, right? But externally when it comes to prospects and businesses, mentors and all this other stuff, you are just going to come across so many people.
Rich Cardona (46:32): And here's the thing, like everyone has good ideas, especially conferences man. Like everyone gets all amped up and there's like this weird emotion in the conference. Like I could really make something happen right now. Like wow, this is what I was missing. This is what I need. Oh man, let's team up and we could collab. And then it's just like, so here's what I would say, social proof like I, that is literally our biggest, biggest thing when it comes to prospects, when it comes to people who want to work with us. But when a people who wants to work for us and when it comes to people whose podcasts I'm going to be on or anything like that, it's like social proof. Like, let me see that your do say ratio is on point. That's like number one. You know, if I am looking for someone on my advisory board or a mentor or whatever or anything like that, and dude, you've rescheduled calls on me a couple of times in a row, then it's just like, cool dude.
Rich Cardona (47:25): I would never pull the trigger on an email that says, Hey, you know, it's been cool. I'm good. I wouldn't do that a year ago. But now it's just like see you later when it comes to hiring and firing. Amen. I'm going to admit, if anyone hears as an ever as looking for a social media manager job, we need someone to kind of corral all the things from my personal brand and just do all that stuff. But I am like for eight hours, I already know, no matter. And it's crazy because we have vetted people and done what I said and it just turns out like there's this one thing off enough. I'm just like, Nope. So anyways, social proof is huge. Are you a practitioner? I really, really, really think it's just odd for me. It's like I would never hire a personal trainer who is completely and wildly out of shape no matter how smart they were.
Rich Cardona (48:10): I'm just sorry, but that's, that's not, that doesn't make sense to me. So, so when it comes to the people you surround yourself with, like you just want to be surrounded by the people who are going to elevate you and not, not by, by really consciously taking the effort to build you up by people who you aspire to be. And let me bring this all the way back and why I was a complete idiot at Amazon is because I had no body to look up to. And I never ever parsed mince words about that. There was no one, I was like, I want to be like them. Nobody. And in that state you just become desperate to like just make up your own little world of what success means and what it is and, and, and, and you know, should I be climbing the corporate ladder and this position sounds good.
Rich Cardona (48:58): When I always knew like some of these positions that I was supposed to end up at, I was like, I don't actually want to do that at all. So who's going to challenge you? Who you know what? What does leadership look like? What's the social proof look like? And then just like just don't waste time. I mean like there's really nothing, and I am such, not a scared of a burning bridges guy. I feel like I have enough character that that even if I do inadvertently do that, that I'll still succeed and find other people to kind of fill those voids. But it's very tricky. But you could never screw anything up by taking your time, so don't be in a rush. Gosh,
Stephen Colon (49:35): I like that. That's actually one of the hardest things to hear whenever you're running a business is I think if your business is big enough, you can afford to take your time, but if your business isn't big enough, guess what? You can actually still afford to take some time, right? Measure twice, cut once. It doesn't mean that you're not going to cut incorrectly. It just means that if you're not willing to cut, then you shouldn't be. You shouldn't be on the damn Saul. That's kind of the thought process that we have. So rich, I appreciate you taking the time to walk us through your story, right? Because even one of the things that you've done in your career, people would spend a lot of time prepping and deciding that they wanted to go that route to be a pilot in the Marine Corps and then also be in the media world the way that you are. One of the things that you have done being a dad, one of the things that you have done, that's what people would aspire to be able to accomplish. And yet you're doing all of it and you're still going out there reinventing kind of the standard so to speak. So I like it a lot and I appreciate you. How can people get in touch with you and what's the best way for folks to connect with you?
Rich Cardona (50:34): LinkedIn by far, if, especially if you were a veteran. Um, I mean actually it doesn't really matter. Just connect with me on LinkedIn. And here's why. Um, if you're a veteran, you're going to see transition advice from time to time. And, and you know this, this crew right here, there's a bunch of us with our podcasts who are so unbelievably dedicated to, you know, veteran advocacy to making your transition not sloppy and crazy and all this other stuff. So, so rich Cardona on LinkedIn, uh, at rich Cardona and then underscore, that's for Twitter and for Instagram, and then rich Cardona media.com. But the other thing I wanted to mention, if you hit me up on LinkedIn, please let me know if you heard anything on this podcast that interested you or about if you want to talk about your marketing efforts for your business or whatever it is.
Rich Cardona (51:17): Like we do 30 minute consultations for free, man. Like I will turn that thing inside out. I will tell you how the your LinkedIn is. I will tell you how you're using it wrong. I will do all of that stuff for nothing. And I've been doing it for a bunch of people. Um, after I stopped the Coronas with uh, Cardona little interview series and I'm telling you man, like the head nods and all the things I see in that half hour and they're just like, Oh my God. I'm like, you're welcome. And I don't mean that arrogantly. I'm just saying I get so pumped up to just help you look under the hood because we're all too close to it, man. We're all too close to it. Like you could probably pick apart my business right now. I don't know if I could pick apart yours, but I bet I could find some stuff you're like, I know we're working on it or I didn't even think about that. That's just the way it is, man. An extra set of eyes never hurts and I promise you, I'm not going to say anything that's going to turn you off. I'm just going to give you the truth and hopefully some actionable things that you could do by the end of that call. Easily.
Stephen Colon (52:09): Yeah. Without, without question. And it's not theory by any stretch of the imagination. He's, and he's a man of action. It's fun watching him work when he's with a client and then he walks up to another booth or that he literally brokered a relationship in front of my eyes. I had a conference and he goes after it too. So he told you exactly how to get in touch with him. And for those of you who like listen to knucklehead, listen, we, we strive to bring you the stories of, of the musty middle. You don't have to look too hard to go find folks that have been successful, but you really do got to dig a little bit to go find a what they're not telling you about the success that they're currently experiencing. And that's why we strive to bring you the stories of folks that quite frankly, they, they've messed up, they've gotten their heads slap, they've gotten their finger smashed, they've wrecked a couple of times. But those stories are really, truly what endear you to not only their business, but then as an individual. So I'm excited to bring you more stories. We've got new episodes dropping every Tuesday and rich, we appreciate you taking some time. Anything else that you wanna leave
Rich Cardona (53:02): these folks with now, just if you go to bed and you're like, is this it? Then you need to really audit your stuff. That's all I'm going to say. They're tough pill to swallow. I've been there. It's not fun. It's not fun, but I appreciate them, everybody. Don't be afraid about the process. Go out, get you some wins. And if you need some help, rich Cardona on LinkedIn. So you guys.
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Listen in as we discuss his path from the Marines to Amazon, from Gary V to founding scaling his business and of course some of those knucklehead moments he’s experienced along the way.