Jayson Waller – Founder and CEO of POWERHOME Solar + Podcast Host of True Underdog

Episode 131

We all love the story of an underdog and Jayson Waller’s story is no exception. The founder and CEO of POWERHOME Solar, on a path to become a billion-dollar company btw, AND podcast host of the incredible True Underdog. Listen to this episode of #TheKaraGoldinShow to hear Jayson’s inspiring story.

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Transcript

Kara Goldin  00:00

Hi everyone, it’s Kara Goldin from the Kara Goldin Show. And I am so excited to have my friend and next guest here Jason Waller, founder, and CEO of power home solar, but also the podcast, creator, and host of True Underdog, which is an awesome, awesome podcast if you have not listened to it. And I was on his show a few weeks ago, which was so much fun. So thank you for having me. By the way, Jason. It’s really thrilling to have you on my show today. And Jason has such an inspiring story. He’s truly the definition of A True Underdog. And we all love these underdog stories. And he started three companies with his most recent venture power home solar and is now on a path to becoming a billion-dollar enterprise. Not too shabby. With over 1700 employees have over a billion in revenue. His company is one of the fastest-growing companies in the US. Fun fact they have installed solar at five NFL teams and one MLB team. Very fun. He’s won several awards, we got to talk about one of our favorite companies. He why when I was on his podcasts, and Jason was the recipient, as was I have the Entrepreneur of the Year for his region and just amazing, amazing. Other ones Stevie’s Entrepreneur of the Year globes Entrepreneur of the Year and 2019 most admired CEO to name a few. And he has and as I said, an awesome podcast True Underdog and we’ll let you share more of

Jayson Waller  01:45

it. And now he knows Look, I’m drinking hint water. See that? Blackberry, right? I got my water on I got my Def Leppard t-shirt on. I’m ready. I love it. You’re like it’s Friday, but it’s Monday. But

Kara Goldin  02:02

what’s your favorite Def Leppard song?

Jayson Waller  02:05

I think Love Bites is my favorite then pour some sugar may Love Bites is by it’s just a solid. It’s a solid song. Yeah, I would have to say that. That is probably Yeah, pour some sugar on me is pretty. That one’s a pretty good one, too. So everybody likes that one. So Love Bites is more meaningful, you know? Yeah, I kind of think about that one too. Might be middle school dancing and stuff. You know, it’s just got good memories. Yeah, I remember actually. Like not too fondly, actually. As I’m talking about this, having this thing called California coolers, totally dating myself and getting very sick while I was listening.

Kara Goldin  02:48

I still like Def Leppard. It’s sort of like even during those times, right?

Jayson Waller  02:52

And they had the one arm drummer, remember he was the bomb.

Kara Goldin  02:55

He was amazing. was amazing. Yeah.

Jayson Waller  02:57

It’s a big deal.

Kara Goldin  02:59

Yeah. No, it was actually as crazy as these two bands are different. Phil Collins. I know. And I saw Phil Collins in concert, actually, last year, and did you know his son is on tour with him? Oh, you got to look this up. It’s actually in his son is. I mean, it’s actually a, you know, I know. You’re a parent and just watching him with his dad. And you know, he’s, he’s the drummer. And he is just we saw him at Madison Square Garden. And I have to tell you like it was just this pride that he had watching. And as he said, You know, my son had to be pretty good before I would dare take him to Madison Square Garden because I didn’t want people to laugh at me. You know, right, like,

Jayson Waller  03:48

big shoes to fill

Kara Goldin  03:50

huge if anybody who knew So anyway, that’s a little on our veer off to the side Def Leppard Phil Collins back huge music fan for either of those bands. But anyway, thank you so much for joining. And I’d love to talk more about the underdog and sort of When did you first feel like you were an underdog?

Jayson Waller  04:14

I think when my parents my dad got transferred, he was blue-collar. We always lived in less than middle-class neighborhoods. And so I grew up in Arizona till I was 14, I moved to North Carolina at that age, my dad got transferred, they were shut the at&t plant down. My mom worked as a cake decorator. He worked as a bill print processor for at&t corporate. So he would go in the middle of the night and just watch bills get the insert into envelopes. And when he struggled, he had to do newspapers at night and I would help him do that and then go to school. And I had a little brother and sister and I watched how hard they struggled and I would have fake Tommy Hilfiger is on. We all remember Tommy Hilfiger, and I would have those on and go to school or whatever. And people would judge me because I lived in a trailer park. And because I was fake Tommy Hilfiger said it was the first time in my life and Arizona, I didn’t feel that way. It wasn’t about as much at least on the west side where I lived about how much money you have. It was, you know, where do you live? What sector you claim who your friends, like, it was different. When I moved to North Carolina, it was, oh, you live in a trailer. That’s not a real Tommy, you know, my car. I mean, me and you, we could take our kids out to dinner. And it would cost us more for the dinner than it was my first car. So that would get made fun of I mean, it was, it was tough. And I felt like I was on a mission. You know, my, my wife, we’ve been together since high school, but her mom at the time would make fun of me inverted Lee to her, like, why do you want to date him, he could stick his feet out the window and move his home. So all of those things kind of motivated me to really prove people wrong. And show that, you know, we can’t be judged on, you know, who we are where we live, you know, it’s what we do in our lives. We should be judged on I think, I think that just motivated me.

Kara Goldin  06:03

Right? Well, and then you got to get to know lots of different people along the way. Right? And from all different walks of life, and really valuing what’s important on kindness and who people are, as, you know, all of those things. So so you’re living in North Carolina at the time, you know, obviously, for a reason, you meet your wife there. That was a good move. So where was kind of the first business? I mean, I almost feel like you were sort of starting a business in some way. Even working for your dad. Right? I mean, kind of thinking about things, right? Yeah.

Jayson Waller  06:42

I mean, helping him deliver papers for $100 a week was he just needed help. So I was like, Alright, I’ll do it. And I used to work at a place called Boston Market after school and help pay bills. So I didn’t finish traditional high school. I knocked my girlfriend at the time wife now up, she got pregnant. And so we had a kid really early, you know, and we didn’t finish high school. But when she had Hannah, our daughter who’s 22 now and has I have a granddaughter and a grandson on the way and so when she had Hannah, I mean, when she was getting ready to have Hana, I just a switch turned on and I got motivated. I was like, I am about to be a dad. I’ve really got to I got to find another way to make more money than what I’m making now. And I had a decent job, but I wouldn’t. I knew I had a sales attitude. I did a little bit of telemarketing in high school, I crushed it. So I went and applied for a job at the first union, I got the job. And I was crushing that and you know, Hannah was born and we bought our first house after Hannah was two. And after, you know working at I got a job at Verizon Wireless. I was selling, you know, blackberries and PDA. So all the companies before they had him, all used fax machines back then. And oh, 1204. And in oh four, I kind of decided I need to open I need to do something for myself. Like I’m limited. I’m the number one business account manager and I can’t get promoted because of my age. I just couldn’t I mean, it’s what it was. I mean, my manager who was the director would tell me Well, I mean, they have more experience, you’re like I’m blowing them out of the water. I’m a great leader, give me a shot. And so you know, that kind of disheartened me where I need to do my own thing. So I was upfront with him. I went and got a license to do alarm systems. And I started to work at Verizon full time. I was still there full time, but I was given about 80 90% effort. And then at night I was going and selling Home Security. And I built that out of my bedroom.

Kara Goldin  08:31

And you’re like 20

Jayson Waller  08:32

right? If I have time, I’m 23 Okay, still Yeah. So I bounced around a couple of jobs. I worked at Verizon Wireless for four years. And then before that, I worked at AT and T cell phone department for a year and first union in sales for about six months. And so the first union was a bank, and I was it was a call center bank where I was their number one salesperson and I shouldn’t have the job. I mean, I really shouldn’t have but I did and that gave me the experience on my resume to get the other jobs. Well, when I decided to open my business. It was nervous, but I wasn’t taking a paycheck. I used my 401k I used it to open up, get some equipment, you know, put some fliers out and go sell people in the afternoon I ran out of my master bedroom, I had a tile board from Home Depot that cost me like 20 bucks at a black sharpie marker. That was the schedule I’d manila folders. I mean, I put this thing together with as little money as possible to run the business. And after about seven months, I was able to finally get a check and leave Verizon Wireless. Because I built it from the ground up. I was hiring people at Chilies. And then eventually I got an office and then I got a bigger office. And then I left Verizon said I can do this full time now. And when I did it took off and built that company up to about 14 million in sales over 12 years. It was doing 14 million in 2012. And then another company approached me was a little bigger me they were doing about 18 million and said we should get together and I was like I don’t know, I want to get into solar. They’re like no let’s get together. So we did and we took that business. In 18 months to 38 million and we are more profitable, but I still wanted to get into solar. And you can’t have too many chiefs if you had too many chiefs in that business, right that my guy Ben Brooker, who works for me now he’s our CFO, I love him. He’s a brother to me, but that he was the one in that company. I joined and I was the two, and he’s a good one. And I’m good too, but I’m a great one. And I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but I felt limited. I felt handcuffed. I felt like he didn’t want to grow. He was boxed in. And I was like, I, we got it. We got to change this. So we sold the company. And he stayed on as an executive running it. And I went and opened up solar and I built it up for the next five years, we stayed we had a great relationship. And I just built the company up in the first year lost money. And lost all the money I made from Home Security had to stick it in their second year was losing money, sold my house on the lake, I had this house paid for on the lake, I sold it and bought a house one fifth the size, my wife was giving me the stink guy, kids were fired up. It was rough. I’m like guys, I’m doubling down, you got to trust me. I mean, there was a time I was close the doors. I mean, I’m telling you to care, I was debating the end of 15. Going into 16. After one year I maybe I should close like, this is a no when I first time I can’t fix this. And everything I’ve ever made is now in this in my house when everything is in this business, it has to work. So I created this 8020 rule. First, it was 2080 meaning I went and fired 80% of our staff and 16 and rebuilt them and I started doing everything. But then after that, I forced myself to do an ad 20 which meant every month, I was going to fire or eliminate 20% of the staff, no matter what I was going to set KPIs in there. And the bottom 20% were going to be replaced every single time now some months. Wow. Some month it was 30%. But that allowed me to grow like this, if I was that was the post office. I’m gonna grow like this, right? If I was Walmart, I’m gonna grow like this. But if you want to grow like this, you have to churn, you got to bring in new blood, you got to make people hungry, you got to get the gazelles to run faster. I created this culture where if you’re in, you need to be all in being that 80% we’d love you, we’re going to build this together. If you’re not, it’s a shelf life, if you’re going to expire, if you’re not going to put the effort in, if it’s just a job that will be found out based on your KPIs. And you’re going to be out we’d be friends, but there’s someone else who wants your job. And we want to push what’s expected up. And that’s what we did, we took off. And finally, I got my first paycheck. And solar wasn’t paid for almost two years after 22 months of being open, I started to get paid at the end of 16 and then seventh, and we ended up with 14 million in sales and 16 lost money 17 ended up with 40 million in sales made money. Okay, so 18 100 million in sales made money. 19 185 million made money last year, 393 million made money. We’re on pace, we think for 700 million this year, maybe a billion, but we just stay grinding, I still to this day got 20 directors and 1800 employees, there’s an 8020 rule. They have to report up to it every week, as you know, there’s a who’s on my 8020. Because that mindset really helped my business grow because we took the personal out of it. If it wasn’t helping everybody, then it needed to change. And I utilize that. And then the ironic thing I’ve met, I brought up Ben Burkhart, my old business partner in the second one, he gets done last year in 19, with the security businesses employment agreements done, and he’s about to open a solar company, and I’m like, Dude, why don’t you join me and that was hard for me saw this big company, he could have been a part of that was massive. And he’s like, that’s yours. And I said, Dude, why don’t we will hook you up but we’ll work out some game shop who will do this bring you in you have expertise? I don’t you know, the first thing I think a leader needs to recognize is you can’t do everything. I’ve hired a president that’s got more knowledge and wisdom than me to build corporate infrastructure, HR accounting, I’ve hired a CFO, I didn’t know what it was a few years ago, I had to hire a CFO, I hired this guy to really streamline and organize our sales department. I think a leader a great leader realizes what they’re good at, and what they what they’re not. And they find people to fill that puzzle to make the team better. And so I brought him on, and you know, he had to swallow some ego and pride and, and that was okay. And I did too. I mean, to bring him on and make him feel like a partner because he is game-changing. Now he’s all in he’s building something we’ve doubled in size since he’s been there. He’s going to be a part of something bigger than he’s ever been in his life and no regrets. But it’s taken a turn and total of different relationships, failed businesses success, not to really find our mold to get together and partner up.

Kara Goldin  14:33

Well, I think you touched on something that I’ve always believed, which is to hire people. You know, you can call it smarter than you were or really are doing the things that not only do you necessarily not want to do but also maybe you’re not capable of them. And I think that’s what I’ve always pushed on in my teams that that allows you to go do what you’re exceptional at which is growing the company and do All of those things, but that little thing is so hard for so many people, and especially when you launch a company in it will bury a company

Jayson Waller  15:08

pride and ego will bury you. Yeah,

Kara Goldin  15:11

it will totally bury you. And I mean, I even do this at the level of managers when they’re hiring people. I’m like, What do people what are the people that you’re hiring know how to do that you don’t know how to do? And if they can’t answer that question, they can’t hire him.

Jayson Waller  15:27

Oh, that’s great. That’s that’s great advice.

Kara Goldin  15:30

Yeah, I mean, it really is something because it’s like, you got to see what is that spark because they’re going to allow you to go and just be better as well. And it’s something else that I’ve, you know, really been thinking so much about, especially since my book came out, that I’ve heard from so many people, which is, when I left, I was in tech prior to starting my company hint. And I was just bored. And my whole friend group was a bunch of tech people. And I could have gotten another job. I live in Silicon Valley, and I was getting recruited to go and look at all these other tech jobs. And I’m like, it’s okay. Like, it’s fine. I mean, I don’t dislike it. I’m just wondering if there’s something else out there that I want to do. And I think more than anything, it was that I wanted to learn. I want to learn about a new industry. And so I mean, that’s kind of what you did, as well, you walked into solar, not knowing solar, you had heard about it, you it kind of intrigued you and interest you and now you’ve grown a business and you know, for whatever it’s worth, you could probably go do us exactly what you’ve learned in this industry and go do something else in totally different industry as well.

Jayson Waller  16:38

And you know, learning is so important. And failing is so important. But I get you to know, I think you’re similar. We get bored, like you said, Our add accent, we have to be challenged. If it was easy, we wouldn’t be successful, we would be bored, we would leave it has to be hard for us to work to make it work.

Kara Goldin  16:54

Yeah. And I think you have to be scared a little bit at times, too. I mean, that story of you know, downsizing, and you know, as crazy. And as that may sound like oh, you know, poor Jason, he had to downsize his, you know, multi-million dollar house and live a different way for a little while. It’s like it hurt, eat ramen

Jayson Waller  17:15

noodles, no pay what they want. But I always stress this to the employees, I bet on you guys and us, not me, I stuck everything back in for our brand. Yeah. And so they can appreciate that. I think they know that nothing was handed to me. This was I stuck everything and bet on myself. And I played to win, I didn’t play to not lose. And a lot of people play to not lose, they play it safe. And I was like, I gotta go all in. If I can’t do it, then at least I know, I tried. And I gave it everything I could. And, you know, I was blessed and things worked out. And I’ve got a great team and great employees and great staff. And we’ve got people been there for five years that are moved up in the industry. Now our directors in our business. I mean, it’s, it’s a fun story, you know, we get a director just bought, you know, a massive house for him and his wife and kids recently, like, we’d love to hear their stories. I know you do too. Like, as entrepreneurs or running companies, you love to see the success of your employees. It’s just exciting to see that you can help them and they can help themselves to really take it to the next level.

Kara Goldin  18:17

Definitely. So you mentioned that you had worked in a call center. What did you learn working in a call center about customers?

Jayson Waller  18:25

Well, my very first call center opportunity was a telemarketing job. I went back, you know, I was kicked out of school on the last day of my sophomore year for getting in a fight. And so I just started working and then I got bliss pregnant but before I got her pregnant, I drove back to Arizona to go to school with my friends. So I changed the transcripts. And I don’t tell anybody to do this. And I went back to school when I shouldn’t have because they were all seniors. And I’m like, I’m gonna go to school with you guys. So it’ll be great. And I got it as it worked. my buddy’s mom luck got me in. Well, when I went in there. Yeah, I know. I know. I went in there and my buddy Kevin, who’s my business partner, now my ride or die. He was driving this really cool car. Star Geneon on dates. I said, Dude, how do you afford that? Man, I’m working at this telemarketing place What? So he worked at this call center selling credit card protection. So I go here, I’m like, I’m coming to get that job. I don’t even need these classes. I get a credit to leave to work. I’m coming. So I go there and I and him for the next three or four weeks are number one and two, right like this. We’re making four or 500 bucks a week it gets better. We get recruited from the company across the street that selling Home Security can’t make this up. They’re selling Home Security. And they sit us down and they’re like, Look, I know you’re one of the top reps there. Yeah, I and Kevin are sitting there. Like all you need to do is call these these these forms here and sell them the security and the pitch went like this. Hey, Kara, I see that you registered at the mall to win that Dodge Durango. Do you remember that?

19:57

Yes, I

Jayson Waller  19:58

did. Great. Fantastic. You’re actually still in the runnings for that. But do you hear that right there, you’ve actually been selected to win a free home security system, free installation, free equipment, everything’s covered for your care. The only thing you have to pay for is the monitoring, police fire, and medical $2 day, when can I schedule my installer to come out and get you your gift? Bam, that was it. We crushed it. I’m 17 years old, making 1000 bucks a week, part-time. Crazy. That’s when I first knew and then when I ran call centers, we had a call center in Pakistan, we were partnered with overtime in the Home Security business with the avatar programs, we had call centers in China call centers in the US, we bounced around with a lot of call centers and built salesrooms, you know, you can have the energy and the passion and the confidence to sell over the phone because you can be anybody you want. And I felt like I I’m not like the Wolf of Wall Street because I follow the law. But the way he is when he goes to sell that penny stock, that’s what I felt like on the phones. I was like, people were looking at me like I was an alien. I’m like, I’m really good at this. I just had this gift to do that, and change my voice and tone to really get people to enroll and believe. And I but you gotta love what you do. Like I wouldn’t sell I tried to sell Kirby vacuum cleaners and nothing against Kirby vacuum cleaners. But that’s a ripoff. I did that for like a week and was like, why are we charging like 20 $500? For a vacuum for someone? I can’t sell anything. I don’t believe it. Yeah, and that, that I think is a key. And people can see that.

Kara Goldin  21:21

So when you were talking to customers, you really believed in it. I mean, you made a lot of money. But you also believe that it was like having this protection was an important thing and think about

Jayson Waller  21:32

it. What wanted one in 10 homes, you’re 19 times less likely to get broken into with having a yard sign. And so, you know, having the yard sign and when I knocked on doors and would sell it, it’d be like, hey, Carrie, you got a lot of traffic hitting this road, right? Yeah, I’d like to put a sign in your yard. And that’s going to keep the bad guys away, we’re gonna get you a free system, we’re gonna get a lot of referrals, you know, and then you do the pitch and you get them to get the monitoring. I loved it. Because you know, they would get cameras, they do this, you were protecting homes. The reason I got out of it went to solar was everybody was doing it was a lot of do it yourself, mail it from the power company mail it from the cable company. It was like solar school solar is like cell phones were in 1999. Like, it’s cool. And it’s the future. And it’s empowering. And that’s what attracted me to solar. But I have to love what I do. And I have to know it’s making an impact on somebody’s life, or I can’t do it.

Kara Goldin  22:27

Yeah, definitely. So obviously COVID has sort of shut the world down. And I keep hearing all over the US that everyone is putting money into home improvement. Right. I mean, it’s it is the category that has just, I mean, it’s sort of the darling of COVID. In many ways. I mean, there are others, there’s zoom, and companies specifically, but I have to believe that that has helped your, your business as well. And where do you see the future of the kind of solar and also just improvements? I mean, how do you think people are thinking about this?

Jayson Waller  23:08

I think people are learning about solar as much media advertising is out there now. And now with the change in politics with the administration change, I think that’s going to be more pro-renewable energy. And so you’re going to see a transition of that really taking off. It’s taken off in states where you’re at California, Arizona, New York, but in other states, the rest of the United States, solar is not a big deal. You know, I’ve been talking to banks we’re getting we’re in transaction mode right now, right to bring on another investor, take this to the next level, maybe even go public a spec, we’re talking all kinds of options. But what are the things we’re thinking about and discussing is, as we continue to grow, you know, our state word 11 states, the only state that’s penetrated more than 2% of South Carolina, there’s so much whitespace there are so many people wanting solar, the more people get solar, the more people will get solar, and they know that they can control their energy costs with the battery and storage and electric cars coming out. They can save money from the time of use to charge their cars. They don’t want to be without power. You know, California’s got problems with power. Arizona’s got problems power, North Carolina mission you name it, every state the grid is just its stress. They haven’t put any money into it. They say they have I think they’re all lying. They don’t do anything to the grid power that goes out all the time. There’s not enough energy they’re buying from each other. Pete, we have to continue to do these things because we don’t have enough energy. And so as we start to do this more and more people get frustrated the way we advertise it as you know, you don’t have to be in the dark anymore. And we have a new theme out we bought the song from Twisted Sister, I got to get a Twisted Sister shirt. And it’s we’re not going to take it anymore. And we’re not going to take the power rate increases. So we’re not gonna take the power outages. So we’re empowering customers to stand up to the utility company and go green and go solar. So they’re saving the planet. They’re saving money. They’re controlling their costs and they’re never out without power. And that’s kind Have the message and we see this industry exploding. We’ve seen the stocks of all these public companies going crazy. We know our value continues to go up. But we’re also in the energy efficiency space, that’s a big play, I think as you said, Home Services is going to continue to take off. Because even after this passes, and eventually COVID will pass, people are still going to want to work from home, what I’m worried about is commercial real estate. You know, I think regular real estate is going to be fine. I think Home Services is going to explode. I think, you know, online business is going to explode. But I think the ones that are gonna struggle are commercial real estate. because more people are going to want to work from home, they got used to it, we’ve changed the world, it’s going to be hard to like, Oh, it’s all getting back in an office. That’s my feeling.

Kara Goldin  25:44

Yeah, I agree. I mean, I think we’re not going back to everybody going back into the office five days a week, anytime soon. I think that the big question that so many leaders who are, who have employees that were going into offices are asking themselves is what is it going to look like? And so many of these people have also left major cities. I mean, I live just outside of San Francisco, a lot of people have left San Francisco, and, you know, gone to Austin, or Nashville, or, you know, lots of different Phoenix, you know, in order to live in a place where it’s a little, you know, cheaper to live. And it’s super nice as they’re not, they’re open, and they’re not closed, right. And so I think that there’s and so what happens, do they lose their job? Or do they work remotely, and I think that there’s going to be, you know, a huge conversation around that, and why not have your place be working and nice and somewhere that you want to be around. And I do believe that you know, that has only increased over time that, you know, someone’s home, I think more and more people, you know, want to put more into, you know, whether it’s outdoor furniture, or solar, or whatever it is, you know, people want it to be, you know, a nice place. So I think you’re right in that zone, I need to talk to you guys about our house because I keep I think we have a mountain behind us. So I’ve been told by a few people that we can’t do solar.

Jayson Waller  27:13

Usually, if there’s a mountain in your backyard, you got low shade, you probably can’t

27:16

I know. But

Jayson Waller  27:18

there is something called community solar. And I don’t know if it’s approved in California, we’re not in California. And what that is, is that’s where the company, or the utility company, usually it’s a private company, builds a solar farm, and you can buy into that. So you own that section of it. Interesting. And now that’s your power, even though it’s essence it’s not, but that’s your credit to offset your bill since you don’t have the roof capacity of it with the shade. So there is an option that people do like they build these, you know, these community arrays and then they go and sell it to people who have condos with no roof space or, you know, trees or mountains or, you know, facing the wrong way. Whatever. I don’t want it on my roof, but I want to go green, I want to save money they can buy into those grids and have a piece.

Kara Goldin  28:01

That’s interesting. Oh, winter. Yeah, I’ll definitely look into what

Jayson Waller  28:04

states are you in? North Carolina, South Carolina. We just opened Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee. I think I got them all.

Kara Goldin  28:18

Wow. And 1800 employees, that’s just wild. Did you ever think that you would be running a company this big?

Jayson Waller  28:26

No, because I only set my goals honestly, like six months to a year out. I’m very disciplined in like, what am I going to do today? What am I going to do this week, this month? The next three months, the next six months? maybe a year? So if you asked me a year ago or six months ago, yes. But if you asked me before that no, because I’ve realized that my life with the three companies and ups and downs and rollercoasters and losing money, that when I set unrealistic goals that might add kicks in and I can’t hit fast, I get discouraged. So I always say there’s no elevator in life, you got to take the steps. So I look at Okay, four steps at a time. Okay, great. Now the next four steps, but then you become numb to it. You know, this building a successful business. You don’t expect it to get that big. But then when it does, whether it’s 50 million in sales, 100 million of sales 500 million says a billion, it’s still the same. That’s how it feels. To me. It’s still the same 1800 employees 1000 points. It’s the same, it’s exciting. But it’s the same. You know, you just add more layers of management knew the message is the same. The feeling is the same. I don’t celebrate a lot. You know, I’m not big on the celebration. It’s like high five I celebrate for other people. Let’s go Let’s go pat on the back. Here’s an award. But I feel like I get nervous. If I stop. Then I’m just I’m not going to continue to go so I need to quit. All right. Good job. Let’s keep going. That’s just how I roll.

Kara Goldin  29:50

listening to your talk sounds so much like me, you’d mentioned four steps. I have like two steps. I never have too much on my to-do list and I always over account Push, right make small when

Jayson Waller  30:02

you’ll grab, but if you’re like, I didn’t hit 50 million in sales this year, well, it takes a few years so you can manage yourself. You know, people don’t lose 40 pounds overnight, people forget about like, I’m gonna lose 40 pounds. Now, you got to lose a pound a week or two pounds a week, you got to start somewhere and people just get discouraged. I feel bad that I think that and what you said about the pride, those two are top things of why entrepreneurs fail. That’s why

Kara Goldin  30:28

Yeah, no, I totally agree you put way too much on and then also you talked about this idea that people think everything has to be perfect. And you know, something that I talk about in my book, it’s called undaunted, overcoming doubts and doubters. And so, I clearly had doubts along the way. I’m sure you did, too, you know, you’re not sure if you can do it, but you got to go try. Right? And if you don’t try, then you’re not going to be able to succeed and achieve. And that’s really I mean, you are a living example of that, that you are you

Jayson Waller  31:01

like, think about this, if you never tried, you’d have to regret that you didn’t try. Yeah, even if you failed, it would have felt better than regret for the rest of your life.

Kara Goldin  31:11

And how many people said to you, I mean, when I was moving from Tech into starting a beverage company, I was doing it because I wanted better health. And I saw the bigger vision. But so many people said to me, really baffles me, like and, and you’ve I’m sure you’ve got people, you know, that like solar, really, you know, you’re doing well, why are you doing this, but you just have to find what you believe in. And what you want to do to your earlier point about even the call center like it’s not just about figuring out what you believe in selling, but also who you believe you what you should be working on, too. I think it’s the most important thing.

Jayson Waller  31:52

Yeah, I agree. And I think that you know when you’re having the small wins, and you don’t quit on yourself, and you don’t listen to naysayers, I had family and friends on the first company like really? homes. Yeah, the worst. And then the second one, really, you’re going to partner with another and then opening the solar, really, you’re in North Carolina, you’re in Michigan really, like I’ve heard it all. And then but, but for some reason that excites me like I’m a sick person, that’s where I’m sorry, I’m, that’s where I’m sick. I love that I want people to give me a reason to keep pushing. Otherwise, I get bored. I love when they say I can’t I love when they’re doubting me. I love when they complain. And then I convert them to fans. And then they’re liking my stuff. And they’re asking for jobs. So they work for a year they whatever they want to do. It’s like, okay, because I’m not mean. I mean, I’m not hateful. I don’t wish bad on any I hope they I want everyone to be successful. I love to see successful people. But if you’re going to say that I can’t get there, and then I’m going to fail based on your insecurities of not wanting to try something that’s not right. And I’m just going to do my thing. And while you’re watching me, I’m gonna watch myself grow. And that’s kind of the motto I have.

Kara Goldin  33:03

No, I love it. It’s so great. What do you think is the hardest thing and growing a business that you didn’t anticipate? Okay, so

Jayson Waller  33:12

I have a rule, you have to pay your people First, you have to pay your vendor. Second, you have to reinvest in the company. And if there’s anything left, you get paid. And I think early on in the business, I was blessed because I had another job working at Verizon and doing that. But as I transitioned, it was tough ramen noodles, peanut butter, and jelly sandwiches, right? It was like, you start to watch like, I can’t get paid. Entrepreneurs think I’m gonna make the most money, I’m going to be rich. Nope. You open a business because you want to help people and do something you believe in. Money is just an extra thing that happens sometimes. There’s a lot of companies and successful people that are happy and changing the world. And they’re not huge businesses. They don’t make a ton of money. But they love what they do. They’re empowered. They have that freedom. And people think that they need to be rich. And that’s how I think they burn. And I wish you know struggling early on like man, I When am I going to like be able to ever get a paycheck and I because I disciplined myself for nine months not getting one I worked for another company, when I left, I would just pay myself a little bit that helped. Solar was the same way. 22 months without a paycheck. I had the savings account that got wiped out and stuck back in there. So I had to bet it all on the line. Thank goodness, I had that. But I think that that is the biggest lesson that I’ve learned over time is you pay yourself very last and reinvest whether we do 500 million in sales, or we do a billion or we do 200 million, my salary is still the same. It goes back into the company. People don’t think that they’re like, man, a company is doing that you’re killing it. No, I’m doing the same. The company for every employee’s my goal is to have a lucrative transaction where we can go public and all the employees can have a life-changing event. it’s beneficial for the entire company. I’m not getting paid anymore. It’s going back into the business so we can have more cars more, you know, solar, more leads more offices, more people Willie’s more benefits, things like that.

Kara Goldin  35:02

Now, I think that’s, that’s so true. So do you feel like in growing your teams that it’s, I found that I don’t know everybody in the company anymore? Like that, to me is, you know, it can be challenging. You know, I try to get people on calls and but obviously 1800 people, it’s a lot of people

Jayson Waller  35:23

hurt your feelings. So I go I mean, I know it hurts my heart sure is I’m sure you go. So I go to an office, I think we have seven No, we have 22 offices or something. And I’ve been to all but like three, because we are executives every month travel to you know, where one of you know, there’s five executives will go to a sales meeting or one and then an install meeting other Well, I’m kind of biased, I usually stay in Michigan, half the time, I’ve got four kids, and I’m the CEO, I’m not going to go every time and Michigan is our number one market. So of course, I’m gonna show them the most love. So I’ve gone to half of what the other guy said, but I do the I’ve done the round-robin, they’re still I haven’t been to St. Louis yet. And I haven’t been to the new Fort Wayne office. But the others Oh, and the Harrisburg PA. So we have 24 offices, I’ve been to 21. But the other office had been a few a couple of times. And I’ll go in and I’m like, you know, I go do dinner with the leaders in a market and then do the sales meeting or the install meeting the next day I struggle because I don’t know who I’m gonna meet. I may know the regional, I may know the district manager, I may know the project manager, I may know, the regional project manager for the installs. I don’t know who the admin is, I don’t know who the top salespeople are that come we don’t take everybody. I don’t know who the Assistant District managers are. So I get to meet them. And we do a roundtable you know, introduce yourself. And then I talked a little bit about me, and they get excited the CEO comes in, they see me on the commercials, they get all excited. But I treat them all equally. I mean, they’re our employees, I love them as much as I love the ones I know the most. And you know that how that works. But it is tough because you don’t know them, but you can’t get out there. And it really separates us. Because if I have relationships with a lot of employees, they’re gonna bypass every management level to get to me, so I have to also kind of stay away. So they can follow the process because I’ve been manipulated a few times like that, where I’ll have hey, yeah, and I cut up, and then they’re skipping their manager and their director, regional. And now I have Yeah, now I have to go back to them and go, Hey, guys, like he’s having this problem. And you know, they get insulted. And he just to stay out of that it’s cool to high five and be polite and talk. But I try not to have a lot of relationships with employees at this time. I mean, it’s hard as you get big, it’s, it’s hard.

Kara Goldin  37:30

I hear you, it’s super challenging, especially when you’re trying to put some kind of process in 1800. It’s a lot.

Jayson Waller  37:37

I’ve got people that have been with me a long time when we had like 70 employees, so I would take them to dinner, we’d hang out and now that we’ve grown and they’ve grown, but if there are more managers between some of their feelings hurt like, man, I used to be really close. And it’s like, busy now. Like, I’m not trying to be me, but they’ve grown and they’ve got way more responsibility. So if I yeah, so it’s a little harder. And that’s what happens. And that’s another dynamic when you’re running a business that some of the things you have to deal with and you know, find your way through.

Kara Goldin  38:03

I feel like the culture is something that especially living in this kind of zoom world today where we don’t get to travel as much and see as many people in all of these offices. I mean, I mean, honestly, I feel like we’re working on it in our company and trying to do more and more stuff together. But it’s tough.

Jayson Waller  38:21

We love our I mean, our culture is probably one of our best things, but we can always get better. You know, we have a motto at power home called BAM building a movement, one panel, one customer, one employee, one vision, and one mission at a time. And they’re all in they were BAM shirts, we do picnics, we do employee giveaways, we do shout-outs, we do all these things to keep the culture up. We do the sales meetings, the install meetings, our holiday party, we did virtuals, our first virtual one, which now we’re always going to do because it was a hit. But we had we, at the time when we did the party in December, we had about 1600 employees. We had 14 180 logins, and we gave out over $208,000 to the employees. What 520 $5,000 winners,

Kara Goldin  39:06

what did you do for it?

Jayson Waller  39:08

So we raffle them. So they had to use their employee ID and log in to the zoom Vimeo platform. We had this whole production company I brought in a couple of big guests, white boy, Rick, who’s a speaker here in Michigan, and I brought in Joseph new garden, who’s an IndyCar champion and a sponsor for us, Barry Sanders, I brought all them into here in Michigan, and we just, you know, went through all of what we’ve accomplished, and you know, in the past our story 2020 and what we’re gonna do in the future, and it was a nice three and a half hour event, but during the time to keep them engaged to be like, oh, time to give away 10 grand, as long as they were logged in with that thing. There was an automated thing that buzzed around and stopped and we’d have to pull up that number and oh my gosh, you want my god years were pouring. People were shaking. It was life-changing and it was exciting. And we had like 30 winners, 520 $5,000 winners, there’s $208,000, we gave out it was So awesome, the best thing we could have done. But that was that culture, that excitement. They’ll never forget that and nobody was upset. They didn’t win. I mean, you know, the other people when we had a single mom that had like 2500 bucks, we had a single dad that make $10,000 that one of the $25,000 winners was another single mom that’s only been with us like two months. I’m like, you can’t leave us, okay, you just got 25 grand, you gotta stay. But I love it. And we filmed it all. And it was just great. The local news did a report on it, talk to some of the $25,000 winners, but that kind of stuff that you can do for the culture. That’s exciting. And then the employees feel a part of something great.

Kara Goldin  40:41

I love it. super great. So you have such great energy. And I’ll mention your podcast again, if you guys have you can hear more from Jason on True Underdog. And it’s such a great I mean, you’re just so motivational, just sort of a last kind of tidbit. somebody sitting there trying to figure out, how do I do what Jason’s done?

Jayson Waller  41:03

I would say I have a book coming in April, or May. It’s almost, it’s called Own your power. No more effing excuses, right? So everyone writes their own map, we get up every day, we decide what clothes we put on which way we’re going to go left to right the car. If people say no, you don’t know you, if you’re going to a job, you don’t like that your decision. If you’re going to a school, and you’re going to get an education on a subject that you can’t stand, that was your decision. The good thing about our life is you can change your decisions, you really can. But when you don’t make decisions, and you sit there and you have regret, you’re not giving your decision, a chance to grow and do the right thing. And now you’re regretting wasting all your energy looking at what you didn’t do. And if we can change the mindset, if we can really create our own map to say, Look, I’m going to make a decision, I believe there’s no wrong decision. The results might be different than if I chose something else. But when I make a decision, as long as I don’t look backwards and give one ounce of energy, I shoulda woulda coulda had a whatever. And I focus on what I’ve decided, then I can move forward instead of sitting in the mud worrying and thinking and not growing anywhere. However, if this isn’t working, at least I attempted it. I can divert over and continue to map around a roadblock and do what I want. But you got to live life like you don’t have reverse. As long as you live like you don’t have reverse and you’re driving forward and you’re able to divert around things and you don’t look backwards. I think that’s the biggest key. You got to find what it is everyone’s got gifts, right? I just did a podcast recently with this guy. He was awesome. And he was mentioning that he’s an introverted sales guy. And he said introverts sell better than extroverts. And I’m an extrovert. I was like, I can’t wait to have this conversation. Right? He put me to school. He said, Dude, look, processes everything. So for those folks out there to think you can’t be successful because you’re quiet or you’re shy, that’s wrong, you can master a process. And you can find your skill and you can grow and you can do great things. But I think the biggest advice would be, don’t look at the things that you have, or the money you make as being successful. Look at empowering yourself to do something you love. There are teachers that are successful, they need to be paid more. And they love what they do. There are doctors that are successful, and they love what they do. There are, you know, secretaries that are successful and love what they do. As long as you’re happy and you’re filling this, you’re successful. But if you’re not quiet money is just a thing. You don’t need to chase money you need to chase feeling happy.

Kara Goldin  43:42

Totally or do what you did. You know, find your next move and save up and have a goal and until you can go in one step at

Jayson Waller  43:53

a time. Do it overnight.

Kara Goldin  43:56

I love it. Well, Jason, this has been awesome. You are awesome. And so motivational and I loved this so much. So everybody goes check out Jason’s podcast, give him five stars on here. And we’d love it that you came by we’re here every Monday and Wednesday interviewing lots of amazing people that you will definitely learn from and be inspired by. So thanks for coming by.