Kim Perell – CEO and Author of Jump

Episode 225

How do you make that big JUMP? Kim Perell, award-winning entrepreneur, Tech CEO, and best-selling author of the new book Jump! will share more including her journey as a serial entrepreneur and so much wisdom from her new book, Jump! Listen on this week’s episode of #TheKaraGoldinShow

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Kara Goldin 0:00
I am unwilling to give up that I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be, I want to just make sure you will get knocked down. But just make sure you don’t get knocked down knocked out. So your only choice should be go focus on what you can control control control. Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Kara Goldin show, though, join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time. Can’t wait to get started. Let’s go. Let’s go. Hi, everyone, it’s Kara Goldin from the Kara Goldin show. And I’m super, super excited to have our next guest here, who is not only an incredible founder and CEO, but also an author of the brand new excellent book called Jump, which we’ll get to talk a little bit more about that. But her name is Kim Perell. And Kim is an award winning entrepreneur, as I mentioned, tech CEO, angel investor and a best selling author of the newly published book jump. She is a serial entrepreneur, two time best selling author actually. And she has really started her journey as an entrepreneur after being in some kind of interesting situations and different companies. She sold her last company for north of 200 million, which is unbelievable, so great. And is such a huge believer in paying it forward. She’s dedicated to really helping aspiring entrepreneurs figure out how to make it and get successful. So I love, love, love, love that as a mission. And as I mentioned, her latest book jump, sort of the subtitle is dare to do what scares you. Do I have that right, Kim? Yes, yes. Awesome. And it was a Wall Street Journal bestseller, and we’ll focus on her impressive journey. I’m going to stop talking now. So we can dive in with Kim. But welcome. Oh, thanks

Kim Perell 2:20
so much, Karen. So happy to be here.

Kara Goldin 2:23
Super, super excited. So let’s go back to the start. So your parents were entrepreneurs, I heard, what impact did that have on you wanting to be an entrepreneur?

Kim Perell 2:36
Oh, my goodness, yes. Growing up. It was like a roller coaster. And so I decided I do not want to be an entrepreneur. I was like, I’m not I didn’t know what this for. It was so uncertain. And, you know, we never knew how we’re gonna make ends meet. And it was just unpredictable. And truly, it was just scary and emotional. And I was like, I gotta get a real job. Like, why don’t they get a real job, I don’t want to be part of this. So it was a, I guess it was like, for me learning what I didn’t want to do. And sometimes that’s more important than what you do want to do. So I decided, you know, for me just to get a real job, you know, I was like, I’m gonna go to school, I’m gonna get a degree, I’m going to get a real job and I’m not gonna lie. I’m not gonna look back at the the uncertainty that you know, I grew up with.

Kara Goldin 3:24
It’s so funny. I think being an entrepreneur, too, was a totally, it had a different connotation to it. Probably when you were growing up. I know. You know, my story. My dad was I talk about him as a frustrated entrepreneur inside of a large company. He was innovating products, he created a product called Healthy Choice inside of a big food company, but he just didn’t really have the courage. But I also think there were very few entrepreneurs who had kind of made it like Ron Popeil was like a big entrepreneur. But other than that, I mean, it was just kind of like, those are the crazy people. It wasn’t really how it is today, right?

Kim Perell 4:04
People, my dad, my mom, like they’re crazy, can really be normal. You know what I mean? Like? Yeah, so to your point, it wasn’t as I think now entrepreneurs, you know, looked at as, like, people aspire to be entrepreneurs, and I get that, but that then I do not think I was like, Can you give me a dentist? Yeah,

Kara Goldin 4:23
something normal right now. That’s so funny. So fast forward to after your college years, you ended up getting your dream job at X Drive. And so tell me a little bit about that

Kim Perell 4:37
role. Yes. So I was amazing. So when I graduated, it was right at the height of And I went to work for an internet startup. I was one of the first seven we raised our first million and then we went on to raise 120 million and we grew at it was like being on a rocket ship. It was amazing. It was like an incredible time. I felt like I insecurity of like this great venture backed company, and I was going to be a millionaire and internet millionaire. And like, all my dreams are gonna come true. And I was gonna climb the corporate ladder, and, you know, just become this corporate executive and had these big dreams. And unfortunately, honestly, like, my, my dream became like my nightmare, because the company, less than two years into it, we spent all the money, we had no viable revenue stream, like we had 300, maybe 400 people at the time, we’d raise a lot of money, and we were out of cash. And it was like an instant someone hit delete on like my life, like my identity, because my identity was just, you know, I called everyone I knew, I’m like, Hey, I’m gonna join, you know, that’s internet company, it’s amazing, we can all be there together, all my friends. And then, you know, it’s like, we hit the wall, and the company went bankrupt. And I honestly had a layoff, all of my friends that I’d hired to come work with me, and I just felt like such a failure, you know, like this. I just had these big hopes. And it just like, in an instant, everything crashed. And I didn’t know what I was gonna do to be honest, like, I just went home, put the covers over my head,

Kara Goldin 6:16
like, Oh, my God. So what did you do?

Kim Perell 6:20
I stayed there for a while, and then you, you know, you hit rock bottom, you’re like, I don’t know what I’m gonna do. I was embarrassed, people didn’t want to talk to me, they felt like I ruined their life. And it was just one of those moments where you’re like, I could do one or two things, right? It’s like, you can just use those moments to define you, or you can use that moment to as a catalyst to decide what you really want. And like that, that point, you know, I wanted freedom. And I wanted to control my own destiny, and I felt so you know, you realize that there is no security, no matter if you’re at a real job, or quote unquote, or if you’re an entrepreneur, so you know, I thought I would, you know, I’d learned a lot of great, you know, had great experience. And I was like, I’m just gonna, I did have the, the experience growing up that of an entrepreneur, so I was like, I’m gonna take matters into my own hands, and make the jump into entrepreneurship. And so I decided I was going to, but no one would give any me any money. So that didn’t work out really well. How am I gonna do it?

Kara Goldin 7:22
So what did you do then? After X Drive.

Kim Perell 7:27
So I tried to raise some money, which didn’t go well, because my track record of bankruptcy wasn’t good. And the internet was full of like, you know, internet companies and all gone plus, so no one actually want to invest in the internet anymore. And so I called my grandma. And I was like, you know, I need I need a loan. And she, you know, she made a bet on me, she didn’t even know the internet was it’s like she had an AOL gown. She’s like, I don’t know what we’re investing in. But she’s like, I believe in you. I don’t have clue what you’re talking about. But I’ll make a bet on you. Because if you don’t like that’s awesome, one of those things that just changes your life. And she made a bet on me. And she gave me a $10,000 loan to start my own company. And I did it for my kitchen table for you know, years and years and maxed out my credit

Kara Goldin 8:14
card, what was the name of that company?

Kim Perell 8:16
Frontline direct, so it was really, you know, internet advertising, like in the, in the beginning, before Twitter, and Facebook, and Snapchat and Tiktok. So was really like the basics of internet advertising. And I mean, at that point, nobody believed it was going to be as big as it is.

Kara Goldin 8:33
That’s wild. And so you sold that company. So I sold that company.

Kim Perell 8:37
Yeah, so I honestly, I didn’t make any investment because I on it, I just didn’t want to let anyone down again. And it was like one of those things where you just are so scarred from having told everyone you’re gonna do something that doesn’t work out. So I self funded it and like bootstrapped it and just really went back to business basics, which is like, don’t spend more than you have, make every dollar count by like, the real basics of business, like you’re sitting at your kitchen, you don’t have any, like, it’s really limiting, but it makes you really resilient. And you can find opportunities where others might not because you have to. And so I ended up growing that company, we’re profitable. And we really focused on profitability, we focused on growth we focused on only, you know, growing when we knew we could support it, because I really, you know, I just don’t want to be in that situation ever again.

Kara Goldin 9:26
And then you ended up starting another one after that.

Kim Perell 9:32
So I actually sold that company five years later. And it goes back to it’s really interesting to someone’s like, I never intended to sell like I really was just having I started a company, so I can have my own freedom. And then it got so big, then you get scared. You’re like, I don’t know if I can have all these, you know, it’s a lot of responsibility. Sure. I found myself getting into another position of I don’t know if I can do this alone. So I really wanted to Find a partner that would help me grow. So I sold into a European advertising network in 2008. And then I took over a CEO. And then we sold again to Singapore Telecom in 2014. So a little bit over five years after that. And so it’s similar, like as a journey from zero at my kitchen table all the way to, you know, when we originally when I eventually left, we’re at a billion dollars annually.

Kara Goldin 10:29
That’s wild. Wow. That’s, that’s incredible. How, what are like the things that, you know, you’ve, you’ve incubated companies, and you’ve sold them? What do you think is the key thing? So you talked about in your category profitability? And like, what else do you think is super, super key? Like, how did you meet these people along the way? And network? Did you actually hire bankers to sort of help you connect? Or did you just use your now? Yeah,

Kim Perell 10:57
yes, my sale process because I never intended to sale, you know, I always say to individuals, like, be 70%. Ready. So when I sold, I was ready to sell my company, like 70%. Ready had a good company. That didn’t mean it was packaged ready to go to market. But it was 70% Ready, because I knew there was an opportunity. So I hired a banker. And we ran a process we got seven offers, because the business was a great company, it was built on business big, it was profitable was growing, it was a great business. And so going through that sale process, I KPMG, represented us and it was an amazing opportunity, because I met so many individuals along the way that then became business partners after after wild. Mm hmm. Like you never know who you’re going to meet, right. And that’s like, the most amazing thing is you meet people, and then they exponentially increase like opportunities. So looking at like every relationship as like a long term relationship, as opposed to like a transactional short term. I

Kara Goldin 11:59
love that. I love that concept. So it’s a good segue into your new book jump, which is fabulous. So congratulations. Very, very exciting. So talk to us about how do you define the jump, and just the core fundamentals behind that?

Kim Perell 12:19
Yeah, for me, and from what I’ve seen, and I, you know, work with 1000s of entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs, it’s from being in your comfort zone, and like moving out of it to your growth zone. And it’s scary, because it’s so nice to be in your comfort zone, it feels good, it’s easy, you know, what’s gonna happen, you know what to expect, but the growth zones where you actually, where the magic happens, it truly is. And that’s where you feel confident, you feel like, you feel scared, and you’re not sure what you’re gonna, you know, there’s always emotions to it. But that’s where you move into embracing, like the greatness that you really could become. And I think that’s what the book is providing that framework. So if you look at people that want to make a jump, there’s never been more people that are resigning from their current jobs. You know, people want to make change. And what better time in a world of uncertainty to make that change?

Kara Goldin 13:17
No, I think your book is going to help so many people, too. So the three reasons that people are jumping today, what what do you hear the most.

Kim Perell 13:27
One is, you know, I call those survival jobs. So it’s kind of like the jump I had, I got fired, my company went bankrupt, and I had no choice. It’s like an emergency exit had to jump, like the places burning down, you have no choice, you better figure out what you’re going to do next. So I think many people likely may find themselves and then they’re now and so there’s the survival jump, there’s an opportunity jump, which is I’m happy, I’m content. But I have these bigger, I know, it could be better than this, I have an idea. I have a thought of a business I want to create. So it’s an opportunity for you to go from where you are today to where you want to be. And then there’s the stagnant jumper, which is I am bored. You know, like so many people I talk to, I’m stuck. I’m uninspired and unmotivated Amman fulfilled but at least I know where I am. And it’s like, that’s the worst place to be because you just sit that you could sit there for 20 years. Yeah. And then if you did that for 20 years, and you’re still here, and you’re listening me now, you should leave. Like it’s never too late to make the jump. So it’s really about really embracing where you are. It’s uncomfortable. It’s unknown, but it will be better than if you stay like what’s worse state waking up one year and being at the same place that you are right now. That is

Kara Goldin 14:42
worse. Yeah. No, definitely. When you’re sitting here saying and then you feel like you haven’t done anything. Right. Because you you don’t know exactly when you started thinking about it. But you But you thought I know I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I loved your 70% rule, too. So you touched on it. 70% Right, yeah, but what so talk a little bit about the 70% for people listening right now and are thinking I don’t, look, I’m nervous about making a jump, maybe I should just hang out here, get through the summer, like, get through the holidays, whatever people say. But when it’s crazy when

Kim Perell 15:20
there’s a concept, you know, when I talk about like the win them trap, which is like, when the economy gets better than I will get a new job, or when you know, I lose five pounds, then I’ll go on a date, whatever it is, like with personally, professionally or like, when you know, I do this project, then I’ll ask for a raise, like, you can keep making these excuses. But they’re excuses. And so to overcome that trap and think about things that you’re saying to yourself. I mean, I say it all the time. When you know, like I build this company, then I have a family. I’m like, This is ridiculous. Like I can do it all. But you have to change your mindset and really acknowledge that you’ll never be 100% Ready, like you just won’t. For anything. I have four kids, I’m still not ready. Somebody else I know. So just do it anyway. And you’ll figure it out, like know and trust in your own abilities that you will figure out how to do you know, that last 30%? So I’m not saying do it blindly and just leave your job with no plan because I really believe in a plan. But I am saying if you have 70% You’re 70% of the way there. That’s enough.

Kara Goldin 16:27
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Plus, with different experts matched to each individual, the special circumstances that might be a challenge for you are what makes things interesting for them, visit To learn more, you do your thing, they’ve got your taxes into it TurboTax live, I often share with people that if you go and figure out kind of the perfect and you’ll never get past the beginning, right? I mean, it’s just that’s the thing that is as my husband always talks about me as being okay with risk for him, he would define that as being okay with living with one foot off a cliff, as he says, which is never like for him. That’s a very scary place to be. But I think that you, you learn over time, the more times you do that, and you survive, things turned out really great. Then, if with practice, it becomes much easier to go do it. And obviously, you’re a great example of that. I mean, you probably, you know, as you said, You’ve been through so many different challenges along the way, I think going through a company that went under getting fired, whatever it is, that has happened to you or both of us, I mean, I think it’s really you get to a place where, you know, you just have to pick yourself back up again, and just keep going and getting over those roadblocks. So I think that jump really spoke to me and and really spoke to I think so many people I know who are just not really satisfied, either with what I’m doing. So, I mean, it’s funny, my kids are a little bit older than you and they keep saying to me, Mom, I hope that we’re not going to be living in a digital world when I get out to work because like I really want people like I want to go to a job, I want to meet people, like that’s going to be my community. If I’m not in school, where am I going to find my community? And I mean, it’s such an interesting thing where I, I think the Gen Z generation will start to really think about that. And what I’ve said to them is, and plus other generations too, but what I’ve said to them is, I think it’s definitely going to be you know, a place where it’ll work for some people and it won’t work for others. And you know, and you have to be able to figure out when to jump when something is just not quite right. I think that you figure out okay, you know what, it had good aspects. It had got great aspects I I’ve learned as much as I can learn from these people that I’m working with, and maybe it’s time for me to go so I it really really spoke to me.

Kim Perell 24:56
I’m so glad Yeah, if you’re not happy, it’s time to make a change right. Like, it’s scary, like we both know, because it’s so scary and yeah, but do it anyway. Right? And it’s like, how do we get the tools to do it? Because I think that’s the challenge is like, Okay, I’m ready, but actually too scared to actually make the leap. It’s like I’m, I go to the cliff. And then,

Kara Goldin 25:15
and you just mentioned that you move to Miami and from California, and I think like these rules apply to life as well, right, that you’re talking about. It’s not just about jobs. It’s also about, okay, I’ve got to make a change. And so I really heard your book kind of fitting into that world as well. It is,

Kim Perell 25:37
yeah, personally, right. I think just, it could be so and I talk a lot about like, dream big start small. So to your point, getting the courage to do micro jumps. So like, whether that be tried a new restaurant, maybe take a different way home, from, you know, wherever you’re at school, or work or just small things that do that push you outside the normal routine, like starts building your confidence that, okay, I can do this. And actually, like, it was kind of fun. I mean, you might not want to jump from San Diego to Miami with four kids during a pandemic, that’s pretty aggressive. But I spent my whole life jumping, right? So it’s for me, it’s very, it feels natural. Obviously, there’s a ton of unknown but because I’ve taken so many micro jumps, you build up like it’s a, it’s a muscle, so you got to start working on it every day. You know, when I talk about, one of the ways to do that is like practice getting rejected. Yeah, I get rejected all the time. So I like if you’re not getting rejected, you’re definitely not trying hard enough. So make it a point, like play a game on yourself, which is, I’m going to go, I’m going to ask for a discount at the local Starbucks, I’m going to ask one a day, I’m going to ask a mentor of coffee, like little things, even though it hurts, it builds your internal muscles that acknowledge that you can do it, you can get rejected and you can move forward anyway, move

Kara Goldin 26:55
forward. I think that’s such great advice. So Kim, tell me a story about building one of your companies where you faced a big challenge or failure. And where you had to jump, or, you know, could also be about loss as well. But since jump is kind of your thing, I thought that that, you know, definitely would be a great topic. So and I’d love to hear what you learn from the experience.

Kim Perell 27:23
Oh, my goodness, I’ve had so many. So picking one of where I’ve learned, you know, it’s interesting, looking back. I think just knowing you’re not living your maximum potential, because I just spent 20 years, I mean, look, just recently spent 20 years as a tech CEO, building companies, starting them, scaling them selling them. And I took a massive jump to leave what was known and comfortable. Like, as you know, I reported into one of the largest telecommunications in the world. And I went back to my kitchen table. Like, that’s scary, because I’m now defined, as you know, having done some Yeah, and now I’m back literally at my kitchen. And it’s such a, you know, even you’re like, Okay, I really just do that. But in or you know, something internally, this is why I wrote the book, there’s if something’s telling you, you need to change your you have your unfulfilled you’re not happy, like it’s time to make the change, it doesn’t matter how good like your life may appear, how good your job may be, like, it could be better and you won’t know until you try, then even if that doesn’t work out, there’s like a path leads to a path. So something else will happen along that path that you can’t even predict unless you take that first step. So trying to really making these big changes is so scary. And you know, when I go, I’ve gone back, I’ve got a full circle. So starting again, is scary, you know, during a pandemic, where there’s huge challenges, you know, within working obviously, remotely and just it’s a different time to build a business. But I also believe the best businesses are built in the hardest time. So for anyone out there out there that’s looking to become an entrepreneur who’s looking to jump looking to change, change, jobs, change, career build, start a business, like now, I feel that it’s never been a better time. Because the universe now it’s used to change. Yeah, everything’s changing. So you might as well just jump in.

Kara Goldin 29:28
Absolutely. What do you think was the big lesson that you learned from kind of going back to your kitchen table? And and I mean, are there things that you would do differently in building your next company that maybe you’ve seen on your journey of building all these companies? Is there some sort of core thing that you’re, you know, going forward, you’re not going to raise money? You’re not going to do this. You’re, you know, I mean, you’ve

Kim Perell 29:57
learned so much originally. You know, after my first experience becoming bankrupt, I didn’t want to hire anyone, because I obviously don’t want to fire anyone, because that was really an emotional scarring time. But knowing like having the right team, like complimentary, and that could be personal professional, it could be your husband, it could be your friends, it could be having that team around you to build like is, like that’s so what makes it Yeah, it’s just like, that’s everything. It’s like the foundation when everything goes right or wrong. Having that core team makes it. So I just cherish that. So for me, it’s about just going back to being grew to 1000 people I didn’t know everyone like the company grew. And so I like actually having like a small team. So I guess what I learned is I like building. I like having personal relationships with people. And I like to, like I like to know people I want to know, their life, I want to know why they’re doing I want them to actually do it, not just because it’s a job, but they really believe. And so that’s been, it’s been a learning for me is going back, but now having the courage to just compliment myself with other people knowing it will work out, I guess, you know, it took me a while before, when I first started, I was like, I’m not gonna hire anyone, I’m just gonna do everything myself and my husband’s like, like, you can’t do it alone, like no one is successful alone. So acknowledging that upfront and finding complementary team members is

Kara Goldin 31:22
so key to success. I totally agree. And I think also understanding what you like doing, right. So I think that I’m a builder as well. I love the early stages. i And I’m good at multiple stages, but I love the early stage. And there are some people that are like, no get like, let me get involved in a company when it’s 10 million to 25 million, or 100 million plus, or whatever it is, or only when they’re public. I mean, I think that that is that is so defining, especially if you’ve been either supporting entrepreneurs and working inside of startups, or, you know, you’ve you’ve never worked in one, I mean, you everyone should get that experience to really understand the size and sort of you know what they really, really love doing so, such an incredible journey cam. And there’s so many lessons here. And like I said, the book is excellent, everybody, definitely pick up a copy. Where do people find out more about you? And also, where’s the best place to grab a copy of jump?

Kim Perell 32:32
Oh, excellent. It’s amazing. So you can go please visit my site at Kim for Or go to jump with To get your copy of the book. And follow me on any social media Kim Burrell. And if you’re ready to jump, jump with me we can do this together. It’s time to go Your time is now I am here to support you. And I just think, Oh, if you are listening to me right now, and you’re thinking I can do it, you can do it. I love

Kara Goldin 33:01
it. So great. Well, thank you so much. And thanks, everybody for listening. Today. We’re here every Monday and Wednesday. And with amazing entrepreneurs and thought leaders, Kim obviously is one of them. It’s so great to hear all of these stories of how people have overcome challenges doubts along the way. And certainly Kim is a great example of this. So please make sure to pick up a copy of Kim’s book if you haven’t picked up a copy of my book as well definitely do that. It’s called undaunted, hopefully you’ll get a chance to read it. And hopefully you’ll also still grab a case of hint. And if you haven’t tried it, you should definitely try it too. And thank you so much for joining us, Kim and listening everyone and have a great rest of the week. Before we sign off, I want to talk to you about fear. People like to talk about fearless leaders. But achieving big goals isn’t about fearlessness. Successful leaders recognize their fears and decide to deal with them head on in order to move forward. This is where my new book undaunted comes in. This book is designed for anyone who wants to succeed in the face of fear, overcome doubts and live a little undaunted. Order your copy today at undaunted, the and learn how to look your doubts and doubters in the eye and achieve your dreams. For a limited time. You’ll also receive a free case of hint water. Do you have a question for me or want to nominate an innovator to spotlight send me a tweet at Kara Goldin and let me know. And if you like what you heard, please leave me a review on Apple podcasts. You can also follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn Kara Goldin thanks for listening