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And our show is produced by Phoenix Business RadioX and recorded at the enviable MAC6 coworking space in ever-sunny Tempe, Arizona (the 48th – and best state of them all). AZ Brandcast is a project of Resound – a brand agency.
Speaker 1: Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s time for Phoenix Business Radio, a spotlight in the city’s best business and the people you meet there.
Mike: Welcome to AZ Brandcast where we talk about all sorts of awesome people about the power of brand and how to build great brands in our remarkable state of Arizona. I’m your host, Mike Jones, with my co-host Chris Stadler as usual. Today we’ve got an awesome special guest. His name is Greg Head from Scaling Point and also Gregslist acclaim. I feel like that’s been a big part of how I’ve gotten to know about you. We’ll be … We’ll dig into that because I think that’s a cool story. We are going to be talking about the tech industry here in Arizona, specifically the software tech industry because Greg has got a lot of experience with that but first, a word from our sponsors, Chris.
Chris: Yes. I’m Chris. I am Mike’s co-host. I want to tell you about our sponsor, CCAZ. Our fantastic, fantastic friends at Conscious Capitalism Arizona are sponsoring us. This local association is on a mission to share with the whole world how doing business for good is just good business. This local chapter of Conscious Capitalism Incorporate host tons of local events and provides resources for business leaders to instill a higher purpose in their company and engage all their stakeholders. Be sure to check them out at consciouscapitalismaz.com.
Mike: It’s a great group. I love them.
Chris: Great Group.
Mike: We are really thankful that they are sponsoring our show. Karen nods her head, our producer.
Mike: Greg before we jump into the nitty-gritty of who you are and what you do and things that you want to think about and that we love to talk about like Arizona and technology in industries and where things are going, we have an icebreaker first.
Mike: Because I feel like that’s the only way you can really get to know somebody.
Chris: Or also, I mean Greg has been just dancing this whole time. What a great guest.
Greg: You got me.
Chris: We are talking. He’s getting loose and everything. It’s awesome. I love it. This icebreaker better … It probably is going to be awesome.
Chris: No pressure.
Mike: Hopefully it’s not a let down from your dancing.
Chris: If you don’t have anything to say, just dance.
Greg: Well any ice is good in Arizona.
Mike: Yeah, any ice is good. If you could pick a place in Arizona to spend the rest of your life with the caveat of not the valley because that would be super boring as an answer, where would it be?
Greg: Not the valley. That’s a good one.
Mike: Were you going to say the valley? You were going to say the valley, weren’t you?
Greg: Well I don’t get out of the valley very much. I’ve been here 23 years. I have an electric car and everybody says, “Gosh, what’s going to happen when you get out of town?” I say, “Well I don’t get out of town that often. I’m on a plane.” I’ll say Prescott. Prescott is a happening place. It’s beautiful. It’s not overrun like Sedona. Flagstaff is pretty cool on the upswing. I’d like to go one place removed from the hotspot.
Mike: I like that. I like that a lot. Prescott has got a lot going for it right now too. It’s been grown a lot. I think it’s actually technically larger now in population than Flagstaff, which is bizarre to me. It’s like … Really, that’s happening?
Chris: It’s within a range of an electric car.
Mike: Oh yeah.
Greg: There’s a charging station up there.
Mike: It’s an hour and a half drive, at that.
Greg: Yeah, right.
Mike: Depending on how much you put the pedal to the metal. That’s awesome. Well I want to start with just the overall journey of Greg Head. Tell us about your journey in marketing and where you’ve been and how you got to where you are at now.
Greg: Well let’s see how fast I can do it because I’ve been around a little while and…
Mike: The cliffnotes.
Greg: Yeah, the cliffnotes. I’m originally from Chicago. I got my start in the software industry in the late 80s when I came back from the University of Iowa. A buddy of mine said, “Hey, work with me at this software retail store, this new thing and with software.” I had already done the retail thing, worked my way through college but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I didn’t fit in a suit and I was … Got done traveling and was clueless. The store is called the Egghead Software, which was the first national retailer of software in the box. It all started when PCs were just starting to happen. I was Greg Head from Egghead. I just put it right there out there on the radio. There’s me in a suit. All the other college misfits.
Mike: It was meant to be.
Greg: Looking for jobs. Name tag, Egghead Software, Greg Head. Everybody who looked at it and said-
Mike: Is this Mike Head?
Greg: I’ve been in the software-
Chris: Did you sell more software that way?
Greg: I did.
Chris: Was that an advantage for you?
Greg: Yeah. It was an icebreaker. It was good but I was very … It was like plastics, just started plastics as the old saying goes. I started software when it was totally geeky and silly and small and all that but-
Mike: Wait. Were you there when Windows 95 hit the shelves?
Greg: I was there eight years before that day.
Greg: DOS was really cool and Mac was just-
Mike: That’s what’s cool.
Greg: Happening and all that stuff. It was early. There’s … Again, start early off the beaten track. Nobody knew this would be as huge as it was. I’ve been in the software industry. I found … I did that. For a couple years managed stores and found a software program for salespeople to manage their contacts and everything else, which was totally newfangled back then, called Act! contact management software. I joined a 10 person company that made it and traveled around selling and evangelizing and-
Mike: OG of CRM.
Greg: Well back then contact management software was before CRM and sales automation. We actually had to find salespeople who use computers and 90% percent of them didn’t. Even people who sold computers didn’t use computers. That was for finance people-
Mike: That’s crazy.
Greg: To use spreadsheets.
Mike: It’s like drugs though. You don’t use your own. Maybe that’s what they thought.
Greg: Again, I was fortunate. I got in … The first 10 people I ever sold Act! to from the store came back and said, “This is amazing. It’s changed my life and I’m never going back.” I bought a new computer to lug around with me” 50 pounds and all that stuff. I knew something was going on. I joined a little company to help that grow. That was sold to Symantec. I became Product Manager. It was a new category, a new thing.
Greg: There wasn’t contact management software. We actually made up the words contact management. It didn’t exist. We took it to a PC Magazine and said, “We need you to write reviews.” We took it to all the retailers and said, “Put all the ones that are like this over there called contact management.” We call ourselves contact software and the product was Act! We were the leader. Six years later, on overnight success, everybody says, “What do I get for a salesperson?”
Greg: You get a contact manager. Which one do you get? Act! That’s the scalable story. Not running around selling everybody individually, which is what you do to start. The scalable story is being a leader at something important for someone specific. When sales teams were starting to use or sales teams were starting to get the hang of it, the VP of Sales said, “I got five Act! users.
Greg: Maybe if everybody got on the database and we had a forecast …” which was mind-blowingly future oriented in the mid 90s. It was starting to happen. That’s called sales automation. The founder of Act!, myself and a few others started a company here called SalesLogix in 1996 and was … This time we got a little venture funding and built it up and grew it fast and went public in ’99 and built a $30,000,000 company.
Mike: That’s awesome.
Greg: In four years. That was really exciting and it just … There’s a lot of lessons, a lot of mistakes, a lot of craziness. I’m one of the crazy ones and I hang out with those people. We actually bought Act! back from Symantec and I ran that.
Mike: That’s crazy.
Greg: I started with Greg head from Egghead name tags selling Act! 12 years later I was president running a 200 person organization, global and I was in charge of the whole business. We grew up to $50,000,000.
Mike: That’s awesome.
Greg: It was four million Act! users. My son who is doing a startup in New York City, he says, “Thanks dad for your help.” I’m like, “All the advice I gave you?” “No. Because all the old guys that have money, we are trying to raise money for, they know about Act! When I say you are Act! they all go, “Oh, Act!” If you can say it to anybody under 35, they don’t know what you are talking about.
Mike: I know Act! I’m barely under … I know.
Greg: Done in a couple of generations. SalesLogix with a market software on the common database and windows and all that stuff. I’ve been part of all of that. Then most recently after some other ventures, not everything went straight up but I helped Infusionsoft grow from 15 to 100 million, as the Chief Marketing Officer there. That’s another category early, uncool. Make it big, make it cool, be the leader kind of thing. It’s easy to say.
Greg: Hard to do. That’s the … Those are my three big wins there. I’m an early market guy, if you can see. I just don’t want to go where everybody is. I’m actually not one of the cool kids. I go where it’s not cool and then I make that cool. Then I change the game on everybody. Nowadays with Scaling Point, I consult with the crazy A player entrepreneurs that say, “This is newfangled and there’s 10 of us and 20 customers and we’re onto something and someday everybody is going to be doing it and we’re going to be the one.”
Mike: That category.
Greg: Which basically everybody in Phoenix says, “That’s crazy.” Except for people like us who say, “Well that’s how you do it.” Those are really the people I support in my consulting business. I’m helping the whole ecosystem here but really I’m trying to get the big swinging visionary. Let’s create something and solve a world problem, not just … Making a small business is cool and it’s interesting and it’s hard but if you are going to do that, you can also solve big problems in the world.
Greg: We help get salespeople on computers. We help create the CRM industry. We help automate small business in the modern sales and marketing digital world with Infusionsoft. We … Thousands of employees have worked for me. Infusionsoft, Act! and SalesLogix have … I just did a quick calculation on the way over here, in my head. Have sold two and a half billion dollars worth of software and it’s not like, gosh those were the kings. No. These were the crazy people around the kitchen table. Everybody is…
Mike: There’s got to be a small country whose GDP is less than that. I just don’t know one right now.
Greg: I just did a thing. I just did the numbers game that said over 30 years. There’s the math. The government says, “Your savings over 20 years is going to be this” and household budgets and entrepreneurs don’t think that way but just a little nice math.
Chris: No. That ‘s a great number.
Greg: It’s the biggest number possible.
Mike: I have a question for you. It had to have been hard. There had to have been things you-
Greg: It was only hard.
Mike: Thank you. Good. All right, so we are at a good place.
Greg: I mean just to be clear-
Mike: What is-?
Greg: People, it’s just … Don’t deceive yourself. This is an extreme sport. It’s really hard but it’s possible. There are people who do extreme things and don’t have hobbies for 25 years. Don’t get out of Phoenix for 10 years.
Mike: Can only think of Prescott to visit.
Greg: Yeah. I’ve been there twice so I’m big enough. I’ve been to … I was in London once a month for three years and I never made it outside of Phoenix, as we grow. It’s hard but it’s also possible.
Mike: Here’s the question. The real question is, is there a particular survival story that you like to share with people that gives … That might give the listeners a glimpse into the realities?
Greg: Well nobody really sees … The simple thing is, oh we had this idea. Then Act! for many people, changed the world. Contact management and made it. It’s beautiful, easy. A straight line. No problem.
Mike: You are making me want fish and chips right now.
Greg: I mean that’s the story. Facebook gets huge and everything but nobody sees the 35 death defying moments that happened.
Mike: What was number 33?
Greg: Well let’s see. I lived through the dot-com era. It was a crazy upswing. We were in a practical business which was uncool back in the dot-com. If it’s not eyeballs and pets.com or something-
Greg: You are not cool. Laying off a 100 people when we had to right size after the market realized that this isn’t moving as fast as everybody thought it will do. That was really crazy. I lived through making payroll or the quarterly number for the public company for 20 years. I got to live through the spikes of stress and all that stuff.
Mike: What did you guys do? That’s a good example. You guys saw the dot-com bus, right?
Mike: You lay off those people. When did you start to come out of that and how did that work?
Greg: You mean how did we get to the other side as a reasonable business?
Greg: Well that was quite a mania and it deflated in about four months. The whole bubble popped. It just went straight down.
Mike: That’s crazy.
Greg: There were empty buildings all over Silicon Valley within three months. It went from, you can’t spend enough money. It’s all about the eyeballs to … You are done. We actually sold the company at that time to Sage. That was part of our flight to safety strategy. It was a successful sale and everything but we got rational really quickly, again. We’ve been rational. When you create a company and grow it without crazy funding, which is how most do it, you are pretty rational most of the time.
Greg: On the other side of it, if you are on to something and people are committed to it and there’s actual fundamental business there, people will get back to work pretty quickly. It’s a leadership role to say, “We’ll be okay and sorry for the bumps and bruises around here.” 20 years ago if people signed up to work for a software company, venture funded or growth company doing this.
Greg: First 15 years of my career in the companies I worked for grew 50% or 100% a year, which is brutal. It’s exciting when you hear about it. It’s brutal when you go through it. These are all adventures and pioneers. Hey, you want to climb Everest? 99% of people don’t. Start ups, all this stuff is cool now and everybody wants to do it but back then it was insane and only the crazy showed up. You rally the crazies and you get back to work and you go back to work really quickly.
Greg: You got to have a vision and got to have a real business and people who like to build it. To be honest, for me it was actually … Aside from the changes I just talked about, it was a relief to run a rational business, to make users happy. You get money. You build things and the next feature as opposed to, look over there. Go build a rocket. I don’t understand that. I’m a practical guy. In the long run, reality wins.
Mike: Well I liked what you said, having a vision and having a real business. if you lack one of those-
Greg: Those are hard.
Mike: Two. When you hit those major speed bumps, man it’s really hard to keep people on track.
Greg: Yeah. You can even contrast the two things. Sometimes it’s all vision and no business and sometimes it’s all business and no vision. This is the magic trick. You got to survive and-
Greg: Inspire the … Your own team. The bigger thing is you actually have to inspire the world to follow and use contact management software. That was the hardest part of all of this. Everything was hard but the hardest thing was convincing salespeople. Get on your computer. Boot up Act! Put your contacts in. Learn to type right. Change everything, every habit you do, from writing in your day timer.
Chris: Entering notes. I mean I can’t imagine that would be disruptive to their day, to their normal way of doing things.
Mike: You are requiring your customer to change their own process and in the end it’s going to be better for them but-
Greg: Well you don’t actually-
Mike: That’s hard.
Greg: Go out there and say, “Change your process.” You find the ones who are changing their process and writing sideways and organizing on paper and say, “Here’s a better way.” These are the early adopters. You go to the crazy ones in the corner. Then you go with them and then you keep going. Then you find people who … There’s more people learning to type and learning computers. Then everybody gets it. By the time you get to everybody, you are the one but you started in the corner.
Mike: With the early adopters. It’s the Apple model.
Greg: See what I’m saying?
Greg: Everything is like that. Podcasting, Phoenix, Phoenix Tech. You guys go back to the beginning. It’s a bunch of crazy people in the corner saying, “Someday this will be real.” Everybody says, “Uh-uh.” Not everything that people say will be real grows up but everything gets up. Ching Wah and Donald Trump and electric cars now. It starts with a crazy person and their band of crazy people that they recruit. Those are the people I support.
Greg: That’s why I do what I do, is because I … If the crazy people who have the real idea to solve the real problem in the world, if they don’t succeed and they don’t turn that crazy startup into a scaled up thing, then we don’t get the solution. The solution doesn’t happen by the crowd. It doesn’t happen by big companies. It doesn’t have it by government to solve the new problems.
Greg: Look at wherever we are. Look at whiteboards and flat screens and co-working spaces and the rest. You go back, you go to the beginning of it, the world didn’t say, “I prefer a co-working space.” It’s five years. What do we call this thing? Every … Derek and Jade from gangplank here in town, they tell the story of opening up their first co-working space 10 years ago.
Mike: They were way ahead.
Greg: Yeah and it was crazy.
Mike: Way ahead.
Greg: Derek said people would walk-
Mike: It was super crazy.
Greg: In to the space. He’d say, “You can work here. There’s Wi-Fi, a laptop and a desk.” They would stand there for five minutes stunned with, “I have never … I don’t know what this is.”
Chris: What am I supposed to do? What do I need? Who Do I pay?
Mike: Where’s my walls? Where’s my cube?
Greg: Derek is a revolutionary. He’s like, “You don’t pay.” He was just trying to blow their mind.
Mike: Sometimes that’s [inaudible 00:19:04].
Greg: I actually helped those crazy inventors make it look normal. I’m part crazy person, part normal person.
Mike: Crazy like all the people in Gregslist, crazy?
Greg: Some of them are crazy. Some of them had some rational, good idea and they are doing it in a logical way and all that stuff but you actually have to think bigger than is ‘normal.’ That’s all we are saying. By the way, it’s not crazy in Silicon Valley. Every barista at Starbucks has a billion dollar company idea. The smartest people in Phoenix say, “Maybe if I get it to five million, I’ll be good.” It’s just a mentality thing. It’s all made up, by the way, all of it. Phoenix was made up. SAS is made up. I made up contact management. I know that people made up the word CRM, Customer Relationship Management.
Mike: Do you know the alternative name that was proposed for Phoenix? Sorry. You hit my history.
Greg: Oh, there we go. Pelicans but I don’t know. I don’t-
Mike: Pumpkin Bill.
Greg: Oh yeah, that’s right.
Mike: I am so glad for whatever voting body decided that that was a bad idea.
Greg: Well most people don’t think this way and I try to advocate it and teach people to think this way but most people run around and say, “Phoenix is Phoenix. Broadway Road and I-10 is I-10 9:10” and everything. I look around and I say, “I know somebody made this up.” The first time they suggested it everybody said, “Why would we do that?”
Mike: That doesn’t mean anything.
Greg: If you go back to Phoenix, I know there’s somebody who made it up. People hanging out here, “I think we ought to get a train line here and I think we ought to do … Stop that.” They threw rocks at them. A few years ago I met … Gosh, what was it? A guy who recruited people to be on people’s advisory committees and boards. I said, “I don’t do that. I just do intensive therapy with crazy founders. Boards get in my way.”
Greg: I forget his name. He worked at a bunch of companies. He said, “Well I’m really … How did you get into this thing because you were in the ambulance business or something?” I forget what the name of that company was, that was pretty successful here. He said, “Oh yeah. My family is pretty well connected and so I can help connect all these.” I said, “Who is your family?” “We are the family that created Tempe. We founded Tempe.” lf you are old enough, you’ve seen the beginning of everything and at the beginning it was a crazy person. That’s all.
Mike: Crazy, bold person.
Greg: Every time, for everything, whether it’s-
Mike: I think we have a new show title, Crazy People Start Everything.
Chris: That’s pretty good.
Greg: Well I mean this is a law of nature. I’m describing it. I didn’t discover it. Steve Jobs is for the crazy ones. By the way, he didn’t want to be for everybody, right?
Mike: No. He did not.
Greg: He wanted to be just for the people who thought a certain way and were making things happen, which by the way is where things end up eventually.
Mike: Eventually, you get everybody?
Greg: Yes, right. Remember, “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC?”
Greg: Do you remember any other PC computer advertisement? Can you think of one creative idea from Dell or-?
Mike: No. I mean they are not crazy so why would I remember anything they do?
Greg: Well nobody remembers it. I do that for crowds and it’s magic trick. Nobody remembers it. Everybody remembers, “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC.” Essentially he’s saying, “We are not for 90% of the market. We are just for the …” Let’s call them crazy or whatever. There is a lot of brand story around that, crazy innovative creatives or whatever. When I first started selling software in ’87, if somebody walked in with a beard in my store I’d say, “The Mac section is over there.” I’d be right 100% of the time. Now we are all a Mac. We all have beards. We are all un-tucked. How did you do that?
Mike: Every non Mac looks like a Mac now. Everyone is trying to be that.
Greg: I know. Isn’t an interesting?
Mike: Yeah. Well I mean that was always … I mean that’s one of my things I always talk about when I give talks on market strategy and brand strategy, is you can either chase the middle of the curve and constantly be chasing the trend or you can chase the early adopter. I mean this is exactly what you’ve been talking about. You chase the crazy people. They create the trends. Now the rest of the other 90% are just going to follow along without ever having to spend all the big dollars marketing directly to them because you just market to that early adoption.
Greg: Well I don’t actually think … There are the early adopters and then there’s the mass market, the big lump when everybody does it. The first people who bought the iPhones, remember? Was it any of you?
Greg: First wave? No, no but people did and we saw them all and they wouldn’t shut up but it wasn’t our moms.
Mike: No, no, no.
Greg: It wasn’t me. I got the … Whatever, round two or three. You got to play that game. Remember, if Steve Jobs would have sold the iPhone to your mom or a business person, they all said, “This doesn’t even work with Outlook and Exchange and this doesn’t even work as a phone.” Remember all the Doonesbury cartoons where they make fun of it?
Chris: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Mike: There’s not even a keyboard. What am I supposed to do with it?
Greg: If they went to the middle, everybody would say, “I don’t get it.” They went to the people who said, “Whatever it is, we will love it.” It started to move faster and faster. There’s a structure to creating markets and getting traction and all that stuff. It’s not obvious to people but there is a structure that cannot be defined. Those are the rules to the game I played.
Mike: It takes a little bit of crazy.
Mike: You got to be willing to take that risk.
Chris: That’s … Yes.
Mike: You hit the yes word for Chris.
Chris: Well I mean-
Greg: That’s my word. I don’t say process or any … Or science yet. I mean there’s a structure to it, like storytelling and music and football. It looks random but it’s not.
Chris: Everything has structured.
Mike: Well it’s the discipline that has to be there to me to make all the crazy work. Follow …It’s the follow-through. It’s the momentum.
Greg: Well, and that’s why I used the word scale because you’ve got to be crazy and invent stuff and that’s cool. If that’s your goal, invent more stuff. Be a chef. Make any food. Create more art. That’s awesome. Or make it a small business and be many things to many people but things don’t scale unless they are known as the best at something specific for someone important.
Greg: The chef can make any food, Thai ice cream and hamburgers or spaghetti or … I don’t know, everything for these people but there’s no restaurant. That’s all food for all people. The first move into a business is one, the kind of food and the kind of audience in one place.
Mike: You are only ever known for one thing.
Greg: Yeah, if you’re at scale. I mean we all have people say, “I do a little of this and a little of that.
Mike: They are not known.
Greg: Everybody … That’s right. They don’t scale and change the world. They don’t create big companies and all that. There is a counterintuitive non-obvious focus game of specialization that has to happen in the early days, where you cannot start being everything for everybody. Few companies actually finally get so big that they go out and they are everything for everybody. McDonald’s now sells everything that will fit through a window in 60 seconds, salads and everything, there’s hamburgers, until they sold 30 billion of them.
Mike: Then you can start differentiating.
Greg: Then you can spread out. The Chick-fil-A, which I talk about all the time is a great example.
Greg: Yeah, just chicken sandwiches. They are two years away from being the third largest fast food chain in America, Starbucks, McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A filet and it’s just chicken sandwiches. They do 50% more same store sales than McDonald’s. They are not open on Sundays. It’s just chicken sandwiches.
Mike: That’s always when I want Chick-fil-A, Sundays.
Greg: See that’s-
Mike: What do you do? Where do you …? I got an amen from our producer.
Greg: Most people … I just hear, “Oh, there’s a market opportunity.” Somebody could be the Sunday-
Greg: Chicken sandwich company.
Greg: I don’t know.
Greg: Chicken sandwiches is one of the many things you can do a chicken. It’s just that one thing. Chick-fil-A does three times more same store sales than KFC.
Chris: It’s because it’s better.
Greg: It’s also known as the best. I mean everybody has a chicken sandwich. Is their chicken sandwich 100 times better than everybody else’s?
Mike: No but they haven’t put anybody in the hospital yet.
Greg: I know. There you go. They have really good service.
Mike: There’s the debatable add-on.
Chris: Let’s give them credit. This … They are going up against 11 herbs and spices.
Mike: They are. I mean they’ve killed the kernel.
Greg: I mean even Chick-fil-A has the head wings that they’ve made political statements and not everybody believes that. Then are you a Chick-fil-A or are you not? There’s a modern part of the marketing, what people buy, what they hear from best friends.
Mike: Some values.
Greg: There’s a values, purpose thing in there. Is it a red or blue thing or …? That’s a modern part of the equation that didn’t use to be there, by the way. When you bought a car, you didn’t say what you care about. It was a car. Now we buy what … More and more and more things, what they care about. That’s part of the package sometimes, whether the company wants it or not. It’s part of it.
Mike: They didn’t seem like they were trying to push … It seemed like they weren’t jerks about it though, right?
Greg: I don’t know, to be honest. The founder made statements.
Chris: I think it’s-
Mike: I’m not the biggest on current event.
Chris: It’s a bit in the Hobby Lobby realm where the ownership has strong personal values that have trickled down into the company a bit. I mean if you go talk to an employee, I don’t think they have a … I’m sure you could find employees across the political spectrum at Chick-fil-A or at Hobby Lobby.
Chris: I know a lot of customers at Chick-fil-A in particular just because I frequent there a lot and I know a lot of people that do that across the political spectrum, regardless of what … This new stuff because they are like … There’s two things. I would say chicken, like you said, is the one thing. If there is anything that they are known for, it’s chicken. It’s the one thing that shows up on every billboard, spelled incorrectly of course because that makes you remember it.
Greg: That was intentional.
Chris: It was very intentional.
Greg: They spent 15 years of being just chicken sandwich-
Chris: Very intentional.
Greg: So much they named the company that. The mascot is the cow. We don’t do hamburgers, which is 50% of the fast food market. We don’t do hamburgers. Hamburgers are exploding. They can make a hamburger in five minutes. They don’t. It was intentional to say-
Chris: Very intentional.
Greg: Just chicken sandwiches against-
Chris: Their other strategic move from a brand standpoint … They don’t promote this in their advertising and marketing but they are super family friendly. When I want to go take my kids somewhere for fast food, there’s only two places I think of and that is McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A because it’s the only two places where I’m going to get a good meal, a decent meal. You can argue if McDonald’s is really that great but my kids are going to get a toy and they are going to have a play place that I know is going to be fairly clean and accommodating for them. That’s … There’s nothing … Once you realize what … How families shop, you go, “Oh, this is huge.” I don’t know. That’s the other thing, is they’ve figured out this two tone brand.
Mike: Well the employees seem like they want to be there too. They all seemed like they really want to be there. They want to help you.
Greg: I just spent two weeks on the road on the East Coast and I … That was one of the takeaways, is almost nobody wanted to be there serving anything other than a very expensive meal, which is a modern challenge, isn’t it? Isn’t that interesting? That’s another remarkable thing about service industries that figured out how to do the whole … It’s … Everybody wants to be there. That takes a lot of DNA and culture and process and support. You just don’t show up and put a sticker out. It’s a whole different thing.
Chris: Buy the posters with inspiration, the cat, “Just keep holding on” or whatever it is. The cat. Can we ask you about …? No. Here we are. Sorry to … In Arizona, we want to know about Gregslist a little bit. Tell us what that is.
Greg: Well Gregslist of Arizona software companies was … Is just a project I’ve done in my spare time. When I left Infusionsoft three years ago, literally that weekend I just started visiting all my CEO friends who had companies. Everybody has got the same problem. You have enough software service for your current phase of life to go sell but you don’t have enough customers, revenue and growth. It used to be the other way around. You could see big open markets and it was hard to make the technology.
Greg: Now you can deliver the thing, make the chicken sandwich but you don’t have a line yet or the newfangled … Whatever, that you are making. Everybody has got the growth, the sales and marketing growth problem. I just started helping and literally like three weeks later, I just had four or five meetings a day and we’d whiteboard. What’s your biggest problem? Let’s talk about that. “Oh thanks. Do you ever to talk to …?” I talked to 25 CEOs. I kept on going. My wife really didn’t want me hanging around the house, pacing around, doing the phone calls.
Mike: Oh God.
Greg: Like I was at work.
Mike: It’s hard.
Greg: This is what I do. I literally spent … I got to 70 CEO meetings here in town.
Greg: I had my little Evernote list on my phone. People say … I’d say this and they’d say, “Oh, you ever talk …?”
Mike: Do you have a list?
Greg: Abraham over here who was in this building and others, they’d give me an intro and nobody said no. Magic trick always works. There’s always something useful I give them. I’m from the future of scale. I know this game, let’s play. It was helpful and I learned something and all that. I kept saying, “There’s 100 software companies here.” Everybody in software said, “No, there aren’t” because it’s not a software town and there’s no talent and you can’t get money. It’s not really the kind of-
Greg: The guys themselves and girls who are running these companies and everybody else. I thought, well that’s silly because I just helped create $200,000,000 companies and I didn’t need … I didn’t wait for anything. We just showed up in the wilderness and started doing it and got money from Silicon Valley. These were 500 person organizations in global scale and all that stuff. I didn’t understand that. I really hadn’t got out of the building much in five years. I just leaped out and started going, “Wow, this is fun.” Talk to people and stuff. I said, “I’m going to make a list.” People said, “Why would you do that? Because they are on LinkedIn, there’s other lists.”
Mike: Well because you all say there are 100 companies and there are.
Greg: Here’s the thing. Here’s the epiphany moment when you realize that every service provider, founder, investor, job seeker is saying, “Where is it, all the software companies?” All the software companies can’t do it here. It was actually true that we were doing it here. There was something going on. I just said, “Watch this.” I published the list. You can Google Gregslist of Arizona companies or Arizona software companies and you’ll see it. I personally update the list and all that stuff.
Chris: Wait. Do you know all these people?
Greg: I know about half or a little bit more of them, almost all. There’s 390 companies that employ 25,000 people.
Mike: That’s amazing.
Greg: In commercial software. These are companies that sell software as their main business. Everybody has got a developer. Everybody is … There is a little technology in the business. There’s a lot of service companies that build technology. These are just commercial productized software companies, SAS, Software As a Service, modern web software, app companies. They are not semiconductor companies. They are not healthcare, biotech. They are not all that stuff. It’s just software focused. By the way, I get three times more requests, “Can we get on the list?” You are not a software company. “Yeah but we got software developers.” Yeah but you are not a software company.
Chris: You are not selling software.
Greg: It’s chicken sandwiches, which is part of the magic trick. 50,000 people have seen that page.
Mike: That’s awesome.
Greg: It’s 400 companies now on the list and will be by the end of the month. Nobody says, “You can’t do it here.” Investors scour it and says, “Arizona is a great place to find companies to invest in. We have our own type of company that we do here. I did it without having a committee or a board or a … I just went-
Chris: Just do it.
Greg: Did it and so I just … Half of it was for fun, as a byproduct of what I was doing but it was really just to show you could change the mentality of how people think. One person, one crazy person who did the thing that everybody says you shouldn’t do, can actually pull a lever. I just do it in my spare time. It takes me a couple hours a month.
Mike: Where do you think that impression that people have that you can’t do it here. Where did that come from?
Greg: Well I don’t know. Somebody started that rumor. I swear to God because in Silicon Valley, the first ones there, the Intel gang from Fairchild, Robert Noyce and all those guys said, “We are going to do a crazy thing.” Everybody said, “That sounds crazy but we won’t kill you.” Maybe in other parts of the country they say, “We will stop you.” Now that’s a normal thing over there. Basically, I’ve been part of Silicon Valley growth companies, funded venture capital things here.
Greg: I’m tired of people saying, “We can’t change the world from Phoenix and we can’t do big things” and all that stuff. Not everybody has to go build a scalable global company but that’s what actually changes the face of the world, changes the face of Phoenix, changes all that. These are normal people. I mean Bob Parsons moved from Iowa. Started a little office across from SalesLogix. Tried three little businesses before he said, “I think it’s domains.” Then he created GoDaddy. He’s one of the crazy ones.
Greg: Think big, do it. He’s got a lot of talent. He’s a mere mortal in the big scheme of things. I wish Phoenix would think bigger, Phoenix entrepreneurs would think bigger or some of them, not everybody but some of them. I wish that people could, who support that like me and other people who built bigger companies and capital and can rally around him. That’s what an ecosystem really is. I’m helping with the wave, support the wave in general. I didn’t create the wave. I just publicized it.
Mike: Or did you write it?
Mike: You publicized it?
Greg: Yeah. I think there wasn’t a wave that people knew about. The wave existed.
Chris: It was there.
Mike: Made this sign this says, “To the beach.”
Greg: No, I actually pull back the screen and said, “There’s a wave.” Then everybody said, “There’s a wave.”
Mike: There you go.
Greg: Seriously. The … I want more people to start companies. I believe in entrepreneurship and all that kind of thing but I’m also trying to filter it to find the 10 or 20 crazy ones who are really onto something. Those are the people I help. It’s a really hard journey. It changes spots and sports every couple of years. You need a lot of help to get through it and other ecosystems, Salt Lake, now Salt Lake City, now New York, and Seattle. Just have a bunch of people that rally around the crazy people and say, “You are not crazy. Don’t care what your mom says.”
Mike: Would you say that that’s the thing that’s needed the most now, is just that support that … Those people saying, “Yes, you can be crazy and you can do it?”
Greg: I think we just need more crazy people here. Partly, I’m putting up a sign saying, “Crazy people, welcome.” This may be controversial. There’s different opinions on this. Why don’t we have more venture capital based in Arizona? There’s no real … We have a couple seed funds, Tallwave.
Mike: There’s not a lot.
Greg: No. There’s none. There’s no $500 million dollar fund that says, “We’ll give you 20, 30, 50. You just go to Silicon Valley.” Utah has six or seven of those and five seed funds and all that. We basically have to seed funds and no venture capital. We are twice the size of population. We are not Silicon Valley. We are not even Utah or Austin or Denver.
Greg: We are our own thing and that’s okay but we just don’t have enough entrepreneurs thinking big enough that say, “I have a vision worthy of a VC funded return.” That’s my discovery. There’s plenty of capital in the world. We just don’t have enough people thinking big enough and then supporting them as they think big. That’s the surprise. They just don’t do it alone. I’ve been part of the support community and I’ve been the alone guy too.
Mike: Think back the last five or 10 years in the Arizona software ecosystem. What has changed the most? If there’s one thing that’s changed the most, what is it?
Greg: Well 10 years ago, there really wasn’t an ecosystem. There was a bunch of crazy companies and we all just did our thing, that pioneering thing. We all pitched a tent in the wilderness and started doing stuff. We just didn’t know what was going on here in Phoenix. I knew more people in Silicon Valley the first 10 years I was here than I knew in Phoenix. We were just independent.
Greg: We could do it here. We could do it anywhere. Let’s do it here. That was 90s, maybe five or 10 real software companies and then 20 or 30 and all that. Because of the modern mobile web and modern ways to build software with Amazon web services, it’s way easier and cheaper to build software. Everybody is in the software business now. Everybody sees a problem in the world and says, “The answer is software” and goes and creates a software company.
Greg: That’s why there’s 400 companies on Gregslist. For one, there’s just a lot more people doing it. There’s plenty of big companies. We don’t have … Other than GoDaddy, which really didn’t change the landscape and the mentality of Phoenix. GoDaddy is worth … I don’t know, five or 10 billion now. It’s a multibillion dollar company and all that stuff but often times these … the AOL in Virginia or Novelle and WordPerfect in the old days and Salt Lake City, Microsoft in Seattle, just could have been anywhere.
Greg: They skyrocketed and changed the face of the whole community, took over. We really haven’t had a couple, one or two of those. Seattle is fundamentally a different place than it was 30 years ago because Microsoft and Amazon, Amazon is the next one, fundamentally changed it. Boeing did a big deal so they get the hang of that. We just haven’t had some big pillars there.
Mike: It’s like we need more crazy people. We are looking for that last crazy person to tip us over the edge.
Greg: Well we need some of … We need a lot of examples where everybody says, “Oh, that’s what you do?” That’s normal.
Chris: Crazy normal.
Greg: I don’t sound too crazy. I mean, do I?
Mike: I don’t know. I think crazy like a fox. Is that a good way to spin it?
Greg: I mean you actually just have to be different and early.
Mike: Thinking a little bit beyond the here and now, what’s coming? We are creating that wave. I love that metaphor. I think that’s helpful, just getting people in the right mindset to go, “Now you can create the wave.” You don’t just have to ride waves. You can create one.
Greg: If you are riding a wave. If you have another social media monitoring app or whatever and you are 32nd on the list of Google, you don’t exist. In the long run, there’s three.
Mike: You have to create it.
Mike: There’s Uber and Lyft and Coke and Pepsi and Ford and Chevy and iPhone and Android. In the end when everybody does it, there’s two. Be one of the two. That’s the long run game.
Mike: Before we get to the last question, which we are going to talk about Scaling Point a little bit-
Greg: Did I answer any of your questions so far?
Greg: I rift around, went into left field.
Mike: I have immensely enjoyed this.
Greg: I’m just checking.
Chris: This has been awesome.
Mike: We are going to ask you to help us build this podcast and get us-
Greg: There we go.
Mike: Interesting guests, more crazy people like yourself. Who are the three people we should talk to? Who else should we get on this podcast?
Chris: We want three more crazy people.
Mike: Three crazy … Just think of the craziest people in Arizona that you can think of and just blurt them out.
Greg: Well get a Bob Parsons on here, who did it in software and now he’s doing it in the real estate, another game. He’s still an Arizona guy. You can get Brad Jannenga who helped create WebPT. Now he’s on a new big-thinking company called Chassi. I helped Brad, and Heidi Jannenga in the early days of WebPT.
Greg: There was seven of them and they were up and running and already going. They were onto it for making physical software for physical therapy offices. The ones we drive by in the retail stores, the little ones. They were using faxes for everything. They said we can make some web based software for them. They were the ones who were the first pioneers to move downtown.
Chris: To a warehouse, yeah.
Greg: I was there the first day. I said, “I haven’t been downtown here in 15 years. You are the only software company within six miles of here.” Now it’s the place to be.
Chris: That’s crazy.
Mike: That’s awesome.
Greg: They literally stood there and said, “Someday everybody is going to be doing this. It’s okay.” I mean it’s the trend, isn’t it? You go everywhere and everybody is going in brick walled downtown urban.
Mike: So hot right now.
Greg: Yeah, it’s so hot. In the beginning there’s a person. Brad would be another. I don’t know. I would have to ask you more it depends questions like, it depends on who you are really trying to reach.
Mike: Let me ask you one more person who nobody knows about but who people will know about.
Mike: I think you can get Brian Bair of Offerpad. He’s the number one real estate agent in Arizona, with the guy that bought most homes in Arizona after the recession and created institutional buying of groups of homes. They paired up and they have Offerpad which is changing the way we sell our homes. He was in the industry and saying, “Everybody hates the experience of selling a home.” You go through the nine nightmares.
Mike: First of all, you have to talk to a real estate agent. Then you have to super clean your house. Then you have to fix everything. Then you have to price it. Then you have to get out of the house and keep it clean, with the pets. The whole rigmarole. Then the paperwork and the offers and all that stuff just because it’s only been that way forever. Everybody in the real estate industry is institutionalized. I get my piece of this. Then you go to that person and then you get slapped in the face and you can take … Sympathies to the real estate market but it’s a painful process.
Mike: Super painful.
Greg: Offerpad, you can sell your house for most kinds of houses. Not every house, just the ones they serve in Phoenix. You can go on the website and get a reasonable price for your house and sell in five days. They’ll take everything. They’ll move you. They’ll package it. They’ll sell it. They’ll fix it. They’ll just, “We got it. It’s okay.” They are going to be the next billion dollar company here and it’s going to change the way in the real estate industry.
Greg: Some of the biggest industries are the last to change. It’s going to be a huge company. I came from being crazy. Sometimes you literally have to be crazy. 100 people tell you … Smart people say, “There’s no way” and you keep doing it. Maybe that’s not very rational or whatever but he had the insight that people really don’t want to deal with all this stuff. He kept offering it like, “How about we just do that for you?”
Greg: Everybody was like, “You would do that for me?” “I’ll just do that.” Then he … Really, he just discovered people who say, “Can you just do it all for me? Can I give you this and then you give me money? Then I go buy a house?” The stuff shows up there. That’s Uber. That’s Jimmy John’s. That’s-
Chris: It’s finding that problem.
Greg: Just make it happen.
Chris: Creating a solution for it. It’s not rocket science.
Greg: There’s a lot of heavy lifting in there because it’s actually … There’s more than just the-
Chris: No. I mean I don’t want to make it sound like it’s simple in terms of easy but it’s not … It doesn’t require an advanced degree in astronomical physics.
Mike: Maybe … One time I was like, “If only we listened to people well, we would know that those businesses were needed.”
Greg: See, that’s the myth. That only rocket science is innovation. How about this thing that is sitting right in front of us? There’s 400 software companies in Phoenix and everybody says, “We don’t have any.”Okay, there’s one. Or how about everybody hates the real estate selling experience? I know there’s a minority that like it. I’ll sell your home. They just want to do and that’s fun for them but most people don’t.
Mike: It’s the same reason most people don’t want to go to the dealership and that’s why Carvana exists.
Greg: The crazy thing is saying, “Everybody just thinks this way and there’s a different way.” It’s actually easier to move a street 50 feet over to the other side, 50 feet one way. than to change people’s minds that-
Mike: There’s a different way.
Greg: That’s the way.
Mike: Next question is, who should sponsor our show? Preferably-
Greg: I got to do all the heavy lifting. Speaking of heavy lifting-
Mike: Preferably a whiskey company, whiskey based of some kind.
Greg: Here’s the game. I can throw out all kinds of numbers but if you say, “We are really for just these people,” then I … Then the answer is obvious.
Mike: It’s pretty easy.
Greg: Actually, are you for the early stage software companies? Then you should get the co-working guys. If you are for the cool kids that hang out in bars, then you should get the whiskey guys.
Mike: We just want whiskey.
Greg: By the way, this is what magazines are and TV shows and the rest. They are aggregators of specific audiences in order to sell a sponsorship. Here’s my recommendation to you guys, is you can go either way. You say, “What’s an audience we care about that’s underserved that we can be in the best thing for them?” Then go find sponsors that want to reach those guys or figure out what you want to get and find people who want to sell it.
Greg: Otherwise, I’d say I don’t know. Just go knock on doors. I’m serious. That’s a way to do it but scale comes counterintuitively from laser focus. Imagine Steve Jobs, a multibillion dollar company, 30 years in with his hiatus and everything in Apple and stock price and everything. The fastest way to grow the company is to say, “We are not for everybody. We are just for these people,” which is catnip. Everybody will be like, “Oh, I want to be that.”
Greg: I’m definitely that. By the way, there was a time when workspaces had started where you could start with 12 tables and wireless Internet, which in 2007,’08, ’09 that’s when the turn happened, when all the crazy people started but now that’s how everybody does it. I have my Mac laptop and if I get Wi-Fi, that’s where I work. The old world, all these buildings and everything, it starts to change. It takes a little while to do that.
Greg: I don’t know the answer.
Mike: What a great segway into talking about this thing called Scaling Point. Tell us about that.
Greg: Well Scaling Point is my business at scalingpoint.com. That reminded me of the old dot-com era things where you had to say “.com.” Remember when you had to say, “Color TV?”
Greg: Yeah. That’s my business and my focus.
Mike: Not in our house but I do remember it.
Chris: We had to say it in my house.
Mike: We didn’t say it.
Chris: For six years.
Mike: Because we only had black and white so why would you ever … Why would the topic ever come up?
Greg: I still mentor a ton and I talked to CEOs. I talked to 300 or 400 CEOs a year but I really help 25 or so of these crazies all over the country and a soon-to-be in Europe and Australia. To make the turn from the initial startup phase, which you think is the final answer but then you realize oh, that was just to get beyond the playing field and see some things and start to make payroll and prove some concepts and test. Startups should just be called experiments and then we’d all be better off thinking about it but some of the startups don’t make it. Some of the startups turn into small businesses like the … What do you call an escalator, a broken escalator?
Mike: Just stairs.
Greg: Stairs. What do you call a startup that doesn’t scale? A small business. I mean then it’s a small business. That’s okay but the ones that say, “Someday this will be huge,” they actually have to change a lot of spots and sort themselves out. It’s part marketing, it’s part products, it’s part strategy. Then I have a process and a structure for going through that in a couple months so I can get them to the other side. With my … I was on the phone with the UK this morning, an entrepreneur there has gone in it.
Greg: I said, “The difference between a $1,000,000 startup revenue, one million pound turnover and 10 million is that the startup is still like the ADD experiment.” Many things to many people. You are trying to … By the time you get to 10 million, you are focused, OCD and there’s a scale game in there. The words product, market fit are common and is part of the … What has to happen there but there’s a turn to make the revenue marketing sales growth side go faster. You can always build enough product and then they realize oh, if people don’t line up for this stuff and then cheer-
Mike: It doesn’t matter.
Greg: When they use it, it’s not going to change the world. What’s the magic trick there? It’s not Steve Jobs who tried to sell it to everybody, including their moms. It is to sell to the early crowd over here in the corner that say, “Wow, this is amazing. You ought to get it.” We all squint on the other side. I’m not sure yet.
Mike: All the smart people are doing it and I don’t get it.
Greg: There’s the myth of more. You have to break with the entrepreneurs in the firefight. You get in the firefight, the world changes. You get up and running and get payroll and customers and everything and you want to say yes to everything but that’s the trap. And I … There’s a way to solve that and that’s what I help them through that scaling point. I write about a lot of these concepts on the Scaling Point blog and people can … The Chick-fil-A story is on there if you want to check it.
Mike: I have checked that out and I-
Greg: Checked it out.
Mike: I highly recommend it. It’ll feed your soul with … I’m just trying to make another free reference, man. Let’s be honest.
Chris: I feel like you are trying to bake them into the show now. That was a good one.
Greg: I’m sandwiched between you. Don’t-
Mike: You got anything going on top of that?
Chris: I’m in a pickle right now. I’m not sure what to say.
Mike: I’m stuck now. Let’s close.
Chris: All right.
Mike: I think we had two more questions.
Chris: Did we?
Mike: On the back page, Chris. There’s a back page. Not to be confused with backpage.com. That will get us in trouble.
Chris: Well I think we are solid because we got to introduce the company.
Mike: Is there anything in particular you want to highlight that you’ve got coming up? Any event, project, maybe a success story?
Greg: No. They can check out Gregslist or scalingpoint.com but here’s the … One of the metaphors I use is the beacon. A lot of people say, “Well I’m not at scale in these ideas and focus. That it’s not. I don’t really want to do that right now.” For people listening that are … That say, “I’m onto something. I have a product or service and over in this corner that’s really amazing and now I want to make a big company out of that,” these are the people I talk to. They can reach out to me directly on scalingpoint.com. I’ll have a conversation and share some ideas. They mostly don’t know what scale looks like. The step wise journey to get there, everybody has to go through it but it’s not obvious when you start.
Mike: Let me ask you a real quick question. What do … Is there a way people feel like before they talk to you? How does …? Someone out there listening right now and they are feeling a certain feeling in their heart, they are like, “I have … I don’t have peace about payroll” or something. I don’t know.
Greg: Well everybody here is up and running. Running a business is hard. Whether it’s a small business that’s successful or a startup that’s lost or finding their way, making payroll and doing all that is really hard. I honor, I totally honor every entrepreneur who is going through that. The people that come to me when they … They’ve said, “I’ve been doing this for a while.
Greg: Gosh, I had this big appetite, all these tactics, all these features I could build, all these people I could serve, all these use cases I could do, all this. I can make any kind of food for anybody.” These are A players and they really could make that food. Then they are starting to realize three times after, hitting their head against the wall. New sales team, new marketing tactics and they realize there’s something deeper going on.
Greg: Then the dream of changing the world and building a big valuable company is actually threatened. It will not happen until you say, “We are going to survive and figure out how to do it but we are going to start to be just the best in the world for somebody in a certain way.” That’s when traction happens. That’s actually a product market fit. Most people have product market unfit all over their business. Just because you sold them and they are forced to use your product doesn’t mean this is the revolution.
Greg: The revolution is the people that say … Like the 10 people who I sold Act! to, not 10 came back and said, “This has changed my life. I just want to personally thank you for doing that half hour demo and all that stuff.” That’s what it looks like and nothing less. It has to be fireworks coming out of your head in order to scale for the buyer or user, whatever, all those things.
Mike: Fireworks are coming out of your head, scalingpoint.com.
Greg: There you go. I mean even just to get that one epiphany. I tried it 20 times and everybody is frustrated but this one guy … It’s amazing. That’s the thing, amazing. Amazing scales are good. A little bit of this, a little bit that does not scale. Now, knock on doors, harder.
Chris: Laser focus. Love it.
Mike: Greg, thank you so much for coming.
Greg: You are quite welcome. Happy to play.
Chris: It was inspiring. I’m excited. I’ve got lots of thoughts rolling through my head, of my own business and people I work with.
Greg: We didn’t even say the B word.
Chris: Now we didn’t, which is perfect because we don’t want … The B word is a bad word. People don’t like that word.
Mike: Thank you Greg so much for coming on. Thanks for all of our listeners coming on today and checking out AZ Brandcast. If you enjoyed the show, you can find more on the Apple Podcast in Google Play. Just search us, AZ Brandcast. You can also sign up for our newsletter at azbrandcast.com. Connect with us on twitter, @azbrandcast. Hopefully you are listening right now on Business RadioX. We want to give a huge shout out to Karen, our producer, for making this happen every single month. We have to give a quick shout out to our gracious sponsor, Conscious Capitalism Arizona for making us a part of Phoenix Business RadioX network. This is Mike and-
Mike: Signing off. See you guys next time.