Do you know that you have to think about your exit strategy from day one of starting or buying your business? Dr. Diane Hamilton’s guest is Michelle Seiler Tucker, a 20-year veteran in the Merger and Acquisition (M&A) industry. Many business owners think of selling their business when it’s going on a downward spiral. But who will buy a failing business? In this episode, Michelle explains why the best time to sell your business is when it’s in its prime. You have to figure out what your endgame is and start from there. What’s more, Michelle shares with you the 6Ps that you need to know to make sure your business is sellable: people, product, process, proprietary, patrons, and profit. If you want to make your business sellable from day one, then this episode is for you!
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The 6 Ps Of Mergers And Acquisitions With Michelle Seiler Tucker
I’m glad you joined me because we have Michelle Seiler Tucker here. We’re also going to include a past episode of Sharon Lechter since they worked together on the book, Exit Rich. I’m excited to have Michelle on to talk about her work with the mergers and acquisitions, and so much more.
I’m here with Michelle Seiler Tucker, who is the Founder and CEO of Seiler Tucker Incorporated. She’s a veteran in mergers and acquisitions. She’s written a couple of different books. She’s got a new book, Exit Rich. I’m excited to have her here. Welcome, Michelle.
Thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure to be with you.
I was looking forward to this. This is a little bit different to talk about mergers and acquisitions. Sometimes I get different topics that are more trending than others, and this one hasn’t been trending as much because it’s a challenging area. I’m curious how you got into that. Can we get a little backstory on you?
I’m an entrepreneur. I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I own different businesses in many different verticals. I did work for a Fortune 500 company called Xerox at one point. I left Xerox. I fell into franchise development, franchise consulting, and franchise sales. I kept saying, “No,” because buyers wanted existing businesses. They did not want to buy a franchise. I started saying, “I need to say yes.” Instead of saying no, I needed to say yes, and I need to start an M&A practice. That’s what I did.
I started my M&A practice many years ago. We’ve done over 1,000 transactions. We also specialize in valuation. We’ve done thousands upon thousands of valuations. I also buy businesses and flip them. I partner with business owners and investing my money, time, energy, efforts and resources to put them on a build-to-sell blueprint. I’ve closed about 98% of all offers I write and get appraised 20% to 40% more than what the business appraises for. That’s a little bit about me.
You went through that built-to-sell blueprint thing. I’m curious about this model you have. What’s unique about that? What are you helping people build?
The big unique thing is nobody is doing it. Business owners are not doing it. Schools are not teaching it. A lot of entrepreneurs are not doing it, which is why 80% of businesses will not sell. According to Steve Forbes, 8 out of 10 businesses don’t sell. The number one reason businesses don’t spell is that they have never thought about their exit strategy until a catastrophic event has occurred, whether that’s internal or external. Internal being health issues, partner disputes, staff, divorce, any of those issues.
External could be COVID. That’s the worst time to sell your business because your business is turning downward and not doing as well. The best time to sell your business is when it’s in its prime. I tell all my clients, “You have to think about your exit from day one at starting or buying a business.” Most business owners are busy in the day-to-day operations working in their business and not working on it. They never think about the exit until they’re burned out or until they’re exhausted. By then, it’s too late.
I see a lot of debts. Some of them do forecast when they have a certain ability to exit. Some of them are vague. I’ve talked to Steve Forbes on the show about some of this stuff. It’s interesting to see the mistakes that companies make. I see a lot of them waiting to be unicorns. Are you running into that size of a company or are you dealing smaller? What businesses are you working with?
We deal with businesses $10 million and up. We do have unicorns. We work with businesses $10 million and up. There are many unicorns. A lot of fast companies think about their exit from the beginning. Most other business owners never do. We take them through what I call the ST GPS EXIT Model that we talk about in my book, Exit Rich.
We want business owners to start with the end in mind. We have a company that we’re selling for $70 million. They never thought about their exit. We’re going backward. We’re building our infrastructure on what I call the six Ps and getting their policies and procedures buttoned up. I’m making sure that there are people in place with a strong management team. The GPS EXIT model, do you want me to walk you through that?
What we do is work with our clients to figure out what their end game is. I had a sweet little lady call me and her husband dropped dead of a heart attack. Left her with a mountain of debt. I took her through all the questions. He has no employee. He had a construction business. He had the business for probably 30, 40 years and had no people, had no processes, had nothing. Everything was in his head. When he died, the business died. This happens all the time. There are businesses like this where they’re all unicorns.
What business owners need to do is they need to figure out their end game. When you drive somewhere, the first thing you do is pull out your phone and you go to Google Maps and you plug in your destination. You need to know where you’re driving to. Most business owners have no destination whatsoever. They’re driving in circles. They’re driving up and down the financial hills to end up nowhere. We help business owners determine what’s their desired end game. What’s the destination? What do they want to sell this business for?
Are any of them trying to go IPO or are they all trying to sell, the people who work with you?
Most of them are trying to sell. We have had some IPO. When they come to us, their businesses are not sellable.
For what reason, usually?
For lots of reasons, their financials are not good. Their financials are not in order. They want $20 million for their business and their business is worth $5 million. They come up with a $20 million price tag because that’s what they want to retire on. That’s what they need for the next phase of their life. Their financials are a disaster. They don’t have their policies and procedures. They’re not operating on what we call all the 6 Ps.
What are the 6 Ps?
Number one is people. You’d be surprised. Maybe you won’t be surprised, but you probably are surprised. Even the large businesses, the business is depending upon the owner. A $70 million company cannot run without its owner. These owner relationships. This owner has all the proprietary concepts in their head and it’s a $70 million company. We don’t pick the $70 million company because the EBIDTA is over $17 million. Everything is still dependent on the owner.
The first thing is people. We work with our clients to make sure that they have the right people in the right seat and the right position and make sure they have the who question. Who handles customer relationships? Who handles marketing? Who handles legal? Who handles environmental, manufacturing, processing, packaging, shipping, etc.? The list goes on and on. We work on our owners getting them out of the business, out of the day–to–day. Because if the business is depending upon them, then the businesses are not sellable.
The other Ps?
Product, they’re either a thriving industry or a dying industry. They either have an Amazon or they have a Blockbuster. With the pandemic, there are a lot of industries that were thriving beforehand. We’re selling some top-notch manufacturing companies that cater to the hospitality industry and now they faint because the hospitality industry has faint. We’re looking at the product industry to find out if it’s thriving or is it dying. Is it on the way up or is it on the way out?
If it’s on a wall because of the pandemic, we try to sit down and ask them these three transformational questions to help them pivot. The first thing we ask them is what business are you? Amazon did this back in the ‘90s. Amazon asked himself, “What business are we in the ‘90s if we weren’t a bookselling business?” They then ask themselves, “What do we do better than anybody else?” They said, “We do fulfillment better than anybody else.”
They ask themselves, “What business should we be?” They said, “Fulfillment.” We work with our clients to figure out how they can pivot on what their strengths are, what their core competencies are, and what other congruent revenue streams they should add. One of the reasons why businesses are going under is because all their eggs are in one product basket. They don’t want to have some revenue streams.
That’s a huge problem. You’re talking about a lot of things that deal with many aspects of a business. I teach a lot of entrepreneurship and marketing and all this stuff comes up. We’ve got people and product. What’s the third?
It’s Processes. Processes are the most ignored out of all of them. Processes are extra strategies. Nobody thinks about it until something bad happens and they’re like, “We need a process for that.” Processes are needed to be designed from the beginning of time. You need a design with the customer experience in mind. Many business owners design their processes around their own agenda versus what the customer experiences.Processes are extra strategies. Nobody thinks about it until something bad happens. Processes are needed to be designed from the beginning of time. You need a design with the customer experience in mind. Click To Tweet
A lot of research needs to go into some of this. A lot of people I talk to seem to fall into whatever they’ve done in past companies and they don’t do enough research about what works the best. Your book is going to be helpful in that respect. That’s one of the things they think about the least. We’ve got people, product and processes.
There are a lot of processes built in place, but the manuals haven’t been updated for years. If you’re going to start a business, you want to make sure that your processes, checklist are updated. You have your non-compete. You have your employee handbook and contracts. You have all that documentation because that’s what buyers are going to look at during due diligence.
The fourth P is what I call the highest value driver. This will get you the highest multiple. For businesses that have EBITDA, Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, Amortization, under $1 million, they will trade for a multiple of under four. Businesses over $1 million will trade for a multiple of over five. The fourth P, which is Proprietary, Proprietors and Proprietary assets, is the highest value grabber. These are the synergies that buyers will pay more money for.
There are six pillars to a proprietary. This P takes me the longest. I’ll appreciate your patience on this one. Number one is branding. The more well–branded a business is, the more I can sell the company for as long as the brand is relevant in the mind of the consumer, meaning nobody’s paying anything for Blockbuster. That’s number one.
Number two is a trademark. One of the biggest mistakes that business owners make is they set up a business and go get a trademark in their state, but they never checked for the database to make sure that trademark is available. They could be in business for years and all of a sudden receive a letter in the mail that says they have to stop using that company name. You should get a Federal trademark.
A Federal trademark is not that expensive. It’s about $1,500 to $2,000. Trademark everything unique to you, all of your USPs. We’re selling a business that has twelve different products. They each have a federal trademark associated with each. Each of them is exclusive to a different grocery store chain, for about $60 million. The next one is patents. Patents are big. If you ever watched Shark Tank, they sound like a broken record, “Do you have a patent on that?” A lot of times, they offer contingency on the patent.
That takes a long time, doesn’t it?
It does. We sold a company for $18 million. It was losing money, but they had eighteen patents. It’s $1 million a patent. Patents are huge value grabber. It takes a lot of time. You got to make sure you get a good patent. Like anything else, you got good ones and bad ones. In contracts, manufacturing contracts, distribution, vendor contracts, any type of exclusive contracts, franchise or contracts, franchisees.
Client contracts are the most valuable, especially if they have a recurring revenue model and/or subscription model. Contracts are huge. Here’s the caveat with contract, most business owners don’t have two–sentence transferability clause and 99.9% of all sales are assets. It’s not stock sales. You want to make sure you have that two-sentence transferability clause if this contract is transferred up on a new entity. You have celebrity endorsements. We’re working with a client that has Oprah endorsing their company products and services.
That’s going to cost a little bit.
Strategics and competitors will pay more money for that because they want to get their products in front of Oprah. Make use of celebrity endorsements, any type of TV, radio. Celebrity endorsement adds value because they can only endorse one vertical at a time. They can only endorse one vertical, or one skin care at a time, otherwise, they lose complete credibility.
In my eCommerce businesses, we do a lot of eCommerce. If they’ve got any of those top positions on Amazon, FC, Wayfair, that’s also another value driver. The database is huge. Facebook paid $19 billion for WhatsApp. WhatsApp was hemorrhaging money, but they had a synergy. That synergy was they had 1 billion users. I always tell my clients, “You owe it to your proprietary assets. I can get you a higher multiple.”
The fifth P is Patrons. This is your client base. Most businesses follow the 80/20 rule, where 80% of their business comes from 20% of their clients and they have customer concentration. Customer concentration is extremely difficult. The $70 million company we’re selling has a 70% customer concentration. We have to find the right buyer. We sold our oil manufacturing business. I placed it for $9.8 million.
The 65% of their revenue was tied up in BP. We have 550 buyers. We narrowed it down to 12, 11 and 10. All of them were concerned about the customer concentration. We found it strategic to have some of our products and services and they were willing to outbid everybody else because they’ve been trying to get into BP for years and never could get in the door. They’re like, “If we buy this company, we’re in.” They paid $50 million for 70% of the company, which is 126% more than the appraised value.
The last P, which is the most important P to all of us, is Profit. The reason I put it last is that lack of profit is never the problem. It’s always a symptom of not running on one of the other five Ps. Clients come to me and say, “Michelle, I’ve got a profit problem.” I’m like, “No, you have a client problem. I know you have a process. We have a process problem.” If you’re not making money, it’s because you’re not running on the other five Ps.Lack of profit is never the problem. It’s always a symptom of not running on one of the other five Ps – people, product, processes, propriety, and patrons. Click To Tweet
To look at all this is interesting because I don’t know that everybody does well in every one of these areas. Some of them have a problem with processes. When you go to get your company evaluated, there’s a certain amount of ego involved that you think it’s worth something more than it is. You touched on that a little bit. How is it evaluated? Can you walk me through that?
We use six different methods. We look at the asset approach, the market approach. We also look at incoming cashflow. We look at the six Ps. What we do is identify those synergies. We get all the financials and we normalize the financials. A lot of business owners, even large businesses, will run personal expenses through their company. We have to normalize the financials to get to the true adjusted EBITDA or the true seller’s discretionary.
We work with our clients to identify what the synergies are because we know if our buyer has products in Walmart, we’re going to be able to probably get a higher multiple for that company because of that relationship with Walmart. We look at the synergies that they have. A lot of times, if the EBITDA is way over $1 million, we’ll go to market without a price. Sometimes we’ll do a structured auction. We value the business based upon the EBITDA but also the synergies.
We look at the buyers that we have. We have over 28,000 buyers in our database. There are five different types of buyers. We look at the synergies and what buyers are looking for and what buyers are willing to pay more, plus what buyers can take advantage of economies of scale and which buyers can start decreasing overhead immediately.
We’re selling a manufacturing business. It has a distribution center. It cost them about $5 million a year to run. We have another manufacturing business that has distribution all over the United States. The first thing they’re going to cut is that distribution center, which is $5 million. They’re going to increase EBITDA from day one. All of these falls into evaluation, which is more of an art rather than a science. At the end of the day, it’s what a buyer’s willing to pay. It’s what the value is for the buyer.
As you have these buyers, you mentioned something about an auction, are they bidding? Are there bidding wars going on? What does that look like?
There are ways to do it. There’s a structured auction, where you give everybody 30 days to get their bid in. The seller picks the proposal that best meets their needs, I call it a seller sanity check. From there, you go through due diligence and see if it’s going to come to fruition. If not, you go to the second buyer that the seller was most comfortable with it.
A lot of times, it’s about money, but it’s not always about money. A lot of times, it’s about, is it the right fit? Is it the right company buying them? What’s the most important thing to the owner? Is the most important the price? Price is important but, a lot of times, owners want to make sure their employees are taken care of. They want to make sure their clients are taken care of. They want to make sure their legacy continues to grow. I’ve seen sellers pick lower buyers. They felt like it was a better marriage for a while.
I’ve seen that with the culture match. They don’t want to give up the culture that they’ve created and I understand that. It’s a match. You work as this M&A advisor. I’m curious, are there a lot of people doing what you do? If you’re out looking for an M&A advisor, how do they know to find you or somebody else? What should people look for?
What they should look for is, number one, experience. How long has somebody has been selling businesses? I’ve been selling businesses for years. What makes us unique too is I don’t just sell businesses, I own businesses. I partner with business owners. I know what it’s like to be on the other side of the desk. I know what’s like to make the tough decisions. I know what it’s like to sell your own business because that’s what my own company does.
I don’t just have the experience from selling but the experience from also operating companies and selling companies, my own company. That’s important. You want to know the experience with the advisor you’re working with. If there’s a firm and you’re not working with the owner, then you want to make sure that you know the experience of that M&A intermediary that works for that firm. How many deals have they sold? What verticals have they sold for? How many buyers do they work with? Those are the types of questions.
Do they have experience in auctions? What’s your closing ratio? What percentage of a higher price do they get for their clients? Do they charge a retainer fee? Many of these advisors charge a hefty retainer fee of $50,000, $65,000 and they’re not doing anything for you. They’re not selling your business. There’s a company that called us to do the closings for them because they can’t close deals but they’re good at getting retainer fees. We don’t charge retainer fees. We’re results–driven. I’ve been doing this for years. If I can’t get you the results, don’t pay me.
You get results. I know your last book was Sell Your Business for More Than It’s Worth. How challenging is that to get more than the business is worth?
It’s not because we normalize the financials. A business owner is making $1 million, net income, but then I find another $2 million with their money through their business. Am I going to get two more than it’s worth based upon recasting the financials? Yeah, because on sales, it’s not worth anything. I’m going to identify those synergies. Plus, I’m going to bring the right buyers to the table. Plus, I’m going to get them bidding on your business as I did in the oil manufacturing case where they paid 126% more.
Are you dealing with serial entrepreneurs, usually, more than one business you’ve sold for them? Is it usually one and done for people?
I do have two entrepreneurs whose businesses I’ve sold numerous times. I’ve had buyers who bought the business and he came to me a few years later to resell it. There are five different types of buyers. I have sharer entrepreneurs. They keep coming back to us to buy more businesses from us, same thing with private equity groups.
Your book, Exit Rich, is a must–have guide to exit your business rich. If people are wanting to find the book or find you, is there some site or something you’d like to share?
I like to tell you a little bit about Exit Rich because it talks about the six Ps. There are many things that we didn’t get to in Exit Rich. Sharon Lechter is my co-author.
Sharon has been on the show. She’s great.
She’s in Arizona. We share a photo with Robert Kiyosaki. She’s a five times New York Times best–selling author. I hope they make her a six-time best-selling author with Exit Rich. She’s a CPA, a financial literacy expert and the advisor to many different presidents. She writes the mentor’s corner after each chapter in Exit Rich. We have Steve Forbes, who endorsed Exit Rich as the goldmine for all entrepreneurs as they leave way too much money on the table when they go to exit their business. Kevin Harrington, the original Shark Tank, wrote the foreword for Exit Rich.
You can go to ExitRichBook.com to pre-order the book. We will email you the digital download immediately. We’ll ship the hardcover to anyone that lives in the United States to your doorstep. We will give you a lifetime membership into the Exit Rich Book Club where there’s a video training of me doing a deep dive in some of our different techniques and strategies. Plus, there are documents to operate your business documents and to sell your business and sample employee handbooks, non-compete, organizational charts, PP manuals.
We also have sample of intent, purchase agreements, due diligence checklist and closing docs. These documents are there for your review and your download. These documents will cost you $30,000 if you want an attorney to recreate it all. In addition, we’ll give you 30–day membership in Club CEO. Club CEO is an entrepreneur mastermind where we ask those transformational questions and help business owners build sustainable, scalable, and when you’re ready, a sellable business. All of that is at ExitRichBook.com.
It sounds like we have a lot of people we know in common. Those are all great reviews that I saw. I hope everybody takes some time to check out your site. Thank you so much for being on the show, Michelle.
Thank you so much for having me. Also, I want to tell your readers to text Michelle at 288–526–5750. There, all of my websites will pop up. My social media will pop up. I encourage everybody to follow me and connect with me on LinkedIn. My main website is SeilerTucker.com.
I am with Sharon Lechter. She is a keynote speaker, business strategist, and mentor. She’s an elite entrepreneur. She is the bestselling author, philanthropist, business strategist, mentor, licensed CPA, mother, grandmother, and the list goes on. In 1997, Sharon co-authored the international bestseller series Rich Dad Poor Dad along with fourteen other books in the Rich Dad series. Over ten years as CEO, she led the Rich Dad Company and brand into an international powerhouse.
In 2008, she was asked by Napoleon Hill Foundation to help re-energize the powerful teachings of Napoleon Hill as the international economy was faltering. She’s released three bestselling books in cooperation with the foundation, including Think and Grow Rich, Three Feet from Gold, Outwitting the Devil and her project Think and Grow Rich for Women, which was released in 2014. It’s such an honor to have you here, Sharon. Welcome.
Thank you. I’m thrilled to be with you. I appreciate the opportunity.
If you look at your Wikipedia site for you, it’s pages and pages. I tell my students to never look at Wikipedia because it’s pretty amazing that you have such a following in what you’ve done with all these books. It would be hard to think of a single person that hasn’t read at least one of your books.
It means I’ve been around a long time.
That’s what I say to people when they say, “How do you know how to this?” There is one good thing when we get older, we do have experiences. You probably had more experiences in a shorter time than most people I’ve ever met. I can’t imagine what this is like to go through success, starting with the Rich Dad, Poor Dad series. Did you expect it to take off like that?
When we wrote Rich Dad, Poor Dad, it was written as a brochure. Our company would wander around our board game Cashflow. If we’re going to have this extensive board game, we need to have a brochure that explains it. We wrote Rich Dad, Poor Dad expecting it to be a marketing brochure for the game. The world said, “Your brand is not Cashflow. Your brand is Rich Dad.”
We were Rich Dad, Poor Dad and then not anticipating a series of books. That turned into the first three, which were our trilogy, which was Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Rich Dad’s CASHFLOW Quadrant, and Rich Dad’s Guide to Investing. We thought, “That’s three books. We’re done.” In the ten years where we rebuilt the company with the CEO, we did fifteen books. I started the second whole series of advisor books. The evolution took its course.
ThriveTime for Teens, is that your board game?
Yes. The original game from Rich Dad Cashflow is an adult game. I created a Cashflow for Kids, which is for young children. When I left Rich Dad and started my company, Pay Your Family First, I said, “We need something for those teens ages 12 to 20 to allow them to see what happens in life, the choices they make, and the importance of managing not just their money but their time.” The fact that every decision you make can drive you to success or not. I’ve created a ThriveTime for Teens. I’m proud of it.
I see you do a lot with younger generations and that’s amazingly important. I’ve written some books. I have had someone that wanted me to write books for youth because they didn’t have personal finance skills. I almost did. I was partway through it and I went in a different direction. They are much needed at a young age. How do you get them interested at that age though?
Part of it is making it fun. The kids and teenagers alike don’t want to be lectured to. You want to have it all basic on the experiential learning and have some humor in it because then they have fun and learning is the byproduct. I’m working on Think and Grow Rich for kids and for the next generation, which will be those twenty-year-olds. It’s an exciting time. I want to make sure we get that information that intrigues them, so they want to learn it and don’t feel like they’re being lectured to.
What age group would read that book?
The Rich Dad for kids is going to be for 8 to 15-year-olds. The next generation will be for teenagers up to 30-year-olds. It’s targeted for the Millennials.
You target many interesting groups. You have Think and Grow Rich for Women. How is that different from Think and Grow Rich? What different aspects did you have to incorporate for women specifically?
That’s usually the first question, why a book for women? That’s the first line in the book, “Why a book for women?” I was one of the first women in public accounting when I started. If you think back to the original book, Think and Grow Rich, it was released in 1937. There were no women in business then. The concepts in that book, they’re as applicable now as they were back then. In writing the book, Napoleon Hill drew examples and interviews from men. I still feel the steps to success are the same for men and women but we tend to look at them a little differently.
In Think and Grow Rich for Women, I follow the same chapter outline that Napoleon Hill did in the original Think and Grow Rich. In each chapter, I start with a synopsis of his principle. I’ve talked about how I’ve used that principle in my life and my journey but then I interview successful women who have created success in their lives and their businesses that can be attributed to those principles. It gives a woman the ability to see different aspects of these steps to success through the eyes of other successful women. I have over 300 women in the book and various quotes from women at the end of each chapter as well.
That’s important. I’m part of setting up the speaker series for the Forbes School of Business. We were always looking for successful women because we had more women than men students. That would be a book that would be excellent to share with the students. I am interested in looking at that in more depth because there needs to be a lot more focus. There are some differences and that’s quite an amazing thing to be picked and to work with the book that’s been referred to as the most important financial book ever written. What is it like to be part of that?
I pinch myself. It built the largest personal finance brand in the world. To be asked to step into the largest personal development brand in the world is a little too humbling for me. It’s a huge honor. I read Think and Grow Rich when I was nineteen. I had no idea the impact it would have on me until I was in my 30s. It’s an incredible book and it’s been such an honor.
The second book, Outwitting the Devil, when I got the call to look at that manuscript, that’s a manuscript that Napoleon Hill himself wrote in 1938 when he would have released Think and Grow Rich. It was wildly successful, but he was depressed because he said, “Even though people know what they’re supposed to do to become successful, they don’t do it.” That hit home for me. I’m sure it hit home for a lot of the readers. We all know what we’re supposed to do.
He sat down and wrote this book, Outwitting the Devil. The title scared his wife so much that she forbidden it from being published. It was locked away in a vault for almost 75 years. I had the awesome opportunity to review it and annotate it and compare the time today to the time back then to bring it out. Many young people under the age of 50 don’t even know who Napoleon Hill is. Through this book, Outwitting the Devil, it’s little in your face. It’s a little irreverent. It all talks about fear and how we hold ourselves back to cripple ourselves. Through the opportunity of bringing this out, we truly have hit the cord with that younger generation. I’m excited about it.
I’m interested in that. I like irreverent books. I wrote one in the realm as well. I’ve probably met you at events. I live in Paradise Valley as you do. Do you still live here?
I do. We’re neighbors.
You stand out in this area. Most of the main authors aren’t from this area. I’m wondering, what was your background? How did you get to this point?
I started my career as a CPA. Interestingly enough, I started in the financial arena. I’m still a CPA. I’m still very much involved with the National Association for AICPA, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. I served on their National Financial Literacy Commission. I was bit by the entrepreneurial bug at a young age, 25. I had been building companies ever since. If you’re familiar with kids’ books that have sound strips across them, I started that industry with the inventor. We grew that globally back in the ‘80s. We relocated to Arizona back in ‘91. We’ve been here for many years and have had several different companies. We have a ranch in urban Arizona.
In 1992, when our oldest son had gone off to ASU, he came home at Christmas with a little bit of credit card debt. I was mad at him, “I taught you everything.” That was the age-old credit card companies greeting college students on the first day of college. Have some pizza and free money. Free t-shirt and free money. He got caught in it. That was December of 1992. That’s why I dedicated the rest of my career to financial education. Fast forward a few years, that’s when I wrote Rich Dad, Poor Dad. That was in ’97.
Along that line, along that journey, after ten years of building that is when I got the call from President Bush to be on the President’s Advisory Council for financial literacy. We were able to pass the Credit Card Bill that prevents credit card companies from soliciting kids on college campuses. I can’t take credit for the bill, but I can take credit for being a squeaky wheel.
That’s an important wheel to squeak. These kids had no idea. You wouldn’t think that they would get caught up in that scenario. There are many other ways you think they’d get them. At college, you think you’d be safe. I’m glad to hear that you’re a part of that. You do a lot of philanthropic work. One of my first bosses was married to Linda Pope who used to do a lot of work here in the Valley. I know that she did a lot of work with children and you’re interested in all that. What groups you work with now?
I had been on the National Board for Child Health for many years. It’s the largest organization against child abuse. We’re trying to treat our children as far as prevention of child abuse. I’m also involved with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. I have written a book with them and done other things to support the financial literacy commission.
I’m also on the National Board for Women Presidents’ Organization. I have probably been on that board for over ten years. I’ve also been supportive of the Kidney Foundation here and the Heart Association and Children’s Hospital. Those are my nonprofit positions. I’m also on the advisory board for Bank 34, a bank in Arizona.
Did you work with Erma Bombeck back then when she was part of all that?
I never had the opportunity to meet Erma. Some of her dear friends are dear friends of mine. Linda Pope was one of my closest friends. Linda is the one who started the Dancing with the Stars. I was right next to her helping her with that the first few years.
She was amazing. I met her when I was almost eighteen. I used to babysit her daughter when I was that age. Her daughter was my flower girl, Tisa.
It’s tragic. We lost her, but she was a huge asset to our community.
You do so much. She did so much. It’s inspiring to see what you’ve been able to accomplish. We have a lot of women audience in this show. What advice do you give them to follow in these footsteps? What would you do if you could tell somebody how to write these types of impactful books? What’s different?
The question is, what are they looking to do? Are they looking to give back through participating in a nonprofit? Are they looking at building a business? We all have passions. We talked about doing what you love and love what you do. My passion for starting a business came from anger. That can also come from anger. I was mad that we weren’t teaching our kids about money in school. Think about what it is that gets you going, get you riled up. That’s what gives you that ongoing energy and passion to keep moving forward.
The most successful businesses do 1 of 2 things, solve a problem or serve a need. The problem that you want to solve or a need that you want to serve and form a business around it and allow yourself to be successful. From the success that you reap, you can use that to give back and focus on righting the wrong. It’s the circle of life. The more you give, the more you shall receive. As you receive, you can give more. It’s a full circle.
I meet a lot of people that are more into self-publishing these days than in the past when you started writing. Have you ever considered having your line and self-publishing?
My husband and I own a publishing company called TechPress. We were the original publishers for the first two Rich Dad books before the demand got large that we had to go with a big house. We self-published through TechPress as well as have used many multiple of the big houses. I teach a course. I help people self-publish. A book is the new business card to establish your expertise in your area. The beauty of electronic books, eBooks, is you don’t have to have 50,000, 60,000 words. You can do an electronic book that’s 20, 30 pages long as long as it’s not all self-promotion. Therefore, you can become an author. It’s never been easier to be an author.
It’s not tough to be an author. The hard part is getting the book sales. What advice would you give people for that part?
The publishers do not take the marketing responsibility. As an author, it’s the platform. I talk about the three-legged stool. One is your book, your product or your service. One is your platform, meaning your exposure in the world, your social media, your database, the power of your associations, people that will help you promote it. The third one is your ability to communicate, your ability to do interviews like this one. You have to be relentless in your promotion. It’s much easier to sell books today because everything’s online.
When we first released Rich Dad, Poor Dad, there was no Amazon. People had to get in their cars and go to the store to buy a book. A few things have changed dramatically. For young authors, you have tremendous opportunities. You have to understand that you must promote and promote and establish that platform through giving free materials, blog, your website. It’s important to continue supporting your initiative by giving free content and then people will want to buy the book.
A lot of people do give a little bit of content for opt-in pieces. You can connect with people in many ways. Social media has become a complicated, but yet useful way for people to build their platforms. I remember when I was writing my first book, it was all platform. All the publishers cared about was, “What’s your platform?” New authors don’t realize that’s important when you go with a regular publisher. You can build your platform and write your book at the same time, which is not as easy. What you said is important. I’m sure somewhere along the way you had to make some mistakes. Everybody seems to have made some mistakes. Is there anything you regret? Did it all help you become what you have made now?
Life is a journey and you make mistakes. I teach not to use the term mistakes, they’re learning opportunities. You find ways in the things don’t work so that you can focus on how to make it work. I had a talking book company after the hugely successful one that failed miserably. We always learn ways to do things. In the process, we learn ways how not to do things. Napoleon Hill said it best, “Out of every adversity comes a seed of an equal or greater benefit.”
When I decided to leave public accounting, I can tell you now, it is still the worst business decision I’ve ever made in my life. Had I not made that decision, I would never have met my husband. I got instant gratification. The seed of an equal or greater benefit was immediately recognizable. Sometimes it takes us years to figure out what that benefit is from a mistake or from an adversity. Each day, that’s part of what life is made of. Perfection is an unrealistic focus.
It’s interesting how one decision you make can impact your entire life. I had a choice of two jobs, Kelly Girling back in the past. That one job I went to work for Linda Pope’s husband instead of going to work for the West Lyon Realty. One decision like that, you have no idea what that does, all of the years, your kids, your husband, everything you do from that point. It’s always fascinating to me to look back and see the one decision that people made that sent something rolling in a different direction. I find it interesting that you said it was a bad decision to leave being a CPA. Why do you think that?
It had nothing to do with leaving the CPA side. I don’t ever regret becoming an entrepreneur. I was 25 and at 25, we know everything. One of my clients had enticed me to go leave public accounting and go into a company with him. At that time, I was working crazy hours and I said, “If I’m going to work this hard, I should work for myself and not for someone else.” That was a sound decision. The problem was when we got to this other company, it was a company that had been in bankruptcy that we were coming in with new technology and taking over the company. We found all kinds of corruption.
I stepped into a situation that was a cesspool of problems. Being a young CPA, I’m like, “I’ll lose my license. What’s going on?” I ran away for a week to get my head straight to figure out what I was going to do. When I came back, the attorneys in this company had been involved in the lawsuit. The attorneys of the lawsuit were there. My husband was representing the other side. We were introduced and it was love at first sight and the rest is history.
That’s a nice way of ending the story here. I appreciate you giving all this information. A lot of people would like to know how to find out more about you and your books and everything. Can you tell everybody how they could reach you?
Please join me at SharonLechter.com. You can see my podcasts there and all my free content. I would love to hear from everybody and enjoy. I do a blog every week, so you can sign up to get the blogs. It’s my pleasure and my honor to participate in this with you. I appreciate you giving me the opportunity.
The honor is all mine. I’m glad you were here, Sharon. I hope you come back someday. We can chat again after you write twenty more books.
I would love to come back. Thank you.
I’d like to thank Michelle for being my guest. Sharon Lechter, thank you. It was great to re-run that show because you two are amazing authors and speakers and all the work you do. I thought it would be a good combination to have both shows together. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.
- Michelle Seiler Tucker
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- Outwitting the Devil
- Think and Grow Rich for Women
- Rich Dad’s CASHFLOW Quadrant
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- Outwitting the Devil
- American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
- Women Presidents’ Organization
- Bank 34
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