Grit, Truck Stops, and Taking A Never Say Die Attitude With Ted Alling – TCE 014

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I’ve been itching to release this episode since the moment I recorded it…

I guess I just love high energy people that have heart and hustle and today’s guest Ted Alling epitomizes these characteristics.

Ted was the Co-founder of Access America Transport and just recently started a new venture incubator called The Lampost Group.

If you’re not motivated to hustle and kick ass, stop what you’re doing and listen to this conversation. Ted shares some crazy stories of how he built his company from scratch to a 500 million dollar company.

You’ll hear about everything from Ted stopping people at trucks stops to mailing shoes to get his “foot in the door.”  He epitomizes whatever it takes, and its awesome.

Ready to hustle? Tune in below : )

Ted Alling

Something sweet from Ted: “You’re either investing time or spending time” – Nick Saban (tweet this)

What You’ll Learn By Listening

  • Some incredibly gritty things Ted did to drum up business in the early days
  • What a “whatever it takes” attitude really looks like
  • How celebrating mistakes can help us get outside of comfort zones
  • Different ways Ted has motivated his employees and built a kickass culture…even when some of the jobs aren’t always fun (like cold calling)
  • How to stay motivated when you’re in grind mode
  • Why chasing non-sexy industries is actually a sexy business opportunity
  • Ted’s answer to something we all ask…is the grind worth it?

Listen to the episode here:

Subscribe on Itunes for more interviews or Listen on Stitcher

Thank Ted for dropping knowledge on us (tweet Ted here)

Mindshare segment at the end:

Why we need to make decisions instead of “shoulding all over ourselves.” If you want to change, you need to leverage the power of our desire to remain consistent with what we say we’re going to do. Making decisions are at the crux of this. 

Links & Resources Mentioned:

For more on Ted check him out at: TedAlling.com, Linkedin, and on Twitter @TedAlling

Other resources mentioned:

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*You’ll find a full searchable transcript below

Music Credit: Carousel Games & Stay Awake

Searchable Transcript of This Ted Alling Interview

Scott:  This is the Competitive Edge with Ted Alling. Welcome to the Competitive Edge, my name is Scott Britton and I’m here to help you answer a question that we all have; how can I get an edge in my business and life? Each week we are going to uncover how some of the most successful and inspiring entrepreneurs, entertainers and thought-leaders get an edge so you too can reach your full potential. Thanks for tuning in today, now let’s get started.

[Music]

 

Hey everyone, welcome to another episode of The Competitive Edge. Today’s episode is about grit, determination and perseverance. We’re going to hear from Ted Alling who started Access America Transport; you probably haven’t heard of this company before because it’s in the trucking and logistics industry. A lot of the entrepreneurs that come on here are software guys from New York or Silicon Valley but today’s guest built a 500 million dollar business in Chattanooga, Tennessee and the way that he did it was just by sheer determination and effort. You are going to hear what having a ‘never say die’ attitude is all about in this interview when Ted shares some of his stories about sales tactics, about the cold calls that he’s made, about chasing people down at truck stops.

I mean this guy is a total savage and the interview is awesome and inspiring. We are also going to hear about Ted’s newest transition with the Lam Post Group, his venture capital firm and accelerator and a little bit about what he looks for in entrepreneurs and people looking to build companies. If you’re looking for some motivation, if you’re going to [Inaudible 0:01:37], if you want to just see how someone wills themselves to be successful, you got to want to tune into this interview, it’s absolutely awesome. Without further ado, let’s go ahead and hear from Ted Alling.

So Ted, I’m just really excited to be chatting today because like I mentioned before the call, not only did I hear some previous interviews where you’re talking — quoting college football coaches and things that I really like, but you also built a 500 million dollar company in a non-sexy industry in short period of time and I feel like a lot of these podcasts, they have the same guests where people are building marketing tools in Silicon Valley or New York or other things and you built this bad-ass company in Tennessee in the trucking industry. So, you just sold the company three weeks ago, but let’s talk about the early days and why don’t we first just start off by telling everybody exactly what Access America Transport is.

Ted Alling:            Okay, perfect. So, I started Access America Transport 12 years ago with my two best friends from college and we went to school at Sanford University in Birmingham and we always knew we kind of wanted to start a business together and right out of school I took a job with a large logistics Fortune 100 company and it was in one of these jobs at like my first day at work, I was totally pumped up, I graduated on Saturday, started on Monday. I was just fired up to take on the world, walked in the first day and I was like, ‘whoa, this is terrible, this totally sucks’.

There was no energy there, my boss was just okay, he just wasn’t a very good inspirer guy and so — anyway, I kind of ground it out for two years in this company and then finally I hooked back up with one of my partners in Chattanooga, his dad owned a brick company. And I was there on some sales calls and I was like — we started talking, heck, we can do this on our own couldn’t we? And we said, ‘yeah, let’s do it’. And so, literally kind of started in a closet in kind of a really rough part of Chattanooga, kind of a rough part of the neighborhood in Chattanooga and I just — I kind of had two goals when I started the company.

Number one, I wanted it to be the best place in America to work because I knew if we could be the best place in America, we would have the most positive people and I know positive people are productive people. Number two, I wanted to be a hundred-million dollar company and my partner Barry was like, ‘oh, let’s do it’. [Laughter] He’s our CFO, very crazy man, let’s go for it. And so it was very — I have always read a lot of motivational stuff and I have always been — I try to be very positive and fill myself up with stuff like that but we come to work really early and it just — it didn’t matter. I mean whatever it took to offer customer service for our customers and also the trucking company that we worked with, I was going to do it

My wife and I used to drive around at truck-stops and I would literally knock on the doors of truck-stops and give them my card and get the [Inaudible 0:04:53] and be like, ‘hey man, when you deliver that load, give me a call, I’m going to find you another load’. And so it was a very grassroots, just kind of raw in the beginning starting the company. But –

Scott:   I love it and I want to dive deep into that because I think a lot of people out there need to hear about these grinder days; but what exactly does Access America do? People aren’t really familiar with it.

Ted Alling Interview:            So we are basically a broker, we are a freight broker, we’re the middle man between trucking companies and manufacturers and so we — in our peak, we were working with 45,000 different trucking companies and 3,000 different customers. My customers are really people that shipped freight. So we dealt with people that would manufacture lumber, we did some stuff for a Coca-Cola bottling plant, we did stuff for people that made machinery; anyone that shipped freight, we were going to match it up with a trucking company. So all these trucking companies out there and if you can believe this, in America 80% of trucking companies have less than 25 trucks.

 

So it’s a huge, fragmented market and you’ve got all these little guys out there that are — they would have a customer and they would ship something from Chattanooga to Atlanta but when they got to Atlanta, they were coming back empty. So, I would find freight that would match up and do like a back-haul and so that was my gig; was getting all these small guys back-hauls. And so as we grew the business we basically just aggregated all of these small trucking companies around America together into a big force and kind of had a huge fleet or whatever.

 

Scott:                     Got it. And today, I mean, I’m sure you have a lot of software in place that tells you where loads are that aren’t filled and that kind of stuff. But how did you find trucks in their early days that didn’t have a load coming back?

 

Ted Alling Interview:            It was insane; I mean I’d be driving around in my car, I’d literally see a truck going down the highway and I’d be like, ‘write that down’ and I’d be like — this is 2002 we started, so the internet wasn’t — it was obviously going but it wasn’t near as advanced as it was then and so there was a lot of just trying to find trucking companies, buying lists of different companies, calling them and just setting them up — the beginning, my partner Allen, couple of years down the road, he started kind of developing some neater stuff. He ended up helping to create a software that’s kind of like Travelocity or Expedia for freight.

 

So basically, you put in like an origin and destinations and class and weight and you’d get different trucking companies bidding on your freight. So that was kind of one of our segment of our business especially for ‘less than truck load’ LTL stuff. But it was — anybody I could find that would talk to me and do a load for me, I would go book their trucks.

 

Scott:                     That’s awesome. Honestly, sometimes I would wonder, and maybe it’s just my generation, I’m a little bit younger than you but I think sometimes some of the entrepreneurs out there I talk to, when I hear stories like this of you literally going up to people in restaurants and asking them where they are going, and trying to get their information so you can then call them and then try to sell them, I just don’t see people that kind of hustle these days as frequently.

 

Ted Alling:            I would completely agree and it’s so interesting like, and we’ll kind of dive into this a little more but it seems like a lot of these people that I have met, they kind of get down if it was a movie, the social network or whatever, but it’s like these sexy Silicon Valley — these term, series-A, seed funding, convertible debt, — to me the words that matter are discipline, dedication and hustle and grit and integrity. Those are the things to me that really helped us build our business because I feel like there are so many fake post revenue businesses that try to get a lot of users and just trying to flip it in a year or two or whatever.

 

So I’m kind of all about — I kind of don’t focus on building startups, I focus — not me but my partners and I focus on building businesses.

 

Scott:                     Yeah, I love it. I love the word grit; I mean talk about some of the gritty things that you had to do in the early days.

 

Ted Alling:            I mean I look back and I would legitimately — I have called customers for seven years straight every month or maybe even every week. But for seven years, I would continue to hammer the phones to try to get in more customers. I have mailed a shoe to a guy before and I wrote a note like, ‘hey, I’ve got one foot in the door, help me get another foot in the door’. I’ve done whatever it takes — I mean like we go to tradeshows and people were scared to see us at tradeshows because we were like — when I go to tradeshows, we would have people standing in the middle of the aisle so you’d have to walk by us.

 

We weren’t hiding behind the aisle; we were the most aggressive people on earth. We were straight out just warriors going out and trying to get business. It didn’t matter; whatever it took, we would — I had a brutal schedule early on and it’s not like I have really slowed that down that much but we have — we are constantly — whatever a customer needs, we kind of coined a term, one of our top guys at Access America called ‘fast muscle twitch’ and basically we are just — whatever a customer needs whenever, like if you send us a text, you get a text back in two seconds with your answer. And so we were so much faster than our competition no matter what, we were going to get back to them with an answer even if it was right or not.

 

And so that’s what we just — that’s built into our DNA and what’s cool is that it’s kind of — that is kind of just gone throughout all of our companies here at Lamp Post. Everyone kind of seems to kind of take after some of the stuff that we have done in place and we have put it into all of our existing businesses we have invested in.

 

Scott:                     Yeah, the culture of your company is really fascinating to me because I heard, again, I’m the type of guy that does my homework; I’ll try to listen to some other interviews before I come on and talk to people and you talked a little bit about being fearless in the workplace and celebrating mistakes –

 

Ted Alling:            Oh yeah.

 

Scott:                     — which is freaking awesome dude. So, let’s talk about this concept, because I don’t think a lot of people out there necessarily have this mindset.

 

Ted Alling:            So when we get hung up on a phone, we will tell what happened and it’s like ‘who cares, let’s do it again’. I mean it’s like this whole like we don’t give a damn; it’s actually funny. I mean we have people, I could call right now and they’re like, ‘hey Ted Alling from Access America, no thank you’ – click; and I think it’s hilarious. At some point I’m going to break that person down. Like that’s how my whole mind is, I’m never going to quit until they give me business and that’s what’s happened.

 

I can look back at some huge, major accounts that we have landed in the last couple of years and guess what, Fridays 4:55, they finally give you a call, ‘hey guess what, this company dropped the ball. Ted, here’s your shot and you’ve called me for three years’. ‘Yes sir, that’s taken care of, don’t worry about it, thanks; where do I pick it up?’ That’s my response and then I’d hang up and I’d be like, ‘oh my gosh, what do I do?’ I mean somehow it didn’t matter, we have — I mean we would charter planes literally; we had a load from Tennessee to California and we ended up chartering a freaking cargo plane. We lost $37,000 on one load just because we committed to the customer and said we’d do it.

 

And so, that’s the kind of excellence that we try to instill in our customer service people and I loved it. And they’re like, ‘hey Ted, I just lost $37,000 on a load’, I’m like, ‘hell yeah, that’s incredible; that is so bad-ass’. And so we had — it was such a unique culture, and that’s one of the things that really grew us. We had three employees with company logo tattoos, big ones. We had — Minneapolis is one of my biggest offices, we have 170 employees up there. We did a [Inaudible 0:13:36] this year we did — we have done it for like four years and I got inducted the second year.

 

Out of like 170 employees jumping into the freezing ice and it was for Special Olympics, I think we had 155 people show up. I mean that’s just like total commitment, everybody is in, we are following a leader up there and he’s in we’re all in. And so that’s what really helped us build the business. It’s like we are in the front lines. One of the best managers, he refuses to take an office, he will strategically put himself in the middle of all his co-workers and he — this is not a lie, he is 6’4″, big, tall, white Norwegian guy, he sprints everywhere.

 

Like if he wanted to get a coffee, he’s running and if he wanted to go to a fax machine, he’s running; everywhere he goes has like this sense of urgency and so you’re a young 22-year old kid and you’re like, ‘where’s my 42-year old boss?’ Sprinting in the office and he doesn’t have an office and he doesn’t play golf and he doesn’t fish; all he does is he likes to work and he outworks everyone here. That is so motivating in a leader to see somebody that is willing to freaking bust his ass that much to grow a business.

 

Scott:                     Yeah, the tone comes from the top down and it sounds like from the beginning. And I’m reading this book right now that you would love dude.

 

Ted Alling:            [Laughter] What is it?

 

Scott:                     It’s called ‘The SEALs Way’, basically think and lead like a Navy SEAL and this guy Mark Divine, who I’m actually having on the podcast tomorrow, the author of the book –

Ted Alling:            Awesome, okay.

 

Scott:                     — talks about the time where he was in BUD/S and he had to do his — they were trying to break him down and they said that you have to do a thousand burpees. Do you know what a burpee is?

 

Ted Alling:            Oh yeah, they are hell.

 

Scott:                     So they said, you got to a thousand of these and he made the decision before he started the burpees that he was going to do two things; one, he was either going to do it or die and so failure was not an option. And the second thing is, is that he was going to have fun while he did it. He was going to make it fun; when it sucked, he was going to laugh. And he tells a story of when he got to the 700th rep; he literally could not feel his body anymore. And he just — the coping mechanism that he used to deal with that type of strain on his body was laughing.

 

And he was like ‘I’m going to have fun’ and he just started laughing and grinning and that got him through another hundred reps and his instructor appreciated his mental toughness so much that he said, ‘you’re done, great job’. And it sounds like in your sales calls, with the attitude that you have taken at the company, it’s ‘failure is not an option’ and we are going to have a good time where the people want to be a part of it or not.

 

Ted Alling:            That’s right, I love it man, I’m going to have to listen to that. That’s awesome, [Inaudible 0:16:34].

 

Scott:                     Absolutely, another unique thing that I wanted people to hear about was this fantasy football style competition run within Access America.

 

Ted Alling:            Sure, so this is kind of a cool — Allan my partner, who kind of helped develop some of that other software, he kind of created a crude, fantasy football site probably a couple of years ago. And out of that a team here at Lamp Post has kind of went like ten next levels to it and he is basically — they’ve created a company called Ambition and Ambition actually was at Y-Combinator here this last month and has just absolutely killed it. But basically it is a team-based — you’d have three people on a pod here playing three people on like Birmingham or whatever and we look at seven metrics for our business.

 

Email, phone calls, number of time on the phone, number of loads, profit — percentage of profit and so each company has different metrics they look at but basically they turned it into a fantasy football. And it has just really blown up and in fact, Access America used this and our phone calls in one month went from 15,000 outbound phone calls to 22,000 in one month. We were making an extra 7,000 phone calls a day because it’s all based on competition. And these teams have their own fantasy football page, they have their own smack-talking deal and people are staying late on Friday nights to win the game and to work harder and it’s all because we hire a lot of type-A, competitive people that don’t want to lose and it’s all about getting an extra W [Inaudible 0:18:36] and it’s fascinating to look at.

 

And this company is one of those rising stars in the startup world, really in the whole country but they have done a really good job of building the company and it’s helped Access America grow in the last couple of years.

 

Scott:                     What advice would you give to people in a position that maybe that particular task that they are doing is not fun but it is moving the company forward? It seems like you have really mastered this idea of making things fun in the workplace that usually suck and thus increasing the output of your company and really getting an edge.

 

Ted Alling:            Yeah, so that is a great question because this is an office job, you’re sitting at a desk all day, lot of phone calls, a lot of just grind and we have [Inaudible 0:19:26] Ambition product definitely helps. And there is a lot of camaraderie and we have got folks on softball teams, bowling teams, basketball teams, I’m doing always kind of crazy stuff; I had a ‘bring your instrument to work’ day where everyone — it was kind of interesting, it was pretty fascinating; and people brought their guitars and bases and mandolins and — I had somebody come in that was kind of a leader that helped play a bunch of music and people were like — they brought in beer, and people were like ‘this is freaking awesome, this is an awesome place to work’.

 

We also brought in a guy from out of state, he brought in like 60 Jumbie drums, the African drums. And this guy does a corporate training type stuff but he broke us into like different sections so we would all be playing a different part of that — he would give us a beat to play and people were like, ‘what has Ted done now?’ By the end of that everyone was sweating and was like jacked up, energized because they said, that guy was like, ‘dude, I have never seen a group come together so strong’. He said, ‘you guys have the beat and the pace that’s like a war chant because this is not like normal places’.

 

And so it was really just all about — I look at companies and I look at — I can feel like energy or like the soul or the vibe of a company and just kind of walk in there and feel the energy and see people are excited or not. And so we at Access America, we have eight different branches and you could walk into each office and kind of feel what the vibe was and whoever the manager was, knows how their other employees were. And I have seen that at all of our startups here at Lamp Post. We got 11 startups and you can see who the founders and see their personality and see it in every single company.

 

Scott:                     I want to talk about how on an individual basis you were able to accomplish this because I think this is awesome advice for companies but a lot of people out there are just grinding it out in the early days of their startup that are listening to this. And –

 

Ted Alling:            This [Inaudible 0:21:36]or whatever?

 

Scott:                     Exactly. Like what types of mindset, what things did you tell yourself to push through?

 

Ted Alling:            So I’m a crazy, goal-oriented person, I set up — this is funny, I was looking up some stuff this weekend, I set goals for myself and this really started at an early age. My dad — when we were in the seventh grade, we started — every Sunday after church, he’d get out a notepad and we would sit down and set up goals for like kind of physical, spiritual and like school or — now I’d have to use business or whatever. But I am really big about setting year goals, five-year goals, ten-year goals and every year, I set them up and I have got like an accountability group with some folks that are kind of the same peer age or the same demographic and we sit down and go over these things and hold each other accountable.

 

And so I kind of — I think you kind of need to know where you’re headed in life because if you are just showing up every day and just kind of mechanical and doing your job, you just don’t have much purpose. And so I’m about trying to put stuff down and be like ‘okay, this is where I am going to be’. And so I’m actually moving to London here, taking a year’s sabbatical with my family and I am just kind of sort of setting my London goals for myself. And it’s like people that I want to meet, stuff that I want to do daily, just things that I want to happen in the next year and I know I am going to track that into my life because I’m putting it down on paper and it’s going to become real.

 

And I just have this whole mindset of like — because I think that if you just come to work and if you are just mechanical, you have no direction. And so I’m trying to help myself just stay on task. I’m working on something that I kind of tell my kids — you’re either like — and I think I heard Nick Saban say it, he was the best college football coach of all times but he says, ‘you’re either investing time or you’re spending time’. And so I try to tell, I try to use that, I just figured out my day, how much day am I screwing around on Twitter and Facebook when I should be reading or writing or writing down like a plan.

 

I tell that to my — I’ve got three young kids when they are playing their Wii or Nintendo DS or — I’m like, ‘are you spending time or are you investing time?’ And so it’s all about trying to help make yourself better in whatever way you can. Whatever is important to you or which direction you want to go.

 

Scott:                     How important is the ‘why’ for these goals?

 

Ted Alling:            For me, it’s big time and it’s funny, I kind of know what my ‘why’ is but I kind of woke up two weeks ago in the middle of the night and just kind of wrote it down like what my ‘why’ is to me. And I believe — so I’m just going to tell it on air; so I think my ‘why’ is I try to help other people believe in themselves and people have told me that I am pretty good at saying, ‘hey Ted, I never thought I was that good but you kind of pumped me up and motivated me to kind of see stuff that I didn’t kind of see in myself’.

 

And so I’m just trying to help other people kind of get what they — and Zig Ziglar is really a guy that I used to listen to his tapes a lot in [Inaudible 0:24:49] and he said, ‘if you can just help enough people in life and get what they want, you could have anything you want’. And that is really just kind of what my motivation in life is trying to help whoever I can, didn’t matter who it is really; just trying to help them get what they want in their lives and that’s — it seems to be working out pretty well so far.

 

Scott:                     I’d say so. What type of things do you do to inspire and change people’s belief structures? Because that’s not an easy thing to do.

 

Ted Alling:            Yeah, no, it’s not. I had a meeting with a guy today, we went and grabbed coffee and he wants me to kind of mentor him but I go and listen a lot I think, I try not to give direct advice to people but talk from experiences. And I’d say, ‘hey you need to go move into this’ or ‘you need to stop doing this and do that’. I kind of say, just kind of relate it to an experience that I have when I am talking to people, I’d be like, ‘hey at a point in my life this has kind of happen to me’ and just kind of tell them the story and that’s kind of worked out well. Because we have had — we’re still really young but we have had a lot of battle scars.

 

We started other companies that have failed and we have been successful in a lot or ways but a lot of things we failed at and so I’m trying to like pay the dumb-tax for — I’ve paid a lot of dumb-tax and just help other people maybe not have to run the same struggles we have before.

 

Scott:                     Absolutely. What’s — I think one of the best things you can do to inspire people especially for somebody like yourself when you see this amazing resume and credentials, it seems like all peaches and roses now, but along the way there had to be times where you guys made a giant mistake or had a failure and yet you were able to persevere and bounce back; I think it would be really motivating and inspirational right now if you could share one of your failures.

 

Ted Alling:            Yeah.

 

Scott:                     And what you learnt and how you changed afterwards.

 

Ted Alling:            Man, there are so many. We, at one point tried to — we tried to start like a warehouse company and we ended up renting a huge warehouse in Birmingham and it was really expensive at that point in the company I mean it could sink the whole company. And we were definitely cocky going into it or just very confident. And I swear, I have never in my life, never called or sold harder for that warehouse than I have anything on earth. Literally. It was — I mean I had a whole another job running the logistics company, but I was finding a way to make 50 to 100 phone calls every day just to try to help fill up that warehouse.

 

And we lost mega-money on it and stuff that I learnt from that; one, it was — we probably didn’t have the right team and at Lamp Post we just invest in teams to kind of — we don’t just invest in solo entrepreneurs. We have to get a team around and that’s worked for us because my two partners and I are like complete opposites. Barry is our CFO, he is a complete — the ‘see and know’ basically which I’d be completely broke if I didn’t have him. And then Allan is the operations guy. So the three of us have sales, networking, finance and operations, we just happen to be best friends and we wouldn’t even know that going into it.

 

So we did really kind of investing in teams also, it just — I think I was diverting my time trying to do two things and I think when you are starting a startup –, I talk to people all the time, that ‘yeah, I have a full-time job but I’m doing a startup on the side’ — like ‘no, that’s not going to work’. It is like you have to sit down and wake up and think about that startup all day and you’ve got to just push all of the chips across the table and be like, ‘I’m in’ because failure is not an option. Like I’m not going to fail and so I think when we are trying to do the warehouse and the logistics thing, we couldn’t do both.

 

I think if we would have just focused on one, it probably would have worked or hired a team to help kind of run it, it would have probably worked but ended up — it’s so funny like, it’s kind of like getting hung up on, like we loved to fail too. It’s just like, on my gosh, we learnt so many good lessons from that and it helped me learn some skills and some expertise trying to run that warehouse. It helped me land some other mega, fortune 100 companies. And if we would have never tried to do that warehouse thing, it wouldn’t have led to some of these big accounts that help grow the company.

 

Scott:                     Let’s talk a little bit about Lamp Post and your shift from operator to investor-incubator of different companies; I mean you say that you invest in teams and you invest in people but what are you really looking for in the team?

 

Ted Alling:            You know, that’s a great question. It’s the same type energy, it’s the same type motivation — one of our team, the guys from Ambition like they hawk their school [Inaudible 0:30:33] raise some extra money to hire some company in India to build this thing. It’s just like this complete devotion and passion for what they are doing. And you can just feel it when you talk to somebody about how into their company they are and because — we kind of say this, we don’t always just invest in the idea, it’s all about the people running the deal and we’ve had a ton of good ideas coming here and we had people just [Inaudible 0:31:07] and like totally do something different than what they said they were going to do.

 

And we have just seen the resilience of some of these entrepreneurs that have come in and kind of changed courses. You got to be able to just innovate with what your customer needs. So yeah, it’s definitely different being a mentor than running a company and I’m doing a lot more mentor stuff right now and we focus a lot on founder dynamics and making sure that the founders know what they need to be focusing on and kind of helping to steer them in a certain direction.

 

Scott:                     What’s the common founder dynamic pitfall that you see?

 

Ted Alling:            Something that I think is super-important and you’ll see a lot of folks, especially maybe some of the CEOs that they use the word ‘I’ a lot and they need to — and I’ve quickly said, ‘hey, that’s not going to work, everything is ‘we’, everything is a team. If there’s a problem, you take credit and if there’s success, you give the credit and it’s all about the team, it’s all about the ‘we’, this is the direction we’re going, and there’s no ‘I’ anymore’. And so that’s — some of the younger folks, because they have come in and they just got to have to realize that it’s not all about them and it’s about the team and just putting the team first in everything.

 

Scott:                     That’s really good advice. I want to know — I guess — I think your story is so interesting because again, like with most of the people that I interacted with are either going after the same industries or building software for — everybody from marketing companies to trying to reach consumers, they are not going after things like logistics; that I think there are just gaping voids in and opportunities for huge businesses. Do you gravitate towards these less sexy industries as an investment?

 

Ted Alling:            Yeah, totally and I think it’s funny that I have had friends coming out of college, a lot of my friends were getting into investment banking and consulting and I always thought I was going to work for a trucking-logistics company and they were kind of laughing at me. And it’s like there’s so much less competition in stuff like this and then they are trying to go and be an investment banker as you know. And so, we’re all about kind of finding maybe some older dinosaur industries and getting them and putting in some new tech and some new heart and a lot of energy and it’s been really well.

 

I mean we’ve got an insurance company — we actually have a trucking company that we got a — I got a contract with the Department of Defense. We haul arms, ammunition and explosives and we got into that not really knowing much and now we’ve become one of the industry leaders in that. We’ve also got an international logistics company we started less than a year ago and this year we are poised to do seven million in sales and this is just stuff that people don’t necessarily think they want to get into. And all businesses are about people, it’s not like — and then we find we get teams of people that really care and live for each other and have a good time working together. We just got to make the workplace fun and so that is kind of what we like to gravitate to.

 

We’ve also got a pretty neat company that — it’s a moving company, it’s called Bellhops and they are doing collegiate moving and these guys are just absolutely killing and they are doing college moving stuff. They started it three years ago — they started at Aubrey University and today they are in about 119 campuses, have over 10,000 bellhops and this year they’re going to [Inaudible 0:35:24] six to eight million and it’s just — and it’s stuff that no one in the West Coast or the East Coast were really thinking about getting into. And that’s what we do.

 

Scott:                     Yeah, I heard of a story recently of one of my peers who got into oil and gas and basically was getting ridiculed because this dude was out like basically surveying land and doing the — while all his buddies were in investment banking, this guy was focused on the energy industry, not really sexy, not like in a financial role, more like an actual exploration feed-on-the-soil role. And he started — very similar to you, realized that he could start his own company doing what he was doing for this other company and within two years, had a hundred-million dollar company. And again, there just not the competition in these industries that there is in a lot of the traditional [Inaudible 0:36:19] software role.

 

Ted Alling:            Yeah, and we’re just going to continue to do that and it’s funny we have a company here that — one of their goals is to help disrupt southern business with tech. Like that’s what they want to do and they are not into making the next Pinterest or Facebook or whatever, they are about building scalable, solid businesses with good earnings. That’s stuff we’d like to do.

 

Scott:                     I think that as an investor, those are good things to like. So Ted, you’ve taught us a lot today, I’m really pumped up because this ‘never say die’ attitude that we have talked about on this call, is the key of your success. Like you’ll eventually find a way if you never give up. What is next for you? You’re moving to London, I mean what can we expect?

 

Ted Alling:            That’s a good question; so I’m — we’re really invested hard into Lamp Post and Chattanooga in particular, but we’re trying to build some kind of global pipelines into our city and to kind of spread the word of what we are trying to doing here — we think it is pretty special and a lot of the key to some of this tech stuff is having outside influences from really all over. I’m just making alliances and building pipelines into our city. And so I’m going to be moving, I’m kind of taking a year off doing a year’s sabbatical, I’ve got an investor visa which means I’m moving to London for a year and my wife kind of grew up internationally and we have always talked about doing it.

 

It’s a good time for my kids, they are at right ages, they are going to be ten, eight and four and so my kids want to text their friends every five minutes and they are kind of willing to want to move away for a year. So, I’m going to move there, probably to do some mentoring over there and some investing and maybe checking out some different startup scenes around Europe. So, that’s kind of my big thing, I’ve also got a super-secret startup that I have been keeping for a while. That’s kind of exciting but I can’t talk about it yet that I’m kind of exploring a little bit. My wife’s like, ‘oh really, you take [Inaudible 0:38:32] week off’ and I’m like, ‘yeah, basically sounds about right’.

 

And so we’re just kind of doing that possibly on the side but really kind of focusing a lot on just seeing the world, just get my kids some new experiences and just maybe bring back some great ideas and some good friends.

 

Scott:                     That’s amazing, if you are open to it, I’d love to share one of the questions that you filled out in the questionnaire that kind of is in alignment with this and I think it’s really motivating for me and for everybody listening. But I ask — one question that I always ask the guest for the show is, in the spreadsheet is, what can we talk about that will help listeners improve or get an edge in the business in life and what you said was, ‘put your head down and grind; it is hard as hell but the most rewarding thing in life. Who else gets to determine the future for themselves and their families’ and here you are, about to set off on a year exploration with your family abroad just pursuing the things that you want. And you are a young guy and that is really cool. And I want to ask you, because I think this is a question that a lot of us — when it gets really tough, ask ourselves; was all the grind worth it?

 

Ted Alling:            Dude, are you kidding me? I’ve got the most ridiculous life on the planet. And it’s funny I mean no one really knew who we were for a long time and we just kind of kept our head down and worked really hard and just — we kind of looked up and we were a 500 million dollar company. We didn’t really care what people thought. We had a good time doing it and it was really hard and really stressful but we had a freaking blast and we’re going to hope to continue to do this with other companies.

 

And we’re just trying to live life to the fullest and make a dent in this world. So it’s exciting man and I kind of want to live your life, living all over the world and doing some fun stuff and creating cool companies and meeting new people; that’s fun to me as well.

 

Scott:                     Well, it sounds like you are about embark on that journey. One question I always like to ask and I always want to finish up here is, if you had to give one piece of advice to all the aspiring entrepreneurs out there, all the people that want these rich experiences that you talk about, if there’s one thing that they could do to get an edge in that journey, what would you say to them? What piece of advice would you give?

 

Ted Alling:            It’s really not focus on yourself which sounds crazy but it’s just like investing so much — you got make sure and we were pretty good about making sure; we say people kind of fire themselves because we ran at such at high speed. But when you find those special people that want to be on the boat with you, it’s just making them feel so important and making them believe that what you’re doing is big.

 

Setting a really big goal for yourself and like just always trying to invest time with them and make sure that they are good and that you are good just work your asses off. I know that it’s not the most brilliant thing in the world but then it’s like — I think a lot of people — I don’t want to make it a lot more complicated but it’s really not. Most people in this world are pretty lazy I think and I’ve got two brothers and they’ve both have been very successful too. We were always very competitive and pushing each other in whatever we do so, that’s some advice that I would give.

 

Scott:                     I love it man and you know, what’s funny, it’s like yeah, it’s not original, it’s not brain surgery, work your ass off; well dude, the reason you keep hearing that is because it’s the truth.

 

Ted Alling:            Yeah, it stinks and [Laughter] it’s not that fun always but that’s the key to successful people. If you talk about Bill Gates, he said he didn’t take a day off in his 20s. He didn’t take one day off and look where he got himself.

 

Scott:                     Wow. Ted, where is the best place for people to stay in touch with you, stay up to date with the stuff that you are doing? Where can they find you online?

 

Ted Alling:            I’ve got a blog, just Ted Alling dot com or I’m on Twitter and LinkedIn are probably the three best places to find me.

 

Scott:                     Awesome. Well, I’ll make sure to link those up in the show notes. Dude, I’m so glad we connected, thanks so much coming on to the show today. You taught us a ton and really ,I mean I’m ready to go out there and kick some butt.

 

Ted Alling:            [Laughter] I’m telling you, you’re on to it. I spent a lot of time last night on your podcast and looked at some of your sales notes and cold-calling stuff and we’re going to be friends for a long time. So, I’m excited.

 

[Music]

 

Scott:                     Before we finish up with today’s mind share, I just want to say thanks for listening to another episode or the Competitive Edge. If you’ve enjoyed the ideas in this episode and want to access all the conversations, tactics and mind shares we will be sharing in the future, the best thing you can do is subscribe to the Competitive Edge on iTunes. And while you’re there, if you’ve felt like this show has made a positive impact on your day, it would be great if you could leave us a review on iTunes as well.

 

Now I know we’ve covered a lot in this episode and there might be a few key ideas or tools that you want to remember; so we went ahead and compiled all of the notes, links and even a full, searchable transcript of this conversation for you on Life-longlearner dot com. I also want to give you the details on the cool contest that I am running right now at Life-longlearner dot com slash fun. By entering the contest, you’ll have a chance to win everything from Amazon gift-cards to a free month of having your very own dedicated, virtual assistant to an opportunity to come and hang out with me and my buds for a few days where we’ll teach you to create your very own passive income stream. To enter this contest and learn more about everything we’re giving away, head on over to Life-longlearner dot com slash fun.

 

[Music]

 

Hey! Scott here coming at you with another mind share; so we just got done with a very motivating and inspiring conversation with Ted Alling and I mean, I’m just so jacked up right now and I think one thing we didn’t get to talk about which has really helped me in my own life is this idea of making the decision before you start something. In Ted’s case, he made the decision that he was going to succeed no matter what. The failure was not an option and I think this is something that Tony Robbins taught me but a lot of times, people don’t make decisions, they just say they should do things and what ends up happening is that they shit all over themselves.

 

So I should go to the gym, I should start a company, I should continue writing a blog until it becomes successful; I should keep doing podcasts even though I’m not necessarily getting the traction that I want, whatever it is. That is not ‘making a decision’ and because you haven’t made the decision, you are not unlocking the power of personal congruence or being consistent with the things that you say you are going to do. So, one of the most powerful forces in human behavior and in motivation and just actualizing the — I guess taking the actions that we want to take is this natural desire of human beings to be consistent with what they say they are going to do.

 

So if I say that I am more likely — if I say that I am going to do something, I’m more likely to actually do that thing and so what this starts with is first making a decision and saying that you are going to do something. So wherever you are today, whether that’s you want to start a business, you want to lose weight, you want to get in better shape, you want to give up drinking, all stuff that I have said to myself in my own life, that is something that you first have to start with or put a stake in the ground and make a decision. And right now, I’ll tell you one that I had in my own life last night. So I have kind of been in ‘grind’ mode right now and I’ve gotten a little bit soft like I don’t feel like I’m in as good a shape that I was and I have basically a month left in brazil before I move back to the States for a little bit.

 

And I told myself, when I come back to the states, I want to be in the best shape of my life. I want to feel great, I want to look great and I just want to be healthier, I want to have more energy. And I told myself this next month, I want to be really good and I’m making a decision that I’m going to cut certain things out of my diet that I have been eating that weren’t healthy for me and that’s a decision, that is not a ‘should’, that’s a decision. And it’s going to be hard but I know that I am more likely to do those things now that I have basically said it out loud, told my friends and I’m very clear about the stance that I have taken when faced with that particular temptation.

 

Anyways, I hope that you have enjoyed this mind share; that’s what was on my mind right now, I want you to go out there and have an amazing day. Thanks again for listening and I will see you soon on the next episode.

 

[Music]

[End of interview 0:48:20]

 

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