Steven Kuhn is a serial entrepreneur since 1996, author and speaker who has been hand-picked to consult with some of the most influential people in the world (rock stars, singers, actors, business leaders and politicians) about how to expand their...
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Ronald Skelton 0:06
Hello, and welcome to the how to exit podcast where we introduce you to a world of small to medium business acquisitions and mergers. We interview business owners, industry leaders, authors, mentors and other influencers with the sole intent to share with you what it looks like to buy or sell a business. Let's get rolling.
Hello, and welcome to the how to exit podcast today I'm here with Steven Kuhn. Steven is a mergers and acquisitions Pro and just a really cool guy to be around. Turnaround expert. I personally just as a full disclosure, I've personally been in around and see him Steven's work for probably the better part of a year and a half now. So we're involved in some of the same groups. And it's a pleasure to have you on the show today, Steve, let's just, yeah, let's just get started kind of where you started, like, what got you into mergers and acquisitions? What's your background?
Steven Kuhn 1:05
Well, it's sort of like this merger, that mergers and acquisitions
I probably doing that almost my whole life without even thinking about what even knowing what what I was doing. I got my MBA back in 2005. In the UK, I was already doing deals, but I was doing them a little differently. And I would, you know, I was a business turnaround advisor, and I would actually go to the, to the units or to the businesses will turn them around. And I would always say well give me some equity. Right? And instead of just a payment,
and most people would do it without even batting batting an eye, with the guaranteed sell out when I'm done. Right. So that would invest there. They're thinking, Okay, this guy's invested in here, he, he's really gonna help us grow the business. And so that was me already doing m&a Without even knowing it. And then, I guess it was
two over two years ago, I took to the harbor club course with Jeremy harbor in the UK. And on that weekend, I closed my first deal on the second day of the course closed my first deal. And then since then, if closed, I mean, I don't have a total of 22 companies where I own equity or shares or you know, and I usually get upfront fee, for introductions to whoever I get equity, I get sometimes a retainer for three to four months to set up the deals and make sure they flow. And then I get commissioned out the back end for anybody who I bring in who will generate sales or leads or whatever it is that they're looking for. And so I've turned it into like a niche, and I do quite well with that. And I sort of teach that, you know, if anybody wants to listen.
Ronald Skelton 2:40
And I personally, I personally met a couple people where you've stepped in and helped them get deals done. I don't think they could have done on their own. So, you know, yeah, well, that's the whole point before you get to that deal. That's the key. The whole deal isn't what comes after they say yes, let's do this. The whole deal is before that. And that means, like everybody says building rapport. But I what I what I say is you go in there create space, focus on the only thing that you can control in any conversation, and that's the intention. What's your intention? My intention is to solve these this person's problems and create value. Right? How can I do that? I don't know how to do that until I know the entire story. And I mean, even the personal story. So I've had meetings with companies 16 meetings was my longest one before we even talk numbers.
Steven Kuhn 3:26
You know, but they're solid conversations. And we're looking at a company right now. It's quite, quite incredible. And it all came through conversations. So that's the most important part of any deal. Yeah, I like to, I like to do that I like to get in and like, try to figure out what their pain points are both, you know,
Ronald Skelton 3:43
both inside the business and inside of other areas, right? A lot of times, like, you know, some of the smaller businesses, businesses, that wouldn't qualify for something I want to get my hands on anyway.
They're in their own way. Like, they're, they're the one causing, like the problem. So it's often interesting to be able to show them a direction or give them advice to help them clear that up so that they eventually have a business that's sellable.
Steven Kuhn 4:13
So well, you know, it's
I don't even think about, you know, what are the pain points? I don't worry about that. I asked five questions. And I tell us, everybody worldwide. what's your what's your current stats? Like? What's going on? Where are you at? What's you know, what's going on? Feeling wise? I don't care about the numbers right now. What's your feeling? They're going to tell you the numbers doesn't matter. So what do you feel? What's your status? What are your challenges? What have you done to try to overcome those challenges? What do you think they that didn't work? Because they wouldn't be sitting talking to me if it did. And, you know, where do you want to go from here? And I do that in conversation for him and I find out for instance, one guy's like, yeah, it's time to retire or travel with a wife, blah, blah, blah. Turns out he didn't want to retire his wife was forcing too so I struck a deal with him and basically said, Look, you're gonna you're gonna I need you, right for the next three to five years for as a consultant so you need
Stick around, you get to come to work two or three times a week. He's like, really? I can stay my job and like, Yeah, well, you gotta tell the wife. You know, that's, that's the stipulations of it. He's like, okay, and so he closed the deal, literally, to appease his wife, but still keep a little bit of what he wanted to do. And if I didn't know that he might not have been happy when it looked for somebody else who would have pulled out in the last minute, you know, because I didn't find what his issue was. You know, so it's, it's, it's so important to get to get to that point, crazy,
Ronald Skelton 5:28
you know, throughout interviewing people in the podcast, and through interviewing business owners to see what their, you know, business owners who have sold to see what their pain points what they liked and disliked. I very commonly come across that the owner did not take the highest and best offer, when I dig into what did they take? They took the one that solved most of their problems, once their desires, right. So and it's not money. I mean, a lot of people think that, you know, in mergers, acquisitions, It's 100% money, the best offer is gonna get the business.
Steven Kuhn 5:58
I would say, that's going to be the that's gonna be the issue that everyone has who goes into a meeting with guns blazing, you know, and it cracks me up. Sometimes people say, Hey, could you come help me do this meeting through the first meeting or two meetings? I'm like, okay, but I gotta leave. Okay, let me lead this Listen, man, I'm on a pull. Like, it's the emotional journey. And then they're like, Hey, so what's your revenue look like? And it's like, someone's scratching the needle across a record player, you know? And I'm like, Dude, I just said, and then they pull out, and they're like, this vibe is weird. And like, what, what, what? And so it takes it takes a special kind of person to actually care for real? what that person wants? What's the issue that you're solving? What's the challenge they have? And can you even solve it sometimes? You know, the thing that I do is, I'll be like, Look, let me get back to you. Give me Give me about two weeks. So you have, you know, I always tell the story about the Austrian company they want to manufacture in America and sell it sell to American government. So they need an American manufacturer or distributor, and a government contractor. And I said, Okay, let me get back to you got, I went over, didn't go over, I called my contacts got one of each got the contractor that meant manufacturer, and distributor, and asked them what they could do, how many doors they have, what kind of revenue think they can make will be the Cosby and I spoke calculated, I'm probably going to bring them about 5 million in the next two to two to five years. So I went back to listed here and this is what I got. I got the manufacturer, I got distributor, and I got the government contractor, probably about 5 million years. He's got 3000 doors, this guy does this, this guy does that. He's like, holy shit, you did all that without a contract? I'm like, Well, yeah, I wouldn't take a contract unless I knew I could solve the problem in the first place. And like, Okay, what's it gonna cost me? And then that's where I go to sound, right? Well for the introductions, because I'm bringing you 5 million, right. So for the introductions, the only 25k for the, you know, to set up the deals and make sure it runs smoothly for four months, I want to, you know, a retainer of X usually 10k 8k 5k, whatever it is. Equity, I started 10, 15%, depending on, usually end up with somewhere up somewhere around 7.55. And then I went out the back end, I want to commission 3% for five years, or 5%. For three years, whatever the deal is. And I have a guaranteed buyout after three years. So that means I can sell my discretion. They can't force me out, I put a dragon tag in their tag and drag it in there. Yeah, so they can't so they can't bump me. And it works. I'm actually owner of a part owner of a solar solar electric generator company that was just two guys in a garage. And now it's just freaking multinational. You know, and I remember the guy was selling his guns to pay me. You know, like that. Yeah. That's why, why? Because he had 100% certainty and my certainty. You see, when the book that I wrote on the Chambal alpha that my my co author and I wrote here above my head, we talked about certainty. Certainty allows you to let go the how, if you're certain of whatever you're doing, you don't have to worry about how you're going to get there because your certainty will carry you there. And people buy into your certainty they don't buy your product or service. And so when you realize this, and you go into a deal, you go into a meeting you go into anywhere you go, you do what we call CreateSpace, you show up just like I'm doing here, you show up wholly and fully for the person in front of you, or the people with no preconceived notions, no cookie cutter solutions, and no expectation of a specific outcome. Two things about an expectation you either have an expectation and you verbalize it and get in agreement, or you don't have an expectation. That's it, you focus on the only thing you can control, like I said, and that's the intention, adding value creating value by solving problems. And when you do that, it creates a space around everybody. You know, the whole meeting and stuff and we just sort of vibe and we co create a solution that otherwise alone you or I would never come up with. That's why creating space is so so powerful. It's it's is probably the most powerful concept in the book. And, and I do that for so many people. And our last my deal I'm doing right now with a partner actually flew to Switzerland and visited with the with the seller. And that was probably the most important thing we ever could have done. So it was worth the investment. And we were done in a half an hour.
Ronald Skelton 10:23
Do you think in this day and time that's still needed occasionally, like people need to see you be in your presence and get that not only just as handshake, but there's a vibe or a presence, a frequency or something that happens when you're in the same physical location as another human being?
Steven Kuhn 10:39
Well, it depends. I mean, this was a company, the owners over 70. So most certainly, they need to see you in person. It's a family business 77 years old, definitely want to see you in person, want to hear what you're battling to feel your vibe. So if you're gonna protect your legacy, that kind of stuff, and we were in 30 minutes, we were done. And I'm the kind of guy I literally walk into a meeting and I could care less, if we close the deal. I don't even care because I know, whatever happens on a deal is either going to teach me something that I want to do better in the next deal, or I'm going to get the deal doesn't matter. You know, it really doesn't matter. And just that lack of want, and need. And wish creates an atmosphere of ease that sort of like, wow, these, these buyers are amazing, these guys are squared away. So and it was it was, it was so probably the hardest negotiations I've ever had. But with the least amount of talk, it was literally literally like two words. And we sat and we looked at each other and and then we two words back. And it was so funny, because we were we were both aware of what was going on. But we didn't do like this typical negotiation. It was very polite, very, very cordial. respectful. And of course, being in Switzerland, I speak German. So they were they were in the German speaking area. And we sort of dropped some, you know, German words and everyone's Swan Island, made it feel at home, then I told them that my family comes from Switzerland back in the 1500s. And like, all this kind of stuff, to try to get them not to try to get closer to them. But it's real, it's real. It's not, this is the key, you have to care. If you don't care about that person in front of you don't even try to sell to them, because they're gonna tell you, maybe maybe you'll get the company. But I told him, I said, Look, I'm gonna tell you straight out your company, the wages that you pay your 10 employees or whatever they were, I can put those in, I can fire them all cut them in half and hire people who are more who were, you know, younger, more qualified. And I could I could save, you know, million dollars a year in wages. But I won't do that. Because that's not that's, that's your legacy that I'm protecting there. And the legacy of these employees. You know, he was like, Wow, crazy, you know, so it's all about, I really care about this person, another deal in Australia. You know, she wanted me to help her turn her turn their business around. And we talked about this, okay, it's it's six months commitment, 5k month and some equity. And she was like, Okay, how is 30%? Equity? I was like, You never done this before.
Ronald Skelton 13:08
That's a key indicator. Yeah. And I was like,
Steven Kuhn 13:11
Look, if I took 30% equity, I would have to work another six months to make sure that you get what you want out of this. So let's keep it 10% equity. And she's like, I can't afford five cam. Like I make a three, five, I don't care, you know, whatever. So she's like, okay, Australian dollars. I'm like, Oh, okay. Let's do it. So I did it for three, five Australian dollars and 10% equity, and we had a blast. And she is now our business partner in two businesses, one investment fund that we're launching, and in the new NFT project. And this is what I mean, because I cared about her her success, we became friends. And now we're doing business together.
Ronald Skelton 13:48
I think I've met her a couple of times on different presentations, where you were, you're on there, Sarah? Sarah? Yes. Yeah. Brilliant, brilliant lady. So that was a huge win for you actually, you know, there's there's something inherently way more valuable with human connection and having a potential team member and business partner their future than it is picking up 10% of our business. Right, right. And, you know, I've been asked to be on some of the first calls with some of the harbor clubbers and some other people in the other groups. I'm not going to mention here, but it's really hard to get people to go out of the Okay, what's your revenue? You know, I signed it in the ad. Do you sign the NDA? Like, that's not the conversation. I want to have you there. And I'm a little different than you because I don't do turnarounds. I'm more interested in what it is. What is what is is you want to accomplish at the end of the day, what do you want? Right? And sometimes, you know, I've had owners who I want 1.5 million is that cool? Let's see how we can get you there. That's my instant response because I don't know your business. I don't know your number. I said before we even talk about that. Let's let's talk about what's going on in the space of you and the business and, you know, I like to do out of all the things you can do.
Steven Kuhn 14:56
This is the deal. This is the deal. When I say to somebody, let's talk about what's it, don't talk about talking about it, just talk about it. Like, like people like, Oh, I'm a I'm a master, I create rapport and they will tell me, John, when was the last time you know that kind of stuff like now just freaking talk to him? Just walk up? Hey, how's it going, Steven, great to meet you, man, what a great place. I love the car outside pre Austin and I was checking out your, your, your front desk, it looks pretty sweet is that new? You know, I just start talking what really happens when really picks up your attention? And just talk to him? You know, we walked into that business, and they had a digital, digital to floor tile. And it said, welcome Steven Cohn and so on. So in the digital for tile, and I was like, You gotta be kidding me. I said, Hey, come here we can we can take a picture together with this, you know, so I'm like, with the owner point, and that, you know, that kind of, I mean, like, I thought it was so cool. And of course, me bringing it into my personal space like that. It was okay for him to say yes, he did. And we just, it's creates a bond, but it was real. Like, I was like, This is freaking cool, man. You know, so it isn't like, Okay, I have a script and Mr. So and so I'm gonna, I'm gonna, what I'm going to do today, I'm gonna talk to you about who you really are, and how you know, it's like, why come on, just click and talk. Hey, John Hayes wants few, or Sally or whoever, you know, I get it if you ever met a Sally. But anyway.
Ronald Skelton 16:19
Now you got me thinking? Yeah, I know, right? It's a little thing. She's like, you know, throws you off. Yeah. So this was just walked through a typical conversation, you know, a business owner reaches out to you, or you reach out to them for you know, because you've seen something that sparked your interest. What is the first thing that you know, you actually say to them over the phone? I know what, you know, I personally just started asking questions about them, and what they're what they're wanting to accomplish. What is it that you like, kind of walk through your scenario?
Steven Kuhn 16:54
I like I said, I just get into a conversation like, Hey, how you doing today? What's going on? And they start talking like, alright, so you're looking to maybe do something with your business? And they're like, Yeah, you know, we're not sure. Yes, we are, I want to sell for 1.5 million or whatever, and yada, yada, yada. And like, well, let's get to know each other a bit. What do you say, um, Steven been doing this for so many years been doing this, that and the other. What about you, you know, I checked out your company, great, you know, great background, I love the history of it. And then I picked something. It's just like, when you go to a job interview, I do a little research, find out about their history as any history on the on the website, mark it down, remember it and stuff and say, that was pretty cool. Your grandfather founded this company? How long? Did you work with him directly? Or was it after he left? You know, just whatever, and just get into it and start, the thing is, whatever I initiate whatever comes back, that's what I react to. And the biggest mistake that I see that people make is they have that's like I said, those five questions I asked. I don't stick to that script, I might ask the first question. And then it goes on forever. And then I ask the third question and go back to the second question. It depends where I am. I pick them up where they are, and meet them where they are. Right? And so it isn't this this okay? Check, check, check. Not at all. It's just, I mean, what's going on? What's the status? Why do you wanna sell like, what's this is beautiful, what's going on? You know, and then they just talk to you? Well, yeah, you know, life and then. And then you say, Well, what, you know, what are the challenges that you have on with this? Why can't give me just beautiful company? He's like, Well, you know, my kids don't want it. You know, I wanted to try try pass on the family. They don't want it anymore. Like, I get that, I get that. So they're absolutely out, you definitely know what I need to do with it all. They want some of the money when I sell it, yeah, but they don't want to work. You know, like, oh, I can get that when I said, Can I get on that deal, too. You know, like, always making, you know, just sort of like making some some levity into it. And, yeah, it's just sort of, it's a real conversation. And it's hard to say, because you don't know until you go in there creates a space to see what's going on, it's all about them. It's not about me, it's not about my wishes, it's not about my wants, it's not about how much they're gonna sell it for, it's not about trying to buy it for, it's about them. Just get to know him like you would in a bar, or cafe or in a swimming pool or, you know, the grocery store.
Ronald Skelton 19:00
You know, it's you say that, but I honestly believe that. I don't think many people actually listen to listen, they listen to respond. So halfway through something, do somebody say something halfway through it, they're already working on their response, it sounds like you're a very active listener, you listen wholly, completely, and then, you know, not respond to that, you know, basically respond to the whole concept of sort of the first first idea that comes up is what most people are trying to respond to, they'll say, they'll hear enough to get something tangled up in their own head, and then they'll start formulating a response. So that's, well, if you
Steven Kuhn 19:34
if you listen, and you let it sit for a second before you respond and create that space. You're gonna You're it's going to sound like you might not be answering the question. If someone's listening to that one first question, like you said, the first baseline or whatever, but if you listen to the end, which you probably should, then you'll see oh, wow, they just think he just covered the whole question and more. And that's sort of how I do it. I listen, I have to listen. But I'm listening for tonality and listen for a motion and a voice. Unless it's all intrinsic, I don't do it like, you know, like, you know, Zen or whatever you call it or, you know, Jedi mind tricks or whatever. I don't do NLP, you know neuro linguistic programming, which is basically manipulation of another human being which I can't stand, you know, and it's just, it's just show up and be a good person, man. And we're talking about yourself and quit talking about yourself, and don't talk shit about who you are and how great you are. And all this kind of no one gives a damn this guy wants to sell his company, or this guy wants to sell their company. Listen to him. Just listen to him. What do they want? Why are they leaving? What do they need? Like one guy? He's like, No, I want cash up front, I want cash up front, I want cash up front cash up, because I'm moving to Silicon Valley. And I'm going to live there. And I'm like, Well, okay, what about if we give you a chunk, upfront, you know, from the revenue or from the from the bank account, and then we'll pay you deferred and I will pay you a paycheck, basically, for the next five years. And you can live in California without a job for five years. How's that sound? He's like, Oh, I never thought of it like that. I mean, so this, this, this wasn't a business guy. It was an employee who, who happened to have a business. He wanted to be an employee, he wanted to have effortless money. And I said, Well, this is how we're gonna do it. We ended up not closing that deal, but he loved it. And he used it for the next guy, and then they close the deal with this with the next guy for a little bit more money. You know, I mean, so it's like, what do they really want this guy? If you're saying I want money upfront, what's the other way? I'll get period deferred. Why I don't want it to float. I want it now. I'm going to California, Oregon, California. Why? Oh, you're gonna live there. Okay. Well, how about if I send you basically a paycheck for next five years? Oh,
Ronald Skelton 21:41
I used to use that. Inside of the real estate space. I actually would work with people for owner finance deals. And I had a lady had a pretty nice house she wanted she's like she reached out to me goes, Hey, I want to sell this house to you. I'll even find this to you. I just need a considerable downpayment. And so Okay, let's, I'll come by and take a look at it. So we started talking and a considerable downpayment. Her world started off at 50k for $250,000 house. And so I was like 50k, I said, Okay, well, will you mind me asking, you know, what's the goal? What's the 50k you get a ticket in the bank, all interest on it or something like that? And she was why I want you to have considerable skin in the game. And I was like, Well, this is the business I'm in and we just had a nice discussion about it. And next thing you know, she goes, Well, I'll take 30k Say, cool. You gotta you gotta use for the 30k She goes, Yeah, I'm going to go on a cruise. I'm like, that's going to be one heck of a cruise. 30k Yeah, no. And the next thing I know, we got it down to I think was like $11,000 down I paid for her crew. I basically paid for the ticket ticket reason spending money, what she wanted, the cruise was like 770 500 So I just took care of that crew she wanted to go on gave her some money to spend on it. And then I showed her I'm paying you 8% interest on this house. You're not going to get that at that you know, in your you know, CDs and bonds you were gonna stick this money in anyway. So let's just let's get a better interest rate in it. And she she was all about it. She was really happy. So a lot of times people tell you they want something and I don't think that's what they really want. They were told to ask for something else. Yeah, somebody they said get significant downpayment. You know,
Steven Kuhn 23:12
fail almost most people who start a business never think about exit until they're like, oh, maybe I should leave. They don't even call it an exit because they don't know what they don't know. It's called an exit typically. So yeah, it's a it's it's there's always a and even saying that there's always a way makes it sound like I'm trying to find a way but I'm not. I'm literally just trying to get to know the person. And if I can, in this works in any kind of deal. I don't care if I'm going and I'm flying to the states and I don't have business class, I want an upgrade. I'm going to get a freakin upgrade. Why? Because I don't give a shit about the person in front of me. I'm going to talk to them. Right? I get I get that upgrade. I own it. Right. This book, our book, humble alpha only Chambal alpha, it teaches you how to own your presence in life, where you show up people listen, period. Simple as that. And that's by knowing your true identity, who you are. And that's by that's by knowing your purpose. And that's by amplifying your identity through your purpose, owning that presence. And when you have that, people just want to be around and work with you why every time I get on a call, every time I get on a group call or today I was on a mastermind as a guest speaker. Like, man, your energy is amazing. And I'm like, boy, if you knew how I was in person, hell, this is nothing, you know? But it's not. It's not because I'm pushing it out. It's because I'm not trying to be anybody. I'm not trying to impress anybody. I'm not trying to do anything. I'm just being me and loving what I do. That's where the energy comes from. People think it's like, oh, you work out all the time. Yeah, I do. That's part of it. But it's only because people most people you see them they're like, Well hello there Yes. And nice to meet you. And they're sitting there trying to figure out how do they act and like just be yourself, man. Just be authentic. If you're an asshole, we're not gonna get along and least you're honest. You know if I'm an asshole, we're not gonna get along. So if at least you're on Just you know, mean? Like, why, why why change yourself or something on the outside. The inside is where the power lies, my friends, the inside is where the power lies. When I know who I am my true identity I and I, and I know my purpose, I'm unstoppable because I have a certainty of who I am. And then I'm able to deploy my genius in any situation that I am confronted with a boom period. And as I say, in German, and the house, and out.
Ronald Skelton 25:26
And then, you know, another I have another friend here in town who is, you know, retired Marine Corps, overly confident that people buy into his confidence and confidence will help him out because he really believes that he's going to accomplish whatever he says he's going to accomplish. And there's a big difference in that people buy into your certainty, certainty. Yeah, I'd like that we're better off and he said, overconfident
Steven Kuhn 25:50
now, that's the thing, you can't be over certain, there's no such thing. You can be overconfident. There's plenty of that out there. That's people who are in a position of power, which is great. And they're the people who identify with that title and not who they really are. So a lot of people say, I'm a Marine Corps veteran, I'm an Army veteran. I'm a CEO, you know, I'm a mother, I'm a father. And that's great. And that's wonderful. You should be proud of that. But that's not who you are. That's what you do. Right? And once and people take, and that's where the, that's where the the lack of integration, full life integration comes from. When you when you see a CEO at work, he's, you know, and then at home, he's, you know, his kids are beating him on the head with a stick, you know, and his wife says, take the garbage out and shut up, you know, and the guy doesn't can't do anything, because he's not as a leader of himself, leader of his mind. Right, you gotta lead your mind, you have five minds. You know, you have the conscious and the subconscious, the parenting mind, from your parents, you have your inner child and you have your ego. If you don't lead those mines, your subconscious is going to be feeding your conscious all day long. This garbage from the past, they just keep regurgitating, and you'll never get ahead. So you got to lead your mind as leader, you got to find out who you really are, who's your true identity, lead yourself forward through your purpose. And it sounds like something that maybe didn't, but it's most of it's in the book, except for the five mines. That's newer than the book. But it's it, it it turns you into someone that you love to see in the mirror every day. Put it that way. Like you you wake up, you're like, you know what, I'm pretty good damn pretty good, damn good person. I'm not Am I doing this? Or I'm not doing that. I'm not worried about that. I only think about the things that I am doing. And that I want and not what I don't want. Most people focus on what they don't want. Oh, man, I hope it doesn't rain. Oh, my God, I hope I don't break my car. Oh, I hope so. But why don't you focus on what you want. Put that energy into what you want. Stop thinking about what you don't want. You know, that's where the power comes.
Ronald Skelton 27:36
You know, I think there's a, there's some merit to that, like the power of suggestion or whatever. So I'm big on that with my family. Like, you know, it's raining, I hope it'll get a wreck. I was like, Stop, don't even say those words change. Like it's raining, we're trying to drive slower and safer. That's fine, right. But if people put as much intention and attention on things they wanted in life, than they do on things that they don't want in life, their life results would be totally different.
Steven Kuhn 28:07
The universe conspires for you always 100% of the time, if you say Man, this is shit. The universe will be like, as you wish to go, that's what you pick. And we actually create that with our own. That's why I always say find good meaning and everything right? No matter what happens, find good meaning and everything have no against energy. No, not not against anyone, not against anything. And another thing is the, you know, the one energy, which is I want this, I want that. So when you say I want to make a lot, I want to buy this company, right? Or I want to sell this company or I want to make a million dollars. That turns into man, I hope I can make this oh man, I need to plan I need to do what you're doing. You're giving me an x, you're giving it excess importance, or excess desire. And what that does is it does this right. And all the magic happens out here. coincidences, over here, coincidence, luck, new doors, new people, new new new situations, podcasts, all these kinds of things. They happen out here. And if you're like this, you won't see them and you're going to miss it. And you're going to think that you're going in the right direction. But that's the direction you think you should go maybe not where you should go. And so there's there's so many, there's such a it's almost like a like a, what's the word choice was like a rabbit hole that you go down once you start understanding this stuff. And it's a it's it's fascinating, actually. Because when you realize all of these things, and we realize that our mind is actually controlling what's going on around us and you realize that the only thing that matters is how you feel inside and that the entire world mirrors back your energy towards you. Everybody you talk to and you know currently writing right now I'm really deep into this because it's a personal situation that I'm in and I can see it I can change that person like that into a positive person just by me owning My presence of being positive. Right? So when you realize the whole world is a mirror of you, why would you go into meetings being arrogant and pushy? And show offy? And whatever?
Ronald Skelton 30:11
Right? Yeah, I, there are people out there that even teach that you gotta, you got to present yourself as the Alpha above them and, and you know, they have to look up to you or you're never going to get the deal done. And I just don't think that's true.
Steven Kuhn 30:25
Used to be. It used to be that's old sales. I mean, we had a sales back in the night 1998 or the ADA 98. Now you're still the Army in 1989 1998. We had 10 sales offices with a table, two chairs. So you'd bring two people in, I would sit on the table looking down at them. You know, that's old school. You know, you don't do that anymore. You someone tries to share with me like you better back up. Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
Ronald Skelton 30:56
So, you know, this, a lot of people were listening to just jumped in on this, I thought this was an m&a, you know, podcast. But what the reason I bring that up is a lot of people don't get that this is a people business, you're not buying a business as much as you are working with people and helping them get where they want to get, you're going to end up with the business some of the times, but on, there are human beings, I don't care how big the businesses there are human beings there and you have to do with human emotion. You know, they're
Steven Kuhn 31:28
How are you going to treat your wife? Or your or your husband? How would you treat them? Would you treat them any different to them? Well, then you're not being authentic? I mean, why would you treat them different? Would you talk to your wife? Like, like, he talked to this guy? Or would you talk to your husband, like, you talk to that guy? I mean, if you're not, then you're not being authentic, I would say, here's the here's the litmus test. If you're at home, eating dinner with your wife, or your husband, or your partner, whoever, and one of your employees, or people, you know, on the outside is a fly on the wall. Well, they even recognize who you are. And vice versa, your wife at work your husband at work, your partner at work, well, they didn't really recognize you. You know, if they if it's two different people, then it's all about integration. And that integration is where the key lies, to owning your own presence through knowing who you are your true identity, and amplifying that through your purpose, which crystallizes, you know, basically the humble alpha is an operating system, right? So you have five core models in which you which you live by, it shows you what to do to unleash your own humble Alpha operating system. And once you know, your operating system, you can launch from there. And I mean that I didn't even know my operating system until July till we wrote the book. And we did it intrinsically. It sort of happened. I was good at what I was doing. But I couldn't give it a name. I couldn't teach it. People like how did you end up working for Mick Jagger? I'm like, I just walked up to him, like, what? Like how I'm like, I just literally just walked up to him in a hotel. You have a What was your mindset was I don't remember. So I had to go through all that. And I have to I had to actually take a year to go through my entire life, and come up with all of the information in the book and figure out how I did what I did. Because I've you know, I've worked for Parliament's I've, you know, in the top levels of, of European politics, the Royals, did movies. I mean, it's crazy, just ridiculous kinds of kinds of stuff, which in industries, I had no, no, no idea about in positions I had no qualifications for, and I always did it. You know, people like how well it's all in the book now.
Ronald Skelton 33:21
Right? So if so, the book, it would you know, the humble Apple book will show them the operation, operate self operating system, as you refer to it? What? How does that relate to the, let's just go straight back into the m&a side where you're, we're looking at deals, we're out there reaching for companies, companies are reaching for us. I'm a I really buy into the concept of if you've got like, really strict goals, you've got blinders on. There's just no way about it. I've had people I've invited to be on the podcast, and well, maybe in the summer, I've got these four goals. I gotta hit between now and then. And my response is cool. What are those goals? Like, you know, and, you know, sometimes they'll respond, and, you know, I'll hook them up with people to line them up with some of the, you know, like, well, maybe these guys, here's two guys who can probably help you get there. Right? Well, how did you know those? Well, I interviewed him on the podcast, you know, you probably get to know if you jumped on here with the it's, it's people have the I mean, it's a set of blinders. It's what is it called narrow sighted or whatever, you know, they're, yeah, they're, they're blinded by like, the thing that's right in front of them that they're trying to achieve, and they're missing all the other stuff that could be bigger, better and more important to their lives than, you know, than the thing that they're setting for, towards a goal. So,
Steven Kuhn 34:50
yeah, well, you know, I agree it's, I would say if you have you know, people talk about hustling, grind and head to the grindstone. If you're doing that, man, you're missing everything, you're missing everything you really are. You know, it's, it's, it's, it's horrible to say, but a lot of people believe in that, you know, hustling grind and put your head down, put Keep your head down laser focus, everyone says that laser focus, laser focus, that's what you're doing. You're like a horse on our horse track. You know, and this is where it all happens. Like I said, coincidence and all those luck and everything else, you know? And it's just it's a shame and also you're missing out on life, man, you know, you don't know what's what's going on around you. I talk to everybody. I talk to everybody. Everybody that comes in my in my area, if they tell you, they don't talk back to me, I just say, have a great day. And that's it. Some people were like, Why don't you just why is this dude talking to me? Like, like, why is he saying hello to me? I don't know who he is, especially in Eastern Europe where I live. But the ones that do, it's really joyful, and I have, you know, I know, everywhere I go, I end up knowing people airplanes, you name it, you know, how I stood up on airplanes and business class and saying Elvis, you know, it's like,
Ronald Skelton 36:03
anything like that, I have the three foot rule. If you're, if you're a three foot and B, I probably will know your life story. Within a few minutes. I truly find myself to things people like to open up to me for some reason. And it's because I care. And I want to listen, and I'll ask, you know, I don't ask people I quit asking years ago is like, what do you do for a living? I don't ask that anywhere. Like, if I meet somebody at a Starbucks or coffee shops, like what makes you happy? You know, I don't care what you do for a living, what makes you happy? You know, a lot of times it's my kids, my grandkids. You know, I love my job. But what if I
Steven Kuhn 36:36
said, I want to be honest with you. If someone asks me? What makes you happy? I'd be like, That's a weird question to ask me.
Ronald Skelton 36:44
It's exactly why I do it, though. It makes you stop and actually think. Okay, so
Steven Kuhn 36:51
well. Yeah. Well, I mean, I would be like, what's, what's this guy want from me? I would always be like, Why is he asking me? You know, for me, it'd be like, sort of weird.
Ronald Skelton 36:58
It is. Usually not. Hi, how are you? What makes you happy? It's like, we talked about something cool their shoes and her purse or whatever it is, you know, that what they ordered as the jury came in? Is that any good? I've been looking at that on the menu, and then before I know, like, when they asked me, what do you do for a living? I'll tell them like, well, I help business owners get where they want to go. And they like, well, you know, then you kind of leave that awkward open space. And they'd like you're gonna ask them what to do for a living? I don't I just say, Well, what makes you happy? What do you enjoy in life? Are those tell me what they do for a living? They'll say, Well, I you know, I own a bakery. I say cool. Does that make you happy? Yeah,
Steven Kuhn 37:33
yeah. No, I just sounds like you're trying to be my coach.
Ronald Skelton 37:37
I truly, Steven,
Steven Kuhn 37:39
Steven, are you happy? Yeah, I'm happy dude. Are you sure?
Ronald Skelton 37:42
I think it's in the tonality, right? It's I'm actually coming from. But it there's a difference in saying, hey, what makes you happy man? Right. didn't hate it. It didn't real authentic. You know, like, you just told me you're an m&a man that does that really make you happy? What is
Steven Kuhn 37:57
what you're talking about there, as it happens, inevitably, in a longer conversation where you end up being the helping hand of that person. Have a breakthrough? You know, in that moment, I mean, I'm a coach, right? So I've been doing it for 25 years, I was a coach before people knew what a coach was. Most people forget in the corporate world has been coaching since the late 70s. Or sorry, late 60s. That was a part of your if you're a corporate executive, you had to coach that was your job. Now it's like coaching. So you know, I always, like all end up I mean, I've even met women that ended up being a girlfriend, you know, because you ended up on the plane almost coaching them or wherever you are. And it's funny, it's funny hell, and it's because I really care. Like, I really care. Like I really, I got invited to the UK, actually to speak at the heart of the, what's it called deal fest, from Jeremy Harbour next month. And I was doing a presentation in a Facebook group, the high net network. And I said, Yeah, I'm gonna be like, Oh, my God, you mean London? Can you come and you know, because I always go into that group never want nothing, never asked for nothing. Just give, give, give, give, give, because I love the people and I love like, making them successful. And they just like, adore me because of that, given free value, right. And so they invited me now to stay three days longer and do three events in three days. For the high net net network, like pie and the whole British private club scene, you know what I mean? Which is cool, you know, looking forward to it, but it's completely different than what I usually do. And I usually don't get involved in that. In that kind of like, scene anymore. I'm 54 live in a small village in Hungary. I like to spend as much time with my kids as possible, you know, and do as little work as possible and have the biggest impact.
Ronald Skelton 38:01
So do you ever accidentally coach yourself out of a deal because I know I just did. Like that's a reasonable asking, no, I
Steven Kuhn 40:00
don't accidentally coach myself out, I will not take that deal. If I don't feel the warm and fuzzy, I just do, I just don't do it. I mean, I've turned down deals, I've turned out money, like, like, couple 100, grand, 300 grand, I just know, I don't feel it.
Ronald Skelton 40:13
So in this case, what I was referring to is the business owner, I've done a lot of work to get where you're kind of already at. I've taken the different courses, the Tony Robbins, the landmark, I'm certified in NLP, cognitive behavioral therapy, I don't use it with you, I did it. I actually took that certification because somebody was using it on me and I needed to work with them. And I was like, I need to understand this and what they're trying to do so that I can actually communicate with this human being because I really needed to communicate with them. And they were constantly playing in NLP, oh, I
Steven Kuhn 40:42
can't stand it when someone I'm like, Would you stop with the NLP? Just talk to me like, What do you mean? I'm like, don't even try it. I know what you're doing, you know, exactly.
Ronald Skelton 40:50
So anyway, I, I took that stuff. Well, this individual we were going through, and I was like he was, he was in his own way. And I won't say who it is, because I know that his two coaches listen to the podcast. But so he was in his own way. And I started working with him a little bit about why that was our meeting. He was he was like, this is the reason he was selling his. He's on his second marriage ever getting divorced. And he's burned out on this. He's a partner with his wife, there's all this talk about this. I'm tired of it. And he's actually kind of self destructing that. And we started talking about different things and come to find out he had done one of the trainings I'd done. Let's just go back to that training right there. You know, what are the actual facts of what are the store you created around the facts that are not necessarily true. And we just talked a little bit next thing I know, he's going back to that training and cleaning it up. And, you know, I would invite the businesses into much trouble. The cool thing is when we when we parted ways, it's like, we're still friends. And, look, if you decide to sell this in two or three years, it's probably going to be more ready for what I'm looking for. I'd have never bought it in its current state anyway. You know, just to I don't do turnarounds, you're an expert in that. I'm not. So I'm looking for well run stuff inside of that space. Knowing what you know, now, the experience you have now on this knowledge base you have now what do you know, now that you wish you'd known like on day one, like you first when you first started getting in the kind of buying businesses so you know.
Steven Kuhn 42:21
I think it's all the information you have doesn't mean shit, unless you have a relationship. Like you can have you can know every you can do like I said, MBA, which is totally worthless, by the way for me. But you know, you can have an MBA, you can have all the degrees and all the knowledge you want. But unless that knowledge is applied doesn't mean jack. Right? It doesn't mean jack, it's just a bunch of words and stuff in your head. You got to apply that experience and implement that in your life. I think if I didn't own that, I wouldn't have gotten an MBA, I wouldn't have gotten, you know, spent all that time in those certifications and all that kind of stuff, because I don't need any of them. You know, I'm just doing what I'm doing. And I understand that some countries, you gotta have a certification and setting the other but, you know, it's just, yeah,
Ronald Skelton 43:02
I get it. I've got five college degrees, seven majors, right. And all these certifications that everything in the world and part of it used to be the excuse that I used to tell people I love to learn. But you know, what it was? It was an addiction. And the next day it was a I had an unanswerable question was Do you understand that you get it? I grew up and this is kind of going deep into my childhood but up until fourth grade I had a speech therapist, I had a speech impediment. And so people Yeah, so we we moved to this little country school out in the middle of nowhere where kindergarten through 12th grade was on the same campus. The speech therapist was in the learning disabled room. So in fourth grade people see me coming out of there with kids with Down Syndrome and they were kids are mean and they just played so I developed as complex as I'm not freaking stupid. I spent almost my entire life trying to prove it. So that's why I've got five college degrees seven major all this stuff is because I was trying to prove to the world that wasn't stupid. Well, it serves nobody it really does it. Well.
Steven Kuhn 43:59
It's It's funny, I had speech therapy to let go until I was in third grade or fourth grade. I couldn't see an artist say my life you know, you know, and I was like birthday birthday. And then I spent I spent all those years learning how to say art and then I moved to Germany and then and then I have to say the art like I used to say it was like damn,
Ronald Skelton 44:19
my parents. My mom was an accountant for target which was originally I think, Tesco or something but anyway, they took me in for employee only shopping day. And there was a giant remote like looking or a big toy fire truck and I could not say the word truck. I could say the AR and my T sound like an F. So I was screaming at the top of my lungs like I want that fire up. I want that fire this I only playable these days explicit as I was screaming. I was at Firefox I watch that Firefox deal. You know, my dad had his hand over my mouth tried to drag me out of the store. Right? You know, all the way to you know, a couple of years ago I made part of my living going around speaking and giving courses on more Marketing, you know, doing marketing coaching, right? So it sounds like you did the same thing. I know a lot of people who started off with some adversity that and they overcome it to the point where they made that one other core skills.
Steven Kuhn 45:11
Well, you know, I mean, it's, my life has cascaded, like everything I've done was because I needed to do the net, I needed that to do the next thing. You know, and it's, it's something that when you put that in, as your, let's say, one of your operating laws is that everything you do is so you could do the next thing. You never look at the thing you're doing as the the final solution or the thing that's going to save you are the thing that's going to be the big hit, because, you know, it's a cascading movement to go forward. And that's sort of what I've been doing my whole life. I didn't realize it until I wrote it down. And it's, it's, it's, it's a it's a good thing. It's a cool thing, like the project we're doing now, to have NFT you see the website here have NFT.io. That's a veteran based NFT ecosystem that we're building the first one of its kind, the largest profit for purpose project on the metaverse right now. We have a partner called Ekta, Ekta.io. They are a blockchain partner. They have their own token, they're on blockchain and on mainframe, we're 100% autonomous. real world impact. We're dropping profits into 100 veteran nonprofits. We're working with veterans, we have spokespeople, spokespersons that are just top notch way out there, you know, and that's that's one of the that's that's something of a passion project. Right. So you know, and this is this is a cascading more cascading of what we're going in that is leads into fractional real estate and fractional m&a investment through NF T's in the investment fund that we're that we're launching, which is called have investment funds have stands for humble Alpha. Veteran empowerment.
Ronald Skelton 46:50
Right. humble alpha veteran empowerment. Okay, got it.
Steven Kuhn 46:54
Yes, half so humble half of course, and then veteran empowerment, which we've been doing for the last four years anyway, five years teaching teaching entrepreneurs. We have Facebook's largest veteran entrepreneur group, we got a warrior Council, which is a paid group. We have live events. We have retreats, symposia, symposiums, healing symposiums, and we're using the blockchain to document all of this to make it irrefutable so that other veterans can get help quicker. And we're taking, we're consolidating all of what's out there, we're trying to consolidate all of what's out there and bring it together have more of an impact, because there's 22 veterans a day commit suicide. And it hasn't changed in 20 years, although there's 30 times more nonprofits, and then there was 20 years ago. And that's because there's competition, and it's fragmented. And no one knows where to go. So we want to bring it under one roof through the HAVENFT through the 100 nonprofits bringing them together having one vision, documenting it all on the blockchain, so it's irrefutable evidence of healing, of help of you know, whatever treatment, and anyone can go there and find it and immediately find out where they need to go. And so it's it's a massive, massive project, it's only able to be that massive, because really, we're using Blockchain. Otherwise, I'll be manual and be on next to impossible.
Ronald Skelton 47:58
So I'm a member of a couple of your veterans groups there. And for our veteran listeners, how do they find that, that it's a pretty powerful group on Facebook, so how to
Vetpreneur Tribe. Just go to Facebook Vetpreneur Tribe, or just look at my name and write me or something that figured out, you know, I highly suggest that everyone gets into the HAVENFT, the NFT's or challenge coins, basically, a military challenge coins, something like this, it's metal, there's millions of them in circulation, and we were making them of the mascots of each of the forces. And if anyone knows anything about NFTs, it's basically you're having fractional ownership in a, a digital asset, um, you know, a, an investment or in an actual hard asset, like real estate. And so when you buy a digital challenge coin, you're actually having ownership in the ecosystem. You could stake it earn money, passive income, all that kind of stuff. And we're just, we're just allowing, we're opening up the path for veterans to move into the digital economy as some of the first movers because only 5% of the entire world is in crypto and NFT's right now. So it's completely blue ocean, and we're just, we're way ahead of our time, and we're having to educate a lot of people about this bad situation, because the entire rest of the NFT world, they're all competing for the same 5%
It's interesting that you think that if anybody looked at my background, you'd think I would be way more into crypto because, you know, my background in computer security and stuff. I only got interested in it this year. It's funny is Everybody I talked to everybody knows more about crypto than I do. I've been watching all the videos and training and learning and trying to get a little bit and I'm playing around with coin base and, and some small stuff. But uh, I got intrigued by it because of a deal that came on the table. Somebody beat us to it we you know, I think Money loves velocity. Somebody offered a better deal to the it was a law you're selling it. But the biggest play to turn that company around and do some significant with it with the assets they have would have been enough to ease it was a digital library of movies, basically, and had some of the original Marilyn Monroe movies, some of the original Jackie Chan, some of the original Bruce Lee's, you know, taking, you know, the goal was take key scenes out of those and do some type of entity on those. So I started diving into that, like this really intriguing. That's kind of a rabbit hole that you can spend a lot of time in. And it's my kind of side project now is to learn that space. So
Steven Kuhn 50:31
it's it goes quick, let me tell you, you know, I didn't know anything about crypto, I did, you know, buying crypto for the last three or four years, but I didn't know basically anything about it until four months ago until about NFT's you know, so yeah.
Ronald Skelton 50:48
Well, we're at the 50 minute mark here. We've talked a little bit about your passion project, we talked a lot about the personal side of m&a, like getting to know that human being and working with them and really caring about what they need. Is there anything like we asked a lot of questions if there's anything that you thinking in the back of your head and we really should have covered this people should know this about the m&a space around creative deals and stuff?
Steven Kuhn 51:14
Well, the m&a space isn't all about it. Again, like I said it the m&a space is isn't all of the structures it's not. And then you go to any professional company, anywhere you go, the first thing to do is start talking about business. Let them do it. That's what that's what Mackenzie does, or whoever you know, understand or whoever they already know, artists and young or whoever. But you as a single person, person and an m&a guy. You don't have to be Joe slick from the block or whatever, you don't have to be you know, the good sounding good dress kind of person, you know, always meet people where they are, of course, right? Don't show up in a disgruntled veteran t shirt to a meeting with suits and ties, you know, but you know, be yourself and be authentic. Simple as that. I mean, I go into meetings with these guys. With like Ernst and Young all these guys we've brought this bom bom bom bom, you know, like laptop and PowerPoint presentations of you know, all the way up and I'm just sitting there going I'd go ahead guys, and then just watch them burn themselves out. You know, trying to be something they're not and I just go Alright, well, I can do all that and more. What do you need? I mean, like something like that, you know? It's just funny. Again, Chad wrote have an O. I have an F T awesome brother Don't miss opportunity to learn and change your life. Hey, Chad. Thanks, brother. I appreciate it. Wow. Very cool. Someone's posting in the comments. Very cool. Thanks.
Ronald Skelton 52:40
Awesome. Well, is there anything else you want to get out from the world of stuff we're at the kind of
Steven Kuhn 52:46
join us join us at HAVENFT.io Join the discord chat you can click on it read the white paper which is basically a synopsis of the business will tell you all the all the information get on the waitlist is just basically a waiting list right? And then join the discord channel which is like a chat where we have different tabs we have daily updates information all the other members in the community are in there we have some great times we have some live ama Ask Me Anything questions we have a live reading of the humble Alpha every single day for 30 minutes. It's it's it's a great community to be in really really is.
Ronald Skelton 53:13
It's interesing and I jumped in there briefly you sent something out and I got on Discord. It's my first time in discord I use Slack for everything. And I have slack open here with my VA, the mic sounds fine. So I have people in the background making sure I'm where I'm supposed to be all through slack. But discord was something I jumped in. And I probably spent a few hours just on content you guys put on there's some really good stuff even, you know, even if you're not ready to buy an NFT, there's some great stuff in that discord group that will actually help you move forward in all kinds of areas. I listened to one of the readings of the off, I just didn't line up with the calendar. I plan on actually ordering that and listening to it. Or buying it and reading. But I appreciate you being on the show. Man, this is a different show than most of them. I think it's needed when I think we've talked about, like, what it looks like to evaluate buy and what does it look like to prepare to sell? What if you don't do what the humans in the middle of this you're just not gonna get it done specially if you're doing like a lot of our listeners, you're a solopreneur trying to build a small team to buy a company under 1.5 million EBITDA. You better get into the human of that other end because he he's not you know, I can see the difference. I can see you'd be in that alpha guy if you're trying to play with the P&E guys or something like that, because that's what they expect
Steven Kuhn 54:34
Alpha. There's nothing wrong with alpha as long as it's on the inside. Right? That's the humble Alpha humble on the outside of alpha on the inside. I love that. There's a difference between power and force, you know that right? So absolutely. You know, it's all about the power that you radiate, not force that you're pushing. You know, you don't want to push people you don't want to you know, force people just radiating power and they're like, whoa, you know, that's what's we're talking about. Humbling on the outside, alpha on the inside.
Ronald Skelton 54:58
Got it. Right Appreciate it. I'm gonna wrap this show up and hang out for a few seconds afterwards. Roger and I'll kind of share some information with you and we'll be done. That's the show.
Steven Kuhn 55:09
Thank you so much.
Ronald Skelton 55:10
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