Flip the Switch Episode 14: Josh Volen

John Saunders
By John Saunders

Flip the Switch Episode 14: Josh Volen

 

AUSTIN: Today on flip the Switch we have the pleasure of sitting down with Josh Volen, the co-founder and president of CIRE Equity and CIRE Partners. We discuss the evolving landscape of commercial real estate, how he is excited for what Amazon is doing to the Brick and Mortar landscape, and staying active in your pursuit of success.

Let’s get into it.

 

00:37 AUSTIN: Welcome to Flip the Switch, presented by Power Digital Marketing. Hope you guys all had a very good Thanksgiving. Patrick?

 

00:43 PAT: Had a great Thanksgiving. Ate way too much, but thank God my family didn’t do any of those 5ks.

 

00:49 AUSTIN: I was going to say, did you do a little turkey trot?

 

00:51 PAT: I didn’t trot any turkeys.

 

00:52 AUSTIN: No 5k?

 

00:54 PAT: No, I was just chasing after turkey in the dinner room the entire time. That was about it.

 

00:57 AUSTIN: I actually had Thai food for Thanksgiving.

 

01:00 PAT: Yikes.

 

01:01 AUSTIN: It was broad…

 

01:03 JOHN: Do you feel rusty at all? Coming back?

 

01:04 AUSTIN: Absolutely. It’s weird to hear my own voice again in the headphones, I have to say.

 

01:08 PAT: That’s always been weird…

 

01:10 AUSTIN: (laughing) Yeah, absolutely. But, yeah, it’s good to see you guys and thankful for you after this Thanksgiving holiday. And I heard you guys had a pretty solid interview.

 

01:16 PAT: Yes, we did. So we interviewed Josh Volen. He’s in the commercial real estate industry. He’s the co-founder and president of CIRE Equity and CIRE partners. He’s a board member at San Diego EO. And he has a lot of really interesting takes about Amazon and how it’s going to affect the commercial real estate industry now that it’s moving into a lot of the industries that are typically dominated by Brick and Mortar retail stores.

 

01:52 AUSTIN: Amazon. That’s our favorite subject.

 

01:53 PAT: Exactly. It’s one of our favorite subjects. This ended up being one of my favorite interviews. So, without further ado, here’s Josh Volen…

 

02:26 PAT: So Josh, thank you again so much for taking the time to come in and speak with us today. I know we’ve all been looking forward to this for a while. I think a good place to start. Give our listeners a little bit of context would be if you wouldn’t mind giving us some background as to who you are and what kind of experiences led you to choosing a career path in commercial real estate.

 

02:44 JOSH: Josh Volen. My company is CIRE Equity and also another company called CIRE Partners. Both are focused on commercial real estate. CIRE partners is a commercial brokerage firm that works with high net worth and ultra-high net worth individuals to help them buy and sell their real estate all throughout the country. Mainly focused on the net-lease space, so the Walgreens or the Jack in the Box on the corner, someone owns that. And my team helps buy and sell those for people.

 

And then on the owner-operator side… CIRE Equity… is a business that I founded and started back in 2009, 2010. In the midst of the recession… the Great Recession.

 

And I got involved in the business overall with commercial real estate back in 2003, 2004. And really what happened was is I grew up around commercial real estate knowingly or unknowingly. Jumping into that it was really my… When I was 13, I did leasing. So my family… my dad would drop me off at business parks with a bunch of flyers, and I’d go door to door and say, “Hey, we own a building down the street. You should come check it out and lease it.”

 

At 15, my buddies and I would get in the U-Haul, go pick up some workers–do some demolition, construction management.

 

And at 17, I was fortunate enough to start talking with the brokers that were doing the leasing or the buying and selling. And never really think I was going to go into commercial real estate.

 

Then I did some time abroad. When I was in college, I studied abroad in Brazil. Which was a peak time in my life. I was going to stay there for a semester–come back and graduate early. Instead, I stayed for a year…

 

04:17 PAT: (laughing) I was going to say, stay forever…

 

04:20 JOSH: And I almost didn’t come back… And while I was there, I had to figure some stuff out. Knowing that I was coming back and I had this semester left to graduate, so I created my own syllabi of books that I was going to read. This is when Amazon was just the bookstore online, really. And I’d have my friends come down with literally a suitcase full of books. And in that list of books that I was reading… because I was thirsty for English since everything was in Portuguese. And that list of books I was reading… I did the personal development, the personal growth… the introspective look. That was one side.

 

But on the business books I was reading there was really 2 things I picked up from it. One was… I was focused on passive income. How could I spend all my time at the beach here in Brazil and still make money? And support a lifestyle like this?

 

So I was focused on passive income. And there was 2 ways I saw that in everything I read and experienced. And 1 was selling money. Those that sold money… so lending, finance, and that world.

 

And the second side was real estate. And on the finance side, they were financing real estate so with the background in real estate, I figured I’d go that route.

 

So I got back from Brazil. I had 1 semester left in college. Flew down to San Diego actually and started business and friends down here. Fell in love with San Diego. Was the closest thing I could find to Rio.

 

And put my money down on a house where I’m still in now. And went on an interview spree.

 

So graduated from Berkley, moved down here to San Diego, lived on a couch for 30 days, did 53 interviews at 13 different firms… So professional interviewer.

 

In between that, I’d go back… I’d put my suit on in the morning. After that I’d come back to the house… my buddy’s couch, finish playing Tiger Woods… whatever that was 2003, 2004…

 

06:04 PAT: (laughing) Back when it was still called “Tiger Woods”…

 

06:06 JOHN: That’s the good one…

 

06:07 JOSH: Exactly. Just crushed that season. Messed with the dates so I could finish the game.

 

And I happened to start in commercial brokerage so not being from San Diego, just networked down here… just meeting people. Taking meetings wherever I could so that’s where the 53 interviews came from.

 

06:23 PAT: Yeah, so, how many…? You did 53 interviews in how many days?

 

06:26 JOSH: 30 days.

 

06:27 PAT: So was that just trying to find the right spot for you?

 

06:29 JOSH: It was both. It was finding the right spot for myself… to set me up. As well as obviously putting myself out there to see if there’s a fit. It was both ways.

 

I ended up taking a job at one of the largest investment brokerage firms in the country. And it really was… it felt like a boiler-room. I walked in, it was a bunch of young kids basically in suits, driving Beamers… it was straight out of “Boiler Room”… “Boiler Room “must have just come out around 2003, 2004.

 

07:00 PAT: And what was the name of that firm one more time?

 

07:02 JOSH: It was Marcus and Millichap. So interviewed at CBRE in Burnham and all the major firms in town… and I realized was that the thing that sold me was a good friend of mine that interviewed me. Actually he was a broker at them time. Said that there was a 30 year path and a 10 year path.

 

And I said, “Well, what does that mean?”

 

And he goes, “Well, you just interviewed at all these other major firms. That’s the 30 year path.” He said, “There’s a lot of grey hair in the room. You’re a junior on a team. You build your way up until that guy retires. That person retires. You’re really not going to get ownership of the team.”

 

He said, “If you come work here, this is the 10 year path.” He said, “I worked at those other places, and look where I ended up. I was in your position 20 years ago.”

 

And my goal was very simple… to go into brokerage it was to figure out how to find deals first. And to learn through others.

 

And so doing the investment sales side of the business is probably the pinnacle of commercial real estate. Is to buy and sell. It’s considered one of the more difficult things to do.

 

There’s the analysis and the operations… everything else. And so felt very fortunate to start a firm at 21 years old. To step into it and to be given the opportunity to buy and sell for ultra-high net worth, high net worth and institutions. I wasn’t worth a million bucks and the average property I was working on was 5 to 10 million dollars.

 

08:25 PAT: Right. Crazy, unique opportunity.

 

08:27 JOSH: Very opportunistic place to work. And I picked up… I picked it up pretty quickly luckily, and had some good mentors. And within 5 years… Within the 1st year, I was rookie of the year. Within 5 years I became a national director which is the highest level vice president. I was in their top 30 out of 1500 agents.

 

So it was really good. Did a billion dollars in sales. About 156 transactions.

 

08:52 PAT: That’s decent. Would you guys say…? Pretty close to what I do to.

 

08:59 JOE: Billion with a “B”…

 

09:00 JOSH: With a “B”…

 

09:01 PAT: Oh, I think I misheard that. That’s nowhere… That’s super-interesting. So it sounds like you were able to get in somewhere where there was the opportunity for growth quickly. And then, as we know, you ended up starting your own company down the line.

 

When… talking timelines here… when abouts did you know you wanted to start your own company? Was that always your gameplan going in?

 

09:20 JOSH: Yeah, I would say Day 1. Was to start my own company. I didn’t know exactly what it was going to be, but I knew I wanted to be obviously on the principle side of the business. Which is the owner/operator side.

 

So really going into the brokerage side to figure out how to find deals. How to operate deals and learn from others. And then from there, transitioning over to the principle side of the business. It was really in 2009… 2008 was my best year ever, 2009… Great Recession…

 

09:51 PAT: Not the best year ever….

 

09:52 JOSH: Not the best year ever for anyone. But it was the 3rd deal in a row that I’d sold in 2009 that I was saying, “I should buy this deal.”

 

And it wasn’t like, the broker, “Oh, I would buy this deal and I would do this.”

 

It was, “I really should be buying this deal. How do I buy this deal?”

 

And after that 3rd deal I was like, “That’s my trigger.” That was my time to leave the brokerage side… or transition out… and start the company. And so end of 2009, I formed CIRE, and bought our first deal. And then 2010 I transitioned out of Marcus and Millichap. I kept the brokerage business as well as CIRE Equity which is the owner/operator side of the business. And primary reason was I saw a lot of people transition out of brokerage into the owner/operator side. And once they transitioned out, they would just leave brokerage. And once they did that, they would lose touch with what was going on in the market.

 

10:47 PAT: So that’s why it was important for you to be on that side of it too.

 

10:50 JOSH: So it was good for me to keep that business. And also it was a revenue stream that made it so there was discipline and not this burning need to have to buy something or spend money or do something. And that has served us really well over… especially in the start-up phase of the business.

 

11:04 PAT: So just so I understand… again, this might be out of my own ignorance, cause I don’t understand the industry super-well. But do you feel like that’s a differentiator for you in the market? Is that you understand the brokerage side as well as the owner/operator side?

 

11:15 JOSH: I would say that’s definitely a strength for the company and a differentiator. I would also say something that carried on with me through the company and it just prevails throughout the company… it’s just discipline. And it’s a long-term view versus… So it’s an advisory approach versus a transactional approach, I would say is the biggest difference. So a lot of people can get caught on, “Where’s my next paycheck coming from? I need to close this deal.” And looking at clients as transactions. Versus looking at clients as long-term partners. And I think that’s what served us really well and differentiated us. Even the way we do our capital raises and everything else, it’s with partners. And a lot of my former clients are our partners today and investors.

 

11:57 PAT: It’s very interesting. And so that kind of leads me into a question… I know that you kind of talked about it briefly. You always wanted to start your own company. You got the right experience. When did…? And you said there was that trigger moment when that 3rd deal came through and you thought to yourself, “I should be buying this deal.” Is there anything else that goes into how CIRE was formed? Is there anything that you feel that you guys do differently than what you’d seen in your previous experiences that makes it a better place to work? Kind of what’s… why did you frame up CIRE the way it is? And why is it structure the way it is today?

 

12:30 JOSH: Yeah, the funny thing is, is the best people to talk to is probably my team. And early on when you’re a broker it’s almost like an individual sport. Right? You might build out a team and I was always one of those brokers that built out the team. I wanted to give back. I wanted to work with multiple people. Because I felt like I could learn more and be exposed to more by doing that.

 

And so I’ve enjoyed having partners or teams around me. And so I even named the company… the brokerage firm was “CIRE partners” and there were no partners. (laughing) It was me, when I left. And so it was planning and preparing to have a team. And so the greatest and toughest thing about my day and about the company that differentiates us is our people. Right? The people make it great, and the people make it hard. (laughing)

 

But it definitely is our differentiator. Our culture is definitely a differentiator. We come from a… if you look at commercial real estate as a whole, it’s a very… how do you say it politically correct? It’s a very, I guess, archaic, in the way they do things…

 

13:36 PAT: Little traditional…

 

13:37 JOSH: Very traditional…

 

13:38 PAT: On this show, we say “traditional”… (laughing)

 

13:42 JOSH: (laughing) It’s a very traditional business. And so it’s how do you bring a more modern feel… How do you bring it into the current age of what it should be with technology and other resources?

 

13:54 PAT: That’s a super-interesting point that you bring up because I’ve always felt that in some of these more archaic or traditional markets there’s always that… not “veil” but that presence and professionalism. So it’s always suits and ties… Kind of the old money jobs like investment bankers, lawyers… Because it’s such a big decision when somebody decides to buy a piece of property, they want who’s handling that for them and advising them on it, to look and appear professional. How do you guys combat that while also having a fun culture at a company like CIRE?

 

14:24 JOSH: That’s a great question. In the beginning–even where I got my offices was a staunch 10/20 prospect, right on La Hoya, on the water, top-floor. Basically someone moved out so I moved in. Real estate developer bust. With old attorney 500 pound desks in this place. Definitely didn’t fit who I was, or the culture. But it gave the persona of larger than life, fake it ’til you make it. This is successful…

 

14:51 PAT: This is where big business is done.

 

14:53 JOSH: Yeah. This is where big business is done. Suit and ties. And coming from that, that’s definitely the corporate traditional side. The fact of the matter is what we found is the balance is that there’s definitely–San Diego has its own culture in itself, right? Versus anywhere else in the country. So “professional” may be suit without tie, here.

 

15:13 PAT: (laughing) It’s all relative.

 

15:14 JOSH: (laughing) Business casual is a polo shirt and slacks or khakis…

 

15:17 JOHN: You wear polo shirt and flip-flops and they’re like, “Why are you so dressed up?”

 

15:20 JOSH: Exactly. “Why’d you dress up today?”

 

So the balance of that culture with the business or the traditional businesses has definitely been interesting. But at the end of the day, what I feel like, is when you build those partnerships and you build those advisory relationships, people are doing business with the person. And it’s not about what the person’s wearing, it’s the content. It’s “How do you add value?”

 

And that’s really a mantra that we say in our office on both companies, is how do we add value? How do we create opportunity and add value? How do we persistently improve? Those are mantras in our culture. Those are literally our values.

 

And so it’s the person. It’s making sure that you differentiate by knowing more than others, and by asking the right questions.

 

16:06 JOE: Would you say that the commercial real estate industry as a whole is kind of going in this direction? Or is it something that you guys are kind of differentiating yourselves from? And kind of doing yourselves or maybe leading the charge a bit in this area… in San Diego?

 

16:20 JOSH: You know, I would say there’s a lot of boutique firms out there that probably have a similar feel… maybe closer to that feel where they’re going away from the suit and tie and that very traditional approach. The larger firms, I think, are… I know they are changing… In the sense that just the office layout alone it’s… the window lined offices, and the bullpen where you can’t see over to your neighbor… that’s going away and they’re going to desk-knee systems and stand-up desks. They’re trying to be more friendly to the newer generation coming into commercial real estate.

 

I’d still say it’s very traditional. As most of these guys are corporate and they can be seen public trade companies. It’s just that persona that they have to carry.

 

But there’s definitely a movement in that… in what people are looking for. And also the amount of people that are trying to get into the industry… Because it’s a large barrier-to-entry industry in the sense that… If you go into investment/sales, you can expect to not make a paycheck, potentially, for a year or 2 years.

 

So it’s a huge barrier to entry for anyone coming out of college, or ANYONE really.

 

17:23 PAT: That would have been pretty big for me. If I thought, “Oh, I went to a 4 year school, but hey, might forego a salary for a little while. But it could be big.” And that’s tough. But I think it does… it kind of talks about the investor mindset. Some people have that mindset where they’re coming out of college and they say, “Okay, I’m investing in my skills right now. I’m investing in perfecting my expertise.” So to some people that’s definitely… it’s okay.

 

For me, that would have been a little bit of a deal-breaker, I think.

 

17:49 JOSH: (laughing) I think for most it’s a deal-breaker. And anyone that asks, I’m happy to talk to anyone that’s interested in going into commercial real estate. And I talk through… I do it all the time, right? And I talk through their opportunity cost and what they’re really trying to do. And how their personality styles fit.

 

It’s very entrepreneurial. You’re going into business for yourself for all intents and purposes. You’re hanging your name under an umbrella potentially, or platform. But in the day, you eat what you kill. For the most part. And if you don’t and you’re getting paid a salary, that means you’re getting a portion of what you kill basically. Because a lot of risk has been taken off the table.

 

So talking through that with people, I just kind of punch them in the nose and say, “Hey look, can you go 2 years? What’s the goal here? And can you really go 2 years without making money?”

 

And if the answer is you’re not willing to eat crow and scrape and 5 pound bags of chips with cheese from Costco and the frozen chicken breasts on your George Foreman grill then good luck to you.

Digital_Traditional PR

18:49 PAT: (laughing) It’s sounding better and better by the day…

 

But that’s a great point that you bring up, and something that I took note of earlier. You know, people are going into business with the person. It’s you’re basically going out and doing business for yourself. Along that same vein, what do you feel is a personal trait that you have that has helped you excel in this industry?

 

19:09 JOSH: You know, permission to play value is integrity. But something that I’ve always… again, looking log-term. So always focused on the long game with this. And then just being absolutely honest and transparent with my clients. So it’s authentic.

 

You know, if I thought something was a bad deal, I’d tell them it was a bad deal. If I saw something that was a good deal, I’d tell them it was a good deal.

 

But being transparent and adding value in that regard… I don’t think that’s something that sets apart, but that’s something that is a core value for me…

 

19:44 PAT: Something that you really lean into…

 

19:45 JOSH: Absolutely.

 

19:46 PAT: That makes a lot of sense and I feel that there’s a little bit of that stigma around not just real estate in general but salespeople there’s always that ulterior motive. The buyer knows that they’re being sold to. I don’t think that’s ever a super-settling feeling. So honesty, transparency I can only imagine go a long way in an industry where you’re buying things that are quarter million dollars to a million dollars and up.

 

20:06 JOSH: Absolutely. For myself, too, I had to reframe how I was being seen. Because I realized the stigma around sales and also being a broker or realtor. It was interesting… always being called a realtor or broker and so I just said, “I am those things, but I’m really an adviser.”

 

And as soon as I changed that for myself it’s like, “I’m here to advise. I can’t make decisions for you. I can lay out as many options as I possibly can and be creative. But outside of that, you have to make the decision. This is your money. This is your investment. It’s not for me to tell you what to do, it’s for me to give you the opportunities…”

 

20:37 JOHN: It kind of goes into that same thing of turning just clients into long-term partners. Being more. Working together. Giving them advice. And not just like a sale, and then it’s one and done.

 

20:51 JOSH: Absolutely. It’s the long-term focus.

 

20:52 PAT: Right. And how you can build that consultative relationship. Totally agree, it’s definitely something that we see here too. I think that’s just a business best practice. Whenever you’re able to add consultative value outside of whatever services you’re providing you’re not super-replaceable too. So it’s in everybody’s best interest.

 

I wanna shift gears a little bit here, because I know that you have some pretty interesting opinions and insights on Amazon and how that integrates with commercial…

 

A couple hot-takes so to speak. I kinda wanted to ask you about that. Because I hear… this is all from Grayson, so you know… but it’s a little bit different than some people’s train of thought with Amazon and how it relates to the real estate industry.

 

With Amazon moving into so many new verticals and aggressively seizing market-share there… like we’ve seen them do with Whole Foods, etc. Are you worried at all about Amazon’s impact on real estate? Or do you think that it’s a good thing?

 

21:43 JOSH: I think Amazon’s entry into different verticals is a positive thing. For commercial real estate. So my owner/operator side of the business–CIRE Equity–we focus really on multi-tenant retail centers. So this is a hot topic. It’s been a hot topic for a good amount of time. Or hot-take, whatever you want to call that…

 

22:03 JOE: (laughing) We’ll go with hot topic. That’s fine.

 

22:04 JOSH: Hot-topic is no longer around for example.

 

So Amazon entering Whole Foods or soft goods industry. Or taking the Circuit City’s out in the world and going after the Best Buys and the sporting goods… what’s next? It’s just the evolving nature of business. And the businesses that we’ve seen do extremely well in the downturn and that continue to do well are discount… so discounters. Those are the Ross’s the Marshalls the TJ Max, big lots of the world. Those aren’t really being replaced per se. People still like to go through the rack and get a discount that way. It’s almost therapeutic for some people, I guess.

 

22:46 PAT: Yeah, probably feels exclusive too. Like, “Look at this deal that I got. That nobody else was able to get.

 

22:52 JOSH: Maybe. I don’t get it. It’s chaos to me. But…

 

So there’s the discounters of the world. Then you’ve got the entertainment side of the business. So you’ve got the generation that you make money. You may or may not buy a house now, because you’re really looking for the experiential thing, or the experience to go and travel to go to a lifestyle shopping center or… great example would be Westfield UTC. How they’re redeveloping that and adapting to the new times. And giving a true experience with more restaurants, more entertainment venue options. Things like that.

 

And then you’ve got the daily needs piece, which is the services. So people going for the nail salon, the haircut, the dry cleaner. Those things. Including the grocery store, to a degree.

 

So the biggest change that I see that’s happening is it’s not an extinction of retail. It’s not an extinction of soft goods users. It’s none of that. It’s a right-sizing of that. So you don’t need a potentially an 88,000 foot Coles today. You might be able to right-size that down to 40,000 feet or 50,000 feet. And then it might be in combination with Amazon down the road, who knows? As a distribution hub. The last mile of delivery.

 

I think that’s really where it’s going. It’s a combination of services, too, that you’re going to start seeing is bringing in the entertainment elements, the discount elements or the service elements and merging them together.

 

So kind of the co-work… You’re going to see that. It’s actually came out recently some of the We Work things going into retail centers. Just think about that. That’s amenatized as well.

 

And that’s why I really enjoy retail. It’s probably the most inefficient asset class that there is on development side. You have multi-family, it’s vertically developed. You have office buildings, they’re vertical… they go up. 20 story high-rises, things like that, on little plots of land. Including your guys’ building right here. With limited parking. (laughing)

 

You’ve got that to hospitality everything else… and you look at retail and it’s huge parcels of land, huge parking fields with set-back single-story… maybe 30 foot clear height… but single-story buildings. With some out-parcel pads and that’s it.

 

Looking into the future, they’re usually really well located on a freeway or an in-fill inside a neighborhood, so when it comes to real estate fundamentals–location, location, location–they’re typically a great location. And because they have the parking—which may or may not be relevant in the future. 10, 15 years with self-driving cars. But with those huge parking fields you have a multitude of uses that you can do there.

 

All the way down to the lowest would be self-storage or storage. Industrial. Which could be logistics for an Amazon. To the higher end uses which is retail or even office. Call centers. Co-working environments. Medical. So you’re seeing a lot of different things. I don’t know what’s the next concept that’s going to come out. I don’t have that crystal ball. But if you had a 15,000 square foot to 20,000 square foot concept you could probably roll out a thousand locations overnight. With the amount of retail space that’s available for that. And the right-sizing.

 

But there are going to be concepts. And I’m very confident that the entrepreneurial spirit around business is alive and that people are going to figure it out.

 

26:12 PAT: Yeah. Yeah, it sounds like there’s a lot of opportunity opening up. From Amazon getting into some of these verticals that retailers and Big Box retailers had typically been able to be potent in. You know, with Amazon taking away some of their sales, you see some of these Big Box retailers closing down. These properties are just going to be sitting there too. So I think that’s another really unique opportunity that you kind of outlined as well.

 

26:31 JOSH: Well, and Amazon… the funny thing is Amazon is also entering Brick and Mortar. Right? So it’s not… they’re a long-term planner too. I mean, he’s a genius, right? He’s thinking very, very long-term. It’s not just transactional. It’s partnered. It’s very long-term thinking.

 

And the long-term thought there is you need a delivery system. Logistically the shipping and everything else that’s going on, that’s not profitable for them…

 

26:59 PAT: Yeah, they’re testing right now doing delivery on the West Coast through the Holiday season using their own freighting, their own trucking and everything. Their own self-storage. Trying to squeeze UPS’ margins completely out of there too. So, be really interesting to see if that ends up being rolled out nation-wide.

 

27:12 JOSH: I mean, they really should buy just the USPS…

 

27:15 PAT: (laughing) At this point, yeah…

 

27:17 JOSH: Monetize it. But they’re doing partnerships with Coles even to do a delivery and pick-up service, as well as returns. They have the lockers. They have a concept that they’ve rolled out. You’ve seen the Amazon Basics stores, right?

 

So I think they’re going to continue to evolve as well. And they’re driving up supply. For something that they have a demand for which is logistical last-mile delivery and shop space.

 

So it’ll be very interesting to see what Amazon does in the Brick and Mortar space over the next few years.

 

27:52 JOE: It’s almost like they’re trimming the fat for what’s been going on for so long, and how everyone’s just been able to get away with it. Now they’re just more so checking everybody on that and if you are kind of in the red there, you’re out. They’re moving in. Or causing people that can be nimble enough to resize or relocate or however they need to do it. And then fill in those spaces more efficiently.

 

So in a way… kind of the way you’re explaining it to me… up to this point I’ve thought, “Brick and Mortar’s dead. Amazon… everything’s delivered.” Because that’s the way I kind of think. I just buy things online.

 

28:24 PAT: Joe’s the resident Amazon Prime guy… Everything that’s in this podcast was Prime, through Joe’s account.

 

28:34 JOE: But it’s just more so I like the idea or the thought that it’s maybe we’ll be getting rid of things that we don’t necessarily need and filling them with more practical stores. Or using that space more practically so that there’s more of it, or more variety. But I like that idea too.

 

28:51 JOSH: It’s a transformation, right? The other thing to compare it to is when the Internet came out. People were freaking out, businesses were freaking out, “Oh my gosh. There’s so much to learn. What are we going to do?”

 

Well the same thing with this. Retailers are freaking out to a degree. They’re still doing sales but they see it on the horizon, “How do we become more Internet resistant or resilient?” And it’s like, “Well, you gotta get on the Internet.”

 

You gotta offer delivery. You gotta amenatize to the people that are your constituents, your clients. And so it’s changing and evolving. And those that change and evolve and adapt quicker are going to do really well. And those that don’t adapt, well, they die. So it’s not a bad thing, it’s just the evolution of business and what retail will look like.

 

Retail will take many different shapes and forms. I’m excited for that, because it’s a fun puzzle to figure out and be involved with.

 

29:43 PAT: Ton of new opportunity if you’re able to figure it out too.

 

29:46 JOSH: Absolutely.

 

29:47 PAT: I think that… I had 1 question there actually. Not even a question, it was a little bit of a comment. We were just talking about this yesterday but Walmart is doing that amenatizing thing that we were talking about. So their reporting year over year revenue growth because they’re leaning into e-commerce a ton. They’re trying to go the extra mile for their consumers. They’re trying to employ more “one-click” type check-out processes–exactly like Amazon–and they’re doing well with it.

 

So I think to your point that just even adds more validity to it. You’re seeing a Big Box retailer that shouldn’t be nimble enough to make these kinds of quick adjustments, making quick adjustments that are paying off to their bottom-line. And so it just goes to show, you know, if you’re not on the Internet, you are blowing it. And there’s opportunity there for sure.

 

30:26 JOSH: Absolutely. I mean, the funny thing is that Amazon’s number 1 job or mantra I would imagine is “How do I make people’s lives easier? How do I make the buying experience…? How do I make people’s lives easier?”

 

And if you’re not adding value to your clients, then you’re not making their lives easier. And so interesting with like, Whole Foods–Amazon does not have any market share really with the acquisition of Whole Foods. For the grocery business. They’re dipping their toe in. It’s percentage points. Is there an opportunity? Absolutely. But you gotta still look at the majority of the population, and of who they are. And they’re a Walmart shopper. Walmart and Kroger have the dominant market share. They’re still going there, they’re still discount shoppers. They’re not Prime members.

 

I mean, we’re a very skewed here in San Diego, in parts… but you go through the various neighborhoods in San Diego, and not everyone’s a Prime member. So when you go to less dense and tertiary, secondary markets–you still have that. That’s going to take time. And that’s an evolution too that you’re going to see within all product types. And Amazon’s adoption.

 

31:32 PAT: I think it could be interesting one day if Amazon’s really trying hard to get more of that last bit of Brick and Mortar. People that are just so comfortable shopping at Brick and Mortar that they’re never going to leave. What if they start introducing partnerships with businesses where you can check out using your Prime account? If that inventory is reflected in Prime, one step checkout, bill me later. See you clearing up shelf space. Could be another way that they’re looking at that.

 

And I think that we’re not off base in saying that they’ve probably at least entertained that idea before.

 

32:00 JOHN: Yeah, I’m sure they’re thinking about it in their office…

 

32:03 JOSH: They’ve got think-tanks that all they do is think about it. (laughing) So…

 

32:07 PAT: We have a running joke on the show that Jeff Bezos is on steroids. Have you seen those before and after pictures of Jeff Bezos?

 

32:12 JOSH: No.

 

32:13 PAT: Before he was like maybe 140 pounds soaking wet and then 10 years later he’s just jacked wearing tank-tops. Completely bald head. He looks like he’s in one of the…

 

32:25 JOSH: (laughing) He’s pumping gold into the veins at this point.

 

32:26 PAT: Seriously.

 

So one last thing that we kind of like to get into with all of our guests too, and I think it’s so interesting to see how everybody’s answers differ from one another based on their industry. How long they’ve been doing what they’re doing. A couple questions I like to ask just about you as an entrepreneur, as a person.

 

So the first one is: what is your morning routine look like? Let’s say Josh you wake up right now, what are you doing?

 

32:48 JOSH: So I wake up, usually woken up by one of my daughters. Little girls. But hopefully I can wake up before them. So it’s usually are 5, 5:30 in the morning. And that’s so I can get some of my own time. Alone time.

 

And I’ll do a workout routine in the morning. Some people have a miracle morning. My miracle morning is working out. Getting a half hour to an hour in at the very minimum. I do have a daily meditation routine that I go through. Just get my mindset ready for the day. And then I’m jumping into daddy-hood, or fatherhood. So getting the kids ready, making breakfast, things like that. Getting my oldest off to school.

 

33:29 PAT: I can see how you’d need a moment of serenity before all that.

 

33:31 JOSH: Absolutely. I start and end my day with meditation, saying I have all the patience I need.

 

33:39 PAT: All right, and so you get into the office typically what time every morning would you say?

 

33:43 JOSH: So I take my daughter to school every day. As long as I’m in town. I try not to leave town very often, but take her… so I’m in the office usually by 8:45 or so.

 

I say to most of my team, there’s an early crew and then there’s the other crew that are showing up after me. But that’s part of having a flexible work environment too. That’s San Diego I think, a lot, too.

 

34:06 PAT: Yeah, definitely. That’s super-interesting. And so common with a lot of really successful entrepreneurs–I think meditation is one thing that I’ve heard them harp on a good amount. Just really getting your head right for the day. Getting in the right space. And having some kind of consistency with it.

 

I think that’s the thing that a lot of young professionals really deal with, is trying to get that consistent morning routine down and trying to really lock-in something that’s good and understanding why that’s good for your daily… your day-to-day.

 

34:36 JOE: I would say I agree. I think it’s good to wake up and apply your mind to something that isn’t work-related to start your day and kind of get your brain turning and get your thoughts running before you kind of jump into that mode. And it’s just a good way to wake up and get going. Whether that is working out… that’s not an easy thing to always do. Especially at 6 in the morning.

 

Or getting into the meditation routine before you jump into your full day’s work.

 

34:58 JOSH: Absolutely. I wish I could say that I do the miracle morning routines where I’m journaling for 10 minutes, I’m reading for 10 minutes, I’m saying positive affirmations. That’s just not practical for me. I mean, that’s practical, I just don’t do that. I just jump right into my meditation and jump right into my workout. Which is very relaxing for me. To set me up for the day.

 

35:19 PAT: Well and there’s no clear cut way to do… a miracle morning is only a miracle if it works for you. So this is what works for you, and it clearly does, then why change it up?

 

Another question that I had, and it actually sparked again when you were talking about how you had your friends deliver off Amazon, or it was a book delivery service. All these self-improvement books and business books. What’s one self-improvement or business book that you think everybody should read?

 

35:44 JOSH: Wow. That’s a great question. That’s a tough one. I’ve read a ton of books, so…

 

35:51 PATS: (laughing) It’s a good problem to have. Most people are like, “Oh, this one. I listened to an audio book last week.”

 

35:56 JOSH: I would say something that has been impactful–there’s two. It would be “Mindset” by Dr. Caroline Dweck. She talks about the abundance versus scarcity mindset. I think that’s a huge differentiator for my team and company and the culture itself. And just the people I surround myself with. They’re not fear-based decisions that they’re making. It’s really coming from a place of fact but also feeling. And not worried about competition. Because the biggest competition lies within.

 

So I’d say “Mindset.” And she also helped frame “Grit,” the book “Grit.” Which is a great book by Duckworth and she’s quoted in “Grit.” So it’s a good foundational book for people.

 

And then there’s another book and I don’t remember the author off the top of my head. I think it’s Mariam. But it’s “Closer Than You Think.” And I believe they’re in EO or some… I think it was an EOer that wrote it. And read that book and they have a personal evolution series online that you can go through to develop your personal core values. Your radical vision. Things like that, which is pretty awesome.

 

So there’s obviously your implicit values and then your explicit. And the more explicit we can be the better off we are. And so, that book was impactful.

 

37:15 PAT: That’s really interesting. Yeah, because that ties in with a conversation we actually had with Ryan Berman earlier this year where he was talking about: If you don’t understand what you stand for, then it’s hard to take a stand when you’re presented with the opportunity to do that.

 

He had a bunch of good little one-liners like that. But I know Joe actually, he looked into a self-authoring course where you can learn to write those types of things about yourself. He found it super-beneficial too.

 

37:39 JOE: Yeah, I don’t want to harp on it any more than I have, but…

 

37:42 JOHN: People are gonna think that we’re sponsor…

 

37:43 JOE: It’s very similar. I’m not selling. This is not an ad. But, yeah, it’s called the “Self-authoring suite” by Doctor Jordan Peterson and it’s very similar how you were saying. But I like how that coincides with a book.

 

37:54 JOSH: I met him, recently. He’s a great guy.

 

37:56 JOE: Oh really? Wow.

 

37:57 PAT: That is awesome. Well that is great and you know, Josh, we really thank you for coming on today. I know that we were looking forward to this a ton. A lot of great insight. Lot of really good just business knowledge here. But I think your views on Amazon were really good too. And again, we really appreciate you coming on. Hope you had a good time.

 

38:13 JOSH: No problem. Thanks guys. Appreciate it.

 

38:17 PAT: All right, you guys. Hope you had fun with that interview. I know that we all had a great time having Josh in here to talk about a few of those things. The Amazon points he brought up were super-interesting. He has a really unique perspective on not just how Amazon effects an industry directly, but how it can affect industries indirectly too. Which I thought was super-valuable.

 

He gave us a lot of great insight about personal development. Establishing that morning routine and a few tools and helpful books that he’s found throughout his career.

 

So really hope you guys enjoyed it. We thought it was super-valuable. And that just about wraps everything up for us for episode 14 of Flip the Switch podcast, presented by Power Digital. Thank you guys again so much for tuning in. Thankful for all of you this holiday season. If you ever have questions for us, or you’d like to tell us that you’re thankful for us too, that’s going to be @flipswitchcast for both Instagram and Twitter. This has been Pat Kreidler, Austin Mahaffey, John Saunders and Joe Hollerup signing off.

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John is the Director of Web Development at Power Digital and thrives on the balance between creative and strategy. Using his experience in CRO, John approaches website builds with the user in mind, combining psychological and technical aspects of design.