006 - The Power of Partnerships

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0 - 21 Jonathan Mendonsa So today in the studio I'm sitting now with Brad and we are discussing the power of partnerships. Now this is an episode that is a story of kind of how we met and decided to go down this route. But it's also just a great topic to discuss because it is a process that you should consider when starting a new business. Welcome Brad.
21 - 22 Brad Barrett Hey Jonathan How's it going.
22 - 24 Jonathan Mendonsa Good man. Thanks for joining me again today.
24 - 50 Brad Barrett Always always excited to be here. Yeah and just wanted to say just real quick from the outset partnerships are not perfect for everyone. They're not perfect in all situations so just the silly little caveat at the beginning we think that partnerships can be very powerful and we're going to explain to you why we think it's benefited us both now with this podcast with the site. And for us in the past but we just want to share share what we're doing and what we think about it.
50 - 96 Jonathan Mendonsa So I would say probably eight months ago I was listening to a podcast and I was listening to the mad Fientist podcast who interviews influencers in the financial independence space and he interviewed Brad and Alexi who had a site travel miles 101 and he was really interviewing about what travel hacking is and how they got where they did. And that was my first introduction to Brad and I found out through that episode that he was in Richmond and I am very interested in this space although I had not yet started to build any sort of business myself and when I heard that Brad was in Richmond I reached out to him really just to have a conversation and talk a little bit more about travel hacking. And Brad agreed to meet me and we met up for lunch and we just got to hash out all these different ideas and it was awesome.
96 - 142 Brad Barrett Yeah we had a great conversation over delicious burgers and I am someone who always wants to take these lunches or take a phone call with someone. That doesnt mean if you email me and say hey lets hop on the phone I'm going to do it with everyone obviously my time is finite and I do guard it because I have a family and such but Jonathan seem like a really super cool guy. He lives right here in Richmond VA with me and I was thrilled to sit down with someone whos in this quote unquote space which is you know for me it's it's just being aware of personal finance you know financial independence travel hacking was how he was introduced to me I suppose so we had a lot to talk about. You know frankly like in real life there aren't that many people that you can talk to about this right.
families, travelrewards
142 - 149 Jonathan Mendonsa No there's not and if you try to force it on someone that's not ready for it you will start to get weird looks and you'll notice that you'll stop getting Christmas cards in the mail.
149 - 152 Brad Barrett Yeah. People think you're crazy. Rather quickly unfortunately.
152 - 247 Jonathan Mendonsa Don't tell someone you don't know that the thing that they can do to improve their life is open up eight new credit cards and they haven't been introduced to the topic they will they will walk away from you quickly. Yes. Yeah absolutely but Brad I do have a lot in common although we didn't know it at the time. And Brad is not only you know this guru. I hate saying he's not a guru but he is really good in this space but he's also he loves financial independence and he had the site Richmonds savers. He had a bunch of really cool ideas on there and so I really kind of found out more about him through that story. And so I wanted I had had this idea that we could build this platform this this kind of launching pad for all these great ideas that we could turn them into the story that builds and takes you from where you are to where you want to be and it makes sense for you depending on what your particular situation is. And we just talked about it and he got excited about it and I got excited about it and I realized basically right after I finished talking to him that while I could completely do this on my own I am a tech guy I can figure out tech I can do a podcast. I'm I'm comfortable learning new skills. He had so much to offer there that I was not capable of doing. He had already built himself as an authority. He is a respected figure in this area and he just had a level of insight that you can't get unless you've done something you know you need to learn through your mistakes if you will. You need to spend some time trial by fire that type that type of thing and while I could get there over the next two to three years he'd already gone through it and come out the other side and he was ready for that next project. And you know I just asked him I said this is something I'm doing. I can tell that he was excited about the idea. Would you like to join me with this and I am very grateful that he said yes.
247 - 279 Brad Barrett Yeah it was it really was an easy decision after I got to know Jonathan. Obviously I'm pretty busy and I don't mean that in a positive way. You know people are very proud of being busy. That's not my thing. I have two two Web sites that do quite well. And you know if I invested more time in them they could continue to grow and succeed. So you know I didn't jump into things lightly. I mean this was not something that I just you know Jonathan we met for for burgers and we decided oh let's have a partnership for the next 10 years. That would be silly and short sighted.
279 - 292 Jonathan Mendonsa And it would be shortsighted for me to say that we actually decided to team up at that juncture so we had lunch we enjoyed our conversation I shared some of my ideas with them and got his input on a few of the things that I been reading on his website and that was kind of parted our ways.
292 - 323 Brad Barrett And then you know I told him that I was planning on starting something and sure enough you know two or three months later he messages me and say hey have you started it yet. And I had not I was rolling out of we're rolling out of bed just to go back to work to my 9:00 to 5:00 and I had this awesome conversation. It had been fantastic and I had done nothing with it from that I may have typed something up typed up a few ideas but that was it. And he just said hey you are really excited about this what you end up doing about it. Yeah.
323 - 329 Brad Barrett Yeah. Now sorry to talk to you. I think that was the little kick in the butt that you needed to to actually take action.
329 - 394 Jonathan Mendonsa That was it. I just need I don't know if I needed permission or I needed just an idea that someone else had thought that idea would carry some weight or was interesting or would be interesting to someone else other than myself because all of us when we go onto the Internet and we try to find new resources we try to answer questions. We look for those answers. And while I was getting fragments in different places I wasn't getting exactly what I wanted to find. And you don't necessarily feel if it if it's OK for you just to build it from scratch. And Brad just by asking me if I do anything about it I felt like I now had permission which is maybe that sounds a little bit naive. But yeah I said Brad you know I it but I'm going to and I. I launched the domain name that day I came up with the branding for the Web site that exact day or the date within a week. And I launched the website two weeks later. And then maybe three weeks later I said Brad let's sit down and have lunch again or talk about this again. I took them kind of my idea my blueprint for where I thought this was going to go and what I wanted to create and how I was going to get there. And at the end of it I said Brad you want to join me with us. And he jumped on board.
394 - 402 Brad Barrett Yeah yeah. I mean we had at that point I guess probably three meetings and I had no idea at all that I was going to be involved in this.
402 - 404 Jonathan Mendonsa He did not I ambushed him.
404 - 462 Brad Barrett I mean Jonathan is just a cool guy that I enjoyed you know speaking with and chatting with. And I was super excited for him that he had these plans and he was actually taking action on it. I'm not one of these calculating people who's sitting there thinking oh what's in it for me it's just this is someone who I've grown to like and I want to help him if I can. I've found again and again that personal relationships just matter. I'm 99 percent sure I've mentioned this on multiple podcast previously. Personal relationships are everything. And that doesn't mean again that you're doing it in a calculated way that oh if I befriend Jonathan and help him out that somewhere down the road it's going to help me. It's you know it's nothing like that. It's just you just never know. You never know where life is going to take you and you just never know when you open yourself to new situations. When serendipity is going to hit right and something good is going to come of it you just simply do not know. But the more of these experiences you open yourself to the more opportunities you give yourself. And that's huge.
462 - 622 Jonathan Mendonsa So now Brad and I three months four months later have created something that has the potential to be this platform we've gone from nothing and we've created this idea and there's nothing more powerful than an idea this place that people can meet from different walks of life but they have this one thing in common this financial independence and we can all get better together I can get better from Brad. He's going to learn stuff from me and we're going to learn stuff from your audience. And I'm amazed at how quickly this all came together. It came together so quickly and I have to look and say all right was there anything there that it was just us it was only something that we could have done. Or is there any actionable tips that we could put back out there into the community to say hey these might be useful to you you might want to take a look because I think this is what allowed us to get here this quickly and I think that there is so here's what what I've come up with as I've as I've looked at this one if you're going to find a partner find someone don't find someone that's completely at the finish line find someone that is one or two steps ahead of you. So in Brad's case I think he had developed himself as a genuine authority in travel miles and travel hacking. People do respect him in that space. He knows what he's talking about but I could tell he also had an interest in financial independence. I've never seen him not wear a T-shirt that's branded with some type of financial independence label. And that is the space that he loves. In fact his other site Richmond saver's is dedicated to that. Now that is not a national platform that's a that's more of a it attracts seems to attract more people from our local geographic region. But I could tell that there was real potential there and that he was ready for that next level spotlight. He had been on multiple podcasts. He has a great speaking voice he has an engaging personality. People connect to him frankly at a level that I can appreciate. But I am not as good at it. And that is powerful. I enjoyed listening to him and I would like to hear him talk more about things that are that are relevant to me so I guess what I'm trying to say is when you're finding someone when you're thinking about someone as a potential partner I think that there's something there. You can't go to that person that has it completely all figured out they've got a complete business model that's running begin and because they don't need you or have time for you. There was room and Brad's life for someone to help introduce a new project and take it to the next level. He wasn't at the finish line yet. He was he was really close. He was really close but he wasn't completely at the finish line yet. And so I had to bring something the table and so I brought an idea and I brought sweat equity I built something from the ground up and then I was able to merge that with his site authority. I mean he has an incredible amount of authority on the web now in this certain space and we can leverage that into creating this new platform and it will jumpstart a Web site that frankly should have no business being ranked into something that's going to be seen all across the Internet very very quickly.
travel, travelrewards
622 - 778 Brad Barrett Yeah I think just to kind of touch on that is this was something that I was excited about. Right. I mean it was something that I have a true passion for and Jonathan saw that right. He saw that because we sat down for coffee and lunch a couple of times and we just talked about it and it was outside of this travel reward space which you know I love obviously. But you know I've been living eating and breathing that for the last three years and I wanted to get back into the personal finance the financial independence space. And what attracted Jonathan to me was that he is unbelievably passionate and I know I said this I think on our very first podcast but I've never seen someone dive into a project like he has with us. We have these conversations where you would think we're like Dr. Evil from Austin Powers where we have these new world dominating plans and we mean it in the most positive way possible. You know we think that we wouldn't be wasting our time on this if we didn't think it could help hundreds of thousands or millions of people we legitimately think that. And that's not because we want to make millions off this or we want to be famous. You know we don't care about that stuff. You know we're on a path of financial independence. You know just in our own lives but we think that there is a niche here that there is a space that hasn't been filled that we can fill. And I think that personal relationship that personal connection is what matters. That's what I relate to when I listen to podcasts when I read articles. It's not about the math all the time. It's not about just you need to do X Y and Z. It's about listening to people and understanding their story and finding out what they've done well where they've failed because we failed plenty. You'll hear many of the things that I've screwed up on. I am far from perfect but I just try to make little steps every day to just kind of a little bit better. And I think that is powerful and I think that will help. And just going back to Jonathan real quick as he has this incredible passion he has incredible technical skills on this on this site. He talks about maybe us fast forwarding a couple of years because of you know maybe things that I've learned and connections that I have and there's some validity to that but just the amount of work that he's put into the site and the podcast puts us multiple years ahead on that side of things. So you take those two together and that is a very powerful partnership right. I mean complementary skills that really catapult us multiple years ahead of where we should be as a new Web site. And that's huge because who knows where Web sites and podcasts will be three years from now. We're hitting the ground running now. We don't have to put in that all that time and effort to beat the learning curve. We've already beaten it.
778 - 842 Jonathan Mendonsa What I love about Web sites and building something like we're building it always amazes me in this space. Once you've built something it's just there and all that. It amazes me when I go back and I read articles that I've written it's still there it's not like a conversation that you had where you said something really smart and it disappeared into the wind. When you build something it's an asset it's something you go back and see which is maybe a sidebar but it's kind of cool now. But the one takeaway that I wanted to point out to you all because maybe you could say Well that was just blind luck that you ran into Brad but you don't necessarily have to have blind luck to find a good partner for something. What you need is to find somebody that share similar interests and you can see whether or not there's some sort of compatible relationship there. And in order to do that you really need to position yourself and so you know I'm going to give away to Brad on this one because he has a lot more experience with partnerships but that is probably going to be the actionable tip for you. Let's say that you are interested in starting a business of any sort any niche. What are the actionable tips what are the ways if you decide you want to try to do this with a partner. How would you go about that. And Brad's had a few partners in the past so maybe he can help us with this.
842 - 902 Brad Barrett Yeah I mean I think the first step that I would do personally is get involved in the community in all likelihood. There's some online community and whatever niche you're involved in there might be a forum there might be a popular Web site or multiple Web sites where you can comment on articles and you can maybe reach out to the web site owner blogger whatever you want to call it and just shoot him or her an email just establish a relationship. You know I hate to sound like a broken record but it's all about there's genuine personal connections and relationships so I mean clearly to me that's step number one. You just never know who in the course of life you're going to meet who you might just strike up a friendship with. It's just like any aspect of life. There are thousands of personal finance bloggers and you find your little niche just by sometimes sheer luck. You know like I become friends with you know Brandon from Mad Fientist and Jim from JL Collins and Carl and Mindy from 1500 days and you know I don't want to I'm not a Namedropper.
blogger, relationships
902 - 903 Jonathan Mendonsa You are namedropper.
903 - 964 Brad Barrett Got I. It's just. And just since I don't want to leave anybody out Liz from frugal woods see you know how you feel as you get out. Thanks. You know that's my group of friends so you know we go to FinCon every year. And I'm not one of these people who is you know schmoozing and meeting new people to my detriment probably. You know I wish I had that as a life skill. But I go and I hang out with my friends and it's as if we're live next to each other for our whole lives. You know we're just fast friends like that even though we see each other once or twice a year and it's finding that group that you connect with. So I think there are a couple of learning lessons from that which is a meeting people in person. And this goes back to the partnership that Jonathan I have meeting people in person is really important. It will never even in this online world the value of that will never go away. You just you can't get what you need to get from a relationship without in many cases without meeting someone else or at least talking to them on the phone or just some relationship other than just a comment here or there on a blog.
fincon, relationships
964 - 1053 Jonathan Mendonsa Yeah. No absolutely. And I think the second half of that is got to be evaluate what you are capable of bringing into the picture. You can't go in and just ask. You've got to evaluate what you can actually bring and so you know what Brad I knew what I could bring. I am a I'm not a tech guy and that I've never taken a coding class I don't know HTML but what I am is I'm a guy that can figure out what I don't know and how to answer that question. So I knew I was capable of that once I applied my mind to it and I had an idea and you've got to be able to present something so you know what is one first. It is to to network it is to start participating on someone's blog or facebook feed or you know provide some sort of value to that situation. Go to conferences fincon if that's your niche or you know whatever niche applies to your specific situation and then reach out and make actual contact. And then once you've done those three things you're then positioned if you would like to then form a partnership with somebody your position yourself for that. And it's it just opens up more doors for even if that doesn't happen let's say you just want to know more about a specific niche because you're interested in it. That's the worst case scenario you're going to find out a lot more than you were expecting. But best case scenario if you actually want to start something you will position yourself for that. And if you decide to do that then you need to think about it. What can I just bring to the picture because you can't just ask someone to take on more work. I mean if they've built something that's working for them on the Internet there is a significant time investment they've already made and probably one they still have. You need to think about that. Be considerate of that and then figure out how you can add to that picture.
1053 - 1319 Brad Barrett Yeah. Obviously in any partnership you need to just split up the duties. Right. I mean if if I was just coming in here and you know Jonathan's doing all the work and I just swoop in and talk on the podcasts every so often I would feel guilty and be that wouldn't be a very effective partnership. It's providing value where you can. That doesn't mean you know in every partnership and I know this from past experience things are not going to be 50/50 in time. They're just simply not. And if you go in with that expectation in all likelihood you're going to be disappointed. Whichever side you come up on that you might either feel guilty or be disappointed that you're spending more time unless you are realistic and say you know look this is not it's never going to be exact the exact amount of time. It's just that's almost inconceivable. But it's bringing value and it's also bringing a different perspective and I think I think this is where I've succeeded with my partnership with alexy on travel minds 101 and also here with Jonathan on choose FI which is we are in both of these instances. And I think this is where people connect and where people are you know these these platforms they resonate with people because we're not sitting there saying we're these untouchable gods who are podcasting and calling down from on high. We're just regular guys who are living regular middle class lives but we think we've figured out some tips that can help you. And that's powerful because we're not doing anything special here. I don't think that I'm doing anything great. That can't be replicated by any single one of you. Every single person listening to this can do what I do because honestly I am nothing special. And that is really really important to remember. OK so what's cool in both of these particular partnerships like I said is not only do people connect to us personally but we have slightly different perspectives and I think people listening and saying wow there's not this is not somebody dictating to me what you need to do. This is in this in our case two guys who are fairly similar on the face of it but have come at life differently and we're literally sitting here on many of these podcasts just talking about different ways that we can we do it and we feed off of each other. Right. And we learn new things every single time. And I suspect I'm going to take a lot from what Jonathan does and vice versa. And that is superpowerful not all partnerships are going to be perfect. Right. They're going to be situations where they just don't work and having an understanding from the outset is really important. I've found because you know I've gotten into some partnerships with friends of mine or colleagues who had a great relationship with and we just we didn't sit down at the beginning and just kind of hash out what we thought was going to happen or what the delineation of duties would be. And it eventually got to a scenario where things weren't succeeding and we kind of got you know just a little frustrating ultimately because because we weren't on the same page. And again this goes back to what we were just talking about which is it's not going to be even. It's not going to be 50/50. It's just it's inconceivable. But at least if you have some understanding of the value you bring and that you know the value that each of you bring then you can you can feel good about that moving forward. So I've had successful partnerships in the past and currently where I'm doing way more than 50 percent of the work. But I still think that's a good partnership because it wouldn't work without that other partner because he or she brings so much value and brings a different perspective. And that is huge. But if we didn't have some understanding of where we're coming from it probably would have fallen apart because people get just annoyed that oh I'm doing 90 percent of the work and I'm getting 50 percent of the money. You know that can be frustrating. Right. But you need to. You need to be realistic. So what I've found from personal experiences is that is essential just to have some understanding. So I'm sure there are many many other experts who would sit here and say you need to hash out and have lawyers and come up with a perfect operating agreement. And I don't think that's necessary in most cases honestly. I think people of good faith can sit down and just say hey look we have plans for this. We think it's going to be successful. Here is what's going to happen. And obviously if you want to cover cover your butt you can hash out these these legal details. But you know in most cases it's not going to be necessary but just be realistic. That's that's how I want to sum this up most succinctly.
1319 - 1346 Jonathan Mendonsa Well it's really good. And you know I don't want to finish on all the cons you know with the pros on the other half of that. The iterative process and just sharpening the steel and finding out exactly what is your goal. That is extremely powerful. Not only that but you may find that with that accountability of having somebody else you may get it may amplify your results. You'll be there faster than you would be otherwise. And I think it's more fun digging around in the weeds by yourself can be a lonely process. So it adds a level of enthusiasm to it.
1346 - 1375 Speaker You're listening to Choose FI radio. The blueprint for financial independence lives here. If you're looking to unlock the secrets of financial independence. And early retirement. Your in the right place. Stay tuned and join a community of like minded people who are getting off the hamster wheel. And. Taking control of their lives in the pursuit of financial independence. ChooseFI Your home. For financial independence online.

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