Jay Owen


"All of us have big dreams and visions and ideas, but the big mistake is to leave them in vision and dreamland and not take steps towards them. You know, ideas are fine, but execution is everything."

2:38-4:44 Work and life structure before vacations

4:44-10:20 What held Jay back from taking vacations

10:20-21:12 How to be a leader that can structure their team to function without them present

21:12-28:07 Fully disconnecting from work while on vacation

28:07-31:09 Highlighting the experiences of a 30 day vacation

31:09-36:49 Re-entering work after being away

36:49-40:30 Communication with clients and how to get yourself out of the day to day of checking tasks.

41:34-44:55 Jay’s upcoming event

Rob Hughes (00:07):

Entrepreneurs, business owners, and leaders. Welcome to the Thrive Collective. This is your show designed to help you make more money, avoid costly mistakes, and fully integrate your faith into your life and leadership. I am Rob Hughes, your host, and it’s an honor to serve you through this podcast. Hey, today we have a special guest with us. Jay Owen is with us. Dear friend, fellow business owner, StoryBrand certified agency that he leads down in Florida. Jay owns a thriving business and was able to take a four week vacation, 30 days this last summer with his family. So he’s going to share this episode, how he navigated that in terms of preparation, what it was like to be away and some business tips and strategies for returning, I think we can all benefit from. You know, as I was preparing for this time the Lord brought me to Exodus chapter 18. In Exodus chapter 18, Moses is doing quite a few things on his own shoulders and his father-in-law Jethro steps in and says, Hey Moses, what are you doing?

Rob Hughes (01:13):

You can’t do it all yourself. He calls Moses to the carpet and Exodus 18 says, Moses, you cannot do this all on your own two feet. You have to equip and train among you, capable people who can help you carry the weight. Make some of the simple decisions, basically train up a leadership team that can support you. This is the first time in scripture that I can think of where we get this biblical reference of delegating and elevating for Mose to really share the work among the people. And I have to believe there’s some aspect of that that comes into play when we’re talking about preparing to leave for a four week vacation, because that’s a long time. So, I love Jay’s story and his heart. As a business leader and entrepreneur, he really is invested in helping leaders grow and become better in scale of the effectiveness of their business. We’re going to share at the end a special event that Jay’s planning in the first quarter of 2021. But I just would love to invite dear friend, Jay Owen to join us. So, hey Jay, welcome to the thrive collective. 

Jay Owen:

Rob, thanks for having me. 

Rob Hughes: 

So is it true? You really took 30 days away with your family. This last summer.

Jay Owen (02:25):

I did. We got in an RV and we drove 8,000 miles, hit 22 States, 11 national parks, all in 30 days, and without working. So it was a blast.

Rob Hughes (02:38):

I gotta confess, I vicariously live through you as I follow you on Facebook and social media. Since watching Robin Williams, the RV movie, this has been a dream of mine all the way through and seeing you actually do it was amazing. So, tell us, Jay, you’re a business owner and you’re an entrepreneur, how long ago did you start your business and kind of give us like just a 50,000 foot view over the last several, you know, couple of decades. What does that look like for you that led you to the moment of this summer, where you were about to take a vacation?

Jay Owen (03:16):

Yeah. Great question. We’ve been in business now for 21 years. We’ve grown every single year for 21 years in a row. And, but look, you know, a lot of people might listen to this and think I could never take 30 days away from my business like that and I couldn’t have in the early years either. I mean, I remember what it was like to not feel like I could take a day off. Shoot, I remember what it was like to not even feel like I could take an afternoon off and there’s a lot of people out there that are listening that are thinking, yeah, I feel like that I can’t get away from my phone. I got to answer a text message or a phone call or an email or a Facebook message or an Instagram message or all these other things that are flying at us all the time.

Jay Owen (03:51):

And there was a season, gosh, probably, I don’t know, 12 plus years ago at this point where I thought, you know, I really would like to be at a place where I can take a long weekend. It wasn’t about taking 30 days. It was about taking a Friday through a Monday off and not actually working because what I found was we would go on trips or we would go on vacations, but I would constantly be tied to my phone or constantly be tied to my laptop. And at the end of the day, life to me is more than just work. You know, I want to be married to the same woman, my whole life. And I want to have children who grow up and come to me and seek counsel and are connected to me when I’m old. And, and I can’t do that if all I’m doing is working. And so trying to find how to balance that across time took a long time to figure out it didn’t come overnight.

Rob Hughes (04:44):

Yeah. And so I love the, the, the mission that you’re just expressing of being married to the same woman, your entire life and an influence with your kids’ lives. I think so many times as business owners and entrepreneurs we’re juggling these competing priorities, but I mean, you’re really keeping that as a focus. Like, hey, we got to build a business around these core priorities that are the non compromising. So, you had this idea to take a vacation, but you’ve got a pretty sizable business though, too. I mean, how many staff do you employ? What’s your team look like?

Jay Owen (05:17):

Yeah, so we have 17 people here in Florida, and then we use contractors all over the place for various services, but the core team of actual quote unquote employees, if you will is 17 of us right now. And you know, one of the things that really kind of started this path on trajectory for me was, you know, it’s kind of a little bit of a game, right? I said, I started with just a long weekend and I was like, all right, can I take a whole week off and not have to work? And then could I take two weeks off and not have to work? And then, you know, ultimately could I take 30 days off and not have to work? And there’s a lot of things that had to be put in place over time in order to pull that off. But I think what happens a lot of times for entrepreneurs is we get in this false mindset that is this belief that you hear people say all the time, if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.

Jay Owen (06:06):

And that is just not true. And it’s arrogant and it’s dangerous. And ultimately you’re only going to put yourself into prison of your business by doing that. And I don’t think that anybody started a business in order for it to be a prison. I think that most people started their business in order for it to create freedom for it, to create wealth, or to create opportunity and not just opportunity to work, but opportunity to live a life that you desire. Now, it looks a little bit different for everybody and that’s okay. But I realized that I was stuck in my business years ago. And so one of the key questions that I now always ask when I go out of town, whether it’s one day or a week or 30 days, is if you I’ll tell my team, I say, look, if there’s any place where you get to a spot and you say, hey, we have to wait for Jay to get back, to figure this out or to do X, Y, or Z.

Jay Owen (06:57):

That’s a problem. And that’s a problem that has to be fixed because ultimately what I’m trying to do within the business is replacement myself. You know, in the, in the early years, you know, I wore all of the hats and over time you write down what those hats are. This all kind of comes out of E-Myth, which is a great classic entrepreneurial book. And you write down what all those jobs are, what are all those hats that you’re wearing? And you ask questions like which one of these things do I love, which one of these things am I good at? And, and things that you don’t love, and you’re not good at. You probably need somebody else who loves and is good at it. And we do a lot of personality profile stuff on our team. AndI have a lot of people on my team that are very different than me.

Jay Owen (07:38):

I’m not very detailed oriented. I will miss the small things. I’m a big picture, big vision, big trajectory, kind of guy. That’s where my heart and mind and that’s who God made me to be. And I have other people on my team who do sweat, the small stuff on projects, and they get the details, right? And that tension between the two of us is what creates power. I was at an event a while back and Simon Sinek was talking at the start ,the Why Guy, for people that may not be familiar with him. He’s an incredible author and speaker. And I asked him a question about where I was business growth wise. At that point, I think there was, I think I had about 10, 10 team members. Maybe I had taken a week off at that point, but no more. And he said, ultimately, you have to ask the question.

Jay Owen (08:18):

What happens that the health of your business is defined by this question? What happens if you walk out in the street, get hit by a bus? How long does the business survive? Is it two weeks or two months or two years or 20 years? And if it’s two weeks or two months, you are not doing a good job, preparing that business to take care of the people that work there. And ultimately my desire to replace myself is not out of selfishness, of not wanting to work. I love working. Like I actually really liked the work that I get to do. I don’t want to stop doing that. What if I had to stop? I have 17 other people that depend on me. It’s not just about me being able to take a 30 day vacation. There’s a reason behind 30 days is that most businesses go through a full cycle of business in 30 days.

Jay Owen (09:01):

So, you close new deals, you launch projects, you have problems, you fix those problems. You send out invoices, you collect money. All those things typically happen in a 30 day period. And so that’s kind of why 30 days and just some of the backstory behind, you know, how all of that came about. And then ultimately one last thing is that, you know, I wish the whole idea was originally mine. It wasn’t. I read this book called Clockwork by Mike Michalowicz. I can never pronounce his last name, really smart guy. And that book essentially is this idea of like how do you take 30 days off in your business? And so I had made this decision last September, that this year I was going to take 30 days off. Now, keep in mind that was pre pandemic.

Jay Owen (09:46):

So I didn’t know, 2020 was going to be 2020. At that point. At that point we had just had our 20th company anniversary. We had had our banner year, best year we’d ever had every year has been our best year, but it was really a great year last year. And we’re going into 2021 with tons of ideas and visions and prospects and opportunities. And we’re ready to just put the pedal to the metal on this thing for 2020, then the pandemic happens. We got to overcome all that. And then the question becomes, am I still gonna take this vacation? And the answer was yes, because that’s what I planned for. And so that’s what I did.

Rob Hughes (10:20):

It’s incredible, Jay, incredible. So how with 17 people under your wing, or presumably somewhere near that before you left this last summer for that vacation, what does the team look like? What does the structure look like? What does, what builds your confidence as the owner to be able to physically step away, even in the midst of a pandemic, walk us through kind of the tangible objective, you know, systems that helped you be able to do that?

Jay Owen (10:50):

Sure. So one thing that’s really important. I always say that as a leader, one of my primary responsibilities is to create an environment where others have the opportunity to fail, just not fail catastrophically. And, people always look at that, like, why don’t you want to talk about creating opportunity for people to fail? And the answer is because so many of us, especially those of you in the entrepreneurial community, you know, that you learned the most from the things that didn’t go right. We all learned the most from when things did not go well. And we were like, okay, that did not work. I need to course correct there. That’s not just true in business. It’s true in business. It’s true in parenting. It’s true in marriage, all these places in life where we have bad days come and we go, okay, well, something’s got to course correct here.

Jay Owen (11:29):

,So this doesn’t happen again. And as far as team structure goes we follow a system called traction by guy named Gino Wickman, super smart guy, great process book. I’m not a big process guy. But I follow enough other things to learn how to do it, so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel necessarily. And, and so as a part of traction, a couple of years ago, we developed a team that was a big deal. I’d always run it all by myself to elevate other people, to give them opportunities to lead. I made plenty of mistakes in that. That’s probably a whole other episode, but along the way, by doing that again, further replacing myself because I’m not the only one that can make decisions. I’m not the only one that can decide. I want to empower everybody on my team ultimately to make the best decisions that they can to help the customer and that are aligned with our core values.

Jay Owen (12:22):

So I have a leadership team right now that’s two other guys on our leadership team. And then the rest of the team, everybody kind of has different direct reports that they report to where we do kind of bi-weekly one-on-one sessions, kind of check in, see what updates are, how people are progressing on their quarterly goals, all these kinds of things. And that system creates an environment where everybody’s not purely depending on me. And I think that’s where I see a lot of people fail, especially in the early days. And it’s hard when you’re really small. Like if you’re, you know, five, eight, 10 people it’s hard to have enough people to do all the different things that have to be done. So our particular structure internally is probably going to be a little bit different depending on what type of industry that you’re in.

Jay Owen (13:04):

But we have some people that serve clients directly that are client facing. We have some people that are more kind of behind the scenes technical kind of people that get things done. And then we have some people have some mixed responsibilities between those and some people who have leadership responsibilities on top of that. And the big thing as a part of all of that is we have scorecards internally where we keep track of all of these things. One of things I’m going to be doing a lot more teaching. I’m working on a new book right now. I’m going to call, I’m not exactly sure I’m going to call it yet, but it’s gonna be something like the business growth framework. And I’m gonna talk about these four key pillars of business, which this is not rocket science or brand new. I’m just putting it in a package because one of the things that I find that people struggle with is I start mentioning all these books like clockwork and traction and entree leadership, and four disciplines of execution and E-Myth, and I could name 50 different leadership books that I’ve read over time, ideal team player, all these things that I love.

Jay Owen (13:57):

But if I were to try and toss those on top of another leader, they’re like, Whoa, I can’t read all this stuff. Now you could, if you’d give it five years. But what I’m trying to do is kind of assimilate that down into things that have really worked for me. And this framework that I’m going to talk about people, product process and promotion are kind of the four pillars or the four cornerstones that if you get those things right, the rest of the business will be stable enough that allows you to do things like take 30 days off. So that’s a big thing I’m working on right now.

Rob Hughes (14:28):

Oh, I love it, Jay. I love EOS framework. Of course I’m a fan of the books that you’re writing as well. In fact, for those of you who haven’t yet picked up a copy, building a business that lasts, this was a book that Jay wrote. I wouldn’t you write it a couple of years back. I don’t know, a couple of years ago. Yeah. 2018. There’s a lot of business books that I read. Many of them, you know, authors tend to seem a bit heady and go into deep dive research and the edges they lose me quite frankly, or they’re just too simple. You have a beautiful blend. I think in your approach of both, it was gripping in terms of attention all the way through. So put me on your list for the advanced reader copy of that business framework book that you can be building. So, okay. Let’s talk a little bit about, as you were preparing. So, remind us again, what month did you take this vacation? Was it July?

Jay Owen (15:19):

I can’t remember if it was June or July. I want to say it was June, somewhere in there anyway, one of those summer months.

Rob Hughes (15:25):

So some of those are, so February, March, April of 2020, the pandemic really becomes known and hits the world, goes into lockdown. You’re having that consideration of what do I do this summer? Do I still take my trip as you considered the structure, the team, was there anything that you needed to prepare that you knew you needed to as a leader work on as your 90 day rock that would prepare for that summer a trip? Was there any like last focus areas that were really important for you in that?

Jay Owen (15:59):

You know, in the first quarter of this year, there wasn’t a whole lot that I changed that allowed the trip to happen. I just abided by the systems that we already had in place. And I kind of evaluated the storm that was ahead, which was this pandemic. And, you know, the reality of it was especially in the spring and still now a little bit to some extent, you know, I always say that people are not really afraid of the dark. They’re just afraid of what they don’t know that might be in the dark. And that’s why people are afraid of the dark, because we’re not inherently afraid of what, you know, a dark room. We just, what is inside of there? Like what, what is in there that could hurt me, harm me, or, you know, calls me something I don’t enjoy. That’s what the pandemic was like.

Jay Owen (16:37):

I feel like in the beginning it was this giant cloud that got dropped over everything. And we were like, well, what’s next? And ultimately I just trusted our process. I trusted our system. I trusted our team and we made some course adjustments with regards to how we were going to launch some particular items and made some big decisions very quickly early on in the pandemic. But it didn’t really change the perspective. I did think to myself, you know what, maybe I shouldn’t be taking a month off. This seems like a bad idea. Just because there were so many unknowns, but then as I really evaluated the team and the structure and everything else, I thought, I don’t know why they really need me here. The things are in place that need to be, and that’s the whole point of building a good system over time is these are not, things are going to happen overnight.

Jay Owen (17:24):

You can’t listen to this today. If you’ve never taken a week off, you should not be trying to figure out to take a month off right now. You should be thinking, hey, how do I take a long weekend? And then, hey, how do I take a week off? And then what needs to be true? This is my favorite question. So two years from now, I want to take a one month vacation. You might say to yourself, and the big question you need to ask is what needs to be true today in order for that to be true then because all of us have big dreams and visions and ideas, but the big mistake is to leave them  in vision and dreamland and not take steps towards them. You know, ideas are fine, but execution is everything.

Jay Owen (17:59):

And, and I think the big thing that people like me, the big mistake I make in these situations, I want to do all the things at once. And I just can’t and I have to learn like, what’s the one next step I got to take. So if you’re not taking a week off, just take a long weekend, find a way to make that true. And some things might break and that’s okay. Especially if you’re in a product or service business, like, you know, I always say my brother’s a doctor. And he used to work for in the ER for a while. And I think, man, if he makes a mistake, somebody dies. If we make a mistake and most of the business and service world that many of us are in there listening to this, worst case scenario, we lose money, that’s it.

Jay Owen (18:36):

And that’s not that bad. I always tell people, you can always go get more money. You can. That’s the beauty of the free market economy that we get to live in. There are story after story of people who ended up bankrupt and are now multi-millionaires right. That happens all the time. And so you can always get more money. You know what? You can’t get more of time. You can’t get any more time. And I know, like I knew this summer, for example, my kids are at a unique age that my youngest was seven. When we took this trip, my oldest was 15. I don’t get a whole lot more opportunities to take all of them on a trip like that ever again, ever. And so do you think that one more client, one more project, $5,000, $10,000, a hundred thousand dollars, a million dollars makes a difference in some of those scenarios and the answer is no, it absolutely does.

Jay Owen (19:23):

Not because you cannot buy that time back, especially in particular seasons of life. And so my kids were in a particular season where I thought, wow, what an opportunity. And we went and took a 30 day RV trip and it was amazing. You joked about Instagram earlier, Rob. And I think what’s interesting about social media in general, is it often is the highlight reel, right? It’s not the behind the scenes of like, what really happened, but I’m telling you on this family RV trip, I kid you not, it was like the one time where I watched the back and thought, well, that looked fun, but it wasn’t as fun as it actually was. And there were things that went wrong. You got five kids in an RV, you’re going to have some problems, but overall it was amazing.

Jay Owen (20:03):

I think that’s the big thing for everybody that I want to hear out of that is you just have to ask that question, what needs to be true today in order for that thing in the future to be true, and then to take one step towards it and then another and another and another, and before you know it, you’re going to look back and be like, wow, here I am. And for me, like, I love what they, Randy says. He always jokes. He said, you know, people always say I’m overnight success. And he’s like, yeah, I busted my tail for 20 years. And then I was an overnight success. And that’s what you will find in your own journey in business and an entrepreneurship. If you just keep stepping forward, stop worrying about other people are doing stop worrying about your competition and worry about yourself.

Jay Owen (20:39):

Am I a little bit better than I was yesterday? Am I I’m a little bit better than I was last year? Is my company a little better than it was last year? The only people we compete against ourselves from last year, that’s it. I don’t care about my competition is doing, I congratulate them and applaud them. I mean, technically Rob you and I, our competition, we both do a lot of the same work, but I would much rather collaborate and work together on things that sees so much more value because I believe in a big ocean, I believe in a big opportunity where there’s plenty of work for both of us or more work than either of us could ever handle that people need help getting their messaging right. And growing their business. And I love that. I love that environment

Rob Hughes (21:12):

Preach. I just I’m like, okay, as we’re recording here, I know this is, this is one of those podcasts that I’m going to be downloading and listening to snippets of over and over and over again. I think many of you listening in Thrive Collective family. This is just gold, Jay. It’s mindset training. What you’re bringing to us as a whole new mindset. It’s like plugging into new OS. Yeah. So I’m just like, okay. So I got to know. You’re away on vacation. You’re physically out of the office in an RV. How was detox for you going into that? Where you are fully disconnecting? I mean, come on. You’re an, enneagram three, I’m an Enneagram three. Let’s be honest here. I know it’s tough to disconnect from that productivity mode. Yeah. So talk to us about the limiting beliefs you jumped like that were haunting you, how you were overcoming some of those mindset barriers being physically gone during that time.

Jay Owen (22:18):

Yeah. You know, it’s interesting. I really worked hard even on things like what I was like learning on the trip. I actually, which is very rare for me. I even tried to disconnect completely from like business education and growth over those 30 days. So, I did a lot of driving. I drove 8,000 miles in that RV and I listened to a lot of fiction books, which is not very common for me. Because I was trying to do exactly what you said, which is detox from the hustle, because like we live in a hustle society. We praise… Let me give a story actually. Last night my wife and I lead a young married kind of small group from our church where everybody in the groups have married. Like one couples new and not even married yet, they’re engaged, a couple of other have been married a year or two, I think three years is the most.

Jay Owen (23:11):

And we were kind of talking about how God has used healer. We’ve seen healing in our lives over time or how God’s intervention has created a different outcome in our lives that maybe would have happened otherwise without him. And what ended up happening is people started talking about their kind of weaknesses or vices, if you will. And it really got deep. There were some people talking about like, you know, really some dark outcomes with, they might, they felt like they might’ve ended up in drugs or they might’ve ended up, I mean, gosh, they might even ended up not being here anymore in person. You know? And what was interesting was one of the girls in the group I resonated with so much because she said, you know, I think I would just work myself to death. I think I would just be so hungry for success all the time that I would just, I would just basically bury myself in work.

Jay Owen (23:55):

I would work 12 hours, 16 hours a day. And just be constantly climbing that ladder of success. And I said, what was really interesting about that to me is that our culture, especially our American culture would praise that behavior. And, and yet she was speaking of it in a sense as it being a vice or a weakness. And I said, you know desire and drive are not inherently bad. Even money is not inherently bad. Even biblically people say, well, money is the root of all evil. That’s not what the Bible says. The Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil. And, and so, and so those things aren’t necessarily bad, but you got to check them. And our society says, you shouldn’t, it says you should hustle, hustle, hustle, run, run, run. And I just know that some of my greatest opportunities, visions, ideas, and dreams have come from great rest, not from great work.

Jay Owen (24:54):

And everybody knows this to be true. We just don’t practice it. When do your best ideas come? They come, when we’re in the shower, they come, when we’re driving in the car, they tell them when we’re in moments where we don’t have the opportunity to do all these other things and the biggest danger that we have right now. And I love technology is that smartphone in our pocket, because it is constantly absorbing our attention mindset and focus, and we no longer give our brains the opportunity to have freedom. And it’s amazing what God gave us within the human brain, the opportunity of what it can create and think up and dream up. But if we’re constantly filling it with something, that’s filling those voids, what opportunities are we missing? And so I was really intentional about not even educating myself. I did not read a single business or self-help book which I normally would have read probably eight of them. Over that 30 days instead, all I did was listen to fiction or music. And that was hard for me, but that detox created so many ideas out of that. I came back from that trip. So revved up, so fired up with so many ideas and I wasn’t even trying to produce them. They just came, you know, because I gave my brain the freedom and space to do it. And you might be surprised that maybe what you need in your business is actually a little rest, not a little hustle.

Rob Hughes (26:06):

Okay. The enneagram three deep in me is saying, okay, did you bring like a mole skin that you just captured? All of those ideas, even though you couldn’t take action, like, I want to know, like, what did you do with those ideas? 

Jay Owen (26:25):

When they came from my rest, I’m a big, like, not even a fancy mole skin guy, I’m like an old school, yellow, legal pad kind of guy, which is funny. Cause I love technology so much, but man, there’s something about visceral to me about putting pen on a piece of paper. I think there’s still something magical in that tactile environment. So, I would just have a legal pad and I make some notes. I still have my laptop with me. I still had my phone with me. One of the phone tricks that I do though is I am completely addicted to my email. And so I actually have to physically remove my email off of my phone. So, I go into settings, I delete, literally delete the email app, delete email account off of my phone. I had another buddy. One time he went to the extreme of actually having his assistant change his password on his email. So he was incapable of accessing it without calling her to get his password, to log into his email and didn’t have to humiliate himself by admitting that he couldn’t stay away from his email.

Jay Owen (27:11):

And I think sometimes like I have to put that boundary in place. I have to physically remove my email from my phone. Otherwise I just will habitually click it, check it, see if I got new messages, see if anything I needed to do. So I had to take some of those actions as well. But as far as noting ideas, this yellow legal pad for me just jot those ideas down and then come back and start to kind of flush them out. And I think the beauty of taking that much time is ideas sometimes need a little time to marinate. I’m the kind of guy who likes to take action too quickly sometimes. And sometimes they just need a little time to process. And so writing them down, let them sit and then look at them the next day and you go, Oh, that’s really close, but it’s not quite there. And again, I wasn’t intentionally trying to do business strategy, but look, if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re not going to get completely away from it. And that’s not bad either, but you’re giving yourself the space in your brain, the opportunity to have a little freedom to roam and there’s some magic there.

Rob Hughes (28:07):

Yeah. I love it. You know, just relating back a little bit earlier when I go for morning runs, Heather laughs at me, when I come back in the house, she’s like, what are you doing? I’ve run straight over my journal to write down the thoughts that I’ve been processing for the last 12 minutes on my way back from my run. Like, it’s like, Oh, I had this idea, our team, we call them the “Robisms”, when Robs like, Hey, I got this idea. It’s like, okay, yeah, sometimes you’re right, they have to marinate a bit. Okay. What was the, I mean, you had all sorts of fun with your family. So just a recreation question. Like if you could point to highlighting one of the experiences that you had over that 30 days, that was just a sweet, fun, restorative entertaining time with your family. What would you, what would you share with us?

Jay Owen (28:53):

My favorite place, like I said, we did 11 national parks and I I’ve been in a lot of places, but mainly a lot of big cities and I’ve seen like the mountains and stuff, but not like this. When we saw almost the whole country we skipped the West coast and the East coast where we did basically everything in between and that kind of Western section, you know, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, that whole section there, gosh, what a beautiful, beautiful area. But specifically if I had to pick one thing, a Zion national park, it’s one of the smaller national parks, but it’s absolutely stunning. It’s in Southern Utah and there’s a section there called the narrows. And it’s basically this cavern that you’re walking through. You’re almost like walking through a Canyon, I should say, not a cavern you walk through a Canyon and it has water throughout.

Jay Owen (29:37):

So the kids loved it. Cause the kids like playing in water, you know, and some of the water’s like a few inches deep and some of its feet deep. I mean, it’s pretty intense. And I actually thought that the kids couldn’t do it, but after I talked to some of the guides and stuff, they’re like, I don’t know, you can, you just have to throw out equipment and you just don’t do the whole thing. You can just kind of go out a couple of miles and come back. But it was just so stunning. You know, I feel like I’m pretty good with a camera. I can take some pretty good photos and videos and we’re all fortunate to have, you know, amazing phones in our pockets now that take these great photos, but I’m telling you, like I don’t have a single photo or video that even like remotely captures the stunning beauty of that place. And there’s something about just sitting in nature and looking around and going, wow, like this is unbelievable. And the Zion national park, a lot of places we went, I loved loved a lot of them, but Zion specifically, if I had to pick one place, that’s where I’m going back.

Rob Hughes (30:33):

Got it. So in your book, when you build the business framework, you have to have like a sample agenda or an example 30 day trip summary of all the big highlights. Just so those of us who are looking for like the easy framework to map out all of those stops, we can do that. Make sure Zion’s right.

Jay Owen (30:49):

It’s funny. Cause my wife, we were talking about the trip and a lot of people have asked us about the trip and I’m like, well, dang it, well, we should have done, this is the entrepreneur me was buy the RV and then plan the trip out for other people and just rent the RV out. But they, but they would just follow our agenda, just do what we told them to do. And it would be great. So we might plan an RV trip, planning business at some point, I don’t know. Well, who knows? It was fun.

Rob Hughes (31:09):

Yeah. I love it. Love it, love it. Okay. So I mean, there’s so much that can be said. We could probably have a full recording an episode on each day of your trip, but now bring us back to that returning day 29, day 30, you’re getting your business head back on. Talk to us about the re-entry experience from this. What was that like for you? Anything that you’d share with us?

Jay Owen (31:36):

Yeah, I mean, I think it was such a, it’s just been such a weird year, you know, that I don’t think in any other year it would have happened this way. I think to some extent, a little bit of it was like, it sounds bad, but some of the craziness of this year was kind of a grace. And that when I came back, most of my team at that point was still working remotely. And so it wasn’t weird that I wasn’t in the office. And at the time we kind of went through a, another time to tell a story. We kinda went through a wild season where not only did we go on an RV trip, we had just sold our house. So we sold our house. We were building a new house. It wasn’t quite done yet. And we’re like, that’s the perfect time to take an RV trips.

Jay Owen (32:14):

We took that 30 day RV trip and then we actually ended up living in condos for a couple of months. So it was a very unusual work season for me. The beauty of the work that, that I get to do is I really can do it from anywhere. That’s also a curse by the way. I always say, especially with so many people working at home now, one of the beauties of working at home is you don’t have to go to work. The bad news is you never get to leave. And so having that segmentation, especially when we’re living in out of condos and everything else. So that was a tricky season to get back into everything. But thankfully my team had just done such a good job. I even had somebody kind of reviewing and cleaning up my emails along the way. So I wasn’t like coming back to what would probably be like 2000 emails. And so I kind of planned some of those things ahead of time. So that would be a little bit cleaner when I came back. And I think that the pandemics reality of remote work actually made that transition a little bit easier. Because it wasn’t like I was just popping back in the office randomly after 30 days and it created, allowed for kind of a gradual transition. So, that was probably different than what it might be in a typical season of life.

Rob Hughes (33:22):

And, and I’m just curious from the team’s perspective as well, Jay, what new muscle or capabilities emerged from your absence? Because you know, in the absence of, you know, you, I mean, you’ve got a leadership team that’s in place, but like, did you see any benefits, like long-term muscle that was built that came out of this

Jay Owen (33:42):

For sure. I mean, at the end of the day, what I want people to realize, and this sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true is they don’t really need me. And look, I have certainly have benefits and value that I bring to the company as a whole, but I want to create an environment where people on my team are being developed in a way that regardless of when they leave here and that’s a hard thing to talk about, well, don’t you want people to stay here forever. Yeah. But they’re probably not going to, like when you have that many people on a team, chances are at some point they’re going to leave the team either because they chose to, or because I chose for them to leave one of those two options. And I want them to be able to look back over that season and go, wow, look how much I grew during the season and how much impact I had personally on the company, on our clients.

Jay Owen (34:26):

And, and so I think me being gone gives people the freedom to go, you know what Jay told me, I just gotta make a decision. I’m just gonna make the decision. And then people find, well, I can, I can make these things myself. I don’t have to have somebody else do it. And that frees me up too, because what a lot of people do is they put themselves in places where everybody feels like they have to come to them with every possible question. And what I’ve always told my team, but it’s especially true now is do not bring me a problem unless you have a possible solution. Now it doesn’t have to be a good idea. It could just be an idea like here’s the problem. Here’s what I think we should do about it because my first question is going to be well, what do you think we should do about that?

Jay Owen (35:03):

And they’re like, well, I don’t know. That’s why I’m coming to, you know, what do you think we should do about that? And most of the time, whenever they say, well, I think we should try this, this and this. And I’d be like, great. Give that a try, see how it works. Unless I really am confident that what they’re telling me is a really bad idea. I’m probably going to let them try their idea because I think that’s what leadership is. It’s giving people the space and the opportunity to grow and to learn. And I think that’s what the trip did is it gave me that space. It gave the team that space with not having me here. They couldn’t me a question because I wasn’t around. So they had either figured out or ask somebody else on the team. And I think that makes a stronger team.

Jay Owen (35:44):

I think that leaders leaders can help develop strong teams, but at the end of the day, the strongest team is the one that finds, they don’t even need the leader anymore. And this sounds like I’m like trying to prepare myself to leave or something, but I’m really not. I just think it’s in everybody’s best interest. It’s in my best interest, it’s in the company’s best interest and it’s in the team’s best interest if they’re able to keep the thing flowing. And, and here’s a big thing too. The words we use matter a lot, this just kind of reminded me and it actually relates to the name of the show, ironically. So it’s a good transition is I used to say, I just want the company to be able to be able to survive X number of days without me. And the big terminology change that I made last year was I said, no, no, that’s not good enough. I want the company to thrive without me there. And the, the idea and the words that we use, matter if I say I want the company to survive without me there, that particular picture, which is okay, it’s better than it. Not surviving, but how much better is it if the company is thriving without me. And that’s what I want.

Rob Hughes (36:49):

Powerful, powerful, powerful. I got to imagine, you know, the team benefits from this, they’re blessed by your, this mentality. They’re empowered. It is Daniel Pink that says autonomy, purpose and mastery. If we in his book drive, if we give that to our team, we give them the autonomy. I love what you’re saying about you bring the solution with the problem. We’re letting them have autonomous kind of control over proposing those solutions. We’re giving them the freedom for that. We allow them to hone their mastery, which ultimately is their technical ability. And then also ultimately give them the purpose of which you’re casting a clear vision. You’re giving them that mission. That’s the intrinsic motivation that we want to see in our team members. And it sounds like you’ve done that very, very well. From the client’s perspective, last kind of questions. We’re debriefing this from the client’s perspective. Were there any clients that were challenged by your exit? How did that look or are you fully not engaged with clients at this point?

Jay Owen (37:52):

I have very, very few like direct project or client engagements anymore. So there were, there are a couple of clients who I help with on a high level strategy perspective that I meet with on a relatively regular basis, but there’s only literally like a cup, like two. And they knew well in advance what the plan was. They knew what the intent was, and we had planned out everything that they needed from me prior to that season. So I think that’s one big thing is you have to look at your company and figure out how to get yourself out of the day to day of checking tasks and doing things if that’s what you want. And some people don’t, and that’s fine. You just need to know that, like need to know that you’ve made that decision. Everybody is not made to run a 15 person or a 50 person or a 500 person company.

Jay Owen (38:42):

And that’s okay. Some people just want to be great freelancers and they just want to own their job versus owning a business, nothing wrong with that at all. I did that for a decade. It’s great. But at some point, if you decide you want to scale a business that can operate and outlive you those are the things you have to kind of start to decide is how you can get yourself out of the day-to-day project work. And that’s hard, especially if you’re the one who started doing all the things. I mean, I can do every job at this company, but I always say my job is to hire people that can do those individual jobs better than I can. I’m a, I’m a better designer than the vast majority of the people in this country. I’m not a better designer. The designers on my team, I’m a better writer than the vast majority of this country.

Jay Owen (39:25):

I’m not a better writer than the writers on my team. And so I’m, I’m more of the Jack of all trades. And the danger of that is and I did this for years is it’s easy to get sucked back into project one, cause I want to help cause I am three on the Enneagram, but I’m also a wing too, which is a helper. So I get great joy out of jumping into a project going, Hey, how can I help? But my team actually told me one of the questions I’ll ask them occasionally at our quarterlies is, Hey, what should I stop doing? And what should I start doing? And one of the things that multiple team members said one quarter was you need to stop putting yourself into projects. And frankly, what they said was because you don’t finish them, well, you come in, you inject all these ideas, but then you’re not the one who’s like carrying it out and that’s not helpful. And I’m like, ooh, okay. Yeah, that’s good feedback. And so now I work really hard, especially we have an open office environment. So sometimes I’ll overhear something and it takes everything in me sometimes not be like, Oh, here’s what you should do. Try this, try this, try this. And I just have to go, no, no, no, let them, let them figure it out and there’ll be better for it. And the clients would better for it. And the company will be better for it.

Rob Hughes (40:30):

Jay, this is incredible. I mean, just the ideas that you’re sharing with us and the thrive collective community. I think any entrepreneur who’s listening to this as saying, my gosh, I aspire to that. This is like, yes, we want to move in this direction, equipping and empowering our teams to be able to function in our absence. And I love the idea of working yourself out of a job to, to really elevate into that visionary role, a visionary leader that, that God’s called you to be, because that is uniquely your unique gift set, that’s uniquely your calling. So, the principle of that is to find your unique calling. Maybe it is freelancer, maybe it is scaling a business. But live in, in that uniqueness that God has wired into. You thrive collective in, into your unique calling. So, Jay, I just, I I’d feel remiss if I didn’t just open it up to any other piece of advice that you’d like to share with our community in closing. And then also I’d really love for you to lay out a little bit more about this event that you’ve got coming up in the first quarter of 2021. So, the floor is my friend.

Jay Owen (41:34):

Yeah. So the event I’m really excited about, you know, the reality is that most people start their business because they want to work in a certain area that gives them purpose, or they want to create a certain amount of money or wealth, or they want to have a certain amount of freedom or some combination of all three of those things. Nobody starts their business to be worn out and stressed out and ready to quit. But I know so many entrepreneurs who land in that space and I have been there. I almost quit many years ago. I didn’t think I could make it work. My first year of business, I was 17 years old. I made $5,500. Several years later, I was only making about $25,000 total revenue and went to work for my uncle in the insurance business. And I thought, you know he drives a nice car and has a couple of houses and he’ll fade out, I’ll fade in and I’ll become the new opening associates.

Jay Owen (42:28):

Why not? It’s a silver spoon. Seems like a good idea. I worked on for six months. I learned more about business and caring for clients that I probably ever would at any school, but I hated the insurance business. And I came home one day and I knew I married the right woman when I sat next to my wife on the couch and I was crying cause I’m a bit of a crier. And I said baby, I can do this. And I could probably make a lot of money at it, but I think I’m going to hate it my whole life. She said, so quit and do what you love. And that was the day that I decided to take that business, that wasn’t making enough money to even pay for the things that we had as a couple and turn it into something that would thrive over time.

Jay Owen (43:07):

And from that day forward, we’ve grown every single year, year, over year for 21 years. And now we have a thriving team and an amazing environment that has the opportunity for other people on my team to live great lives, where they can care for their families. And, and now I have purpose in the work that I get to do and, and I make a good living and I’m able to care for my family and do fun things like big vacations. And, and I have freedom to be able to take time off and not feel like the whole thing’s going to crumble around me. So that’s why I am writing this new book and why I’m doing this live event. That’s coming up March 29th and 30th of 2021. People think I’m crazy for planning a live event in the midst of a pandemic, but I think it’s the perfect time.

Jay Owen (43:52):

And here’s why I think that in 2021 businesses are going to need two things. Business owners, leaders, and entrepreneurs are gonna need an opportunity to reset, reboot their business and get a new plan, a clear plan moving forward. And I think that they’re gonna need some wrists because we’ve all been through a lot. So I thankfully live in the beautiful sunny St. Augustine, Florida. That’s the nation’s oldest city. It’s right on the Bay front. We have a beautiful beach and I thought let’s do an event. And so we’re going to bring 150 leaders, owners and entrepreneurs together. And I’m going to teach over two days the business growth framework of how to get the right people, process, product, and promotion in place so that you can scale your business and have the purpose, income, and freedom that you’ve always wanted without being stressed out and worn out and ready to quit. So if you want more information about that, you can find it online at businessbuilderslive.com. And the tickets are actually on sale right now. We’re only selling 150 seats. I’m going to keep it a relatively small event so that I can, maybe it can be a little more personal and my team can care for the people that are there. So I’m super excited about that. March 29th and 30th 2021,

Rob Hughes (44:55):

Well, Thrive Collective family, I encourage you check out business builders live look up Jay Owen. Jay, thank you so much for the investment that you make into this community. And it’s just been such a joy and an honor to have you on the show. Hey, Thrive Collective, you know who you are, you’re the business owners, entrepreneurs, and leaders with a vision for your life. And this show is designed to help you make more money, avoid costly mistakes, and fully integrate your faith into your life and leadership. Hey, thanks for investing this time together. We pray that it has tremendous ROI to the business that you lead. It we’ll see in the next episode, take care.

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