23 Aug August 28, 2019 – View from the Top Aaron Walker and Pet Entrepreneur Shane Whelan
Consistency has been my number one asset. Right after building relationships.
Aaron Walker has been a small business leader, devoted husband, and community leader for almost four decades. He benefited from the advice, support, and knowledge given to him by others, and that inspired him to help others form similar groups. View from the Top offers a one-of-a-kind Mastermind program called Iron Sharpens Iron (ISI). ISI brings together 10-12 interested men into a video conference where each person lifts up, encourages, mentors, and supports the other members. This deep engagement with others strengthens each participant’s ability to be fully accountable in their business, spiritual, and personal lives, and bolsters their ability to engage with others, act effectively, and be the best people they possibly can.
When you have a genuine interest in interesting things and interesting people, a lot of cool opportunities open up for you. I made a lot of friends my first year of doing this.
Shane Whelan is the owner of Pet Containment Services and PetBidder (also called Petfenceology). With Pet Containment Services, he meets with pet owners in their homes to learn their indoor and outdoor pet containment needs. They do all the work of installing an invisible fence, from determining a price to training your pets to ensure they stay within the invisible fence’s boundaries. Shane also owns PetBidder, a software program that helps lets pet fencing companies automate their sales process, from offering proposals to following up possible leads.
Highlights from Aaron’s Interview
Normal… and I won’t be normal for the remainder of my life. But I got to go way back. When I was 13 years old, I helped my dad remodel a location and turn it into a pawn shop. I didn’t know what a pawn shop was. I asked the guy for a job; he hired me on the spot. I spent the next five years there, working every day, and fell in love with the business. I found a couple of partners, we formed a partnership. We called it a historian loan company. We launched our first store, I was 18. My partners were solid partners, they had a lot of money, because I didn’t have any, so we had to get some money somewhere, and we launched that business. I got married a year later, and Robin and I decided to pour every bit of resources back into the business. We paid a 10 year loan off in about 36 months, and then we continue to build the business to what it was when we sold it to a Fortune 500 9 years later.
I think just my grit and determination and perseverance made it work. First and foremost, I didn’t go to college; I wanted to work. So I worked hard every day; I developed a mindset of I can do it. Not, I can’t. My mom had a saying when I was a child, she would say “Can’t couldn’t do it, and could did it all.” And it really helps. And I hated it. When she would say that, I hated it at first. But she said, “You’re not allowed to say the word can’t.” And I would say, “Why?” She said, “Because you’re at least going to try.” And as a result of pushing me to try things, it really developed that self esteem. It gave me that confidence that I needed, and I’ve really adopted that as my life mantra. Now people ask me, “Can you do it?” I say , “Yes, I can do it. You just need to give me a little time to figure it out.” The problem for most folks today is they don’t believe in themselves. And I want to encourage your listeners today, if you don’t believe in yourself, you’re not going to be very successful. So you have to have some measure of confidence in yourself.
It’s a mindset. Carol Dweck talks about it in her book Mindset. She said we either have a growth or a fixed mindset. Fixed mindset says, “The way I was born, it’s the cards I was dealt.” The growth mindset says, “Hey, it may have been the cards I was dealt, but I’ll get a new hand. It may be the way that it is perceived today, but with enough education, experience, mentorship, community around me, I can change that.”
The biggest asset, as far as I’m concerned, to changing your mindset, is being involved in a community of some sort, an accountability group, a small group, a mastermind group. Isolation is the enemy to excellence. If you want to excel at anything in your life, you’ve got to have a measure of community around you, to hold you accountable, to help you, to encourage you, to edify you, lift you up, and propel you to heights that you don’t think you can do. Gay Hendricks talks about it in The Big Leap. We all have this ceiling, and we need to operate in our lane of genius. It takes oftentimes others to help point us to that lane of genius. Not our zone of competence, but our zone of genius. And when we figure that out, we’ll gain a wealth of experience and we’ll then have that measure of competence that we’re looking for.
I believe that we all have an innate ability to accomplish something from a masterful standpoint, if we choose. I think where we dropped the ball is that we don’t choose. I think we have that fixed mindset, and we say we can’t do it, so therefore you don’t. And I do think there is a quality within us. I believe we’re all created with a purpose, and I think that we have to search diligently to find out what that is. But yes, I believe we all have the ability to excel at something.
There’s opportunity out there everywhere, we live in the best times there could possibly be for opportunity today. I would only wish that we had had the internet and social media when I first started like we do today. There’s just so many opportunities out there today. When I retired the first time, I was 27 years old, and I was finished forever. I said I’m done. And then I got very depressed. I gained 50 pounds. I was getting into bed in the middle of the day. And Robin walked in one day, she said, “Hey, this is not what I signed up for, and you’ve got to do something.” So I went back and bought the location that I had left when I was 18 years old, and we grew it four times the size it was over the next nine years. I think there’s opportunity out there for everyone. I think that we’ve got to develop a half full mentality, not a half empty mentality. There’s too many people out there today that say, “It’s just not in the cards for me, it’s not my luck.” And I think we create our luck. The harder you work, the luckier you get. You gotta be moving, a lot of people are sitting waiting on that perfect opportunity, and I say figure it out as you go. It’s a lot easier to row a moving boat than it is to get it out of the gate. And so I say, pivot and turn and adapt and iterate as you go. But the important thing is, is that you launch, and once you launch, you’ll figure it out.
First of all, I started every business that I’ve had. So out of the gate, I created it. I’m a creator, developer, I’m not a maintainer manager. I get bored with things after a period of time, because once I figure it out, I’m ready for the new challenge, and that’s the reason that I’ve been involved in numbers of things, real estate, the pawnshop, business construction, coaching, is because I love to create and get it going.
I came from a very poor family, my dad never made over $15,000 a year in his life. I didn’t go to college, I actually graduated from high school two years early. I had enough credits in the 10th grade to graduate. I went back my senior year to walk the line. But other than that, my junior and senior year, I only had to attend one class. And the reason that was so is because I worked all day long. I went to school at night, I got up early the next morning, went to work again. I did that for 18 months, so that I could go out on my own. The problem is there’s not enough people with that level of grit and determination. I knew what I wanted early, and you’ve got to have extreme focus. In order to do that, you can’t have the shiny object syndrome. You’ve got to be willing to go for it, and I was just willing to go forward. There were some things that I was willing to give up on, there were some things that I knew I wanted, and I was just willing to go for it. I didn’t do anything differently than anyone listening to my voice today could do if they wanted to. We’ve got to have a strategy. We’ve got to have a plan, we’ve got to work the system. And we’ve got to do it consistently every single day. Consistency has been my number one asset, right under building relationships. If you have those two qualities, you’re going to be successful if you work it right.
I disagree with people who say they can’t. I completely, vehemently disagree with that. That’s the victim mentality. And I don’t believe in a victim mentality. Listen, you can’t take me out of a suburban area in Nashville, Tennessee, where we live in a 600 square foot house, my mom puts canned goods in the pantry during the summer so we have something to eat in the winter. And I’m not singing you the blues, I’m just telling you the reality of it. My dad gave $6500 for the house we lived in, and we lost it in bankruptcy when I was eight years old, so I know about being broken down and out. We didn’t know anybody. We didn’t have any connections. We didn’t have any relationships. I didn’t have anything stacked in my favor, zero. But here’s what I did. I had a desire to live life differently. I watched my dad sweep the snow off of a roof in the middle of a winner to reroute the house to get money so we could eat. Okay, so I know all about being broke. Okay, so I didn’t come from an environment where everything was given to me, for someone to just lay there on the couch and go, I’m 21 years old, cards is stacked against me. Get your behind off the couch. Go out there, start working diligently every day at doing this task. Learn more than anybody else about that thing.
We were in a pretty swanky restaurant in San Francisco when my daughters were younger, and this celebrity walked in the door. I won’t call his name, this celebrity walked in the door. And I said, “You know, he pulled up in that Ferrari and he’s in those nice clothes and wearing that diamond ring. He’s got plenty money,” I said, “Why?” I said, “He knows something you don’t, and it’s your job to figure out what that is.” And that’s what we can do in any industry that there is, it’s just that most people, forgive me for saying this, they’re lazy. That’s the truth of the matter. They don’t want this. And here’s what I did, for nine years, when I opened my first pawn shop. Robin and I took an $18,000 a year salary for nine years. Okay, the first 36 months I paid it off, and I could have increased my lifestyle. I live in a $19,500 condominium. I could have bought any house I wanted at that time. We bought a $79,000 house after we’ve been married five years, we continue to pour the money back into the business. We delay gratification for the greater good. Now 59 years old today, 14 businesses later, and that delayed gratification paid off. I wasn’t lazy. I worked every day, I worked every Saturday, I worked every afternoon after school. And people say, “Man, Aaron, you’ve had a great life.” Yes, I have. I’ve had an amazing life. It’s been a very adventuresome life, and I’m very grateful. God has really blessed our businesses, and I’m very grateful for it. But I did my part. Every single day, just like now, we have a coaching business, and I started doing podcast interviews four years ago. I was going to do a number of those and promote my business and it started working pretty well. Today, I’ve done over 1200 podcast interviews in the past 48 months, I do about 250 a year. My voice gives out often, and people say why don’t you quit doing that, you don’t even have to do that now. Because I’ve got a message to share. And I go home at night, and I am exhausted. I squeeze every drop out of the towel, because I want people to live a life of success and significance. I want to teach people how they too can do what I’ve done. So I do go out there every single day. And I work very diligently. I work with a plan. I follow the plan every single day, the 12 week year which Brian Moran so masterfully put together. And I recommend everybody gets that program and implement it, it will add zeros to your bank account. And it will also give you a good format and a plan for you to be very successful in your life.
You can’t impose on someone else that doesn’t want it. You can’t want it worse than them. Right? You got it, that’s got to come from within. But you can garner that up with enough accountability, community around you people edifying you and encouraging you. Mentorship is very important. And you say, “Well, I don’t have a mentor.” “Well, you need to go get one.” Mentors don’t come looking for you. They’re not going to come to the door, knocking on the door and you playing Xbox or whatever the games are you play, video games. Anyway, whatever that is, and say, “Hey, I want to mentor you.” You’ve got to go out. And you’ve got to say, “Hey, Mr. Walker, or Mr. Ramsey, or Mr. Miller, or Mr. Abraham, I want you to mentor me. I want to learn. I’m going to subject myself to the scrutiny of what you say, and I want to learn. Will you be willing to teach me?” You’re going to have guys, they’re going to go, “Dang, you know, we got Little Billy here. He’s really interested.” Well, what they don’t know is that guy also may want to put you in business. He may have three. So I got friends of mine right now. They want to start new businesses, and they can’t find anybody with that grit, determination, perseverance, to put their money in, to go out and invest in them. Honestly, honest, man, we need people today to raise their hand and say, “Choose me. I want to do it. Whatever the cost, I’m ready to go and show a little level of determination.” And people with the ability are going to pour into you. But I’m not going to go hunting for those people. Those people have got to come hunting for me.
View from the Top is our parent company. Iron Sharpens Iron is our mastermind division of the parent company. So Iron Sharpens Iron is the mastermind group. We have 15 groups. Now we have representatives from nine different countries. It is an absolute amazing program. It’s where you come together on a video conference with 10 people who have like-minded, similar core values, and they challenge each other every single week to be better, whether it’s in your personal or your professional life. We help take you to the next level. Participating with a group on a weekly basis video call for an hour at a time just gives you that sense of inspiration and encouragement to take your life to different heights. And that’s what we do every single day.
There’s no difference in the groups, we just have 15 groups. We only put 10 people in a group, because I want people to have plenty air time. We do accountability meetups every single week with an accountability tool, we have man in the middle where you come in and we focus primarily on you. We read a book every month, we have themes every month. We have two live meetups here in Nashville every year, once in the spring, once in the fall, and I pay for that, all the guys do is come here. We have about 100 people come to those live meetups twice a year. And it’s just developing a support group around you that walks with you, gives you resources, gives you that accountability, gives you that sense of encouragement, gives you an introduction to the relationships that you need. And it’s a very diverse group, but the groups are all the same as far as the way they’re run.
First of all, you’ve got to see what you’re looking for. Is it industry specific? Is it primarily professional? Do you want to do life in its entirety, which we do. I almost lost my family a couple of decades ago, because I was working so much, chasing money, another store, another $50,000, $100,000, a vacation home, I was chasing all that stuff. And I came home one day, and I realized that I might come home one day with a pocketful of money to a house full of strangers. And I started thinking through what was really important. Pre-interview, I was telling you about an automobile wreck. It happened to me 18 years ago, I ran over and killed a pedestrian. And it really heightened my awareness to how fragile life is, and how we really need to be focused on today, doing the right thing. So for me, our mastermind groups, we cover everything, we talk about every component of your life. And in our group we specifically follow that niche because obviously I’m a man, and I’ve been in small groups and men’s groups and accountability groups my entire life. So I’ve chosen that to be my niche market. So it helped us become all that God intended for us to be both personally and professionally, the husband, the father, every area of life, we dive deep in to help ordinary men become extraordinary in every aspect of their life.
First of all, the core values, you’ve got to have a group where the core values align with yours. There’s some groups that don’t have any core values. Ours is honesty, integrity, vulnerability, and transparency. So those are the things that I’m looking for. I’m looking for somebody who’s willing to give and not take. It’s not just about you, it’s about the other people, as well. And so there’s certain characteristics, it’s a two way interview. You’re interviewing me, but I’ve turned down people from joining our group also, because it’s not just about what you can get out of it. It’s about what you can bring to the group. So when you’re looking for these particular groups, what is it that you’re looking for? Are you looking to grow spiritually, personally, professionally? Or is it just one of those elements? There’s phenomenal mastermind groups out there that just deal professionally. And then they’re very specific. So you, as the individual, have to decide, what is it I’m trying to accomplish? And then we can help point you towards a group.
August 1 2001, I’m headed to the office, and this guy’s crossing the street to catch a bus, and he didn’t look my way. And unfortunately, I ran over this guy, and three days later, he dies. The Vanderbilt trauma unit calls me, and said he didn’t make it. My life came literally to a screeching halt. We had a very successful company. I was working three days a week, my partner was working the other three days. And I couldn’t have had a better life. I was 40 years old at the time. And it just dawned on me that what I was chasing was money. I was chasing fame, and I was chasing success. And we had those things. We had a number of businesses by the end. And I started thinking what my legacy would have been, and it hadn’t really dawned on me until that point to even think about legacy. My legacy would have been poor kid from Nashville, Tennessee makes enough money to retire at 27, and nobody cares. And it really started to bother me, I really started thinking through that. And I talked about what I want to be remembered for with personal advisors and counselors and coaches and talked to a number of people. They said, “What do you want to be remembered for?” And I said, “I want other people’s lives to be better, as a result of having known me.” That’s what I want. And so the other businesses that we’ve started since then have been others focused. And we really help other people achieve what they’re looking for. Our good friend Ziegler says, “If you help enough people get what they want. It’s not a problem to get what you want.” That is so true. And we have made it our lives’ mission to help other people accomplish and get what they want out of life. As a result of that, consequently, we’ve been twice as successful financially in every industry that we’ve approached since then. So I think it’s just a different mindset on what is important to you? What are you willing to do to get it? And how significantly do you want to live your life?
You know, I think the definition of a significant life is independent per individual, I think you have to choose what is significant for me. Success normally is about myself, and significance is about others. There’s so many ways that you can be significant in the lives of other people, but for me, that definition is others centered. And I think that lends itself to being more of a significant life for you.
The easiest thing is to go to ViewfromtheTop.com and reach out to us. If you’re interested in developing your own mastermind, we have the Mastermind Playbook that we’re launching now. it’s going to walk you through every single facet of the things that I’ve explained to you in great detail. And you can start your own profitable mastermind group. So reach out to me, viewfromthetop.com and our book View from the Top is at all the bookstores, it’s on Amazon, feel free to reach up and grab a copy of it. Let me know if I can help you in any way.