Davies Allen, P.C. Interviews Jason Bangerter
D+ A: Tell us about yourself and your company:
I’m an entrepreneur and I have a few different companies. One is an agency; we do work nationally for a variety of large, well-known companies. We work for Jack in the Box, McDonald’s, Porsche, and General Motors. We worked with Nickelodeon, Universal Studios, and Sony Pictures, to name a few. I was involved with Struck as a co-founder, and started from the freelance business that I ran for seven years. I went to school at BYU and got a bachelors of fine arts and design and started Struck right after that.
Have you always known you would be an entrepreneur?
My dad is an entrepreneur, so I already knew that this is my thing. I grew up around it. I asked my dad once, when I was little, “How come you never became a dentist?” because he was in the Navy during Vietnam as a dental technician and he said, “Jason, dentists can work on one mouth at a time, but a builder can build a hundred houses at once.”
I used to talk to my neighbor who was always home at noon every day. He was an Allstate agent, and I said, “How come you’re always working part-time and my dad is always gone?” and he said, “Jason, it’s really easy, it’s called process. I go in the morning at nine and then I leave everyday at noon and I have an assistant who comes in.” This was before cell phones. She took phone calls and wrote down what he needed to know, and the next day he’d come in and call them back in the morning. He said, “Why would I need to come in and sit there all day to call people when I can spend half my day working, and the other half with my family?” That really inspired me, the process.
As I was building Struck, a service-based company, one thing that struck me (no pun intended), was the technology. Technology allows you to create process. I wanted to create a business that was involved in process versus people. I’d rather let technology be the process.
What would you say is your main drive? What’s the light at the end of the tunnel for you?
One of the lessons my dad taught me as a young boy was this idea of passive income. The reason passive income is important is because it drives what’s more important to me, and that’s my freedom. What interests me is to create opportunity for other people. People think entrepreneurship is to create your own job. I don’t want that. I want to create an opportunity so that other people can work and I can spend more time thinking about opportunities or ideas. Money is a means to an end.
When have you made a mistake that you wish you could go back on?
That’s actually one of the things I like to talk about. Most people don’t like to talk about that because they want to get up and speak about how amazing they are and what they’ve done. Frankly, if you don’t know that person is human and they’ve made mistakes, it means nothing.
There have been a lot of mistakes. Where I have not made a mistake is that I’ve got a great family that supports me, a wife and four daughters. One of the things I strive for is to make the right decisions so that they know I’m doing the right thing.
As far as challenges go, I’d say the biggest challenge people ask me about is, “How do you go from being an employee to self employment?” I’ve learned early on that you have to set yourself up for living below your means. If I’m out spending money on things that don’t matter, I’m never going to have the opportunity to improve myself. In college, I lived in a 450 square foot apartment. I remember at the time, other students were excited for their $6.50 jobs, and what they didn’t know was that I was making $150,000 a year in my apartment doing freelance design. I could command those types of prices because I had a relationship with all of my clients. The challenge is to move into that space. One way you do that is to start doing something you love on nights or weekends, and once the word spreads and people realize that you are good at it, they want to buy your products and services. They’ll be drawn to you. If you are living below your means, then it’s much easier to make the transition because you are not leveraged by spending too much money or having credit card debt. That’s one challenge people have brought up and how I solve that.
Some key challenges or problems that I would do differently is realize that people don’t always think like me. What motivates me is different than what motivates you or other people. What motivates me is not a paycheck. What I would rather see happen is taking a big chunk of equity and sell it for a ton of money. I then use that money to build something new. That’s how I think.
Do you feel like passive income is a means to getting to your creativity?
If I don’t have to worry about where my next paycheck is coming from and I live beneath my means, I can focus on what matters to me, which is helping other people. That’s what motivates me.
What do you feel like has been your biggest inspiration?
I’m inspired by a couple of people. One of them is a man by the name of Michael Gerber, the first business book that I read that he wrote was called The E-Myth. It’s an awesome book. It really resonated with me. I love what he talks about in process and business. I’ve done a lot of the things that he talks about in that book.
The other is a man by the name of Tim Ferris. He wrote a book called The Four Hour Workweek. It’s a great book. There are a few things that aren’t exactly things that I agree with, but the concept is sound. The concept is thinking differently. He talked about a job he had as a sales person, and he got in trouble for only working one hour a day, yet he produced more than anyone in the company. Eventually he was fired. When everyone was coming in at 9 and leaving at 5, they were running into gatekeepers, when they only really needed to get to the CEO of the company. When he got in early and the phone rang, he would personally pick it up and talk to [the CEO] directly to make the sale. I loved his concept of thinking through a different process to get a better result.
I also have a deep admiration for Steve Jobs. He always knew exactly what he wanted and he was a visionary. We saw that when he got kicked out of his own company and the company faltered for years on the verge of bankruptcy. I liked how he could think differently. As a matter of fact, the way he got it out of bankruptcy was he called his old foe, Bill Gates and said “Listen, I’m back at Apple, and I’m going to fold unless I get a big loan, and that loan is going to come from you because you also need competition. If you knock me out, you won’t have any competition and you’ll have a problem.” [Bill Gates] actually gave Apple the money to get through those tough times, which Jobs used to innovate and build the company in the right direction.
How do you feel like relationships with your employees or people around you have influenced your success?
If I’m going to leverage someone’s time, there’s two ways to go about it. I can be that boss that is demanding and squeezes every last drop of their time and have them resent me, or I can be a real influencer and lead by example and look for little ways to enhance their life and career. John Maxwell wrote a book called 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, and in it, he says leadership equals influence. If I’m not an influencer, how can I lead? Because “lead” states that I’m leading from the front and people are following me. If I’m pushing people and micromanaging them, telling them what to do, not inspiring them, or not personally vested in their success, then I’m failing my own employees.
What is a method you use to inspire people around you?
When I’m talking to someone for the first time and interviewing them, I tell them something really simple. I tell them “You have permission to be great.” What that means is now you have complete permission to do amazing things and I’m not going to get in your way and there is going to be no politics, you’re not going to find me being jealous about your success. You’re going to find that you have nothing holding you back. You can do amazing things.