Business Startup Challenge: Launching ULA: Balancing Business, Personal Growth, & Family Priorities w/ Jason Todd, Jon & Kirk _ Special Episode – Be Relentless
This special episode was recorded on the “Business Startup Challenge” and hosted by Jason Todd. Check out the Thinker Growth Community to gain tools, insights, and community to help you start (or improve) your entrepreneurial dream today!
“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is now.”
*** Preview from the Business Startup Challenge perspective. ***
“Promised to be a power-packed episode, we’ve got entrepreneurs Jon and Kirk, the brains behind the fascinating ULA Universe, which includes the groundbreaking product Sisu Stamina. These guys not only spill the beans on their ambitious journey from concept to launch, but also offer a look into how they managed to juggle their professional pursuits and personal lives. We delve into the ULA Universe, which interestingly isn’t just a product, but a dynamic blend of a podcast, a book, and a community element.
Ever wondered how a successful business partnership is forged? Jon and Kirk answer this question with their hard-earned wisdom, sharing the importance of fostering deep bonds of trust, common objectives and how to effectively deal with challenging situations as a unified team. In their perspective, effective communication is the key to never repeating past mistakes, and they emphasize the necessity of having a clear business agreement and the tenacity to pursue resolution relentlessly.
This episode isn’t just about business; it also touches on the importance of self-reflection, personal growth, and the need for taking care of ourselves, mentally and physically. Tune in, this episode is sure to fuel your entrepreneurial spirit!”
To learn more about the Thinker Growth Community, Jason Todd and his work, you can check it out HERE.
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Ready to dive deeper? Visit ULAUniverse.com to explore more of the impactful work we’re doing. Don’t forget to use code ‘BERELENTLESS’ at checkout to enjoy a 10% discount sitewide!
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Episode Transcript Click Here
Jon Mayo: 0:08
Well, howdy daddy everyone. So today’s conversation was actually originally hosted on the Business Startup Challenge, which is hosted by Jason Todd. Because that was a LinkedIn live, we have the ability to also bring it to you through the Be Real Up with podcast. Our topic explored the challenges that Kirk and I faced as partners and in growing our business from idea to launch and now beyond. To learn more about Jason Todd and his work, you can head over to the Thinker Growth Community, which is a community for entrepreneurs to help them engage one in relationship with one another, as well as be equipped to take their business from idea to launch and far, far beyond. So, if that interests you, the link is in the description for the show and, without further ado, let’s jump into the blast that we had exploring the ULA, how Kirk and I have learned to better love and serve one another, and what we can do to create value in this life. Thank you, and let’s go. Okay, we’re mixing up the little shameless plug and want to share some more love with Jason and the Thinker Growth Community. The link in the description will take you there. You can check it out for free, if you even have been sitting on an idea but not known how to start and want to explore how you could begin to bring that idea to life. You can head on over, create an account and get to know the folks completely for free and maybe gain some traction on doing that. So please check that out. And, of course, if you’ve not subscribed at theulauniversecom, we’d love to see you there as well. All right, let’s get on with it.
Jason Todd: 1:59
All right. Well, we are live once again with the Entrepreneur Workshop. Today we’ve got two guests, john and Kirk, who have just launched a new product and something they call ULA Universe. We’re going to talk through the challenges and the opportunities that they have, that they have seen along the way and how they balance, you know, normal life, real life, with starting a business. It’s always filled with opportunities and challenges and looking forward to learning from them. Gentlemen, welcome to the Entrepreneur Workshop, hello.
Kirk Van Everen: 2:34
Hello, welcome, glad to be here.
Jason Todd: 2:37
It’s exciting. You guys just launched this product, the CISU Stamina product, and I want to touch on that because, you know, not everybody launches products nowadays and talks through their journey. A lot of people are interested in launching courses and digital products. You have, though, an actual physical supplement that you’ve launched, which is it’s not something that everybody’s talking about on LinkedIn, so I’d love to hear more about that. But first, maybe, introduce yourselves and how you got started with this ULA Universe thing.
Kirk Van Everen: 3:19
Well, I can jump in if that’s not a big trouble. So I I’m Kirk Van Everen. I started working with John several years ago, back in 2016. My background is in the military. I was an army officer for 12 years. I just recently got out of the army, I was medically retired, but over the past couple of years, john and I started collaborating on what started off as an initial idea and has now grown into now a full company that we just launched. So my background in in in artillery and in process management and in strategic planning has kind of fed into how we’ve built this, our vision, and has gone from an idea and truly just whiteboarding now to a physical storefront, a full website, a podcast, a book I mean a tremendous amount of resources. Not to steal the thunder, but that’s my role in this as a co-founder, and then John take from there.
Jon Mayo: 4:22
Yeah, everyone, I’m John Mayo and in the pursuit of purpose and significance, we were brainstorming well, how can we continue to serve? I was about a year out of the military. Kirk was looking at some of these medical things going on and saying, hey, you may not be able to stick to the original plan of doing 20 years. That beautiful question really fueled the beginning of this initiative. Right, and something that is fairly common is, if you try to do everything at once, then you’re trying to blow the ocean. Right? So having a big vision that part was easy. Dowing it down to where do we start and how do we actually apply it with action has been the work and, as Kirk mentioned, we do have now the physical product that was three years in the making because of product development, testing, finding the right partners for quality control. All of that is why people are probably just doing e-courses. Right, when you’re making a consumable physical product, you’re going to pay a different type of tax, metaphorically. Right, to keep your standards where you want them and to build a good partnership with those third parties. In addition to the book, the podcast, all that good stuff, we also just began in our launching our community element as well through our allies and affiliations programs. So it’s definitely a dynamic and exciting time and things are only picking up as we continue forward.
Jason Todd: 5:42
Yeah, you’ve got a pretty grand vision. When you talk about ULA universe, you mean it because you’ve got the podcast, like you talk about. You’ve got the book. You now have the physical product that you’re selling through your website, and then the allies component. Was it originally this big, or how did you go from one idea to expansion? How did that process work out for?
Kirk Van Everen: 6:14
you, we had a hard time satiating our desire to help people. The amount of times we circled back on what our mission statement was, our target audience, the scope of even our ambition in this capacity is countless, and it’s been the cyclical process of reevaluation. But it did start off with us just identifying a problem that was inadequately being addressed or not being addressed right, and it’s really a problem that we personally felt we experienced. And once we kind of zeroed in on exactly how we wanted to solve that problem, we realized that there was a greater audience of people that would be interested in not necessarily just a singular product but a psychographic we would target at that point. And then from there, once you start talking about and ideology, you start talking community, you start talking about a whole different toolbox of ways you could try and address those problems but also help those people. So we realized we couldn’t just singularly produce one product. It’d be easy to just open up an Etsy Nothing against Etsy, but there’s plug-and-play solutions for this. But we realized that we would not be accomplishing our mission statement without creating the infrastructure to support a much larger vision. And so that’s how we expanded off of one product into now a whole suite of solutions.
Jon Mayo: 7:43
And to weigh in on that a little bit right, getting down to the brass tacks. So CCU Stamina this is the CCU Stamina Axe and Arrow is part of a large line called CCU Perform right. And what CCU Stamina specifically is? It’s a performance enhancing energy supplement that’s natural, healthy and effective, and typically you don’t get those three things in a row, right. Well, why the heck did we go and design that and invest our sanity for three years to build it? Well, as Kirk had referenced, when we’re both active duty, we serve together. We didn’t sleep, right, you’re on multi-day operations. It’s the exact product, essentially, that we wish we had. Where I would do a couple of grants like I would do one to 1.5 grams of caffeine a day to stay sharp and a bunch of nicotine, I was like this isn’t good for my long-term health, and Kirk was doing the same, just minus the nicotine, and neither of us were happy about it. But hey, we had a mission to do and it’s like, well, what if we could create something that we’d feel good about consuming in those environments? And that’s where CCU Stamina came in, immensely excited about it and providing it to those who have already began using it and creating pretty significant impacts, a little bit healthier and a little bit more durable. So that’s exciting. And then, when it comes to like the vision of the organization, right. I was in an amusing conversation the other day where the person didn’t. They had a lot to say and not a lot to listen, so I got pegged as a pie in the sky dreamer. Well, that’s fine and I appreciate the motivation, but at the end of the day, we want to continue to serve and love people so that we may better lead good lives. Right, and that is largely subjective to the individual. So what we’ve worked to create is an invitation that allows people to come in. Yes, they can functionally grab ahold of CCU Stamina and have a better solution than the energy drinks at the store and these other options. Or they can look, take a long, hard, look in the mirror by grabbing, be Relentless if the obstacle is the way. We are waymakers, which is our book, they can join our community and get involved as of this week, whether they are lead in organization or an individual, and, frankly, this is just starting to touch the tip of the iceberg. But these things are functionally applied, actionable and available now, and that’s kind of fun.
Jason Todd: 9:57
When, where, where does the book fit into this and when did the book get created? Because you’re working on the product and you have a book and a podcast. What’s the order of operations here?
Jon Mayo: 10:10
Yeah, so the I’ll tackle that one, since I was primarily wrote it. Kirk did some amazing sacrifices of love to help me make the audible book. We co did that and we’ve we’ve helped each other. But to answer your question specifically, I started the process of writing that book about five, six years ago and it’s been a iterative approach since that. Essentially a lot of authors will say when you write a book is are you writing the book or is the book writing you? And this is one of those instances how it fits into I, due to some of the life circumstances we’ve navigated as partners and some of the delays with third party that we’ve had to navigate as well. There’s been little gaps where I’ve been able to experiment with other things. Well, one such experiment was finishing the book.
Kirk Van Everen: 10:57
It’s a casual side experiment, just write a book. In the meantime I got some downtime with four kids. Write a book.
Jon Mayo: 11:04
You know you sacrifice sleep and you get things done, and it was a sacrifice of sanity and rest and a few things. But where it fits into the ULA is it has done an adequate job of distilling the ethos that we’re walking towards. So if someone wants to understand okay, what is a deep dive into what these guys are pursuing, the book will give you a complete psyche vell of exactly precisely what we’re up to. So radical transparency there, right, and what’s fun is it’s not focused on my story so much as on a, as much as being an invitation to walk through a journey looking at your own story. And then there’s just supplemental anecdotal things along the way that help influence the reader as they experience their own story. But the that’s where the book comes in. So it now represents a deep look at who we are, what we’re up to and what we’re going to be doing, and it represents itself as an invitation for others to join us.
Jason Todd: 12:05
Yeah, as I was reading that book, what struck me is it’s sort of process and habits type of book. These are principles to keep in mind and a process to think these things through and habits that you might want to engage in to, like you’re talking about. If, yeah, be a waymaker, right, how do you make a way to achieve the things that you want to achieve?
Jon Mayo: 12:34
Yeah, boiled down right Learning to become very intentional, cultivating CSU and CSU is essentially CSU starts where grit ends, so it’s like an extraordinary level of indomitable willpower, if you will, and being very disciplined and consistent. And as those three nodes are worked together, that over time creates progress and that creates what Kirk and I call the waymaker right. This, this idea that if we’re looking at a frontier filled with obstacles, what if we could learn to reframe it and see a landscape of opportunities. And that has been one of the things that, consistently, we are high fiving on when we’re looking at challenges and struggles and the pressure of being ambitious and aggressive in what we’re working to grow, as we’re working to serve our community. And, at the end of the day, with the proper framing, we’ve continued to come back to being able to attack these different elements, despite their breath, with with precision that actually brings them to reality. So they they’re available, which is fun.
Jason Todd: 13:39
So there’s no they go ahead.
Kirk Van Everen: 13:41
sorry, as I say, the book is really does expand on on the mention, the psychographic that we’re targeting here, but it does expand on the ideology and an attempt to connect with people that would see themselves in a position where they would like to apply principles of personal responsibility, continuous improvement and also act as like an operating framework for them to move themselves from where they are right now to position of improvement. But that’s the personal lives or families or the communities. In that regard, the book was got hats off to John a tremendous amount of effort in this in this department as well. But it is definitely a comprehensive toolkit because it’s not super verbose in the sense that it expands on a lot of these stories. It’s it’s it leads as a list of resources and and exercises that someone reading it can apply in their own life in a generic capacity, if they accept that invitation. The whole book leads with an invitation is actually the first part of the book and if they accept that invitation, then with proper application, deliberate, intentional application of these exercises that were built, these are the things they could could expect with discipline, application over time, and we think that we truly believe that if somebody can see themselves in that individual it was described, which in this case, was John, and his and his, his path, that he, in his journey that he took, we felt that we could truly connect with. There’s so many other people out there in this position that feel these things, that encounter the same obstacles, that may be default to the same cycle of, of whether it’s self sabotage or just this negative injection of thinking, and they just continue to find themselves in this rut. And these were. This is a way to just free that gridlock and allow themselves to forge a path where none exists. Hence the waymaker. So I thought it was just a beautiful compliment to the entire framework of what our company is striving to actually to, to, to, to promote and, and. And. As it is an invitation, we welcome people to explore it in themselves and walk that path with us.
Jason Todd: 15:59
So, and it seems that you know you are your invitation. You know, walk that path with us. It’s, it seems like it is a case of kind of eating your own dog food. You guys have a particular way of working together towards these goals Intentionally I love that word that you brought out that it seems to you have a good cadence. A lot of people who enter business partnerships don’t get that cadence together and it feels disjointed. The results are a little half baked. You, you have blended the adage of you know, go. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. You seem to have blended it together to be, hey, you want to go fast and far. That that’s what you see you guys seem to be doing. What are, what are the elements that make your business partnerships successful? Do you mind if I jump?
Jon Mayo: 16:50
on that one first, buddy. Go for it, john. So the business partnership piece first right. And then I’d love just to swiftly touch on the quote, the African proverb you just shared with the going fast, go alone, go far, go together. But business application first right. How do Kirk and I do it? Extraordinary levels of pain and intimacy that have been that have been cultivated over the years we are. We had the fortune of starting our relationship in a steer high stress environments. So little sleep, tending to one another’s well being, consistently working towards a mission, little food, like all those things help to really galvanize us, learning who we were and how we respond when we’re at our worst. Okay, you haven’t slept for three days and you haven’t eaten for two, whatever. Right. Oh, and like this, just got blown up. Who cares? What are we going to do about it? Right, that was Kirk’s and I’s crucible for the first couple years of our relationship. And and what we chose to do which I still don’t think is the common response, but it’s the response we chose is we chose to press in to pursuing the well being of one another in the health of our relationship, in much the same way that you might a marriage and that it’s like, okay, if we’re going to work well together, how do we best support one another to our shared objectives and how do we ensure that the problems we’re facing unless it is me right or it is him that we’re working you need at the prom, not each other’s throats, and years of, I would say, just hyper focus on those questions has has cultivated this, but getting the catalyst of the first two years of that environment definitely helped.
Kirk Van Everen: 18:31
Yeah, I think what you said was really hitting the crux of it. We we made sure that we were attacking the problem as a team as opposed to attacking each other. So there was a deliberate, intentional walkthrough of identifying what is the actual problem. Right, and sometimes it’s just communication stop. Sometimes it’s, I mean, truly like how best is john receive information? You want to be a very, very good partner again? We’re, we’re. We are just starting, but I can tell you that when it comes to Proofs in the like, when it comes to proofing the proofing in the pudding, john and I’ve proved that point how does it at at like zero hours of sleep 50 hours into this is actual reference point. How does John best receive information when I’m doing a battlefield handoff to him, when I when from him to me, right, and you cannot wing that each time or else we’re going to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. If you want to be effective as business partners in this capacity, it’s, it is a continuous sharpening of that blade. You’re not just oh yeah, okay, so he was, he’s upset, okay, wise upset, okay. Did I not project my information, the the essence of this point I’m trying to make in a way that he was best receiving it right and John jokes about the marriage thing. But that is exactly what you would do in a marriage. You would. You would reflect on okay, well, am I part of the problem? What is the issue? Okay, let’s now pivot together and focus and attack the problem now. So that was going to highlight that, because that was so intentional for us.
Jon Mayo: 20:02
Absolutely, and I think two very succinct things that help with that, like if someone’s like looking at being in a partnership, or they’re struggling, or they’re starting one whatever the case may be where there may be some gold to pull from this some free chicken, if you will is. We started with an idea and one of the first things we did was make a business agreement Because we wanted one. It takes a level of maturity just to say like, okay, things could go bad someday. We don’t have any anticipation of that. Well, let’s write things out right now so that we don’t even ever have to worry about that again. And that was, frankly, easier for us, given that up until that point, we’ve been dealing with the currency of each other’s lives. So now we’re just talking about money and things that we create. So it’s like, oh, whatever, yeah, let’s make this contract. So we did, and that freed us not to have to revisit those things, and I would highly encourage people to do that Before even starting, if they have the capacity to, or very soon after, and if they don’t have it, I’d encourage that. The other is we. It’s uncomfortable, like the level of intimacy we’re describing may freak some people out. Yeah, well, every business partnership does not need to be like this. Our, our partnerships with some third parties are not intimate, right, but we make sure that they have legal backing. But For ours to work in the level of us creating this business, we’re relentless in the pursuit of resolution. So If there is an issue if I can sense he’s off, vice versa we will just call it out. There’s been countless times. Both of us is in all, right, pause, you okay, what’s going on here? And then it’s like yeah, I’m fine. It’s like no, the F, you’re not right and it’s not allowed to continue. So I think that Cultivating that type of candor and setting the ground rules, even like hey, we’re going to give each other permission to ask if we’re okay, right, those types of things have helped us as well. And the last point to your quote, right, jason, where you mentioned the proverb if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. And we’re working to do both. Well. The other thing that’s really cool Our pot, the podcast be relentless, right, is alive right now. Because of that same mentality, and if we open ourselves up to evaluating opportunity instead of shutting the door due to preconceived notions, we may find that we’re able to do more. Point in case, the podcast would be sitting there but inactive, except that there’s a gentleman who believes in what we’re doing and wanted to join, and that gentleman’s name is Brandon and he’s the podcast producer. And because of his desire, in the conversations we had, the podcast is now regularly, you know, moving forward, which is a great Boone for us. It’s highly enjoyable and he’s ensuring that it’s operating in the same way. There we just welcomed, or we’re just right now welcoming, our first author for our block. He’s going to own and run that entire category for similar reasons, and we’re going to start something the third element of the community, of the community aspect of our universe, which is called the forge. Well, there’s another gentleman who’s signing on for that. We could never do those things if we didn’t make it an opportunity for people to talk to us about that and then engage in those conversations meaningfully. And when you’re already setting up systems to provide the legal protections and backings and you’re used to being radically candid in conversation and setting expectations, it’s freed us to be able to move a lot faster, because we can also welcome more people in even when we’re just starting.
Kirk Van Everen: 23:24
And even expanding beyond that, john. I mean one thing there’s the allies Element of our business, and then there’s the affiliation aspect of this business, which the terminology should be fairly you know, well understood in this particular environment. But you know, just to add on to that, like we would be shouting into an empty room everything that we believe, and it could be the most profound, impactful statements, but if you don’t have an audience to receive it, it is just an empty room at just that. So pulling those people in, taking the intentional actions to connect with those individuals, establishing buy-in from them, and then having a team expand from that point out is essential to going far versus going fast. So we are trying to do both, though. So that is, that’s the T’s right there.
Jason Todd: 24:15
Well, it seems that you guys have an advantage over many people who get into business partnerships because you learned how to work together before you started the business, Whereas many people have this idea for business. They start the business and then they learn how to work together. And there are some elements that stand out for me that I think is part of your advantage. Number one is this concept of discipline you have. You know how to be disciplined to achieve a goal and you know how that discipline works with one another. You’ve developed similar habits, similar mindsets and, along with that, you’re very mission-minded. You understand what it’s like to be out on a mission and achieve a goal together Under stress and stress is a big stress is a great revealer of all of our negative qualities. You know, when we are stuck in the pressure cooker together, you know we have a tendency sometimes maybe, to lash out at one another or snap or deal with things poorly. You understood how each other works under stress, along with discipline, along with a mission mindset, and I think many people don’t have that leg up when they’re just starting out on a business.
Kirk Van Everen: 25:44
Absolutely. I mean, I really I think that that is probably the key to our success is the established relationship. First, cause there’s just so much you’re gonna be in so many stressful positions where, if you don’t have effective communication strategies established, you will tear each other apart and that’ll just it’ll scuttle the opportunities that could have been for a business that had all the potential to go far. But you just didn’t put the groundwork in to make sure that you’re rowing in sync with each other. John has got to the point where he can like it’s almost like he has ear to the ground or he can smell like tension and he’s just like hey, my, my Kirkdar which is actually a coin phrase for him has been going off. What’s going on and he has a remarkable track record for being spot on, even if I don’t even realize it, because at that point he sees something’s off and I don’t even realize that there has been something tugging at me that is from a business perspective, is eroding my effectiveness as a partner, my mentality, motivation, any number of different things. It can chip away at those things. So being in two of those things like not every day is gonna be a slam dunk for anybody on this path whatsoever. You will have off days and off days and off days, and if you are aware of that as a partner, you can then shift back and forth. It’s like, hey, I got a 20% to give, I got the other 80. Hopefully it’s not that big of a lift, but the point is is like we’re still getting to 100. And then it’s because some, you know, it’s 50, 50, but on a bad day where it’s like, hey, I got something going with family, okay, now it’s 90, 10, right, but without effectively communicating that from one to another, you’re gonna have like a collective off day at that point because you just didn’t have the comfort of expressing those that discomfort or that I don’t know. Sometimes we just we will dig into things, even if we both aren’t aware of what’s going on, and we’ll have these aha moments. And then we’re high fiving and now we’re sprinting in the same direction together.
Jon Mayo: 27:48
And, in fairness, because I can feel some people rolling their eyes right now and like, wow, these guys sound like a married couple. A lot of these conversations would make everyone who’s not Kirk or myself very uncomfortable to be in the room Because of the amount of you could call it passion, or you could call it aggression that we may exhibit as we’re working through those things.
Kirk Van Everen: 28:05
This is jealousy from my wife’s end for sure. I know your wife as well, john.
Jon Mayo: 28:10
Yeah well, and, aside from that, some of our interactions are very kinetic, right, but they’re always constructive, and I think that’s the thing that really helps to keep us in line. And it’s like okay if it’s starting not to become constructive. We’ve not had to do this in years, but if a conversation’s beginning to become unconstructive, we freeze it in whatever way and however dramatically as possible, but it’s like hey, we’re starting to rip each other’s throats out, we’re no longer being constructive break and we’ll just hang up and come back when it’s not like going to bed like in the separate bedrooms kind of a thing, just to play out the marriage analogy.
Kirk Van Everen: 28:45
It’s not like that. It is us understanding that the tools we’re currently applying are not effective, so then we have to figure out what tools to better apply. So while we were like rowing through building the shipping component of our company, we were up till four in the morning. I think, john, like this is just a surge row session. We were trying to tackle a very deliberate problem and we got buy-in from our families. We did protect this timeframe. It sounds crazy, but after before we established that buy-in and it’s like we just surged. It was two to three in the morning and we were trying to resolve a particular friction point and it was like we were trying to talk through it and it wasn’t working. And then it was like to the whiteboards Like you see behind John, like we use whiteboards religiously whiteboard in the concept, because maybe a visual take on this is what breaks through to the other side to establish clarity of understanding. And then it’s like oh, okay, ah, okay, sunk in and we just changed the angles of attack, not like a aggressive, like that really works, purple way, but changed the angles of attack and then found the breakthrough point, and then we were in full unison back on the same page. But we were fighting the problem, not each other, and that’s super important.
Jason Todd: 30:03
So, yeah, Well, you touch on this idea of additional stakeholders, because it’s not just you guys in this game, you have families as well, which I mean that’s a different dynamic and it’s a struggle that a lot of people Don’t do. A good job muddling through, because it can be quite a challenge, I know. So how do you keep those other stakeholders in sync when you two seem to be so well in sync, do you?
Kirk Van Everen: 30:38
want to take this John.
Jon Mayo: 30:39
Sure, I’ll start us off. I got well, I got, goodness gracious, I am blessed to have four sons and my bride, who’s my heart, and I’m extraordinarily grateful for both of those elements of my life. And today I was having a conversation with my bride Her name is Lindsay and talking about the season we’re in of Roan and such, and she roans what we call work right, which is a fun inside jest. But and we’re just discussing kind of what we’re seeing over the coming months and some of the commitment things like that and given that she simply said okay, I’d like you to be done by 1800, right, you’re up at three, you’re working. That’s already 15 hours of you being dedicated. You’re probably almost dead at that point. Anyways, be done at 1800 and be with us. And I agree, all right, 1800 is my uh, six pm is my cutoff time, right, and that is one like micro example that happened today. That goes into that. I’d say. The same application of what Kirk and I have been discussing is what I do with my wife. We talk fairly consistently on are your needs being met, or the family’s needs being met, or our priorities in mind, and we have coined it as a living experiment and what that’s given us the freedom to do is, instead of it, feeling like an attack of you don’t support me now, or whatever right it’s, hey, this seems out of balance. It’s like, oh, let’s adjust the formula, let’s adjust the, the, what we’re doing, and work to unity again, and uh that and also remembering, like, hey, the business is here too. Uh, the reason we’re pursuing purpose and a business is because we want to be, uh, in this instance, better men for our families. So it’d be kind of foolish if we sacrificed our families for the business, right? So, just remembering our priorities as well, uh, and then ensuring, through an iterative approach, that we are consistently realigning ourselves with our priorities is how I’ve been tackling it.
Kirk Van Everen: 32:32
I think the approach that you’ve mentioned, john, the so what from that is that you’ve um, you’ve, you’ve got, you’ve received buy-in support through that, that communication, um, because they really like we, we would ground this to a halt and pull the plug before we’d ever let it like really harm our families in any capacity. There’s going to be some sacrifices, there’s no way around it. You know, I would love to just spend all day in a in a vacation. Why I wouldn’t personally, but I understand a lot of people would love to be able to spend all day and build a 10, 100% into that one priority of just family all day long. But the other things would suffer. So if you’re going to take out of that cup right, if it’s cups only, you know, so full, and 50% of it is focused on work and so on and so forth you, you have to figure out how that, how you partition those things out, um, and communicating those priorities so that they’re understood, gets that buy-in from the family. Then they’re, then they’re tracking what you’re doing, they’re respecting their, their needs, their priorities, they feel listened to, right, and then and then you are free to then focus fully on the task at hand without being mentally divided that you’re, you know that you’re simultaneously abandoning your other priorities. Uh, john, you have children. I’ve won on the way. Um, you know there’s, there’s, it is, it is, um. There are definitely times where John has baby in hand. We’ve been rowing and he’s got uh, your net nephew right, my niece, yeah, your niece swaddled, and we’re working simultaneously. So sometimes I mean there’s a little bit of a juggling act, but the the, your, um, your family for us, we, we make sure that they feel heard.
Jon Mayo: 34:24
One one very shortly. One of the concepts that three of us have talked about offline I think is worth breathing life into here publicly is our primary stakeholders, the, the people who are investing more than anyone else, or our families. We can never get time back. You can earn money back my ch, my children’s childhoods, my wife’s golden years, as we’re younger right, they’re all being invested in these proceeds. I am, uh, aggressively against the mentality that, oh, just sacrifice your marriage, sacrifice your family for the dream. I think it’s incredibly mature and I don’t like it. I think that we can rise higher and become more because of those responsibilities by leaning into them, and that’s where the opportunity lies, and I think it’s fairly childish to throw those things away. Uh, in name of some other proceed and obviously that’s my opinion and I like to stir the pot on that one but they’re investing their lives. I should be, uh, a good steward of that right.
Jason Todd: 35:24
Yeah, one of the things that comes to my mind is this idea of work-life balance, and it’s bandied around as though you know that you can hold them somehow in balance, like either be in, be out, like I’m at work, and then I have my, my life outside of work and all these things, and it’s a little bit of a misnomer. I think One of the one of the better analogies that I heard is is it’s more like life, is more like pizza. You have a certain number of toppings that you want on your pizza and you have to have them all in proportion to one another, and when one is out of balance, it’s it’s not the pizza that I wanted. And so, like you’re talking about, you have sometimes this, this moment, when you’re working and also attending to a family. It just as though you’d eat a slice of pizza. You got some cheese, you got some sauce, you got some. You know, for me it’s pepperoni, sausage, mushroom, onion, but I’ll happily have supreme too, and other people. Hey, I don’t want all those things on my pizza, I just want these things. And and that moves into this idea that there’s two really great places I heard Somebody just said this very recently you know two great places for personal development One is marriage and the other one is entrepreneurship, because you are faced with having to juggle things that other people don’t have to juggle. You’re faced with a lot of responsibility, a lot of decision making. In your case, you’re faced with another business partner who you have to look, look at and check in on, and they’re also checking in on you, and you have to watch yourself and and constantly be in a state of refining yourself so you show up well for your business partner, which then allows you to show up well for your business and, at the same time, like in your pizza, showing up well for your family.
Jon Mayo: 37:19
Yes, yeah, that I mean. That hits the nail on the head, frankly, the whiteboard behind me when it’s not being used for idea generation, I have my little boys are drawing on it right. And you know, a point of pride. Part of this journey right was to continue serving but also to evolve as an individual, and four years ago my kids would want to pretend to drink a beer with me and now they are running their own podcasts, writing their own books, talking about the businesses they’re going to build. They’re working out all the time and it’s like, okay, this is a better reflection.
Kirk Van Everen: 37:52
I’m more content with this, you know so I can, I can validate everything John just said, because it sounds like, sounds crazy to say, oh yeah, and my children are talking about being the next doctor. I’ve literally seen their business plans. I’ve watched them like pitch me, they absolute. It is a very. It’s an additional point of reflection that they do mirror the examples within their lives. So this, this, this vision and mission that we’ve built, is an incredible reflection of a lot of intrapersonal reflection and and and Kai’s then, if you will, continuous improvement that we inject into our own lives and the outputs of this. You know, if there’s, if anything for sure has been, has been positive influences within the household. I mean, I, I’ve been over your house many, many times, john and they are just vivacious, they just want to create, they want visions of future and it’s like I know that’s coming from an, an, an aura that is that is given off from the, the, the mission and vision and lifestyle choices that we make every single day. So in a microcosm. That’s wonderful and would love to be able to expand that beyond that to our community and, you know, globally. That’s the idea.
Jason Todd: 39:15
Have you experienced along your journey any roadblocks where you thought, boy, this might be the end. I don’t think we’re going to get through this one.
Kirk Van Everen: 39:26
I think there’s a couple that come to mind. There was some really hard roadblocks when we were dealing with third party people, because you don’t control them. You just have like an idea and they pitch you on what they can bring to the table and you’re not in your head and everybody’s like, okay, sounds good. And then you get down the road and you realize that they’re not able to deliver on that. It threatens the I guess you could say the the visual footprint of what our current product is, more times than I could count. And that caused us to go back and revisit the design, the intent. We had questions about what things we wanted to compromise on, what things we’re going to hold our ground on, but I don’t. For me, I don’t think it was ever a matter of like all of this is going to come crashing down. It was more so. This might not end up how, in the direction we think it will, but if it ends up like this vision or this particular pursuit hits a wall, okay, then we just pivot, take all the lessons learned, all the tools that we’ve accumulated over the last few years, and then search that in far more efficiently, I would say, in a better direction, in a better direction, in a new direction. So it is always forward. It’s just you’re taking detours, then you’re going in a different direction, then yeah, to that exact point.
Jon Mayo: 40:43
A product line, a specific solution that we’re working to create, any of that could fail at any time, that’s fine. As far as stopping us from pursuing this purpose and building the community, yeah, we could die, but that’s it. Outside of that, we will find or create a way and continue forward. So as far as throwing in the towel, holistically, I can’t say that’s happened. Questioning sanity, battling, emotional fits, the imposter syndrome, all of those things, absolutely. This morning we were working through some stuff like that, doing housekeeping, but at the end of the day it always comes back to well. This path may not be the one we thought it was, but we can always adjust our trajectory and continue forward with the lessons learned and we’re better than when we started because of those lessons. So, holistically, I don’t think there’s an ounce of quit in us, sort of like getting killed.
Kirk Van Everen: 41:40
Specifically to the different pursuits you know what we’re having, but we do know your children would carry on the legacy from everything.
Jon Mayo: 41:46
Yeah, they would.
Kirk Van Everen: 41:47
It’s multi-generational at this point. I don’t think actually, I think you can cross it off the list of things that could stop John. It’s like, no, I may be stopped because if I die, my children will take over.
Jason Todd: 41:55
So, yes, it is interesting, though. I mean the children do watch us and I was having dinner with a friend yesterday and we were just talking about how his boys have begun hanging their sunglasses on the hook. There’s a he’s got some hooks by his door and he had always hung his. You know, he hangs his sunglasses on that hook and his boys have started hanging just out of the blue he didn’t nobody made mention of it Just out of the blue they started hanging their sunglasses there. And it seems to me, like I, you know, I’ve followed the path of entrepreneurship because I never realized, I never thought it was not possible. I was like I’m just gonna start my thing, do my own thing, because I learned from my dad who started a business and I was around business. I went to the office with my mom and I sat there behind her desk on the floor as she did the accounting work. I was always part of just hey, every day we just we go to the office and we do work, and so when it came time to, you know, launching a business, like, of course and I’ve talked to so many people who it doesn’t cross their mind that they could just start a business Like, hey, you could do it. It’s entrepreneurship. Everybody could do this. It’s not rocket science, but you do need to acquire some certain skills, and your kids are watching those skills unfold in front of them and they’re just acquiring them. They don’t even have a choice in the matter. They are little sponges, it seems right.
Jon Mayo: 43:42
Yes, and I’m very grateful that these are the traits they’re getting instead of alcoholism, so it’s a much better trade-off, but they do. I make that joke because, yeah, they not only our children, but everyone around us does absorb and is influenced by the choices we make right, good, bad or indifferent. So I’m certain my wife’s a lot happier now too, and I know that our friendship Kirk is a lot better, and this path has led us to be an opportunity like this to get to build a relationship with you, jason, and have fun in these contexts. So it’s neat because my point to this is, I think that we sometimes justify it to ourselves that the decisions we make day in and day out or don’t think about, don’t have a lot of influence. Well, they do, and the biggest thing that I think our shift today Deception is that we’re hiding it from ourselves. But the inner dialogue and relationship with self that we have is heavily influenced by how well we keep our word with ourselves and how well we treat ourselves throughout and negotiate with our environments and with our loved ones and things like that. So it’s funny because the reflection of what the kids do is really just a third order effect of a reflection of how we treat ourselves right and with our marriages and other relationships. Each one’s just an indicator, and that’s where one of our focuses is. If you work from in concentric circles, from the self out, and you’re always starting and focusing on working on yourself and allowing things to flow out from there, you’re able to hopefully show up a little bit better than you would otherwise.
Jason Todd: 45:14
Yeah, which is a unique perspective, I think, because so many people think of when working on yourself as though it’s a self-centered, or many people look at it or work at it as though it’s sort of a self-centered, narcissistic type of thing. Well, it’s all about me, I’m going to work on me when, in fact, if you attend to yourself, then you can attend to everybody else better.
Kirk Van Everen: 45:38
Yes, that’s a key principle towards leadership as well, because even with your best intentions, you can burn yourself out. If you take yourself out of the fight, you’re not useful to other people at that point. So that intentional investment in yourself is just keeping your tools sharp. You’re keeping the gears installed to be able to not only be more effective person in how you treat yourself, but to others that depend on you, whether that’s your family or people that are your employees. You have to keep yourself as part of the equation. The leader goes down, the leader is useless at that point. Case in point, I mean you just flame out. Now you’re creating additional burdens. In fact, you’re making it worse. You’re projecting what was your responsibilities now onto other people that have to pick up the slack that you’ve now created. So it is actually quite the opposite. It’s not selfish and slightest. It is truly being considerate of others, to make sure that you come to the fight as fresh as possible and if that means you’re investing time and introspective thought, time, reading to just absorb information that can make you a better person and just being radically candid with yourself and having those conversations with your friends, your business partners, to be a better person husband, friend, brother, et cetera, sister, mother, so on and so forth, just makes you more effective across the board. So, yes, you come to the fight better armed.
Jon Mayo: 47:16
A really fun analogy that kind of brings it to home and punctuates it for us is eating right. We all need to eat raw humans. Unless someone has a hack on that I’d love to hear it but we eat food, and young leaders in the military and a lot of leaders that I’ve experienced and worked with in the civilian sector wear a badge of honor and not eating right. They may oh, I’m so busy so they don’t eat, or they eat crap or whatever the case may be and they wear that as a badge of honor because they’re sacrificing themselves and it’s this thing and it’s like, okay. Well, the reason that’s really only survives with young leaders in the military is because when you are out somewhere for weeks on end, you’ll die, so that gets eroded really quickly. But here in this sector right, that’s much more unlikely because you can get something from the 7-Eleven, you can get something from there. So then your health just erodes over time. But there’s this catalyst of well if I eat, if I just take the 10 minutes to eat this meal, well, like a good meal, I am going to be so much sharper and fortified and have better energy for the next five hours, and that’s like the simplest thing. So whenever I talk to someone, they’re like oh yeah, you know, boss is too busy to eat. I was like boss’s priorities are wrong. Boss is, I just learned a lot about boss, right? And then I typically get asked boss hey, when’s the last time you eat? And then I get to have a fun conversation with them because I like to stir the pot. But yeah, that’s a fun analogy, right? Even something as simple as eating a meal to be sharper for the next couple hours can be a huge indicator of this type of concept.
Jason Todd: 48:50
Yeah, the hangry thing that people like to bandy around is, though it’s like well, it’s kind of an excuse for showing up as a jackass because I didn’t eat all day. It’s like well, why do? Why does everybody have to suffer because you didn’t eat?
Kirk Van Everen: 49:05
all day. It’s also. Did you not eat? Just so you can tell me that you didn’t eat.
Jon Mayo: 49:10
Let’s be honest with ourselves.
Kirk Van Everen: 49:11
You just wanted the punchline of being able to say, oh God, I haven’t slept in seven days because I just care so much. It’s like, okay, you just wanted to tell me that because you need it as part of your own validation, because you think that’s synonymous with you being somebody who cares or who’s the most invested. I just I don’t. That currency works when you’re very immature. I don’t think it has value beyond that.
Jason Todd: 49:37
And I think it’s detrimental to your business. Oh yeah, absolutely.
Kirk Van Everen: 49:42
Yeah, I mean we. It’s not to say that you won’t have long hours and that you won’t have to juggle priorities. There’s things that you’re going to have to erode, but if they’re like metabolic, like you’ve got to take care of that stuff, it’s like okay, cool, you may have to sacrifice a weekend away trip, or you might have to, you know, you may not be able to just binge watch your favorite show, that’s fine. But that’s the different kind of sacrifice, like that’s not metabolic, that’s at the very bottom of the hierarchy. So sorry, there you go.
Jason Todd: 50:11
Yeah, you, you, I really do appreciate talking to you guys about these matters, because you come at it from such a disciplined and well thought out approach that many people just have never developed. And I think and I think it’s really because you have a military background and knew each other prior to getting into business and I would I think there’s there’s a lot of wisdom and encouragement I think that entrepreneurs could gather from you and the way that you guys operate, because it’s so. It’s so rare actually that business partnerships work so well like yours does.
Kirk Van Everen: 50:54
I will say, though just not to discourage people, though it’s like all right. Well, I got to sign up for the military and I got to do a whole bunch of years. You got to find that one guy that I’m like going to be best friends with. Then clock a couple of years, then I’ll be in a position to start a company. Truly, it’s just intentionality, yeah, and really like just intentional, deliberate living. You can cultivate discipline, you can. You can inject intentionality into your daily schedule. You can develop communication styles that are that eventually get to this point where you’re. It’s that effective, where you can move forward and sink and you just pick up on the the waves the radio waves, right, of what each partner is thinking and doing, right. But I don’t. I would say that where we are right now, yes, I would agree that we are fortunate because it worked this way, but for people out there that are thinking about the mysticism behind any of this stuff, it’s just a lot of intentional effort, like all of the ideas, all of the things that we’ve got flushed at this point is hundreds of hours of conversation, thought, experimentation, things that we crossed off the board because they weren’t viable anymore, and growth and evolution over time. I know you know, I know Jason preached the choir here, but for anybody else that thinks that this is some, that this is a barrier to entry, it’s just clocking the time and effort and being intentional about it and I deeply appreciate the compliment.
Jon Mayo: 52:16
I would also encourage people on that. I’m more disciplined now than when I served. I’m also in better shape now than when I served.
Kirk Van Everen: 52:24
That’s a good point, john. Yeah, because this came after you left. I mean, that’s the. He was an absolute animal in the army, I will say that, but he was unhealthy. Like he’s like I just want to blift this 350 pound Atlas stone on my head until my spleen explodes right. Like it’s only like slightly exaggerated, it’s not even that far off. John is so much more focused on on longevity and health and functional utility when it comes to his fitness. So like when he says like it wasn’t, like John wasn’t a stud beforehand, so I’ll just yeah, I’ll buy it, but your evolution out of that was was it happened after the fact. So it didn’t require military beforehand Is my point.
Jon Mayo: 53:04
Yeah and absolutely, and my point for stating that is I just hate for someone to hear your compliment and make an excuse for themselves not to take action towards something that creates value, because, at the end of the day, the the only thing that stands between us and creating value and leading better lives is ourselves, and unfortunately that can be the scariest thing to face, but there’s immense value if we garner the courage to do so, and there’s nothing stopping us from getting 1% better today.
Jason Todd: 53:31
So Well, that’s well said and, on that note, let’s wind this down today with how how can people engage with ULA and CISU? Stamina your podcast, your book, walk us through all the ways, all the, all the touch points.
Jon Mayo: 53:47
The best way, the simplest way, is go to ULA universecom. We call the universe because it’s an ecosystem, so go to head on over to ULA universecom and right there we will scoop you up and curate you on an adventure of seeing CISU, stamina, the book, the podcast and the community efforts that we’re leading. So that would be the best way.
Jason Todd: 54:08
Awesome. Well, gentlemen, any any final words you’d like to to leave our audience with.
Kirk Van Everen: 54:16
We’re just grateful that we have so many people that have supported us along the way. I mean, this is, it is a lonely, a lonely business and it’s just. There’s a saying I forget who said it, but you just it’s. It’s chewing on glass and staring at the abyss for quite a while, but it is so gratifying putting the work in and breaking through and escaping, you know, reaching escape velocity to the other side where you’re working on something that has a heartbeat at that point right and I. We would not have been able to get there without the, the daily sacrifice from our families, the endless encouragement from a very, very wonderful group of friends that have just walked from step one truly all the way to this point in time. So really, thank you guys for helping to get us this far. We have so much further to go, but we’re just grateful across the board and for your time. Jason, thank you so much for having us on here.
Jason Todd: 55:06
Oh, my, my pleasure. I always learn something from you guys too. Well, this is the entrepreneurial workshop with today. John and Kirk from ULA universe Certainly go to ULA universecom to interact with them. So every Tuesday at 10am, we’ve got the entrepreneur workshop, where we unpack the skills, the challenges, the opportunities, the support structures that you need to have in place to be better at being an entrepreneur, and I think that that’s like we talked about today makes you better at life if you approach it from that perspective. So, gentlemen, thanks for being on today and all to all of our viewers and listeners today, thanks for joining us Take care.
Jon Mayo: 55:52
All right, everyone. Thank you so much for listening to the conversation. Kirk and I got engaged on the business startup challenge, replayed through the be relentless podcast. If you’ve not tried CCU stamina, you can head on over to ULA universecom and save 20% off when you subscribe for a newsletter. Additionally, we just launched the ULA allies and affiliates initiatives, which are two community building projects that we’ve been working on for quite a while and are excited to bring to you, so there’s a bunch of fun things to explore as we continue to grow and evolve. I hope that you guys have a great day. Thanks, forge forward.