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In this episode, we follow John’s journey as a young man as he navigates a path from working at his family’s egg farm to the mobile home park they developed and then to the citrus and land business balanced with technology consulting.

Faced with unclear opportunities, he transitions into managing operations at a family-run mobile home park, where he acquires a real estate license and hones his sales and marketing skills.

Despite challenges with the business model in the highest interest rate environment in a century, he creates a customer service department from scratch, emphasizing inspection and quality control to improve customer experiences.

His interest in processes and systems continues through a series of ventures, including involvement in early computerized trading systems and software development.

From becoming the best student of a niche trading product to leading workshops across the USA, his versatile skill set and proactive approach reveal significant lessons on adaptability, learning, and customer service.

00:00 Early Career Moves and Challenges

00:34 Learning the Ropes in Real Estate and Customer Service

02:10 Mastering Customer Service and Process Improvement

05:06 Venturing into Software and Subscription Products

05:35 Deep Dive into Trading and Investment Software

09:51 Expanding Skills into Workshops and Customer Support

10:34 Innovations in Newsletter Automation and Programming

12:01 Reflections on a Diverse Career and Skill Set

Transcript
Connie:

And then what'd you do after that?

John:

The short version is I

John:

went to work at the Lake Alfred

John:

headquarters office with my father.

John:

And, there wasn't this really,

John:

really clear plan laid out

John:

for where we were going to go.

John:

We had citrus and land.

John:

And there were people managing

John:

that and there just wasn't a

John:

really clear opportunity for me.

John:

I wasn't going to drive

John:

a tractor in the grove.

John:

Right.

John:

So, um, I had to figure stuff out and I

John:

considered leaving for a bit and going

John:

and getting, learning some other skills.

John:

The people I talked to about

John:

that kind of discouraged that.

John:

So about that time, my parents

John:

had launched a mobile home park.

John:

And, um, they had a partner in

John:

that, and there was need for

John:

additional personnel there.

John:

And I went to the mobile home park and

John:

got my real estate license and began

John:

to learn sales training as well as

John:

marketing as well as customer service.

John:

And so it was a great training ground.

John:

Again, it was a terrible business

John:

model, because we were selling

John:

lots in a marketplace where.

John:

90% of the other vendors

John:

were, were renting the lots.

John:

And that was the, the accepted model.

John:

And everybody was.

John:

It made it a cheaper

John:

investment for the buyer.

John:

And at that time, that was right

John:

about the time the interest

John:

rates were peaking at 18%.

John:

So people that had money in a CD

John:

were not interested in pulling

John:

it out to pay for that lot.

John:

So it was, it was a very

John:

difficult time for that business.

John:

Our timing was just unfortunate.

John:

But I, yeah, I did learn a tremendous

John:

amount and that's where I became the

John:

customer service department there.

John:

I created basically created it.

John:

I mean, otherwise the people that

John:

were doing sales were and when

John:

somebody needed help or had a

John:

problem, they had to pull off of

John:

something else to take care of that.

John:

And I was, uh, I was too young to be taken

John:

seriously as a salesman in that industry.

John:

Like, "You remind me of my grandson."

Connie:

Or your great grandson.

John:

"Could you call an

John:

adult for me to talk to?"

John:

That's kind of the conversation

John:

we had a couple of times.

John:

And so no.

Connie:

More than a couple of times.

Connie:

If I recall.

John:

So me switching into customer

John:

service and the process, what I had

John:

learned at the egg farm about processes

John:

and process improvement and systems

John:

really worked well for me there.

John:

Because I became the person who, when

John:

a new home came in, I did an inspection.

John:

We had to have two or three inspections.

John:

We had one when it first came

John:

in to see if there was anything.

John:

But well, as soon as it was.

John:

So mobile homes come in two parts

John:

and they had to be put together.

John:

So we had a crew that

John:

came in and did all that.

John:

And as soon as they put the two together,

John:

I went in and did an inspection.

John:

And determined.

John:

If there were any big things, like

John:

sometimes something would shift

John:

or, you know, break in transit.

John:

So, you know, I would

John:

start a list on that.

John:

And then once we finished kind of all of

John:

the finish work and setup and everything,

John:

then I would do another inspection to

John:

make sure it was ready for the customer.

John:

Because the last thing you want

John:

is somebody moving into their home

John:

and then finding 50 things that you

John:

didn't know about and present you with

John:

this list or they're hoppin' mad.

John:

Right.

John:

So it was all about making that, that move

John:

in it, that initial experience for the

John:

customer, a really positive experience.

John:

And part of it was pre-framing that.

John:

There's going to be things that

John:

aren't, they're going to need fixing.

John:

Okay.

John:

We've got a list and here's the

John:

list I'll show I'll take you through

John:

and I'll show you all these things.

John:

Live in the house for a week,

John:

week and a half, something

John:

like that and add to the list.

John:

And when we get, when we feel like we

John:

found everything, then we have the, you.

John:

You know, we have the factory

John:

folks come and fix it all at once.

Connie:

Cool

John:

Good with that?

John:

And, and I mean, it made all

John:

the difference in the world.

John:

Sure.

John:

So I was really, really good at

John:

that and really learned a lot about

John:

customer service in the process.

John:

And, and the age difference was

John:

much less of a concern there.

John:

Right.

John:

Wow.

John:

But we didn't didn't plan this.

John:

We didn't.

John:

We didn't script it.

John:

And so this is very organic.

Connie:

This is where

Connie:

we need to go though.

Connie:

These are the, this is, this

Connie:

is all part of your history.

John:

This is how I built up

John:

the skill set that I built.

John:

Right.

John:

So I built.

John:

You know, I learned about process and

John:

systems and, I could talk for an hour

John:

about this stuff from the egg farm.

John:

And the things that I learned

John:

about keeping eggs fresh.

John:

Remember the oil?

John:

We put mineral oil on the eggs.

John:

So we had to, if we want

John:

somebody wanted to dye their,

John:

have eggs for dying for Easter,

John:

we had to make sure we had eggs

John:

that didn't have the oil applied to

John:

them because the dye wouldn't stick.

John:

Right.

John:

And so we had to plan for that.

John:

Right.

John:

But, but the oil kept the

John:

inside interior of the egg from

John:

evaporating through the shell.

John:

So it kept the eggs fresher a

John:

month longer than an un-oiled egg.

John:

It was a tiny little spend for us.

John:

Uh, but it, it made it much

John:

higher quality product, right.

John:

And, uh, so the things like that were just

John:

kind of baked into me through experience.

John:

So then my next project was.

John:

Uh, I became involved with a, uh,

John:

actually bought a product, a software

John:

product, and it is a membership

John:

product and software included.

John:

So this was the first, first time I

John:

know of a, of, of selling something

John:

with the model that we now see a

John:

subscription product that we see

John:

everywhere now, first one I'd ever seen.

John:

And, and it was a kind

John:

of a high end product.

John:

So that made sense, but it was investment.

John:

Investment-related and trading related.

John:

And I became just fascinated with the

John:

science and the mystery behind this thing.

John:

And I don't like, I don't like secrets.

John:

I don't like mysteries.

John:

I want to solve them.

John:

So, you know, it, it, it

John:

was a match made, I guess.

John:

So, anyway, I became.

John:

I was asked to.

John:

Yeah.

John:

Within a bout two or three years.

John:

I became very knowledgeable

John:

about this product, asked a

John:

lot of questions and developed.

John:

Uh, and this was again before really

John:

we had the email so much, so I was.

John:

I had a letter writing campaign going back

John:

and forth with the owner of this company.

John:

The questions I was asking.

John:

I was sending him charts and me

John:

asking and he would send back answers

John:

and he liked that I was doing that.

John:

And I became his best student.

John:

And because he was

John:

willing to share with me.

John:

I learned a lot alert faster.

John:

I learned stuff that nobody else knew.

John:

Right.

John:

And so then he asked me to, he wanted

John:

to expand his business and create a new

John:

division, but he didn't want to run it.

John:

That know, like and trust thing.

John:

Yeah.

John:

And so he.

John:

He asked me if I'd be

John:

interested in doing that.

John:

And.

John:

Our business.

John:

Running with the citrus and the cattle

John:

and so forth that I had more free time

John:

than a lot of people in business do.

John:

So I said, yes, I would love to do that.

John:

And again, I saw that as an expansion,

John:

sort of an expansion on our business.

John:

Because I became now a consultant.

John:

I was now.

John:

Hey, you know, At creating a new

John:

profit center for our business.

John:

And, um, and I did that

John:

for well over 10 years and

Connie:

Well you also did coaching.

John:

I did.

John:

Our history of coaching

John:

goes back to before we met.

Connie:

That's another day.

Connie:

Podcast.

John:

But we, yes, I, I was

John:

talking to people about how

John:

helping them use this product.

John:

But that expanded very naturally and

John:

unavoidably into helping them with

John:

their computer problems, because

John:

this was a piece of computer software

John:

that was very early days of Windows.

John:

In fact, I was using it

John:

before, before Windows.

John:

It was a DOS based product.

John:

And, um, and then, you know, as

John:

windows came along, it transitioned.

John:

And so I was helping them operate

John:

their computers and, and deal with

John:

those issues as well as understanding

John:

how to apply this product.

John:

You know, to, to the

John:

decision support that I was.

Connie:

And you were also doing

Connie:

the bug finding for the programmer,

Connie:

who was building this from scratch.

Connie:

And you became his right-hand man.

John:

I, yes, I was so involved with

John:

him that, um, he, you know, I was

John:

using the, the software every day

John:

and, and testing, trying everything.

John:

And when a new version came out, I

John:

tried the new features and I just,

John:

I seem to be able to find bugs.

Connie:

Yeah.

Connie:

We call him Johnny bug

Connie:

finder, in case anybody.

John:

Yes, that's one of my.

John:

One of my Connie nickname.

John:

That's right.

John:

And a, and.

John:

But he said I was the best, uh, software.

John:

Bug finder and tester that

John:

he'd ever worked with..

John:

And he was a career programmer.

John:

I mean, back to.

John:

You know, the early days of when they

John:

had the big reels of tape and stuff.

John:

So customer service skills, process

John:

development all came into play there and I

John:

just continued to evolve that and because.

John:

I was also doing, using the product

John:

and doing my own trading as I

John:

was helping these other traders.

John:

So I really knew how to, I was a customer

John:

as well as, doing customer support.

John:

So I could relate to their

John:

situation in a way that a lot

John:

of customer support can't right.

John:

I.

John:

I was on both sides.

Connie:

Product of the product.

John:

I was a product of the product.

John:

Exactly.

John:

And trading is very personal, in that

John:

it Shows all of your psychological

John:

flaws to you, you know, your, your fears.

John:

When you're taking a lot of risk,

John:

a financial risk and at that

John:

time it was the futures market.

John:

So they were, they were big swings.

John:

Uh, you could easily lose a

John:

thousand dollars in a day.

John:

And that can really

John:

play havoc on your mind.

John:

And I experienced that.

John:

And so I I learned to help them

John:

manage that and be aware of it.

John:

And as best you can, I mean,

John:

every it's a personal journey,

John:

so everybody has to do their own.

Connie:

Well, and you also

Connie:

developed that into workshops

Connie:

that we went all over the country.

John:

Yep.

John:

We started doing stock workshops

John:

and then we started traveling and

John:

doing those around the country.

John:

And that was a great experience.

John:

It was more fun.

John:

That was, again, a combination of

John:

some coaching, some customer support.

John:

We had Joseph travel

John:

with us and he was doing.

John:

That was great.

John:

Yeah.

John:

Software support during the workshop.

John:

We had a great time with that and, and

John:

served the customers to at a higher level.

John:

And then they got to have the, you know,

John:

instead of just getting up, calling me

John:

on the phone or this was before Zoom.

John:

So instead of calling me on the phone or

John:

just getting this newsletter in the mail.

John:

You know, they got to have some face time.

John:

I

John:

wrote a monthly newsletter for that.

John:

I did a form of programming to

John:

automate most of the work that went

John:

into that newsletter because it was

John:

hours and hours of work otherwise.

John:

So I wrote that I was able to turn

John:

that newsletter into a, that was again,

John:

part of that process development.

John:

I was learning Excel and I wanted

John:

to be, I thought I wanted to be

John:

a computer programmer and write

John:

the kind of programs like the

John:

charting programs that I was using.

John:

During this period, I was bilingual

John:

with both DOS, Windows, and

John:

the Mac world and using both.

Connie:

And this was before the internet.

Connie:

So we had a big satellite dish outside.

John:

It was early days of

John:

the internet, very early.

John:

That was happening.

John:

CompuServe and AOL was,

John:

it was coming along.

John:

Uh, email was a thing, but, in

John:

particular, the, the real-time data that

John:

we needed for, for that kind of trading.

John:

If you were going to do

John:

longer-term trading where you

John:

were making decisions once a week.

John:

But then you could use, you know,

John:

newspaper, there were papers and charts

John:

that were mailed out and so forth.

John:

You.

John:

You could, you could wait.

John:

Um, I mean, I, you might remember I

John:

got the wall street journal and every

John:

night I go through the wall street

John:

journal and typed the prices into the

John:

software so it could update the prices.

John:

But at some point, if you're, if you're

John:

going to trade on the shorter term and

John:

you need a real-time data feed, then

John:

that didn't exist over the internet.

John:

Yeah, it wasn't fast enough.

John:

We still had just dial up.

John:

And so, you had to have a

John:

satellite dish and we had that.

John:

So, yeah, I've, I've worn a lot of

John:

hats and I've learned a lot of skills

John:

and some of them, have aged out.

John:

I mean, I don't think I'm going

John:

to be doing any satellite dish

John:

alignment or installation anymore.

John:

Oh, that.

John:

That was always fun.

John:

But, um, it gave me a lot of

John:

perspective on different kinds of work.

John:

And I think that I bring

John:

that into our present work.

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