Dave Fulk – Controlling Your Life & Reputation (360)

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Dave Fulk is a seasoned executive with decades of experience leading successful teams across a wide array of industries. While Dave is many things, at his core, he is an operator that knows how to get shit done!

It doesn’t matter what the job is; Dave will be there to get it done and get it done right. When a problem arises, he carefully examines different pathways for his team to reach their goals before charging full speed ahead. He doesn’t let anything stop him from succeeding, and he lays the groundwork to ensure that.

He is great at asking the right questions while being an outside-of-the-box thinker and finding effective solutions to the problem.

But his superpower is assembling dream teams to get the job done. He encourages them to make decisions and mistakes. Providing them the tools and resources they need, while removing any obstacles or barriers preventing them from being successful.

Dave is the CEO of Reputation Rhino, a Partner at Profectus Capital Management, owner of Effectus Consulting Corp., and Co-Founder of HelloAlex.

In this episode of the How’d It Happen Podcast, Dave shares that he knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur since he was a kid. From shoveling driveways at 9 years old, Dave had the entrepreneurial spirit to do what needed to be done and delegate tasks to others to be as efficient as possible. Now Dave helps others repair and sustain their reputation online. We live in a world where people make a judgment about who they will do business with based on what they found out online. 75% of your ability to close a lead is based on what they found out about you online, so what does your online reputation say about you? 

Key Highlights:

  • How’d it happen for Dave?
  • Dave’s unique way of consuming books 
  • In business, the conversation has gone from converting leads to generating leads, and your ability to do that is based on your online reputation
  • We live in a world of personal brand 
  • How Dave helps repair reputations
  • What is a Maverick?
  • What about cancel culture? Should we be afraid of what we post online?

Episode resources:

Get Steve Sims’ book: Go For Stupid 

Connect with Dave Fulk:

LinkedIn: Dave Fulk

Facebook: Dave Fulk

Twitter: @Dave_Fulk

Instagram: @fulkdave

To Connect with Mike:

Full transcript below.

Watch the video version of this episode:

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Dave Fulk, Mike Malatesta


Mike Malatesta  00:05

Hey, Dave, welcome to the podcast, man.


Dave Fulk  00:11

Thanks for having me, Mike. Glad to be here.


Mike Malatesta  00:13

Yeah, Dave Young, a mutual friend of ours introduced Dave and I, and it was really weird because Dave and Dave, Falk and Young, were on a speak-easy thing with a guy named Steve Sims, who’s been on my podcast. I don’t remember that episode, but and, you know, they got to talking to each other. And it was weird because Dave Young thought of me when he was talking to Dave and said, I really need to get the two of you connected. That doesn’t happen to me very often. Like a meet up, you know, it’s one where you spent some considerable time together, just I don’t know, it was very strange. So I was very happy to get that recommendation and to have the chance to meet and now have you on the podcast?


Dave Fulk  00:59

You’re so welcome, that’s awesome. I’m thankful to Dave Young for making that connection. And yeah, it’s very serendipitous when, when those things happen, right? Yeah, it’s the universe at play. I like to say.


Mike Malatesta  01:09

You said it better than I can. So now, I am going to tell all of you a little bit more about Dave. So you can get as excited as I am to have this podcast go on with him today. So Dave, is a seasoned executive, with decades of experience leading successful teams across a wide array of industries. He’s the CEO of Reputation Rhino, a partner at Perfectus Capital Management, the CEO at Effectus Consulting, and I love the Latin on both of those, Perspectus and Effectus. That’s really cool. He’s a husband and a father of three. And while Dave is, at his core, many things, he is an operator that knows how to get shit done. He approaches life with a family-first mentality. He’s a maverick, and a business-growth expert. It doesn’t matter what the job is, Dave will be there to get it done. And get it done Right. He doesn’t let anything stop him from success. And he lays the groundwork to make sure of that. He’s great at asking the right questions, while being an outside-the-box thinker, and finding effective solutions to the problem. Dave, I start every podcast with the same simple question. And that is, How’d it Happen for you? Tell me.


Dave Fulk  02:35

Well, by accident. Yeah, I mean, I think anybody’s life, they have a, I don’t know many people’s life, who turned out exactly how they thought or claimed it was when they were growing up. And, and I’m no different. I’m in a much different place today than I am than I ever would have expected. You know, as a kid growing up in a very blue-collar, you know, Midwest-mentality, home, you know, I was grown, I was taught growing up that you go to work, you work hard, you go to school, you get good grades, you get a degree, you go to a job, and you work there for 30 years, and you’re loyal to him and you retire at that same company that you worked at for 30 years with a pension, right? And the white picket fence dream, right, the American dream, that’s what I grew up on. And I’ll tell you, it just it never sat well with me. And it was lots of experiences through the years where I look back now. And they’re almost like aha moments to me. Where who I really was supposed to be was coming out in my childhood. But yet, I didn’t know about it, I didn’t understand it. And I had nobody with that entrepreneurial mindset to, to help nurture it. Right. So it happened by accident.


Mike Malatesta  03:56

So help me understand what some of these aha moments might have looked like to you.


Dave Fulk  04:01

Yeah, so you know, growing up in that kind of environment. You know, I had everything that I needed, not necessarily everything that I wanted, you know, so there was a value on a handshake and looking somebody in the eyes and yes, sir, no, sir. And it’s, you know, that hard-work mentality and God, I wish our society had some of that today, I think the work effort today is just, it seems nonexistent anymore to an extent, but things like gravel and driveways, you know, I grew up in the Midwest, we got a lot of snow. And I lived in an older neighborhood like ,there was two kids, period in this entire neighborhood, me and my best friend Josh, and then you had to go, you know, a couple neighborhoods over where the kids are going to school with. Okay, but all these elderly people didn’t want to get out there and shovel the driveway. So I started shoveling my neighbor’s driveway. And then they asked the next neighbor, the next neighbor, the next neighbor, and soon I had, you know, four or five driveways and I’m out there all day and I’m at capacity, right? I could do four driveways in a day and I’m tired. And, you know, my friend kept saying, oh, you know, when she complained, I’m like, I can’t, I’m shoveling driveways. It’s like, oh, man, you got all that money. And I’m like, tell you what, you come shovel the next driveway for me and I’ll give you, I think I was getting 10 bucks for gravel, I’ll give you five bucks. And he’s like, I just told him, Hey, I’ll pay you five bucks done. He was excited. He shoveled that driveway with intensity for $5. Now I went, Hey, man, I didn’t have to do anything. And I still got five bucks. And so I went to my friends, you know, a couple streets over and said, Hey, five bucks, I got a ton of driveways to shuttle. I just went knocked on every door up and down my street and ended up with like 15-20 driveways to shovel. And I would have my friends come over and help me. My dad, I got in over my head, and my dad came and helped but realize what are


Mike Malatesta  06:03

Was that when your friends let you down? Dave, I mean, your dad had to come?


Dave Fulk  06:07

No, I just think it got so my eyes, you know, my eyes were bigger than my stomach in that scenario, and I just kept knocking on doorways, getting people and I overcommitted to how many driveways I could successfully shovel, you know, as a eight-nine year old kid. So I mean, looking back at that now, those were entrepreneurial tendencies coming out, right, I had no idea, I didn’t think past it. And it was just, you know, bam, I didn’t think anything. It wasn’t ever a, hey, kudos, good job, wow, you know what you did type of thing, because that just wasn’t the mentality. And then you know, I set up a tomato stand, right, I would go, like my grandpa lived on a farm, I would go take a box of tomatoes from him he’d let me have, and then I just set up a tomato stand at the end of the driveway and sell them out. You know, so cost of goods was zero. It was 100% profit other than my time just sitting there. So things like that, I look back. And those were things that I did as a kid, you know, those were more fun to me, at times, doing that rather than playing video games or doing some of the other stuff. So those are kind of some examples. You know, another example is, you know, I’m a college dropout. And I got to college. And it’s finally that time where you really get to think for yourself, and it’s free. And I just sat in the classroom. And I remember I had a business class. And I remember that the professor basically was just teaching out of a book. And it’s, I’m sitting here thinking, the only thing different between this guy and me is he’s one chapter ahead of me in the book. And it just, it never made sense to me. One plus one didn’t equal two in the scenario like, How can I truly learn from somebody who’s not done it? They’re not a practitioner. And so I was a college dropout. And then, you know, went through different phases in my life. But those are examples.


Mike Malatesta  08:08

Okay, tell me before I go forward with you, tell me about your parents a little bit, day-to-day. You sort of describe the blue-collar mentality? What were they doing? What were your siblings up to? If you have siblings, tell me a little bit more about that?


Dave Fulk  08:26

Yeah, so mom generally was a stay-at-home mom with us, which was which was awesome. You know, having a parent to stay home with you and do all the fun summer stuff and activities. And sure, you know, they, like I said, I had everything that I needed, not everything that I wanted, right? So being a single-income back then and my dad, you know, worked really hard. He was always on call. I’ll never forget, like when beepers first came out, pagers when they first came out, and he was always on call. And so I’ve never forgetten, I grew to despise the sound of that beeper because I knew that dad had to go away. And I had an older brother, four years older, who, you know, we didn’t grow up with a great relationship. We were very polar opposite in our belief systems, what we liked to do, you know, I was very sports-oriented, you know, the traditional alpha male, if you will, very outdoorsy, very sports, very outgoing, you know, charismatic, even as a kid type of person, and my brother was the polar opposite. So, we never got along super great. We’re great friends now as adults, right, as we’ve grown up and changed and evolved. But yeah, it was a brother who I didn’t get along a whole lot with and then, you know, one friend in the neighborhood, so I was very independent as a child in doing a lot of the stuff and so I found a lot of my joy through team sports. Got to play baseball and soccer and stuff like that.


Mike Malatesta  09:53

Okay. Our growing up has a lot of sort of similarities to it. My mom was stay at home until we went to, ‘til we were in high school, I think, and then she got a job. My dad was a truck driver, usually on the night shift, he liked nightshift work. So, you know, it’s kind of like I didn’t see him that much, although he wasn’t gone or anything. But the beeper thing reminded me of my own. See, I’m a little older than you right. So I started my first business in 1992. You were still? I don’t know, you might have been in grade school still at that time.


Dave Fulk  10:30

Yeah, I was in second grade, I believe.


Mike Malatesta  10:33

So I had a pager, clipped to me for 10 years straight, clipped in my underwear at night, so I wouldn’t miss a vibration or anything. I know that sounds weird. It wasn’t for weird reasons, so don’t go there. It was completely, this was all business, man, all business, but after 10 years, I was ready to well, actually there was a period of time when I was excited by the pager, right? Because every time that paged that meant someone was going to hire us, you know, to do something, really regretting having to carry that thing around. So anyway, just an aside, and what you said about the professor was really interesting. So the professor was just, in your mind, was just one chapter ahead in the book. View, because they didn’t have they were perfect. They were teachers, right? They were just teaching what they were. Yeah. I saw something that you did, a video of yours, where you were talking about how you consume books now. And it’s not exactly, you know, relevant to what you said, but it just made me think because you have this unique way of consuming books. Can you share that with everyone?


Dave Fulk  11:52

Yeah, absolutely. So you know, we learn three ways, primarily seeing, hearing, and doing, right. And different people learn different ways. Some people retain better hearing it, some people will retain better doing it, and some people will retain better visually. And so I thought, you know, three, four years ago, I used to read books, but it was at a slower pace. And then I went to Audible only. And I listened to more audible books. And I noticed like, a few months after I read the book, I just, I’d have to go back and re-listen to it, right, I just didn’t have the retention that I was hoping for. And so I don’t know, three, four years ago, every book that I got on Audible, I ordered the physical copy as well. And so now every time I go through a book, I’ve gotten a book highlighter in audible. And basically, I allow audible to read the book to me, as I follow along in the hardcopy, and if there’s something really relevant that comes through, I highlight that section or that chapter on the page in the book, right? And things like that. And so I’m hearing the information audibly. I’m seeing the information visibly. And I’m doing something because I’m holding the book. And so what I found is my retention rate, my absorption rates are through the roof when I do that.


Mike Malatesta  13:09

So I’ve never heard anyone say that they do that before. But I’m thinking about it from when I first saw the video, and now have you explain it, I think there’s a brilliance to it. And I’m gonna try it because when they came out with Audible, I get too distracted, so I lose track of what they’re saying. And then I’m like, Oh, crap, now I gotta go back. Or I just go well, I’ll catch up, you know, and it’s just distracting to me. And a book. I probably don’t read as fast as I could, if someone were reading it, right, because I get tired or I get whatever and I just, you know, so I love that; I’m going to try it. I think it’s a great idea to capture all three things. So thank you for that tip. I’m going to try that. One other thing we have in common, Dave, is I also dropped out of college. After my first semester as a freshman, I’m not sure when you did it; I did it because I thought where I wanted to work, I wanted to work and make money and I felt like being in college was the opposite of that; I didn’t feel like being there was going to help me make any more money, like I could get a head start on everybody by just working. So I did that for a semester, I worked at this cemetery, you know, doing burials and cutting the grass and all that stuff. I had worked there in high school. And then they kicked me out at the end of it because the guy running it, he wasn’t quite a priest, but I’ll just call him a priest for now. I think he conspired with my parents. He’s like, Dude, you know, you’re not going to work here at the cemetery for your whole life. Just not gonna happen. So I ended up going back and I did graduate. So when was it that you dropped out? And what did you do after you did?


Dave Fulk  15:08

It was my sophomore year, it was after just after two years. I think I had enough almost to graduate with an associate’s degree but didn’t. And it was very similar. I was living at home still. And I was working part time for Verizon Wireless. And so what I learned is, I learned their policies and procedures really well, especially around the comp plan. And I can, I can honestly say this today, Verizon Wireless, the corporate entity, right, then the national international global brand changed to their overall policies, because of me, I can unequivocally say that, and I am proof of that. I found out how to quote unquote, cheat the system. And so what they had back then is they had the comp plan, your commission structure and how you sold, and they considered anybody full time 30 hours or more, right, and then you would have a full time comp structure, and you would have a quota. And they considered anybody part time, 29 hours or less. And so, for an example, somebody’s working 30 hours, their comp structure, they had to sell 40 phones or something a month, right. And then once you hit your quota, once you went over your quota, they had a multiplier that went into it. So based on the level of what you went over your quota, they would multiply your commissions by up to 5x. And so I sat there and I looked at it. And I said, if I worked 29 hours and so 30 hours, my quota goes from 40 to five. Like it was so disproportionate to what they expected from their part-time employees do what they did their full time. No, you didn’t get the full-time benefits and health insurance. I didn’t care, I’m 18-19 years old, who cares? And so I was working part time at Verizon selling as many phones, if not more, than the full time people. But I was making way more than them because every single one of my paychecks had a 5x multiplier on it. So you had the same multiplier with such a low quota, but the same multiplier. I had the same multiplier potential. And so yeah, I’m at a 2x. Right. So I was capping out the 5x multiplier. And I was going to the President’s Club, and the award dinners. And they’re like, I had the regional manager sit down with me, how are you doing this, and they finally figured it out and changed the comp plan. But I was very much you know, at 18 then, you know, I was making 60-70 grand a year, as a part time employee who lived at home who had no bills. I mean, I had more money than I knew what to do with, you know, back then, that was all the money in the world that I needed. I was making more money than my dad, you know, living at home with my dad, you know, and, and so to me, screw college. So it was very much money-motivated for me as well. And then after that, I still had you know, growing up in that society, I thought I was either going to be a police officer go to the military. And I didn’t go to the military. And so at that point in time, I wanted to become a police officer really bad. And so I kept at Verizon, went through the police academy and became a police officer. And I’ll never forget, like I said, I was making $60- $70,000 a year working part time, Verizon Wireless. And then I became a cop and my starting salary was $27,500. And I basically took a 50% pay cut. And that was to work full time. And so I enjoyed the job. It was a lot of fun. You know, driving fast with the Woo’s is great, but I just never the political side of it just never sat well with me. And finally, it was one of those things like, I accomplished what I set out to do with my life, right? I said I was gonna do this or this. And I did this thing. And it just I wasn’t fulfilled. And so then it was kind of like, back to the drawing board. What what do I want to do with my life after doing that for a couple years? Because it just, it didn’t have the fulfillment level that I thought it would. And there were some incidents that happened. That were just crazy to me, you know, in, you know, being put on administrative leave because somebody complained, because somebody called 911 in the middle of the night because they said their neighbor’s house was getting robbed and we showed up. What do you do somebody calls 911 says somebody’s robbed my neighbor’s house. They dispatch you to that location because the house is being robbed. That person called they were moving out, they decided to move out at 1am in the middle of the night, so it was all legit. Yeah, but they called and complained, because we came there. or at one o’clock in the morning and stopped what they were doing and they didn’t care that somebody called the police on him and then you find yourself on administrative leave, I’m like, this makes no sense. Makes no sense. You couldn’t pay me to be a cop today what they go through, it’s not even worth it.


Mike Malatesta  20:15

I only have the perspective of trying to piece together things that you’re told portions of, but I agree with you, like, there’s, with all the, you know, it’s amazing how brilliant you can be when you have an hour to figure out a 10th-of-a-second situation. Right?



Those Monday morning quarterbacks


Mike Malatesta  20:39

And you got put on leave for that, I mean, they told you to go there, didn’t they


Dave Fulk  20:47

I arrived at this location, you know, potential burglary in process, you know, show up and then everything’s fine right. Then you’re on unpaid leave while they investigate it. But I’m like, I felt like I did something wrong. And what’s crazy is when you go on, leave, you’re ostracized, nobody wants to talk to you. It’s all of a sudden, you’re this guy’s best friend one day, and then the second year on leave whether it’s justifiable or not. It’s like, don’t talk to me, stay away from me. I can’t talk to you. You’re on leave. Right? That’s right. And this is supposed to be a brotherhood where people have your back. And they like you, they do, until they don’t. And I’m like doing until you made me question. Are they really going to have my back that when when it matters? You know, and so there were there were a few instances like that, that just left a real bad taste in my mouth and spent, especially in the politics side. You know, I worked for a department where the chief was an elected official. So it was very political and stuff like that. And I can’t stay in politics. I hate it. Unfortunately, it’s an evil that we have to live with. But no, you won’t hear me say great things about one side or the other. I just hate both of them.


Mike Malatesta  21:54

I’m with you on that as well. Because while you know there’s something weird about a system that when you’re running against someone to help to get the votes, you are essentially tearing down that other person as a liar, cheater, manipulator, blah, blah, all of these things. And those are supposed to be the leaders that we’re choosing from right, then the way that they’re positioning themselves to just tear each other down. Tell us how horrible the other person is. And I think to myself, was that really what I want the person leading, you know, making a decision on leadership? Is that really what I wanted about or don’t want somebody telling me where they’re going to take me. And I know politics doesn’t work that way. But it’s weird that it doesn’t because it infects all of us with the wrong type of thinking like this is how you get ahead in the world is tear down the other person instead of build yourself up.


Dave Fulk  22:50

We live in a society where it’s easier to fool somebody than it is to convince them they’ve been fooled. Nice. And that’s just an unfortunate society that we live in. We live in a Cancel Culture where negativity thrives. And I don’t think every politician starts off that way. I think most of them probably do start off with a good intention. But once they realize if they want to make any impacting change, they start they start selling themselves a little bit at a time to try and get their initiative through and then they you know, it’s it’s how do you boil a frog? You know, you put him in a pot of water, you turn it on, and he wakes up dead. And I think slowly over time, all politicians turn into the same same side of the cloth, you know, given enough time, I think there’s a few that stand out. And those are the ones that are ostracized and polarized in the media.


Mike Malatesta  23:36

Yeah, and then what do they call it? Now that you get primary? Primary tips? You’re one of those people. So you see, you had it, you have it. You’ve had enough as a police officer, you you quit and move on you do what do you where do you go?


Dave Fulk  23:51

Yeah, so then I’m like, okay, you know, I was making tons of money. When I was living at home selling, you know, Verizon Wireless, I got back into sales. Got into the the financial side of things and mortgages, and did really well with that. And this was where I had who epiphanies for me in this was these, these, I’ll call them slaps right slaps across the face that awoken to me is I was working for the largest bank in the world, HSBC Corporation, largest bank globally in the world. And I was working for the consumer lending division in North America. And I was just skyrocketing. I got selected. I was at an AP program, which is the accelerated management program at a 1000s of employees. They selected like 25 of us nationwide. They were traveling me all over the country to learn from some of the brightest minds of that organization and like I was on the fast track. And then I’m at the gym one day, early morning 6am I get a text message from a buddy. He’s like, have you seen this, and he sends me a link. And because they were based out of Europe at that time, they’re five hours ahead of us, or six hours ahead of us at that time, and it’s HSBC shuts down. North American consumer lending division lays off 3800 employees. And I’m like, what? And so I immediately the gym, jump in the car, head straight to the office, open the door walk in, because the office hadn’t opened yet. Sit down on my computer. And I try and login Access denied. Now this is a mistake, to know the Access Denied, go to another computer access denied. And immediately I knew I didn’t have a job. And the branch manager shows up, hey, we have a call, you know, blah, blah, blah. I’m, like, already know what this is. And then they fired 3800 People over a phone call. Get your stuff get out, you’re gone right now. And I’m like, how could I have been doing everything right? I was on the fast track, I was selected as part of this elite group. And then bam, they just shut the whole division down. And it was like, wow, and I just had my first child at this time. And I’m like, you know, it was gut wrenching of what happened. And so then I found a job with it real quick, I wouldn’t worry about that, independently working for a mortgage company. Same thing. Within six months, I was branch manager. Almost one year to the day when I started. They filed bankruptcy then went to business. So within a 12 month time period, I found myself out of a job twice. And this time, I had another kid on the way. You know, I had my one kid I had another kid on the way and I’m like, What in the crap is going on here? I’m doing everything right. I’m doing everything that’s asked to me. I’m rising through the ranks. In yet, I have zero control of what’s happening to me. I’ve been thrown out on my ass. I don’t know if we can say that on this podcast. But we did. I’m thrown out on my my rear end. And I’m it was those two awakenings like I’m never going to be in control my future if I’m dependent on somebody else to control my life. And that was I went through a period of what do I want to be when I grow up? Right. And I didn’t know when I was really going through some soul searching time. So I enjoy being a police officer. I went back at that in this, you know, this six to 12 month time period. Went back through medical school. You know, it did that never never I graduated as valedictorian of the class, but never did it a day in my life on the job. I just did clinicals because I met a guy during that time. And he was starting a company a credit repair company. And I’m like, Oh man, I used credit repair a lot when we were in the mortgage business. And so I just jumped in and was like, Hey, let’s let’s do this. And I’ll never forget, you know, the first few months that we closed out the first year, it was like $20,000, which was nothing. And then the very next year, we closed it a million dollars. I’m like, man, we just made a million dollar business. I’m, you know, when he 526. And I’m like, holy crap, that was fun. And that was easy. And nobody can fire me. Nobody can tell me what to do. Nobody can throw me out of my ass. I created that with this guy. And we did this together. And so we grew that we grew that. And I ended up, you know, meeting a lot of people having the opportunity to leave that and take over a much larger organization. That was a nationwide company, which brought me from Kansas City to Tampa, Florida, where I’m at now. And from there, left that started an artificial intelligence software platform in the real estate industry, nominated and won the Inman, most old man what was most disruptive software technology of the year. And from there, you know, have just started running my consulting business. So you mentioned effect this in practice, right? The Latin etymology of those is, as you said, my intro I like to get shit done will affect this, the Latin etymology of that is to effect right to affect change. And that’s what I do. You know, my core skill set is growth and scale and operations. So, I’m a guy that’s going to come in and say, Okay, what do we need to do to get to point B, and then I’m going to create the plan from point A to point B and get us there. And then move on again, right? I’m a growth-and-scale specialist. And so that’s really what I focused on and working with a lot of companies. And then a few years ago got into Um, acquiring cash flowing entities, existing businesses that are cash flowing, and you know, now have a portfolio of I think it’s eight different companies that I’m involved with, from a different standpoint. And you know, that’s a short, but long not super detailed way of how to happen.


Mike Malatesta  30:20

Yeah. So that that would be under the prospectus.


Dave Fulk  30:25

Perfect. This Yeah. That apology is to prospective


Mike Malatesta  30:28

protests. Yes. Thank you. Yep.


Dave Fulk  30:30

It’s the profit, right. So what do we want to do? We want to come in and make those companies profitable.


Mike Malatesta  30:36

Okay, so let’s go. Let’s let’s explore this a little bit, if you don’t mind. So this partner that you started the first mortgage business with, how how did you run into this person? Because I’m all about life, like you and date like you and Dave run into each other. How did you run into this person?


Dave Fulk  30:53

Craigslist, Craigslist, okay, I was just there scrolling through, and this thing just stuck out to me. And I was like, there was something that it just It spoke to me, right, the the title, and then the job description, as he was hiring for a salesperson. And I was like, okay, and then I met the guy, and it was like, just instant connection. And then once we got in there, it was, he knew right off the bat that I was not just a sales guy, and then you know, became 50%. Partner with him.


Mike Malatesta  31:28

Okay, so you answered an ad on Craigslist?


Dave Fulk  31:31

Yep. Yeah. Again, the universe of play. Yeah.


Mike Malatesta  31:36

And then have you stuck with him? Or after that first business with him? You’ve sort of felt


Dave Fulk  31:40

move moved on? Not all different, you know, many chapters ago in my life.


Mike Malatesta  31:45

Okay. Okay. Yeah. So, um, with with, with practice, then you are buying these cash flowing companies? What time? So I’m, I mean, I have a and my listeners have exposure with, you know, private equity funds, and I’ve had private equity people on here, and I’ve invested in funds. What’s your process like? And because you’re seem more hands on than perhaps private equity might be, but I don’t want to make any assumptions.


Dave Fulk  32:17

Yeah, we play well below private equity, right? We like to work with two to $10 million dollar top line revenue companies that are generating at least, you know, around a million dollars of EBIT up or more. And depending on the listener, we’ll just call it net profit. You know, what’s left over after all the bills and expenses are paid. So they’re making either two to 10 million on the top end, they pay all the bills to pay all the employees, there’s at least a million dollars leftover at the end of the year. And yeah, we like to specialize in either partnering with them, taking a majority stance and bringing our team and knowledge and expertise and in working with them, you know, to grow the company, or full acquisition. And what we found is there’s so many good owner operated businesses out there, that people may have a great product, they may have a great service, they may have a great company, they’re just not a great CEO, or they’re not a great visionary. And because they were, you know, tenacious within how they want to do it and relentless in their their goal of having a pager on their on their underwear while they slept, right mentalities, they wrote, they were able to grow that thing into a million $2 million company, right? I did it in my 20s, like without knowing really what I was doing. And so I felt that we made a lot of mistakes along the way, right? This podcast isn’t long enough talking about all the mistakes that were made and how much money I’ve lost along the way. But what we found is they grew it to a point where they become, they start to despise the baby that they built, right, because they hate the frickin payroll, they hate dealing with the taxes, they hate dealing with the books, they hate dealing with this, God they got to get out of their sales call, they don’t want to be the sales call guy or, or whatever it is. And so a lot of the times where we come in and plug those holes for them, you know, reignites their passion in this thing. And you know, one of our more recent acquisitions and success stories actually I’ve got it up here reputation, Rhino, I stepped in as the CEO of that. And that’s exactly what happened. This guy had done a phenomenal job of building this company for the last decade. He had grown it to a point where he was capped out like he was at capacity. He was working 6080 hours a week didn’t get to spend much time with his wife or his family, and just had not grown anything past that before. He was an attorney. He was a New York based attorney for life. You know, and then open this company up in a decade later here Here he still is and he had done a fantastic job with it. You know, we took this thing over a 18 months ago, I think or something, you know, the first six months, we doubled the company a lot this year, we will have doubled the company again, in revenue and stuff like that. And so it’s taking what we knew was possible. And then just adding our knowledge, expertise and team and resources to it and making it happen. Every business is different. There’s different challenges that are that are unique to that business. But one of the biggest things is six. I think it was six years ago, myself and one of my business partners, Derek, and perfect this, we decided we were going to be remote operators. And if I couldn’t manage a business, multimillion dollar organization from a laptop anywhere in the world, I wasn’t doing it. And Derek was the same way and had have had a couple brick and mortar successful businesses, sales teams, stuff like that, moved them all remote, you know, 556 years ago. And so when COVID hitch that was nothing for us. We’ve been operating remote forever. It was like, even a blip on the radar for us. Actually, we saw business go up for COVID. So COVID, from a business side of things was actually a blessing in disguise for us. You know, there’s a lot of downside to COVID. But from a business perspective, it was good. And so I stepped in and I operate as the CEO of reputation right now. Because what we want to see is, how long is the runway? Right? What problem is the business solving? Is it something that’s going to be around, and we looked at this one, and I’ll just use this was an example. The need for online reputation management is an ever growing thing, in COVID made it even more prevalent, because more people are going online. And if you want to get into statistics, 85% of people stop somebody online before they ever do business with 74% of those people have made a determination of who they’re going to do business with, based on what they found or didn’t find online about them. Or they ever spoke with them for their about a sales meeting before they ever walked through the front door. And so that’s the crazy part to me is three quarters of your ability to close a lead is based on what they found out about you online.


Mike Malatesta  37:08

So in other words, that those 74% when they call you they’ve essentially already determined that they’re going to work with you. Is that pretty much right? You have to yours to blow, it’s yours to blow and at that point,


Dave Fulk  37:24

right? You know, the conversation used to be all about converting leads. Well, now the the conversation should be about actually generating leads. And your ability to generate leads is based on your online reputation and what I mean by online reputation. Listen to this podcast, I know you’ve got millions of people that listen to this podcast, Mike, I guarantee every single person has gone to Google at some point in time in their life in search somebody or something or some company up, I guarantee that probably the vast majority of the percentage of the people listening to this call have done that today. I know I have multiple times today already. And it’s that’s exactly what we’re doing. What are you going to find on the page when a Google when somebody Google’s you. And so that’s what we do is we help you control that narrative, we help you become more visible, more influence of and more authoritative online. So that way people will know like and trust you, before they ever speak to you, increasing your chances of one getting the lead into helping helping close that lead during that time. And you’re we live in a world of influence or this influence or that personal brand. And your personal brand is almost as synonymous with the business brand anywhere. And that’s where I’ve really seen a change is the consumer will always dictate the market, right. And if you think that that’s not true, you’re just fooling yourself. And the consumer wants to put a face with the name of a company these days, and they want to feel good about working with an individual, even if it’s just the CEO of the company. You know, they’re not necessarily working with them, they can feel good about their decision. And on the other side of that part we haven’t talked about not just in consumer is the employment side of things. The workforce that is the largest workforce at this point in time is millennials. Love them, hate them, whatever you want to do, guess what, that’s your primary workforce today. You know, that’s a whole different debate on on millennials, but Millennials want to have flexible work, they want to work remote, they want to feel like what they do matters and they want to know how they fit into that. And so they want to know who they’re going to work with on a personal level. Right? The old cookie cutter Corporation jobs, they don’t want to, they want to live Nomad, they want to rent an RV and they want to drive around the country and stop and work on their laptop and do work for people remotely. Right? That’s the society that we live in. So these large corporations are having a troubles figuring that out where corporations, smaller businesses, medium sized businesses who are focused on their online reputation, you know, people are buying into that a lot more and so it’s been so much It’s easier for me to find a talent, I’ve been able to steal talent from like large corporations, because they want to be part of a culture, right. And they can feel and see our culture based on what we position ourselves online as. So it was a lot, I just let you run with it,


Mike Malatesta  40:17

you said a lot of stuff there. And I want to get back to one thing that I think we need to dig into a little bit different a little bit more. And that is the, you know, having a business brand and a personal brand. I feel like there are a lot of there are a lot of people who have one or the other. Like most of the people, many of the people that you see who have a an online presence, personally, their business is a speaking business or, you know, something that’s related to that, and that alone, where you’re what I think I hear you saying is like reputation, rhino is a real, I call it a real, it’s a real business, right and all the business shoe on their real businesses, meaning that it’s not just the one person that you know, everything is relying on. But you’re saying that it’s important to have both and made me think that when you go to the About Us page on someone’s website, there may be information on the owner or the founder or whatever, but that person isn’t, when you dig into that person, and they don’t have an online brand. You kind of like ah, they’re just, I it it doesn’t it doesn’t reinforce or it doesn’t help the business part of the brand. I am screwing the way I’m putting this together up. But is that what you’re saying? Right, you gotta have?


Dave Fulk  41:47

You gotta so both right need to build a personal brand. You are an individual, your company does not define who you are. Right? I’m involved in multiple companies. I am the CEO of red Rhino. A rhino every day all day charge, right? However, reputation, Rhino just doesn’t define who I am as an individual. And my personal brand tells the story. And if you go to my website, David You’ll see as you mentioned earlier, there’s four, four elements to who I am a Maverick, a CEO, an investor and a family man. Right. And that is my personal brand. And the more people get to understand me on that level, and see that the conversations are completely different. You and I had a completely different conversation the very first time because hey, Dave introduced us, right. So that was a referral. But then you went to my website, and booked a call with me. But you already knew about me as an individual before we ever spoke. And so it allowed our first conversation to be much more genuine, much deeper, in a way. And like, there’s you didn’t define me as just the CEO of our Brian on talking to this guy, you’re talking to this guy, right. And so that’s it’s really important to build a personal brand. And the reason being to from a business side of the brand is you’re right, one of the first thing people do is they go to the About Us of the Meet the team page. They want to see who works there. They want to see real pictures of real people and real smiles and stuff like that. And then what they do is they go Oh, CEO, copy, paste, Google. Oh, this guy’s a jerk. Look at this Trustpilot you know Glassdoor. Look at all these terrible reviews. You know, everybody thinks this guy’s a jerk to work for. I don’t want to do business there. Right? Yeah, he didn’t focus on building his personal brand. Maybe he’s just not the easiest boss to work for. But maybe he’s done some amazing things in life. Maybe he’s done a lot of good. But the problem is, is the narrative online, is he’s an a hole. So guess what everybody that Googles that guy’s gonna think he’s an angel. And that’s what they go into. And, you know, you want to talk about, you know, I’m a facts and data guy. So Cornell University did a study recently. And it talks about how it’s really hard to change someone’s first impression, whether it’s right or wrong, your first impression of somebody is really hard to change. And so they did a study that a test group of people that to test groups test group A sat in a room and just look at looked at pictures of people, test group B was the pictures of people they had some people smile, and had some people frown or give an angry face, and that they would show those images for one second on a screen. And they would go away. And then the test group, they had to write down how they felt or what they thought that person would be like in real life, right a one second. Six months later, they bought growth test groups together, they had no idea who each other were, and then brought them together for like a social mingle. And at the end of it, they went back to test group A, and basically said, Who did you meet? And what did you think about him. And what was crazy is they didn’t realize that the images that they were shown for one second, six months ago were the same people that they just met. But their opinions didn’t change. The people that were smiling. They had good things that say about them as individuals. And the people who were frowning or mad face six months ago, they didn’t like him when they met him, Get out of here. So crazy. That’s how strong your first impression is. And that’s why you can’t make a second first impression. And so you need to make the most positive online first impression that you can. And so that’s, I’ve talked a lot about reputation right now. But I want you to understand the why we really wanted to acquire this business because we feel that this is a blue ocean, it’s an up and coming niche, right, it met our financial parameters. But we also felt we could do something with it. And it would be around for a while we didn’t feel like it’s going to be, you know, hot flash in the pan. We didn’t feel like it’s a crypto thing, right? It’s very volatile. Who knows if it’s really going to be around and a year or two?


Mike Malatesta  45:57

So let me try to get to what reputation Rhino actually does, so that people


Dave Fulk  46:09

people who are listening .  .  .


Mike Malatesta  46:10

or watching really get it. So there’s two components to it, as I understand it, and I’m just going to frame it up. And you tell me where I’m completely wrong or halfway right. One is, you, you want to, you want to improve how your company is perceived. So that’s that’s one. And then the other is, we’ve got a problem out there. Something bad happened to us at some point we were sued or, you know, got arrested for drunk driving or whatever. And we want that to be we want that to be minimized or eliminated. Do I have the two sides? Correct? Are there more? Is there more to it? Yeah,


Dave Fulk  46:51

so there’s a little more to it, but you got the main core of it, right? Essentially, if I can make it as simple as possible, we help you look your best online. Different people have different starting points. Some people are ghosts, they have nothing about them online, some people have some of those negative issues, right, so we can help you as a ghost, right? Build your brand. Right. So that is that is one element of people that we’re working with is build your brand, build a positive online reputation for you, make you more visible and more influential online. On the other side of that spectrum, is that somebody the negative side, we will help them remove or suppress is much of the negative information negative press that’s out there about them, allowing them to recreate a better first impression of themselves online than what’s currently out there. And we would remove or suppress that as far down into Google as we possibly can. So allowing them to control their image again. And then the the third element of that is the ongoing protection, right. So build, protect repair. And the Protect is once we’ve got you repair to a certain element, or once we have you built to a certain element, then we want to protect it, right? It’s not good enough where we just want to build it or repair it, we want to protect it long term. And that’s where we kind of build a firewall of protection around you, per se to where it’s not displaced as easy to mitigate the risk of a new hater coming along down the line or another bat that new bad review, you know, coming down the pipe.


Mike Malatesta  48:24

In general terms, David, how does it work? Like, particularly the review there the suppress, remove the Protect? Like, how does? How do you do that?


Dave Fulk  48:37

Magic, I found the magic. Nicely good. You know, I watched a lot of Harry Potter. So online reputation management is really a combination of a multitude of different industries or niches. So it is SEO, it is PR press releases, content management, content optimization, digital media, and legal. Right. It’s those five, it’s those five elements combined, that make online reputation management. So every client is going to have a combination of those things. So from building websites for them personal websites to having the copy written to having high authority ranking articles placed in Forbes, you know, USA Today, their local news, you know, I’m in Tampa, Tampa Bay Times, high authoritative pieces placed online rank really well. And then backlinks and SEO where they show up high in the rankings, and they stay there. The legal side of things. Sometimes we need to get the legal side of things in for removal or suppression areas.


Mike Malatesta  49:46

And so just to be clear, you can’t call up Google and say, Hey, this is unfair. I really don’t want this coming up in the search results or is that possible? You have your app that mitigate it some other way?


Dave Fulk  50:00

Number where I can call Google I would love to. Yeah, I don’t think Google even has a phone number their Google Google, and they bought YouTube have the worst customers. I hate Google. I hate Google with a passion. They have the worst customer service period. And they’re they’re a terrible organization, there is nothing I can say positive about Google. So yes, we seek to work against and fight an algorithm that seeks to define who you are to others. So no, you can’t just pick up the phone and say, this. It doesn’t work that way. It is it is we’re very trained professionals and each skilled in their own craft, in its understanding, having a strategist who knows how all these different elements work and know which levers to pull to adjust and move the needle in your in your online rotation.


Mike Malatesta  50:48

Okay. And as much as you might hate their customer service, or whatever, the fact of the matter is six, close to 6 billion searches are happening on their platform.


Dave Fulk  50:58

per day. Yeah, 26,000 per second. Yeah, it’s a lot. It’s the animal we have to deal with. I don’t like it. But you know, it’s, it’s, you have to deal with it.


Mike Malatesta  51:10

So you mentioned again, the maverick thing. I had said that in the intro, and then you mentioned it again. What does that mean? What does it mean to be a maverick?


Dave Fulk  51:21

So, a Maverick is, you know, a person that kind of, for forgiveness, not permission. They get shit done. They pave the way, you know, for others, you know, to do things. You know, when I think of maverick, I think of people like Richard Branson and Elon Musk, right? Those guys are bad asses. They have strong convictions and are willing to push through to the finish line regardless, you know, of conventional wisdom. They’re not afraid against going against the grain. Right? That’s a maverick. And they’re definitely not afraid to speak up when something doesn’t work or something’s not know. So they are very authentic and loyal, in my opinion. They believe in their own vision for in their ideals for the world. And you you live to regret if you ever cross one. Okay,


Mike Malatesta  52:17

I’m glad you threw that in there. At the end. I was gonna say that they both started rather humbly as well. I didn’t come from Well, ya know, I


Dave Fulk  52:28

think that’s an element. You know, I think there’s a lot of people who necessarily aren’t necessarily Mavericks that had a very humble beginnings that have amounted achieved a certain amount of success. Yeah. You know, if I can break it down to one thing, I’d say Mavericks break through barriers, ignoring the industry norms, and push forward for extraordinary results.


Mike Malatesta  52:54

Okay, that’s pretty succinct. I like that. And what about this not afraid of anything? That was also something I talked about at the beginning. I feel like everybody’s afraid of something.


Dave Fulk  53:06

Um, you know, everybody’s afraid of something, but it’s acting in spite of those fears. Right. That’s courage. You know, you brought up Steve Sims earlier on this podcast. He was a friend. I love Steve dearly. Steve is the epitome of if he can do it. I can do it. Right. a bricklayer from South London, you know, to one of the most celebrated and, and requested speakers and authors to date. You know, his new book that just dropped calls go for stupid. And I’ll give you a tidbit of it. It’s Steve special power, superhuman power, is not being afraid to look stupid. And I think because we come back to the society that we live in and the canceled culture. We are crippled by fear, doing something or taking action because we are afraid to be perceived of how others are going to see us. And so for me, I don’t care. I put a middle finger up and just do my thing. I don’t care what you think of me. You love me, you hate me. I don’t care. You know, I have who I need in my tribe. I have my tribe together. I have a married for 16 years. I have three amazing kids. I have everything I need in my life to be successful. Your opinion of me,


Mike Malatesta  54:26

doesn’t matter. It doesn’t.


Dave Fulk  54:29

I don’t care what you think of me. I’ll promise you this. The only hate that you’re ever going to get are people that are below where you’re at. People that are above where you’re at are never going to hate on you.


Mike Malatesta  54:40

Think about that for a minute.


Dave Fulk  54:44

The people who are willing to share their opinions and hate on where you’re at in life.


Mike Malatesta  54:48

haven’t achieved what you have.


Dave Fulk  54:51

The people who have surpassed what you what you’ve achieved in life. They’re not going to think about you, they’re not going to worry about it. So go grab that book. Go for Stupid by Steve Sims. And don’t be afraid of looking stupid to other people, because those fears are going to limit your ability to be all that you can in life. Well,


Mike Malatesta  55:13

that’s a good place to end.


Dave Fulk  55:17

This calls over all the sudden. This is, yeah, I have a lot of fun with my last name if you haven’t figured that out yet.


Mike Malatesta  55:27

Yes, he’s fucking awesome, right? I love it. I love it, too. And he’s a maverick, David, this has been so much fun getting to know you, thank you so much for being on the show. Thanks for what you’re doing, you know, taking these businesses and like you said, there’s so much it’s just very rapid, you know, people start businesses, and they’re going along, and they’re going along, and then, you know, things are going okay, but all of a sudden, they’re not sure why they’re doing it anymore. And the, you know, all of the things and you mentioned, some of them that go into running a successful business are not always things that, you know, founders or entrepreneurs really care about, they take energy away from them, rather than giving them energy and, and it just, you know, over time, it can just just, you know, wash all the ambition out of you, even though the business is still there, the ideas still there, and it’s still great, and somebody could take it and run with it, it just doesn’t happen. So it’s great to have people like you and your perfect this, you know, looking for these companies that you can invest in and bring life back into them and, you know, accomplish what they were capable of accomplishing. But just, you know, the energy and the expert expertise wasn’t there.


Dave Fulk  56:45

If you can’t tell I have very low energy to pour that into people. Right. I really like to give that back to people. So Mike, I agree, I am grateful and humbled that you asked me to be a guest on this podcast. I am grateful that you asked so many people how to happen. Because the plethora of knowledge of just having a conversation with people with how they get there is so inspiring to others. Everybody has a different story. Everybody has a different path. Right? And so if you can learn vicariously through successful people on how they do it, you know what a wonderful podcast so there’s no, no reason why I wouldn’t believe that you don’t have multiple millions of listeners because of because of that reason alone. And thanks again for having me on. And if any of the listeners want to connect with me, want to know more about you know what it looks like to partner with a company to help you grow and scale faster. Or maybe you’re interested in building your brand or repairing your brand. You know, the easiest place is just day four calm Dav e That’s my website and get in touch with me there. And I’ll get you wherever you need to go. Whether that’s talking with me or one of my team members.


Thanks for having me. Thanks for having me today in your world. And yeah, reach out to Dave Falk. And yeah, experience Maverick. Awesome, Mike. Thank you.

Alexi Cortopassi

Alexi Cortopassi

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I help entrepreneurs get unstuck, take back their power, achieve their life objectives, and create the futures they want.

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