Ever wondered what it takes to build a multi-billion dollar company from scratch? Settle in as Mike chats with Jonathan Cronstedt, better known as JCron. JCron is the force behind Kajabi, a company that has revolutionized the knowledge commerce industry. JCron unpacks his entrepreneurial journey, from the inception of the company, the trials and tribulations, the strategies that led to its success, to his life post-exit. He shares valuable insights on the significance of self-belief, the power of focus, and putting in the work before expecting results. He also shares his counter-intuitive belief on why people should come last in business.
While JCron was the President at Kajabi, the company grew 2153%, achieving a $2B valuation within five years. After his 20-plus years in executive leadership, operations, and strategy, JCron developed the Bullseye Formula – his proven method for scaling to exit. Using the Bullseye Formula, JCron invests in and advises a diverse portfolio of companies through The Cronstedt Company, where he is Chairman and CEO. JCron is dedicated to supporting and equipping the next generation of entrepreneurs. He believes entrepreneurship is the single greatest transformational force in our world, and it may just be the thing that saves it.
This conversation goes beyond entrepreneurship; it delves into the importance of meaning and purpose in life. JCron shares on how transformational books shaped his life, how the power of thoughts can create our realities, and the critical role of owning your audience in today’s digital world. You will also gain a peek into how Kajabi is empowering people to turn their knowledge into a thriving business. If you’re looking to chart your own entrepreneurial journey or seeking inspiration from a successful entrepreneur’s story, this episode is a goldmine.
Books mentioned in the episode:
Connect with Jonathan Cronstedt:
LinkedIn: Jonathan Cronstedt
Watch the video version of the episode below:
Write a Podcast Review:
Podcast reviews are important to iTunes, and the more reviews we receive, the more likely we’ll be able to get this podcast and message in front of more people (something about iTunes algorithms?). I’d be extremely grateful if you took less than 30 seconds and 5 clicks to rate the podcast and leave a quick review. Here’s how to do it in less than 30 seconds:
Click on This Link – https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/howd-it-happen-podcast/id1441722417
Click on the “Listen on Apple Podcast” Box
Click on “Open iTunes” – You will go directly to the iTunes page for the Podcast
Click on “Ratings and Reviews”
Click on the 5thStar (or whatever one makes the most sense to you 🙂
Episode transcript below:
0:00:00 – Mike Malatesta
Hi everyone. Mike Malatesta here and welcome back to the how it Happened podcast. On this podcast, I dig in deep with every guest to explore the roots of their success, to discover not just how it happened but why it matters. My mission is to find and share stories that inspire, activate and maximize the greatness in you.
0:00:19 – Mike Malatesta
On today’s podcast I’m talking with John Cronstead, who goes by Jay Cron, about the success he had building the company Kajabi into a multi-billion dollar business. We also talk about him having an unreasonable amount of belief in himself, his favorite books, why winning at darts and business is about having the biggest bullseye. Wisdom and, as an entrepreneur, how to create meaning and purpose in your post-exit life.
0:00:46 – Jonathan Cronstedt
So many business owners get it wrong. They look for the junk food, they look for the 47 point Facebook ad hack, they look for the new sales methodology. They look for the just hire a players, which, to me, is the greatest disservice done to business. Is this idea of it’s all about the people just hire a players and they’ll fix everything. You know the who, not the how, and it’s like it’s true, but it’s not the whole story, and the reality of it is a players don’t want to come in and fix your dumpster fire. They flat out don’t. They want to go where they’re celebrated, and so, for me, the reason people come last is not because they’re not important. They’re the greatest amplifier you can have. However, they have to come last because if you haven’t done the work in all of these other categories, you’re never going to get good people. Bottom line.
0:01:30 – Mike Malatesta
I know you’re going to love this conversation with J Cron. Jonathan J Cron, welcome to the podcast.
0:01:43 – Jonathan Cronstedt
Oh, thanks so much. Really great to be here, mike, looking forward to it.
0:01:46 – Mike Malatesta
I gave everybody before a taste of what we’re about to dive into and you, but I just wanted to let everyone know I first heard about J Cron on I think it’s called business lunch with Roland Frazier. It’s a podcast that I listen to pretty religiously. I think there’s a lot of great content in there and this Roland Frazier fella is. He thinks that, would you agree. He thinks at a high level and unequivocally anyone who’s listening.
0:02:15 – Jonathan Cronstedt
If you’re looking for a podcast that I think is chock full of some very unique insights and conversations that are not very common, business lunch would be it. Roland Frazier has been a friend of mine. Now for going on. Our just crossed over our first decade of friendship. He’s been incredibly impactful in my life and I would very much agree with Mike. The way that Roland thinks is incredibly unique. So it won’t be like any other podcast.
0:02:38 – Mike Malatesta
Yeah, totally, and just the way he gets it. I’ll just leave it at that, but give it a listen. And business lunch. It’s like 40 minutes, most of them 45. It’s cool stuff. So let me tell you a little bit more about Jonathan Cronstead or J Cron I’m dead with the last, the last tea on the end.
0:02:54 – Jonathan Cronstedt
Everyone gets confused with it. So you know, 12 years ago somebody was like I forget where we were, but they were just like hey, j Cron. And I’m like so basically we’re going my first initial and half of my last name. But it’s become much more memorable, much easier to say, and even in my own family, you know, my parents call me Jonathan. My wife’s parents had a Jonathan already. So I’m John, and then to everybody in the industry I’m J Cron. So they all play, but J Cron’s probably the easiest.
0:03:19 – Mike Malatesta
Okay, that’s funny too, because I’m Mike to some people in my family, I’m Michael to other people and forget the last name because most people just maltest for some reason is just too hard, although it’s much easier because phonetically it’s it’s exactly how it sounds where yours is. Gets a little tricky there with the last T. Anyway, j Cron. J Cron is a board member at Kajabi, a knowledge commerce platform, where he was president for six years something I think six years and during the time that he was president, kajabi grew 2,153%, achieving a $2 billion valuation within within five years. Congratulations, that’s very impressive.
0:04:03 – Jonathan Cronstedt
Thank you. I can’t help but always laugh. You know, whenever somebody reads a bio, it’s like it’s the neatest encapsulation of something where the person who lived this season when you’re hearing it, you’re like, wow, that that’s really cool. But you’re aware of all of the dumpster fires and complete mess that so many aspects of it were that are are not present in that sound bite of you know, here’s where we were, here’s where we are and away we go.
0:04:28 – Mike Malatesta
Yeah, it’s. I’m glad you brought that up because in the intro of my book, which is for entrepreneurs, I wrote you know people think if you just read the press, you know you think that it’s Red Bulls and pizza one night and billion dollar valuation the next and that’s what sells. Right. But that’s not what happens. At least it’s not what happens. Nobody wants to read this story.
0:04:48 – Jonathan Cronstedt
That’s basically. Every massive success is 10 or 20 years in the making. Nobody wants to hear that, because it’s like, well, I don’t have 10 years to wait. Well, it’s like, well, it took that long, you know. You know you’re only seeing the result. You’re not seeing the journey, the process and all of the uncertainty or craziness in between?
0:05:07 – Mike Malatesta
Absolutely, and maybe we’ll talk about some of that craziness. So Jay Kron is dedicated to supporting and equipping the next generation of entrepreneurs. As the executive director of the Jonathan and Nicole Kronsted Foundation, he believes entrepreneurship is the single greatest transformational force in our world and it may just be the thing that saves it and I’m going to get back to that because I’d love to know what you’re talking about there. I agree with you, by the way. I believe that entrepreneurship is like. I commit myself to it because it’s the thing that, professionally, I don’t know what I could be doing that would be more beneficial to people and to you know, maybe the world, but certainly to people who deserve and need that. Entrepreneurs need a lot of support, definitely.
0:05:51 – Jonathan Cronstedt
It’s the great. It’s the great equalizer.
0:05:54 – Mike Malatesta
0:05:54 – Jonathan Cronstedt
Today’s universe, no matter where you look, it’s broken, it’s polarized, it’s triggered, it’s anything and everything to keep people at each other’s throats about every topic imaginable.
And me, entrepreneurship is the great equalizer. It’s the thing that changes people, families, communities and societies at large, and when you look at societies where opportunity is plentiful, you typically see amazing societies. When you look at societies where opportunity is unavailable or difficult, you typically see very challenged societies. So for me, in a world where nobody can agree on anything, I think the only thing that we can agree on is that more opportunities is always better, and so for me you know very, very similar to kind of my view of the world when everything is changing, the only questions that matters is what isn’t changing. I think when everyone disagrees on everything, it’s far more important to try and find the one thing we do agree on.
For me, that’s always been entrepreneurship.
0:06:50 – Mike Malatesta
An interesting observation too. You know, whether you have resources a place that has resources or a place that doesn’t there are capable people there that, given the opportunity, or even the opportunity to make the opportunity happen, would be tremendous. Entrepreneurs, it’s about having the opportunity right.
0:07:08 – Jonathan Cronstedt
No absolutely, and it’s something that’s so validated empirically the world over. If you look at the data that comes out of Kiva or any of the microfinance organizations supporting microenterprise in Africa and you look at the repayment rates on their loans, it performs better than almost any debt category you’ll find anywhere, not to mention the societal change that it represents that when you are able to bring entrepreneurship into a community, especially to the women in that community, it’s one of the most powerful transformational forces you can find. I don’t think you’ll ever see it’s equal.
0:07:38 – Mike Malatesta
Yeah, I agree. I had the pleasure of a company called AgriCycle that was created in Milwaukee, which is near where I am, and they basically harvest fruit and dry it in Africa and then bring it back to the US to sell it all women, and it’s an entrepreneurial model where all the women harvest for them, dry for them and then participate in what they call an equitable way, Because for some reason, the women are the entrepreneurs and the men are.
0:08:06 – Jonathan Cronstedt
I think that the women should be doing all the work or something, and I think that that’s something that’s so worth exploring because you typically find that when you see female entrepreneurship success stories, it typically comes with transformation of the world around them that they touch. You have somebody in a village that all of a sudden has a cow that now has a business, that now has other people in their business and equipping them to start businesses. It’s such a greater change agent where us guys, when we accomplish things it’s typically fast cars, big houses, shiny things we operate very differently. Where I always laughed about this was there was a woman who was an executive in a company that I was leading years ago and she said the key difference is when you see a room full of guys and there’s one cookie in it, they’re going to fight with each other or wrestle people to the ground to get that cookie, and if you’ve got eight women in the room, they’re just going to split the cookie eight ways. It’s not even a discussion point.
It’s not a fight, it’s not anything, it’s just well, we got one cookie and eight people. So I think there’s just foundationally a different worldview, that when entrepreneurship or success is introduced, it becomes much more of a change agent societally than necessarily an individual achievement.
0:09:20 – Mike Malatesta
Yeah, I like that the cookie thing, because it’s so obvious to them to split the cookie and it’s so obvious to us to grab what you can. Yeah, no, when she said it.
0:09:31 – Jonathan Cronstedt
I was like man, I never thought about that. But wow, you’re totally right. Right. It’s an interesting one and I think that societally today, as we stare down some of the biggest challenges we’ve ever faced, those type of conversations of how do you really create change in a sustainable way are important ones.
0:09:48 – Mike Malatesta
I agree, so I’m going to finish the bio now. So when he’s not driving to outcomes for industry leading brands or scaling digital empires, jay Kron is lucky to be the husband to Nicole. Where did you meet Nicole?
0:10:00 – Jonathan Cronstedt
We actually met on the Queen Mary at a high school dance in Long Beach, California.
0:10:06 – Mike Malatesta
Oh, very nice. Father to Morgan Taylor. We have a daughter named Morgan and my wife’s maiden name is Taylor.
0:10:15 – Jonathan Cronstedt
I love it.
0:10:17 – Mike Malatesta
Servant to puppy Stella, and Stella is what kind of dog?
0:10:21 – Jonathan Cronstedt
She is a half B Shawn, half Cocker spaniel. She’s actually sitting next to me right now and with a little luck we’ll get through recording without her barking and anything going on. But, yeah, she’s super, super fun All right, I thought I would love a small dog and now man like, and she’s not that small, she’s probably like 30 pounds, but it’s been so much fun.
0:10:40 – Mike Malatesta
Have you had bigger dogs before?
0:10:43 – Jonathan Cronstedt
Yeah, when I was growing up, I had a large golden retriever, so I was always like, oh, big dogs, big dogs, but I mean man, having a dog that’s maintainable, doesn’t shed. Yeah, there’s a lot of wins to be had there.
0:10:54 – Mike Malatesta
Yeah, yeah, we have a golden now and she’s a wonderful dog, but the shedding thing is it’s a thing. And an avid enjoyer of sumptuous spirits and brilliant books, and we will definitely talk about both of those. So, jay Kron, I start every podcast with the same simple question, and that is how did it happen for you?
0:11:15 – Jonathan Cronstedt
How did it happen? For me is actually, I think, a pretty unique question. If you look at the arc of my life and my journey, there’s a lot of inflection points where I think I learned things. I think I set goals. I think I probably had at times an unreasonable or unjustified level of belief in myself that achievement would happen, and really it’s just been an extremely blessed adventure full of great friends that I got to build great businesses with. That’s really how it came together. I mean, without the relationships in my life, none of the achievement would have happened, because I’ve achieved all of it in partnership. If Kenny had not had the grit, determination and vision to start Kajabi and have me join that journey about halfway through the company’s journey, this wouldn’t be my story.
So I would say that the relationship side for me has always been a huge part of it. You brought up Roland Frazier. He’s another one. I’ve just been very fortunate to be surrounded by really great people and, as a result, that’s resulted in opportunities and outcomes that have been pretty awesome.
0:12:21 – Mike Malatesta
And let’s talk about this belief in yourself. Where do you trace that back to, where do you think it came from and how do you keep it?
0:12:29 – Jonathan Cronstedt
Great question. So I was actually listening to a podcast yesterday, richard Koch on Tim Ferriss show and Richard wrote the 80 20 principle, star principle, truly one of my favorite authors, favorite thinkers of all time. Yeah, I mean just absolute, absolute rock star in what he writes and puts together. And his new book that I believe he’s working on is actually about beliefs and the beliefs that we have that serve us and the beliefs we have that don’t, and how we get those beliefs instilled. And he talks about his unreasonable belief. And his unreasonable belief was basically before he was I think it was like 12, he’s, like you know, just decided I’m going to be a millionaire, and you know that was his belief at 12 years old and it’s sort of like at 12, you have no justification for a belief like that. You have no reason for that belief to exist other than just choosing it and holding onto it.
And I would say for me, very similarly, I had experiences like that I can remember at age 12 or 13 reading Think and Grow Rich.
And you know it doesn’t matter that. Napoleon Hill is, you know, now widely regarded as a pretty significant fraudster and you know most of the stories he had were not his stories and weren’t even true, but regardless, it was a book. That was the first experience I had in holding this belief or this goal or this you know vision of things and just kind of not having a clue how it would happen, not having a clue how I would even go after it or pursue it because, again, I’m 12. But just that vision of I want this to happen, I’m going to believe that it is going to happen and I’m just going to keep pursuing excellence in every category and just see how it happens. And you know, it just kind of happened. So if I was to try and encapsulate an answer to how did it happen, I would say it started with the belief that it would happen and then just working on everything fervently, enthusiastically, that was put in front of me and, you know, a lot of serendipity along the way.
0:14:28 – Mike Malatesta
I heard that Tim Ferriss podcast with Richard and, just to put a little pin on this, he’s really easy to listen to. He’s got a British accent and I don’t know what that. That just makes it really easy for me to listen to guys like that and a great perspective that guys. I’d never heard him talk before. I’d only read the book, so that was really good.
0:14:47 – Jonathan Cronstedt
If you’re listening right now and you’re considering reading some books or you’re considering starting a business or scaling a business, I believe wholeheartedly that Richard Koch’s three books of the 80 20 principle, the star principle and simplify If you take those three books and overlay them kind of on an overlapping than diagram, whatever lands in the middle of that, will likely be a perfect business, because the book simplifies going to have you choose whether you’re a platform simplification or a price simplification business. 80 20 is going to teach you about the fractal relationships and the 20% that brings the 80% or the 4% that brings the 64%, the relationship of asymmetric opportunities. And the star principle is going to give you what is probably widely regarded as the single most foundational formula for business success of being the industry leader in an industry that’s growing. And so if you can find that overlap between those three books, I think you actually have a perfect business plan. So that would be my advice on what to read from Richard for sure.
0:15:49 – Mike Malatesta
And in the bio we talked about brilliant books being a love of yours. Outside of the three that you just mentioned, Can you give us a couple more that have just very squarely?
0:16:00 – Jonathan Cronstedt
Big fan of how to Get Rich by Felix Dennis. Felix Dennis was a from scratch billionaire and then, after he made his billions, he went into poetry. He unfortunately passed away from cancer, but that book that he wrote, in my opinion, is probably the most honest and upfront book about what it takes to sacrifices. You will make One of the things that. I don’t know who said it first, but I’ve just taken credit for it.
So if somebody listening and know who said it before me. I should give them credit. But I think success is one of those things in life that you won’t know the price of it until after you’ve paid it. You can only choose that you’re going to purchase it, but you won’t know the price until after you’ve bought it. And I think that what’s so interesting about the book how to Get Rich is it’s not platitudes, it’s not all of the stuff that you know writes comfortable bestsellers today, but it’s a very real and raw view of what it took, how he did it and what he learned along the way. So can’t recommend that one enough.
The other one I would say that has been transformational for me was the Millionaire Fast Lane by MJ DeMarco. He really does a great job of dispelling the myth that entrepreneurship is riskier than employment, and he talks about it in the. You know the lens of sidewalks, slow lane and fast lane approaches to life and how each of them can turn out. But it’s a very honest book on why entrepreneurship is the most viable path, how to do it, frameworks for thinking about how to enter a market, create a productocracy. That’s another book that I think the absolute world of stepping out for a moment of the business books. The books that I would say that have been transformational in my life would be when Breath Becomes Air was an unbelievable book, just a journey about what’s truly important in life. It’s a book about a neuroscientist, neurosurgeon, who’s battling brain cancer. An unbelievable book, highly recommended. Those are the ones that jump to mind right now.
0:18:01 – Mike Malatesta
Okay, thank you, and I was thinking as you were talking about those, the sumptuous spirits came into mind. You know, maybe you have something that you enjoy while you’re reading one of these fantastic books, since you mentioned it and it’s in the bio what’s going on there? What do you like?
0:18:16 – Jonathan Cronstedt
I love tequila, I love vodka, I love red wine. Honestly, I don’t think there’s really a spirit that I don’t have an appreciation for. It’s one of those habits in my life that I continue to try and enjoy more responsibly, because I have a habit of just enjoying. But yeah, huge fan, you know, no mixers on the rocks and just wonderful, delicious things.
0:18:40 – Mike Malatesta
Nice. Let me get back to thinking Grow Rich, because that’s very interesting to me, that as a 12-year-old you are reading that book, because I think that most people don’t get introduced to that book until later. So what’s going on in your world as a 12-year-old, where you’re picking up Think and Grow Rich and reading that and maybe other books like it as well?
0:19:03 – Jonathan Cronstedt
I got to give credit to my parents. I think that they always really fostered and bet into my entrepreneurial and sales-oriented ideas at a very young age. I was always the kid that won the Easter candy sales or the Walkathon Drive or whatever else. I just, whatever it was, I wanted to win and go after it, and my parents were always willing to support me. They were kind enough to get me a computer at a very young age, taught myself desktop publishing, passed flyers around the neighborhood, doing desktop publishing for anyone that needed it. Just a lot of random entrepreneurial things. And so I think that as I got to the age where reading was a habit that my parents wanted to see me develop, they wanted to get books that were in a lens that I was excited about, which clearly was earning and growing and learning about business.
I still laugh about the fact that when I was a kid, everybody, what do you want to be when you grow up? Astronaut, policeman, fireman, whatever it is I always wanted to own a 7-Eleven. I don’t know why. I just I think I thought it would be super cool to have my Slurpees and candy and whatever always available. I don’t know that I thought through it in terms of business ownership. But that was always my answer, which was weird. And what I think you also begin to realize that not a lot of people know is that your thoughts definitely become things that my parents can tell you.
Well before I even had my first job, that I would tell everybody I was going to be retired by the age of 40 so that I could be an active dad, and I happened to retire three months before my 40th birthday. So three months 39, about to turn 40, and, hey, I’m retired. And I could probably tell you that was born out of the fact that my dad traveled all the time, wasn’t home. So for me it was like man, when I’m that age, I want to be home, I want to be flexible and have the ability to be home. So, regardless of where that belief came from, it was something I’d verbalized and just put out there.
Or I can go back to my journal from my freshman year of college, when I’m sitting at Starbucks and I’m writing out the vision for what I want my life to look like. And here I am now, 41, about to be 42. So call it 22-ish years later, and it pretty much is accurate, down to the cars, down to where I live. All of it literally came out exactly as I wrote it. So I think what’s interesting is, although Think and Grow Rich and the story of Napoleon Hill has a lot, that wasn’t true, the information therein applied certainly has been very impactful for me. So I would certainly say it was a great book, and I think the reason it came into my life so early is my parents wanted me to read and I was enamored with the idea of money and success, so why not give them the book about that?
0:21:46 – Mike Malatesta
I do agree with you that that’s one of my favorite books and this whole, like presentism and things. I can’t put myself in his shoes when he was supposedly doing all these things. But what I can do is I can put myself in that book and I can read that and I can say you know what, compartmentalizing my brain, you know having files in my brain, being able to access the things that I want to access, being able to focus on the things I want to focus on that makes sense, like I don’t know where he got it or whatever, but it’s one of the most underlined, dog-eared books that I’ve ever read because so much of it resonated with me. And you know like they say like.
0:22:26 – Jonathan Cronstedt
That’s one that I always will give Mike Canig’s credit for the statement. But we were talking about a book and the book was by an author that was widely discredited. And you know, mike said well, I’m not going to reject the fruit just because the bowl was cracked.
And I was like you know, that’s a really, really good way to be able to access knowledge that you know it’s like. It might not be the ideal vessel, but it doesn’t invalidate what’s being offered. So it certainly is something that I think the frameworks and ideas he put out there were not original and were not his, but we’re definitely things that were pretty impactful.
0:23:02 – Mike Malatesta
So this Starbucks journaling 20 years later, you say it’s pretty much, it was pretty much right on. How did you if you can remember JCron how did you take yourself through that process? Because I think a lot of people would stare at their journal and think where do I want to be in 20 years and what do I want it to look like specifically? And stare at the empty page, refill their coffee, check their email, you know, do all kinds of things except Come out of there with this game plan, I guess.
0:23:33 – Jonathan Cronstedt
if I don’t know if game plans are right word, but well, going back to the books that I love and recommend, often Jogged my memory. When we were talking about journaling, I’d have to give it to Jim Rohn and leading an inspired life. It’s one of the first books I read where he talked about the idea that, you know, rich people have big libraries and poor people have big televisions, and the idea of having a vision for your life and leaving a journal so that there’s you know, some element of the journey in the middle of the road and how it all unfolds. He would be the one I would have to give credit for, for the journaling and for the, the thinking processes, the love of books. Look, you know the Obsession with entrepreneurship. I mean, it probably all started with him on that front.
I think Napoleon Hill and thinking grow rich introduced me to the idea of just yeah, you need a vision, you need that idea that you just hold in your head all the time, and Hold in your head in a level that you believe it already to be true, even though you might not see it. And Jim Rohn was a lot more of the the blocking and tackling and you know all of the things that you know came, came into life. I mean the quote that I give him credit for all. The time is how you do anything is how you do everything, and that’s one that you know. That times for me is just maddening because it’s like I don’t want to do it that way, but then it’s like, well, you know, who am I, who am I trying to be, who am I reinforcing right now? So right.
Yeah, that would be another book that I would say has been extremely transformational for me.
0:25:00 – Mike Malatesta
I love Jim, I love listening to Jim Rohn and he’s passed away for those of you don’t aren’t familiar with him but he was like I don’t know if guru is the right word, but with CDs and tapes and Before there were mp3 players and you know all of that and I had I think I had all of them and I would just have them on in the background in my office and they would just be playing, you know, and I would hopefully be absorbing something out of it, because it’s whether it’s that that quote you had or you know, you’re the product of the five people you surround yourself with. I think that’s his attributed to him as well. It’s just really great time.
0:25:36 – Jonathan Cronstedt
Most people don’t even know that Jim Rohn was the one who gave rise to Tony Robbins, like Tony. Robbins started his career as a Jim Rohn Essentially Jim Rohn reseller right. So yeah, jim, jim’s foundational. If you’ve never read his stuff, you got to start there.
0:25:52 – Mike Malatesta
So let’s talk a little bit about Kajabi and your, your your time there and and you know the this meteoric rise Growth in the business that we talked about. For people who don’t know what Kajabi is, could you just give a very short explanation and then talk about how you got in there, because you didn’t found the company as you mentioned it was. You mentioned Kenny and I had heard the story before, so I made that connection. But if you could just make, give us, give us some some background there and then let’s take it where it goes.
0:26:24 – Jonathan Cronstedt
Definitely so. Kajabi is what we call a knowledge commerce platform, which, better described, is what Shopify is to e-commerce. Kajabi is to digital products. So anyone who has any type of course, coaching, consulting, offering digital course, digital education of any type Kajabi allows you to market, sell and deliver that. So it’s Almost like if a marketing automation platform in a learning management system had a baby, it would be Kajabi.
And what the platform allows people to do is really monetize their knowledge.
You know that there’s not a person out there that doesn’t know something or hasn’t learned something that would be valuable to somebody else who’s at a different stage of that journey. And I think today, as AI continues to commoditize an undifferentiate information, who we learn it from and identifying with who is walking us through that journey is going to become all the more important. So Kajabi is very much a platform that exists to empower those knowledge entrepreneurs, and today I believe, kajabi is run rating close to two billion dollars a year in transaction volume for its user base. So You’re seeing a very significant contribution to the global economy at large, empowered by this platform that people are using to transact and offer their knowledge to the rest of the world, and I think that, as we continue to see the rise of Individual influencers and people that want to build businesses they’re passionate about based on their knowledge set, I think we’ve only seen the beginning of what the industry is and what the power of it can be and Jcon.
0:27:56 – Mike Malatesta
Is it a marketplace? Is it a creation space? What is it a combination of?
0:28:01 – Jonathan Cronstedt
marketing automation platform, primarily, and a learning management system, secondarily. We at Kajabi are not really marketplace oriented people. We believe that if you don’t own your audience, you don’t own your business. So if you are in a world right now where you’re dependent on YouTube, ad revenue or Any type of platform, you can be de-platformed at any moment when you just, you know, cross somebody the wrong way.
So if you don’t own your audience, you don’t own your business, and so that belief is foundational at Kajabi and it’s why we believe you need a platform where you have your website, your lead, you know, landing pages, your Blog, your email marketing and marketing automation, your checkout processes, your product hosting. It all needs to live in an environment that it’s yours, not somebody else, is not subject to being flipped off anytime you want. And when you look at all of the platforms that are out there, we’re big fans of all they have a place, but the place that we would put them is they exist for audience and attention Aggregation, but you’re only there to then point that attention or aggregation some place where you own that audience and you own that attention and you’re engaging in a vacuum rather than contributing to somebody else’s platform. And you know, when you look at platforms today and the data that’s being used and abused, I think everybody realizes if you’re not paying for something, you are the product.
Hmm so that’s really where, at Kajabi, we believe no, it should be yours, it should be separate and it should be in a place where you can really own and leverage it.
0:29:25 – Mike Malatesta
And so who’s that, who like? Who’s the ideal person?
0:29:29 – Jonathan Cronstedt
persons quite frankly, anybody who’s in a teaching capacity that wants to impact people with information that they’re passionate about. You know, you might be a vegan chef, you might be a fitness instructor, you might be a marketing whiz, you might be a Underwater basket weaver, or you know. I mean we have things as esoteric as there’s a type of horse ballet called dressage, and even within something as specific as horse ballet, there are core strength exercises like ab exercises for horses, and there are people that have digital courses on core strength exercises for horses that drew do dressage. That’s how hyper specific this universe has gotten. So if you’re listening and you know something that you know it would be valuable for others, you can turn it into a business that you’re passionate about.
You know, one of my favorite stories is a gentleman that spent 20 years in the fire department and his primary job was interviewing young firefighters, and becoming a firefighter is a hugely competitive career. So he learned a whole lot being the guy that interviewed firefighters and either gave them the job or didn’t get them the job. So after 20 years retiring as a captain in the fire department, he said you know, I bet I could build a digital course. Mentoring would be firefighters. And so he has a course on how to ace your firefighter interview processes. And he and his wife are big motorcycle people. They love touring the US, so they’ve got their road bikes and they pop into a hotel every now and again. He hops on, does his coaching calls, answers his emails and then they’re back on the road to whatever national park or event or anywhere else they’re gonna go. So it really is. Rather than retiring, he chose to rewire and, you know, has now built an entirely new career out of his knowledge.
And I think this is something too that, societally, as we look at this giant wave of boomers that are retiring, there’s so much wisdom there that if it’s not codified and made available, it’s just gonna get lost. And when you look at Someone who has a lifetime of experience in an industry that they’ve avoided pitfalls, found shortcuts, and if they were to start over, they could probably achieve what they achieved in one tenth of the time because they now know the journey, why not make that available in some format for someone? And Arthur C Brooks just wrote a book on this, called from strength to strength? And it’s this idea of the happiest.
People make a choice to move from their Fluid intelligence curve to their crystallized intelligence curve, and the crystallized intelligence curve is the wisdom that you’ve gained and now offering and making that available to others, whereas the fluid intelligence curve is that driving, innovating like Creating mode, and so I think you are going to see these trends really continue to Intersect at a business that allows others to benefit from the knowledge that’s available. And you know, as broadband internet continues to proliferate around the world, everyone’s gonna want the same stuff. They’re gonna want to be better at what their Passion is, what their proficiency is, what their profession is. All of those things are gonna be the same.
0:32:22 – Mike Malatesta
And there’s it. As you’re saying that whole thing, I kept thinking of the word freedom, like freedom To be where you want, like the firefighter, and freedom to do what you want, and freedom to impact the world the way you want, on your terms, with your knowledge, as opposed to having to be in some System, or yeah.
0:32:40 – Jonathan Cronstedt
I think we are. I think we are about to see the single greatest title wave of Single owner businesses that, do you know? Six and seven figures with just one person. No employees know anything, because you now have everything available to do that you don’t. You don’t necessarily need a business, you don’t even necessarily need media, you know. You just need to be willing to get on a platform, communicate convincingly with an audience that you know a lot about.
0:33:07 – Mike Malatesta
That you can help pretty much there then that’s that’s really transformational, because Up till now, I think it’s fair to say there’s a lot of people who start their own business to just really give themselves a job. They actually take a step back by starting their own business because they’re thinking as not as they’re not thinking as big as maybe they should be thinking. They’re thinking about well, I don’t have a boss anymore. As opposed to now, I have the freedom to build something much bigger than I could ever have before. I mean, have you seen, does that resonate with you? Have you seen that?
0:33:47 – Jonathan Cronstedt
Oh, absolutely I mean, I think you don’t need to look very far to understand that we’re staring down one of the most precarious timeframes in the working world that we’ve ever had. Whether it’s quiet quitting, whether it’s rage quitting, whether it’s the great resignation whatever you term it you have a whole lot of people that feel like they chose a path. We’re sold a bill of goods and now they’re really unhappy, and I think that what you’re going to see is you’re going to see people reevaluate what truly matters and they’re going to seek out paths that they can dial up or dial down as desired, that you might have a season where it’s like, no, this is my season of grind, I’m gonna do this, and then you might have a season where it’s like, no, this is kind of my season of lifestyle business and it being perfectly okay to go back and forth between the two of those and feel totally good doing so.
I think, that you’re gonna see the quote. Career paths get fairly disrupted, reevaluated, reinvented. I think all of that stuff is very much coming. So freedom is a huge motivator, for sure. Any entrepreneur will tell you they’d rather work 80 hours a week for themselves than 40 for somebody else. So the freedom element might not be in terms of time necessarily, but the freedom of what you do, who you do it, for, why you do it. Those are all things that I think are becoming more important.
0:35:04 – Mike Malatesta
You become president of. Well, I think you started at Kajabi and then left for a little while and then came back.
0:35:10 – Jonathan Cronstedt
So the journey we had was I was introduced to Kenny about a year after founding the company, so did some consulting for Kajabi. For about six months they actually Kenny fired me to work with Frank Kern, took me to a Starbucks and said, hey man, small company, we gotta allocate resources differently. And I said, hey man, no problem, let’s stay friends. This has been super fun. So we stayed friends.
A couple of years later, kenny hired me back as VP of business development and then, a week after I started, I actually took him to the same Starbucks and I quit because I was offered the CEO role of digital marketer and that’s where I really wanted to go. And so we joked about the fact that, since they fired me and I quit, we’re now even and back to back to back to square one. And then, when I rejoined as partner and president in September of 2016, that was very much third times the charm. And when I joined the company, we were doing about six million in ARR about 25 team members at the time. And when Kenny and I stepped out of operations to move to our board positions in July of 21, the company was over nine figures in revenue and 400 employees and it had turned into a pretty big thing. So it was an unbelievable season, really, really, truly one of the most rewarding times in my career, and the impact of seeing a software providing entrepreneurial superpowers was just a high that I don’t know that I’ll ever get back.
0:36:35 – Mike Malatesta
There’s way too much about how this happened and all to get to it on this podcast and I’ve heard you say before. You know I can’t just give you like a six point PDF on how to do that. I thought that was pretty fun.
0:36:45 – Jonathan Cronstedt
My seven point never failed double unicorn strategy.
0:36:49 – Mike Malatesta
0:36:50 – Jonathan Cronstedt
Which is funny too, because I’m actually writing a book right now, because I’m doing everything I can to codify what I learned, because when you go through something like this, everybody wants to know how you did it, and I think what’s so interesting about it is I have learned a lot about it, but what I’ve learned is not it’s not Instagram quotables, it’s not YouTube thumbnails, it’s not the entrepreneurial junk food that right now is super popular for people to just consume.
Yeah, it’s really a relentless focus on the foundation of what builds a great business, and so building that book is my attempt to reintroduce people to what I believe are the foundations that build great businesses and how to focus on them relentlessly for pretty outsized results. So looking forward to getting that completed.
0:37:40 – Mike Malatesta
I totally agree with you. Like a book that describes how something like that happened is like a long form piecaster. You can’t do a 20 minute on this and have anybody walk away thinking OK, I could actually implement that myself If I were to try, if I were to try.
0:37:58 – Jonathan Cronstedt
So let’s say for your audience, I had a minute or two to summarize what I would want someone to walk away with. So the book is called Billion Dollar Bullseye how to grow as big as you want, as fast as you want and exit if you want on your terms. And the idea of the book is business through the lens of playing darts. And the way that I believe you win at darts is not actually being a great dart thrower, it’s by making sure your bullseye is larger than anybody else’s, because it means you don’t have to be that good to hit the bullseye. So if you think about these seven key areas, at the center you have purpose, profit and product. Those are your three foundational rings that if you don’t have the three of those, you don’t have a business. Then after that you get into these four amplifiers, and those amplifiers are prestige, promotion, persuasion and people, and those are all amplifiers of those core rings in the middle.
Now what I want to encapsulate most importantly for everybody here is those are in the order they are in because those are the order of priority and impact in your business, and what I find is that the rings that you miss or the rings that you underperform. It amplifies the difficulty that is placed on the rings that follow it. So if I have a bad product, it means that the prestigious customer experience is going to have to be that much better and the marketing and promotion is going to have to be far better and the sales persuasion is going to have to be far better and the amount of people and turnover I’m going to have to accept is going to be far larger, all because I’ve got a bad product.
But, if I have a great product, each of those areas gets easier. If I have a great product, the prestige and customer experience is easy because it’s a great product and the promotion of it is easy because it’s a great product. The persuasion is easy because it’s a great product. The people all want to work there and stay there because it’s a great product and being in any of those departments is a great experience. So that’s where, for me, I think so many business owners get it wrong. Is they look for the junk food, they look for the 47 point Facebook ad hack, they look for the new sales methodology, they look for the just hire a players, which, to me, is the greatest disservice done to business. Is this idea of it’s all about the people just hire a players and they’ll fix everything. You know the who, not the how, and it’s like it’s true, but it’s not the whole story and the reality of it is a players don’t want to come in and fix your dumpster fire. They flat out don’t. They want to go where they’re celebrated.
And so, for me, the reason people come last is not because they’re not important. They’re the greatest amplifier you can have. However, they have to come last because if you haven’t done the work in all of these other categories, you’re never going to get good people Bottom line. You hire an A player to fix your dumpster fire. He’s looking for the exit as soon as possible.
So your people are only going to be as effective or shine as brightly as the stage that you put them on, and that stage is going to be built out of all of these foundational pieces. So that’s one of the areas for me where, if I were again to encapsulate this and I’ve probably gone over my one to two minute limit, so I will revise it to say within five minutes I would say you, as the business owner, must be religious about focusing on the fundamental elements of the business and not allowing yourself to get romanced or distracted to these shiny, sexy things. At the surrogate of the important ones, you haven’t nailed purpose, profit and product. It doesn’t matter how great you are at marketing. You’re never going to have a business that achieves what it could, because all you’re really doing is over marketing a bad product or over selling a bad product or over hiring for a bad company.
0:41:37 – Mike Malatesta
And is that something in your experience that people just don’t realize or do?
0:41:43 – Mike Malatesta
they realize it. Yeah, OK, so they realize it, but they’re like, hey, this is working.
0:41:47 – Mike Malatesta
I’m just going to keep grinding this out and just hope for the best.
0:41:51 – Jonathan Cronstedt
It’s easier to find a new Facebook ad than it is to reevaluate if your product is doing its job. It’s easier to hire a new sales guy than it is to audit your own customer experience and do the work it really as business owners. It’s meant to be a rallying cry of looking at what actually moves the needle versus getting romanced or choosing the easy buttons that are just sexier or more fun to pursue. And to me that’s the big thing. Like nobody looks at their pricing strategy because it’s hard. Nobody looks at their product because it’s hard. Everybody is always looking at sales and marketing of how that’s going to fix it, and it’s like, well, if you’ve got a great product, you barely need sales and marketing.
Those are the amplifiers, the gasoline that defines how big the fire will get. But it’s not whether or not you have a fire. I mean you look at Figma and you look at Adobe buying them for a nosebleed multiple of $20 billion or whatever it is, and everyone’s like, oh my gosh, I can’t believe they paid that. And it’s like I totally can because it’s simple math. If you look at, a dollar in revenue was worth $1.30 in year two, which was worth $1.70 in year three. You have a machine that is growing geometrically, whether you market it or not, whether you sell it or not, whether you hire great talent or not, because you have a product that’s so good that it’s eating the world on its own and that’s how you win. That’s the big thing that most people don’t take the time to build a product that makes the rest of these amplifiers effortless or unnecessary, because the product is so good.
0:43:32 – Mike Malatesta
Let’s shift gears a little bit and talk about you and I were talking about this before the podcast started. We were talking about personal branding, but sort of in the post-exit world for entrepreneurs.
0:43:46 – Jonathan Cronstedt
So you’re slow on the board at your job.
0:43:48 – Mike Malatesta
I have such a love-hate relationship yeah well, let’s talk about this, because I want to combine it with what you said about Kajabi. You’ve got this retired firefighter and basically you said it’s a platform for putting all the wisdom in the world to work. That’s basically what you said, and you and I have had similar experiences where we’ve been entrepreneurs, we’ve exited companies and we’re both thinking to ourselves OK, so where do we do now? Yeah, so we don’t need a paycheck, right, and I think in some cases, that sort of dulls you as opposed to, but anyway, so what do we do now? Right, and as you were describing what Kajabi is, I wrote down wisdomness, all this wisdom, and I thought to myself well, you have a lot of wisdom and I have a lot of wisdom, so what do we do with it? That not only lights us up but, more importantly, makes other people’s lives better, makes more businesses better, makes more businesses happen, makes more relationships better. I don’t know whatever it is, so I’ll let you start and then I’ll wait.
0:44:56 – Jonathan Cronstedt
I think I think that’s where, for guys like you and I I think that’s the hard part about it Like I think that there are, there are so many people in this world that are far better than I am at just being content or being happy or having work-life balance like I, which by the way, I hate that term I don’t think work-life balance exists.
I think it’s only work-life integration. But this idea of a personal brand, I think, is something that can be so impactful, so transformational. It can be the ultimate amplifier to an entrepreneurial journey of being able to have an audience that you can engage with and that you can solve problems for and that you can, you know, aggregate that attention and point it at things. And it’s an amazing, amazing thing where I personally and now this is just J Cron, this is not an industry view, as just J Cron I’ve always been a private person, like I’ve been the CEO of some of the largest digital brands that are out there, but I’ve always been the guy behind the guy. I’ve never been the guy out front, I’ve never been the expert or the teacher. It’s just never been where I played.
And even at Kajabi, kenny and I were always very willing to be up front and talk about it, but we always wanted the brand focus to be Kajabi and the stories of the entrepreneur, not the Kenny and J Cron show. We never wanted that. And so I think for me in this stage it’s hard because I’ve got a three-year-old daughter, I’ve got a major desire to really be very present for those seasons and I feel like at times, the arms race of online content today it’s moved towards this always on giant production of content volume that I don’t know that I’m ready to do that. So it’s sort of like I’ve committed to writing this book and I’m going to write this book, but when the book is done, I don’t know if maybe that will be my contribution to the you know, the knowledge set of the world and that that’s enough, that that’s enough for me to say, hey, the books there, if you want it, go grab it. Maybe I’m posting about it, maybe I’m not. Maybe I have a podcast, maybe I don’t.
You know it’s it’s one of those things that I’m really trying to allow in this season, the things that really bring me joy and that I can be of service to others. But the challenge for me is, as an entrepreneur, once I decide to be of service for others, that’s dangerous to me because I’m not going to be a big fan of the world Once I decide to be of service. Now I want to scale my service. I want my service to be as big and broad and impactful as possible, like I can’t just like leave it, you know, in this little corner. So I think for me, as I look at a personal brand, beginning with the end in mind and having those guardrails of what success looks like, I think is incredibly important. And I think for me, success may be that I contributed my knowledge, I have it out there and available and accessible, and it might not be a profit that I’m going to be able to make, but I think for me as a entrepreneur, it might not be a business, but it also might be. So I’m kind of allowing it to happen, which for me is very unusual and I think to your point. You know there is a switch that flips when you go from. I’m doing this because I have to. You know, rent to do, bills need to be paid. I am building this thing because I must build this thing. Then, all of a sudden, you’re in a season where I don’t have to do anything. I can choose what success looks like. I can do it in whatever way I want to.
That’s a very odd place of what, what, what? I don’t have to do it. Well, what do I do? How does it look? You know, how do I even define that? So it’s a. It’s a messy, messy, creative journey for sure, and you know that I talk about it a lot. You know that purpose that you have when you’re building a company. That has an unbelievable purpose and transformational impact. When that goes away, it’s like, well, who are you? And for me that’s a big question. Right now, I’m just like, well, I know who I was when I was doing that, but I don’t know who I am right now, and that’s it’s a weird place to be.
0:49:00 – Mike Malatesta
So tell me about how much, if any, thought you put into this, because you’re thoughtful, the journal you know 20 years later, how much thought did you put into this before you stepped down operationally? Good job. Absolutely zero, and that’s the sad, the sad truth of it.
0:49:18 – Jonathan Cronstedt
Yeah, it really. If I knew then what I know now, I would have thought far more about it. I would have probably built out a whole calendar for the year following leaving so that I had lots of things and experiences to look forward to and, like I would, I would not have allowed the gap to happen. I think that I got some bad advice. Not bad advice. It might have been good for other people. It wasn’t good for me. Everybody tells you you know like well, if you know your exit operations, you know, take a year, just take a year and do nothing, just decompress and do nothing.
0:49:54 – Mike Malatesta
0:49:56 – Jonathan Cronstedt
And I think for me that was horrible advice because I identify as a guy who does things yeah, and having that not helpful. So I would have said I could see doing different things. But I think it would have been a lot more impactful for me to schedule a year of what I wanted to do.
0:50:16 – Mike Malatesta
Yeah, or a year of exploring things that you didn’t know whether you wanted to do or not, but you have the time to explore them now and they’re they interest you for whatever reason, and that that exploration would lead, you know, potentially lead to the next idea that you know really gets you excited.
0:50:33 – Jonathan Cronstedt
Yeah, entirely Like. I think what I probably should have done is going from 100 to zero was very disorienting. Yeah, maybe I should have gone from 100 to like 25, like kind of cruise control not sitting still.
0:50:47 – Mike Malatesta
0:50:48 – Jonathan Cronstedt
So that’s what I would do differently. And for those of you listening that are staring down that barrel, the more opportunity you have to be proactive and purposeful in designing what will fill that gap. Even if what fills that gap is nothing but travel and enjoyment, that’s fine. Just make sure you have it scheduled and you’re prepared to do those things and enjoy those things, Because otherwise just the gravity of nothing gets gets a little bit difficult to escape at times. Yeah, I’m sure you’ve.
You’ve felt this way as well, or it’s sort of like you’re like wait a second. I used to have a job like how, how in the world did I get everything done I needed to get done while I had a job and now it’s like man, I couldn’t even imagine it.
0:51:24 – Mike Malatesta
So so I think that in my experience, is that so many entrepreneurs do exactly what you did, they, they see the, you know, let’s just say, call it the, the, the pod at the end of the rainbow, you could call it whatever you want but then they think that’s so amazing that the rest of it is just going to work itself out. It just going to work itself out, I don’t need to spend any time on it and it doesn’t work itself out for most people. It’s just like your business doesn’t just work itself out. You mean, you have, you have goals and you have metrics and you have growth plans and you have all of these things and it’s the it’s having those and then executing on them that makes things happen. Things just don’t happen the way you want them to right. But so it’s weird that you go from it’s sort of very like I’m controlling my destiny and my business to I’m a free floating, you know, whatever happens happens type person, and I expect that that’s going to lead to you know, the promised land of making me exceptionally happy for the rest of my life or feel valuable or whatever the thing might be.
I’m actually this wisdom thing and this conversation as me, so I’ve been working on this thing I call the dream exit, and it’s basically like a program that helps entrepreneurs not only, you know, prepare early to, one, get the maximum value for their business, but two, to get the maximum meaning from their post exit life. I feel like there’s a that’s really missing. It’s someone that can really help them stand in their shoes, be a sole advocate for them, but get them prepared for what this means, because it is not the same the day it’s done. It’s not the same the day that you know, the day after your, your account has this money in here that it never had before. There’s a lot of not the same this, and if you’re not ready for it, you can miss on the valuation, for sure, and you can also miss on your meaning, which is probably even more important. So that’s, I don’t know. I think there might be something there. I’m not sure, but I think so.
0:53:35 – Jonathan Cronstedt
Couldn’t agree more. I mean, you know, if we were evaluating it as a business, hyper targeted, very small and difficult market to access, hyper important and resonates really, really powerfully. So I would say it’s got some unique challenges, but it also has some unbelievably unique benefits.
0:53:53 – Mike Malatesta
Yeah, so the book. Tell me about the. I mean, you mentioned the framework, but where are you and the process of writing the book?
0:54:01 – Jonathan Cronstedt
Right now I think we are on edit number one, so I’ve got, you know, a team that I’m working with to kind of help me codify it. I’m not a writer, I don’t love hands on keyboards, I’m much more of an auditory thinker. So you know, for me it’s a whole lot of voice recordings and discussions around it.
0:54:21 – Mike Malatesta
0:54:22 – Jonathan Cronstedt
But yeah, we’re in edit number one and I mean, man, I wanted this thing done like three months ago. Now I’m hoping it’s going to be done by September. It’s one of those things that it just every time you look at it and revisit it. You can keep expanding, you can keep improving, you just continue to see ways to make it better. And so I think what I’m learning in this process is you just kind of got to give yourself a deadline of, well, this is the day that it’s happening, because if it goes beyond that, it’ll keep going beyond that. You know Parkinson’s law of time to complete a task will swell to the time allotted, and I think.
I’ve in my, in my season of enjoyment and relaxation. I’ve given it too long, so I would love to see it hit that first edit and feel great about it and get it out into the world.
0:55:06 – Mike Malatesta
Okay, well, I will be an advocate consumer of it when, when it does come out, jay, I wanna, I wanna. So last thing I want to talk about is relationships. You mentioned relationships earlier and I heard you say something to the effect that just the quality of people that you have access to makes just a huge difference. You also talked about I heard you talk about a mentor of yours that was selling cars or something. Why are relationships important? How do you foster them genuinely? You know we talked about whether you want a big online presence or not an online presence at all and like how do you foster relationships genuinely and why are they important to you?
0:55:50 – Jonathan Cronstedt
So the quote that I think you’re referencing, that I gave Roland, was if I were to distill down my path through life to a single Aspect, it would be the quality of relationships you can access in the inflection points that matter. So if you really think about the vast majority of life, a Lot of it is inconsequential. You know that. That you look at the 80, 20, the 20 percent that brings 80 percent of the results, or the 4 percent that brings the 64 percent of the results. There are moments in your life that have massively asymmetric opportunity or return, both upside or down, depending on which path you choose, and it’s in those moments what conversations are you having, and so for me.
I go back to a couple of different scenarios in my life where it was like when I was in the mortgage business. I was the vice president of sales for a large mortgage company. I was in my mid 20s printing money, thought that you know, I was really smart. And I remember going to my dad and I was like dad, I don’t know how to plan for this level of success and what do I do with what I’m experiencing. And my dad said well, you know, I would just tell you to live on half of what you’re making and invest. You know the rest and you should be fine. And it’s not bad advice. It just is not as as sophisticated as I probably should have been at that stage. Because what that advice doesn’t capture is it doesn’t capture a Black Swan event like 2008, where your income disappears, your assets get devalued and all of a sudden you go from being successful to filing bankruptcy. And you know, I got that t-shirt. You know went bankrupt in 2009 or something.
It was wonderful, and so what I realized in that moment is it wasn’t bad advice. It was based on my dad’s journey of, you know, kind of being a VP of sales for for his whole life, and that was the, the purview he had on life and success and how to plan for it. And so I started to realize that if I wanted to Be better, do bigger things, I really needed to surround myself with different perspectives, and so that was why, you know, the moment I qualified for YPO, I wanted to join YPO and being around people that are playing at that level and why, you know, post exit, I wanted to join Tiger 21 and, you know, just continually be around people that are going to level me up, because if I’m ever in the room, then I’m the smartest person. It’s not a room I need to be in because I’m not getting anything out of it.
So I think, as I look at the relationship side of things, I’ve always tried to network with a real spirit of gratitude and abundance that you never know who you’re talking to, and it’s one of those things that you’ll find if you’re around life long enough the the toes you step on on the way up, or connected to the ass you’re gonna kiss on the way down, and I think that retaining Relationships from a place of openness and service and trust and understanding that everybody has something to teach you if you’re willing to learn it. It just allows you to build great relationships, and I think it’s one of those things that I’ve been really blessed with. The relationships I have built, but most of them have been built because I’m the type of person that always trusts first. I’m not waiting for someone to prove themselves. I’m not distrusting somebody from the word go. I’ve probably been, you know, hurt more times because I’m the one who trusts early, but I would say that the amount of relationships I’ve been able to build impactfully has far outweighed any of the downsides.
Yeah so I think that for me that the encapsulated wisdom around relationships are always have a long-term view, always come from a place of service and adding value to others and just be willing to stay in touch with people. This is another one. I keep going back to Richard Koch just because he’s unbelievably brilliant. But his idea of loose ties and and this idea of Maintaining lots and lots and lots of loose ties is really where he shows mathematically that opportunities come from. So if you’re not doing your best to keep in touch with lots of people and however you can keep in touch with them, all you’re doing by Increasing that is, you’re building the surface area on which luck can happen. You’re broadening the opportunity for you to be lucky. So the relationships, the more the merrier, connecting, providing value hugely important and then also Understanding the level of sophistication and intelligence you need in the inflection points that matter, and that was that was another.
Another huge unlock for me was I remember reevaluating my career path, whether or not to join kajabi, and I sat down with a friend of mine from YPO and I was like you know, I really want to, I want to join kajabi, but it’s a smaller company and I was coming out of a much larger company with a much larger salary. And you know, if I had asked my dad which job should I take next, my dad would have said, oh my gosh, biggest salary. Of course you know. And then put your money and save half of it.
That’s what you should do, yeah but my other friend was like I don’t know, I would go where you can actually have a Opportunity to participate in the growth. You know you want to be playing in the enterprise value bucket, not in the you know compensation bucket, and so.
In that moment it was like, wow, you know, had I, had I not had somebody encourage me in that way, I don’t know the decision I would make and I don’t know if we’d be having this discussion today. So that that’s where the quality of those insights, in the inflection points that matter, makes all the difference.
1:01:10 – Mike Malatesta
So I’m a YPO member as well. I don’t know if I told you that, but and you mentioned, you know, this conversation that you had how, how impactful or valuable has it been for you to be a YPO member?
1:01:22 – Jonathan Cronstedt
Unbelievably transformational. I’ve been in now nine years. I remember when I first joined somebody said you know, they’ll come a moment where you wake up and you realize that the vast majority For your friends are YPO or something like. No, no way I’ve got all these friends. And here I am, nine years later and the vast majority of my friends are all YPO hours. I think it’s just a really amazing organization because I think for people from the outside looking in, they think it’s all just, you know, a networking club to make money. And once you’re in it you realize the vast majority of it isn’t even about business.
It’s it’s about you know who you are, how you’re showing up for your family, how are you showing up for your kids, how you’re showing up for your employees and team. It’s far more about how do we make you a better person.
Yeah either a better you know father, husband, whatever, far more of that than it is. How do we make you a better entrepreneur? It’s an amazing organization. For those of you that you know qualify and want to join, can’t say enough good things about it. Yeah, I would say even you know, mike, to your point, what I love about podcasts like this Not everybody has the ability to join a YPO, so it’s like what can we put out there in the world that you know we’re learning in those rooms, that we can bring outside of those rooms in a way that people can access it? And I think for me, that’s the most exciting part about Today is when you think about the information and wisdom that you have access to that the world has never had. It’s now all available, you know. All you have to do is be willing to look for it, put in the work, take the action. It’s all there for you.
1:02:49 – Mike Malatesta
Yeah, amazing what people will do for free High-caster a great example blogs, you know. Whatever, everything’s there if you want it.
1:02:59 – Jonathan Cronstedt
You can. You can listen to a podcast about a guy who’s building a hundred million dollar company, or you could go spend a quarter million dollars for a college degree from somebody that’s never built a business like yeah, pretty easy decision.
1:03:11 – Mike Malatesta
Well, jacob, thank you so much for being on the podcast. It’s been a really great conversation. I do appreciate it and I value it, and I’ve got a lot of notes and you made me think about a lot of cool things, so thanks for sharing. Is there anything that I haven’t asked you or that you want to leave the audience with that I should have asked you.
1:03:29 – Jonathan Cronstedt
No, this has been a lot of fun, truly a pleasure. Always love getting to connect with fellow IP hours and getting to talk about Business and life and you know the lessons learned and and all of those iterations. If anybody ever needs to get a hold of me, pretty easy I’m on Twitter and LinkedIn. Those are the two platforms that that I’m on. I’m, you know, not a not a cool kid, not very photogenic, so you won’t see me on Instagram or Facebook or any of those more socially things, but by all means, happy to connect. Book will be coming out soon and other than that, just you know, glad to be here.
1:04:00 – Mike Malatesta
All right, cool and for everyone listening today. Please Maximize your greatness today and make your future your property, something that you are very, very proud to own. Hey everybody, thanks for listening to this show and before you go, I just have three requests for you. One if you like what I’m doing, please consider subscribing or following the podcast on whatever podcast platform you prefer. If you’re really into it, leave me a review, write something nice about me, give me five stars or whatever you feel is most appropriate.
Number two I’ve got a book called owner shift how getting selfish got me unstuck. It’s an Amazon bestseller and I’d love for you to read it or Listen to it on audible or wherever else Barnes and Noble, amazon. You can get it everywhere if you’re looking for inspiration that will help you unlock your greatness and potential, order or download it today so that you can have your very own copy and, if you get it, please let me know what you think. Number three my newsletter. I do a newsletter every Thursday and I talk about things that are interesting to me and or I Give more information about the podcast and podcast guests that I’ve had and the experiences that I’ve had with them. You can sign up for the podcast today at my website, which is my name, mike Malatesta.com. You do that right now. Put in your email address and you’ll get the very next issue. The newsletter is short, thoughtful and designed to inspire, activate and maximize the greatness in you.