Tom Schwab is an entrepreneur and Chief Evangelist Officer for Interview Valet, the company he founded to help thought leaders get featured on podcasts in front of their target customers. In this interview, he shares his business experience with the COVID-19 crisis and the benefits of joining an existing conversation (by getting featured on someone else's podcast) rather than trying to start a new conversation online (like creating a new podcast, which ironically I just did).

John Meese 0:04
Tom, thank you so much for joining me. For this survive and thrive podcast interview, how are you doing today?

Tom Schwab 0:09
I am doing wonderful. I'm thrilled to be here, the only way it could be better as if we were together there in Tennessee. But hey, there's a lot of problems in the world. But there's no better time to be alive, right? with the technology that we get to use here. We can connect and we can do a lot of things.

John Meese 0:24
Yeah, you know, this is the first pandemic in the history of humankind. But I think it's the first pandemic where we have access to webcams and internet and all these tools that really kind of allow us to kind of, to stay connected in a way that any other time in the world we would not have been able to. So I try to I try not to take that for granted.

Tom Schwab 0:42
And in some ways, I it wasn't that much different for me. I live on six acres in southwestern Michigan, we've got a remote team of 18. So I felt like I was doing social distancing before it was popular. And, you know, by the grace of God, we had the business setup to, to run remote,

John Meese 1:01
that's good. Yeah. Well, we'll we'll get to that. I want to talk more about that in just a moment. But first, let's, uh, you and I know each other, but I don't want to assume that anyone listening in knows who you are. So would you do me a favor Tom and just tell me a little bit about who you are what you do, and then we'll dive in from there.

Tom Schwab 1:17
Sure. And I guess the start with the backstory, I was grew up as a Midwestern kid, I'd never been more than 100 miles away from my hometown. I had a great, great childhood, but it was very small I by a clerical error. I got into the United States Naval Academy graduated from there. So it's all the US taxpayers, thanks for the education, served five years in the Navy ran nuclear power plants on board an aircraft carrier, then went into the corporate world went into operation sales, marketing, and back in 2008, started my first business of my own and used inbound marketing. You know, to create, to content to engage, attract, and delight customers and took that company from a regional player to a national leader sold that company off. And then started to use those same principles of content, and specifically, leveraging other people's platforms to do that on podcast interviews, and now we have a company called Interview Valet. And we help authors, speakers, coaches, brands, really get out there, get introduced get to talk directly to their ideal customers. And today, I really believe you know, that's the best way to do it. The people that keep telling us break through the noise. I think they're the ones selling us the microphones, and we're all yelling, no one's getting heard. So I'd much rather get in on the conversation that's going on. And just like this, get introduced by somebody that the audience already knows likes and trust.

John Meese 2:56
Well, I love that Tom, thank you for sharing a little bit about your backstory and your heart. Do you have to ask one question about your backstory? You mentioned at the very beginning that you got into the Naval Academy through a clerical error? Is that a joke? Or was it actually a clerical error?

Tom Schwab 3:08
No, it was completely a clerical error. So I was born without depth perception. So some people say, you know, I'm just shallow. No, I just see the world in 2d. And with that, so like, when I looked through binoculars, I see two images. And on my pre commit or my physical going into the military, it was marked off right there. It was clear as day but this was back in the old days before computers and automatic flagging, and they didn't notice it again, until my senior year at the Academy. And I can still remember the chief of ophthalmology at Bethesda hospital looking at me and going, you can't be in you can't be in the military with this. And I was thinking, Oh, geez, you know, I'm gonna get kicked out six months before graduation. Now, he said the taxpayers have invested enough money on you you, you'll get a waiver. But that's something for some reason they wouldn't let me fly jets

John Meese 4:05
For some reason. Well, so instead nuclear, nuclear power plants, is that right? Correct. Yeah. Okay, well, well, that's a fun backstory to kind of let's I want to dive into the conversation today about the whole concept of Survive and Thrive is to say that, you know, we want to talk to you, I want to talk to business owners in different industries about how COVID-19 related lockdowns the whole crisis of our time has impacted you, personally, professionally, but also how you're adapting to that. I mean, that's really what I want to talk about is really just, I want to really focus on not all the problems we have because we have plenty of problems, but how we're turning those into opportunity. But I want to go back way back in time with you for a second Okay, maybe not all the way back to Naval Academy clerical errors, but I do want to go back to March 2020, which seems like a long time ago, but I would love to know, just in your personal experience, Tom, when did you first Realize that COVID-19, Coronavirus, the pandemic, the lockdown was a big deal. When do you remember where you were or kind of what was like the the piece of information that made you realize, oh, wow, this is actually serious.

Tom Schwab 5:13
Yes, I was in Orlando, Florida. I was speaking at Pod Fest, and it was March 6, we were flying home. And there was a little bit of buzz about it there. saw some things on the news. And I remember telling my wife as we went to the airport, and I bet you this town is going to look a whole lot different in a month from now. Wow. A week later, Disney was shut down. And we were basically all in quarantine. And I had that feeling on, you know, that time and it was really the last time we went anywhere. You know, that was the last speaking event. I did. Yeah, at least physically. They all got canceled after that. And I realized that things had changed. And I didn't realize how much things are going to change. You know, I often use the analogy of, it seems just about the time you get the chess game figured out, it feels like somebody comes by and kicks the board and all the pieces go in a different place. And your first your first thought is always to, to curse. And then the second one is, well, am I in a better position or a worse position? on this one? Not only did they kick the board and move the pieces, it feels like we're playing a different game. You know, maybe this is like, Chinese checkers with with chess pieces. I don't know. But I'm working hard to figure out what the game is. Because I think the people that can figure that out the quickest and take action on it. They're the ones that will not only survive, but thrive.

John Meese 6:44
Yeah, I think that's true, Tom, and I appreciate that perspective. So you know, it's Yeah, it's great. I did hear one person said they said, you know, this is a this is going to be in the history books where your grandkids are going to be asking you, where were you when the global pandemic happened? Well, they know where we were. We were All at home, I mean, so that part's not very exciting. But maybe where you were when you first realized it was a big deal. It's fascinating. So thank you for sharing that. I appreciate that. So let's talk a little bit about that new Chinese checkers game or whatever it is we're playing. I love to know, as a business owner yourself. Well, first of all, let's talk a little bit about your business. Let's just set the stage on kind of what is how does your business function, you know, where does your revenue come from? And how did you respond to COVID-19 in each of those areas of your business?

Tom Schwab 7:28
Yeah. And so with that, this is my second major business. The first one was brick and mortar in Kalamazoo e commerce. But everything was here, and I swore I would never run another brick and mortar business, because I was very challenged to find the best talent in the world that wanted to drive to an office in Kalamazoo, and the flip side to is that I didn't see how I could serve the world. When I would say I'm open nine to five East Coast time unless it snows. So we set it up that way We were set up as a remote team. So we've got 18 people, two in the States, or excuse me, two in Canada, two in Europe and the rest of the United States. So when it first hit, it was like a gut punch to everybody, right? And you're trying to figure out what's really happening here. And within probably that first week, 10% of our clients called up and said, No, I've got to hold on to every dollar. And you know, I want to pause. Yeah, then we probably had 20% of our customers that said, this is a great opportunity for us. We're going to double down. Interesting, and there was some clients that I that I'd been talking to for, like two quarters that I thought were perfect candidates for podcast interview marketing, but they never pulled the trigger. And all of a sudden, they started to call and they're like, Listen, we don't have any more travel budget, right. We're going to have that our conference budget that's freed up but I still have a number to And they're like, this is the only way that I can figure out how to get to the customer. So it was interesting. Our business took like a quick little dip, and then it just took off after that. And so, you know, we went out to our team and said, Hey, could you work some extra hours, and all of them stepped up for about four weeks while we were trying to get a couple new people on board and up and trained. So but it was, it was interesting, because, you know, some people saw it as an opportunity. Some people saw it as a calamity. And really, I guess nothing has meaning until you assign it meeting. And both of the people you know, whichever way you looked at it was going to be right.

John Meese 9:41
That's interesting. Okay, so you saw some segments of your audience for backing off somewhere ramping up, and then some new customers actually came on? What about the podcast industry as a whole because I remember reading at one point early on that podcast consumption was down at least 20% just because people weren't commuting as much has, have you seen that to be true and has that effected your business directly?

Tom Schwab 10:01
That is totally true. But there's a little Asterix right with that, right. It was amazing because sports podcasts just died, right? Because there was no sports, nothing to talk about. So those went away. True Crime for some reason, which is a big segment. That took a huge, huge hit, reduce news increased. And they saw some dip as just people's listening habits changed, right? Because they weren't in the car. They weren't listening when they normally did. So there was a little bit of a dip at the beginning. Even so, podcasts were still up 20% from the beginning of the year. And so now we're seeing, you know, what, few months into this, people are getting back into the flow, and you're seeing it start to come back up. The numbers are still depressed, you know, because if you've got it's funny if you got a news podcast, those took off at the beginning. Now those are starting to die down again. If you've got a sports podcast, That's still really tough to do.

John Meese 11:02
It's tough. Well, that's fascinating. I have a theory. I didn't know about the true crime chant. You mentioned the true crime podcast dropped off. I the theory right off the bat that I have is that people's real life was already sudden, scary and criminal enough that they didn't have to go to podcast fantasy to experience drama. Yeah, true. That's probably what that will be. My hunch is what what caused that change, but that's fascinating. So, okay, so even though the podcast industry kind of caused it at the very least a shift, right, so some areas went down, some areas went up. Has that changed how you as a business owner, you know, really pitch potential clients or position your current clients as guests on other podcasts?

Tom Schwab 11:41
Yes. And we've been there. This has been evolving so quickly, and no one knows where it's going. So we've really been coaching people advising people to be timely, but also timeless, right? Because if you can be timely, and you get front of the line privileges, we had one One of our clients, you know, the Spartan Up podcast, Joe does Cena great podcast, but they usually booked you know, four months out. And it's video on location. We had one client that was perfect form, we introduced them. And I think it was Monday morning, they interviewed Monday afternoon. And it was aired on Tuesday morning. Right? Because it was so timely. But you had to be very, very careful in any of your messages. because things change so quickly. So you want to make it so that even if somebody sees that a month from now or six months from now, that it's still impactful. Right, right. One thing about the human condition, we're all either in a crisis coming out of a crisis and going or going into a crisis. Right. So if you talk about hard times and unexpected things, a year from now, we're still going to have unexpected things that hit us. So I think if you can make those more timeless, it's important there too.

John Meese 13:02
Yeah, I agree with that. It's interesting having this conversation on a podcast all about surviving and thriving the current economic crisis, but But actually, what you're describing is totally true with my approach to this podcast as well, which is that we're focusing on the current crisis, because it's, it is unusual. Well, and you're right, that the human condition is either in a crisis going into a crisis or coming out of a crisis. This is a pretty unique one. And so I think it actually is an interesting case study on how our business owners and entrepreneurs adapting in all different industries. And my hope is actually that this turns into timeless advice that the things we're doing now, you know, the, the conversations we're having the the decisions we're making, are actually just how to build a business that will survive and succeed in any economy. And so it's going to build stronger businesses on the other side of this. That's my hope.

Tom Schwab 13:49
Well, and I agree with you, John. And I think, you know, 10 years from now, I hope that somebody else or someone comes back to the survive and thrive podcasts for timeless knowledge because I remember reading something early on from Dan Sullivan. And it was like leadership lessons for scary times. And I read it and I was like, Oh, this is perfect. This is, you know, this is so right on. And then I looked at the the data on it, he wrote it back in 2009. And it's funny that you said we're always going through crisis. But this one is the big one. To me, whichever one I'm going through, is the big one. That's in 2009. You know, looking back on it right now, that doesn't seem scary to me know, what we're going through right now is scary. And then it seemed like we just got over that. And then the scarier thing happens. So one of the, the blessings or curses is that, as business owners, we don't get rid of problems, we get different problems and the bigger the business gets, the bigger the problems get. So I think we all will need to learn how to figure out how to survive, survive and thrive the little problems because if we do that, then we get the opportunity to take on bigger problems. And the other side of all problems is profits.

John Meese 15:07
Well, well, let's talk more about that, Tom, because I think what you just said is really important. So, business is about problems. It's about solving problems. And like you said, problems on the other side of problems are profit. What's your talk more about what you mean when you say that? Because I think that's helpful insight.

Tom Schwab 15:22
Yeah, and this, this was told to me by someone long ago, and I wish I could remember because I quoted often, but can't remember who said it. But what we do as business owners is solve problems. If it was an easy problem, everybody could do it. And it wouldn't pay well, right. But if it's a tough problem, they'll pay more for it because it brings more value. If you're the first one to do it, and not everybody can do it. It'll pay more. And the great thing is, is that we always have new problems. Because think about it if if it was stagnant We only had one problem. Everybody had figured it out in six months, it'd be a commodity. And, you know, there'd be no fun in it no challenge and no profits. So it's always, you know, I think some ways looking at it, it's like, what's the next problem I can help people with? What's the next problem? I can, I can solve for them. And I have to sometimes remind myself that of, you know, the game of business, right? Okay, this is, this is just, this is just changed. How can I make the most out of it? And recently I, I watched a movie on Apple TV called the bankers. Yeah, I don't know if you've seen it yet. But it. It's about two African American gentleman black gentleman that started to do banking in the deep south. In the 60s, and Samuel Jackson. Somebody asked him why he does it his old age when the when the game is rigged against them. And he said well, even though the game is rigged against me, it's still fun to play. It's still fighting. So, you know, is this what we're going through? Is it fair? Now? Is it rigged against us? Yeah, I don't know. But it's still fun to play.

John Meese 17:08
Yeah. Well, that's okay. So let's I love to hear more about your perspective on that, because I think that's really valuable and helpful. But I also want to talk about go back to your business a little bit. You talked a little bit about how the economic crisis and the health crisis and just the crisis in general, this crisis is not like the only one, but this one has affected your business, kind of on the surface level with just how it affects your customers. But what about internally, so I'm curious, you already set up to work remotely. But has this caused you to adapt your business to survive in any way in terms of changing how you approach either your communication operations or finance strategy?

Tom Schwab 17:46
Very much so. And while we're a digital company and a remote company, I still believe that relationships are the ultimate currency. And we invested very strongly in supporting the podcast community at podcast conference. You know, my, my role is chief evangelist officer. You know, that's what CEO stands for. And so you know, in March, I was down there speaking at Pod Fest, we were scheduled to go to podcast movement. We speak at Harvard every year. So we've got all of these conferences we go to, because I want to be there. I want to be seen. There's, you know, podcasts booking companies now are a dime a dozen. They're popping up everywhere, really. But yeah, and the barrier to entry is so low, right? So you can say you are but you know, these people don't know podcasters. They don't know the industry. And I'm like, this is one of the things that differentiates us. We support the community. And it I thought, well, this only be a temporary thing. They were talking about rescheduling meetings, but now they've canceled all the meetings. Right. And so I've really come to the idea that okay, well, we had this budget, set aside for physical meetings, you know, they're not going to happen. We still got to build those relationships, we've still got to grow the business in spite of that. So I just looked at and said, How can we redeploy that money? So that so that we can get the effects that we still want?

John Meese 19:19
So what was your conclusion?

Tom Schwab 19:23
That nothing has changed from the standpoint of relationships with the ultimate currency. We just have to find ways to do that digitally. And so we're doing a lot more gifting. We're doing a lot more direct mail. We're going to do some virtual events ourselves to get out there. And for the first time, we're trying paid advertising, okay to get out there and we've spent a whole lot more time on social media, because everybody seems to be on social media. So you see me on there more and you also see my my team on there more because a couple years ago meeting someone said, I thought it was just, you know, you and your wife in the basement. That was the brand that we had. And I'm like, Well, first of all, where I live, we don't have basements. And second of all, you know, there's 18 people, but from

John Meese 20:14
they don't all fit in your nonexistent basement.

Tom Schwab 20:16
Exactly. Yeah. So from that, you know, that was our view online, if you looked at social media, so now we're doing a lot more, you know, just to celebrate the team and still be the chief evangelist officer, but doing it digitally and at a safe distance. I like

John Meese 20:34
that. I will say on the gifting initiative. I don't think I've seen my gift yet. Maybe it got lost along the way, possibly, but I'll keep an eye out for that.

Tom Schwab 20:42
Well, we, we delayed it, just so that it could sit in the warehouse there for three weeks. You know, make sure the Michigan germs coming.

John Meese 20:51
Thank you. I appreciate that. I appreciate that. But I like what you said it's not really on, you know, like the focus of our conversation today. But I want to pause for a second and what you said about the role of the CEO The chief evangelist officer, I have taken a similar approach myself, I, my, I am the CEO of my company, but I'm the Chief Education Officer. That's actually what it says like in my email signature, which is a little bit another ticket kind of the same idea. So I'd love for you to to speak for a minute about that to any other business owner who is thinking they may or may not go by the title CEO, but if they're thinking they've got a team, and they're trying to figure out where their role as the business owner is important. We'll talk more about what you mean when you say chief evangelist officer and why you think that's so such an important distinction.

Tom Schwab 21:32
To me, it's it's sort of a push back. I'm not big on two titles. And I always laugh when you know, somebody is self employed, or they've got a side hustle, and now they're the CEO of that. Yeah, when I was in my corporate world, at Stryker Corporation, was friends with the person that went on to become Chief Executive Officer there and then did another company and I'm like the job that Kurt is doing. A lot different than the one I'm doing. I'm not an executive, right? And I think it really sets it up with the team, right? Well, I don't want to call myself the executive. And so I look at it as, what's my role? What do I get paid to do? Yeah, I get paid to, to lead the team and all that. But what I love to do and what I want to do is to evangelize. Right. So I want to be the lead cheerleader out there. You know, being the evangelist for podcast guesting being the evangelist for getting your word out there being the champion, and the cheerleader and the evangelist for our clients and also for our team. And I think I personally think that sends a good message to the team. And it's not that I'm up in the ivory tower. It's like, no, my job is to evangelize for you.

John Meese 22:48
Yeah, I love that. I've always struggled with that a little bit because like executive doesn't really, you know, it seems like a term that kind of just is more about separating rather than uniting. And so I've always kind of just flinched at that idea of taking that into my own title. But founder or business owner, while they're true, they sometimes don't really they don't really capture. They don't really capture the job, they just capture like the asset essentially, like you. So I know a lot of entrepreneurs have gone the route of saying that they're the CVO or the chief vision officer, which is a cool idea. But I think it also implies that there's a little implies that they're sort of like a ivory tower visionary, who just gets to think all day about how cool the business is going to be, and then tell everyone else to go do the things and that's not practical. So I love your description of chief evangelist officer for myself. I said, I pick chief education officer as my title when I started my co working space company, because I saw my role first and foremost, very similar what you're describing as being as educating our team, educating our customers and educating potential customers. And so that's that's kind of how that's been my approach.

Tom Schwab 23:55
And I think it reflects a lot about you, too, right? You're a natural teacher. That's true understand things, you ask the questions. You're, you're an education guy, you wouldn't be comfortable with any other title and that you chose that says something about you the same way for me. You know, my undergraduate is in engineering. God did not make me to be an engineer. So, you know, I won't be chief engineering officer, but I'll be chief evangelist officer,

John Meese 24:25
that's pretty cool. Well, and that speaks to your just, you bring that natural doozy awesome to every conversation I've ever had with you that that totally makes sense. So anyways, that's definitely aside from our subject. But it's, it's fascinating. We're talking to business owner and entrepreneur. So thank you for entertaining me on that for a minute. So let's get back to your business. So you've adapted your business in terms of your marketing strategy, your marketing budget, you know, repurpose, you know, you didn't say, let's just throw this all in the bank and save it for a rainy day. You said no, we still want to grow. There's just different ways to build relationships, relationships are still important, even six feet apart. So I would love to know along that vein. So there's there's sort of the survive side of that. And there's the thrive side of that. So how are you pivoting to pursue opportunity and thrive? You mentioned paid advertising? I'm just curious, how are you thinking right now about your business about opportunities in ways that you think are gonna last longer than a month or two in ways that your, your approach to opportunity in your business is changing, potentially for years to come?

Tom Schwab 25:24
And it's interesting that we're having this conversation now, because my answer probably would have been different, say, a month ago or six weeks ago. Sure. On the there's a Stockdale paradox. I don't know if you've ever heard of that degrade Admiral Stockdale was the senior po. W there. And he warned against, you know, just saying, Well, at this date, things will happen. No, you have to be hopeful. Never lose the hope. But don't, don't disregard the realities. Viktor Frankl talks about at the same Same way that the people said, Oh, thanks. We'll be back to normal by this holiday or by the New Year. They were just crushed every time it didn't happen. And I think even though I preached that, in my heart, I was like, Oh, yeah, we're gonna get off of lockdown, and everything's gonna be back to normal. And even last week, you know, Michigan came out of lockdown for the first time.

John Meese 26:22
And the you got curfews

Tom Schwab 26:24
well, this was after the curfew, okay, I took my bride out to dinner. It was I was so disappointed. It was the worst meal I'd had in three months. And there just wasn't that human connection. So I really looking at it and saying, okay, is this the new normal? And a lot of people talk about that. But that idea of what do we do with the strategy? What are we still trying to do? Because that's not going to change, but how the tactics changing. So I look at it is I think a lot of the industry was still where I was and said, Oh, it's gonna get back to normal. You know, don't worry, I'm not going to start with podcasts or interviews because I'll be back on that physical stage, you know, come summertime or, you know, we're going to have our convention, you know, in in after Labor Day. I think everybody's starting to see this. This is impossible. So you talk about education. Sometimes people are ready to be educated when they're ready. And the and the teacher appears. I've been really intentional about being out there talking about podcast guesting and the possibilities with it. Because I think a lot of people that said, Oh, I don't need that. Now, when they realize, Oh, the world has changed on this is one of the few ways that I can get out there. So I'm not big on, you know, changing the overall mission and the strategy. You know, our mission as a company is to personally introduce inspiring thought leaders to millions of ideal customers that they could serve for the betterment of all. Nowhere in there does it say podcast guesting? But because it's, you know, technology tactics change. We may not call it podcast 10 years from now. But we're still trying to do the same thing. So I've just always going back to that and saying, Are we still living our mission and our vision? And, you know, what, what can we focus on?

John Meese 28:25
Well, on a on a comical note, I will I need to preface when I say these things, that under the conversation of will they still call it podcasting? You know, years from now, I have thought for a while that we have a missed opportunity here because we havevlogs, and we have blogs, but we don't have plogs. I mean, like we have podcasts and you know, just like there's inconsistent in there. So I'm not saying that'll stick. I'm not saying that I'll catch on. But I'm just saying there's there's a little bit of a inconsistency.

Tom Schwab 28:52
If I if I knew what they were going to call it, I would be buying domains. But yeah, I remember hearing a project presentation. I think it was at Harvard, where they were talking about radio. And you know, I spent a lot of times at the early in this studying or at least reading a lot about the 1920s. Okay, what happened back then what, what corollaries Could I see here? And one of the things that was amazing that in 1920s, early 20s, it was called wireless telegraph. Really? Yes. And by 1930, it was radio. So, somewhere in 2030, someone is listening to this and laughs every time we say, podcast, because we sound like we're saying wireless telegraph.

John Meese 29:37
That's exactly true. Yeah. No, that's, that's interesting. Well, and I know that even when podcasting started taking off a lot of people and some people still do this. A lot of people just referred to it as online radio. And so yeah, anyways, we'll see where the future takes us. But I do want to commend you for what you described about having a mission that stretches beyond just what you offer. I learned this lesson. In my first job thankfully, at Chick-fil-a When I was an impressionable teenager, where I learned and I was, I was I was taught to train other team members. Eventually, my training director was my role. And so I had to memorize that chick fil A's mission statement, which is to let me see if I can remember it. We glorify God by being faithful stewards of all that have been given to us and have a positive impact on everyone who comes into contact with chick fil a. But you know, it's never mentioned in their

Tom Schwab 30:24
Eat more chicken.

John Meese 30:25
Yeah. Nowhere in the mission statement to say chicken, you know, and that kind of comes from like Simon Sinek sided concept of start with y of saying like, that's why you exist. Chicken is maybe what you sell. But or how you saw that. So similarly, with my coworking space company, I got it right here. I have it written down that we should just clarify this ourselves that at cowork local, we connect entrepreneurs to the community and coaching they need to thrive. Now that may be a physical space, but now actually, because the COVID-19 were like, Well, maybe not. I mean, we're we're looking at launching a virtual coworking space because community and coaching you need Irrespective of where you're located. So anyways, all that to say, I think that's a really important concept.

Tom Schwab 31:07
And you look at that and say, you know, so there, someone kicked your chessboard, right and said, Yeah, you couldn't do this. But what you didn't realize is that now you can serve people in Kalamazoo, Michigan, still with your with your same mission statement there. So there's something about it, you know, when there's blood in the streets, there's a lot of people that go and hide for safety. And that that's fine. That's when God made them, God love them. But then there's the entrepreneurs that look and say, How can I help here? What can I do I see opportunity here. And that's, that's the way we're wired.

John Meese 31:46
Yeah, I wish I could remember her name off the top of my head, but the woman who started the American Red Cross, Do you happen to know who I'm talking about my chance?

Tom Schwab 31:52
I know who you're talking about. But, Clara?

John Meese 31:56
Well, why don't you say Clara. this wondeful woman

Tom Schwab 31:59
There; someone listening right now and like, why do they not know?

John Meese 32:02
Yeah, but this wonderful woman, I mean, it's a great story actually, that similarly, I mean, there was literally blood in the streets, right? I mean, like Revolutionary War, amputees, and we just like a whole mess. And she's just like a schoolteacher. And she just goes out and collects bandages and wagons and supplies, and goes to the front lines and shows up and says, I'm here to help. And she wasn't this is before the American Red Cross. This was just, she's just a school teacher who was like, I need to do something and I mean, similar, like what you're saying, Tom, is that when there's blood in the streets, some of us are wired to stand up and do something about it. I mean, that doesn't mean we need to go you know, bathe in the blood or, or, or actually go to war, but sometimes we look how can we help them? Yeah. So did you look up Did you look up the name?

Tom Schwab 32:46
I did? It's Clara Bart- Clara Barton.

John Meese 32:48
Clara Barton. Okay, great. Perfect. So you were closer because you said clean I'm not old

Tom Schwab 32:52
enough to know her personally. So I just want to get that little distance

John Meese 32:55
there. That's important to know, I think no one and everyone no one assumes I know her personally. So I don't need to offer that. So. Okay, so let's pivot a little bit pivot, like the word of the year, actually. So my apologies. But But let's talk about the business owner who's listening to this right now, what advice would you give them? So I appreciate you sharing so much about your story and kind of how you've adapted how you're continuing to adapt. But what advice do you have for other business owners right now who are either going into coming out of or in the midst of their own crisis and are trying to figure out how to think about their business and survive and thrive mentality?

Tom Schwab 33:32
And I love that we're having this discussion and looking at it as the opportunity. And, you know, you say the word pivot is often overused, I look at the word, you know, tacking, right? Being a sailor and everything like that. The wind keeps changing, you're still trying to get to the same spot. But it doesn't mean you go in the same course and it doesn't mean that every time a sailor, you know, changes the little bit of you know, they made a mistake. Well, no, you got to come out, you got to do different things, you got to get creative, the wind will not blow at the same rate, and the the same direction, you know, anybody that thinks that will be will be disappointed. And the same way with the business owner, you know, if you think that this is going to continue, either the good or the bad forever, you're going to be disappointed and surprised. So I love that idea. You know, if you call it tacking with the environment or the wind or even evolving, right, when I look at it, when I graduated college, you know, if you would have told me that I'd be running a podcast interview marketing agency, I'm like, I'm an engineer, not a marketer. And what is a podcast? Right, but no, it's all a evolution. And I remember as we went into this, one of the thing that struck me is, man, we are going to have a whole lot of memories from this time. Let's make some good memories. Right. So it sucks, right? We're all in this together. It doesn't just suck for you. It sucks for the entire world. So from that standpoint of I would jut say, if you've come this far and are still going, Congratulations, you've got through things that people in February couldn't have even imagined. But like we said, more challenges. It's just different challenges and stuff like that. So look for the opportunity. Be open to it. One of the things that's, you know, I'm always looking at is at the Naval Academy, we had a joke and it said, you have to be smart enough to know right answer when told. And I think as a business owner, it served me well to, you know, listen to your customers. They'll tell you what they love and what they load. Do more of what they love, give them more of what they love, stop doing the stuff they loathe or that doesn't bring them any value. You know, they want to help you, you want to help them and just be open to that?

John Meese 36:05
Well, Tom, I appreciate that advice. I think that I'm gonna have to reflect on that advice about rethinking the word tacking as relevant. I think that's a that's really insightful. So, thank you so much for your time, Tom, this has been incredibly helpful. I appreciate you sharing what you're up to, and how you're adapting your own business and advice for other business owners. Where can we go to learn more about you and the cool things you're up to?

Tom Schwab 36:26
Sure if you just go to interview valet with a v .com forward slash, survive and thrive. I'll put everything we talked about here. And there's a assessment that we have for will podcast interview marketing work for me. I always give away a free copy of my book, physical or digital, whatever you want. I sell a lot of them but I give more away because I want to help people and evangelize. And then finally if you're like, wow, this sounds interesting. You know, I'd like to learn more about it or jump on a call with either me or anybody. I'm Staff. I'll put my calendar link in there. So you don't have to figure out which Tom Schwab in Kalamazoo I am.

John Meese 37:07
That's great. Well, that's helpful, Tom. Well, I can vouch for your service for anybody who's listening that I worked with interview valet, and they are world class and they're phenomenal getting in getting you in front of the right audience, but also just working with you and making you feel like a like an honored guest. And so that's a that's a real treat.

Tom Schwab 37:25
Thank you, John.

John Meese 37:26
Well, thank you for your time, Tom. I appreciate you. Take care.

powered by


John Meese is the author of the #1 bestseller Survive and Thrive: How to Build a Profitable Business in Any Economy (Including This One). An entrepreneur himself, John is on a mission to eradicate generational poverty by equipping entrepreneurs with the tools and training they need to build thriving businesses from scratch. He is the CEO of Cowork.Inc, co-founder of Notable, and host of the Thrive School podcast.

Leave a Reply