Scott is the co-host of Steal This Idea, a podcast that encourages its listeners to steal their brilliant business ideas. He’s a career sales professional, and his sales career started with selling alarm systems door-to-door in Oakland, CA at age 17. He is currently working in sales enablement at Divvy, and is a dedicated father and husband. Here’s his story!
What is the passion project you find yourself working on?
The thing, outside of my job, that my mind runs to is my podcast, which is called “Steal This Idea.” This is my second podcast. The first one was called “Extra Guac,” and it was a kind of morning show and a fun, creative outlet for me. I come from a fairly creative family, so all of us are writing books or screenplays or whatever it might be. I think we get a lot of fulfillment and a lot of contentment out of creating things, even if no one ever sees it or reads it or whatever. I’m currently about three or four months into the podcast now, and the premise is that my co-host and I have a backlog of dozens of ideas that we deem really good ideas. But, a lot of them would require you to just quit your job and go do them, or maybe to have a fund or some seed money. These are ideas that at the end of the day, I don’t know if I could really do, but somebody should! We basically make these a little mini pitch decks as if we’re on Shark Tank or something like that. So, we’ll take turns saying, all right, here’s the big idea, here’s the pain point, here’s why this would work, here’s how you’d make money, and then we encourage people to “steal the idea.” We’ve had a pretty decent listenership to start off and we’re tracking at about 150 listens per episode right now. My goal for this next year is to break the 500 to 1000 listener threshold, so we’ve begun dabbling in advertisements and Facebook ads. We’re just seeing what sticks, because we’ve never really done it before!
So, that’s what’s taking up most of my headspace right now, but if you were to look at my phone, I probably have 10,000 notes of things like my TV screenplay that I have put on hold, or my book that I have the first few chapters written in my head, and things like that.
Can you tell us about your work at Divvy?
I have been in sales for about a decade. I started off in consumer sales, and when I was 17, my brother-in-law convinced me to go sell alarm systems door to door. So I, not quite dropped out of high school, but I left high school for a couple of months and sold alarm systems in Oakland, California. As a 17-year-old, it was very scary and very peculiar that my parents even let me do it in the first place.
It was very bizarre, but very fun, and I feel like it jump-started me into that world. Since then, I’ve kind of always been in sales jobs. I sold cell phones for a while, I sold “home services” for a while, and then I moved into B2B sales, selling software, which is where I’ve been for the last six or seven years.
I really like sales. I love interacting with people. I love the whole process of convincing someone that my product is good and that they should have it, and I like sales culture. I like being around sales guys. They are fun and kind of “out there,” and they’re extroverts like me. The downside of sales is that there are quotas and it can be highly stressful, especially at the end of the month. And, you have these peaks and valleys, so there’s lots of inconsistency. A few years ago I decided that maybe if I could move into a sales support role, that might be a better fit for me. Because I was already kind of doing it; I was coming up with different ways to sell things and creating marketing materials and training other sales reps on different practices that I found successful. Eventually, I finally moved into what’s called sales enablement. It’s similar to sales training, but more on the sales operations side of things. Not only do I help with training sales reps on how to sell, but also I manage all of the sales software, sales processes, incentives, and things like that. Anything that would help sales guys improve or be more effective or just be more efficient. I’m on the front lines and am their champion to get them more sales tools and help them be more creative.
It’s a relatively new field, but it’s something that’s been a pretty perfect fit for me. I’m just the type of creative mind who likes sales and now I can dump all of that into creatively helping the sales team. I get to ask “what if they did this?” and “what if they pitched this way?” and “what if they had this piece of content?” Then I can go make that thing and give it to everybody. It’s been really fun.
What in your past was influential in getting you to where you are now?
I’m the youngest of five. My dad worked from home and he worked in a really interesting field.
He worked in a barter field, and a lot of people don’t really understand that there’s a whole world of barter. In this unique niche, he would advertise to hotels in Mexico, but instead of charging them, he would just ask for rooms. Then he’d take those rooms and sell and trade them stateside. So he had a really bizarre and interesting career. He’d go to somebody who sold cars and say, “Hey, I’ll trade you two weeks at a five star hotel in Mexico for this car right here.” Or he’d go to the local Mexican joint and do the same thing and get like $5,000 for the credit. And these businesses love it because they can write it off. So I had a really peculiar childhood. We were always rotating through cars. I probably went through 30 cars growing up, because we weren’t getting brand new cars. We were getting a car that some guy’s willing to part with and trade for. My dad even traded for bed frames, trips, amusement park passes, and things like that.
My dad made a motion picture when I was probably six. He and one of his friends stumbled into this guy who gave them $1 million to make a movie. And so he filmed this whole movie, and then at the end of it, they found out that the million dollars was all counterfeit. So he never really saw the movie get across the finish line. Anyway, I bring this up because I grew up in this home that was peculiar in so many ways. My dad was somebody who was always thinking outside of the box, always looking for an angle, always looking for creative ways to solve his problems. I think that really imprinted on me. My dad was a fearless person. He could talk to anybody and get what he wanted, and that really influenced my perspective. I started to think that I can convince people to do things and I can go and create something. I can bestow my creativity on the greater world in whatever capacity I want. As I look back, I think my childhood pushed me in this direction and is why I am where I am now.
What are your goals/plans for the next 5-10 years?
I am in the thick of adulthood right now for the first time. I have a house, a car payment, and I have two young kids, a six-month-old and two-and-a-half year old. This is the first time where I’ve thought, man, raising kids is tough. Up until kids, the sky was the limit, I could do whatever I wanted. Now, I’m in this strange boat where I have to balance these things in a way I’ve never had to. I have to consider how much of my personal endeavors I want to spend time on as opposed to regular family life endeavors. And that’s a tough balancing act because in one sense, I want to do my passions. I want to create, I want to spend time on the things that I’m passionate about, which are creative projects. I have this TV pilot screenplay that I would love to finish and get to Netflix somehow, even if they say no. But it’s gonna take me sitting down and doing it after work hours, and that’s time away from my family or time away from my wife.
So, finding that balance is the hardest part about my goal setting right now. To answer the question, I have to slow down and choose one project at a time. This year, it’s my podcast year and I want to see how far I can run that. I want to see if I can get as much content and as many listens as I can on my podcast. Then at the end of that year, I want to move to one of my other creative endeavors. I’m working on finding the balance to pursue those endeavors over the next five years, taking it one project at a time, getting those things across the table and putting them out into the world. And I want these things to be successful, but more than anything, I just want to be passionate about it. I want to give it my all for a solid year and see how far it can go, and then do the same thing over and over again with these other projects.
What does growth mean to you?
I like one of Jordan Peterson’s ideas of setting small goals and, and aiming low, but constantly having a small goal that you repeat. His big thing is to make your bed. It’s a small, achievable goal, and as you do that, you put order in your life and you’re able to combat the next thing. So I think growth is those small steps forward.
I also think growth is more of a direction. Sometimes I think we look at growth and think “I’ve got to be Michael Phelps.” For some people, your calling in life is to be the best in the world, to be the Michael Jordans, or the Steve Jobs, and to be that inspirational, crazy, renaissance leader. But for most people, I don’t believe that’s their calling. I think most people are mothers and stay-at-home dads and regular people. And I think it’s important for all of us to ask: how do I grow? And I think it’s small steps.
I’m a big believer in controlling what’s in your realm of stewardship. For example, in my family, how do I be a better husband? Well, I need to communicate better with my wife. How do I be a better father? Well, I probably need to put my phone down a little more and be a little more conscious of how I raise my kids. How do I be a better neighbor? Well, I actually have to go meet my neighbors. I actually have to put forth the effort. How do I be a better citizen? I have to actually register to vote, and I have to stay caught up on local politics and things like that. And you don’t do everything at once, but you pick these things, and you improve one area of your life at a time, and that is super healthy for all of us. If we can quantify those things to say, “you know what, I’m better today than I was yesterday,” then you look back in years and say “I used to be this, but now I’m this.” I knew nothing about investments and now I’m starting to understand 401(k)’s and investing. For my wife and me, we didn’t get in deep discussions and now we do. I had a hard time relating to my kids and now I have a great relationship with them. You can look back over time and see these improvements. So growth to me is something that never stops, and it can be the smallest thing in the world, but as long as long as you have these goals that you’re achieving one small step at a time, you are growing, and that’s all that matters.
I come from pretty religious background and one thing that I explain to a lot of people is that you have no idea the impact that you have on other people around you. In a religious context, that’s something where just going to church and having somebody see you at church and think, “Oh, you know what? Like, his life is hard. My life’s hard, but he’s still coming here, so I’m gonna still come here.” You just never know what kind of impact you can have just by raising your hand and saying something or even in a nonreligious sense, by saying hi and being friendly, and shaking someone’s hand and investing interest in someone or giving someone the benefit of the doubt. It’s so important that you are constantly growing and making an effort to improve because as you do that, you increase the likelihood that you affect people in a more positive way all around you.
What would you tell your 15 year old self?
I would tell my 15 year old self a lot of things. I have a funny anecdote about when I was 13. Me and my best friend at the time, Danny Dover, were in junior high and we decided to build this website called The Hot Block. We’d find funny pictures on the internet and we’d do polls on things like, what’s the best sandwich in the lunch room? And we made a message board called girls gossip, and we convinced all these girls to use this girls only message board. It was just a really fun project as a 13 year old. Danny and I laugh because not long after that we discussed this idea of a social network. It was right around the MySpace/Facebook era and we were coming up with the bits and pieces of Facebook before it existed. And we joke about it, because had we just stuck with that or done something like that, we could’ve maybe been a pioneer of that industry.
I think time is one of those interesting things where in the in the moment you think, “I’ve got plenty of time.” There’s this blog post called “Your Life in Weeks” by Tim Urban, and he shows what a human life looks like in these different charts of blocks. He’ll show how many days the average life is, how many weekends you have, the hours that you’re awake, and your prime years. Then you take this step back and it’s like, wow, that’s not very many. Then he articulates that you have these windows throughout your life and there are these diamond moments where you make big decisions and you take advantage of the time. And then there’s a certain part where you can’t really do that anymore, where you’re old and you don’t have the means and don’t generally perform at the same level. So he says that life is a spoonful of diamonds, don’t take it for granted and make the best of the time that you have.
I look at my life when I became an adult, when I started caring about finances, and when I started caring about my future. In some ways I think that I dilly dallied way too long. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself like, “Hey man, go and try and fail! Go create something and put it out into the world and then learn from it.” This is one of those embarrassing things where it took me so long to realize that I could have bought a property in my early twenties. I thought that since a town home was around $200,000, I would need $200,000 to buy a town home. It took me so long to realize that you only need like five grand, and that’s not hard to get in the summer. You just need steady income to pay it off and you could rent it out and oh man, I wish I would’ve known that. So, if I could go back and talk to my sixteen year old self and say, “Hey man, you have a lot of good ideas right now and there’s nothing stopping you from going out and doing something awesome. You will thank yourself so much in the future for swinging and missing or maybe swinging and hitting a double or a home run.”
You just never know. You always read stories about some kid who’s just started to make this website and now there’s this thing. For example there’s a guy here in Utah who was in his MBA at BYU, and from one of his projects, he came up with a business model for a cookie delivery service.
Then he just decided to go ahead and try it out and just have fun and see how it goes. Now, the dude’s a millionaire. It just blew up like crazy, all because he said “yeah, sure, let’s just try it.” He just wasn’t afraid to take this idea that he thought was kind of silly and just run with it.
You don’t have to be 30 to do that, you can be 20 and do that. You can be 15 and do that. You can set those building blocks in place for you to have a really fun, exciting life. Just try and fail. I wish I would have started a podcast five years ago. I wish I would have wrote down these books 10 years ago. I wish I would’ve done all this stuff when I was just going to Taco Bell, watching Netflix and playing video games. I look back and I have fond memories of a lot of stuff, and it’s never bad, but you never get your twenties back.You can never get that time back. So, for young readers, whatever you want to do, go and do it. If you want to go to law school, or if you want to go start a magazine or a blog or whatever, go do that thing. It might totally crash and burn in a couple of years, but you did it and from that, you made connections and you made memories and you did this thing that will help in your next endeavor and you will be better for it. Just go and do. Just do it. Don’t wait to do it.
Just do it.