This episode focuses on the fears around starting/owning/maintaining a business. A professional and personal look into fear, success, and dealing with the unexpected.
Guest: Jefferson Nicholson
Owner of Adventure Geek Productions
Owner of Dashy City eSports
VP of Business Development for opinmedia.agency
Features on David Meltzer's 2 minute drill business pitch competition, now airing on bloomberg TV.
Reed Smith 0:07
Welcome to the fear face podcast. I guest today, Jefferson Nicholson, longtime friend, husband father, owner of a venture geeks productions, owner of dash city eSports, VP of business development for open media dot agency. And he's recently been featured on David belters two minute drill, which is a business Pitch Competition available now on YouTube and in the future, hopefully amazon prime as well. So welcome, Jeff. Thanks for coming on.
Jefferson Nicholson 0:37
Thanks, brother. I appreciate it. Yeah, longtime friend. Probably lifelong. Right. We met in elementary school when our two random elementary schools combined because one was so old, they shut it down. And then they smashed us together in a new school. Too much. Too much asbestos. Gotta
Reed Smith 0:57
move the kids out of here. Yeah,
Jefferson Nicholson 1:02
that's the reason for the mesothelioma. commercials
Reed Smith 1:06
are if you've if you've worked in these industries, or attended these elementary schools, you may be entitled,
Jefferson Nicholson 1:12
secondary high school diploma. Yeah,
Reed Smith 1:14
yeah. Yeah. So Jeff, you're a successful entrepreneur. And they really want to get you on here, the gold some of these interviews, I'm honored to have you as my first official interview. And the focus we'll have here will be on you know, the kind of the business and business tips and advice for people that want to start, you know, hear a lot of people say like, I've got this great idea, I want to start a business kind of touch on some good and easy first steps they can do. And then kind of get into your personal journey is with my own other you know, own podcast format like to be transparent and uncomfortable. So while we want to go with some good business advice into you know, we'll get we'll get personal and hear some of your talk about some of your fears that you've had to overcome, and maybe anything in the middle of now. So we mentioned a lifetime friends. We've we've had, we've had a lot of good times together. Got to share a couple of those stories. Kind of escalating, going back to high school. cross country team. What else we didn't just do cross country together. What else do we what other sports we play together? Yeah, it's all track. I think so basketball back in the day.
Jefferson Nicholson 2:31
Do basketball. I think I played like, a season or a half season before our team got beat by girls team. And then I quit. I'm pretty.
Reed Smith 2:42
Yeah, yeah. So yeah, early on basketball, forget all about that. Never forget
Jefferson Nicholson 2:48
Chris Griffin trying to he got so mad. We were down. He was like, You know what, I'm gonna drive hard and stuck his head straight down as if he was targeting in football and then ran straight into a girl and then fell down. I knew it was. I don't know. I was so embarrassed for him. I think I quit playing basketball. That was my first and last
Reed Smith 3:08
experience with basketball. And they say silver is dead sometimes just got to lower your head and head but somebody
Jefferson Nicholson 3:16
we worked at a rec department.
Reed Smith 3:18
Jefferson Nicholson 3:20
lots of height. So lots of lessons learned a lot of life lessons learned self self strength lessons learned with Clogged toilets, and little kids playing basketball hyped up on Snickers and Mountain Dew and thrown up all over the court.
Reed Smith 3:39
Yes, a shout out to the moms out there. If your child has the flu, probably a bad idea to bring them to a crowded recreation gym and have him buy a jumbo Slim Jim, and the Yoo hoo and PAL Matt. And then go out on the court and within three minutes be projectile. demon possessed vomiting all over the court and align all the way to the bathroom. In the bathroom all over the walls. into the toilet, on the toilet, around the toilet, except in the toilet. By the time we get into the toilet. It was all done. So
Unknown Speaker 4:13
Jefferson Nicholson 4:14
Shout out moms.
Reed Smith 4:15
Yeah, talk about friendships, forged in fire. I think you've had the Lysol cans and I had the Clorox Jones which which you should never combined. We weren't thinking about that at the time, but he was spraying cleanser while I was doubting everything in Clorox and the amount of brain cells we've lost from those combined fumes
Jefferson Nicholson 4:38
has definitely created a lot of opportunity for dummy techs from from high school to now having to learn things the long way learn learn things the hard way maybe because of some some chemicals we created and who knows right? So, so what in all that you know, What fears did that reveal? And I'm curious to dive into and unpack here. Yeah, it's episode.
Reed Smith 5:06
Yeah, I'm sure I'm sure they'll come out in our own therapy sessions offline with therapists as well. But yeah, it'd be a great example of, you know, you get a job at a recreation department in high school. don't really care about the money, just want to work. Have your own money. So I'm thinking like, Oh, yeah, I'll work on the concession stand and do whatever. play basketball. Yeah. And then you realize, yeah, there's, there's a lot more to that. A lot of unexpected outcomes. some serious stuff, you know, families using a recreation department is a is a free daycare.
Jefferson Nicholson 5:33
That's exactly right.
Reed Smith 5:34
I'm getting roped into taking care of kids and stuff, too. So yeah, definitely lots of opportunity to overcome fears in that scenario. So speaking of fears, going back to our high school, cross country days, we had in a way in a way meet cross country meet a car meet right.
Jefferson Nicholson 5:52
I think it was at Palmetto.
Reed Smith 5:54
Palmetto High School shout out, shout out first time we'd ever ran that course. didn't run it beforehand
Jefferson Nicholson 6:02
look like honestly, before we get started look like the first time they'd ever marked that course. But that's
Reed Smith 6:06
probably the first time anybody's ever ran that course. And and probably the last time Yes. So as an owner of a film production company, where we'll tell the young age when somebody made a lot of effort to properly mark a event course or not, and that was definitely Of course it was not marked Well, not at all. And even though you had a lot of success with cross country you know later in high school and collegiate Lee, that was before you really cared about it that much. That was that was I think I had to be our freshman year.
Jefferson Nicholson 6:40
Definitely, because we have very good like we were mid pack running like 22 minute five K's
Reed Smith 6:48
Well, I was awful. So I'm much more of a sprinter. You always have more of an inclination to the distance running so I think Jeff sandbag just to hang out with me in the back of the of the Cross Country pack but this particular meet running behind talking having a good time running next to each other. Nobody in front of us because we're far enough back and we're in the woods and we see stuff not marked and kind of like the the road the Robert Frost frost poem The the road less traveled by, it's like, well, there's a lot of forks here. Which one looks like somebody who's been treading it the most. Like Okay, this one looks good. So
Jefferson Nicholson 7:26
we got we were literal trackers. We were trying to min trackers.
Reed Smith 7:29
Yes. So veer off path. Run for a few minutes still don't see anybody then the overgrowth starts to grow up a little bit. It's like well, this this doesn't seem right. He's
Jefferson Nicholson 7:38
been through here,
Reed Smith 7:39
but we're committed right or wrong. We're committed so we keep running on this trail. And after a few more minutes what felt like a lifetime was only a couple minutes few minutes in a
Jefferson Nicholson 7:49
high school cross country media is a lifetime Yes.
Reed Smith 7:52
Yeah. ran into a trailer park all of a sudden you make a turn in the woods open up the trailer park stand there looking around greeted by the largest winged animals of steel to date ever seen in my life? I don't know if I make direct eye contact with the beast but I think our best guess is that they were breeding fighting roosters as they were large and in charge scary. Yeah, so straight out of the woods were greeted by if you're not sure how a rooster reacts when it's angry. They kind of puff their chest out and open their wings so what what could appear is a little cute chicken turned into a winged demon pretty quickly and that's accurate yeah and even lift lifted it's remember lifting it's it's fighting claw in the air so it's ready to jump in and maim us in the juggler that's what it felt like fear response amygdala coming in hot there was no freezing there we turned around you said using fear as fuel yeah and made this few minutes into the woods made it back really quickly.
Jefferson Nicholson 9:05
Some hot back on course
Reed Smith 9:06
caught up to the caught up to the pack.
Jefferson Nicholson 9:08
We did and then I remember coach Thorsland sticking their arms open looking at us. What do you Where are you? Where have you been?
Reed Smith 9:17
Where are you? And then everybody thought we were the slowest kids were all went back and we started the next lap. We started laughing people now that we were scared and have using some adrenaline. Yeah, but definitely definitely one of my favorite cross country meets and one of the scarier moments of my
Jefferson Nicholson 9:35
definitely on the bus rider an inside joke nobody's still probably to this day that like what like what were those idiots doing out in the woods? They were probably just not running.
Reed Smith 9:44
Yeah, yeah, I
Jefferson Nicholson 9:45
don't know that course. Coach doesn't believe this. He there are still believes this. Yeah, that's fine.
Reed Smith 9:51
Yeah, so very fast. Yeah, fast forward. several more years. This is both at a school. Adventure geek productions is full full swing. And we're at the Santee.
Jefferson Nicholson 10:05
So yeah, we were at Santee State Park in 2010, I believe 2010 or 2011, it was 2010. We were still in school. It was 2011, then we would have come back from DC. I'm thinking it was 2010 as you were in Greenville, and you said, Yeah, I'll come help. And so I was hosting an off road triathlons and at Santee State Park, and Santee, South Carolina. And the course was a three mile trail run a three mile kayak, and then a seven mile mountain bike.
Reed Smith 10:40
Yeah, so the event itself was a huge success. headline helped us with this. Everything went pretty well. Everybody packs up and goes home. We're doing some, some cleanup. Notice some pretty, some pretty ripe, some ripe smells. Coming from a certain section of the course. And notice a a large, bloated mass brown mass in the water on closer inspection. Look, it is a dead deer. That, you know not a scientist but I'd say it's probably been dead for several days, if not longer longer than that. long enough to swell to match I'd say maximum capacity. Looks like a look like it would be a certified flotation device. Uh huh.
Jefferson Nicholson 11:37
easily could have made a pontoon out of it.
Reed Smith 11:39
Yeah. So how old? How old? Were the Tom say early 20s? Is that?
Jefferson Nicholson 11:45
If he would have been 2010 we would have been 2021 Yes,
Reed Smith 11:50
sir. On 20. I thought it was a good idea.
Jefferson Nicholson 11:53
still young and dumb.
Reed Smith 11:54
Yeah. I mean, we can't just leave it there. So why not form a hypothesis and test test? experiment out? Hey, there's a big rock. Let's throw it at this thing. See what happens. Now what did you expect to happen when the rock hit it?
Jefferson Nicholson 12:10
Honestly, I expected the rock to kind of sink into this corpse that was laying there before. The park rangers did come in and excavate with some heavy machinery take it out. So it wasn't such a nuisance, but some young dumb experimentation hypothesis ran through my head said Well, let me throw a rock at it. I'm sure it'll sink in. I'm kind of curious, which is more good looking back. But that was my hypothesis.
Reed Smith 12:45
Yeah. And mine was similar, I think yeah, that's probably just like, kind of like synced through it. And
Jefferson Nicholson 12:50
pretty big round.
Reed Smith 12:50
Yeah. Yeah. Two hands like two hand throw it rock. Spoiler alert. We were wrong. It bounced. And the deer came to life and let out a roller from the depths. And it bounced, and probably for whatever reason. I don't know why that was so funny. But still to this day is one of the hardest single instance of me laughing I've ever had in my life on on my hands and knees. About the throw up. You were in pretty bad shape. I
Unknown Speaker 13:30
Jefferson Nicholson 13:31
I definitely gag. Like if that made me gag, I think of a rock falling into the mushing into it might have been worse, but like when that big boulder bounced off of that deers like bloated belly and it laid out like oh, I that made me so sick. And you're laughing at me that was getting sick. Yeah. Oh, hard. And then Kristin was just standing there looking at us both like we were idiots. Right, rightfully so right rightfully justified in her position.
Reed Smith 14:02
Yeah, if she wasn't if she wasn't sure she want to be your wife at the time. She was definitely after that experience.
Jefferson Nicholson 14:07
A hole for sure. Yeah, I think a couple of brownie points.
Not so sure.
Reed Smith 14:14
That's great. So yeah, so forth. Friendship force and fire. And then fast forward to you mentioned us a time period of us living in DC together. That was a weird. That was a weird year.
Jefferson Nicholson 14:25
Weird. Nine months for sure.
Reed Smith 14:30
I don't remember what we were doing what we left to go do but I remember
Jefferson Nicholson 14:34
in your truck, I feel like we were coming home from work on the commute. Somehow we timed it up or we would be back on the same train.
Reed Smith 14:43
Coming back from something pulling into our neighborhood you rounded the entrance of our apartment complex. And things slow down. Sometimes when a when a tragedy strikes time seems tough to move slowly.
Jefferson Nicholson 14:57
Adrenaline floods your brain and slows slows time down or gives you the ability to perceive more per millisecond than you would without it.
Reed Smith 15:07
heightened alertness. Notice a woman squatting with a dog which in itself isn't that curious until you realize the dogs also squatting. And this lady is equipped with a wet wipe or toilet paper. That was some
Jefferson Nicholson 15:23
Reed Smith 15:24
She had waiting paper waiting for the dog to poop, which again in itself, okay, dogs poop all the time, pick it up, go back today. The stock boot. And she proceeded to wipe the dog's butt. With pretty, I'd say pretty standard, front to back whitening procedures, and pretty aggressive as well. Probably should have filed a complaint with the AC was it as CPA? cspa. Yeah, some some animal rights group. Because I believe there was there was a there was pretty dark blue, there's penetration on the white. So that's the dog that dog probably had the cleanest but in Virginia, DC time, but I'm sure it's traumatized after that experience,
Jefferson Nicholson 16:16
but I'm still a little traumatized. It's gonna be a lot to unpack. Yeah, so as already listening, I'm sure. Yeah, there's a lot to unpack here. So a lot of fears running through that lady's mind. Maybe she didn't want poopoo in our house, maybe the dog. There's a lot of maybes that come out of this. Yes, one here.
Reed Smith 16:36
I think the more I think the more fearful I become.
Jefferson Nicholson 16:39
Yeah, you know, you start thinking through it, and you feel yourself getting pulled down. Alice's Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole, and it's just like, you're trying to escape a bad dream. You know, get like, get me out of here. This can be real.
Reed Smith 16:56
Yeah, what happened that she's so afraid that she has to immediately not even like, Wait till you get back to your own apartment, to put the hose that dog down just right on target.
Jefferson Nicholson 17:07
Right here in front of lane highway. I got to sit on the ground and wipe. Wipe a dog's butt. So
Reed Smith 17:13
yeah, so we could have we could have endless we could start our own podcast just talking about our experiences and stories together. But
Jefferson Nicholson 17:19
maybe we'll just do this on like Instagram Live like, everyone. recall some of these high jinks and stories.
Reed Smith 17:26
Great idea. Those are three of our more clean ones and funny ones. So I've had to share those. So I mentioned the top that we're bringing Jeff on for his, you know, really his business expertise. So we mentioned adventure game productions, you would tell us a little bit more about that.
Jefferson Nicholson 17:43
Yeah, so adventure geek productions, was my first formal business that I created a file the formal paperwork to create that LLC in 2009. I started probably the biggest reason to do that was the fear of losing personal assets over business efforts. And so I was a econ major business minor at Clemson at the time, I was part of the Clemson triathlon club. We had hosted a five K and half marathon in 2009, as the first event I'd ever hosted. And, you know, looking back at the production of it, and the planning of it, and then the hosting and managing of it, I had no business hosting half marathon. And, and just thinking about the liability, and like the risk of putting, you know, 300 people out on a half marathon course, with, you know, now it seems like you know, things like, loosely thrown together in terms of like, core support. Luckily, at Clemson University, I had an incredible police captain that I think he's still there was just an absolute Rockstar to help with, like, uniform patrol, like coordination and planning. So man, we were able to really just kind of put this thing on on the skeleton of the the uniform patrol and so so we hosted that event. At the time, there was only a couple half marathons in South Carolina and that was right at the peak of the the running boom. And there's only a couple half marathons in South Carolina and so that we attracted a lot of people it was on we decided to do it on Easter weekend. So we called it the clinton Easter Bunny run. And this is a host registration we had we use some event registration website and had to go to a PayPal account but the club didn't have a PayPal account or Clemson didn't want it coming into their accounts because then in order to get tied up and some sort of general fund or whatever. So I just attached my paypal account to the thing so when somebody checks Back down after that first year just said, like you gave Jefferson Nicholson 50 bucks, and I was like, that probably doesn't have great customer optics. And like, you know, doesn't seem like a legit entity with like, planning or organization or coordinating and, and I was in some business classes, and we were talking about the separation between like business entities and personal assets and business assets. And so I had created a, you know, an LLC and put some money aside so that they were two completely separate entities. So then in the event where we didn't cover all of our bases, or there was like a gross negligence lawsuit against me or whatever, then the idea behind an LLC is that they can only sue you for as much as you've put into the LLC, and they can only attack those assets but out at the time, I was a student and I had a bunch of student loan debt. So it's like, are you gonna get like, yeah, maybe my my $3,000 of potential assets that I have, across everything. My car that was worth 600 bucks.
Reed Smith 21:11
The car which came to DC with us and had an ant infestation, shout out,
Jefferson Nicholson 21:16
shout out Lady Bird infestation, madness, they were living off the old powered power barges and stuff that was in my trunk from the trap on days. And so yeah, so then in, in 2009, we started with the one event and then I just saw the chaos. So at the end is very chaotic, there's a lot of chaos going on. But in that moment of chaos, and excitement and activity. In the moment, I was already post event, and recognizing the opportunity of like what we did well and what we did wrong, and and areas of improvement as well as areas of opportunity. So So did like that strength, weakness, opportunities and threats analysis, SWOT analysis, like sort of in the moment. And and like, you know, now it turns out, like I did, the Clifton Strengths Finder a couple years ago, and turns out that like, that's just what like one of my personal strengths is to be able to analyze events, situations and scenarios pretty quickly to recognize those things. So it's one of my strengths, which is great. I mean, I definitely have a bevy of, of weaknesses. And so recognize that opportunity for growth. We had four events in 2010. So I started a new event, acquired that Santi event, Santi triathlon, and then we kicked, we brought back the Clemson, Afro triathlon back from retirement, and so we had four events 2010, and then we continue to grow. And so with growth, the fear of growth, there's like disappointment, like you didn't, you never want to disappoint. For me, I never wanted to disappoint my customers or my event participants. You know, I always wanted them to feel like they got more from the event experience and event swag than what they paid for an event registration fee. And then, and then fears within the event itself is honestly there. You know, it is a tough physical challenge. And so. So now having worked, you know, well over 300 events I've ever seen everything at an event, except for birth, thank God. But tragically, I have managed an event where we had a fatality, an older gentleman had a heart attack on the course, and we just couldn't save him. And that was really tough. And so there's a lot of fear around creating this event experience where both the participant is also their own show. And so, you know, being young and naive, you know, there's some things you won't be fearful of, because you haven't lived long enough to recognize that as a potential threat. So the older we get, the more fearful we are, because we've experienced more things and we now know what we didn't know before. And but at the same time, now that you know, these new things, you can't let them paralyze you. When when, you know, growth is needed, if you want to be a sustainable organization, but now you know how to plan for it. And so recognize those like threats and opportunities as an opportunity to like get better and provide a better experience, if you wanted to be in the event production space
Reed Smith 24:54
for something like that. So I mean, even going back to when you started it Fear of a lot of people get paralyzed with just the idea of starting a business, even if they don't have an idea. It's like you talked about like the LLC, and like all the litigation, litigation and stuff. So, I mean, there there is that part as well. But especially now, nowadays, you know, you can, you can search up pretty quick. Yeah. Like, like legal requirements to start a business and you can stuff. It's so streamlined on now, online now.
Jefferson Nicholson 25:23
You can see in like, 24 hours, yeah.
Reed Smith 25:26
So it's a lot easier now. But I think that age to, you know, being in college, and, you know, you're, you're always, you know, open to that point, you know, you were really successful with all your side hustles, and things you've done. So, talk about populating your hard drive with positive positive outcomes for things you had done. Right. That's it, I think there's a difference with you know, a Jefferson, you know, that age, say nothing, you know, 1819 years old versus, you know, 30 is, you know, think it's like, I'm gonna do this, like, I'm not gonna fill it. And if I do, what's the worst that could happen? Whereas now, like, you get older, and you experienced that, it's like, somebody can actually somebody could actually die, right? So that's, for the event, for the event hosting, you know, specifics, all the little fears you can have for the event itself, it's like if you've never hosted an event, and even like a house party, and if you've had like a dinner, like a large dinner party at your house, you start to think about things you've never thought of before. Imagine like outside, and you've got 300 people, it's like, how many porta potties you have and where they're located becomes that that can become the sole the sole determinant of your positive or negative reviews for the race.
Jefferson Nicholson 26:32
Like, there's more, yeah, there's more battles, you can lose in endurance event production, and there's things you can win. So you need to do a lot of things, right, for people to have an okay experience. Right? And yeah, and so, you know, it's just been a wild ride. So we started do that 2009, we grew to hosting. At one point we were we own like, 10 events that we were producing from scratch, like everything from just like, Oh, we want to host a few we would we would start to look at different parks and trails and routes and cities and, and locations thinking like, what would be cool, we always have operated with an air of competitiveness. So like, what would create a unique environment that would be entertaining visually, for me to like, go through that course, as part of my journey, what would be visually entertaining and pleasing and a new experience. And then like what would be what also lends itself to be a competitive route, you know, now, in hindsight, that wasn't the growth model, that a lot of that wasn't the way to, like make a lot of money. But that wasn't why we were in it. I mean, we did make some money, and made enough to, like, grow the business and, and be able to reinvest in the business so that every event, every year, we would come back to it would be a little bit bigger, a little bit better. So that I felt that it would be at least precede worth to come back and run the same course. Because we would always add more to that experience. But yeah, so the those two elements were always like, in the top three was like, for me was like, visually, is it interesting? Can it be competitive? And then if it meets those two things, then the third thing I check is like, at the most difficult point of the course, how quickly could safety personnel get to somebody who's who needs assistance there. And if they weren't able, like, if there was a point on the course, where he wasn't able to have somebody be able to safety personnel be able to get to that person within 15 minutes? for like, an extreme course, then then we wouldn't do it. So there's a lot of routes and events and ideas and locations that never made it past the drawing board because they get to that third thing on the checklist and, and didn't make it so of the 10 events that we did host there's probably 50 that we had looked at that never made it so they they failed before even hitting the market. And so like also so from the competitive nature, and running, I think runners are people who lean into running and other sports, like baseball in particular, now that we're a baseball family have this a healthier relationship with failure, because I can baseball and then running or like competing. You know, you can take a lot of losses, like a lot of business losses or, you know, at a running race, there's 1000s of people that but there's only one number one and you know, we make up these age categories or whatever to reward some participation. But yeah, you got to have you have to have a healthy relationship with loss and failure in business. And if you don't, then that's where, like, I'm sure you've touched on, like being self aware, you know if that if you don't have a healthy relationship with that, or if that's not your strength to be able to handle that, there's, you know, there's a gajillion other ways you can make money to provide for your family.
Reed Smith 30:23
Right. And this is a great, you know, parallel with talk, you know, talk in the podcast about how it's essentially two ways to live your life. It's either ruled by fear of opportunity. So you either you're there feel fearful of things and people, you know, the things around you decide how you live your life. No, that's the, you know, you're the victim. things always happen to you. You're always a victim of circumstance. Whereas with opportunity, you know, just hearing you talk about how that grew. It seems like whether you realize it or not the time, it's like, you kind of put yourself in the opportunity and didn't let all the unknown so it's more of, Okay, well, some of our racers said, there's not a race here. Like, can we do that? Like, that's an opportunity. So like, well, nobody's ever done it there before. You know, it's, that's scary. It's like you do them, you do the math on it, you figure out if you can check those boxes. And if it works, it works. And if it doesn't, it doesn't. So Oh, I
Jefferson Nicholson 31:14
mean, there's been plenty of races where I've eaten crow to like, we launched an event, I thought it was just going to be a banger. Early, we had great logos, great swag. And like 50 people sign up, and I'm like, Oh, my God.
Reed Smith 31:27
So what's the what's the difference? What's like, the smallest, smallest number of people you've hosted in the largest? What's the smallest like a
Jefferson Nicholson 31:37
ndca hosted like a Thursday night, every other week. $5, five K, just five bucks to sign up. And one we did like flashmob style, where I wouldn't say where the start line was until the morning of the race. But I gave him like an idea where it was gonna be. And that was like I was a little, I always tend to be a little early on stuff. Like that is like I saw flash mobs were a thing. And the running was a thing. And racing was the thing. But like, that was probably 10 years before it would have worked. And so we did that around DC, and we would use five bucks to enter and then we'll pay out cash prizes to the top five men and women. And so like I was paying people to win. And they were you know, the first couple races where we only have eight to 15 people I was paying more money out than I was making from that event and and then we would go to the bar afterwards, which was, but some of those some of those eight people. So here's the thing, like you can't look at shit. Like I've only got eight people this I'm not making up money I don't want to do anymore. Those eight people that came out this first couple of events end up doing all of them. And now there's some of my closest like social media friends that I've I still keep in contact with like weekly to this day.
Reed Smith 32:59
Yeah, I think loyalty is a huge part of that. Especially you talk about your competitive back, like you were a runner. And this started, like started at a big university. And just the legitimacy that gave you and a difference you talk about like somebody that will you know, your business, business marketing student and a runner, I'll somebody that was just a business, a marketing student, their approach to this would have been completely different to yours, where it was like, you could talk about like, the competitive nature of things. I think you could speak to the kind of the psyche of your client base a lot better than somebody who just comes in and says, How can we make as much money as possible? Yeah,
Jefferson Nicholson 33:33
yeah, it wasn't a venture capital or a hedge fund, looking at an industry that had high margins and was like, let's hire outside producers and hire another marketing company to come up with a concept and then hire the event producers, and then put this money on them. Because we see a Delta we see a difference that we can make, which absolutely happened with like color runs and mud runs. And the other like gimmicky themed events like those were definitely backed by bigger venture dollars that were trying to play that game that was just it was it was all a gimmick, it was all just a show to get people to sign up. And then they charged crazy prices for it. So yeah, like back then, like looking back, I was I would shit on those people because I was jealous, honestly, because they were rolling out. But what I didn't know was they had, you know, at least a couple million dollars fueling those efforts to grow from nothing to to, you know, to visually hero they went from zero to hero. And meanwhile, like me and some of the crew I rolled with, like we were in the trenches, just like hosting these eight person races, 50 person races 100 person races where we were finally breaking even. You know, yeah, and then grown from that to whatever. And that and eventually so we did that in Delaware for a while. So we were in DC for a bit and you and I live together and had probably the worst commutes ever. And we're government contractors. And it was not at all what we thought it was going to be like, we didn't have an idea. But then when we got there were like I had somewhat of an idea. And this was not it. And then got out of there pretty quickly, you're trying to get out there as fast out of there as fast as we could. And then I ended up in Delaware. And so actually, I was in DC for a little bit longer than you. Because I was scared that I wasn't going to be able to make it with my endurance production business. And then ultimately didn't, I was still working in DC. As a government contractor had these events going on, Kristin, now my wife was in Delaware, where she was pursuing her PhD. So we had some events in Delaware events in DC. And every weekend, we were working an event, we probably worked 50 events a year for about three or four years. Until one day, I got super frustrated with my job in DC, I quit and just moved full time into Delaware. And I made it about eight months. And then I did have to become a bean counter and say, listen, like, I need to pragmatically look at, like, Am I making money? And what's this forecast look like? And then I looked and I was like, unless I get more events or more race timing clients, I'm like, I'm gonna run out of money. So then I did get a job. And then it was more both of us working day jobs and hosting events. And we were able to do that basically run our own business as a second job, and work these crazy hours and travel a ton for work for day jobs and for the business. And people would always ask, how do you do this? How do you do this? And now it's like, obviously, we will do because we didn't have any kids? Because there's no way I'd be able to do that now.
Reed Smith 36:45
Yeah, so you mentioned eight was the smallest event you hosted? What was the large number, the largest you have.
Jefferson Nicholson 36:53
So I worked in event that was owned by Living Social, I didn't even know they're around anymore. There's kind of like a Groupon. Social, they had like a glow run that was like, I think 5500 people. And so he has like 5500 people, and we get there and they had hired just enough help to like help with packet pickup and check in and stuff. And they had outsourced course management to a group I was with, and like crowd management. And it was such a mess. It was absolute chaos. And they had an idea of overview. And then within 30 minutes of me like just showing up thinking I was just going to be helping with the crowd control. It was an absolute nightmare. I somehow weaseled my way into somebody like 10 got a radio, couple radios and a keys to a golf cart. And then I gave this rehearses to my support my crew, and we absolutely took over the show. And then it was just like smooth sailing for the first part. And then so we got our part done pretty quickly. But it was like corral, we would corral groups of 300, like three to 500 and then let them go in waves because it just snaked through a parking lot. Like the most like absurd courts at night. It was
Reed Smith 38:08
so dumb, but just the difference between, like one of the organic adventure geeks, advanced is like I mean, you know, I know you were, you know, some of your loyal people would come and say, Hey, um, I've only got to, you know, I'm running a marathon and every state I've got like a medal and every state these two states don't have a marathon like Yeah, can you hold on there for me? And you would you would like, put on races?
Jefferson Nicholson 38:32
Yeah, this place. Yeah, that's how our Kings Mountain marathon running. Now it's gonna be Kings Mountain running festival started in South Carolina, the in 2010. Again, the Myrtle Beach marathon canceled because of snow. And then with as soon as it canceled our half marathon and Clemson filled up to 300 runners within like eight hours because people are looking for that half marathon option. And then a group of runners called marathon maniacs reached out to me and I said, Hey, can we come around your course twice? And the real me wanted to let them but then the fear from me. And and probably a great call said like, no, my police captain probably shut that idea down. Because you would be running unsupported and putting yourself at risk, which you'd be attached to like us. Like you would have paid a fee and agree to some terms. And we would still be putting you at risk. And so I I did say no, but I was like, but I will start a brand new race for you guys. If that's cool. And so I found out what the requirements were for it to be a race. And so we started that event 2010 for like 15 people in that event. its biggest was probably two years ago pre before times pre COVID. We added a bunch of different businesses and we got about 350 runners. So races that we've owned have been about 350 is our biggest well the company's been around we had pretty we got close to like 600 friends That one one time. So that's probably the biggest honestly. But just we had a venue that could host it. And yeah, and so there's there's just a lot that comes. A lot of fears that come into that probably the biggest fear with producing an event is, like on especially on event Day is a runner safety, and then being so to be able to manage that safety as an as a planner, finding volunteers or workers is the biggest challenge. And that led to a lot of like, sleepless nights of just like reaching out to different groups, trying to find help wherever and whenever we could, and then counting on them to show up, right, like, I had one race where this one group said, Yeah, well, we're gonna show up with 30 people, which was like, just enough that I knew I was going to be able to put the put on the show. But they were like, of a demographic that weren't great at communicating. And I didn't trust that they were all going to show up. And so I altered the course, like day before and, and then that morning, like 25 showed up, which was still like, I'm glad I did change the course. Because if we would not have had enough, and it would have been good to had some runners out there on their own for for long stretches with which would have been scary. And, and and then runners to they, as a runner, you need that like visual feedback, you don't need mile markers, to we need that visual target when we're on a mission or the with a goal. And so if you're just out there running aimlessly, most people get super anxious. And that anxiety and that adrenaline spikes, and then when that adrenaline spikes it you know, once you come over that it like floods the muscles, and then you're like, legs tighten up, and your breath gets shorter, and then your arms tighten up and then like then anxiety, like, straight jacket tightens in. And so that's like, that's why you need to have mile markers on a marathon course not for like, you know, system. I mean, yeah, so people will check against their watch. And it's a good safety reference, but like you need it. So people don't like freak out and think they're lost. And then like, we always put that and then the minute calm confidence markers, we would put like a survey flag every 300 meters every quarter mile just so somebody could visually look over and say, Okay, I'm still on course, like, keep charging, keep charging, I don't need to second guess, my route or my mission. I'm on the right path I need to keep charging forward. So
Reed Smith 42:38
what is the, you know, pacing is a type of fear. It's like athletes, you know, in anything is like pacing is a type of fear. Because like a fear that you're gonna run that you're gonna use too much too early. So I would I would, I would bet if you compared Tom's you had people run a very a barely marked course versus a heartwell course I would expect there Tom's actually, the better because it's almost you think like a carrot and stick.
Jefferson Nicholson 43:06
Totally. That's where the how they've been? Yeah, so you can look at, let's just make an example of like the Barclay marathon with that crazy guy doesn't mark a damn thing. And you like to confirm you were at different biomarkers, you got to pull pages out of a book or some crazy stuff, versus the world record, marathon set, they've got a pacer car, shooting a laser beam on the ground to show you where the marathon pace is, and as long as you're in front of that laser beam. So it's like constant visual, physical total environment feedback, to be able to set a world record versus like, zero feedback, and you're just lost this shit out in the woods, then, yeah, totally, it's and so I'm the next episode, I'd be interested to see how you could dissect somebody's ability to that that person that does and is okay with just going on a hike. And and sort of like what that reveals about themselves to just go on a hike and say, Hey, I'm gonna go out to this point, and I've got a map, but you know, how much can I learn about myself when I get away from all this stuff? Very cool.
Reed Smith 44:24
And you mentioned talking through the history of venture geeks, you know, pre COVID, and how just outside of that context to how differently The world is now between when you were, you know, eclipsing University, so within a production business with, you know, people being in close proximity to each other, and, you know, just how the events typically run. How did you know How did COVID hidden up Can you talk about some of the fears or potential opportunities around that?
Jefferson Nicholson 44:53
Yeah, so when COVID here, obviously no race director wants to like put their Well, no, event director in the right mind wants to put people at risk of the exposure of the virus. And while runners are typically of a healthier demographic, with good lung function, and healthy levels of vitamin D, because they're outside running, so that, again, they're in a demographic that typically is able to handle the virus, if they contract it, there's a ton of liability and risk for creating a thing that puts that attracts people and puts them in an expanded opportunity to contract the virus. And so a lot of race director, people that I know where that was their livelihood, was hosting endurance events. And then state and federal regulation came down and said, No, like no events, what are they to do, like, they're their whole livelihood. That's all they ever, that's what they think about what they breathe. It's, it's their whole world, just said, Nope. And that's not something we could have ever predicted. And so it's been really interesting to see how some of those race directors have pivoted to, like, we saw a lot of virtual events. And so just to try to make ends meet, and some of them have loyal audiences and customer bases enough, that will say, yeah, I'll give my guy 20 bucks to run. on my own, I'll run and track, you know, this half marathon on my own or five k on my own and submit my time on my own, and you'll mail me a shirt or whatever. But like, everybody knows, it's not, it's not the same experience, you're out there running on your own now, instead of part of the event experience, and you're supporting your race director, or the nonprofit or whatever organization that was hosting the event, like you were gonna probably support them, no matter what you do get some, like, reward for your participation from that shirt, and adding your time and some recognition, which is a good feedback. But yeah, I mean, most of these guys saw their income go from, you know, shrink 90% and then have had to live off and nothing. Because since they're self employed, they weren't eligible for any kind of, you know, some, you know, government assistance or whatever. Some of them have been able, like I saw, maybe out of like 100, full time restrictions, I saw maybe one or two, that were able to get the PPP loans or whatever. But all of them are not. And so then as some in some states, as regulations have led up, we were able to, we were able to host an event in South Carolina and October 2020. And that, like there was a decent caseload. But a majority of the people that actually showed up, were local, I didn't really have any out of towners come in. And then we just had, you have to roll out some, like social distancing face covering protocol to try to mitigate some of that risk. You're still there, it's still there. you update the waiver saying like, hey, we've implemented some new procedure to try to mitigate as much exposure as possible, while still trying to have some sort of like, in person event, and we were willing to host it now, I probably wouldn't do it today. Because of like, think Thanksgiving, like post Thanksgiving, get together spikes, and post Christmas and New Year's Thanksgiving, New Year's COVID spikes, and just seeing like, how many cases are out there right now. And so, you know, now we're just trying to think about, you know, what do we do? And so
why, during all the shutdown, and I appreciate you mentioning before, I'm the owner of dash city eSports. And the Vice President of Business Development for the open media agency, is even before COVID, I was wanting to transition into eSports, or gaming production from endurance sports. And so, while I'm still involved with endurance sports, when when COVID hit, and the whole world shut down, I thought to myself, you know, yeah, some of my events are about to just not, maybe they won't even come back anymore, which that stinks, because there's they're beautiful communities that those events support. And, you know, and fuels those communities who are involved in those events. But if they don't come back, you know, those those communities and those people that are part of those events, they don't need my race to put a roof over their head or live or whatever like it was, it could have been a motivational, ending. inspirational part of their journey. But it wasn't a necessary step. And so, you know, that's where a lot of these race directors and myself, like need to check their ego and their brand. And realize, like, we're not a necessity, we're a luxury experience. And yeah, so so like, I knew I wasn't necessary, like my events weren't necessary. So let me look at this whole shutdown, instead of a threat to my ego. And my,
my identity. Instead of taking it that way, and cleaning it up and getting super defensive, I took it as an opportunity to say, oh, shoot, like, the whole world's Never gonna stop or pause long enough for me to transition into something new, more than it is right now. So I need to take this time, while everybody's not doing anything, to start laying the foundation for the things I was really interested in doing, and then go all in on those. And so that that's why I mean, I took the transition to move into eSports. And, and get, you know, partner up with this marketing agency. Because ultimately, when I found like, in that time of reflection during COVID, you know, everybody's asking themselves why, why, why wasn't involved in this? Or at least I was, I was asking myself, why, why am I involved in these things? Why was I hosting endurance events? I did it because the opportunity, but really, like when I dissected why, that I could have done anything, but I chose endurance events. And so I've also been really involved in marketing, and the production of the show, and getting to get to know my customers. And I've enjoyed the journey. And so what I really, really dialed in on was I really enjoyed learning each runners journey, it within endurance sports, like, what is it that, like, why did they pick this event, and what did their journey look like? To get them there, training wise life, lifestyle lies, that got them to my starting line. And then what you know what got them through the finish some guys, it's funny, you're like, man, my buddy just recommended this event. I've got zero training, I cracked a beer last night and signed up for this marathon. And I should have mended it. But that's super rare. And it's a funny story. But like most people, they've invested months of time, hours running for and then they've got like, their carrot is they're running for a friend that they lost to cancer, that they're running in the memory of somebody, or they're running to inspire their kids, or, you know, they're running just because that's where they find themselves because it is cheaper than therapy. And so another thing was, I enjoy this marketing piece, or the marketing and learning that jewelry, that journey and learning those stories. And for an endurance sporting event to be sustainable, it's got to be really big, but we've got a min max to make any kind of money to, to grow and move to the next one. And so at least I found myself like doing too many things. So that we could min max and have a big crowd and, and make enough money to like, be able to afford the business and move forward and pay people I had no time to get to know my customer. And that really started to get to me, but I didn't understand why until I was like, Oh, I like I love the journey. I love that story. And so the move into eSports. And marketing is as a move out of like trying to balance all the plates, and then move to like, get to know each person's story. And so, so the put the marketing piece with open media, you know, I get to know a lot of business owners and get to know their fears and what their struggles are, and what they need help with. And sometimes we can help them and sometimes we can't, but that's okay. That's like, I enjoy that. And, and so that's sort of like What's life giving to me is like getting to know that community. And if there's ever been a way I can help anybody in that community, then then that that's what I move into. So
Reed Smith 54:21
it's a good a good point to point out there too, is looking at, you know, your experience with the you know, being the event production with adventure geeks is you know, you understand, like you mentioned your frustration with the bank rollers you do put in all this work to have a race and have these loyalty lands connection and then the soulless, giant companies with all this money come in and just say here's a five k killer run, like we'll throw Yeah, we'll throw powder on you and you know, you pay us double what anybody else is charging for a race and you know, they get 500 1000s of people to show
Jefferson Nicholson 54:54
you know, and you don't know who the race director is and and those companies have no interest in getting to know the person Other than, like, what your sort of social media interests are so they can retarget ads to you, how's your
Reed Smith 55:04
experiences terrible, they just rebrand and launched again, you know, for the next one, so then you change, you change that to COVID hitting the event business, you know, and I have, you know, got my own coaching, training and nutrition business. So you're talking to like gym, people working in a gym like that, how it all changed, you can have the same frustration, as you know, if you're gonna, you know, work with, you know, with actually eSports, you know, working with streamers and open media, you know, helping businesses get started more of an online presence. It's like, Well, yeah, there's all these huge bank rollers out there that people that can throw millions of dollars in contracts, the top streamers, and just hope these huge events. But I think it's interesting that you discovered that part of your frustration was that was you hadn't really identified that you really get the value from those personal connections. And that's really the opportunity that sets you apart from the big soulless bank rollers.
Jefferson Nicholson 56:03
Yeah, yeah, 100%, there would be no way I could compete to try to sign you know, these mega talent, streamers or gamers or ultra talented, competitive gamers, to my team, and I don't really know them. And so that's like these first steps of laying the foundation is I'm putting 0% effort and getting to that part to try to be competitive. My sole focus right now is really, I'm hyper focused on my local gaming community. And who is streaming? Who's playing What? Where are they trying to get their message out? And what story are they trying to tell? And what's their story? And then just trying to support them? In any way I can. And so, yeah, and so maybe, ultimately, we'll get there. But get to the point where we have a ton of attention. And a lot of people with bankrolls asking a lot of questions or wanting to get involved. And maybe, who knows? Who knows? Right? When maybe we get there, maybe we don't cross that bridge when I get there. But yeah, so I know, you asked me earlier. Some of the fears around like getting started in that kind of space is you just you just got to do I meet so many people interested in eSports as a business, but then they just ask a billion questions. I'm like, Well, how do I get started in this and that, and it's like, I don't like, I'm figuring this out, also, and then applying what I learned as I go, but you just got to do and that's really any industry. You know, apart from being like a lawyer, or, you know, a surgeon or something, right? You don't want those people just performing surgery, and then figuring it out as they slice somebody open, that's probably not a good call. But for a lot of businesses, you can just start, just start and just go like, stop asking questions. And that and that was like, your grade point from your first few episodes is like, if you're asking questions, and preventing yourself from moving forward, like what fear is that?
Reed Smith 58:18
Yes. Closing? Yeah. And you mentioned, you know, one of the one of the people that reached out to me and you mentioned actually got from the from the podcast, and kind of you know, you said after the first podcast, you've kind of got some clarity on a on a fear you had around kind of the kind of the marketing business stuff and share that with us.
Jefferson Nicholson 58:37
Yeah. So when you were asking, you know, what, when you don't do something, because you don't want to do it? What fear is that revealing? And for me, one of my strengths, I guess, as mentioned, one of my strengths is recognizing the opportunity, and analyzing, like weakness, opportunity, threats and strengths, is able to pretty quickly come up with like, new ideas. Definitely. I mean, I'm an execution guy, but I'm also have a pretty heavy like, I got some pretty innovative ideas on how I can commercialize something, you know, it's cool to provide an innovative solution or product for the world to use. But pragmatically, if it doesn't make money, then you're not going to be able to make more of it to help more people, including yourself or your family to provide. And so I can come up with, I can, it doesn't take me long to figure out how to commercialize or monetize something. And so I'll be in these chats with like business owners with unlike a marketing development call or in the esports world or be on a discord call or in a twitch chat or something talking about something or just hanging out in the pre pre COVID-19 before times drinking beer talking about something like oh my gosh, like this is on the way two hour drive back from a base rate We should be like, Oh, we should do this as a business and talking about something, and then starting to see like somebody else execute on it. I'm like, ah, like, I'm missing out, I had that same idea, I should do it. And so I have that FOMO that fear of missing out on participating, being involved in innovative growth opportunities. Always want to be involved. So, so a lot of times that that would make me overextend myself. And then, you know, and then every six months find myself like, in a hot shower and a blacked out bathroom wondering like, what the hell am I doing with my life? Because I've just over extended,
Reed Smith 1:00:41
anybody's been sure Oh, he's crying in the shower. I've definitely had a similar experience with the, you know, I got into the coaching and the nutrition stuff, what I felt like really late, you know, late 20s, I got into it within you know, you start getting a ball with training and Gasman doing it since high school. And it's like, man, I had been seriously lifting until a few years ago, you're like, I'm missing out on all this credibility. And these people went to school for this, and they've just been had so much experience. And it was really, like, the fear there was like, I'm like, nobody's going to think anything I say legitimate, like, nobody's gonna listen to me. So I need to catch up on you start catching up. So I signed up for everything. I was just like lethal amounts of enthusiasm. I said yes to everything, went to everything, spent way too much money on stuff and started the field just completely overwhelmed. And, you know, realized later, I was opening myself up to all these inputs. And I had no plan of action, for for any output, and even a step before that, like, no plan to organize anything to even create a plan of action. So that's really helped me focus. Now, it's like you can't be you're not going to be the best at everything. And there's always going to be somebody that's been doing it longer, or has more money to spend on it, do something, you just have to do the best you can within reason. And, you know, not let those initial fears stop you, as you said, you just gotta you just gotta go,
Jefferson Nicholson 1:02:06
yeah, you gotta go. And then you got to be self aware of like, where that where the rains are, because you got to go. But to your, to your point to your experience, sometimes you can go a little too far, but at
Reed Smith 1:02:24
least and permanently asked questions, you know, if you're, it's great, you know, some people, people are just, you know, they're just, they're designed to be students, and they, they just want to learn forever. And most, you know, most of us have been raised, and we should be improving and learning something. But if you're always the student of everything, and never putting anything into action, and especially, you know, to transition, you know, later in life, you get more of an obligation to kind of share your, your expertise and help mentor people. I think that's where a lot of people, they don't realize, even if you even like, look at that shitty eSports, like, maybe the world you know, the world doesn't change forever, and maybe the event hosting thing in person, just not be there. Like, so do you? Do you kind of soak with that and just tell her buddy, you know,
Jefferson Nicholson 1:03:09
it's over, work at your store,
Reed Smith 1:03:13
you know, back in the good old days, we will do this or use this opportunity, and you leverage your experience. And you you see the opportunity. It's so much easier to see the fear with Yeah,
Jefferson Nicholson 1:03:24
so I'm curious about your wanting to so the, you're missing out on the credibility was that like a fear of you or wanting to execute? But it wasn't? Like, you were worried you weren't credible enough? Or you weren't, you weren't gonna get the validation from feedback that you were you were good enough as a coach,
Reed Smith 1:03:47
or like, probably a little, probably a little bit all that. I think there's definitely some, like, if somebody walked up to me, he's like, Hey, Doc, I want to coach you. It's like, Okay, well, why would you be a good coach? It's like, I feel like my thanks to me for that. I just can't, you know, there's there's nothing there. And then What experience do I have? You talked about, you know, your experience as a runner. And being involved with Southern Clemson was a huge part of you know, that your early success with venture geeks? So it's like, I didn't, I didn't have that to leverage for my coaching. So it's like, yeah, let me coach you in this. It's like, okay, we've learned a lot. So I don't want to the best one to take care of me. So I think as long as you're a big focus of the podcast is like transparency and like honesty on my journey through fear. And I think is part of the realize that time like, as long as I tell people up front, like no, I'm not selling them something that's not honest. You have that Tegrity business, which let you have the personal connection you talked about you get value from them. That that helps remove a lot of that fear.
Jefferson Nicholson 1:04:42
Yeah, and you can manage some of those. Will you manage those customer expectations with both transparency and pricing. So if you don't have the experience, and they're just beginning their journey, but you're six months a year ahead of them, you do don't charge as much as the guy who's been doing this for years and wrote the textbook and whatever, whatever
Reed Smith 1:05:05
it is, I coach for free and said, Hey, open, open invitation, anybody that wants into this, you know, coaching for free. And then as experienced group success group, I think that was another fear too is you know, it's pretty successful. Everything I had done.
Jefferson Nicholson 1:05:19
For sure, man, yeah, that's, I've been watching you doing that kind of stuff. For years, I've always looked at you the way when you have made your moves, I always knew that there was at least months of like, unseen preparation before you executed. Whereas me, if we were ever trying to do something together, I was like, gonna execute now. And you had always like, I could tell you are like pumping the brakes, because I've been hitting you up in the in the past about being my Chief Technology Officer for eSports. And you're like, yeah, I'm in tech, but I'm in a whole different space. I'm like, No, it's fine. You're a tech guy. Like you get
Reed Smith 1:06:00
all these delicate. Questions to Ask right now. Yeah, that's a great point. So so good balance, we bring balance to the force. I think it's, it's interesting, you know, how, how much of that stuff, you know, so if you start more of the aggressive approach, how over time you realize you have to be concerned, more conservative with certain parts of that. And then somebody like me, who has more doesn't like surprises that has a very calculated approach, you realize, get into it. It's like, you can't do that with everything, or nothing is gonna get done. That's right. Wait much time. Same thing with podcasts. You listen to the quality, just the quality production quality of the first podcasts the second one world of difference, like, first one, like I just have to get this out there. I can't do I can't be the read. I've always been with stuff. I just gotta get it.
Jefferson Nicholson 1:06:44
Yeah, and I hope we're not running too long here on episode three. That's okay. I think if you need to divide it up into you can divide it up into
Reed Smith 1:06:54
give people what they want. Which is more Jefferson.
Jefferson Nicholson 1:06:58
Yeah. about that.
Reed Smith 1:07:01
Actually, eSports you know, that really wasn't your, your net new step into the esports. arena, when you were, you had a little something like that going on, too. Right.
Jefferson Nicholson 1:07:10
mean, and really, it kind of started back when we were in high school hosting land party tournaments, in my, in my parents basement, it was like, Xbox One, Halo one, even at your house, like organizing guys to bring their TVs and routers, and who who's got LAN cables, and which ends aren't broken, and who's got controllers and bringing them over and, and, you know, one point we had, you know, the, everybody brought four TVs and four xboxes and four controllers each. And then we had another, this is 16 guys playing at one time on TVs of different sizes, and we had another 16 guys watching, and then waiting their turn to like jump in, in different rounds. And, and that was incredible. And it's just a great sense of like, immediate community. And what I like about eSports and gaming is it's just more inclusive than anything else I've been involved in like anybody with different ability levels, or, or that's differently abled, can get involved with different adaptability devices to game and explore different mental universes, that may enhance what they are, or bring more value to the physical space that they're in. So there's a lot of great things, I think eSports in gaming does for people of all ages, you know, from, from high school to, you know, well into your later years. And so, yeah, so just so we got started, you know, with dabbling in that, and high school just for fun. And, you know, then that that's like the event thing, like, oh, I've got a little bit here. And then when I was in, in school, I was a, I had a job as an ambassador for Dell. And as a Campus Ambassador, and then that came the Clemson or the Dell was a major sponsor of Major League gaming. And so then they sent me like hundreds of T shirts, and wanted me to host local Guitar Hero tournaments or Guitar Hero events and hand out so many major league gaming, you know, Dell Major League gaming branded swag. And so I'd recognize that as an opportunity, and then sold some stuff on the side of those events. So it's just like a means of attraction and bringing the community together and adding value to those individuals and to the community. And so, I've always had a keen eye for or like this internal feeling of saying, hey, I need to provide more value than what I asked. And that should be true with any business is to say like, Here's $100 worth of value. I'm only asking for $20 in revenue and in return. And so at the core, I feel like that should be any entrepreneur. And so a lot of efficiencies help us get there. But yeah, so and then we had that thought, I don't know if you I don't know if you remember after the the collegiate Major League gaming, Dell gaming and stuff. I know, we both had those like Dell t shirts that seemed to mate in our drawer. And every time we would like donate one, there were like three more, or maybe it was like a Hydra every time you would kill one of those shirts, like two more would grow in its place.
Reed Smith 1:10:41
Like we just I think we both just finally got rid of the last one maybe a couple years ago.
Jefferson Nicholson 1:10:46
Yeah, now we should have kept them now they're gonna be like super in demand and vintage. But now there who knows how many Goodwill's out there right now. But you know, I don't know if you remember. But in some of those conversations, and as long commutes back in DC is you're like, Man, what would it take to open up like an internet cafe? And so that thought has always been in my mind. And then even as we look to bring that idea, to Winston Salem, North Carolina, I've, you know, the iterations of that idea have taken place, like what would be a sustainable storefront? operation? Like what what products and services do I need to offer to responsibly pay employees and be able to keep up with rent, and to be able to make enough money to pay myself and, and get a return on that investment? Since it is taking a huge risk? And like, how to find the money? What money do I use? Like, how much? How much leverage do I get into, you know, how much equity do I cough up with a business if somebody wants to bring some investment in, like, all that world is so new, but like, nothing should stop you from just at least laying the foundation of building a community, while you just figure out that those those things, you know, nothing can stop you from, you know, for me at least, like jumping on Twitch and gaming, and two people show up, or whatever, just you just got to start and not worry about the validation of that, like, verbal, or like achievement, feedback for now you some of the people that I follow like you, you really need to fall in love with the journey and not the prize. Otherwise, if you once you get the prize, your journeys over and you're you'd be bummed out.
Reed Smith 1:12:36
Right? Yeah, I think it's cool how, and with what we've been talking about on the podcast, working through the fears fuel book, too, is how you've heard the things you've done, leading up to this point that you've had, you've populated your hard drive to get this stuff like you saw, you talk about the land parties, like you saw the how much fun and like the local community with that. And then when you get involved with the Dale gaming League, see that, like saw that with, you know, with older people, and how, you know, how different is that. And so you saw these positive outcomes around that. That's how I feel too, it's like it with gaming, as we both are on this with our awesome huge gaming headsets, which are requested. They just tried to show it without the thing on there. So now we gotta get around.
Jefferson Nicholson 1:13:20
Yeah, I had some little head then before, I got some negative feedback from wearing these headphones. And now so now I'm a little fearful to wear them on camera now.
Reed Smith 1:13:32
It was populated with bad, bad feedback populated with with negative outcomes. Yeah, like we both have had, like really positive experience with with gaming in general. And a lot of what I do all the games I play, or it's usually with somebody, so even though it's a competitive game, and I edited it's, it's like 90%, to do something, just do something with somebody I want to interact with. So you know, it's been a coach to it. I found that, you know, it's definitely quality over quantity, and value the relationship or rather have five people that like want to do it and feel like they can tell me anything, then people that have like 20% compliance, and you know, their results aren't as good you don't have that relationship. So I think it's cool, how you're kind of leveraging looking back the strengths and as things you've enjoyed, they've kind of carried through with you to this point, and they're gonna continue to carry you further forward.
Jefferson Nicholson 1:14:30
Yeah, I what really helps me and I know that book helped you but for me. I went to a networking event here in Winston Salem, and then the founder of ancestry.com was there and he's since sold ancestry.com to somebody else and got into other things but now he's joined whatever company that owns Clifton Strengths Finder, and he thought About the investment in your strengths versus your weaknesses, and the way he presented that, I was totally sold on that concept. And, you know, I'm not going to steal any of his thunder, but I encourage everybody to check out the Clifton Strengths Finder. For me, it's in that like, right before COVID. And this has always been like, how, how do I see the world? And what lens? You know, what, what perspective? Do I see the world? And? And, you know, how is my Lin? Like, how do I view things versus how other people view things I didn't really understand. Until I, I took the Clifton Strengths Finder. And some people have done those personality tests where they're, like, INTJ, or what, whatever the I can't remember what those are. But the Clifton Strengths Finder for me is it's a 200 question, like tests, and you get 10 seconds to answer. Like, where you stand on a particular thing. And at the end, it spits out like 32 they've got they're breaking it down to like 30 something strengths. And then if you were to take the time, you know, you know, make claim, like, if you were to take the test now or 10 years from now, did your like top 10 strengths, like some might flip, but your top 10 are always going to be in your top 10 or 11. Like they're not going to change a whole lot. And for me, taking that test really helped me understand the lens in which I see the world and how I attack and approach and, and like, consume situations. And it helped me be aware of like, oh, like, like, not everybody sees it the way I do or consumes or attacks problems the same way I do. And then it also like pointed out that empathy was one of my weakest strengths. And so that was like a huge punch in the gut was like, you know, looking back, and then that made me reflect and think man was like me, you reflect on a lot of relationships that I had that I might not have now. And wonder, you know, there was I jerk? Was it? I mean, I need to start taking some more accountability, like Was it me that just didn't didn't handle things the right way? Or? or How could I have approached differently, or obviously, I didn't handle the situation, right. And so it just made me realize, like how I view the world, and then how I could be of a better, better service to others along their journey. And it's just really cool. So so it really helped me out. Kristen just took it she's part of like a new leadership program, or course or her route with the hospital. So they took it. And it was really cool to like review that it was 50 bucks. A lot of people look at that and be like, Oh my god, 50 bucks, like, there's no way. That's like, when's the last time you went out to dinner and spend 50 bucks and like how long did that meal last year in your belly, like eight hours and it was gone. It's like if you can do something for 50 bucks, and that like honestly opens the way you view the world for the rest of your life, then totally worth it. Like I say I'm not making anything from this, but it had such a big, such a big impact on me. Just that one simple thing that brought so much clarity. To me, it's crazy, I still need to revisit as a as a thing, right? We got to be consistent and how we approach that. So I often have to revisit my results and review it just to make sure I'm on track. But
Reed Smith 1:18:29
similar to my journey you mentioned it was you know, it's kind of this book that that did it to me, but it's it's similar to something changed both change your perspective. And as much as it changed how I think about what I'm doing it also, I feel like it gave me a difference and more of an order of magnitude. better able to understand other people, too, it's like, you start to really realize how, how much how much differently people can be and thinking through these things. And just kind of the recipe for most successful people, a common trait is curious curiosity. So even to be willing, like the self awareness to even ask the questions, and then you have to stay curious. Because if you're not, if you're not ready, willing and able for opportunity, then what's gonna happen, you know, when it's there. So if it's not there, but you're curious, you can often manufacture some of that opportunity. And you're a good case study for that.
Jefferson Nicholson 1:19:26
Yeah, thanks, man. I appreciate that. It's and I've got I'm so lucky to be in a position where we're financially stable enough where I can take some of these risks. And it's not foreign to me that I know people that have the desire to be in this industry, that are young or old or whatever, that just don't have the ability. Like we have enough other things going on where I can take a step back from like a full time job working for somebody else to be able to make like have the time Like the year, so, to lay the foundation for some of this stuff, definitely appreciate that. And so with whatever time you've got, whether you've got a full year you can dedicate, you know, that I'm balancing our new one. And so that that's probably a fear we didn't talk about, but I could, you know, get into it's like manna ado, with his entrepreneur ventures have a little bit of a hero complex, like I want to, I need, I'm the best man for the job. And so, you know, when we get to the point where we're looking for daycares and stuff, it's like, well, it's, it's tough for me to accept the fact that I know somebody else's can be able to care for my kid as much as we can. But I know it's gonna be necessary. So I can lean into my strengths and like, they, they're full time daycare people, right, they're probably better at taking care of kids than I am. And so yeah, it's gonna take some time, and obviously COVID plays, plays into this, we have the ability to keep her home now and not not mingle with other bubble, you know, family bubbles. So, you know, we'll probably play out. So that was a big one. For me, I had a lot of questions for a lot of my mentor business mentors, heading into this is, you know, also it's okay to have business mentors, and, and be okay with not knowing, and just asking questions, but like, taking action, like you mentioned, before, you know, it asked like, hey, how do you balance, you know, a kid, but entrepreneurship ambition. And, and, you know, when I mentor so we don't balance anything nothing's, it's not this, like good and evil, Justice balance. It's an investment of a minimum amount of time, of quality time, into the things that matter. And it's a matter of taking an account, like doing an accountability of like, what are your values every day, and the things that you can accomplish today. And so like, today, I'm lucky because Kristin, and Nana can do backup, and I don't have to watch TV right now. So I can invest this time with you. And this podcast talking about fears and the fears I've had starting businesses and the fears I've seen and others, starting businesses of different types, and the different industries and looking forward. But uh, but yeah, so it's like, you just got to take account of the values and the things that you can have the changes. You can effectuate today. And don't worry about tomorrow, as too far away. I love that Ray Lewis. I know you're a huge fan.
Reed Smith 1:22:47
He was already there.
Jefferson Nicholson 1:22:50
That's right, is I see it he's like, you know, don't worry about yesterday, it's as to as, as behind us can do anything about yesterday. And we definitely can't worry about post game tomorrow, tomorrow's too far away. You got to worry about today, like what can we do today, that builds that that moves the mountain centimeter, so that we have a better tomorrow?
Reed Smith 1:23:13
I think just being capable of asking for help. So you know, we're talking about Jeff's giving us a lot of business, you know, tips getting started in business. Some tips, as you're maintaining, if you have a business or you're you have something kind of perspective to have and keep as you work through that. But it's also, you know, important to realize that the difference between somebody that can, is willing and is not willing to ask for help, or ask for a mentor, because then you're admitting to yourself that you don't know everything, or that somebody else is better than you. And there's a lot of people out there that are not capable of that. So I would say I would say to the folks that are frustrated, like, you know, I can't identify fear, or I want to do something, but I don't really know what yet, you can start to analyze yourself and these qualities, and that's a big step again, maybe maybe that idea is just on the other side of this perspective change we're talking about. Maybe it's a different book for you and not the fears fuel, maybe it's not the Clifton Strengths Finder. But if those work for us, and you have the time and resources to dedicate to them, you know, maybe dip, dip your toe into one of them and see if see if it works for you. So just, you know, you don't need money to analyze yourself. But there's also a parallel between the three tanks of energy. I've talked about in the podcast with, you know, physical, mental and emotional energy for the day. Jeff talked about, you know, how how businesses kind of work where it's not just a balancing act and playing to your strengths. Like that's a that's a really clear parallel where, you know, if you're in our own lives, if that physical tanks empty, how we can strategically align what we're what we're going to do with the rest of our energy to set us up For Success out Same thing for a business and how you can you can tailor tailor fears to your strengths. And I think that's how you manufacture that opportunity we talked about.
Jefferson Nicholson 1:25:11
Yeah, 100%. And I love that that last episode I, I hadn't thought about that was the three tanks of energy. And that's so true. And that that gives a great way to like, contextualize your like, and a lot like I analyze. And so that gives great context to how I would analyze someone's potential and being involved within my organizations or someone's potential to help themselves. When I'm when I'm with the marketing agency. And so it's, you know, what, what kind of ceiling have they created themselves? And you're not going to discover that without asking a ton of questions for yourself. And then, to our point earlier, like, ask for help. Man, and I've been on the asking for help kick for a while on social media, like, How good does it feel when you help somebody? That's everybody's purpose? I hope, right, I hope that's all of our purpose in life is to help others. And so we know our purpose is to help people that that should be pretty obvious. We need to find our, our what, and our what is our combination of interests and skill sets, that we can figure out how to commercialize, that creates value, and currency, that that moves your family forward, and to being you contribute. And you earn, and you provide and grow. And so that, that what is all often what people are asking for when they can't find their purpose. And so we think about how good it feels to help somebody. But often, we don't have good receiving values. So we because you and I, at least, like grown up on a farm like it, we like to give on the farm, give, give give, we just always wanted to give and help and grow, help grow things. But like we weren't really taught how to receive. So often it feels really awkward getting help. But the big one for me was like think of how good it was to help somebody. Now, if you don't ask for help, and you don't want to receive help, you're robbing. I don't wanna say robbing, but you're limiting somebody's ability or opportunity to help you and feel feel good. Like it's okay to get help. They enjoy it, let let them enjoy helping you. And you'll both grow together. And you'll you'll that's the such a shortcut to success is getting help. And if you don't like if you know, kind of where you want to be in whatever industry, like look for somebody who's already there, and reach out and ask, ask for like, hey, like, what? Like, what steps did you get there or follow their social media track, try to reverse engineer the steps that you saw them get there now. The, you're not going to be able to like, copy their steps, because everybody you see at the top of wherever they're at you ask them what their journey was, versus like whatever, like traditional education will tell you is like, there's no way right, like, the person at the top, made it there for like this ridiculous route. But there's a lot of skills and interests that led them there. But if you can reverse engineer some of that you can start to crap craft your horizon, you can start to get a little clarity on your journey or how you're going to move forward. So don't be scared to ask for help from those who are in positions that you desire to be in or have ambition to be in similar. So ask for help. And then if that one person doesn't like find somebody similar and ask them for help, and just just keep asking to remember, like, for the most most part, if they've got time, it feels good to give you guys that feedback. Like I feel like anybody who wants to start an Esports. org or start a race business, like I don't mind jumping into discord or a zoom call or whatever and giving you 20 minutes to get you there. Most people would do that as a threat like this competition. They're going to encroach, but like, I might discover something you might discover something I'm helping you out. It feels good for me to help out. And maybe we might work together one day, who knows. But definitely there's more than enough room at the table for everybody in every industry.
Reed Smith 1:29:30
Yeah, and when you think about the, you know, the parallels between like personal relationships and businesses to another reason you don't want to just try to copy what you see somebody else doing is you talk about like their strengths and weaknesses. Like maybe they found that success because whatever they created or stepped into play to their strengths. So even if you replicated it and even if you had the same financial success, you could be absolutely miserable with that success because of the part of yourself you have to use for that business. It's not Something that gives you value. So that's what we're talking about where, you know, it doesn't cost you anything, to analyze yourself and be honest and be critical, which is a big focus of this podcast to help steer, or you need to go and that starts to think about who you follow on social media and stuff. It's Are you following them? Because just because of the product or the service or the business, or are you following them because something you've seen about the kind of person they are resonates with something inside of you? And now, okay, well, maybe I don't care so much about football, maybe it's its integrity, and I found it off, like to follow people's integrity. So integrity needs to be a big part, you know, okay, how do you make a business out of integrity and sorta kind of work through that? Yeah,
Jefferson Nicholson 1:30:46
so the top top two guys that I follow on social media that actually respond back in in shock because they still have already got like God, gigantic followings and because they're inspirational and, and pragmatic, and have like, tactical advice. I hate the I'm not a huge fan of the like, the Barney just like rah rah like, you can do it like you feel great, but like these guys give like legitimate tactical advice is Kerwin Rey, ke r w i n, US name our EA and he is a business guy business like marketing coach event guy and out of Australia. So obviously his accent gives him a ton of credibility, whether he's earned it or not, doesn't matter that Australian accent. Okay, that's pretty good. So him. And then David Meltzer, who's the business owner and entrepreneur, and the host of the TV show that I'll be on, he is actually a business mentor mind chatter personally with him, because phone number and being connected with him and asking him for help, because he's in a position that I aspire to be in. And so he's created a lot of shortcuts for me. And I was fortunate enough to just in that circle, have enough businesses to pitch where his production crew thought it was gonna be worth bringing me on to pitch my business, and then the new TV show. And so those two guys, they might not be for you. They're definitely for me, they've helped me out a ton. And they crank out more content than, than I do, and I and I aspire to, to be that productive. But maybe it also takes a team of 20 on the back end.
Reed Smith 1:32:37
But what a great kind of paying it forward with time and like mentorship, it's like the impact it's had on you from people that give you help and then how you help people. So you mentioned people can you know, if they're interested in general specific business stuff around hosting an event or eSports? How can they get in touch with you?
Jefferson Nicholson 1:32:54
Yeah, so you can find me on Instagram, Jeff, and I in pursuit. If I'm on Instagram,
Instagram, it's probably easiest, Facebook's probably a little bit harder to find me. Just because like you know, spam filters or if I don't know you, then you can find me. Easiest on Instagram or Twitter at dash city eSports. Or at adventure geeks on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. So if you adventure geek productions or adventure geek racing on anywhere, that'll get to me my email so my email be Jefferson at adventure geek productions. com It's way too big. But you can you can email me, I'm happy to just jump on a zoom with anybody. Just about any time I may have my almost one year old crawling all over me. But I promise I'm, I'm super available. I try to make myself available for as many people as I can.
Reed Smith 1:34:00
Absolutely appreciate your time, Jeff. And one last thing I'll add to as to tie on to the strengths and weaknesses and the Clifton strength test would be I would encourage people to take the love languages test that's online, that one you can take there is a free version of that and it barely takes any time. But really, you know we're talking we're talking about business but really stepping back and the relationship you have with yourself and relationship with the people around you can really dictate your success with whatever business you want to start. So I'd step back love languages and kind of you know our strengths and weaknesses with how we want to apply ourselves to work you get to see you know how you should be how you give and receive affection can really dictate how that relationship is going to pan out to us want to give a plug for the five love languages. Where would that be great yeah, we get the we get the Clifton and love language sponsorship coming to
Jefferson Nicholson 1:34:56
me some affiliate links or something
Reed Smith 1:34:57
dang Yeah. Oh, The listeners appreciate your time. As always, Jeff, thanks for coming, giving us all this advice and, you know, really appreciate you know, opening up and sharing some of your some of the failures and some of the fears you've had. And you know, you're a great friend and I look forward to seeing your continued success with fatherhood and in the business world.
Jefferson Nicholson 1:35:20
Likewise, man and thank if everybody's still still listening. Thank you guys for your patience as we went through this podcast journey together. So I know it's a long one. So but we appreciate you guys tuning in.