Jake Pfeiffer, Founder and CEO of EXP Trips based out of Tempe, Arizona has created a business out of simplifying student group travel for large student organization events around the country.
In this episode, Jake shares group travel tips and tricks and expounds upon his experience in launching his company and shares direct insight for aspiring entrepreneurs that is candid and profound. He has always associated himself with the proverbial story of "the underdog" and Jake shares how his challenges during the early years of his business had a profound impact on figuring out the right formula for success.
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SELECT INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS
AS AN ENTREPRENEUR, WHAT HAS BEEN ONE OF Biggest Challenges?
I would say truthfully in our shoes right now as a company its building a great team to continue the formula that we've created... Something that I would say has been a challenge from the start but even more so now, once you get a tiny little bit of notoriety is determining which advice to take. Advice is a very dangerous thing. Throughout the course of growing a company you'll have tons of people who try to tell you how to do it. You, as the entrepreneur have to determine if that jives with what you're trying to do and if that person is truly a trustworthy source of information. For me, its a constant battle... to stay true to what your path is... If there's one skill that an entrepreneur needs its intuition of what's going to work.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM YOUR FAILURES?
I would say that there is a certain contagious magic in real commitment... the ability to fight and fight and fight and fail and get knocked down and get up and keep moving forward - that's contagious to people. It's not necessarily about not failing, its about throwing yourself into the pursuit of something so completely that you're just not going to give up and I think that's what its all about really - entrepreneurship.
WHAT HAS BEEN ONE OF YOUR BIGGEST AH-HAH MOMENTS?
I would say its the realization that I'm good at this... People get caught up in the statistics in most businesses are going to fail - the averages only matter if you're average. If you believe that you're a smart person you can be successful in this journey. For me, the first two years were plagued with self doubt...even though things were going continuously well, I still just couldn't get over the fact that I knew that eventually it was going to come collapsing down on me. This year, seeing what happens on our trips, seeing the results, seeing how people respond coming that come into the company to work with us - that was the 'ah-ha' moment. I was like 'wow' this is going to work and this is something I can be proud of building and confident that its going to continue growing and making a difference for people.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU?
I would say systems. Its really interesting how you can transform as a person through running a company but I used to not be a systems oriented person and now I get giddy at the idea of new systems, processes because that's the ticket towards growth.
WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT YOU INTENTIONALLY DO EVERY DAY?
Sleep. I used to be... again it goes back to the systems and being an organized person... I used to not respect my sleep at all and you'll find once things get crazy and things are going well - that's #1. You gotta get 7 to 8 hours of great sleep to perform at the level you need to, to continue growing.
WHAT OR WHO INSPIRES YOU?
Cheesy 90's movies such as Rocky. Dead Serious. For whatever reason those have always resonated with me - Karate Kid and the like. I've just always fancied myself an underdog so any tale of an underdog accomplishing something really resonates with me. Beyond that - I would say my family really inspires me.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME AND VISIT YOURSELF PRIOR TO BECOMING AN ENTREPRENEUR, WHAT IS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE THAT YOU WOULD GIVE YOURSELF?
I probably wouldn't say much of anything because again I think its an experience that you have to go through to learn how to do it and to live with it. So as cheesy as it sounds I'd probably just put my hand on my own shoulder and just say "It's going to be okay, "things will pan out;" to hopefully get my self through that self-doubt period with a little bit less damage, I would say.
WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ASPIRING ENTREPRENEURS TODAY?
My first piece of advice... very practical and simple - listen to or read "If" by Rudyard Kipling, his poem. That's been sort of guiding wisdom for me through the process. Second, I would say figure out what you want - truly. A lot of people say, well I want to be an entrepreneur. What does that mean to you? Do you want to own a lifestyle company? Do you want to be self employed? Do you want to have a business that grows and eventually gets acquired? I think its really important to do a bit of soul searching before you make the commitment to see if you truly know what you want to get out of this because you are going to put a lot in. You have to understand what that output looks like to you.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!