Brian Scudamore: WTF?! (Willing to Fail)
Brian Scudamore has seemingly always known he was going to be an entrepreneur. He grew up helping his grandparents at their Army Surplus store in San Francisco and was inspired to follow in their footsteps – especially after realizing they got to call their own shots each day. Fast forward to today, and Brian is now the founder and CEO of O2E Brands, the parent company of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, WOW 1 DAY PAINTING, You Move Me, and Shack Shine – and the next speaker to be featured at The Cambridge Club’s Speaker Series.
But Brian didn’t learn all his early lessons in entrepreneurship from watching his grandparents, he distinctly remembers the time one of his friends began washing cars on their street for $3, “I immediately started my own for $2, plus I got some friends to do guerrilla advertising, holding up signs to attract customers.” He went on to sell candy from his dorm room in high school, and even turned his hockey card collection into a profit.
He says he’s always been willing to seize opportunities to see where they lead him, which perhaps explains how he has amassed the success he has which now includes a recently published book – WTF?! (Willing to Fail): How Failure Can Be Your Key to Success and numerous awards and accolades including: being named “Entrepreneur of the Year” by the International Franchise Association and becoming a CEO Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Inductee with the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
We had a chance to chat with Brian ahead of him visiting The Cambridge Club and asked about his experience as an entrepreneur, how he has built such a strong team, his career highlights, and more.
What are some of the unique challenges of owning and operating a company with franchises across North America?
We don’t see having hundreds of franchise partners as a challenge. In fact, we encourage their entrepreneurial spirit – if they have a better system, a new idea for advertising, a way to create an efficiency we didn’t know before, we want them to embrace it and bring it to the system so others can adopt it too. What’s good for one franchise partner could be good for everyone!
You’ve written about the importance of corporate culture before. How can leaders within an organization work towards creating a strong corporate culture within their business?
You have to hire the right people and take care of them. At O2E Brands, we hire on culture fit and train on skill because I’ve seen what happens when people don’t understand the vision, or aren’t passionate about the brand.
At our company, people have 5 weeks of vacation, are given the opportunity to “go dark” on vacation (check out this article to see how that works), and, most importantly, are given the chance to try and fail if they believe in something. We even have a room called the “WTF?! (Willing to Fail)” room, where people can be free to come up with big, hairy, audacious ideas (and I wrote a book about the importance of failing forward). That kind of freedom is hard to come by in most workplaces, but it’s how we’ve pushed our companies further than we ever thought possible.
You’ve accumulated a number of accolades and awards over the years, is there one that stands out above the others?
Writing and launching my first book, WTF?! (Willing to Fail): How Failure Can Be Your Key to Success, has been an incredible ride. It was listed on Amazon’s bestseller list and sold thousands of copies (which I never believed was possible!). But the biggest reward was the incredible support it received from our entire system of franchise partners – it’s about how we’re building something bigger and better together. Writing the book and remembering the risks people took to chase their dreams of business ownership, then having such a great response when we shared it with the world, has been a favourite milestone of mine.
Speaking of your recently published book, in it you show the everyday person that they have what it takes to succeed. Can you give us a few of the attributes you highlight that we all have that can make us successful?
We have four attributes that we believe will make anyone successful: happy, hands-on, hungry, and hardworking. We call them the 4Hs! Across our four brands, 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, WOW 1 DAY PAINTING, You Move Me, and Shack Shine, the franchise partners who are the most successful have those four personality traits. They’re the ones grinding it out with a smile, knowing that the hard work they put in in the early years will pay off in the later ones. That’s why franchising is so interesting: if someone has those attributes, they can immerse themselves in any industry, use the systems and processes that are developed for them, and achieve financial freedom – and their dreams.
Before we ended our conversation with Brian, we wanted to bring the discussion back to his childhood. We asked Brian to think back and provide his younger self some advice, and the advice that he shared is something that we intend on taking to heart and putting into action in our own lives.
“Paint a picture for yourself – a clear vision of what you really want your future to look like. Don’t worry about the ‘how,’ just allow yourself to dream. Then write it all down. You’ll find that the decisions you make will guide you towards the future you wrote down if you really do believe in it. By allowing yourself to dream, unencumbered, you’ll be amazing at the things you can achieve.”
To hear more about Brian’s journey and career, please join us for our Speaker Series at The Cambridge Club on Wednesday, February 27th. To RSVP for the event, please contact The Cambridge Club’s front desk.
WTF?! (Willing to Fail): How Failure Can Be Your Key to Success
DATE: Wednesday, February 27th
COST: $40 (+HST & grats.) Lunch included.
RSVP: The Cambridge Club