Brad Custred with Slingshot

Brad Custred with Slingshot

This week we had the pleasure of sitting down the Brad Custred, CEO of Slingshot. Brad is local who started out wanted to be a veterinarian and changed trajectories after realizing he had a better connection with people. He has honed that ability to grow a tightknit group over at Slingshot. The culture he brings to his workforce is inspirational; let's jump into our conversation with Brad.


Brad: I'm Brad Custred, and I am a serial entrepreneur, I guess you could say. First step is admitting I have a problem. But my main job is, I'm CEO of Slingshot, Incorporated here in Mobile.

Marcus: Very cool. Welcome to the podcast, Brad.

Brad: Hey, thanks for having me.

Marcus: Yeah, it's great having you here. To start off, normally what we do, is we get some backstory. We like to learn a little bit about who you are, where you came from, where you went to school, and that kind of thing. So why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Brad: Yeah. I was actually born here in Mobile. I've lived here all my life. I went to Satsuma High School. Go Gators! And then I went to University of Mobile for college. That wasn't my intent. My intent was actually to go to Auburn, and I was going to be a veterinarian.
And I worked at an animal hospital in Saraland, for two years, I guess. Through that process, I think I started learning who I was a little bit and realized that I loved the doctor I worked with, the clients were amazing, I love animals, but the routine of the day-to-day, rabies shots, and fecal loops, just ... It didn't do anything for me.
During that process, in my sophomore year at the university, I started working a kiosk in the mall, selling cell phones. And that experience ... at first, it was just to make some money. It was commission-only. And I thought, "I'll make a few bucks. It's going to be exciting."
And it turned into more of understanding what my passions were. And when I worked with people, I started realizing that, man, I just have this connection, dealing with people one-on-one and helping them make decisions that were tough. Because at the time ... I mean, cell phones have changed a lot over the years, but before it was a big decision. I mean, it was a two-year commitment, and $300 a month, and $500-

Marcus: It's changed quite a bit.

Brad: Oh, it's been drastic. Yeah. Hugely drastic. So through that process of working with people, understanding the sales process, I became passionate about it. And so, through school, I continued to work for that company. And I worked there, the entire process of that, probably for 15 years with that organization. And starting at one kiosk in the mall, we had eight retail stores.
Over the course of those years, I moved from sales rep to manager, all the way to president of the company. And saw the company grow from eight locations to 84 across the Southeast. We became the number one retailer for AT&T in the Southeast, and number four in the nation. So you see something grow like that, and you see the failures, and everything else that kind of goes with it, and it was more the process that I became passionate about.
Needless to say, now I have a degree in business marketing, and a minor in biology for no good reason. So it changed my course a little bit.

Marcus: It's interesting that something can change your perspective so drastically. Right? But I get it. I often say that the best education that I got was after college. I don't know how I managed to get an inside sales job at a start-up company, but they had an open-door policy with Sandler Sales Training Institute, which was a sales training place up in D.C.
Through going there, I recognized that sales wasn't necessarily something to be shied from, that you're really just solving a problem for somebody. And they either have the problem, or they don't. If they don't have the problem, then you're not going to sell them regardless of how hard you try, anyway.
But it sounds like there was something in that process ... I'm keying in on the sales thing because that's not an easy job. And not only did you do it, but you excelled at it to the point where you started working there, I'm gathering probably part time, and you said you ended up as the president.

Brad: Yeah, it was part time. In fact, I didn't become the manager until I asked for the job. I saw several managers come through, and they failed tremendously, and I just kept thinking, "I feel like I could do this better." And when they were looking for another manager, they knew I was going into veterinary medicine. They didn't think there was an interest there.
But I just kind of pulled the owner aside, and I said, "Look, I think I can do this. If nothing else, I can guarantee you I won't do it as badly as some others have. Give me a shot, and let's see what happens." And he said, "Okay. Let's do this. Let's see what happens."
Through that experience, of asking for what I wanted, and building up my knowledge of sales, is really what built me into what I am now. And I never would have anticipated that in any way. Because if you think about it, sales has a bad rap. Sales in general.

Marcus: Very much so.

Brad: And I think that's for a reason. There's a lot of people who take advantage of people. But in the big scheme of things, everything is sales. Whether it's, you're talking to your significant other about going to dinner, and you have something in mind that you want to do, you're selling them on that-

Marcus: You really want sushi, and she hates fish.

Brad: Yeah. There's a sales process in every little aspect of life. If you're trying to get your kids to do something, you're selling your kids all day long. Whether it be with-

Marcus: And they're selling you.

Brad: Yeah. Whether it be to give them something, or you're going to use a stick to make it happen. Whatever it may be, there's sales in everything that we do. You have to own that. That's one thing we've learned as we go through business, and in life, and this company we're in now, is if you can teach people that skill, and actually, they can own it, and they can actually harness it, then that can take people really, really far.
We became the number one retailer in the Southeast, and then it kind of came, I guess it was in ... I don't know. I'm horrible with dates, so I'm making stuff up. But it was like 2010, or something. We had the option to sell that company. And so as president of that company, I had started when it was eight locations, helped them grow it to what it had become. We had 500 employees. Some of the market and industry changed over the years.
So the thing we had truly become passionate about, and I realized that mattered to me, was people. And the relationships that I'd built up. I mean, who cares if it's a cell phone if it's ... Who cares what it is. What widget it might be, or what company that it's with, ultimately, that wasn't what excited us. We were passionate about the people that worked there, and what they were getting out of the organization as a whole.
The market changed a good deal, and when that happened, we had a decision to make. Do we sell the company, or do we keep hammering this out? And we, me and the owner at the time, the one I asked to be the manager there, that I was working for, we sat down and we said, "What do we want to do at this point?" And that was probably the toughest decision I've ever had to make, is do we sell a company that's thriving, that you love the people that you work with? But you couldn't keep the business going the way that you wanted to. So we made that decision to sell the company.
Man, I remember going through just like six months of just ... My identity was gone. I went from being the president of this big company, with a lot of people that trusted me-

Marcus: Having some place to go every day.

Brad: Yeah. And you start getting your routine. And so, for six months, it was almost a point of close to, for me, depression, right? And trying to understand, who am I now? Kind of thing. So me and the owner of that company decided to partner up and create a new company. We still work with AT&T. We started from the ground up. Five people started this organization about five years ago.
We started here in Mobile. We work with apartment complexes now. So we carved out our niche, and said, "How can we take what we learned from that past experience and apply it to this new business?"

Marcus: And this is Slingshot?

Brad: This is Slingshot.

Marcus: Very good.

Brad: So Slingshot was born. We rebranded, right? Because we sold the retail stuff. And we said, "What do we get out of that experience?" This is the time to redefine ourselves. The stuff that we did before, we'd made failures. We didn't do that business perfectly, by any means. But what did we learn from it? What do we want to take out of that and apply to this next business? And then what do we want to make sure that we leave out?
And so we got excited about the idea of making this what we truly want it to be and learning from the success and from the failures of that other company. And how can we do this even better? When we did that, it became pretty exciting. Over the course of the years, I've had the, I guess, blessing of having a piece of multiple companies. We own a coffee shop in Mobile, Moka’s Coffee, and that's been a thriving business for 12 years. I've got real estate stuff that we do, that's been successful.
But all those are just things, and you start learning that the people are what make up the organization, no matter what you're doing. It's all about the people and the culture that you create. The personalities that are involved. And ultimately, who you have working ... The people you guys have working here are what make this company what it is.

Marcus: Absolutely.

Brad: You can't put on paper what this company is.

Marcus: I was having a discussion with somebody the other day. They had called us for some digital marketing stuff. And they had a bad experience with a previous developer, and the guy had left a bad website up. It was very clearly identified as the same company, and everything like that, but the problem was, nobody was managing that site, and it looked like it was from 1990. It was just bad, right? And she said, "Does this affect us?" And I was like, "Are you kidding? Yeah."
Your brand is not just the logo that you put on your business card. Your brand is everything, from where your location of your stores are, to the products that you sell, to the people that you hire, to the experience that people have with your business online, to the experience that they have when they call your store. Everything. That's all your brand.

Brad: When one of your people is out at dinner, and they're off work, that impacts everything. Every conversation that's had. Everything that's looked at online. Everything impacts your business. So ultimately, the people control everything. They do. So you have to have the right people in place.
Everything that I've been a part of has been based on the people, and what they do for the organization. We ran with that, and said, "Look, we've got five people who are amazing people who want to do good. Where do we take this thing?" Within an amount of a year, we became the fifth-largest, basically dealer, for AT&T in the nation. Within a year. So we built it back up again.

Marcus: That's wild.

Brad: It's insane. The scary part is within the next year, we got down to where we almost went out of business. And so you've seen these up close-

Marcus: Success!

Brad: Yeah!

Marcus: Such is the life of an entrepreneur.

Brad: It is. And so you've got to love the failure. You've got to love the experience. You've got to love that roller-coaster ride because you're going to be on it-

Marcus: Because you know at some point in time, you're going to screw up.

Brad: Yeah, at some point, you're going to mess up. I remember sitting down at a coffee shop here in downtown and said, "Guys, I'm sorry. We may be out of business in 30 days." This was two, three years ago. Three years ago, and I was like, "Man, we have $2000 in the bank account. I don't know if I can make payroll. Right? We don't know."
And I remember, I was teary-eyed, I'm like, "I'm sorry. You guys have trusted me." And they're like, "Well, we're not going anywhere." Now, granted, a couple of people jumped ship, right?

Marcus: "Let's figure this out."

Brad: That's their thing, and that's what they needed to do. But then you have these people in your life who stand behind you and support you and go, "I don't care if you can pay me. I trust that one day you will. Let's make this happen."
You get those kind of people around you that, through these ... Whatever companies, or whatever experiences in life, is you surround yourself with the right people, and you get there. And I truly believe you're only as good as the people you have around you.
And so, man, in the last three years, we've now built the company up to where we went from just in Mobile, we're in 18 states, 26 cities. We're number one for AT&T when it comes to apartments. We've carved out our niche. We've figured out what we're really good at, and we hound that.
It's kind of funny how it comes full circle because your first question was "Where did I go to school?" I would say that I was never a good student. I feel like I ... I was there. I checked it off. Yeah, he's pointing to himself right now. I checked the box, right? I didn't want to fail at it, so I got, I think a decent GPA. Like a 3.5, and that's all great. But I didn't care, and I didn't show up half the time. I showed up for the test. Right?
But for me, I've been a true believer in the difference between knowing and being is doing. And you have to do to really understand it. And so, I was ... Man, I'd read a couple of chapters, and I was out. Let's go do something, and try to figure this out. There's pros to that, and there's also ... You've got the cons of-

Marcus: Well, there's the-

Brad: I mean, it's painful.

Marcus: The learning process, right?

Brad: Yeah.

Marcus: You're learning while doing, versus trying to go out and study it, and then executing it. What I often find is that people get stuck in a rut of studying, and then never actually go and do. When in doubt, I would err on the side of doing, and making mistakes along the way, instead of spending all this time ... I mean, I just think, you hear about people that ...
Like I have a lot of books, and I'll read books, but I'm not going to just stop doing stuff and read everything that I can on a topic because there's an endless supply of information out there now. So I would much rather just go and execute, and you're going to make some mistakes along the way, but you'll figure it out. Pivot.

Brad: And you know a lot of people who, they study. They read. They learn. But they've never done anything with it. And to me, it's almost ... Its wisdom is power. Well, I don't necessarily truly believe that, because wisdom without action to me is powerless. Right? To me, it's the action piece. It's the execution piece. So that's where, in school, I didn't really see the value of the education.
And then now, this has all come full circle, is ... The majority of what we do at Slingshot is about growing people. And so we're hounding them all day long, a couple times a week, we're in a conference room, we shut the company down, and we focus on growth. We focus on being growth-minded. And what is empathy? And what is grit? And not just in the business, in the workplace. What is it in your personal life? How does it impact you? Now I'm teaching people they need to learn-

Marcus: Yeah, pause on that for just a second. So what does that ... I mean, because I find that very interesting. What does that look like? Is it you, or somebody on your team, actually doing a teaching lesson? Or-

Brad: It is.

Marcus: Are you all reading the same books? What is-

Brad: It just depends. We mix it up because I'm the kind of guy who, I love change, right?

Marcus: I didn't really get that from you!

Brad: I can't do the same thing twice. So we change it up. There's times we all read a book together, and we'll come in to discuss chapters. Or maybe we print some stuff out, just an article, and then we all read it together, and go, "Okay, what does that mean?" And then it's open conversation.
It's really informal, in the sense of, it's not, "Sit here, and let me just teach you." It's, "Why don't we all learn from each other?" Because everybody in that room, I don't care if they've started two weeks ago, or they started 12 years ago, the fact is, is everybody's been through some different experience that impacts somebody else. I think that's one valuable thing I've learned over time is ... Somebody, my old boss and then partner, is you can always learn something from everybody.
And everybody's got a pearl. I know people, and they just talk. They're always saying something, and you're like, "Here we go with this person again." Or "I don't have time to talk to them." But the fact is, that person's gone through experiences that you haven't, and you might go through. And so, I don't care who you're talking to, there's something you can carve out and get something out of.
So we open it up. And we say, "Look, here's the topic. What do you guys think?" And you'd be shocked at ... It also takes a little bit for them to get warmed up, but then once conversation starts, it's hard to make it stop. And at some point, you're like, "We've got to go back and make money. We can do this next week." But yeah-

Marcus: Sweet job. [crosstalk 00:15:01].

Brad: Yeah, it's been a fun experience. So that's what the entire company now, Slingshot, as big as we are, the focus is the people. And it's focused on growth. That's why we're ... you know, Slingshot. It's launching people. And whether ... I've said this from day one, when I started in college, is people are going to move on. Especially in society now, and culture. Is people change jobs. That might happen. And too many times, we focus on "How do we keep people not leaving? How do we keep people in the company?" But I think if we just stopped and focused on pretending this is their last day, then they will show back up tomorrow. And so, we spend a whole lot of time focused on "Where are you right now? How do we grow you right now?" And understanding that you may not be here forever. We say that all the time. "You may not work here forever, and that's okay. But if we help you get to a better place, whether it be with another company, or somewhere else in life, then we've done our job."

Marcus: I'm making an assumption here, but I have the mindset that Blue Fish, in a loose way, has become a ministry of sorts. Not that we are ... I'm not saying that this is a church or anything like that. But when you're of a certain mindset, investing in the people, and caring about them, and looking at the individuals that you have working for you, and their well-being and stuff like that becomes more than just ... I don't want to just be viewed as the guy that sends people a paycheck every week. Right? And so it sounds very much like you've made Slingshot a place where people can come and feel cared about, and grow. And then they may go off and do other things, but they're better for the experience of having worked there.

Brad: That's it. That's exactly it. And the fact is, is it's a job. They sell TV, Internet, and phone service to customers. That's not always fun. If it was all fun, all the time, we wouldn't have to pay them. They'd just show up and want to do it. So it's not always fun, but if in that process, your life becomes better, then you can deal with that kind of stuff because the value you get out of the organization, and the culture you're experiencing ...
That's what we learned in the retail side, is we would send people off better salespeople, and in six months, they'd come back. They'd say, "I just missed the culture. I just miss what it's like here." So to us, the culture is ... Our product is the culture, and then the vehicle that gets everybody paid happens to be TV and Internet services.

Marcus: Yeah. Now that's very cool. I don't want to dwell on it too much, but do you remember ... Because oftentimes, we talk about things that we've learned. And it sounds like you learned a lesson at one point in time that may have almost killed the company. Do you remember what the circumstances, in a general sense, what those were?

Brad: Yeah, I do. And what's crazy about it is, we had no control over the circumstances. We're partnered with big players, and decisions are made that are good for lots of people, and sometimes not everybody. At the time when we almost went down, it was something we had absolutely no control over. One of the big things that came out of that was, we use the term "control the controllables" a lot. Don't focus on the things you can't control. What can we control?
And if we'd spent all of our time, when we were almost done, and we had focused all of our energy and attention on the thing that was causing it, we'd have never come out of it. So instead, we said, "What can we do? We can't do anything about that. We can complain about it." And I've got a rule, 24 hours. I celebrate wins for 24 hours, and I celebrate losses for 24 hours. After that, we move on. Because if you're still talking about something you did that was great a year ago, it's no good anymore.

Marcus: It means you haven't accomplished anything recently.

Brad: Yeah. Exactly. So I give myself 24 hours. Us little guys, we're going to give ourselves a little time, we're going to ... 24 hours, we're going to complain about this like you wouldn't believe. We're going to get mad about it, whatever we need to do to get through it. And then we're going to go back and say, "What can we do?" And that's when we realized what we could do, and we found a niche that nobody else had found. And now we are better than we were before, because of the pivot that we made.

Marcus: Nice. Nah, it's cool. I just ... Those lessons at times can be just as valuable as the wins. If you were talking to someone that wanted to get started running their own business, what's the one bit of wisdom that you impart to them?

Brad: Yeah. I think where most people starting out fail is, they're really passionate about what they're going to do, and I think they have these grandiose plans. And the problem is, most people, in my mind, are told, "You've just got to be so excited about it. What's it going to look like in a year?" And you've got to think far out. And all that stuff looks really good, and then the first roadblock you hit, you say, "This isn't what I thought it was going to look like. It's not the picture that I've been ... That I had on my fridge. I had this picture on my fridge of me with all these things."
And the fact is, is you've got to be really comfortable with failure. Because the majority of what you're going to do is fail. You've got to understand that through that failure, the success is figuring out how to use it to your advantage, and learning from it to make you better. There's no one way to do any of this right. There's not.

Marcus: Right. You couldn't have said it any better. It is a very humbling thing because you'd link to think that you have everything figured out and that you can just move forward, and "Oh, I'm not going to make those mistakes." And then you quickly learn that's not the case.
Do you remember the first time that I mean, I know it's been a while, but the first day, selling cell phone plans? The first time you were talking to the customer, and you actually made that sale? Do you remember what that was like?

Brad: It's funny. Well, for me, I'm very futuristic. So it's hard for me to be like, "What did you do last year?" I don't even have any idea. But, man, I remember, maybe not the first one, but I remember the first month that I broke the daily record. And I remember, man, it was this sense of energy, and ... It's kind of like playing golf, right? I'm not good at golf. I stink at it, actually, I lose a lot of money at golf, because of all the golf balls I lose. But I always make that one shot, and then it keeps me coming back.

Marcus: It keeps you coming back. Yeah.

Brad: Yeah. That makes it worth all the golf balls. It makes it worth all the broken clubs. You're getting out some frustrations. It's just like, "Oh my gosh, I might be good at this. Maybe!" And so you have those days in sales where you hit a record, or you help one person way beyond what you thought, and they leave saying, "Thank you." Or you have a phone call that says, "Hey, yeah. You helped me a year ago, are you still there?"
Those are the wins, in my mind, that keep it going through the painful stuff. Man, it's an adrenaline rush. People become junkies on that kind of stuff. With businesses. Your business succeeds, you become a junkie. You need more of it.

Marcus: Yeah. Okay, so you mentioned University of Mobile. And Slingshot. We've talked about what you all are getting ready to do with the purchasing of the Exchange, and I didn't realize that you had gone to the University of Mobile. And Todd Greer is now becoming the Dean of Business at University of Mobile, which I think is ... I love Todd.

Brad: Genius.

Marcus: I think he's just a phenomenal person for that. I know that the University of South Alabama has a real good position here at the table with what's going on in downtown and stuff like that, and I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that Todd's going to bring that same kind of emphasis for University of Mobile downtown, what's going on with Mobile, the growth and everything like that. But I also know that Todd is the man at the Exchange. You guys, you want to talk about what's going on there, so-

Brad: Yeah, sure. And you ask me, "Can we talk about this?" And things are just getting started, that whole process. It's been finalized, but there'll be some new things coming out, so I don't want to speak too much, and ruin the excitement of it all. But Slingshot ... You can talk about Slingshot. We've become a pretty big player in AT&T, and it's all based in Mobile. We've outgrown the space that we're in now.
And downtown Mobile has been really good to us. We love this city. We love everything about it. We love the energy downtown's creating. So when we said, "What do we want to do? We've got all these cities we operate in, and what can we do?" We said, "We want to invest in Mobile. That is where we want to be." We've invested in 202 Government, which is where the Exchange is housed as of now. So we purchased that building, our plan is to move in there, and be a member of the Exchange.
What's crazy about it is, it was several years ago, we were talking about possibly buying a building. What do we want to do? We just weren't ready for it. And we looked at that space. We loved it, and we said, "You know what would be really cool here? A co-working space?"

Marcus: Anybody that's walked into that space has fallen in love with it. I mean-

Brad: Oh, it's beautiful!

Marcus: I remember back when Red Square was in there, they had an event for Google, and I just walked in, and I was like, "Man!" At the time, I was just doing freelance work, and so there was no way that ... It's a huge space, I don't know what the square footage is, but I know it's significant. But you walk in, and it's just phenomenal. And the location is great. So you're right. Co-working space ... It's just like there's no better place for that kind of thing in this area.

Brad: It's not. It's amazing. And Todd did a phenomenal job launching that thing. And so we've known Todd for years and had a lot of interactions with Todd, and kind of a relationship that, we saw the benefits of ... What we try to do as an organization, and what they try to do as an organization, fits in so well together.
We've just had the benefit of becoming what we are over time, and failure, and everything else, that we've experienced some stuff these guys are just facing as young entrepreneurs, or starting their business, or just not as big as they want to be yet. Whatever it may be, and you've got some companies in there doing phenomenally well, that I'm hoping we get some time with them to learn from them. Right? So you see this mutually beneficial arrangement, and it just makes sense.
We saw it a couple of years ago. We said, "Man, a co-working space would be so awesome here. It would be amazing." We wanted the space, but that's one thing I've learned over time, is sometimes you have to be patient. And I'm not good at that. That's not something most entrepreneurs are. I'm not good at it. But we were patient, and we held out, and what's crazy is then a coworking space opens up, and we go, "Dang it! Ah, we missed our opportunity at a coworking space. That would have been so cool. Why couldn't we do that? Why couldn't we do that?"

Marcus: Little did you know.

Brad: Yeah. And then now, you come full circle, and we get a call from Todd and said, "Hey, here's what's going on." Through some conversations, it's led us to purchase the building, which'll be Slingshot's permanent house. And become members of the Exchange. We're going to be a part of the Exchange. Right? And so we see the value that brings to us, and it brings to the Exchange, from an energy perspective.
We have 25 to 30 people here in Mobile that bring a whole lot of energy, that are excited and passionate, and want to be better people. And surrounding that with those type of organizations? The amount of energy and excitement that's going to create for the Exchange and for Downtown Mobile is going to be mind-boggling. So it's really exciting stuff.

Marcus: Yeah. When I saw that the building was up for rent or purchase, I was a little bit worried. Especially since there really hadn't been anything said about it. But the more I hear you talk, the more I also get excited, because I ... from what you're talking about, the mentality that you have for building people, and stuff like that. I mean, that jibes exactly with the mentality that Todd has brought to the coworking space.
And so the idea that you're still going to be having these events, and that instead of just your team joining you, that you're going to have a community of entrepreneurs that are going to be joining you in this and the conversations that are going to take place. That's just phenomenal, dude.

Brad: It's going to be ... What Todd and those guys, because I mean, the whole thing ... Personally, I'm coming in as a shareholder of the Exchange. I want to be a part. Right? I want to be a real part of what that organization does. And it's something that I'm passionate about. You've got John Peebles, Allan Cameron of NAI. You've got Andy Newton of Southern Light. You've got Elliot Maisel of Gulf Distributing. You've got major players in Mobile, who are all invested into the Exchange. And who believe in the product it's producing, which is helping people become successful.
And the best way to do that is through collaboration. It is who you have around you, and it's who you know. And people say, "It's all in who you know." I think that's a little misguided, that it's not who you know that just gives you what you want. It's that when you get in a situation, and a need, especially running a business, because you're going to face those things, is you've got somebody you can talk to. You've got somebody you can bounce an idea off of. Who's going, to be honest with you? And that's what something like the Exchange does.

Marcus: That's one of the main reasons why we've loved being down here as well because there's a dozen folks that I know that are down here. And Todd was one of those guys. Hopefully, you and I can grab some lunch sometime soon, but-

Brad: That would be awesome.

Marcus: It's just nice to be able to go and grab lunch, or grab a drink, or something like that, with somebody. Coffee, whatever. And just have somebody that you can go ... Because we're all going through various things-

Brad: Definitely. I'll let you buy me lunch whenever you want. I can deal with that, no problem.

Marcus: Hey man, I don't have any problem with that. We always like to hear about books, even though we don't put a whole lot of ... They're not going to revolutionize. But we do learn from other people's wisdom. What are the last two books that you've read that have had an impact, or given you an idea or a thought that has changed things for you?

Brad: I think from an entrepreneurial standpoint, The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster by Darren Hardy is probably one of the most real books that I've read about entrepreneurship because it talks about how horrible it can be sometimes. It doesn't lay it out there like, "This is going to be phenomenal. You're going to love it!" It's like, "It is going to suck!" There's going to be things that you wish you had not ever gotten into this business before, but you're going to have those moments that you've got to embrace and celebrate the wins. That book's been really good for me. And I suggest that to anybody going into entrepreneurship and want to open a business.
And then, the other one that I ... It's been years since I've read it for the first time, but I have a tendency to try to read this one at least once a year, and it's Thinking for a Change, by John Maxwell. Because for me, it just gets me back to realizing that you can get so caught up in just doing, sometimes you just have to think. And you have to sit down, and just process what's going on around you.
But for me, you know, I'm always scared to say what are my favorite books, because I'm not one to ever always finish a book. I have a tendency to halfway through, and I think I know what I'm talking about-

Marcus: It's my kindred spirit over here.

Brad: Yeah, so I move on. So I've got a ton of books I've read about half of, so I hate to say, "This is the book!" Because at the end, it may say something that makes me look really stupid, but you know.

Marcus: It's funny because I was actually an English major, so that made things really interesting. Because I've always had that habit of, I get halfway in, and then I lose interest. And I don't know if there's some ADD happening there-

Brad: I'm sure there is.

Marcus: Or something, but it just doesn't hold my interest. With business books, it tends to be okay, because you can get the idea with the first couple of chapters, and then whatever. They're just laying out all the various examples of why they came to the conclusions most of the time, right? And so when-

Brad: That's it. For people like us, there's a resource that I use. Brian Johnson. He basically does ... PhilosophersNotes is what it's called. And he does kind of book reviews, so it's a video, it's a podcast, an MP3. It's got a PDF. And it kind of gives you a summary of books. And so a lot of times, I'll go to that as a resource, and figure out which direction to go, when I want to read something. But for me, with ADD, I don't have to look at it.

Marcus: Brian Johnson. I'll have to look that up because it sounds like it'd be up my alley. What do you like to do in your free time? Any hobbies?

Brad: I have two kids.

Marcus: That's your hobby right there.

Brad: And with the business, there's always something going on. So, yeah. I don't do football. I'm that guy, right? I don't do football. I don't go hunting, things like that. For me, I'm either ... To me, hobby is what I do for a living, which is kind of fun. I love it that much. But if I have free time, when I'm not doing other things, it's spending it on the business.

Marcus: Yeah, that's cool. So where can people find you?

Brad: We're actually located in downtown, and in a month, somewhere else. I don't-

Marcus: Yeah, so we'll see. To be announced.

Brad: Yeah, to be announced! Yeah-

Marcus: Hopefully in the Exchange.

Brad: Hopefully, it'll be in the Exchange. The Exchange is probably the place. That's where my personal office is going to be. There's amazing things to come with that ... There's some plans for even the downstairs. You're going to see some really cool stuff coming out of downtown, and coming out of the Exchange, over the next few months. Which is really exciting stuff, that I think Mobile needs.

Marcus: It is ... Having been down here for two years now, it is amazing the change that is taking place in downtown. We've just been announced that the Merchants Building, $30 million into that. And then there was something I saw, the Downtown Mobile Alliance sent out an e-mail last night, and I haven't had a chance to go and read it, but there's another residential development that's going on Water Street. It's ... I don't know-

Brad: Retail and condos, and some-

Marcus: Yeah, it's a mixed use kind of thing, which is interesting. So it's cool to see the vibrancy flow into downtown because this should be where the epicenter of business is happening. Not in the suburbs. There shouldn't be a [crosstalk 00:32:39]-

Brad: Well, the cool thing about my job is that I get to travel to different cities. So Chicago, and St. Louis, and Miami, and you get the sense there that things are where they are, and you're kind of have that small fish in a big pond, kind of approach. And then Mobile, you come back to Mobile, and you realize Mobile sees it, and Mobile's going there.
Now's a really cool time to be a part of it, because you can actually help make that happen and be a part of something that's going to be much bigger. That, one day, people will fly into Mobile, and be like, "Wow, this is amazing. This has gotten huge." And you get the energy and sense right now that that's where things are heading. It's an exciting time for Mobile-

Marcus: Yeah, it is. Because it's not many times that you get a chance ... I'm from a bigger city, so it's not ... You would never get a chance to do that in any of the cities that you just mentioned. Because they're already there.

Brad: That's it.

Marcus: Well, I want to thank you again for coming on the podcast. To wrap up, any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share?

Brad: Man, I just, I appreciate what you guys are doing. I think this, it's all about ... We talk about collaboration, you talk about that knowledge piece, is ... Man, this type of stuff is what helps people. And it's that piece of ... whether it be Mobile, or whether it be on this podcast, or whatever it is. It's all about change. Whether it's changing yourself, or changing Mobile, or whatever it is. There's a saying, "Change doesn't guarantee progress, but progress irreplaceably requires change." And so if you can do this kind of stuff for people, and help them change for the better, then hat's off to you guys.

Marcus: I appreciate you saying that. And I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey as a business owner. It's been awesome talking to you.

Brad: Yeah. You too, Marcus. Thanks.

Brad: Yeah. You too, Marcus. Thanks.

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