Rich Cardona is a retired Marine Corps aviator who tried the traditional job route after serving his country. While successful, Rich was unfulfilled and knew he was destined for something more. He decided to leave the workforce and have recorded conversations with C-Suite executives and influencers. This gave him the ability to satisfy his desire of continuously enhancing his leadership skills while also sharing these lessons with others. He soon realized that there were many other passionate leaders out in the world who knew a social media video strategy was needed, but did not have the bandwidth to develop and execute on it. Seeing a gap in the market he started Rich Cardona Media.
I spoke to Rich in March of 2019 (Episode 107) when he was in the early days of his entrepreneurial journey. Almost a year later Rich and his company are killing it. To understand why, have a look at these 10 phrases Rich used to describe his mindset. This my friends is the mindset of an entrepreneur.
#1 I can be my own worst enemy. I need to get out of my own way
Rich made this point when we were talking about naysayers noting that for a long time he was his own worst naysayer. I was first introduced to the concept of an internal naysayer when I read Steven Pressfield’s book titled The War of Art. Pressfield speaks about that voice in our head that is activated whenever we’re contemplating making a big transition in our life. He calls it resistance. When we learn to recognize and embrace resistance, we free ourselves to pursue the things we really want in life.
#2 Connect with people who are not Naysayers (can we have an “amen”)
One of the things I like most for entrepreneurs is that it presents us with a continuous opportunity to meet new people. It’s often said that “sales are the lifeblood of a business.” There is truth to that statement but I think we could also say the same about the work we do in growing our network. Rich reinforced a point that I’ve heard many times. Who we connect with also matters.
#3 It’s really important to me to not attribute any failures or setbacks to anyone
Rich went deep on this one. He shared the thought process he went through after he quit a high paying job with one of the countries largest employers. Rich was not happy in that job and in the moment found himself making judgments about the people he had been working with. It was only when he had resigned, when he was on his own, with no backup plan, that Rich came to understand that nobody was screwing him over. In the process he reached a milestone point in his personal development that I believe is a right of passage to entrepreneurship. Always take responsibility for your current situation and don’t look to blame others for your failures or setbacks.
#4 Choosing to blame other people is a way to absolve yourself of responsibility
Closely related but it was such an important point, I thought I’d mention it again.
#5 I interact with a lot of people, cold calls and emails, but I am so fearless of the no’s
How many of us hate to hear the word “no”. The words Rich used instantly made me think of his friend and fellow Screw the Naysayer guest, Jason Van Camp. Jason recently wrote a book titled Deliberate Discomfort: How U.S. Special Forces Overcome Fear. Rich used to fly a light attack helicopter in combat zones. Jason makes the point that when you condition your body to embrace discomfort, the idea of hearing someone say “no” generates no fear. Anyone can train their mind to feel comfortable being uncomfortable (read Jason’s book to find out how). The fact that Rich was already at that stage gave him a big leg up.
#6 Anytime anyone tries to give me shortcuts I actually don’t welcome them
Rich went on to say “I want the headaches, I want to fall on my face, because my learning curve then is substantial.” There is truth in this statement. As a mentor I think it’s important to distinguish between people offering “quick fixes” to your biggest challenge (almost always how to get your first 10-20 customers). You can’t outsource that. It doesn’t work, and even if it does, you haven’t learned anything. You don’t know how to find the next 10. I do advocate working with a mentor who has done what you want to do. But I also acknowledge that this is a personal choice. Rich was also fortunate enough to have met Claude Silver (Chief Heart Officer at VaynerMedia) early on in his journey. It’s obvious that Claude has provided informal mentoring along the way (something that Rich also spoke about on our podcast).
#7 Sometimes our best hypothesis doesn’t work out, but you can’t dwell on them
This came up when Rich and I were swapping stories about investments we made during the start up phase of a business, that didn’t work out as we had hoped they would. In fact I acknowledged that I encountered this reality on numerous occasions during the startup phase for Screw the Naysayers. Rich jumped in to “mentor” me saying that “sometimes our best hypothesis doesn’t work out, but you can’t dwell on them.” His suggestion is that we put them in the past and move forward taking along the things we learned.
#8 I’m not above giving people a chance who are not well established because I would never be where I am if people didn’t give me a chance.
Great point. In practice this can be challenging. There are a whack of people out there promising that they can help you do things they’ve never done themselves. For that reason a lot of people look for social evidence that you can successfully teach others to do that. If only it were so simple. Websites around the world are overflowing with gushing testimonials that sadly are no assurance that the person involved can really help you. Rich made the point that we do have to be open to giving new people a chance (everyone of us has needed that opportunity to get started).
#9 I think character is everything and that’s the first thing I look for
The above point is closely linked to this statement. I like the advice. Spend less energy, especially early on digging into social evidence and value propositions, and more energy assessing character. Rich is 100% correct. “Character is everything.”
#10 I take leadership so seriously.
You could feel the sincerity and intensity in Rich’s voice when he made this statement. Leadership is one of the most important entrepreneurial skills, even in the early stages of building a business. I’ve been blessed and honoured to have so many U.S. military veterans on my show. Those that achieved leadership positions in the military all expressed a similar commitment to leadership. Rich summed it up this way. “I always wanted to make sure that my marines felt cared for. I had the Marine corp and I knew how to lead.”
Since recording this interview Rich has become an important member of my network. He has referred several awesome guests to my show. I had so much fun going back a year and dissecting his mindset early on in his entrepreneurial journey. Having done so it’s easy to see why Rich Cardona Media is rapidly becoming a go to resource for executives and businesses seeking to use video to deliver massive value while generating massive visibility.
If you haven’t heard of my podcast yet, it’s a collection of real and raw stories from an eclectic mix of Thought Leaders, Entrepreneurs, WSJ and NYT Best Selling Authors, and a wide range of women and men who have overcome great adversity by finding the gift in their challenges.
Check out the Screw the Naysayers Podcast anywhere you listen to podcasts or catch the Blog summaries here.