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Damon Pistulka, Scott Lesak
Damon Pistulka 00:04
All right, everyone, welcome once again to the faces of business. I’m your host, Damon Pistulka. And I am excited today because I’ve got Scott Lee’s AK here with Castle Rock landscaping company out of Allentown, Pennsylvania. And today, we are going to be talking about business owner development for success. Scott, welcome.
Scott Lesak 00:25
Thanks, David. I’m really happy to be here. Thanks for inviting me.
Damon Pistulka 00:29
Oh, man, I am just jacked to have you on here today because we’re gonna have some fun. I mean, the, the energy from you, as we’ve talked over time, and the stuff that you do and the and the, the just the the positive that you bring to your business leadership and the desire to learn. I think it’s gonna be a lot of fun for us today.
Scott Lesak 00:50
I couldn’t agree more. Yeah, yeah.
Damon Pistulka 00:53
Well, you know, Scott, as I always like to do on the on the faces of business, let’s start out with your background. Let’s kind of let’s kind of talk about, you know, how you arrived where you’re at today.
Scott Lesak 01:05
Oh, man, it’s been a long journey. Yeah, an awesome journey. I love every minute of it. To answer that directly, I love to say I started as a landscaper and I’ve turned into a businessman over the years. That’s essentially what’s happened started with a passion for the industry. Went back I started being really interested in landscaping when I was 14, my dad built a homeowner project that our house and I use that term very lightly.
We’re talking like 4000 square foot, Paver driveway, Boulder retaining walls, and I mean, hundreds of tons of boulders, steps, walkways, planting, it was a three month project for us. We built it with a Kubota and a whole lot of back muscles. And that got me into it. I really enjoyed that process. I’ve enjoyed taking something that didn’t look like anything or you know, we tore something out. So there was something there but making this magnificent masterpiece.
So I started a little bit then it was like, you know, hey, I want to buy a four wheeler, I want to buy this, I’m going to go out and try and make some money. And a friend of mine and I started up when we were 14 Cutting shrubs at his neighbor’s houses. He lived in a development I didn’t so his area made a little bit more sense.
And we made a couple 100 bucks, couple 1000 bucks. I don’t remember what the number was over that summer. It was really cool. And he decided he wanted to go work for somebody else. So my dad and I started talking about it a little bit. My dad was like, Heck yeah, let’s do this. He was a entrepreneur. Incredible man. In his real career. He was a consultant in hazardous materials terrorism response, emergency response did stuff for the FBI, oh, State Department, National Fire Academy. Hazardous Materials response essentially was written by him back in the late 70s, early 80s.
And it has evolved in something now. Anyway, that’s a that’s a little bit of his background to say, Heck, yeah, man, let’s do this. Yeah, he already had Yeah, entrepreneural spirit and some knowledge with it. And we started doing it, he he would drive me around in 1978, F 150, that I was 15 I couldn’t drive yet, I would follow him down the road and our Kubota Tractor. And we were out. And we started as a hardscape company doing rock work pavers and everything like that, and, you know, kind of backwards in most landscape companies.
Um, by the time I turned 17, we recognized we were making some real money. So it got to the point that we established a sole proprietorship in his name, because of my age and his knowledge of how to do that I had no idea about business. So he said, Hey, we need to establish something, let’s do this. And I trusted him, he knew what he was doing. So at that point in time, we really started making, you know, for a 17 year old kid, what was good, yeah, you know, $1,000 I in that time period, I bought like two or three four wheelers, two snowmobiles, and I was going nuts.
I was just having fun with it. And I got to a point my senior year of high school that I was either going to Penn State for landscape contracting, or I wasn’t going to college and I was going to keep running a landscape company. But either way, the landscape company was the destination that that was what I wanted to do. Um, retrospect, I’m really happy I got into Penn State because I think that I would not be where I am today without that education, that’s for sure.
So let’s, you know, 2005 to 2010 timeframe is when I was at Penn State got a degree in landscape contracting and design minored in Arbor culture, so I was an arborist for a while and climbing trees and doing big tree removals and pruning and stuff like that. And 2011 We established Castle rocks landscape company, which is the LLC we operate under today. My dad and I still own it. 5050 We have talked about a buyout. A buyout is going to be happening, but it hasn’t happened yet. So he’s still next. And, you know, that’s kind of the background with it. The front ground is where we really made the traction.
Damon Pistulka 04:47
Yeah, yeah. Well, it’s interesting. So how many to go to a place like Penn State, you wouldn’t think of landscaping?
Scott Lesak 04:57
Yeah, it’s A very small school through the horticulture, Horticulture Department at Penn State. Yeah, I graduated with right around 15 people in my class and graduating classes are five to 15 people. So it created a really neat atmosphere.
You know, you’re at this monster School of 40,000 students, but your tight knit group is 20 people. And you know, it just had the small school feeling. And when we got into business classes and accounting classes and stuff like that, sitting in forums of hundreds of people, it was like still overwhelming even in school because our classes were so tight knit and but with that creative brotherhood and I you know, we still you guys, I went to college with work for Castle rocks now. And we’re really tight. And a lot of the guys we studied with are still really good friends.
Damon Pistulka 05:45
Yeah. Yeah, that’s, that’s cool, man. And, and so I’ll just ask a couple questions about that. I mean, you credited for helping you be where you’re at today. So you thought that was a that the education was pretty beneficial in that regards, then always good program. Good. Yes, cool.
Scott Lesak 06:04
Program was incredible. Plant knowledge, science, knowledge, design knowledge, you know, I had to focus in design. So a lot of what we did was form and function architecture. More on the residential side, that’s, that’s kind of a big difference between the Landscape Architecture program and the landscape contracting, program, landscape contracting, you get the science and the residential side of things with some commercial exposure.
I don’t want to stray too far there. And landscape architecture is less science and more big, open urban spaces. But yeah, it was an incredible education from that standpoint. But the best education I got there was I learned how to learn. We had professors that would just push us and you ask them a question. They’re like, Yep, I absolutely know that answer. Go find it yourself. And let’s talk about it once you think you have the right answer. And just that approach to education was new to me. And it taught me how to learn that’s the most valuable education I got in school
Damon Pistulka 06:55
taught you how to learn. Awesome, that is because that’s what we’re going to talk about a little bit more as we get on here, just the importance of that continuous learning as we as we move forward. So. So you’re so you’re out of college. And so when you got out of college, and trying to remember back to when I got out of college, you think about what you thought and those days coming out and what you were going to do with your business. What were some of the things that you go, Oh, man, I really wasn’t thinking right.
Scott Lesak 07:29
Well, one of the biggest ones that I had a piece of advice from one of the professors, Dan Stern’s, he told me, his biggest number one piece of advice for my professional career was to go work for somebody else for a little while. And egotistical. Early 20s. Me was like, Yeah, okay, Dan, I’m, I’m not doing that I got this awesome business doing $100,000 in revenue a year right now, why would I ever do that? And, in retrospect, I should have listened to. I’d be millions ahead and 1000s ahead and mistakes and everything. So
Oh, that’s awesome.
Damon Pistulka 08:07
That’s awesome. The best piece of advice you got coming out of college is work for someone else for a while. Yeah. Yeah, it is. I tell you some of that, some of that mentorship, you can get through that in the learning you get on someone else’s dime. Is it like you said causes? You’re not losing that money learning?
Scott Lesak 08:24
Yep. Not only that, but nobody really has to lose the money. Because usually if you work for an established organization, they already made the mistakes. So you’re learning right off the bat instead of making those mistakes? Which Yeah, for me, I mean, I’m kind of hard knock Hard Knock. I’m, I’m stubborn. I got to make those mistakes. That’s how I learned the best unfortunately. Yeah.
Damon Pistulka 08:44
Well, I think, you know, not unlike many business owners just to go out and do it on your own. You have to be pretty steadfast, I would say and stubborn. Yeah. You can say stubborn, hard headed, you can say that too. But it’s it is you really have to be to be a business owner. You have to believe in your decision making and, and live with the mistakes.
Scott Lesak 09:07
Yeah, Yep, absolutely. So
Damon Pistulka 09:11
as you as you got got out and you started running your business, what are some of the first things that that you began to go wow, this is a lot different than then I really thought it was going to be
Scott Lesak 09:22
a lot of that. I have just recently started saying one of the biggest mistakes I have made in my professional career is assuming other people think like me, and the reality that the further in my career I get I learn not saying this egotistically either but I learned I have a very different thought process and a very different processing method than most people have. And I think that’s probably true for most entrepreneurs because you get into certain areas and there’s a difference between a business owner and an entrepreneur.
I’m talking true entrepreneurs who can see the vision and see the see what they want in the future and put it into action. That’s what an entrepreneur is to me. And when you get into conversations with people that have that truly entrepreneurial mindset, it just clicks, you can talk for hours and hours. And you know that that was tough coming out because I thought I had huge dreams, I saw exactly where I wanted this company out of school, I saw almost exactly where we are today. I had the vision, I had no, uh, no comprehension of what it would take to actually get there, though.
So in my head, I had this multi million dollar awesome landscape. Yeah. And in reality, I had two employees and an old beat up pickup truck. So you know that that was hard to bridge that gap. I knew where I wanted to go. But I had very limited knowledge on how to recover the proper overhead. You know, the difference between what a direct cost and an indirect cost was at that time what a gross margin versus net margin was, and, you know, I had to learn all that stuff.
After school because our school was so science and design bill nice, it wasn’t really business based. So, you know, long story short, I got out of school, and I was living in my parents basement, I bought a camper for $200 and parked it in their backyard. So if I didn’t want to be in the house, I was in the camper, and I was making 300 bucks bi weekly. That was my paycheck for quite a few years to get it off the ground. But I was determined man, it was my dream. It was my passion. That was it. That’s what it took. That’s what it took. I was gonna do it.
Damon Pistulka 11:16
Yeah. That’s, that’s an awesome story, though. I mean, it’s dedication and persistence. And that’s, that’s where I think a lot of people that have not had to go through that initial startup phase in a business, you know, minus the people that go out and get the huge funding and, you know, run off to do something like Uber or somebody like that, where they can do that. I mean, they’ve gone through an actual bootstrapping startup is that, that persistence and desire, it takes just a push through those first couple of years.
Scott Lesak 11:52
Damon Pistulka 11:55
To be subscribed, you’re just shaking your head going, Oh, no, you know, when, when they’re your main piece of equipment breaks down, it’s a few $1,000 to fix it, or, or, you know, a key employee just decides I gotta go someplace else, or something like that?
Scott Lesak 12:10
Well, it’s funny, you say that we had a dump truck at one point in time for two to three years, that wouldn’t don’t, because we couldn’t afford to fix it dump body, something happened with the dump pump. And I mean, it was, in the end, it was like a $500 repair. We didn’t have the cash to fix it, though. So we have dump trucks that were shoveling dirt and stone out of the back not able to dump it. And, you know, I mean, that was the that was the grit had a grit through that with determination and get, you know, get through that.
Damon Pistulka 12:35
Yeah, wow. That’s something that’s something so as you were growing, you know, your business, there’s kind of like these plateaus, where you, you get to a point in the business needs to change a bit to be able to go to the next plateau, and it needs to change a bit beyond that. And then it gets to a certain point, it’s like, adding duplicates and things like that. So what did you find about personally doing this? And you know, how you saw those points? And what how did you identify them, first of all, and how did you work through some of them?
Scott Lesak 13:15
So a lot of what held me back over the years was me, I was my biggest roadblock. And you know, that really, in hindsight, I can look at that and dissect that even more and see how real that really was. I had these ambitions to do all kinds of stuff. But I was strapped in. I was selling I was designing I was building patios. I was cutting trees down. I was I was working a lot. And you know, didn’t have much to show for that. I was also drinking a lot. You know, when I was younger, I drank a lot. And that was that was one of my biggest one of my biggest challenges to get over. I’ve currently been sober since June 1 2018.
And I had to go to rehab to get sober though. That was how bad my drinking progress problem. Yes. So if that hadn’t been in the picture, there would probably be something different. But really, as I dissect that, and really grow personally now and can look back at that time. Yeah, um, a lot of my drinking stemmed from the stress from the company, a lot of money. Yeah, you know, I had some PTSD in there. I was a firefighter for quite a while. So some really nasty stuff. So I mean, I had a couple of variables that were very challenging for me to get past. Yeah. And that was hard. That was really hard.
Damon Pistulka 14:23
No doubt, no doubt. And that, that, like you said, something like that, that’s, that’s, as that gnaws at you for the years, both of some, like a PTSD kind of thing and the drinking, it’s just it just compounds with the fact that you’re trying to work really, really hard in your business. And that’s why you don’t realize it, it’s probably drawing it holding you back as well, because you don’t feel as well as you could and you’re not as you know, as clear and your mind isn’t as is, as I guess, I don’t know, just as focused as it could be.
Scott Lesak 14:58
Yeah, there’s have huge reality that the clarity of mine alone when you’re not using a substance, yeah, that that still continues. I’m almost four years sober at this point and I still feel differences every now and then I’ll wake up and be like, Oh man, I’m thinking clearer today what’s happening and it doesn’t go away. And I still attributed that to getting some of the alcohol and some of the damage I did in my younger years out of my system.
Damon Pistulka 15:21
Yeah, I tell you, that’s, that’s one of the things that I think that people that are well, business owners, right business owners, because you as a business owner, you’re all over, you know, like you said, You’re doing all these things, and, and just the importance of, of clarity.
And I don’t honestly, I honestly don’t I, Hey, I’ve had my periods of my life or I make enough to where, where I’ve had people tell me, you need to, and I’ve been lucky enough to stop without the rehab. But the, the difference in clarity is so much and when you when you get, as you say sober and you have that clarity. It’s really I think it would be really hard to go back to can you just can’t do it. I don’t I just don’t know how you do it long term, in my mind anyway.
Scott Lesak 16:16
It’s the reward that mental clarity and yeah, really my motivation to stay sober at the beginning, it was just, I don’t want to lose this stuff. I don’t want to go back to where I was that yeah, I work so hard to get here, I gotta stay. Now that it’s getting more long term, I don’t ever want to I don’t ever have to feel a hangover again. And I don’t ever want to feel a hangover. Yeah. And my mental clarity on a day to day basis is just incredible. I am so grateful for my entire experience. You know, it was it brought some tremendous failures, tremendous, hard times.
But it really inspired me to grow personally. And that was my personal growth stems directly from my recovery journey. I started learning ways to stay sober, I started learning ways to think different, you know, a big thing they say NA is you come for your drinking, and you stay for your thinking and that there’s nothing more true than that, you start thinking about it, and you start thinking differently, then you start processing differently, then you realize how crazy you were thinking before, how egotistical I was before.
And that’s when the power really changes when you start recognizing that ego and like, Okay, I gotta scale back. And I feel like a lot of business owners have that ego problem. And I’m saying that in a good way, for anybody listening to this to, you have an ego problem, that’s hard to let go, I can do this the best, nobody’s going to have the passion that I have.
That’s what we’re told, in our society, nobody’s ever gonna have the passion of the business owner couldn’t be further from the truth. I mean, I have seven employees, I could introduce you to on the spot that have as much passion about the business as I have, and they’re working their butts off every day with me. And everything they’re doing, they’re doing 10 times better than I ever did it. Because they’re focusing on that one task, I had a million tasks, I had a foggy brain from alcohol, I had all kinds of other stuff going on, they’re doing 10 times better than I could ever do in that position.
Damon Pistulka 17:59
That’s awesome. We can stop right now. Yeah. I mean, seriously, you just laid it out there like that. Like I think a lot of a lot of people don’t understand and that what you the coded or found how to lead and work with the people that are in your business is really special. Because once you get that kind of group around you, and they feel it and you feel it, you create something that is going to be very hard for other people in your industry to keep up with. Yep. That’s, that, that’s really cool.
Because, you know, I was looking, I was looking at your, your website for a second. And I thought there was there was something, there was a couple things that aren’t your core values. And first of all, I don’t ever think I’ve seen a landscaping company that has 10 core values. But that’s cool. That the couple of them that I really liked is smiling, happy faces.
That was that was one. I mean, because as it says there and you know, and I you know, because of your core values and stuff, just being just being smiling around people makes them feel better. Doesn’t mean that you can’t smile when you’re doing hard work. It doesn’t mean you can’t smile like that. You can still smile might suck, but you could still smile about it. You know, they like that. And then yeah, but predictability was another one which I think in your in your industry, that’s awesome. You The better you can be there when you when you say you’re going to be you’re just going to stand out. The one I was going to ask you about though it says no resistance. What does that mean? No
Scott Lesak 19:41
resistance, don’t don’t resist change. You know, that’s a big one. People resist change all the time. The way we did it yesterday is you know, we got to keep doing it that way. That’s the way we’ve always done it. That doesn’t work. Okay, the way we’ve always done it needs to be adapted. You know, don’t resist what’s coming, go with the flow.
You know, just kind of go with it. In our industry, I mean, it’s, we have equated it to almost a militant type of mindset that you need to really succeed in this. And I don’t want to compare us to military, I’m not trying to do that, but a militant style mindset to persevere through a 10 hour day at 105 degrees outside, sweating your butt off and so hot, you can’t eat and you’re losing energy from not eating. And you know, it’s tough, it takes the right type of mindset. So no resistance, don’t let that resist just keep going, keep working, keep pushing through, take your breaks, take care yourself.
Awesome. Awesome. That’s cool. That’s cool. So as you
Damon Pistulka 20:36
as you’ve gone down the road, now you’ve added more people. And as you as you add these people, what are some of the things that you’ve had to that you’ve kind of come across in your professional development going? Wow, we don’t just wake up being a business owner, knowing everything we know,
Scott Lesak 20:56
oh, man. Oh, you just open a can of worms with that one. I fully shifted from being a landscaper to a business owner, I would say the only education that I use anymore. My day to day job from school, is the ability to learn, like I said, the most important thing I learned was the data to learn. And I started recognizing 2013 2014 timeframe, I would say that to get somewhere else I needed to learn more about business.
At that point in time, I never equated systems to being as important as they are in business, you know, processes was a foreign language I’d heard about it got to build processes got to do this. Yeah, I didn’t know how to do it didn’t know what that exactly meant. Um, so I, I was given the book, E Myth, you know, best business book out there, if you’ve never been through? Yeah, I’ve read that probably 20 times now since I got it. But I was gifted that by a man who was named as Tim Smith, he was the CEO of land ops at that point in time.
And I saw that company, it was a coaching consulting network company. And you know, at that time, we were doing about 200,000 a year, and I saw some companies really grow within them. And I was like, Hey, I gotta get in on this. And they didn’t take anybody under a million in revenue, because of the way it works in the amount of money that it costs. Again, they had. So that really sparked the interest. And you know, I haven’t talked to Tim since he sent that book. And I would love to reach out to him, just let him know how impactful he’s been on my career because of that book. That’s where my journey started learning about business.
So and from there, I got me running and running a systems processes. What can I do with this? We got to develop systems. Okay, that’s great. Got through the book. It’s like, I got to build the systems. What does that mean? Yeah, so that was the next step. Then I had to figure out what is that system? How can I do that? You know, my dad was instrumental in early days helping me with that. And because of his knowledge of incident command and doing things on the emergency side of things, he was a systems guy from incident command.
So he started equating that incident command structure to business, and I was a firefighter. So I understood the Incident Command System. And I was like, oh, yeah, okay, so we really built the original systems and processes that we had directly related to emergency response. And that was kind of where I started bridging that gap. And from there, it’s turned into more books and leadership books, John Maxwell and other business books and just kind of learning more and more.
And the more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. And it’s truly an addiction at this point. I mean, I live 45 minutes away from my office, and I am listening to audiobooks an hour and a half minimum every day on my way to and from work then. So it’s incredible, and I just can’t get enough information into my head anymore. Yeah, but to get back to the root of that question. I mean, we have to recognize that we either can stay complacent, we can either stay exactly where we are, we need to learn new skills to keep pushing it forward.
I’m not complacent guy, even when I was drinking a lot and everything, I always had high dreams that didn’t affect any of that it might have affected my actions to get there, but it did not affect my drive. And, you know, I really wanted to learn and I always had I had this huge goal of building a landscape company that was worth $2 million. Well guess what? Today we’re sitting here I have a two and a half million dollar landscape company and it’s like yeah, not even getting started yet. You know, this is scratching the surface. So yeah, it’s pretty cool to see how fast that progressed.
Damon Pistulka 24:16
Yeah, it is in like he said, I think a lot of a lot of business owners a first of all, sometimes are embarrassed because they don’t know something’s right. And I’ve you know, some of the people I talk with, they’re like, Well, I really should know that.
Well. Why the hell do you really think you should know that that’s something about finance or that’s something about like you said, systems and processes if you if you haven’t specifically went down that path and know that why do you think you should know it? Maybe it’s something you know, you think that should be one of the things you learn about? You’ve heard about but we don’t just know this from birth or something like that, or because you decided to be in business.
Scott Lesak 25:00
Like you said, a real seizure in Michael Gerber’s words.
Damon Pistulka 25:03
Yep. That’s for sure. That’s for sure. And it’s one of those things that we do need to study about business. And I don’t mean, the grandiose plan of business, but just like you said, Take take something like the EMA EMF that has simple fundamental things in it and build upon that with the other specific knowledge that you need.
And go from there. Because, as you said, if you don’t keep I think anyway, and I think you’ll agree, if you don’t continue building your skills, and building your team skills, and then and then preparing for what’s next. Because looking ahead, as you as the business owner, what are you going to look like next year? What are you going to look like two years from now or three years? You may not know, it’s still kind of fuzzy. But if you don’t think about it today and get prepared for tomorrow, you just you’re going to be caught flat footed?
Scott Lesak 26:00
Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more with that. And I would add to that, we need to be developing ourselves. We you know, personal development is first and so many people get caught up in looking at money and wanting to make money. And yeah, we’re all in business to make money. But I have embraced over the past couple years, the mindset that money’s not real, because it’s really not.
I mean, to take a saying from theme here, it’s like oxygen, when you need it, there’s no substitute. So you know, in that respect, it’s definitely a real tangible thing. But at the end of the day, and business money is a math equation, it don’t you don’t look at it as capital, you don’t have to look at it as a tangible thing. And I was so focused on making money and building this, look at me, I’m a big landscape company, I want to make money in my younger years that I lost myself and everything else.
And when I made that switch to say, No, money’s not real, I’m not working for money. I’m working for the experience I can give to people and quality was always big. That was one of my big motivators early on, but it was an egotistical motivator early on, like, I want to be the best, I want to have this high quality company. And as we’ve grown, it’s like, yeah, I want to have high quality. But how can we be better tomorrow than we were today? And how can we continue to raise value in this company? How can we continue to raise value to our clients and our industry, it’s about the industry as a whole. I want to affect as many people in this industry and beyond as I can.
That’s my motivation now. And guess what, since that shift has changed, I make more money than I ever made before and buy a lot. And that entire shift change. And now I can give some of that money away. That’s how much I’m making. It’s like, yep, you take this. And when you start giving it away, guess what, you start making more. It’s, it’s, you know, anybody that any of the financial books, you read that say that stuff, it’s real, I’m living that right now. And it’s just unbelievable. It’s an unbelievable and rewarding feeling and has nothing to do with the money, the money is a byproduct of what I’m doing.
Damon Pistulka 27:50
That’s awesome. That’s awesome, because I think that’s you. One of the things I was hoping we talk about a little bit because we get so focused on the business business business. And I really think that there becomes a point that you can be the best landscaping business person ever. But you still can’t get your business to grow because you’re not ready for it personally. And that prevents you from from really being the person you need to be to find that next level of success.
Scott Lesak 28:28
You’re absolutely right. And to get there, we have to grow ourselves first, you know, I will say this very delicately. But numbers aren’t everything in business. You know, they are you have to really know your numbers, you have to know your production don’t go out there. Oh, Scott said the numbers don’t matter. That’s not at all what I’m saying the numbers do matter. Yeah. But it’s a math equation, figure out the math there, figure out how you can make everything work together. The what matters is you you got to invest in yourself, number one ahead of anybody else ahead of your family ahead of your friends ahead of your business, invest in yourself.
It sounds really selfish in principle, when you say it like that, however, it’s I assure you, it’s the most selfless thing you can ever do. And the reason behind that is as you start growing, as you start developing, you become a person to give to everybody and every organization you’re associated with, that they never would have had exposure to if you weren’t growing that way.
So really from this, quote unquote selfish act of focusing on me first, I’m giving a better me to everybody that’s out there. And when we tap on that with consistent growth and consistency in our growth plans, and guess what growth compounds so we grow 1% A day within a year we’re growing 350% within five years, holy cow, you’re a different person in the best way possible. And that’s been my experience. It started three and a half years ago when I decided I didn’t want to drink anymore and it was really there was a lot of wounds to heal and a lot of you know, I had I had a pretty broken marriage at that point in time.
You know, my wife was ready to leave me and she stuck it out just to see how this would go and, you know, fixed everything with her slowly it didn’t happened overnight? Oh, yeah. Months and months. I mean, our first reaction was like four months after, and everything just kept going and going. So you can’t expect instant results. But they come. And if you put consistent effort in, they come faster and faster. Just look at an investment chart anywhere. That’s exactly how personal growth works. When you look at compounding interest on an investment, that’s exactly how personal growth works.
Damon Pistulka 30:22
Yeah, yeah, that’s, that’s a man I can’t. I’m just gonna show a couple of comments here. This one come up. It’s yeah. You got Chad. Awesome. So Oh, yeah, it’s good. Good. Good to have him here today. It’s great to see you. Thanks for coming chat.
And I can’t I’m so glad you brought this up. Because when you talk about and I don’t care if you’re running a business you’re working, you’re, you know, if you’re doing whatever you’re doing, investing in yourself to be a better person helps everyone around you help your long term success, your family your life. Because when you think about it now, and you think about just a from last year to this year, do you think that your personal life is better? Because you’re continue to work on yourself from last year to this year?
Scott Lesak 31:14
Absolutely. I will say from last week to this week, oh God that he got close. But I mean, last year, this year, last year, at this point in time, if you would have told me I’d be sitting here doing an interview with somebody like you, I would have said really is that where I’m at in a year, like I would have believed it.
But I would have been like I didn’t really see that common. And you know, everything comes last year at this time, if you would have told me that I’d be involved in three different ventures instead of just Castle rocks, I would have said no way. That’s not right. I have no end visions, I have no intentions of building other businesses. Well, guess what I’m in three ventures right now. And two of them are making money and good money. And one of them’s really close to making money, we have plans in place to have that one make money. So that’s cool.
Damon Pistulka 31:55
That’s awesome. And when you think about this, you said you’re better for everyone. And this is one of the things that I did want to want to touch on. You talk about business and those kinds of things, but your family and personal relationships, that that I think really is one of the things that we think as business owners, that’s always going to suffer.
Everybody thinks that and I and, you know, unfortunately, when you look at people that are my age are like your father’s age, it’s like, we grew up in a time when that was kind of the way it was, you know, if you were really, really high level or successful, super successful, it was awful hard because you were gone. And it just it just didn’t turn out. Right. And I think one of the fortunate things by really investing in yourself, you understand how to have success in business and still have success in life?
Scott Lesak 32:47
Absolutely, absolutely. And, you know, personal life is, that was a struggle. For me, actually, I had a very definitive, you know, work life balance. People say that all the time, I’ve grown to really not like that term at all. We need life paths, we live one life, enjoy your work, enjoy your life. But the reason for that, personally is I would give my all at work, I would be leading this team, I’d be helping people grow. And I’d come home so exhausted from that, that I’d be cranky and irritable with my family. And you know, I’m vulnerable enough to say that I’ve probably been less than the husband, I should have been to my wife and less than the father, I should have been to my kids a lot.
So I took that, and I got to a point my personal growth has like, I got to start focusing at home. And just recently, you know, my wife and I started talking like we were both really all about developing ourselves, but our relationships kind of stagnant, not in a bad way. We have a great relationship, but it’s kind of stagnant right now how can we grow together. And you know, that’s what we’re working on now. And we’re figuring it stuff, new ways to talk. And sometimes those talks or arguments first, and then they turn into a good conversation later.
But that’s the reality of it. And, you know, my personal growth on the professional side has allowed me to do that. But with focusing on life balance, I’m taking the tools that I have at work and using them at home now. And getting better and better at that. And I enjoy my work and I’m not separating the two and if I have to jump in at 6:05pm to have a conversation with you, my wife is downstairs fully supporting this and she does the same thing some nights. And we just we have good life balance. It has nothing to do with work and life because it’s all one life, though.
Damon Pistulka 34:30
That that’s You said that when we’ve been talking before and I for me, it’s been years and years and years of that and you’re right, it’s sometimes it’s a little give and take and sometimes but it is what it is one life and people talk about turning it off. Well, if you’re a business owner or you’re really passionate about what you do, you don’t really turn it off that well. It just kind of melds together.
But this melding of it you need to make sure that it’s cohesive and everybody’s in it with you the right the right portions. So that it it does work. And yeah, yep. So what’s been the funnest thing about your personal growth? I mean, what were some stuff that you just went, Wow, I never even thought about that now. And I think about I’m like, That is so cool that I learned that
Scott Lesak 35:17
humility and open mindedness, you know, just the ability to be vulnerable with myself the ability to sit here and tell you that, hey, I need to work on myself at home because I come home cranky, sometimes. There’s a point in my life, I never would have admitted that No, I would have been 10 times crankier than I’ve ever been to. But I just that is so rewarding. And you know, to get to the point that my ego is on the back burner, and I don’t want to steer you wrong, and let you think I have my ego completely under control. She still creeps up all the time.
But I recognize it now. And you know, even if I get through a reaction, that should have been a response or something, I’ll get to the end of that and be like, Whoa, I don’t like how I did that. Do I need an apology? Do I have to say something to who would whoever was involved with that? Or do I simply need to know that that just happened and try and make sure that doesn’t happen again. And the self awareness that comes with the personal growth? I would say that’s the number one. The number two is the ability to give it back to other people, though, you know, it’s it really started with Castle rocks of I just want to give this back to our people and nobody saw.
So Chad, just comment, right there are operations manager, and, you know, he came into our company beat up broken, not sure where he wanted to go in life. And, you know, I gave him an opportunity because he was a great guy. And, man, he just grew and grew. And now he’s running literally our entire operations for the whole company. He schedules, he manages crews, he buys materials, he’s out there watching the snow, he’s getting up at 1am to go out and check parking lots to see if we need to salt calling crews in and what that has done, you know, my help with him and his drive. I mean, I don’t want to take the I don’t want to take credit for that.
It’s definitely his drive. But what that has done for me is created a sense of trust, like, I don’t wake up at 1am Because I know Chad’s got and I know he’s gonna do one hell of a good job, and it’s probably gonna be a lot better than it would have been with me because I would have struggled to get out of bed at one o’clock to go check those parking lots. And yeah, you know, just using that as one example, it’s so rewarding to help other people. And that led me into my next venture, which is inspire you of helping more people, I realized how limiting the landscape company is, I’m only ever going to be able to impact a couple 100 employees through the landscape company.
Whereas if I branch out even further, I can reach more people and I can help other business owners take the same approach in their companies to help hundreds of people through there. So it just, again, compounding the effect that it has. And one of the motivations there is helping these people and helping spread that not the money I can make with it. That is not the motivation for this. It’s spreading the personal growth and the journey I’ve been on.
Damon Pistulka 37:44
Yeah. So one of the things First of all, I want to thank Paul, we got Paul right from the UK. Awesome. Grateful to Paul. And then we got Laurie talking about awesome there. Thank you so much.
Scott Lesak 38:01
Awesome. Good to see you, Laurie, thanks for coming.
Damon Pistulka 38:03
The the thing that I find and I’m just going to ask you a question, as you as you help more people does it feel? And I’m going to use a term that I know it’s overused. But do you feel that your cup just gets fuller and fuller and fuller and you just can’t? It just keeps getting fuller? The more you help people it doesn’t. I mean, like, with with me, and personally, I think the more people I help the more people I feel I can help and I need to and want to help. And it just, it just drives you. It’s just like when you started, it’s just like, I got to help a million people now. And now it’s 10 million, you know, the whole damn world if you could? Yep, is that like that for you?
Scott Lesak 38:45
The more you help, the more you want to help it. It’s insane. And you know, I just feel good. Like I come home. Yeah. And I feel good. Like today I had three separate one hour sessions with people just talking about personal growth. And I was so excited when I got home I was just happy it gave the kids a big hug had a great dinner with the family and the days that I’m working on like finance stuff or you know, something that I’m just so mentally exhausted from, it’s different. I come home, I’m like, Oh, man. Alright, hey, guys, great to see I’m really tired.
But I’m just like, I’m energized. I’m rejuvenated with it. And it’s just yeah, the cup keeps getting fuller and fuller. And I just keep wanting to add to it. I need a bigger cup.
Damon Pistulka 39:28
Well, that’s what you started with, with your other company. So that’s cool. So what are you what are you doing with your other company? It’s inspiring you Right?
Scott Lesak 39:37
and inspire you? Yep. Yeah. So what we’re doing is, you know, doing weekly coaching sessions, there’s going to be programs that are developed in the future. I mean, this is very new, we just, we formed LLC last May to reserve the name because I liked the name and I had no idea where I was gonna go with it. And I’m like, Alright, it’s available. I’m establishing the LLC and if it takes me five years to do something with it, that’s fine and I met Dane Isaacs in August at the Seimas symposium. And he was he was a speaker. And I really, really loved his presentation, like his energy and my energy use just like, oh, man, I got involved with his presentation.
Um, so I’m sitting at the lunch table next to Jody Lenise. And I was like, I’m gonna sit down with these guys and have a conversation. Fein lives in Vermont, I want to move to New Hampshire at some point, or at least buy a house in New Hampshire so I can spend a good amount of time up there. And I sat down and said, Hey, your presentation was awesome. I see myself in the future and what you’re doing right now I want to live in New England, Northern New England. And I want to get into consulting in some way, shape or form.
What’s your advice? He said to me? What are you waiting for start today, those words literally changed my life. If you’re listening to this thing that changed my life, man. I started Yeah, you don’t tell me to do something not expect me to do it? Because I’m gonna do it. Yeah. So I started and started getting more detailed. And you know, I’m, I’m a business guy now. So I can’t just jump off the cliff and hope I have a soft landing. So I started putting pieces together, I started putting presentations together, I started talking to more and more people about it, and practicing what I was gonna say. And one of my big things was imposter syndrome, like, how can I coach people?
Do I have enough experience to do this, I don’t have a degree in this. I’m not a counselor, you know, it’s coaching is dangerously close to counseling. And the more people I started talking to, I was like, wow, my life experiences probably qualify me more than people that actually have degrees in some of this stuff, some of the things I’ve been through. So that group that grew me to the point of really getting to the point, and now I have several paid clients that I’m working with, and it’s just getting more and more fulfilling, and just awesome. It’s absolutely incredible. Like, I’m almost speechless about how incredible it is.
That’s cool, man. That’s cool.
Damon Pistulka 41:47
We got Peggy’s saying, hello. Oh, hey, Peggy. Yeah, but it’s cool to see I mean, the, as you said, the you know, getting this and putting it together and starting to execute on inspire you and working down that road as well. And, and how the investing in yourself I mean, coming better, it’s just driven that desire to help you know, you grow, grow your business, and then help others through your other businesses to be better themselves. So what are some of the things that are for the future? With you? What’s what’s happening? What do you see in the next five years? What do you want to be doing?
Scott Lesak 42:27
Sky’s the limit because I’m pretty sure I’m at the sky right now, I want to see what’s next. I mean, I’m, I’m beyond wherever thought I was going to be. So inspire us gonna be big. You know, we’re we’re growing, we’re growing Castle rocks, and I have strategically been pulling back further and further from Castle rocks for a two year period now.
And we’re adding some key positions right now that are going to allow that pullback even further, I’ve transparently talked to my team about exactly what my intentions are, and pulling back a little bit more just seeing how well they’re doing without my involvement is really rewarding. So I want to pull back further because of that. Um, so I’m replacing myself in the company, slowly, not as the CEO but as any, you know, general manager type jobs and stuff like that.
The the person starting next Monday, that’s going to be replacing me for that. I’m Steve, if you’re here and listening to this, I’m so excited for this man. But no, that’s awesome. So we’re gonna continue growing that and I want to focus on inspire you. Another big one is peak peer groups thing, Jody and I just so parallel, and everything that we’re doing that we’re setting up peer groups, and you were you presented for us last week with that. And peak peer groups is really, in concept pretty similar to inspire you, on a group level instead of an individual level.
So we’re going to be putting together groups of people. And we’re going to create PQ, which is going to be university that’s going to be educational for growing businesses. And we’re tearing that out from zero to 500 is a startup and I have a logic with business doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. I don’t know what the statistic is. So I’m not going to give a percentage. But fundamentally, businesses are identical. The commodity that we create is the difference. The systems that we put in place to manage the things are going to be different industry to industry, but what we’re managing at the root is it’s all the same, the fundamentals are the same.
So zero to 500 is a startup category, I don’t care if you’ve been in business for two months or 20 years, you’re in a startup category as far as as far as the way we’re looking at it from this zero to 500,000 500,000 to a million you’re getting into you’re kind of stages that you either hit have to hit at a adolescence or mature business stages, or at least start learning how to get to either one of those. Because you need to start hiring help. Yeah, up to 500,000 You’re the owner operator, you’re selling you’re building you’re producing the commodity you know, whatever you’re doing half a million to a million you need people to start doing that stuff.
You need somebody to sell things for you. You need to pick what you’re going to focus on are you sell, are you focusing on operations? Are you focusing on sales, which at the end of the day sales is an operation to so that brings us to the next Next one, once your 1 million, that’s when you start getting things in place, that’s when you start getting delegations in place. And that’s when it starts getting really fun and powerful. The next hurdle is 3 million, you have no comprehension of how expensive it is to get from 1 million to 3 million till you go through that gap, and hiring people. And we’re not talking, wait, hire military hire.
Yes, I like that you threw that in there. But we’re not talking labor positions for you know, 18 to 25 bucks an hour, I mean, we’re talking 5060 $70,000 A year management positions that you have to be paying a lot of money for, then you have to implement the right systems, you have to get the processes developed. And all that stuff costs a lot of money. But if you do it right, in a million dollars, your net margin might be 1%. But if it’s done right at a million, by the time you get to 3 million, you don’t have to change much. And that net margin is going to be 20 to 25%. So scale that first and then grow into it to the 3 million.
The next group that we’re focusing on is three to 6 million range, because that’s when you have to start duplicating everything you did, from one to three, you have to do again, and you have to have multiple people doing the same roles. And then the next gap is the six to 10, where you have to triple eight, and you’re you know, just continuing to build. And that’s kind of where we’re capping ourselves currently, because the experience that we have with the people involved only goes up to 10 million. And we firmly believe that if we don’t have it, we can’t give it away. So we’re only giving away things that we’ve experienced and that we truly know that we have value to add.
And with that we’re going to bring other people in, and we’re as we bring somebody in that has a 10 to $15 million company, then Yep, there we go, that we’re gonna extend that because that person knows that area of it. So that was really exciting, too. We’re doing a lot of work. We’re meeting for about three hours a week, one hour on Monday and two hours on Fridays, or I might have that backwards doesn’t really matter, though. We’re meeting for three hours a week developing, and it’s just really powerful and really fun.
Damon Pistulka 46:48
Yeah, yeah. And it’s awesome. Because you look back and this, this all started with with a love for landscaping, and then desire to improve and be be really good in business. And
Scott Lesak 47:02
I’ll throw in there very supportive parents to donate to.
Damon Pistulka 47:08
There you go. That’s true. That’s true. That’s true. If nothing else, the encouragement at the beginning that it sounds like it was a good, a good solid support system there as well. But it is it’s really great to hear, to hear your story and how the, the most important thing like you said, the how to learn, and then just continuing to apply that. And it could apply to in business and then apply it in personally and then how you found them. And as you personally develop, how it helps everything. And now you’re focusing on that yourself and helping others do it and seeing your business flourish from it. And your other businesses go from it startup and get those going to so that’s cool, man.
Scott Lesak 47:56
Yeah, it’s incredible. And, you know, you hit a really key point there. Everything’s parallel, you know, what we do in business we can do in our personal life. Well, we do in our personal life we can do in our professional life, and our professional life and business life are kind of separate, because it depends on what how you’re looking at that. Um, but everything’s parallel. Once we learn the skill set in one area, we just have to mold it a little bit and apply it to a different area and it works exactly the same. It’s really, really cool.
Damon Pistulka 48:21
So good. Well, Scott,
Damon Pistulka 48:24
it’s been awesome talking to you. Like you said, we could sit here and talk for two or three hours I know without even thinking about it, but but we’re gonna we’re gonna wrap up now I just wanted to say thank you so much for being here today, sharing your your journey, how you come through this and man, I am just, I’m so looking forward to to stopping back and talking with you again in a couple years and just seeing or even a year, heck, I don’t know whenever you want.
But to talk about this some more, because I really love your fire and your desire to learn, like you said that learning is that is the most important thing that that you have learned and you’re applying it. And that’s cool. So thank you for being here today.
Scott Lesak 49:04
Thanks for inviting me, this was a blast. Daymond will come back anytime. I really appreciate you and you know, I appreciate your mentorship. We’ve only known each other for a couple months, but you’ve been very impactful as well. So I appreciate you. Well,
Damon Pistulka 49:16
I appreciate that. I won’t say appreciate again, but
Scott Lesak 49:20
yeah. You’re welcome. All right, everyone.
Damon Pistulka 49:23
Have a great evening. We’re done for today. We’ll be back again on Thursday.