Search Interviews:

John Corcoran 5:30

This is like your Berkshire Hathaway story, your Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway, you know, you know, the original orange origin story of that, but it was like a defunct textile mill or something like that. And that’s where the origin of the name came from? And then of course, you know, made it into what it is today.

Chuck Bender 5:45

Yeah, you know, I, if you can put me in the same sentence with Warren Buffett, and I will take it right. But in all honesty, I had no clue what the hell I was doing. And so I bought them, I paid off a credit line that they had from another investor, in exchange for that I took 50% of the business at the time. And then and then I had a deal for if I put more money into it, that they would either pay it back are my equity will increase.

John Corcoran 6:14

Question, why did you go into this deal? It didn’t sound like they were all that impressive. They didn’t have much of a business. Why did if you wanted to start a business, why didn’t you just start one on your own? Or was it you saw something in them? Why did you go in with them?

Chuck Bender 6:27

I’m going to tell you hubris, I would say so the one guy who had the business plan, the guy that works for Microsoft, his name is Gabe frost, he’s, he’s absolutely brilliant. He’s a brilliant human being. And I saw a young guy really brilliant, like he was in his early 20s, just out of college, super fired up. The other guy was also super brilliant. But he was one of those guys that is really smart in theory, but not really practical and reality. Right. So didn’t follow through with things and, and ultimately, we dissolved that company to take it over. And then I’ve just owned it solely since. Right. But what had happened was is i i Really i had a technology background from the military. So in the Navy, I worked on radar systems and guidance systems for targeting for computer for the weapon systems on board ships, right. So I had a somewhat familiarity with how electronics work, they knew how frequencies work, they knew how radar worked and wireless technologies, ironically, pretty similar, right? You have a dish aimed at a direction and then you get a feedback. And then but it’s on radio waves, you can add packets to it and some other information. The so I thought that I knew what I was doing. But I quickly learned I had a clue what I was doing. And the really smart guy gave took a job at Microsoft left the business. And then I was left with his partner who, frankly, was terrible he had he had some problems he had, you know, on some issues and challenges to overcome, and I won’t air those here. But ultimately, that didn’t work. But what I realized is what he was telling me during the day, and what I was Googling at night, didn’t match up. So I ended up going to school full time, basically at night on my own, to become a network engineer to understand what the hell this thing does. So I can actually grow the business and be able to not get lied to basically, you know, when it comes down to I was

John Corcoran 8:30

when it came to technology. He was telling you certain things about technology. Got it.

Chuck Bender 8:35

Okay, tell me about the technology telling me problems that couldn’t be overcome. And oh my god, these aren’t problems that can’t be overcome with a little, just a little scratch at it revealed that so. So once that parted, I, you know, we’ve lived the business up we were we were we grew really quickly, but because we’re rural, if you do anything with computers, or anything with technology, everybody calls you with their technology questions. Yeah. And so from 2003, I would say until 2005. We added a million dollars a year in revenue in IT services work. That was just just saying yes, right. You know, when you’re starting, you just say yes to pay the bills, right? helping businesses, just helping businesses helping whatever. Yeah. And then I looked at it one day, and I was like, Oh my gosh, I actually have a business here. That’s an actual real business separate and apart from the internet business, that I should probably treat with the respect that I would a real business, right and

John Corcoran 9:37

at the same time you’re running the dating does this the same time.

Chuck Bender 9:41

So the irony there is in 2002 2003 We were growing like crazy. And then then then I realized that I didn’t know anything about business. So the thing about the dating service businesses it was a really a sales and marketing business. And there was really no recurring revenue. So, so there’s put it to you this way if you’re if you’re on a dating business where you match people up, and you’re extremely successful, right? How many of them pay you again?

John Corcoran 10:14

Right, right. And let’s say, I don’t need you anymore,

Chuck Bender 10:17

right? And if you’re not successful, how many want to pay you again? Right? Yeah, yeah. So. So we were spending, I would say, between three and 4 million a year on direct mail. So every one of our markets, we saturated with direct mail every household every six weeks, and we were making about a net profit of 20 25% on two tenths of a percent of return on our mail. Right, so we got two tenths of a percent of return. So we’d send out a mailer someone to fill out a form, talking about what they’re looking for, they would send it back to us, we would call them set an appointment, have them come into our office, we sit down, explain what we did, they would buy it, then we would start matching them. That was our model, right? Well, in 2003, late 2000 to 2003, they passed the law Congress called the Do Not Call list, right? And that do not call telemarketing list. At the time. If you recall, every evening, you would get hit up by telemarketer, telemarketer after telemarketer right now. We were using direct mail. So we weren’t those people. But everybody that was doing that shifted to direct mail as soon as the law went into place. So instead of being one of maybe three pieces of advertising in the mail that you’d get over the course of a week, we became one of 30 people would get a debt.

John Corcoran 11:46

So the success rate went down a lot. Oh, yeah,

Chuck Bender 11:48

it went from two tenths to maybe a 100th of a percent. It just cratered. And we were unable to solve that problem. I wish I could give you some grand exit story and how I made all this money exiting. Really the point what I ended up doing was pivoting to the internet business, because I already had it, it had potential. And I had I had a limited window of cash flow coming out of the other business, and a lot of assets that had accumulated that I could pull and dump into growing that business. So when

John Corcoran 12:18

you refer to those assets, what were the assets that you pulled from the dating business into the IT services as

Chuck Bender 12:23

well, I mean, it wasn’t, it wasn’t necessarily assets that were in the business’s assets that I have accumulated over the years in that business. So I had, you know, I had accumulated a fair amount of money, I had properties and stuff and some different things. So I ended up selling a bunch of that stuff to dump them into the infrastructure thing about an ISP is it’s expensive to start. Right once you hit critical mass. It’s really nice, because every money every month, you wake up with money in the bank, right? Yeah, yes, elements, and they pay you forever, as long as you’re continuing to provide an improving keep up with services, which was very different than the dating business. Obviously,

John Corcoran 13:01

the dating business, ironically, it was like my legal practice when I was a practicing attorney, because every month, I would say that every month you wake up the first day of the month, and you’re starting over at zero.

Chuck Bender 13:11

Exactly. It’s very similar, like and how do you build recurring revenue into that model? Right? Yeah, so. So the things I learned in the dating business was always had recurring revenue, the smart thing I did was, and it’s smart, because of an EO member, really, I have a great forum mate who pointed out this problem, he said, You have no recurring revenue. If something bad happens, you’re in trouble. So we started a maintenance fee of like $3 a month, it was just a really nominal amount, but it ended up being like a quarter million dollars a month in revenue, basically, across the across the organization that allowed us to actually try a number of things along the way, that see if we can solve the problem, but also gave me a runway, right? So we can, we can end all of our agreements with integrity, that was really important to me. You know, we made a commitment that we were going to introduce X number of people to every member. At some point, we stopped adding new members or when they only added them for a limited period of time. So we could continue to match your existing members, and then complete their contracts with integrity, as opposed to just closing the doors, right? So most of that recurring revenue allowed us to continue to just do that for about a two year window. So from 2003 to 2005, when we finally shut the business down, that’s what I was. I turned my attention completely to growing the internet business. Yeah. That’s kind of where that came from. So

John Corcoran 14:38

yeah, but that was that I’m sure was what attracted to you. One of the things that attracted you to the IT services business is that oh, wow, I could finally have a business that generates recurring revenue that doesn’t have all the built in structural limitations that the dating business did.

Chuck Bender 14:54

Yeah, that certainly doesn’t rely on chemistry between two human beings to have success, right. So To control the outcomes, which was a really odd that the other thing was really nice.

John Corcoran 15:04

It’s fascinating to me how entrepreneurs who started more than one business, the next one is almost always a direct result or a response to the limitations and challenges they had in the previous one. Yeah, you know, you seek out something that’s like, Okay, I can’t do I can’t stand this out the fact that it was dealt on the, you know, I couldn’t control the chemistry between two people. I’m going to go on to some business that has nothing to do with something arbitrary like that. You know, you see that a lot of times.

Chuck Bender 15:33

Yeah, I mean, I think that’s just because we learn, right, we learn as we go. So, you know, once we pivoted and created the IT business as its own business, we hit the Inc 5000 list. We continued to grow that business, the ISP was growing next to it. And then the hardest part of my life, actually, the last 10 years has been riding the two skateboards, right? You know, and just imagine hopping on two skateboards and on a wildly road, and you end up playing Whack a Mole a lot with your business, like, you know, but fortunate I’ve been really blessed. They’ve got great team members on both sides, they run all the operations mostly. So I get to focus on strategy but that was that was how I got to IT services from dating was because I moved out into the country couldn’t get internet myself saw an opportunity you know, made an investment. Recognize that the investment was gonna get all lost if I didn’t take it over. Yeah, school learned it. And here we are.

John Corcoran 16:34

So what point so? So which was the original business? Was it Skynet, broadband, or was it Attentus? Technology?

Chuck Bender 16:40

Skynet broadband was the original business point? Did

John Corcoran 16:43

you have two different brands? Was that Oh, that

Chuck Bender 16:46

was that was because IT pro so if you look at my LinkedIn, you’ll see because IT pros for a period of time starting probably like 2007 2008, that, you know, that we created that brand. To do the IT business in 2017, May of 2017, I had made a decision that what I needed to do is I needed somebody who just loved, loved, loved loved IT. And was it operations like just really new operations inside and out. I am more visionary, I am terrible at operations. I mean, terrible compared to Vinnie, I’m good enough. But it’s not where my core competency lies, right. So I that’s where my I mentioned, that gave frost, it was a business partner, he’s a dear, dear friend, great guy, his younger brother had owned a managed services kind of at the same time, that since we started and had his business running for 15 years, or 16 years at the time, and but he was struggling with breaking free of being kind of a loan operator, because he just didn’t think in terms of scale, the way I thought in terms of scale. So in 2017, we partnered and became a dentist, but both of our businesses stretched back to like 2002 2001 2002. That’s where we come up with the length of time.

John Corcoran 18:10

Let me ask you about that. What you very complimentary of him. What was it that you knew that merging these two businesses would you know, one plus one would equal three?

Chuck Bender 18:23

Attention? Right. So you know, we had a great business and the great team members, and I still have our employee, number one from Skynet. And employee number two from employee number three and number. I mean, I have employees that have been with me for 1819 1615 years now. But what we will, what they’re really good at is doing but they’re not really good at operational thinking, like, just how do I build better processes? How do I document Dustin, my business partner is literally the best person I’ve ever seen in my life at that stuff. Like he, he is, he is smart, he’s focused on the details. He’s almost OCD about it, you know, making sure that we keep our promises. And, and I saw that as an opportunity. And he’s quite a bit younger. So he’s got a lot. He’s about 15 years younger than I am. And he’s got a lot of passion for, for just delivering at a very, very high level. And I felt like I needed some of that I needed some accountability personally, and I needed somebody who was just going to push me. Right. And that’s, that’s that’s been that’s been great.

John Corcoran 19:37

Let’s switch to talking about your concept of generational poverty. That’s one thing you’re really passionate about is ending generational poverty. Let’s start with What do you mean by that?

Chuck Bender 19:50

Well, I mean, most most people who are grew up in an environment like my own or the one I grew up or growing up because they’re they their parents. They didn’t break free of it. their grandparents didn’t break free of it. Their great grandparents, they didn’t break free of it of poverty as a as a as a standard, and they just don’t have the they’re not raised. With what’s possible, they’re often raised with the parent justifying what’s not possible, based on their own experience,

John Corcoran 20:26

focusing on limitations focusing on what’s holding them back.

Chuck Bender 20:29

Precisely. And, and then I certainly had that I remember the college conversation with my father, where every time I brought it up, I mean, I was a straight A student, right? I never had trouble in high school or middle school or anything. I mean, it’s always, always at the top of the class, not the top, but somewhere near the top. And, and when I talked about college, all my dad would talk about is how hard it would be, how expensive it was, how problem problem, problem, problem problem, and he gone

John Corcoran 21:00

to college, he had not know

Chuck Bender 21:04

it, his highest level of education, I think might have been eighth or ninth grade. You know, his father died when he was 13. And he ended up having to go to work to help support his sisters and his mom. Right. So. So that, you know, I think that there was a, there was a what I saw in my own family. And what I see in a lot of other families is just a lot of justification for why things didn’t work out, there’s always somebody to blame. There’s always some boogeyman, you know, either the government or this thing, or that thing or the other thing. And what the difference between the people I know who, who broke that mold, and the ones who didn’t, is they just didn’t accept the excuses, they took personal responsibility to deal with the hand that they’re dealt, and play that hand the best they can and then always look for the next hand, right? You know, and so for me, what I wanted to change for my family was I didn’t want my kids to be raised with that mindset. I wanted my kids to, to see money as a tool. You know, not the not the most important thing, but it’s something that you can definitely attain. And here’s the way to do it. Like, here’s, here’s the path to having some success, success that my father really tried, he tried to tell me the things that he that he thought would help. I remember, he owned a shoe repair store, he was a partner in a shoe repair store, terrible businessman couldn’t do math, really, I mean, terrible. But he had it was a trade. And he wanted me to have a trade that I could fall back on. If all else failed, right?

John Corcoran 22:42

It’s a common thing amongst trades, parents who are in the trades.

Chuck Bender 22:47

Yeah. And so I appreciate that. That was something he was looking out for and trying to do. But it was also just, it was limited based on his own experience, right. So for me, I see that all over the world, I see I see it in, in families that struggle, you know, and there’s often other issues, there’s oftentimes alcoholism and some other psychological health problems and whatever, they contribute to this kind of stuff. But ultimately, what I wanted to do is make sure that my I provided a stable environment for my family, where my wallet didn’t make the decisions or values made the decisions. And I wanted to be able to teach my kids what’s possible, like, you know, go out and do what you want, do what you want. But make sure that what you want, provides you the life you want to live.

John Corcoran 23:36

I want to ask you, before we get into how you taught your kids, if you didn’t learn this from your parents, where did you learn it? Great question. Did you did you teach yourself did was it books? Was it speakers? Was it? Where did you learn it?

Chuck Bender 23:50

So I was in Seattle, they have this thing or used to have this thing called the street of dreams, right? And these are these really nice houses that the builders build. And then they open up this neighborhood and you can pay a ticket fee. And you can walk through these houses and see all these unattainable things, right. That was that was how I viewed it when I was in the military. And I remember walking through the houses and looking around and just, it’s so funny when I think about it now because these houses sold for maybe six or $700,000 at the time, right? This isn’t the ad so that was a lot of money, then even then you can double it roughly. And that’s about what we pay for a house today. Right? But at the time, it was like Who could possibly like I remember asking myself who could possibly afford a $3,000 a month mortgage or a $5,000 month bar who makes that much money that’s that’s that was the lens I was operating from within right. So what I used to do is after the houses that all sell, I wouldn’t go back and just drive into the neighborhoods. And if somebody was out mowing their lawn, I would literally get out of my car and just ask them what they did.

John Corcoran 24:57

Because I didn’t just walk up to them. It was just walk

Chuck Bender 24:59

up to Write up like, Hey, listen, I toured your house when, when it was on the street of dreams. And I’ve always been curious, what what do you do who can afford this kind of thing? And they would tell me, right? And then they tell me whether I was a doctor or a lawyer or a sales guy or business guy, right? That was kind of kind of where it was, and weren’t very many scientists. You know, there were some software engineers, but most of them were business guys or sales guys. And I’m like, Well, I’m not gonna go back to college to be a doctor.

John Corcoran 25:27

They were software engineers in the mid 80s. In Seattle, I’d love to see where they are now.

Chuck Bender 25:32

They’re on Lake Washington. And they have like, there’s one guy named Bill Gates, that kind of people

John Corcoran 25:38

mowing his lawn.

Chuck Bender 25:41

Back then, maybe surprised? Yeah. So. So I learned a lot of them were in sales, a lot of them are in financial sales. And this is when I was still in the Navy. So I applied for a job when I was getting out of the Navy to work for a company called first investors. And that was one of those jobs. It was a financial planning. It was registered representative as what the position was, but it was a management training program. Now, I didn’t know anything about finance. I didn’t know anything about anything. But I went to the interview. And I remember sitting in the interview, and there was like, 30 other people, and they’re all young people like I was I was 2021. And the guy says to everybody says, Listen, his name is Bill Gribble, this guy was like, an amazing mentor for me early in that career, like, just as showing me like how to be successful. But he, he, he’s telling everybody, the average of money that a first year representative makes registered representative of banks is like, 25,000 a year, the next year, you know, it’s probably double that maybe, you know, $70,000 a year. But as you get your client base built, that money goes up and you know, your, your workload becomes a lot more manageable. And I remember going home and talking to my then wife, as my first wife, my navy enlisted guy who gets married when they first go in the Navy marriage. First one made a lot of mistakes, I’ll tell you that this job was like, you know, I could they say the average is $25,000 a year, I’m at least average. And it’s $10,000 more than I’m making in the Navy right now. So I should take the chance, I really had nothing to lose, right? So her parents lent me the money to go pay for my license, my background, check the test team. So I could get right. And it was like four or $500 at the time, which was a considerable amount of money for me. And I started as a registered representative. Right. And I just remember, I remember what was funny about that is all they had to do is just tell me what to do. Like I was I was that eager kid who I actually look for it. And employees today I look for I call it a PSD degree. Are you know that they grew up poor? Are they smart? And are they deeply determined to change that? If they have those three elements, I can mold them into anything I can I can literally create magic for them their lives and their families, right? It’s the determination and a little bit of smart, right. But I just copy the hell out of them. They would tell me what to do. And I just did it. Right, no questions. And I was really successful at it. I was Rookie of the Year, my first year and so on and so forth. So the way I learned was like, I found out that people in finance made money. I took a chance at this that was 100% Commission. I was terrified at 100% Commission,

John Corcoran 28:40

especially coming out of the military. Were you doing anything like that? And sales? Yeah. I mean, you did sales at a younger age when you were you know, 1112 years old hustling? Yeah, doing shoe shines and stuff like that.

Chuck Bender 28:53

Yeah, I never really had a fear of rejection. So that was something I didn’t have to overcome. I mean, honestly, I just looked at it like, what’s the worst they could do is say no, in fact, I innovated around it what I did is I turned nose into yeses. And I don’t know if I talked about this last time we were on the call but I created these sheets of paper that had blokes a $25 signs on him. And then I did the math, based on how many dollar signs I needed to cross off to get an appointment, how many appointments I had to see in order to get a sale, how much money I made per sale, and then I divided my total contacts by the money I made on a sale and came up with how much I know was worth

John Corcoran 29:29

Yeah, so you so you’re dialing for doubt dollars at this point. It’s dialing

Chuck Bender 29:33

for dollars to set appointments, and yeah, so But in that business, I got to be around people who were successful, who were making money who have learned some different things and and had some bigger dreams. And what I found for the generational poverty piece, what changed for me was dreaming bigger. Like you know, just dreaming bigger. I remember at one point and the Navy had a girlfriend that I’d looked at talking about when I get out of the day Maybe I’m gonna go to work for the government. I’m gonna make $35,000 a year and man, we’ll be set for life. I remember that conversation clear as day.

John Corcoran 30:10

That is obviously before you got to what we’re talking about now. Yeah.

Chuck Bender 30:14

Oh, yeah, exactly. It was early in my it was like, maybe a year, right. Yeah. So yeah, that was just mindset matters.

John Corcoran 30:23

Yeah. So. So after this experience, let’s go. Flash forward to your kids are hitting Middle School. And you did something really interesting that I’ve never heard someone say before, it’s really especially interesting to me, because I’m at one of the EO alchemy conference, one of the speakers there was talking about this family economy idea as an alternative to doing allowance for your kids. And I implemented it with my kids, I rebranded it the family wealth savings project, because I thought that was a little bit more sexy than family economy. But set general idea and you did something where you with your kids, when they hit middle school, you added up everything that you would have to pay for them shoes, band, soccer instrument, rental friends, birthday parties, and you said, Let’s build a budget. They’re like 13 years old, and they have the responsibility to manage their money.

Chuck Bender 31:09

So talk about that. Well, so. So one of the things I realized is, so as a parent, my job has always been to try and move the boundaries, just out of their sight line. Right? If I can just get it just slightly out of their sight line, where they feel like they have some agency and some freedom and some responsibility and some accountability for their choices. That’s what it means to be an adult, right? So I wanted to I wanted to raise competent adults, that’s always been my main goal, if they love me, great, if you know, if they respect me, great, you know, but competent adults that feels like it’s my job as a parent, right? You know, of course, I want him to love me, and I love him to death and all those types of things. But, you know, being clear about that, the first part of that, though, really comes down to money. And, and having a grasp of the consequences of having a limited amount of money and what you choose to spend it on and what you have to give up in order to do so. But if they always thought of me as the ATM machine, that was a limitless dollar, then they’re not going to learn how to deal with constraint, right. So that’s where the idea came from. It was literally Hey, you know, rather than, I think you’re old enough to be able to manage money, the way you see fit, right? And I want you to be I want to treat you like an adult. And I’m gonna give you some opportunities where you can make some additional money. But there are certain things that listen, I’m gonna pay for anyway, I’m going to pay for your books, I’m going to pay for your birthday gifts, I’m going to pay for your clothes, I’m going to pay for whatever, let’s just add it all up, let’s figure out what that budget is going to be. And I had them take a first run at it by themselves, you know, because I thought that was an important like, process. And then I came back and they brought me their first draft. And I would ask them, okay, so what? What did you think about this? They just think about that? How long do clothes last? What happens if you have four friends that have birthday parties instead of one? You know, it’s Let’s talk this through. And then their second draft I just accepted, regardless of what they put forward. Right? Because I wanted to teach her how to negotiate as well. Right, he still felt it was under, like, it was definitely, I was definitely under,

John Corcoran 33:32

hoping that they’re gonna run out of money. And they’re gonna need to figure out that their way out of that.

Chuck Bender 33:37

I was hoping that they would recognize that they needed to be more thoughtful about how they, how they structured these things. It’s think of it as just it’s a learning exercise, right? So as you know, so as they got through the year, they would spend their money on video games, you know, on Steam, and then they would run out of money for lunch at school. I’m like, well, there’s always money. There’s always stuff in the refrigerator, pack a bag. I’m not giving you more lunch money. Your next payday is two weeks from now,

John Corcoran 34:07

so so that you’d have the regular paydays that they work towards got it. So

Chuck Bender 34:11

I opened a checking account with them. And then I would just literally transfer $500 a month into the checking account. And it ran out when it ran out. Yeah. And, you know, their fallback was what was in the refrigerator. And were they doing chores to earn this money? No, this was just the stuff I would normally do. Yeah, we have expectations in our house that if you live in our house, you contribute to the solving house, and then there’s extra work, right. So the extra work was stuff like, hey, my car’s need washed. You know, we have two and a half acres mowing the lawn is not trivial. So, you know, that would be an extra thing. You know, I paid for a couple hours for that I’d fit you know, so there were other bigger things that they could do that way The kid earn the money. But for the most part, you know what I, I really wanted to be this this to be about the things that I would any parent would just pay for. Mm. Right? And turn that money over to him. So, you know, I to me like dishes and cleaning up after yourself. And that’s just you live in a house with other human beings you’re contributing. That’s not a pay for process. That was just my

John Corcoran 35:25

attitude around it. Yeah. And so the all the way through high school your kids all the way

Chuck Bender 35:29

through high school. So every year, they’d come back and renegotiate, right, they’d come back and they wanted a new cell phone. And I’m like, Well, where does that fit into your budget? I didn’t see where that one worked. You know, the, the when they started driving, it was like gas. So both of my kids went to high school about we took them out of district. And the school was about 40 minutes away from where we live. So my wife and I, either one of us, mostly, my wife would drive them back and forth to school until they got their driver’s license. The day they got their driver’s license was like, Oh, we picked up, you know, three hours a day. Yeah. In our life by not having to do that. So we were fine with the car given providing the car and providing insurance. But gas was the big thing that we made sure they had in their budget, right? Yeah, yeah. And then we had to figure it out, like, what’s your car’s gas mileage? And what is each day back and forth to school was is that cost to get you there for transportation? Now, if you’re gotten banned, and you have to go back, you’re staying later you got a sports thing? Or you’re gonna go to a game or whatever, let’s calculate those, because that’s two trips that day. So I hadn’t really just do basic math. Right? Yeah, think it through? Yeah.

John Corcoran 36:43

So you now have a 25 year old and 21 year old? And what are they like with managing money now after having gone through this experience?

Chuck Bender 36:53

So it’s really fascinating. So my oldest is probably one of the more frugal people you ever know, he just doesn’t spend money.

John Corcoran 37:01

You think he would have been that way? If you’d done this exercise with him? Good honor,

Chuck Bender 37:06

it’s hard to say. But he definitely learned how to decide what’s important to spend money on and what’s not important to spend money on for him, like for the life he wants to have. And then my youngest is one of those that he’s still in college, so we’re still helping him out. But you know, it’s kind of the same thing. What is the basics that you have to have in order to be in college, we’re gonna pay for your the roof over your head and a housing plan for food. But if you want to go to the frat party, and you want to be the wealthy guy on campus, well, you gotta go drive DoorDash or something during the day, right, you know, find a couple hours a week where you gonna go do that. So he, it’s interesting, because he doesn’t ask me for money very often, but he will ask my wife and it shows up in a text and it starts with an M. And he goes, Oh, yeah. And my wife’s like, what does he want now? But they’re both they’re both understand money. And they’re both pretty good with it. I’d say. I think the difference between my oldest and my youngest is my oldest, learn how to live within something. And my youngest figures out how to expand to whatever he wants. Right. And he’s definitely more of the entrepreneurial one of the two.

John Corcoran 38:20

Let me ask you this about parenting because this came up in a EO group, EO dad’s group that I’m in where someone was talking about, you know, they liked some nice things there. They’ve done well, they like as a family to go on nice trips or vacations or have a little splurge is from time to time. How do you manage that? And not have the kids take that for granted? And actually appreciate it?

Chuck Bender 38:44

I think it’s a high bar expecting them to, to have a feeling about something, you know, that based on our own experience, and I think that’s probably the, you know, as a parent, the hardest thing that I had to realize is that my comparative life experience and their comparative life experience is a completely different frame of reference. So, like, the things that happened every day for them would have been considered like the super treat for me when I was a kid. Yeah. So having them appreciate. I don’t know if that’s gonna happen. Like, you know, they’ll, they’ll say the words if we train them to say the words, but honestly, you know, I think the true appreciation comes later. I think it comes when they have to write the check themselves or when they’re doing stuff with their own kids and those types of things. I’d like to say I had some magic answer on that. But I mean, we were we don’t do big splurging things. So I guess we do. You know, again, it comes back to your frame of reference. So like, you know, they went to when I was a senior there was a senior trip to go to Disneyland that was $50 So we couldn’t afford to go. Right. My kids graduate, we go to Europe for three weeks for their graduation trip. Right. So, you know, yeah,

John Corcoran 40:08

there’s there’s, but it’s hard. You know, it’s hard to expect kids to have the same level of gratitude and appreciation that you would growing up poor and not having access to those things.

Chuck Bender 40:19

Correct. So how, you know, what I’ve tried to do is just, I think where my kids get the most gratitude isn’t giving to those who can’t. I don’t think it’s necessarily a gratitude for what we’ve provided, I think, I think they do have gratitude for what we’ve provided on some level, but I don’t think they recognize it until they see what could have been. And And oftentimes, that comes from going out and serving in the community, go serve in a soup kitchen, go work there for four hours, and actually see people who are really struggling. I, you know, one of the there was a time when my oldest was about 13, when I realized that I probably had been making a mistake and a parent, or I didn’t emphasize this enough. And we were in the drive thru, at a McDonald’s or a Burger King or something. And I placed my order. And the woman behind the thing couldn’t really hear it didn’t hear me correctly. So she asked again. So I, you know, I explained the order again, and my son, my son, my dog, and my son made some snarky comment. And it was like, you know, listen, if she, if she were, if she were smart enough, or something enough, or whatever, she wouldn’t be doing this job. And I literally, I was like, Oh, my God. I said, Son, I worked at McDonald’s. When I was an adult, I worked part time at McDonald’s at night when I was in the Navy. So we need to have a conversation about this. You don’t know what life is like? You don’t know. But what I can guarantee, I was really upset with him at the time. And it wasn’t fair to him to be as upset about it. But it triggered me. And I was like, Listen, you are you live a life that is absolutely amazing compared to what most people in the world live their lives as. And here’s the difference between what she’s doing and what a lot of people are doing. She’s working. Yeah, she is putting her time and her effort into making a difference to support herself. Her family, despite whatever is done, and what I love most about it, is she doesn’t have an ego about it to you. She’s not above working in McDonald’s, and neither am I. Yeah, I’d go work there tomorrow, if there’s a difference between feeding you and not feeding you. So that you know, and I think that my my reaction to that for him was an eye opener for him. That I he didn’t see comment, and I didn’t see comment, right? You know, everyone’s you find those little things that just kind of go holy crap.

John Corcoran 42:57

It confronts your own values, right. You know, when your kid makes a comment like that, and you like, hold on? I do not want you thinking that saying that at all, you know, and sometimes you don’t know until it comes out.

Chuck Bender 43:10

Yeah. So ironically, he today is probably one of the most giving, caring goes the extra mile for people. So the lesson landed? Yeah, great.

John Corcoran 43:23

Mission accomplished. Before we wrap things up any final thoughts on this idea of ending generational poverty, anything else we haven’t touched on?

Chuck Bender 43:32

Well, so my mission now is really to try and help help others do that for themselves. I think it’s, I think it’s, it’s a unique person that says in a family that it’s not going to go past me, I am the end of that. And, and I want to find those people. And I want to encourage them, and I want to teach them and I want to give them opportunity. I want to do whatever I can. Because if I can end it with that one person, and everybody that happens behind them, that I think we can really make an impact on on the world. You know. So,

John Corcoran 44:08

Chuck, my final question, I’m a big fan of gratitude, especially expressing gratitude to those who have helped you along the way who are some people, especially peers and contemporaries, maybe someone in the world at EO or entrepreneurship that you’d want to just call out and thank them specifically?

Chuck Bender 44:23

Well, so there are a lot of people who’ve done impact, lots of impact for me, but I’m going to talk about one who is not an EO who’s not a particularly wealthy person when it comes to money or business. But he changed my life more than almost anybody else did. And this is when I was in my 20s when I was a broker actually at the time. And his name is Adrian Boyland, he and I used to go to, we used to go clubbing together, right? We’d got to chase girls. And we’d walk into these bars and literally The everybody in the bar would just swarm him. Just swarm him, Mike now Adrian is a good looking guy, but he’s like five, seven, you know, he’s not, he’s not a big muscular guy. He’s just a guy. Everybody loves Adrian, everybody loved him, and I wouldn’t be standing next to him literally in $1,000 Armani suit. And nobody would even say hello. Right. And I was just like, trying to unpack that. And so one night we were, we used to go play backgammon at his apartment at the end of the after the bars closed and just talk about life. And, and he was that nine years older than I am. And I asked him, I said, Dude, what is what is going on? Man, everybody loves you. And, man, I can’t nobody even notices I’m there. Right? And he goes, Well, you know, you’re, he goes, Well, Chuck, you’re kind of a, you kind of put people off, you act like you’re better than they are. And I was like, what? He goes, Well, you don’t but people, that’s the perception that people have. And I said, Well, tell me more. He says, Well, you don’t really say hi. You don’t smile. So. So he sees he says to me, he goes check you are you You stand there, you kind of watch people, you don’t engage people, you don’t smile. You’re just there. And people kind of perceive you as thinking that you’re better than they are they perceive you as being something then. And I was stunned by this. I was like what I’m like, Really, I was just shy. Like, I was afraid to actually say hi, or great at being kind of rejected by peers, or you know, those types of things. And so I went out the next day, and I went to the library, and I checked out How to Win Friends and Influence People. Right? Dale Carnegie, Dale Carnegie. Yeah. And I ab tested every chapter of that book, and I started copying Adrian. Now Adrian is one of these human beings that every time you interact with him, you feel better about who you are for, for having had the interaction. And, and for 30 seconds, you are the only person in his world. And you know that. And just watching that, and watching how that worked for him and learning that skill, and learning how to just be focused on other people and be curious about other people instead of being afraid of other people. single biggest influence changed everything about my life, everything, literally everything. Because I was still that shy, poor kid with a chip on his shoulder, trying to prove something wrong, you know, prove the world wrong, and all that other stuff at the time. So I mean, he’s probably was like this major pivot point for me. I have a couple of former elf or inmates that are in my will today. Because when when my kids were younger, I was still traveling a lot. And if we got if I died, there was no plan, they both stepped forward and said, Listen, you know, if something happens to you, I will run your company will hire a president, we’ll make sure your family’s taking care of, you know, I think they’re just blessed. Honestly, I’m blessed. I Warren Rustand I mean, I was texting with him today. He is He has had a massive influence on my life. Um, you know, that

John Corcoran 48:16

when I interviewed him, I told him that I told him, I’d interviewed probably two dozen people who had said that, on that on their interview,

Chuck Bender 48:22

yeah, George Gan is another one who’s had a massive influence on my life. And I was texting with him this morning, you know, I think I think, EO gives us such such a, a target rich environment have amazing, high caliber, great character individuals to learn from. And Warren Rustand, and for me is like the, in philosophy, there’s this idea of a ruler, right? A straight edge by which you compare yourself that type of ruler, not a ruler in terms of Oh, my God, you’re in charge. Right. And, and George is that way, Dean Dorcas is that way, he’s the one of the guys in the will well, more unrest stands that way. But there are a ruler by which I compare my behavior, the way I treat people the way I want to show up in the world, my character, and and try to keep aligned with him. You know, and I think religion, I think, I think, depending on your faith, Christ serves that purpose for Christians as well. So I mean, and has always served that purpose for me as well. So let me that hopefully that answers that question.

John Corcoran 49:34

No, it was great. It’s a great answer. Chuck, where can people go to connect with you learn more about you? And follow up if they have any questions?

Chuck Bender 49:42

I use LinkedIn is probably the best way. You can just search me on LinkedIn. You can go to either one of my company’s websites or But, you know, really, if you reach out to me on LinkedIn, I’d love to connect with you and If there’s ever anything I could do to support anybody, please feel free to reach out. I love helping people.

John Corcoran 50:06

Thanks so much. All right. Thank you, John.

Outro 50:09

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