Jabez LeBret | Lessons Learned From a Tough Childhood and the Value of Nurturing Business Relationships

Jabez LeBret is the Co-founder of Lotus Launch, an online content library that helps entrepreneurs scale their businesses to seven figures and beyond. Jabez grew up in a small remote village in Alaska, and he went from being a homeless teenager to studying finance in college, eventually landing a role at Nordstrom. He also started GNGF, a marketing agency for lawyers, which he later sold and started a boarding school. 

Jabez is the author of I Don’t Match Socks: Seven Principles That Open Doors, Lead to Promotions and Build a Better Culture. He is a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and a speaker, having delivered over 1,200 presentations across the globe. 

Jabez LeBret, the Co-founder of Lotus Launch, joins John Corcoran in this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast to talk about his tough childhood and his journey to entrepreneurship. They also discuss Jabez’s book, how he started a tuition-free boarding school, and the lessons learned over the years about building relationships.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • Jabez LeBret’s tough upbringing in Alaska
  • How Jabez became an entrepreneur
  • Jabez‘s experience as a homeless teenager and why he dropped out of high school
  • The lessons Jabez learned about communication and building relationships
  • How Jabez built a legal marketing firm and started a tuition-free boarding school
  • Giving back to the community through Lotus Launch
  • The value of networking and nurturing business relationships
  • The peers Jabez acknowledges for their support

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Sponsor: Rise25

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Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90xAtariEinstein BagelsMattelRx BarsYPO, EO, Lending Tree, Freshdesk,  and many more.  

The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.

Podcast production has a lot of moving parts and is a big commitment on our end; we only want to work with people who are committed to their business and to cultivating amazing relationships.

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Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:14

Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.

John Corcoran 0:40

Welcome everyone, John Corcoran here, I’m the host of the show. And for those of you who have not checked it out before hopefully you have but if you haven’t checked out our archives because we’ve got some great interviews with smart CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs, all kinds of companies ranging from Netflix to Kinko’s, YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard, LendingTree, and many more. And I’m also the Co-founder of Rise25, where we help connect b2b business owners to their ideal prospects. My guest here today, his name is Jabez LeBret he went from homeless as a teenager, to then studying finance in college, had to drop out of high school, but then went back, got his GED, went and studied finance, and eventually made his way to Nordstroms. He’s had his own agency, which he sold marketing agency we sold his he’s run a boarding school, he’s been involved in a lot of different things, and has spoken on on lots of different stages given over 1000 different presentations written books, very active in the entrepreneurs, organization, EO, which I’m active in, as well. And he now runs a Lotus Launch, which is an online content library, helping entrepreneurs manage the journey to seven figures and beyond in revenue. And his book is I Don’t Match Socks. I love that title I Seven Principles That Open Doors, Lead to Promotions and Build a Better Culture. And fun fact, he grew up in a small are originally born in a small remote village in Alaska. So we’ll have to hear all about that, of course, this episode brought to you by my company, Rise25, where we help b2b businesses get clients referrals and strategic partnerships with done-for-you, podcasts and content marketing, and you can learn all about what we do at Rise25 five.com. Alright Jabez, I’m so excited to have you here. I saw you speak on stage at a conference last year, an EO conference in Los Angeles and you just absolutely crushed it telling your your personal story and connecting it to the work that you do. First, let’s start with that story. So you had a bit of a tough upbringing, started in a remote village in Alaska, I’d love to know what that was like. But you ended up being homeless for a while as a teenager. So take us back to that, that period of your life and some of the lessons that you bring forward from that experience.

Jabez LeBret 2:46

And yeah, thank you so much for having me on. Well, it’s an honor to be here. And, you know, we don’t often never really choose the kind of the beginning that’s kind of one of those things that you know, your life starts the way it starts. And you know, I’ve I know somebody guests you’ve had on before, like Victor and some other folks who’ve had some interesting upbringings as well. And they’ll probably say the same thing, which is, you just kind of are delta, a certain deck of cards, and you just kind of kind of go with it. You know, my mom’s a paranoid schizophrenic. And, you know, she really struggled, you know, through that and early 20s. And she had moved up to Alaska to get away from everybody, and then met my dad and I happened. I was, interestingly, I was the last baby born in my town. So the doctor retired. And now all the moms have to give a close the like, main hospital down and all the moms have to get flown over to another city. And that’s kind of an Alaska thing. Like, that’s not that surprising in Alaska. You know, but we lived in a cabin, like out in the bush, and they were both fishermen. They had a salmon fishing operation. And I was about two weeks old, my mom had a pretty major episode. And, you know, it involved a shooting, and, you know, my dad survived the incident. And my mom, you know, had to go in a mental hospital. And it just really kind of set the tone for what the beginning of my kind of journey was going to look like. And, you know, as I progressed, so many people stepped in to help out, you know, and kind of give me support, but I still kind of meander through, you know, and eventually when I was in high school, my mom had another episode. And, you know, I ended up homeless, you know, my mom just disappeared. And

John Corcoran 4:28

now by this point, you are in Spokane, Washington.

Jabez LeBret 4:31

Yeah. So my parents had separated and I was playing parent tag for those that had, you know, separate parents. And so I was bouncing back and forth between Alaska and Spokane and my dad had lost custody if a couple of years prior. And, you know, so he was up there, and I hadn’t been up to Alaska for a couple of years. And then I was 16. And, you know, it’s the weekend before Thanksgiving, and, you know, my mom just left, you know, and she had remarried I stepped out I was pretty abusive, so it wasn’t a good environment. And, you know, I kind of was on my own from then on. But luckily, like in that situation, I had five friends parents who let me couchsurf through the remainder of my junior and senior year in high school,

John Corcoran 5:15

which is a huge move. You end up moving around from different friends houses. Are you working at the same time? China?

Jabez LeBret 5:22

Oh, yeah, yeah, I started working at 14 get a latte stand. I was a little little young barista there probably total a total probably total violation of OSHA or whatever. But like, I worked at this little coffee stand and then eventually I got a bit job bagging groceries Washington

John Corcoran 5:39

State, they’re known for their

Jabez LeBret 5:42

way. The coffee is the important part. Forget the child labor laws. No, super awesome that I had people give me employment. And that was really the only way that I got money was was through working and so I didn’t really have much of a choice there. And my parents friends, you know, about one or two weeks per house, you know, and I kind of bounced around and you know, I bagged groceries and worked in the deli and worked in the bakery. I mean, I would work anywhere that would take me I would work for sure.

John Corcoran 6:11

Yeah. Now we’re we’re there. Did you have entrepreneurial includes inclinations at that point in time? Were you thinking entrepreneurial or was it just like, whatever I can do to make a buck and your job was it for you?

Jabez LeBret 6:23

I got you know, it’s weird, because I hate to think that entrepreneurial ism. entrepreneurism is like an inherent thing. But even as a like a young kid, when I was like, eight, nine years old, I was, you know, there’s a lot of some winters we get a lot of snow in Spokane, I’d like recruit my friends to come work for me and we’d go like, shovel driveways and get snow off the roofs in the summertime, I ran a little lawn mowing business. And you know, I just kind of always kind of found myself in that situation in high school. You know, I mean, I was I skipped class relentlessly, like I like if you could get an A and cutting class. I was acing That. That. And one of my teachers, who’s a physical science teacher, who owns two small companies that he ran in the morning, before high school, we’d wake up at like four in the morning, and like, run these two small companies, and then come be a teacher. And he said, Hey, would you like to learn about entrepreneurship? And I was like, Sure, like I, whatever that is, and you know, and so it kind of walked me through it. And we met from basically my sophomore middle my sophomore year through the end of high school, once a week on Wednesdays, for about 20 minutes after class. And he just taught me about entrepreneurship for like a year and a half to two and a half years, two and a half years, which is amazing. Like that that teacher took that extra step. You know, they didn’t have to, but yeah, I mean, I came out must have seen something in you. Yeah, I don’t know. I guess so. You know, I mean, I think I know, since we’ve ended up in a school project, I know so many teachers, and they just really are like, awesome, like teachers are amazing humans. But it was it was pretty, pretty big deal for me that he took the time and effort to do that. And really kind of give me a start in understanding and me even me writing business plans. So like I wrote a business plan for a coffee stand. In my junior year in high school, I wasn’t able to get it off the ground myself. And so we sold the plan to one of his friends in Florida, and they’re still up and operating 20 years later,

John Corcoran 8:31

nice jobs. assets that

Jabez LeBret 8:35

I think I sold it for like $150

John Corcoran 8:38

or something, but I was still I was so excited. Yeah, your first business sale. There you go. Exactly. And what about the parents of the that the kids that you’re friends with that house? Do you I mean, two years to How’d you even rotating from house to house that’s a long time.

Jabez LeBret 8:56

It is a long time. You know, in a scene, I can’t say enough to how just incredible it is. My life would have been a disaster had that not happened. I mean, I spent some time on the streets. Prior to that happening and in that’s not a place to be as a teenager. And so I owe so much to these families and individuals in the thought now, like as an adult, the thought of taking on a teenager, like an extra teenager in your house sleeping on your couch, like for two weeks. That just blows my mind. But one of the families the dad owned an insurance company, he was an insurance broker. And so he had a an insurance company in town and he had maybe, I don’t know probably eight or nine employees in that office and had another office in Seattle and Dudley Bain man I learned a lot from watching that guy to

John Corcoran 9:49

man I wish an insurance someone in insurance have taken me under their wing when I was in high school because to me it was it was those are the joke career when I was younger, and then when you become an adult you realize it’s the absolute opposite you sell something once you benefit from it for years to come. And everyone I know when an insurance, you know, 1015 years later, they’re just like on the golf course. Yeah, I’m oversimplifying it, but it seems like that.

Jabez LeBret 10:13

Yeah. It’s a great business to be in. For sure.

John Corcoran 10:17

Yeah. So you end up having to grant Yeah, the end but having to drop out of high school.

Jabez LeBret 10:23

Yeah, I just didn’t have enough credits. It was a weird situation, I got kind of close to the end. And they I went to a huge high school or 2000 students. And I never fault the guidance counselor for not really having quite figured this out earlier. But like, during my senior year, they’re like, you don’t, you’re not gonna have enough credits to graduate. So I’d like challenged a couple classes, I tried to audit out of a few classes, and I just couldn’t quite get caught up. You know, but I was good at staying in the background. You know what I mean? Like I had learned to not, I didn’t want any attention, really, in the sense of like, I just wanted to not have people know what’s going on, you know, in my life in the back, because, you know, it’s embarrassing when you’re a kid, especially.

John Corcoran 10:59

Yeah, yeah, for sure. Now, I know for you, part of the inspiration behind the book that you wrote, was your appreciation for relationships. And, and you’ve mentioned it a couple of times, these key relationships really helped you through, you’ve taken that into the world of business was there. What was it from your high school years, your college years that helped you to learn some of these skills around relationship building that have helped you so much in