Taylor Trusty | Lessons Learned from Building and Selling an Agency in a Small Market

Taylor Trusty is the CEO and Co-founder of Signal Insights, a competitive intelligence software platform. He is an entrepreneur, speaker, and strategist, and he has started several companies, most notably Blackstone Media, which is a digital creative and marketing agency that helps brands such as Toyota Material Handling, Sonoma-Cutrer / Brown-Forman, Mercer, PetFirst Pet Insurance, and others to grow their businesses online. He later sold Blackstone Media in 2018.

Taylor currently lives in New York but he is originally from Kentucky where he was named Emerging Entrepreneur by The Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • Why Taylor Trusty decided not to go to college, and why how he decided at a young age that he was going to focus on running his own business
  • What Taylor did after failing his freshman year in high school, how he learned software programming, and how he started working as a sales rep at 16 years old
  • How Taylor started his own e-commerce company and a website-building agency
  • Why recruiting locally made Taylor stand out from his competition
  • How being better equipped at handling questions and objections makes someone better at sales
  • Why Taylor joined Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) and what he learned from it
  • Why Taylor split his time between New York and Louisville
  • Why Taylor sold his business in 2018, the lessons he learned from it, and how he informed his team about it
  • How Signal Insights was influenced by his previous businesses and his vision for it
  • Taylor shares his experience in Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) and what he did to move on after selling Blackstone Media
  • Taylor’s insights on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting his business and the economy
  • The people Taylor acknowledges for his success and achievements

Resources Mentioned:

Sponsor: Rise25

Today’s episode is sponsored by Rise25 Media, where our mission is to connect you with your best referral partners, clients, and strategic partners. We do this through our done for you business podcast solution and content marketing. 

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If you do it right, a podcast is like a “Swiss Army Knife” – it is a tool that accomplishes many things at once. It can and will lead to great ROI, great clients, referrals, strategic partnerships, and more. It is networking and business development; and it is personal and professional development which doubles as content marketing

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:14  

Welcome to 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  

All right. Welcome everyone. John Corcoran. Here. I’m the host of the Smart Business Revolution podcast where I talk with CEOs founders and entrepreneurs of companies and organizations like YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard, Lending Tree, Open Table x offer many more. I’m also co-founder of Rise25, where we help connect B2B business owners to their ideal prospects. And I’m excited today to talk to Taylor Trusty. 

Taylor and I connected when we met at Startup Grind in Silicon Valley about a month or two ago before the whole Corona craziness descended upon us and live events went by the wayside for the time being. We connected and met through eo entrepreneurs organization, which we’re both involved in. And Taylor is an entrepreneur, Speaker strategist. He’s a really passionate and honest guy. I love my conversation with him and I said, this is a smart guy that I got to bring onto the podcast so I can share some of his wisdom. He started several companies, most notably Blackstone media, which is a digital creative and marketing agency helping brands such as Toyota material handling Sonoma contraire, Mercer to grow their business online. And he also sold that business in 2018. 

He’s originally from Kentucky, he was named an emerging entrepreneur into the Kentucky entrepreneur Hall of Fame. And now based in New York, and now running a company by the name of wait for it signal insights, which we’ll talk about a moment And how he ended up starting that new business and how he’s working on that, as well. So first before we get to that, this episode is brought to you by Rise25 Media which I co founded with Dr. Jeremy Weisz, my business partner and our mission is to connect you with your ideal, best referral partners and customers and we do that through our done for you podcast solution. I’m a firm believer that some of the best value that’s ever come to my life is from doing a podcast, hands down. One of the best things is it’s like a Swiss Army knife, a tool that will accomplish so much at once will lead to great clients, referrals, strategic partnerships, even get to talk to smart people like I’m about to do here with my friend Taylor. So if you want to learn more, go to Rise25Media.com and you can learn all about how to leave a legacy for yourself and your guests. 

Alright, so Taylor, you know, we connected at Startup Grind, you’ve got this interesting background, and we were talking beforehand and you said that a young age you knew you didn’t want to go to college so you didn’t end up going to college and not That you ended up you failed out of your freshman year in high school. Now you’re this first of all, let me paint a picture here. Taylor’s kind of a taller guy. I’m about 5-10. You’re what? 6-1, 6-2? 


Okay, wow, I really underestimated that. You know, got a nice button down shirt got the kind of Midwestern sensibility, you know, you could pass for a lawyer or a doctor or something like that. What was it was at a young age, you’re just like, I’m gonna go run my own business on I don’t need to do this schooling thing.

Taylor Trusty  3:31  

What what was what was that? Like? What was young Taylor like? Yeah, that’s a good question. I you know, my grandfather was an entrepreneur, he owned design company. My mom has always, you know, for most of my life has worked for herself. And that was the had a big impact on me, was a huge Bill Gates fan. I still am now for different reasons. I was really interested in computers. I was a computer nerd. Also a lot of my life. I was when I was a kid. I thought I was really smart. You know, adults told me I was smart. And and there was this thinking of, well, I’m, I’m smarter than this teacher about computers or technology or business or what have you. So maybe I don’t need this. So I think at an early, you know, in high school, a lot of it was arrogance was. And I was a ferocious reader. So I read a lot, I still do. I read a lot, I just consumed a lot of content, consumed a lot of information, enjoyed learning on my own, and felt that I could do it better. You know, and also, I really value and still to this day value experience over theory, or over, you know, I’m a very practical person. I like like, how do we do this now? So I always erred on that side. And at least for me, school didn’t provide a lot.

John Corcoran  4:52  

So what did you do when you failed out your freshman year? Did you get a job at that point?

Taylor Trusty 4:59  

Well, I mean, I remember Did my freshman year so I failed, I continued. Yeah, I continued on. So I had five years of high school. Uh, yeah. I mean, I was playing like seven hours a day at Counter Strike. I was playing computer games. A lot of that time was wasted. Yeah. I got it really good at Counter Strike. And I ran this clan, which is like a gaming group and Counter Strike

John Corcoran  5:22  

online or what was it or locally?

Taylor Trusty  5:24  

Yeah, online. Okay. So, yeah. And, and, you know, it’s funny that I was like, 1314. I ended up meeting this guy in Detroit. His name’s Sam.

John Corcoran  5:36  

This sounds like a scary story.

Taylor Trusty  5:38  

Yeah. So we met online, you know, we would play play, I don’t know, a few times a week. And, you know, we kind of fell out of touch. He ended up moving to New York. And somehow we got connected on Facebook. And then, I don’t know 10 years later, 12 years later, I messaged him on Facebook, and I said, Hey, I’m visiting New York. We should meet I’d never met him in person. I meet him at a corner. I thought we were going, he said, hey, let’s go to scotch tasting. So I show up at this corner and there’s no scotch bar. It’s just a building. And he’s like, Oh, yeah, come up to the 53rd floor or whatever. And I’m like, Oh, shit, this is apartment building. And so I went up to his apartment, I was up, I was with a buddy of mine. And he said, Well, somebody needs to tell your mom how you died. So I’m not going up there with you. Ended up being fine. We’re we’re really, really good friends today. He’s actually a member of YO, you know, so we’re both the see both done. Good.

John Corcoran  6:34  

So at what point did you make the pivot from spending seven hours a day on video games to generating income a revenue at some point, the kind of the pivot into not entrepreneurship?

Taylor Trusty  6:47  

Well, you know, spending a lot of time playing computer games, but I was also spending that time learning how to program I learned Visual Basic and HTML and JavaScript, early versions of JavaScript when I was 1314. So right around that time, that there plan the Counter Strike plan, and I was reading I, I built our website. And that’s what got me my first job as a web designer. So I got a job as a web designer 15. And then it worked to Hewlett Packard as a salesperson at 16. And then my last

John Corcoran  7:13  

18 years old, and you’re selling for HP?

Taylor Trusty  7:16  

Yeah, I was a retail sales rep. I was the youngest one that they had hired.

John Corcoran  7:19  

Wow. So and are you? Are you going out and walking around going to local businesses? Are you calling around? How were you doing that?

Taylor Trusty 7:28  

I was in retail stores. So I was in CompUSA, Circuit City Best Buy. Mostly those three. I was mostly in CompUSA. So I’d be in there and you know, 1617, I’ve looked 16 or 17. People are coming in and asking me questions about printers. And what’s funny is that if you came in and you said, Hey, you know, I’d really like a printer. That’s great at photos and boba, and then Epson printer was actually a better fit for you. I would tell you to go by the Epson. I’m like, Oh, actually, this Epson printer over here is really, really good. So it turns out it wasn’t a great salesperson for HP As a great consumer advocate, you know, I gave what I thought were the right answers. But I went when my manager found out, she got very upset. I guess they do secret shopping. And it’s through a series of events, you know, finding out sick. Why did you recommend the episode? I was because it was a better fit. She said, we can’t do that. But then, then I went to a couple of semesters of college, failed all of those classes, and started an e commerce company. You know, we three of us kind of worked at this e commerce company we were selling, we were selling trading cards online primarily on eBay. And we said, Hey, you know, we’re kind of we think we’re running this business, why don’t we start, you know, leave and start our own company. So we started in a garage, built it up, I end up selling out to them, and then went on.

John Corcoran  8:49  

That was your first business before you started Blackstone. Mm hmm. Okay. Okay. And then and then you just how did you end up starting an agency?

Taylor Trusty  8:58  

Well, when I sold hobbyist when I sold out a hobby edge, I needed, you know, there wasn’t a whole lot of money involved. So I needed to make a living. And so I went back to what I knew, which was how to build websites. And I partnered up, you know, I was doing contract programming work, basically. And a guy that was doing work asked me over lunch, he’s like, hey, do you wanna start a new company? And we’ll be 5050 partners? And I said, Sure. No, so simple as that. He was the designer. I was the programmer. And we started building websites.

John Corcoran  9:31  

And you had a really interesting model of the talent that you brought into that business. First of all, you’re based in Louisville, right Louisville, Kentucky, where you’re from, you’re from Kentucky. And so you recruited locally from the local university. Talk a little bit about how that was a differentiator for you guys.

Taylor Trusty  9:50  

Well, over time. You know, I was, I’m still a fairly young guy, I think. But you know, at the time, a lot of my competitors were older people. I really enjoyed speaking. And so if a university needed a speaker, I’d be there. I, you know, my peak, I was doing 50 or 60 talks a year in 2014 1516. So, you know, it ended up kind of building it up over time, but I would go in and I would speak I would I would and I don’t think I would say the normal things that people say like I wouldn’t go in there like stay in school, I would go in there like I maybe should leave so maybe they didn’t enjoy it that much. But I know, my feedback and my advice is very practical. And afterwards people would always come up to me like Hey, you guys are hiring and at the beginning, you know, we were a small team, so we usually weren’t, but we you know, we built a good reputation in the city. We tried to be fair, we were a fun place to work, all etc, etc. And I think what we’re leading into is that when I sold the business that was big, it was a big thing that they wanted was this talent pipeline. This reputation, you know, we were in business for 12 years. Oh, you know, and we took this slow, I took the slow approach. Yeah, I didn’t need to Be a Millionaire Next week, let’s do the right thing, and build a good reputation.

John Corcoran  11:15  

And at least up until recently, getting good talent has been a struggle for especially for a lot of larger agencies on the coasts, you know, and in California and New York. And so these were, you know, a talented became a talented pipeline that gave you good people and allowed you to charge you know, and make a margin correct.

Taylor Trusty  11:39  

Exactly. Yeah, you’re right. So we were, you know, towards the end, we were competing with agencies outside of our markets. So we were, you know, I had large clients, and I was bidding against agencies in San Francisco and New York, etc. I mean, at the beginning, we were a very, very small shop, with small clients and small prices, and so it was always But over time as we slowly grew and built our kind of repertoire Yeah.

John Corcoran  12:05  

Now you don’t strike me as a bad salesperson Now, have you gotten better at it?

Taylor Trusty 12:12  

I haven’t gotten better at sales.

John Corcoran  12:13  

Yeah. Or do you stay away from sales?

Taylor Trusty 12:16  

No, no, no. So sales is my primary thing. Yeah.

John Corcoran  12:19  

You seem like you’re good at it. So how did you get better at it? And stop you know, you stopped recommending the Epson. But what you know, how did you get better at sales?

Taylor Trusty  12:29  

You know, I would argue I was actually a good salesman for the bad for Hewlett Packard.

John Corcoran  12:34  

Didn’t get a commission check from Epson, they should have been sending you a check. Yeah, exactly.

Taylor Trusty  12:41  

You know, when, so I started the business in 2006. Blackstone, and then, you know, we needed to make sales right and, and part of the part of how I was a good salesperson up front is that I just read more than anyone else, somebody My theory was that if I was better equipped to handle any of your objections or questions, and normally those in my mind were technical, so why wouldn’t this work? How is this better than that? was very feature oriented, technical oriented. And so some people are impressed by that. Some people like wow, this guy’s really smart, we should hire. And so that was how it started. And then it was just, you know, I was pitching a lot. So at my, you know, I was optimizing for meetings. So I was optimal. If you emailed us, or you called us, you said, Hey, I want a new website. I’d go meet with you tomorrow. You know, there was no qualifying. It’s, uh, could you actually afford us or how much you want to spend? How much do you think a website should cost? Yeah. And so if you said that I’d drive out to your place, and I’d come meet with you. And then you know, halfway through the meeting, you’d say, Okay, I was thinking $600 crap. So over time, I get better at filtering. But But you know, the value of that was that got better And I got just piece by piece, every one of these interactions, I start, you know, I really stumble that did not go well, you had a lot of very bad experiences, you know, walked out of offices, all of that. All of that. And so I, I’m a big believer in just do it over and over and over again and hopefully a little bit better each time.

John Corcoran  14:22  

Right, right. What point did you get involved in Ico and for those who don’t know what Ico is, which I’ve mentioned many times in this podcast, so they probably do but give a little overview what eo is and why you ended up getting involved in eo. Yeah, we’ll start there.

Taylor Trusty  14:39  

Sure. So I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, as you mentioned, I always wanted to leave and as the business grew, so we get to 810 employees, right? I used to have a business partner. I bought him out in 2010. So now as the only owner, I realized I’m trapped. I’ve built What I thought was success, but it doesn’t achieve what I actually want. You know, what I wanted was to live on the coast. So I wanted to live in California, like you, or here in New York, and I realized that this business will never serve what I want, and I’m comfortable here. And, you know, I had a great car and had a really nice apartment and had all these things at a very, very nice office. You know, all of that. I made a lot of money. But I realized that those things weren’t actually what I wanted. And when I looked at when I was a kid, or what I thought about what I wanted to be when I grew up, it wasn’t owning an agency and i and i have no, I have a lot of agency friends. I have a great deal of respect for people who run agencies. I did it for a long time. I wanted a way out. And I had no idea how to do that. I didn’t know I didn’t have any friends who had sold businesses, especially ones like mine. And so that was a real that was a real challenge. And coincidentally, I think Had a and I went live in New York. So I started splitting time between Louisville in New York. I started just flying up here now and flying here and I would just go to networking meetings, I would just go there and make a fool of myself. And I am meeting this guy. His name’s Joe. And six months later, he called me and out of the blue, and he goes, Hey, Taylor, do you want to sell your business? And at the time I did, but I was like, No, why? Because all I’m buying them blah, blah, blah. And then he said, Okay, well, if you don’t want to sell your company, you should join this thing called eo. And so what, what is that? And then he said, then, while we’re on the phone, he fills out the, you know, referral form. And there was no eo chapter in Louisville, and I didn’t know what it was. And I went to one in Cincinnati, which is about two hours away. I showed up knowing nothing about it. I sat next to a guy who, I’d been there for five minutes over lunch. I sat next to a guy who goes, do you know why I joined you? I was like, No, he said, Because nobody in my life knew what it was like to have two or three mortgages on my house, I couldn’t tell my wife that no one understood what it was like to sell a big project or no one understood what it was like to lay off three employees. And I needed some I needed a group of people who would support me in doing that. I was like, Whoa, this is great. And I joined and, and, you know, that was five years ago.

John Corcoran  17:21  

Wow. And what have you gotten out of it?

Taylor Trusty  17:25  

I could go on for days, I’m a big evangelist of Yo, I traveled all over the world with yours after I sold my business I traveled, you know, 28 different countries, a lot of them with yours. I, I would not be living here in New York without eo. You know, as part of Yo, I was able to articulate that this concept of I want to live in New York, whereas I couldn’t tell my local friends that because they’re like, Oh, you think you’re too good for us? That was something I heard over and over again, couldn’t tell clients that the run from you and and so I could say that in forum and express that, you know, and I’m in the Cincinnati forum. So basically, if I succeed in This goal I will be leaving this forum, which is something challenging and difficult to say. But But I, I said that they supported me. I had a meeting with a guy who was in my forum, he invested in this company. I had a meeting with him earlier today. So, I, you know, I was I was able to move to New York for two years, I split my time between New York and Louisville. So I flew back and forth every week was always flying.

John Corcoran  18:24  

Teddy figured that out by the way, that seems like a challenge. How did you make that work?

Taylor Trusty 18:31  

Well, I’m not sure I did make it work over time. You know, it just destroys you know, friendships and any kind of relationships you have. Because nobody wants to bite you in anything because no matter what city they think you’re in, you’re never near them. So I did it because I was because I wanted to do it. I thought of myself of a successful person travels a lot. That was the thing in my head. And and so I just optimize my life to do it. And I would you know, the word Day I flew three times in one day in this like 24 hour span to expand an evening but and I thought like I was cool. I was like, cool. I’m like a consultant.

So that was, you know, I had an apartment and Williamsburg and Brooklyn had apartment mobile, I had to two or three sets of everything. At close in New York at closing Kentucky. I could leave on a whim. My car had a car in Kentucky was always at the airport. It was expensive cuz Yeah, yeah. But you know, I worked the goal was to transition slowly to New York and that’s what I did so over time, slowly spent more and more time and then get rid of the local apartment and

John Corcoran  19:43  

and then the so the opportunity to sell the business comes along. And how did that how did that consummate? What was that like? Was it quick? Did it take a while?

Taylor Trusty  19:55  

Yeah, took a took a lot longer than I thought, which I think is Very common amongst people who sell businesses. You know, I basically stepped out of the company. And 2017 I, you know, was that the business was really based in the Midwest. All my clients were their employees. I had some running the business. We had a good year in 2017. And, and, you know, she came, she came here to New York, and she said, Look, this guy who I knew, I brought in as a friend of the business, he’s, he’s interested in selling, would you be interested in buying? Would you be interested? I was like, yeah, so I flew like two days later, Nashville to meet with him, because he happened to be in Nashville. And like I said, I optimized for flying anywhere. So I was like, yeah, I’ll come and meet with you. So I flew down there. We went out drinking the next day. He said, We’d be interested. Here’s what we think it could look like. I said, Great. The next week, I was gonna be in Europe. So I flew to Europe, and I was in Paris in front of the audience. tower when we I was on the phone pacing in front of the Eiffel Tower when he confirmed the deal terms, and then we verbalize the letter of intent that was in April of 2018. We actually close the deal August 31. But but that, you know, over that time period, so those six months or so, it was, uh, you know, it was not it was not a fun time, you know, and I can help anybody who’s going through some type of experience like that, but due diligence is not a good time. And it really exposed you know, what I thought was a successful business under due diligence looks like a piece of crap. You know, it’s a car made that stupid decision, we had this we had this etc. But, you know, at the end of the day, I got done, and I was able to move on, there was no non compete and I also did not have to transition with the company. So on I signed it here in this apartment at 6pm. On Friday, August 31. And that was it. I was done and you’re done.

John Corcoran  21:55  

No, no earn out period or anything like that. Nope.

Taylor Trusty 22:00  

And part of it was I, I wasn’t involved. I had not really been involved in the business anyway, the last, the prior, you know, 1216 months or so. But yeah,

John Corcoran  22:10  

that was so strange. How did the team take it then? Did they know about it in advance? Or did it make a difference since you’re kind of removed?

Taylor Trusty  22:18  

Yeah. So I flew along with the CEO, the acquiring agency, who I was friends with. We both flew into Louisville. We told the team in person. And we did kind of a town hall. People ask questions, and so it was announced to the team. I also announced it to clients, which I think frankly, was probably a mistake. announcing it to the team was also a mistake. As early as it did, I mean, we did it very early, probably in April. So not after not ever to happen.

No, no, it was during due diligence. I introduced them to my largest client Toyota during due diligence. So I made a lot of mistakes. But yeah.

John Corcoran  23:04  

And then you move on so you start signal insights. How did that? How did the next business? How is it influenced by your previous businesses? What kind of decisions did you make about this current business that you have? inspired? I wonder what you’d learned?

Taylor Trusty  23:20  

Yeah, I wanted a business that was not dependent on people. I wanted a business that had recurring revenue. And And ever since I was young, I wanted to run a tech business. So I wanted to really have a software company and my last business, Blackstone, we created some software, we ended up spinning out a separate LLC, we raised some money from a VC firm, I put some money in. So I kind of had a little taste of it. And I said, you know, I’d really like to give this a try. And so I had this concept for competitive intelligence. We called it what the how well one of them we called the hound and one of them we called Blackstone, Intel. Very good branding. And that was in 2013 or 14. So it was always in the back of my head, you know, I put it on the shelf because it just wasn’t the right time. But it was always in the back of my head. And so when, when I sold Blackstone, I thought maybe I could find a way to make this work. And then, you know, was reaching out to my network. I got introduced to a former client to this guy, Keith, who’s one of my co founders now, and we met up and then that I, you know, it things went off from there, he had sold a software company, he had investors who were interested in putting money in his next venture. And, you know, that was really, really fortunate that things just played out and played out in a very, very nice way. What I will say is that, you know, I sold in August of 18, we started for about a year, I was in this real deep funk. So sure I traveled the world, had a great Instagram. Looks like a lot of fun, and it was, but also in the back of my head. I think Felt worthless. So it was you know, Blackstone Blackstone was great had a great reputation did well but what was that just a one trick pony like like am I actually a good entrepreneur because some of these other ideas I was playing with weren’t working people stopped responding my emails, right when I no longer had Blackstone It was really surreal, you know, former clients, they would talk to me but but it was, it was it was it was different. You feel like the relationships were more shallow or they were only interested in you because of the company. Some of them I mean, some of them are really great. Like Yeah, my relationship with Toyota they they signed with this business very early on. But but some of them yeah, it was that that was strange. It’s also pretty strange to go from, you know, being in charge of a company like you where you have clients and you have this reputation and you have employees and and when you when you say you want something done, people have to do it. All that goes away, you know, and and you know, all that goes away and that power, which which some of us are entrepreneurs for, and I didn’t realize this that I was that was part of what I liked. All went away, you know, really, really quickly. And and so I had real trouble dealing with that.

John Corcoran  26:19  

Did you figure that you weren’t going to start a new company? You just weren’t sure when you figured that starting a new company would help cure that problem?

Taylor Trusty  26:28  

What do you know, you know, what I thought would happen? I thought that and this this seems so strange to say out loud, I thought that I would sell a business and keep in mind, you know, my sale was an okay sale like I I couldn’t retire. Right. You know, I could travel and have fun but but it was it was okay. Yeah. So I still needed to figure out what I was going to do is my yes thing. And and so, I I thought that people would come out of the woodwork. I thought that people would come to me like, hey, Taylor, you’re, you know, we should start this company together or This is what I thought would happen. What actually happened was nothing like what actually happened. You know, some people said, Oh, that’s cool. You sold? We’re gonna do now. And and, and then when I didn’t have an answer to that they’re like, cool. And that’s it. You know, I thought that that would be beating down the doors and I know how asinine that says that sounds Yeah, maybe you can empathize maybe, you know we think we’re pretty good at what we do and that people will want us they’re gonna be lining up outside like okay

Unknown Speaker  27:28  

tellers available now.

Taylor Trusty 27:32  

That’s it and they didn’t tell you this moment. Like oh, finally. But instead nobody said anything. You know, it was it was just gone. And I was slightly

John Corcoran  27:44  

different twist on what you do here. People who sold their company frequently hear they get depressed. You hear that all the time, right? You know that they expect it to me this moment of Nirvana. It’s nowhere near and so it ends up being disappointing but that’s an interesting difference. spin on your present the reality what happened to you?

Taylor Trusty  28:04  

Exactly. And and I don’t think there are enough stories like this because if I had heard more people saying when I’m saying now then I wouldn’t have felt like such a loser then I wouldn’t have I wouldn’t have because I thought well maybe I’m really not this you know, smart entrepreneur and and I’m not sure I am right. But but but it really took a big hit to my ego and

John Corcoran  28:28  

and so what sorts of things did you do then did you remain active in eo Did you talk to others who had sold companies to find out what they did? You know, you said eventually you found your business partner. So what sorts of things did you do to come out of that?

Taylor Trusty 28:44  

A lot of talking to people in EO, I also realized that I started to get this reputation amongst, you know, friends of mine and yours of just partying or not a lot of business. And so what I realized is that some people In the O had never seen me as a business person, they’d only seen me as a guy who, you know, was exiting his business or eventually sold. And so they never saw me. So in some ways I don’t think they ever saw me is like a smart person. They just saw me as somebody who, you know, is fun. And it gave us a lot of fun to do. But there wasn’t a lot of respect that came with that. And that was also challenging. I started to realize this after probably a year or two years, so sort of been in 2018 lately.

And yeah, but I interviewed a number of people, any Oh, who had sold companies, and one of them. I’m having a virtual dinner tonight, and they helped me a lot. So it was Taylor. You know, you need to go into the woods by yourself. You should rent a cabin, and just go and journal and just write and do that. Did Yes. So David the guy I’m talking about, uh, he told me that on like a Tuesday, and I got an Airbnb Saturday 11. So I went, I went for three days. And it was fantastic. I mean, it was that that helped. So that put me on this journey. Meditation and journaling helped a lot. But it mostly time, you know, mostly time is what helped. You know, I needed a year to decompress from the old business due diligence was not fun. I needed to just, you know, admit that some things didn’t go as I’d liked. And I made some better decisions, and just forgive myself for that, like, you know, that’s okay. It’s time to move on.

John Corcoran  30:44  

And what was it I know, you know, some of your past clients became clients in the new business, what was it like when you call them up and said, Hey, guys, I got a new thing. Well, back

Taylor Trusty  30:54  

well, what’s odd is that, you know, there were kind of a couple of new things right. So I tried tried to do this kind of consulting. And they were like, well, what are you consulting about? And I didn’t really have a product. And

So it just didn’t feel right. In some ways.

Taylor Trusty 31:13  

Some of them, I’m reaching out to you right now, like, that’s part of the campaign I’m doing right now. We just launched this business to the public in the last three weeks. So this is all very new. We’ve been in kind of private mode, building up the product for the last six months.

Unknown Speaker  31:31  

But But yeah, you know, for the most part, it’s like, wow, it’s nice to hear from you.

Unknown Speaker  31:36  

Yeah, I mean, it’s it’s so far, so good.

John Corcoran  31:38  

Yeah. And now, what are your thoughts on Well, one, how is the current economic crisis, climate and the the COVID, post COVID word we’re in right now, how is that affecting your current business? And what are your further thoughts on how you know business will change in the months ahead? And by the way, for those listening, we’re recording this in April of 2020.

Taylor Trusty  32:05  

Yeah, so today’s April 14 so that we raised the money and in this business, you know, segments literally money before the change. Yeah. Yeah. Last year and so we weren’t expecting to make revenue until April or May up till this timeframe. Anyhow. So in that way, you know, we were fine. We were already remote business, you know that those things were already set up. But But now that we’re pushing some sales, it is interesting because even companies that are doing well are afraid, you know, they’re thinking, you know, we’re doing well right now. But what if this goes on another six months we won’t be doing well. I mean, even the best capitalized companies can’t necessarily go a year without any revenue. Yeah. And so I think that that’s part of it. The uncertainty is what’s just really hurting from a sales perspective. But you know we can be patient and and so we’re fortunate in that way in terms of long lasting effects. I mean, this is something I’m very interested in. I got really interested in the Great Depression so I watched a ton of like, hour long documentaries

John Corcoran  33:15  

recently you got it like during soccer Really? Talk about wallowing in misery like you.

John Corcoran  33:22  

it was you don’t watch contagion the movie, did you?

Taylor Trusty  33:26  

I did not. But I watched I watched a 19 eight I watched an hour long documentary in 1918 flu epidemic and then I watched the great dust bowl and then I watched an opening about an hour long thing so three hours right in a row of depression

John Corcoran  33:41  

man good times at your house man. I’m Tiger King. I don’t know about you.

Taylor Trusty  33:49  

Part of what I wanted to see was what behaviors came out of the Great Depression. So how do people change because there is still business going on Great Depression, but what were the behaviors like? How do people change? And, and you know, there were a number of them. I mean, the Securities and Exchange Commission came out of their FDIC came out of there so that this larger role of government came out of their social security came out of the Great Depression, you know, so we hear things like the new deal and FDR, but what you know, in the early parts of the Great Depression was actually Hoover, who was who was the president, and Hoover was a staunch conservative, he did not want government, he didn’t see the government had any role and in the economy, and that was his belief. And and so the economy further constricted, as part of that. So regardless of how you feel on government intervention, it seems that the government’s gonna be more involved, potentially, I mean, especially as they are right now, that seems like one big trend. The other is I really curious how this work from home thing will play out whether more and more businesses will be working from home. I can tell you and I’m curious what you think. I’ve had much better luck getting people on meetings, so they’ll hop on a zoom. Yes. To

John Corcoran  35:00  

time Oh, it’s fascinating. I mean, depending on who, you know, if it’s someone at Amazon, they’re going crazy right now. But yeah, I mean, we’re hearing from our clients that they’re able to get in touch with people who they have been trying to get in touch with for months or years who suddenly have time on their hands. So it’s a great opportunity right now.

Taylor Trusty 35:16  

really is. So the question is Will people buy you know, after that? And I don’t know the answer to that. I am. I think much like you’re very interested in how this affects the business climate moving forward. I’m a big reader of Matt Levine, who’s a columnist for Bloomberg. And he talks about how if you compare this 2020 crisis to 2008 2008 was really a banking and financial crisis. This is really a health crisis that then led to but that but the banks are in much better shape today than they were in Oh, wait, so we’re not hearing any we’re not hearing. You know, as a matter of fact, JP Morgan released earnings this morning and saw a 23% uptick in deposits. Think about that. Just quarter over quarter 23% of tech composites. And so pulling money out in 2008. Yeah, exactly. They were worried that JP Morgan was gonna go under. And today what they’re doing is they’re pulling money out of treasury bonds and putting it in JP Morgan. Yeah. So they’re almost seeing JP Morgan is more stable than the government in some way. Yeah,

John Corcoran  36:17  

yeah. I’ve heard people say that oh, wait was kind of a great preparation for what we’re going through now, because the banks are so much more solid now. So we’ve got that going for us even if there are other things that are an issue.

Taylor Trusty  36:30  

Exactly. And so I’m very interested in how this plays out, and I hope for health for everyone. You know, the unemployment really hurt. You know, we haven’t seen numbers like this in our lifetimes. So it’s crazy.

John Corcoran  36:47  

Yeah, I mean, but you know, for a company like yours, then that means more talent pools, there’s more talented people out there who are looking for a job whereas, you know, for a number of years there, it was so competitive to get Good talent in place. You know, a lot of companies were not happy with the talent pools.

Taylor Trusty  37:10  

Fully agree. I also think that you know, if some company and this sucks to say, but if some companies are trying to cut expenses, that analyst that you’re paying $65,000 a year to to put reports together, I think could be replaced by software. Yeah. Businesses are going to be looking at that it’s happening all over the place. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

John Corcoran  37:26  

Yeah. So that’s good, so that’s a good that goes to the point of how, you know, you need to articulate your offer in a way that is relevant to the market. Right, you know, articulated in a way that is cost savings for the clients you’re going after now.

Taylor Trusty  37:41  

Yeah, and this is messaging we’re playing with right now like I’ve been working on it today. Is that messaging work? And also, you know, if I’m, if I’m running, let’s say LinkedIn ads, because everybody’s on LinkedIn right now, if I’m running ads, if those ads show up to the analyst whose job is that risk? That’s not good. All right, so Okay, so it’s figuring out what level if the ad is about cost cutting, you know, what level are you targeting? Is it cmo? Is it? Yeah, the CFO,

John Corcoran  38:09  

that’s a great point. Because within an organization, you might talk to someone at one level, who sees the value of your offer and appreciates it, and there’s gonna be other people within that organization who see it as a threat, doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good benefit for that organization for the company overall, but they’re going to people who are not going to be your advocate, they’re going to be your detractors within that organization. So you have to be cognizant of that when you’re selling

Taylor Trusty  38:34  

hundred percent. I mean, we’re seeing that I’m seeing that right now. You know, analysts are not our friend. Yeah, they see they see us as a competitor, especially right now. Everybody’s here. Oh, my apple, watch this one. They’re the you know, that they’re worried about their job and something like, my software doesn’t help that very, yeah.

John Corcoran  38:58  

Taylor, I wanna, I know you’re a busy guy and I want to let you go, but we’ll wrap things up with a question I was asked, which is let’s pretend we’re at an awards banquet, much like the Oscars of the Emmys. you’re receiving an award for lifetime achievement for everything you’ve done up until this point. And what we all want to know is who do you think are the mentors? Who are the friends who are the peers or the business partners who are the former gaming competitors? So you met online, a couple of states away who you would acknowledge in your remarks.

Taylor Trusty  39:27  

One of them is my grandfather. He’s who owned this side company. Big impact on my life he passed away when I was 10. There was a guy named Bill layman who is a score mentor, which is a fabulous nonprofit. For retired professionals. It’s free for anybody listening here who wants free mentorship.

John Corcoran  39:46  

Yeah, score. I’ve done a couple webinars for them. Great organization.

Taylor Trusty  39:50  

Fantastic and just wonderful people. I had a score mentor who worked with me at Blackstone for about eight years. His name is Bill And he unfortunately passed away in 2017. And it was a real honor. I was a pallbearer in his funeral. And a lot of the pallbearers actually were his score mentees, which just he just had this fantastic effect on people around him and really giving man he ran a software company really, I think influenced some of these things that I’m talking about now. And then, also, I think that, you know, my mom and family had a big hit, continue to have a big impact. The other thing to think is that I’d say that the city of New York has had a big impact on my, on my changing as a man, you know, growing in a lot of ways, I moved here single, and I would go I had never walked out on a date. I had, you know, nobody’s ever walked and got up and walked out of there. And that happened here more than once. And so things like that, that helped me to grow and have just had a tremendous impact in my life in addition to the people.

John Corcoran  41:05  

That is great. So, well, thanks so much Taylor for doing this and tell everyone where they can connect with you or learn more about you.

Taylor Trusty  41:13  

Sure. Well, I mean, thank you for having me. It’s been a lot of fun. And you’re a great interviewer. Then you can read more about me at taylortrusty.com and all the social media and info is up there.

John Corcoran  41:27  

And Signal Insights is the name of the new company. So best of luck with that, and thanks so much, Taylor.

Taylor Trusty 41:33  

Thanks so much..

Outro 41:35  

Thank you for listening to the Smart Business Revolution podcast with John Corcoran. Find out more at smartbusinessrevolution.com and while you’re there, sign up for our email list and join the Revolution. And be listening for the next episode of the Smart Business Revolution podcast.