As the famous adage goes, life is an adventure. This applies to everyone who aims at making their own trail towards success. Aaron shares his unexpected adventure with his wife while on a countryside drive in France. He talks about how they found Flavigny, the town where the movie Chocolat was shot. He shares interesting details about the town’s history, including how the people have been operating a candy factory and shop for years. He adds some important entrepreneurship lessons he got from the town’s shops, emphasizing that sometimes you just need to get off of the interstate and have a scalable business in your own little space.
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Get Off Of The Interstate!
It’s great to be back with you. I’ve been gone for a while traveling all over the world. If this is your first time, I wanted to let you know that you are at the place where we focus on how to build a business that works harder for you than you have to work for the business. That’s what our goal is, to show you how to put together the people, the processes, the money, the organization so that you can pursue the things that you’re great at. Do the work that is your genius. Let other people do the stuff that you are struggling with and then get on with building not only the business but also the life that you want to live. I call that the Unshackled Life. As we’re talking to entrepreneurs, you need to become an Unshackled Owner in order to live an Unshackled Life. Do I mean retire sitting on a beach? Not necessarily. Do I mean leaving your company? Not necessarily. You can be as involved in your business as you want.
The trick is do you have to be involved or do you get to choose? Do you get to make that choice? Most business owners, I don’t care if you’re at a six-figure to ten-figure business. I work with clients and all of those ranges and I don’t care how much money you have, you’re a person. Most entrepreneurs struggle from the same disease no matter how big and successful their company is. This show is all about how to start to fix that. A lot of it is philosophical lessons that if you learn, it will change the way you think. I promise you, your thinking is the thing that’s going to determine whether or not you hit the big goals or you flounder around and get stuck in the mud. I’ve got a couple of stories I want to tell you from my European trip.
We completed our Unshackled Life Mastermind Group. We held it in Tuscany over in Italy. We had a beautiful 23,000 square foot villa. It was built in 1564. It’s essentially a castle. It was this huge phenomenal building, phenomenal site, phenomenal views and an unbelievably wonderful group of people that came together for that very special elite. It was a wonderful and terrific experience, but we’re not going to talk about the mastermind now. We’re going to talk about something that happened on the way to the mastermind. My wife, Michelle and I love Europe. We decided on this trip that we’re going to make a vacation out of it. We flew not into Italy, but we flew into Paris, France. We rented a car and left Charles de Gaulle Airport with the intention of sleeping that night in Basel, Switzerland.
We get to the car and we get out of Paris. We’re driving through the countryside as we’re going Northeast through France. The countryside is beautiful farmland. You see an old monastery, a convent, a castle along the way, but mostly big farm fields for as far as the eye could see. I had no idea that France had so much agriculture. We drove for hours and hours like going through Iowa or Nebraska where you just go through the farming fields forever, it seems like. It was wonderful and it was beautiful. Along the road, my wife says, “Some of this area reminds me of the scenery in a movie that we both like that came out many years ago called Chocolat.” It was about a woman who comes into a town and stirs things up by not falling into line with the local count. He’s a count and his family controlled this little village forever. This gal shakes up the town. The point is we like the movie. It’s a fun movie. It teaches some good lessons.
We’re driving along and she says, “This reminds me of that countryside.” I said, “Why don’t you figure it out. Are we close to the town? Where did they film it?” With a little bit of research, we found that the village called Flavigny where they filmed that movie was not right on the route, but kind of on the route. We’re going to have to maybe take an hour out of our way, but we would be able to get to it and see it and have a great experience. We found a little bed and breakfast on TripAdvisor or something and booked it. We drove through the countryside and we get to the town eventually. It was one of those little towns, I don’t know if you’ve ever looked around some of these little hilltop villages in Europe. They were traditionally like a walled town and their entrance gates that could be closed and fortified against those people that would want to come in and sack the town.
This village, Flavigny, was no different than that. As I pulled up in our very small car, I looked at the entrance gate. I could see there were cars on the other side of it. I looked at it and I thought, “Can I get this car through that gate?” It was one of those things where you think, “That’s going to be pretty tight.” Thankfully, one of the locals on foot came walking through the gate. We rolled down the window and were able to have a quick little conversation and they said, “You can make it go right through. The place you’re looking for is up by the church. Take a right and you will find it.” We went in. We found our little bed and breakfast, which was in a convent that was built in the 1400s.
It had been sold off by the nuns in 1783 and it was now owned by several families who had homes there, one of which had a couple of bedrooms for rent where we were going to stay. We got checked in. It was a phenomenal, beautiful, charming little old house. We went out and walked the little streets of Flavigny and we didn’t see one other human being as we walked around the town. There are very few people that live there anyway. I guess it was cold and a little bit sprinkly rainy outside. They were inside, but we didn’t see a lot of evidence from other people either. We were able to walk through this village. As we studied, walked in, read things and got some information, we found that this village had originally been a Roman outpost and that monks had come and built a monastery in the 8th century, the 700s.
Some interesting things happened in that monastery. The monastery now was deserted by the monks and it didn’t look like a monastery anymore because the main part of the church had been destroyed during the French Revolution. There were still cool remnants from this ancient monastery, including Roman artifacts down on the lower level where the monastery had been built on top of some Roman building. The point is we got to see the movie set stuff. The places where they filmed different scenes, where the chocolate shop was, the church, the count’s house, just different things that happen in the movie. That was fun. We got to explore a medieval village. It’s in beautiful shape. We took time and walked down through the back entrance. It’s on the steep side of the hill and were able to walk down these ancient cut-in-stone stairs. These huge stairs go way down the mountain along the walls and then down into the valley.
We had all these cool experiences and it reminded me and brought back some interesting things. One is that one of my early mentors taught me, “If you’re standing in line, you’re probably in the wrong place.” If we had stayed on the highway, on the freeway, we would have gotten to Basel, Switzerland as we had planned. We would have checked into a hotel. We would have figured out what restaurant was right there in the touristy area and eaten there and whatever. We would have done that. It would’ve been fine. We would have enjoyed it. There is no big deal, but because we’re able, because we have the freedom, we have the time, we had the money and we had the curiosity to explore something different, we went off the track a little way because we could. We went and found something that there were no other tourists. There were no other people from another country trying to get their selfie in front of the chapel or in front of the cathedral.
Instead, we got to have a very real French village and medieval town experience. We got to see it without a crowd. We got to talk to the locals. Some of them had lived there their entire life. We learned a lot of things about living in a rural, off the beaten track, medieval village in France. What a great experience. It’s the kind of thing that if I had set out to achieve it, I don’t know that I could have forced the experience that we had, but because it was organic and because all the stars aligned for us, we had this great experience. You don’t get to have those experiences when you’re in a rush to get somewhere because you’ve got a schedule you’ve got to stay on or “I’ve already pre-booked my hotel and gotten a great price on it from Hotels.com. We can’t go off the track because we will lose our money.”
I’m just telling you, when you’re in a position where you can hold the cards, make the decisions, call the shots because you have the flexibility of time and the abundance of money, then all of a sudden, you get to go into these interesting places. It got even more interesting because we found out that there’s been an entrepreneurial activity going on in that business or in that little town with the paper records going back to selling a certain candy that was being made there. The monks were making it in the monastery. They had all these royal patrons as well as tons of other people.
This business has continued nonstop from at least somewhere in the 800s until now into the 21st century, many years almost into the 21st century. They’ve been making this candy. It’s an anise-flavored candy, essentially the same way they have automated it now in the last many years. Even automation is using the same methodology that was being used in the 9th century. It’s pretty cool and it’s been a successful business making a simple little white ball of sugar with the anise seed in the middle of it to give it that licorice flavor. It was used as a medicinal treatment back in the day and over the years, it has become more of a treat than medicine. The point is if it has sugar on it, it was always yummy. The interesting thing was here’s a successful company that’s doing great revenue operating in the remnant of an old monastery using more than 1,000-year-old technology to make a simple product.
They’re doing something that people want. There’s a demand for it. It’s simple, it’s predictable and it’s scalable. If you want to sell more, all you have to do is set up more of these rotating bins that roll of the seed in the sugar, so it’s scalable. You don’t have to have something super complicated. I didn’t notice a book that they had written. I didn’t notice a TED Talk that they had given. I didn’t notice a giant mailing list that they had organized in order to be successful all the way back many years ago. When you have a product that people want and it’s easy to get it to them, you’ve got a scalable business so you can go up or down based on demand and you can do something well. You can become successful.
These people didn’t have to move to Paris to become successful. They didn’t have to move to Milan. They didn’t have to move closer to a port. They’ve stayed in this medieval village for going on many years, making a simple product that continues to be sold out. They can’t keep up with the demand. 250 million tons of these little sugar balls with anise in them. Here’s the point. When you’re standing in line, you’re probably in the wrong place. When you get off of the interstate and you get onto the side road, and you go through that little narrow gate, you wonder if you can do it. You walk in a new place, get a new perspective and see how it’s possible to do things without all the accouterments, without all the pomp and circumstance but just doing something that people want. They want your service, they want your product, they want to buy it. It’s great and it makes them feel better. It helps them. It tastes good, works well or solves a problem. You can do that from where you are.
What are you willing to do with the resources that you have from the place that you’re sitting? What baby steps will you take to get off the interstate, to get off the beaten track and to get off by yourself to create a circumstance where you have a phenomenal something that you’re going to give to the world? It doesn’t matter where you are. What matters is that you do something great. You do something unique. You do it better than somebody else. You find the sweet spot, get off of the trail and go do something else. Do you know where you find those experiences? You find them when you can get off the interstate because you’re not so busy. You can go and explore and it only takes a little bit of exploring to open your eyes to possibilities that you hadn’t maybe thought of in a long time if ever.
My message for you is if you’re standing in line, you’re probably in the wrong place. Get out of the line, go make your own trail and go make your own path. Quit complicating your life and find a quick, simple, beautiful and elegant way of delivering things. If you want to be able to scale, if you want to be able to grow, if you want to be able to be financially successful and have the flexibility to pursue anything that you want. In other words, if you want to become one of us, if you want to become an Unshackled Owner, then I encourage you, send me an email or private message me at Aaron@AaronScottYoung.com. Let’s talk about it. Let’s make sure that you get to have that unshackled life that you’ve been dreaming of. We look forward to having you again on the show.
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