USO Alumni Series #5: Know And Apply Your Genius with Todd Thompson

USO 48 | Know And Apply Your Genius


We can’t keep on grinding for something that is not our cup of tea. Sometimes, what we really need is to pursue our passions and know your genius. Someone who has been through that journey is USO Alumni, Todd Thompson. He shares his own journey towards finding and applying his genius from when he was growing up and seeing his entrepreneurial disposition. Todd talks about the rules that he has adopted in his life that made it possible for him to succeed. Now, he has been helping cities revitalize their historic business district and helping people to open businesses of their own. Todd discusses some great projects he has had while giving out advice to tenants.

Listen To The Episode Here


USO Alumni Series #5: Know And Apply Your Genius with Todd Thompson

I’m here with another fantastic guest that you’re going to learn a lot from reading. This program is designed to give you practical tips from people who are living the life of an unshackled owner, who are building successful companies, who have built businesses and now are leveraging their wealth. This program is designed to help you get some ideas, encourage, confidence, whatever it is that you need so that you can make the leap from that job to starting your own business or take your side hustle and turn it into something. I’m glad you’re here because you’re the person that’s trying to make that jump. I’m going to bring you into a conversation with a great entrepreneur, who’s going to tell you some stories that are going to help you change your life. I’m talking with Todd Thompson. Todd is a fellow that I met at an event. Todd, welcome to the program.

Aaron, how are you?

I’m doing great. The conversation that I remember seems like I was driving, somebody got us on the phone together. I was driving across North Dakota on my way to a cattle roundup or something.

You were bringing horses back from somewhere.

That’s what it was. I remember I was in my truck. I was doing something farm-related not Laughlin or Unshackled related. We had a chat and I was fascinated with the business that you have. I was excited that you wanted to take the class. I want to ask you because I was mind-boggled by this cool thing that you were doing. Nobody shows up someplace like that. We all come from somewhere. Tell me like where did you grow up and how did you start to acknowledge that you had this entrepreneurial disposition?

USO 48 | Know And Apply Your Genius

Know And Apply Your Genius: If you’re going to start something, finish it.


I grew up in Central Illinois outside of a little town called Pekin, a little town of about 30,000 people. My father was the first generation to leave the factories and start a construction company. He took a vacation to build our home and never went back to work. From that point, he had learned some skills over the years, but there was always safety in the factories. It’s a Midwestern thing in the Rust Belt. That’s what people did. I started at a young age. I was an OSHA poster child. I started working on my dad’s projects and following work on Saturday.

Everything OSHA stands for and what’s not happening on the job site.

Barefooted kid swinging from the trousers of a multi-family building, probably not a good idea. I grew up in that construction environment. My dad had built some apartments in whatever year that was. It was the beginning of the savings and loan scandals. My dad had built quite a portfolio of multifamily properties and was doing well. In a pretty short time, the vacancy rates here went to about 45% and interest rates went up into the into the double digits and made for a tough environment. I know this now. I didn’t know it then. On top of that, the state government and local government decided to start building thousands of units of subsidized housing rather than subsidizing what was already built.

Vacancy rate went to 40% then it went to 60%. It was over. While interest rates were climbing, notes were coming due. All of these things, the perfect storm was happening to him. What I remember though was asking him for a new pair of leather tennis shoes to go to school during my eighth-grade year. He told me that I’d have to figure that out because the money tree was dead. The way we had known how life was that was over. I thought, “I didn’t make it right or wrong. Dad let me know that I need to figure it out.” That’s what I did. I had been mowing that summer, but I didn’t have to pay attention to what I did with my dollars. My dad would take me from one job to the next where I’ve pushed my mower with rakes and shovels across town and take care of projects.

That summer when he told me that that summer I knew I was going to make money. I was going to grow a money tree. I was going to do well. I didn’t know exactly how, but the short of it is I ended up hiring a couple of high school kids, who had driver’s license and pulled an old truck out of my dad’s construction company. It was an old dump truck and did some work on it, put brakes on it, did a bunch of stuff to make it work. Got it inspected and then paid somebody to start hauling me around to mow lawns. They were mowing. Before you knew it, I wasn’t riding along lawnmowers. They were all doing it and I was onto something else. I started using the truck then to clean out repossessed houses because that was a big thing that was going on. Every third house in the town was vacant and it grew from there.

You did that as a kid. What happened when you got to the end of high school or what happened with high school?

All through high school, I ran this mowing business. I quit going to high school because it seemed like the institutional education for me was moving at a snail’s pace. They were having more juvenile conversations. I was used to having maybe more adult conversations. I was running a business. I was talking with my banker, who is my customer. I was not excited about the conversations that were happening in the classroom or at the pace that things were moving. I didn’t go much my junior year. My dad convinced me at the end of my junior year that if I would get back to being an honors student, that he would write a request that I could get out of half a day to go to work, get out of half a day every day and a couple of Mondays a month. That sounded great to me. Not sure I would have finished high school if it hadn’t been for that. It wasn’t working for me.

I honored that agreement with my dad. I got back on the honor roll or started my senior year off good, ran my business. Things picked up. We were doing more than cleaning out these bank-owned homes, cleaning up the properties, doing some winterizing. It was a great job for a young person. Here’s something interesting looking back as I was a little embarrassed and a little uncomfortable with the amount of money I was making. Somewhere along the line, I picked up that I shouldn’t be doing so well. I was making more money than a lot of my friends’ parents were making.

I didn’t know this about us, but we have this similar experience in high school. Are you saying you were down early ‘80s?

I graduated in ‘84.

Here you are a senior year and you’re making several thousand dollars a month at least?

Yes, doing well.

I remember that when I realized I was making more money than my dad was making.

I was at a time too that my dad had gone from the builder of nice real estate portfolio to back to doing construction projects like tools on, hands-on, doing the work again. Here I was doing working for the savings alone. We didn’t know about the scandal and we didn’t know that the savings and loans what they were up to that they were building real estate portfolios. When I found out how much I was making in comparison to people my senior, it got uncomfortable.

How did you overcome that? How long did it take you to overcome that?

I went skiing for two years.

How would you overcome it if I’m going to go skiing for two years?

I didn’t plan it that way. It happened. A friend was going to Colorado and said, “Do you want to go?” I said, “Yes, I’m going. Sure, why not. What do I have here?”

Your dad wanted to get good honor roll grades again but also was supporting your entrepreneurial aspirations. Giving you ideas of how you could only be at school half a day and all that. Did you take those grades and go on to college?

I did not.

Neither did I, but that’s why I’m wondering. Is the reason for the honor roll grades to get into a good college?

The lesson that I learned and that my dad was teaching me is if you’re going to start something finish it. If you’re going to start something that you are going to finish, give it all you’ve got. Operate at your capacity and push your limits. He knew that I made a commitment to graduate high school. I was only giving it half of an effort. He helped me to find a path where I could give it a 100% effort and also pursue what I was passionate about.

One of the things I love about doing the podcasts and talking to people about these things is that I get to have some of my beliefs challenged. The goal here isn’t to be right. The goal is to have this chat because you’re a guy that I admire. I’m writing a new book. A friend of mine who’s written a bunch of New York Times bestsellers said, “In order to do what you do and now to teach it, you had to become a certain kind of a person.” You had to move along some path and become a certain kind of an individual. What were the rules or the laws that you adopted in your life that made it possible for you to have these critical moments in your life?

I was thinking about what you said because I finished high school. I built a business through high school. I made good money. For a kid, I was killing it. There are a lot of things that are imposed on us as people that we have to decide how we’re going to deal with it. What you said was beautiful, honorable and awesome. Whatever you’re going to do, do a good job. Do it right. One of the things that I discovered about me was in some of these things in high school was one of them. This is exactly how I wrote down the rule, “You don’t have to get A’s. You just have to finish.” That’s a fundamental difference in that perspective, from your dad’s perspective. What you did which is phenomenal versus the lesson I learned, which was I don’t need A’s. I don’t like this place. I don’t want to be here. Nobody was picking on me. I wasn’t getting bullied. I was plenty popular. I had success but it was driving me out of my mind to be there.

It was so slow, “What is this stuff that they’re making us do?” The conclusion I came to is you have to finish. I was pursuing radio. I was pursuing my music stuff. I was running my business. I was doing a great job at all those things. I was excelling. As it related to math, social studies and English, I figured if I can get a C, I’m fine. I need to get out of this classroom. C’s get degrees. I don’t want to say one is better or more correct than the other. I like yours, which is whatever you’re doing, give it your best. My problem was in my mind the things that I was doing that mattered to me I was doing my best at. The other stuff I had to finish it because it was imposed on me.

You have to remember too that’s a tricky age because there’s a lot of change going on that you don’t understand. You’ve never experienced it before. Nobody’s having real conversations about some of the most important things that drive humanity. They’re not having true conversations about it. The conversations are more about what you should do in the eyes of the school or your peers. There is a right and wrong. You had a path. I had a path. They were both the right path, but too often at that age, we’re hearing, “Here’s the right path. Anything else is wrong.”

At our age, there is less and less emphasis on the trades by the ‘80s. Everybody thought we should be working smarter not harder and going to college to get that magical diploma that was going to be our golden ticket to a successful life. We’ve seen over these last 30 years how that’s blown up in the face of a lot of former students with huge debt.

It took a long time for me to realize that it was okay I didn’t go to college. I struggled with that for a long time. When things were going well for my dad when I was in the fourth, fifth, sixth grade. I knew there was no question in my mind that I was going to Notre Dame. When we got to a point where he couldn’t buy tennis shoes at the end of the summer, I was confident. I didn’t think about it right away, but probably shortly after I realized that conversation at home stopped. We weren’t even talking about it anymore. We weren’t taking the annual pilgrimage to go watch a game. We weren’t traveling much. There was not much extracurricular.

USO 48 | Know And Apply Your Genius

Know And Apply Your Genius: Life’s journey is going from peaks and valleys to a more gradual roll through the countryside.


Steve Jobs dropping out of Reed College here in Portland when he came to grips of the fact that his parents were working their butts off to try to help him stay in this expensive liberal arts college. He felt like in that case, it wasn’t right to try to expect that from these working-class people. It was wrong for him to do it. He dropped out and that gave him space to start thinking about being in business.

I would not have stayed in. I’m pretty confident.

You get out of these teenage years and you start to grow. Tell us all a little bit about the business that you have built to this point and how it’s changing the lifeblood of some of our small towns?

To get you there, I went out and skied for a couple of years. I did some construction work while I was out there. It was super familiar. It was an atmosphere I knew. I knew the language. I knew what a job site looked like, felt like, what to do what not to do, how to dress for work and how to be productive on a job site. I fit right in there out West. Some people in my family all got sick at the same time, so I came home to care for my mom, my brother and my grandpa. All within the same little one-year window, we’re pretty ill. I came home to help them. As they got better and my grandpa passed and things started to turn around, I had an opportunity to go work for a company building retail stores, traveling. I did a couple of jobs for them.

Within a very short time, I started a company to start building the stores myself. I was a contractor building stores. It was the largest retail contractor in the world at the time. They were building all the stores. The Gap was having the most growth experience. The Gap out of San Francisco with a super cool entrepreneurial story in and of itself. One brother bought some Levi’s to resell at his record shop and what the other brother did is build out. From there became the Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Pottery Barn. The Fisher brothers had a good story. I ended up creating a great relationship with the Fisher Development through this construction company I started in. We were their premier installer in the Midwest. We were building stores and that was probably four years old at the time. We were building stores all over the place. We did that for quite a few years to a point that in Y2K when everybody wanted a new store design, they invited me out to San Francisco to be part of their design team and help them with the construction efficiency.

Did you say you had your own business as a premier provider building out stores across the Midwest for the Fisher brothers, for Gap when you were 24 years old?

Maybe 25, somewhere right in there.

First of all, a lot of people don’t take themselves seriously in their twenties. They might want to be treated as an adult, respected or whatever. From getting on with life perspective, for owning stuff, building stuff, creating stuff, I don’t need to do that. I’m only 24 years old. I want to point out that that stuff can still happen. It takes the initiative, it takes meeting the right people, it takes working your butt off and not hoping somebody will hand you a fortune or a simple shortcut cheat, hack. The fact is you put the time in from your teens. You figured it out. You learned skills. You figured out that you could work for somebody else building stores or you could build stores yourself. That was the launch of my first business. I could paint for this guy or I could get the contract for all of the buildings that the owners owned. I was calling the shots now not somebody else. That was another one of my rules, another one of my laws tied from the book is I can make a lot more money and have a lot more fun if I’m calling the shots. By 25, you learned this and were already doing well building these commercial buildings.

I worked for several other contractors before I started doing their work. At 24, I was probably building the limited brand stores, Victoria’s Secrets and such. As I was always looking for who’s a better contractor to work for. One of my rules, looking back, it’s always been there but I didn’t label it until later. That was always leveraged what you have, what you know and who you know. I don’t mean that in a manipulative way. I mean leverage. If I had a tool bag, I leveraged that into taking side projects and then doing jobs on my own and hiring crews. As I met superintendents on job sites, I asked them, who’s the best contractor you ever worked for? They would tell me. I would leverage into that relationship. I knew how to build a deck or a cleanup or a piece of real estate. I could build a wall and from building a wall, I could learn to put trim on or learn to do interior finishes.

It’s always learning more, always showing up 100%. I say always, looking back it probably didn’t look like that at all. There were days that were not beautiful. It wasn’t each day move the bar forward 3% and every 30 days, you’d move forward 90 %. It wasn’t like that. There were peaks and valleys. While we were on that that’s something that the class what you helped me tame was going from peaks and valleys to a more gradual roll through the countryside going up always. I told you my dad gave me the quote that, “You’re on your own. The money tree is dead.” That was my relationship with money. I went into this knowing the money tree dies. It’s going to happen.

Were you foreshadowing your own demise?

There’s no question. In that path to building for the largest retail contractor in the world, I had two years where I was building spec houses. I was going like mad. I built twelve houses in those two years with a small crew. All great homes. The bank would just come in and signed a note, “Go build your house. You’re doing great.” It was a great banker-builder relationship. Back up a little bit, I had to go to seven different banks before one would say yes and loan me the money to build my first house. Tenacity is definitely a blessing and a curse for me. I was building these houses. I went in one day to sign the note for a house that already the foundation was done, the framing was started. The bank and I had talked a week before. He said, “Just come in when you have time and we’ll get it signed.” It was a rainy day and I went in and he said, “We’re not going to finance that house.” The market is not looking great. We don’t feel comfortable with another house.” Here I was with four houses under construction. I lost my financing on the fourth one.

That didn’t end great. That’s when I got busy and went on the road and revisited my retail world. As I fast forward and went through the retail relationships, late in that before I started working on the revitalization of these historic downtowns, I got a call from one of the vice presidents over at the construction company. Every time he’d ever call me before was to give us work or to add a crew. I was excited. I was like, “Yes, I’ll call him back this afternoon when I’ve got a pen in front of me.” I did, ready to identify new opportunities. He said, “I want to give you a heads up. We’re not going to build any stores next year.”

This all of a sudden came to a screeching halt.

It was in one afternoon. I had a year to finish, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t have any work for the rest of the year. I’ve got crews all over the United States, vans, hotels and money coming in. It was a good time, but I didn’t plan for that day.

I had a day like that where everything changed in one meeting. I’ve had other guests on this episode who have pointed out another moment like that where it wasn’t like, “I had this gradual awareness that something had changed.” No, it changed in one swoop. One swing of the sword and the pipeline that we thought that was secure, that was going to continue to supply the money had gone. We’re not going to build any more stores. We’re not going to finance any more houses. The access to capital is gone, then you have to rethink.

You have to go, “What do I do now? What do I have?” It’s a little shocking at first. You’re like, “Life as I know it stopped.” It wasn’t much different than going from a kid who took vacations, knew he was going to Notre Dame and knew everything was peachy and life was great to realize he had to buy his own shoes. Financially that’s like, “There’s a new reality I hadn’t thought about.”

There’s no question, but almost all entrepreneurs that I’ve ever met have had that moment where it’s the hero’s journey and you’re in the cave, facing down the dragon.

Looking back, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Fortunately, I’d made some money and I thought, “I’m going to go close this down.” All of my crews were on the road. I was a big part of our workforce at the time. I was young, vibrant and super excited. Whenever we start a job, I love to teach efficiency to all of my crews, on all of our projects. Any time we get a new store design, I was all about that trying to beat the last hours or the expenses and working on efficiencies and effectiveness and how we were tooled and how we attack our projects. I thought, “I’m going to take a break and I’m not going to go on the road.” I laid everybody off. I decided I was going to take some time off and settle in at home, look around and see what the next opportunity was. I was thinking maybe a year and that lasted for about a week. I couldn’t sit still.

USO 48 | Know And Apply Your Genius

Know And Apply Your Genius: Whatever you’re doing, give it your best.


I started looking around my hometown. I realized it along the way. I quit being from here. I quit being from this town because it was so destitute. The historic business district had become pretty blighted and nobody seemed to care. There was a certain settle for attitude in the town. It’s a real complacency. Along the way, I had bought a couple of brick buildings. A realtor called me and said, “Check this out. It’s a great price. You should buy these buildings.” I’d worked with her before. I came home on a weekend, bought some buildings and went back in. Now, I’m settled back home. I go back to these buildings that I had bought. I had charged her to lease them or resell them or do something with them. After maybe a year and a half, they were still sitting here vacant.

I want to look into that a little bit. I started asking around. I talked to the economic development coordinator in town and started doing some of the homework I should’ve done before I bought those buildings. What I found was that there was a high vacancy rate in this town, in the area where I bought the buildings, 72% of our storefronts were vacant and average days on market was 1,600. For anybody out there in real estate, you know that’s not an exciting marketplace. I thought let’s see what we can do about this. I went to talk to the city staff about it and see what they knew. The building inspector, economic development coordinator that was the main street group who was putting on car shows and that sort of thing once a year. I had some experience along the way in another little town where I was living at the time. We had bought some old derelict buildings and put in a winery, a wood shop and a little restaurant. That was a pretty cool experience. I shared that with them and they were like, “Will you come to our main street restructuring committee meeting?” I was like, “Sure.” At that point, I’d never served on a committee or been a part of that. That was harder to go to than my junior year in high school.

Everybody talking around a problem.

I went to three or four of those meetings. I thought I’m going to treat this as a project. I did a longhand inventory. I wasn’t a real spreadsheet guy at that point, I did a longhand inventory of every building in the historic business district, who the owner was, what the condition was, how long it had been on market. I also started to put together some numbers of what it would take for a package to stabilize these buildings. What I found was there was a significant amount of blight and block with the oldest buildings, the block closest to the river. The town in the early days would have developed from the river up the hill because of commerce and whatnot. I went to the city and I said, “I don’t know if you know it or not, but Mr. Building Inspector, you’ve got a high density of blight in this 200 block. Maybe we should come up with a way to correct that.”

I’ve been traveling all over the United States. There are all these great towns that have done some revitalization. You should check out Austin, Asheville, Aspen and we’re getting started. He said, “Yes, we’ve got that under control. We’re going to use the Tift dollars and we’re going to tear that block down. It’s a life safety issue. You don’t have to worry about that one. Maybe look at some of the others.” I couldn’t get settled with that. That was okay. As a city, as a community, we’d already torn down probably 40 of our historic buildings. I talked to him some more. I said, “What’s your budget for that? What’s it going to take for assembly and responsible demolition, which would include taking care of environmental issues and leaving the space as green space?”

When he gave me that number, I realized that I could stabilize the buildings for that price. I could put new roofs on them. I couldn’t buy them. I would have to spend my own money to buy the buildings, but I could put new roofs, new windows and doors, do all the interior demolitions. I was showing brick walls, wood floors, metal ceilings and stabilized space so that an entrepreneur could walk in and get a vision to open a barbershop or open a yoga studio, open a coffee shop, so that’s what I did. I gave the city a proposal and I lobbied hard for a couple of years to the city council. I convinced them that if they would put the same money into stabilization and partner with me that they would have buildings that would serve them for another century. If they tore them down, they would have a negative on their books because the city would own the property and they would have zero income. They’d have to mow the lot. It’s a negative. I pleaded that case and the city bought in.

You did this and it worked in your town. Other people found out about it. I don’t know if you’re peaking now but at your peak, how many of these historic downtowns were you working on with your business?

We’ve been a part of about 60 buildings. We’re coaching other towns on how to do this. I’m not buying a lot anymore. I’ve got a nice portfolio that serves us well. I’m not buying a lot of buildings and the main reason for that is because it takes some gap financing that’s required to stabilize and repurpose a historic building in a Midwestern town where construction costs are $100 to $200 a square foot for stabilization and interior renovation. We’re getting about $7 to $10 a foot in rent.

It doesn’t make any financial sense.

There’s a pretty big gap there. Unless you take advantage of some gap filler like a Tift District or an opportunity zone or an enterprise zone or sometimes all of the above. It doesn’t make sense unless you’re the end user. I’m not opening all of these businesses and all of these buildings.

From this journey you’ve been on and you have other aspirations, you’re still looking forward to?

We’re a coach and a consultant for cities that want to revitalize their historic business district and the people that opened the businesses within those districts.

As you mentioned something from our work with Unshackled, was there anything in particular that you found either useful for you or useful for your tenants? I know you do a lot of work training the tenants how to be successful.

I don’t know if that’s exactly how it was taught, but it’s something that I definitely walked away with. I’ve read it. I’ve heard it a hundred times, but at some point, during our conversations on Unshackled, it sunk in. That it’s okay to stay in your genius. Kathy in our office, is an incredible person, a CPA, incredible at administrative work, bookkeeping, numbers are sharp as a tack. When I found her and realized her skill level, I thought I’d found a unicorn. I knew I had. There could only be one person that enjoyed keeping my books the way she does. It’s not true. There are all kinds of people that enjoy that work and the same thing with my project manager and estimator and the superintendents in the field. If you see something you’re procrastinating, it’s probably because it’s not your genius. Too often we’re like, “I’ve got to work harder at it and be better at it.” Maybe you shouldn’t do it at all is my philosophy.

USO 48 | Know And Apply Your Genius

Know And Apply Your Genius: If you see something you’re procrastinating, it’s probably because it’s not your genius.


We definitely talk about in the classes that you’ve got to figure out what your superpowers are and stay there.

Too often I see entrepreneurs grinding against their kryptonite.

They’re taking that kryptonite home and sleeping with it.

To climb in the closet and trying to survive the kryptonite. It’s like don’t go in that closet. Don’t even go in there. What I share with the people I coach is I believe that people are passionate, everybody is passionate about something. Generally, we work with a lot of storefront entrepreneurs, barbers, yoga teachers, ballet teachers, coffee shop owners or restaurant. Most people I can say my observation at least with the people I’ve worked with, they show up with the technical skills and passion. It’s about 10% to 15% of what they need to know to be super successful. If you can apply the 85% to 90% of the business that works in any business applied to a passionate person that has technical skills. I can apply that 85% to 90% of business knowledge to any passionate person with technical skills and in any business that’s legal. They will be successful.

The same formula always works.

That’s what I do. I show up with them with the big picture vision and let them know that these things that are driving you crazy, you may have to do them for a little while, but you don’t have to do them forever.

I hope there were things like you said. Those what I’ve discovered is that it didn’t matter what industry I was starting something or fixing something, if I followed the certain steps, they would work. It’s no different than looking at a project on paper and saying, “We start by clearing the ground, getting it smooth, getting it reinforced and we pour concrete. There is a way to build a building. There are going to be some challenges that are unique to that place versus another one. There’s going to be some finished detail. It’s going to be vastly different from one to the other, but the steps tend to be the same.

There’s not a lot of variation. I can’t say enough. If there’s something you’re passionate about and you believe in and it keeps you up at night, that’s where I would encourage you to spend your time.

Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the people?

You can get great living doing what you love to do. If there’s any way that I can help whether it’s to revitalize your town or give you some ideas on what might be missing. Unshackled Owner, by all means, take it, pay attention, your podcasts are great. The other thing of that I realized later in life is getting some different perspective because chances are good. There are other truths besides what you were raised with.

Thank you. It’s true. It’s like we need to travel around the world more because we think things are in a certain way but they’re not.

Whether you have to travel vicariously by having a coffee or a glass of wine with somebody who’s done it or you could go do it like ask somebody that has a different relationship with money than you. Ask them, “What is your relationship with money?” Successful people will most often share their success, truly successful people. I don’t mean financially but people who are living a well and balanced life. I haven’t met anybody that’s living a well and balanced life that won’t share their perspective.

You could not be more on target with that. I heard a great guy named George Frazier one-time talk. He said, “If we want to get rid of bigotry in the world, the best way to get rid of bigotry in your life is to have friends who don’t look like you, who don’t believe like you.” I watched a documentary about Billy Joel going to Russia. Remember, he was the first rock band during glasnost to go before the wall came down, still communist Russia. I was a big Billy Joel fan and he was married to Christie Brinkley, which is amazing. Off they go to Russia. In the documentary, he said, “I got there.” This was the evil empire. These were our bitter enemies. One of us was going to blow the other one up. He said, “I got there. I met people.” I thought, “These aren’t the enemy. These are friends. We don’t need to fight with these people. What are we talking about?”

It’s true. When we do something different, we talk to somebody who’s different, we learn something new, that doesn’t fit the narrative we’ve created, but is based on us wanting to expand the narrative. My takeaway from this is here’s a guy who started young. Almost all of us entrepreneurs, we start from a place of lack. There’s some reason that the funds have been cut off and it started with dad’s business going down. It happened again later with financing your houses. The Gap is not going to build more stores. It doesn’t matter. We all go through that, but there’s always a way to reset our sales as long as we don’t get hung up in there’s only one way to do it. We can keep moving the ship forward and Todd’s story is a great example of finding something that you’re great at, staying in your passion, staying in your genius and then applying it. If you know what your genius is, you can apply it in a grand variety of places. As soon as you get out of that wheelhouse, you’ll start to stumble around. Todd, thank you so much for coming on. I’m delighted that we took so much time.

Aaron, thank you for the opportunity.

Thank you for being here. If you got a little gold nugget from Todd Thompson, if you got a little inspiration by how he did something and you thought, “I can do that too.” I want you to subscribe to this podcast. I want you to like the podcast. If you like what you’re reading, write a review and share it with friends. Let’s spread the information. Let’s spread this wealth of knowledge so that all of us can move up together. We can all grow so that tide raises all the boats. You people living a life of survival, a life of I’m doing okay to living a life Todd Thompson is and I am and so many others where we have become an Unshackled Owner.

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