About this episode

This week I’d like you to meet Andy Mackensen, co-founder of SnackNation. SnackNation is a healthy snack delivery service for businesses. In 2018, SnackNation was recognized at #24 on the INC 5000 list of fastest growing companies. They were founded in 2014, and after just four full years they hit $24 million in revenue. Andy and his business partner Sean Kelly are killing it!

In fact, Andy is one of the industry's best internet marketers. In this episode, you’ll hear some tactical advice when it comes to internet marketing. But what I hope will really hit home for you (as it did for me) is the idea of focusing on “that one thing.” As Andy puts it, “The only thing that matters is this present moment. And what you can do right now, the one thing, the one most important thing that you can work on right in this moment, that's what you need to focus on.”

With this episode, we are continuing our month-long feature of founders who are Veterans. Andy served in the United States Navy as a Special Warfare Officer. During Andy’s time in service he would spend the evening on operations taking down terrorists and spend the daylight hours applying to MBA programs as the entrepreneurial itch magnified in his life. But his entrepreneurial journey began years before his military service did. This is Andy Mackensen’s Startup Story.

In this episode, you’ll hear

  • His start as a young entrepreneur in grade school, buying and then selling candy bars
  • What delivering papers at age 11 taught him about commitment and self-discipline
  • Starting a lawn mowing business as a freshman in high school and what it taught him about leverage
  • Applying for and getting a full ROTC scholarship, attending Boston University and what it was like when it was time to report and serve in the U.S. Navy
  • His experience in the U.S. Navy immediately following 9/11 attacks, providing air defense radar for the entire East Coast in the days following the 9/11 attacks
  • How and when the desire to start his own business began and the plans he started to prepare, while still serving in the Navy
  • Entering back into civilian life and working in real estate after graduating business school, and what came next
  • Getting started selling network marketing products and how he learned all about lead generation, landing pages, and ad marketing
  • His entrance into the vending machine industry, how helping get a hot vending machine to market paved the way for what was to come
  • The journey with the vending business and flipping the switch to his current business model, SnackNation

“Life is so counterintuitive. When you do the easy stuff life is hard, and when you do the hard stuff life gets easy.”
—Andy Mackensen, SnackNation

Resources from this episode

Vortic Watch Co.: https://vorticwatches.com/
Socks For Heroes: http://scmcsg.org/

FREE Snack Box from SnackNation: https://snacknation.com/startupstory

Andy Mackensen on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewmackensen/
The Startup Story on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thestartupstory/

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EPISODE CREDITS

If you like this podcast and are thinking of creating your own, consider talking to my producer, Danny Ozment.

He helps thought leaders, influencers, executives, HR professionals, recruiters, lawyers, realtors, bloggers, and authors create, launch, and produce podcasts that grow their business and impact the world.

Contact him today at https://emeraldcitypro.com/startupstory

Special Guest: Andy Mackensen.

Episode transcript

The Startup Story - Andy Mackensen

Andy Mackensen: Hi. This is Andy Mackensen, CMO and cofounder of SnackNation, and this is MY startup story.

James McKinney: Every wildfire began with a spark. Every superhero has an origin story. And every single startup has a moment that they point to as their beginning. And every founder has a purpose that drove them in the midst of all obstacles. THAT is The Startup Story.

[00:29]
James McKinney: Before we jump into this week's episode, I want to read a review from MB Nutrition that gave the show a five star rating and wrote, "James is as real as it gets and asks the questions we really want answers to. Visit clickfunnels.com. Clickfunnels.com gives you everything you need to market, deliver, and sell your products or services online." Thank you so much for the kind words, MB Nutrition. This mini ad is just my way of saying thank you for listening and for taking the time to write a review in iTunes. So for all my listeners everywhere, if you have found any value in any of The Startup Story episodes, please leave a written review on iTunes and plug your brand, URL, or social media accounts. If you do that, then I will read your review in an upcoming episode and it becomes a mini ad that lasts for years. It's just my way of saying thank you for taking the time to write and leave a review. But you have to remember to plug your brand or URL, just like MB Nutrition from Click Funnels did. The written reviews mean a ton for being discovered within the iTunes platform. Climbing the charts on iTunes is not just about listeners, but it's about engagement. Listening is one way iTunes measures engagement, but written reviews have a multiplying effect, so please leave those written reviews. Especially now that they split iTunes and Apple TV and music and podcasts out, man it is so hard to get discovered. So please leave those written reviews. Now, let's jump into this week's episode.

Our guest this week is Andy Mackensen, cofounder of SnackNation. SnackNation is a healthy snack service for businesses. You sign up based on the size of your company and you receive healthy snacks delivered directly to your office. In 2018, SnackNation was recognized at number 24 on the Ink 5000 list of fastest growing companies. They were founded in 2014, and after just four full years they hit $24 million in revenue and have 166 employees. Andy and his business partner, Sean Kelly, are killing it. In fact, at the end of this episode, Andy has a special offer for you that includes sending you free snacks, so make sure to listen until the very end.

The reason we're highlighting Andy's story about SnackNation is because we're focusing on founders who are veterans. Andy served in the United States Navy as a special warfare officer, working on fast boats. These are the crafts that fly across the water at 50 knots. They're an unbelievable water craft. During Andy's time in service, he would spend the evening on operations taking down terrorists, and spend the daylight hours applying to MBA programs as the entrepreneurial itch magnified in his life. In fact, his entrepreneurial journey began years before his military service did.

[03:01]
Andy Mackensen: The first time I did anything entrepreneurially was fifth or sixth grade. I would go to the convenience store and buy some candy bars and then go into my classroom and sell them. At the time, I'm dating myself but I believe the candy bars were like 40 cents. We're talking like Snickers, Skor the toffee bar. That actually ended up being the top seller, but I'd buy those for 40 cents and sell them for a buck in the classroom. Then one day, I had a Skor bar left and there were like three kids that really wanted it. So there was a bidding war and it went from $1 up to $5 and a kid bought the Skor bar for $5.

[03:44]
James McKinney: That's awesome.

[03:45]
Andy Mackensen: My mom found out about that and got really mad, because she thought I was ripping the kid off, but for me it was a lesson of supply and demand at an early age. I liked the feeling of being able to go hustle and go get something, and then sell it for a margin and be in control of that. Right around the same time, I had the opportunity to start a paper route. My parents told me about the opportunity and I said, "Yeah, sounds good." I started doing a paper route at age 11. That was, I grew up in New Hampshire. That was a big commitment. I didn't realize how big the commitment it was at age 11, getting into that, because the papers had to be delivered I can't remember, 6:00 or 6:30 in the morning, so early wakeups. This is New Hampshire and so it's raining, it's snowing, it doesn't matter.

[04:31]
James McKinney: Oh man.

[04:32]
Andy Mackensen: You know, so I'd be out there on my bike with a big heavy paper sack, with all the papers in it and riding around all the different neighborhoods and delivering these papers. Whether it's raining or snowing, I had to do it. Now, I did have my mom step in a few times and help out. Sometimes we went around in the station wagon when it was really, really bad but for the most part I had to do it. It's such a good lesson at an early age that once you take on, once you commit to something you have to do it. There were a lot of days where I did not want to do it, but after I was done with it, I was glad that I did it.

[05:05]
James McKinney: That's awesome.

[05:06]
Andy Mackensen: That was my first foray was really the paper route and earning my own money. Then right around 1992 I believe I was going to be a freshman in high school and it was a recession at that time. Clinton was coming into office and big recession nationwide. My dad had just started his own certified financial planning business out of the house. He started in '91. He said, "Don't go look for a job. Why don't you just go around and talk to some neighbors, and see if you can mow some lawns?" So I got a $10 loan from him and I went out and I bought a 500 sheet package of paper, and I printed out Andy's Lawn Service flyers on the paper.

It was very important. It was a loan to my dad, I paid him back that money. Printed out flyers and went around to all the different neighborhoods, ,and put my flyer on the front doorstep, and ended up getting some calls and going out with a clipboard to their house and giving an estimate, estimating what the lawn mowing was. Ended up getting a lot leaf raking jobs and stuff like that. My first summer as a freshman, I had a lawn mowing business. I think my first summer I think I had 10 customers and so I would go around and mow their lawns.

What I realized from that was like holy cow, I can go do 40 minutes of work maybe for like $20 as a freshman in high school. This is amazing. A lot of my friends were, at that time the high rate was like $5 an hour at the movie theater. That was like good money, and here I am working 40 minutes for $20 and setting my own schedule. That's where I was like this is legit, I really like this. The autonomy and it's up to me. If it's going to be, it's up to me, that kind of mentality.

[06:51]
James McKinney: I love it.

[06:53]
Andy Mackensen: So I did that throughout high school, all four summers. I built that lawn business up to about 25 or 30 customers. At that point, that was a little too many for me to handle so I started hiring some of my friends for $5 an hour.

[07:06]
James McKinney: There you go.

[07:09]
Andy Mackensen: That's where I realized the lesson of leverage, and then also having some of my friends mad at me because some of them had to collect the checks. They would go off and mow the lawn and collect the money from the customer, and then hand me the money and I would give them their hourly rate. That was a good lesson there too, and realized the power of up sales. I had those customers in the summer, but what about the winter? I loved skiing. I loved to go skiing and I had to pay for my lift tickets, and I said well why don't I go around and ask all these customers if they want to have snow blowing.

[07:37]
James McKinney: So as a high schooler, was that part of your wiring to see the off season opportunities or did your dad help coach you through that? Because you said in '92 he started his own financial planning business. Was he an entrepreneur prior to that season, or how did that align? Where did you get that thinking from? That's not common among high schoolers.

[07:58]
Andy Mackensen: My dad was actually in the Navy and then he worked at an engineering firm right out of the Navy. Then he started his own solar business back in the early seventies. Built that up until the early eighties when Ronald Reagan discontinued tax credits for solar panels. That pretty much killed his business. Then he went on to work at a nuclear power plant as an employee, so he experienced entrepreneurship early on, went back, became an employee, and then left the job and started a totally different industry, certified financial planning. I think he had that in his blood and helped coach me along as a kid.

I think the other thing, this is good for young parents, I have four year old and six year old boys and I'm thinking about this as well. I think the construct in my family growing up was if you want something you've got to go pay for it. That crates a different type of desire and mindset that if you want something, well shoot, how do I earn money? I don't know, let me go figure it out. So that type of construct led me down the road. Once I started experiencing the benefits of entrepreneurship, like I said with autonomy and creating my own schedule and earning my own money and all that, it's a really empowering feeling as a kid.

[09:12]
James McKinney: Yeah, no kidding. Before we get to the end of your high school years which is that natural transition in life, I want to ask a question about your dad's solar business when it was shutting down. You said it was shutting down in the eighties, so you were probably 10 at the time maybe?

[09:29]
Andy Mackensen: Yeah I was younger.

[09:31]
James McKinney: Younger, okay. Did you remember that season at all? The reason I'm asking that is because in my own story, when my dad lost his business that was a mental marker of, "I do not want to be an entrepreneur," but again genetically, you just can't avoid certain things. But do you remember that season at all?

[09:49]
Andy Mackensen: So now that we're talking dates, I remember being five years old in his solar office, in the office where he had the business and there was a warehouse attached to it. Right around that time, we moved and that was the end. We moved and he started working at the power plant. So I think I was a little bit too young to experience most likely the hardships that he was feeling with having to shut a business down.

[10:13]
James McKinney: Okay, excellent. So now jumping back to your high school years, you're coming to the end of high school. It's a natural transition. We're thinking college, career, for yourself military maybe. What were your thoughts as you were wrapping up your high school years with this lucrative lawn care business that you had?

[10:29]
Andy Mackensen: Well, the other thought was well I'm not working at night so why don't I go DJ? So I started a DJ business called Booming Sounds with my buddy. His name was Brian Bowman, and his nickname was Boomer. So we started booming Sounds DJ business and started doing junior high school dances and high school dances.

[10:49]
James McKinney: That's awesome.

[10:50]
Andy Mackensen: That was great money too. We'd go get paid $150 to $200 a gig and we were playing music and having fun, and it was a blast. I carried that on into college as well, the DJ'ing stuff. The question was going out of high school, what was next in terms of military?

[11:08]
James McKinney: No, just in general. What was your next step? What was on your radar at that time?

[11:13]
Andy Mackensen: The radar coming out of high school was where am I going to college. Again, I talk about that construct that was set up in my household. The rule was that my parents will pay for half of college and the kids are responsible for the other half.

[11:27]
James McKinney: Okay.

[11:28]
Andy Mackensen: So I always had that in the back of my mind. Right around sophomore or junior year, my dad said, "Hey, what are you thinking for college?" and this and that. "Have you ever thought about applying for an ROTC scholarship? Because the Navy is…" Well, he said ROTC so I applied for Air Force and Navy, but in general the military, phenomenal opportunity to grow and experience the world, and leadership, and all that good stuff. I said, "No, I hadn't really thought about it." He's like, "Well, why don't you look into it? The worst that can happen is you get the scholarship and you have to decide yes or no. if you don't get the scholarship, then you don't have to make a decision."

So he kind of did like a little bit of a mind twist on me that I was like, "Oh yeah, that makes sense." So I applied for scholarships. Ended up getting a partial scholarship through the Air Force, and then a full ride through the Navy. For me, having to pay half my college at the time and then looking into what the Navy could be for me was, it got really exciting with traveling the world and the leadership experience I could get right away. I was also in the Boy Scouts. I was an Eagle Scout so I kind of understood a little bit of discipline and being in a uniform, and leading guys and all that stuff.

[12:36]
James McKinney: Authority and structure and everything.

[12:37]
Andy Mackensen: Yeah, yeah, authority and structure. So I was like wow, so the Navy is like being an Eagle Scout on steroids. Not literally.

[12:46]
James McKinney: There are so many things that are running through my head on how the illustration falls a little bit short, but I love it anyways.

[12:52]
Andy Mackensen: Slightly weird statement that I will never say again.

[12:55]
James McKinney: But we're going to roll with it anyways. I love it.

[12:58]
Andy Mackensen: Exactly. So I looked into the scholarship, and ended up getting the full ride. Then for me at that point, it was a no brainer. They're going to pay for my school, I'm going to be able to see the world, I'm going to get great leadership experience, I'm going to grow up more quickly here. All signs pointed to go on that, so at that point it was just choosing which school had the ROTC program that would be best for me, and ended up choosing Boston University.

[13:23]
James McKinney: So knowing that you were, at that point, going into ROTC. Again, this is great for just all listeners to kind of understand the opportunities that are out there attached to the military. All of these things can parlay into entrepreneurship, and there's so many lessons that come from serving in the military that most people just aren't going to get otherwise. There are so many things that our listeners will not understand outside of having served in the military, because there's just lessons that are so real and so powerful outside of the political correctness structure.

When you were in college, most college students are thinking about the next step, but for you it was given. For you, you knew that next step was military. What were those four years focused on? Was it academics? Was it because you knew okay, I'm going into the military and I want to… Well, you didn't get to choose your job until closer to the end, correct?

[14:20]
Andy Mackensen: Choose my job in the military?

[14:21]
James McKinney: Correct.

[14:22]
Andy Mackensen: Right. Not until the senior year.

[14:24]
James McKinney: So what were those four years like? What did you think you wanted to be career wise?

[14:28]
Andy Mackensen: There was a reason why I chose ROTC and not the Naval Academy, aka Boat School. Nothing against it. My dad is a 1970 graduate of the United States Naval Academy. For me, I went down there and visited. I applied and I actually got down to like my top four colleges, plus the Naval Academy, and I said if I get into one of these colleges, I'm not going to go to the Academy. So I actually withdrew my application-

[14:53]
James McKinney: Oh wow. Okay.

[14:54]
Andy Mackensen: … to close off a decision tree issue. Getting into Boston University, knowing I was going to go into the military, I wanted to balance academics with fun. For me, I was like I'm going to have a great time in ROTC. It's about 10-20% of the overall time commitment in college versus 100% at the Naval Academy. I had a great four years of my life. Like I said, I DJ'ed all through college as well and so that was a fun side gig, making some good money in college, and just having a blast.

[15:25]
James McKinney: So what was your, as you finished college and now it's time for you to report, what was your first job in the Navy?

[15:32]
Andy Mackensen: I wanted to go for aviation. My entire time, I was like I want to fly jets, it's going to be awesome, I'm totally cut out for this, can't wait. I went on two aviation summer cruises, one I believe was my sophomore year and junior year, junior summer going into senior year. I was on aircraft carriers for a month at a time, saw the flight ops and everything. I really got down to it in researching what it would take, I don't know if it's still the rule now, but back then if you were first in your flight school, you could choose where you wanted to go in terms of do you want to fly jets, do you want to fly helos, or fly props.

Most guys that graduate number one, they choose jets. But if you don't graduate number one, then the Navy chooses for you. I was like oh, that's kind of risky. By the way, at least at the time around 70% of all naval aviators were helo pilots. So I said okay, the chances are I'm not going to be number one in flight school and I'm going to be flying helos. Is that really what I want to do with my time in the Navy? The answer was no. A few months before decision time, I was like I'm going to go surface warfare and that's how I transitioned into as an ensign in the Navy, as a surface warfare officer.

[16:49]
James McKinney: What years did you go in?

[16:51]
Andy Mackensen: I graduated in '99, got out in '04.

[16:55]
James McKinney: So you were there for 9/11. You were in the military during 9/11.

[16:59]
Andy Mackensen: I was there. We had just gotten back from our Persian Gulf deployment. I was on the USS Arleigh Burke, which is a destroyer DDG51. I was the communications officer on board that ship. We had just gotten back from deployment when, if you're in the military you know when you get back from deployment, that's actually like some down time. It's nice. The attacks happened on the morning of the 11th. We were on our ship doing regular port schedule, which is like roll call is 6:00 am and you're off the ship by like 3:00 or so. The attacks happened in the morning. They said no, you've got to stay on the ship just in case. 3:00 pm rolls around like no, you actually everyone has to stay over on the ship t hat night, and then the next morning they said, "You're going up to New York."

So we hauled up to New York, going 31 knots which is the max speed of the ship. You know you're on a ship going 31 knots because the whole thing shakes. Big 10,000 ton ship just hauling butt up there to New York. We got up there, we provided the air defense radar for New York City and the Aegis radar system on the ship has I believe a 256 mile view. It's weird. It can see over the horizon and we provided the air defense radar for the entire east coast right after 9/11. The orders that we had were if you see any commercial airplanes on the radar, you need to shoot them down.

[18:19]
James McKinney: Oh man. How old were you at this time? This must have been like 24.

[18:23]
Andy Mackensen: Yeah, 24 and at that time I was officer of the deck qualified. So that means when I was OD, I had some decision making powers. Obviously, you still have to run everything through the captain but it was a pretty heavy time to be the OD on there and the orders are you see anything on the radar, I've got to talk to combat information center. If they see something, it's like all right, we're firing missiles.

[18:45]
James McKinney: Wow. What was the remainder of your service like? Because obviously you didn't do a career there.

[18:51]
Andy Mackensen: Part way through your first tour as a junior officer, the Navy comes in and they show you all the other things that you can do for your second tour.

[19:01]
James McKinney: The military timeshare presentation, right?

[19:02]
Andy Mackensen: I'm like wait, yeah exactly. I was like wait a second, I don't have to be on a ship for the four years? And I saw they have a very, very few billets open at the time it was special boat unit, which is fast boats. It's a surface warfare officer role, but you're in the special warfare community. The missions are to, first of all you work directly with Navy Seals. You transport them, you do all the special reconnaissance missions, all that. But in order to get that, you need a letter of recommendation from your commanding officer and there's only like two billets that open up every year, so it's super competitive.

I went to my captain and said, "Hey, this is what I want to do for my next tour." He said, "Why?" and I gave him all the reasons, just because I thought it would be really challenging, and I wanted to challenge myself and do something different. He said, "All right, well the only way I'm going to give you a letter of recommendation is if you're my number one junior officer in the next rating period." I said, "Roger that, sir."

[20:05]
James McKinney: Wow, that's awesome.

[20:06]
Andy Mackensen: "You can count on it as done." So I ended up being the number one JO and then he gave me a nice letter of recommendation. Somehow, stars aligned, I ended up getting it. Then they changed names right after I got there, so it ended up being Special Boat Team 12.

[20:19]
James McKinney: That is awesome. What was that tour like on Special Boat Team 12 for your remaining time in service?

[20:25]
Andy Mackensen: Totally different. It felt like I was definitely doing special warfare and not surface warfare. We had two Mark V boats. They were 82 feet long, 2500 horsepower diesel engines. There's no propellers. They're impellers, so it's basically like a jet ski. So it's an 82 foot jet ski-

[20:42]
James McKinney: That's awesome.

[20:43]
Andy Mackensen: … on steroids. There's my second steroid reference.

[20:49]
James McKinney: That is awesome.

[20:50]
Andy Mackensen: You turn them on at full blast at 50 knots, you can imagine the tail end of the boat in an Olympic swimming pool. It could fill up that Olympic swimming pool in like two minutes in terms of the water flow coming out of the back.

[21:01]
James McKinney: That's incredible.

[21:02]
Andy Mackensen: So really incredible machines, and there's no right angles on them so they're really like funky angles and sharp looking, and really grey. Basically, it's to reduce the radar signature, make them look like really, really small boat and hard to detect. Gun mounts on the back, all that. But the primary purpose is to transport Seal platoons, get them to point A and point B. The SWCCCs the Special Warfare Combatant Craft Crewman, those are the boat guys. Very similar to Navy Seals but there's only been one Hollywood movie made of them so no one really knows about them. But those are the boat guys, the SWCCCs and they have a very important role in our military as well. Those are the guys that I led.

When we went over there, it was April of 2003 so right at the beginning of the war. We saw some stuff in Kuwait and went into the waterways of Iraq, but ultimately they brought us down to Oman and we were doing special reconnaissance missions down there. A lot of Al Qaeda folks were hiding amongst these little small john boats, so our mission was to go out and intercept them at night using some British aircraft and some Australian aircraft reconnaissance to tell us where these boats were. But we'd go out at like 2:00 in the morning, intercept them out in international waters, and then tag them with essentially take a picture of their Irish, take a thumbprint, and feed that information back to the NSA database. So basically helping the war on terror out on the oceans.

[22:29]
James McKinney: Was that your last job prior to your end of service and getting out?

[22:35]
Andy Mackensen: Yep, that was it. That was my second tour.

[22:37]
James McKinney: Was it hard for you to make that decision to say okay, my time in service is done, time to go to civilian life?


[22:43]
James McKinney: I hope you are loving this episode of The Startup Story. For the month of November, we are focused on telling the stories of founders who are also veterans. For that reason, I want to remind you of two initiatives we are focusing in on this month.

The first is to visit vorticwatches.com because they have a limited edition military watch where $500 from every sale goes directly to the Veteran Watchmaker Initiative, which is a nonprofit that trains US military vets to become watchmakers. You can learn more by visiting vorticwatches.com.

The second initiative is Socks for Heroes. On November 5th, we featured The Startup Story of Jim Hogan, cofounder of Socks for Heroes, and learned that he started this program after his son gave his life while serving in Afghanistan. Socks for Heroes is a program that provides new socks for our troops while they're deployed. In case you didn't know, Amazon Prime does not deliver to the outskirts of Afghanistan and our troops are responsible for providing their own socks. I'm sure you can imagine how critical it is for our troops to have clean socks. For that reason, I hope you will visit scmcsg.org to make a donation. Again, that's scmcsg.org. if you're a company with more than 20 employees, please email them directly at info@scmscg.org to see how your organization can support their mission.

This is a big month with an important focus, so I hope you will participate in some way. Now, let's get back to our episode.


[24:11]
James McKinney: Was it hard for you to make that decision to say okay, my time in service is done, time to go to civilian life?

[24:20]
Andy Mackensen: It was not. It's interesting to mention all the entrepreneurial stuff I did before. Really started getting the entrepreneurial itch about two, two and a half years into the navy thinking hey, I want to get back and I want to start a business. I thought to myself well, I don't have any idea of what that business is, I'm not going to go build a bigger lawn service when I get back. I want to start an actual business. Not that a lawn service isn't an actual business, but I wanted to do something different. So I really started getting the itch. I also know a good matriculation path out of the military is to go to business school. I said I'm going to go get an MBA out of the Navy and set myself up for the next chapter. So started studying for the GMATs and learning about all the top MBA schools, and reading about it and stuff like that. On deployment for that second deployment that I was telling you about during the war, we would go out at night and basically chase terrorists. Then during the day, we were at this five star beach resort, kind of private place, incognito you could say. I would sit by the pool and write my business school essays, talk about the night before chasing around the bad guys.

[25:31]
James McKinney: Oh my goodness, what an incredible story.

[25:33]
Andy Mackensen: it was a fun experience.

[25:35]
James McKinney: Yeah. So you get out of the military and you go to Stanford I believe is where you get your MBA from, correct?

[25:40]
Andy Mackensen: Yes.

[25:41]
James McKinney: And we know that where you're at now with SnackNation was not your first venture out of MBA school. So what was the journey between Stanford and SnackNation?

[25:52]
Andy Mackensen: Since it's military based, a common phrase in military is it was like eating a shit sandwich. So that's basically what I did for a couple years right out of business school. So what I mean by that is I took a fulltime job in real estate. I had the government military background. I was curious about civilian life in a big company, and so started working for a large commercial real estate company. Did that for about six months. While I was working fulltime, I started a little bit of side hustle.

Buddy of mine introduced me to this essentially it was a network marketing opportunity, which it was a personal development product. So you get like three personal development CDs that you play in your car, there's a journaling system. It walks you through how to set your goals and you have the right mindset and become a better person. I was like this is awesome, I love this. So I signed up. I got part of his down line and signed up, and tried… keyword trying, to sell these network marketing products.

In order to be successful in this particular opportunity, you had to learn how to generate leads and then call those leads, and close them. I had no lead generation experience, no marketing experience, and no sales experience. Basically, put in a very difficult situation to be successful. But what I learned was that holy cow, you could set up a landing page, pay for ads, have someone click on your ad, land on your landing page, give you their information, and then you call them and you can close a deal. I did have some sales. I was not incredibly successful, but what I learned through that entire process and I didn't know what I was learning initially until six or 12 months down the line, but I was learning internet marketing is what was going on there.

[27:47]
James McKinney: And this is 2007 or 2008?

[27:50]
Andy Mackensen: 2007 timeframe. We're out of school, working fulltime job while doing side hustle, and I recommend anyone who's thinking about starting a business, start side hustling because man, I had my regular… I was commuting an hour each way to work and then working the full day and all that. And then at nights and weekends was my time to do the side hustle. About six months in, I had gotten some traction with the network marketing business, albeit not a lot but enough where I was getting some sales, and I was really, really enjoying learning the internet marketing piece that I would be commuting into work in the morning and just this gut wrenching feeling of this opportunity cost feeling, of I should be working on my thing and not going into work right now. Every day it would get a little more painful, and a little bit more painful, a little more until I got to the point where I was like I've got to quit. Like I felt compelled to go work on my own thing.

A lot of people have asked me, and have asked how should they transition, how should I do my side hustle and I explain this, that do your side hustle and get it to a point where it hurts to go into work. Then you know that it's time to jump. So that's what it was for me. So I put in my notice. I remember driving home that afternoon after I put in my notice, after the two weeks had come up, and the feeling of freedom that I had, that I'm like all right, if it's going to be it's up to me, and here I am again. Finally I'm at that point where I'm in charge of my destiny. It's a really freeing feeling also scary all at the same time.

[29:24]
James McKinney: Were you married at the time?

[29:25]
Andy Mackensen: Nope single.

[29:26]
James McKinney: Single at the time, so responsibility wise very minimal.

[29:30]
Andy Mackensen: Very minimal. I'd saved up some money from deployment so I had a cushion. That was also a very thoughtful approach there. It is tougher to jump ship from a fulltime job if you don't have anything saved up, so that's another life lesson is like live below your means and save money. Also, when you're in the Navy and you're on deployment, it's actually hard to spend that money when you're on a ship and there's nowhere to spend it, so that's kind of a good environment to save money. But for those who are thinking about jumping ship, yeah live below your means and save some money and get a cushion before you jump.

[30:01]
James McKinney: Oh my goodness, I love that. This is incredible. So what was that first venture then, that you just had this itch to do? What was it?

[30:08]
Andy Mackensen: It was the side hustle. It was the network marketing business. Even though I wasn't hugely successful at it, I was starting to get some sales. I was picking up the lead generation part of it. I was enjoying getting on the phone and talking to people about the opportunity, and that's when I knew. Now, fast forward, it's not working out so well. I'm spending more money on advertising than I'm bringing back in revenue and my cushion that I had saved up my entire life was getting smaller and smaller. I'm like okay, I need to still be open to other things.

That was another big lesson for me is when you're trying to figure your life out, say yes. I hear a lot of stuff like hey, be really efficient with your time, say no a lot. But I think in the beginning when you're starting out say yes to just about everything and that's how you learn. The specific example that I'm talking about saying yes was I was hanging out with a buddy of mine and he's like, "Hey, I know a guy. He invented this microwave and it goes inside of a vending machine, and he's trying to build this hot food vending machine thing. He told me it's patent pending, so it sounds like he's pretty serious about it. You should go meet him. I'll intro you." I was like, "Okay." There was the first yes. I'm living in LA at the time, he was in Temecula which is like a 90 minute drive. I'm like okay cool, I'll go drive.

[31:29]
James McKinney: Oh a good day, just for listeners not in So Cal, 90 minutes on a good day.

[31:33]
Andy Mackensen: On a good day. So I drove over to his place. I get there. There's no vending machine. There's a desk with a bunch of motors and parts, and like a somewhat put together microwave. Oh my gosh, what am I getting myself into here? What's going on? But I liked the idea and the vision that it's a hot food vending machine, and he said, "Hey, you just graduate school, do you want to help me out with the business plan and help me get this to market?" No financial discussion, no hey let's figure out how much you get paid per vending machine or anything like that. It was like yeah, let me check it out, let me see if I want to help you out.

So I researched the vending industry and realized that it's massive. There's 5 million vending machines in the US. It's a $40 billion industry. I said holy cow, there's no hot food vending machines in this entire industry. I think he's onto something. I said, "Absolutely, I'll help you out." So again, that lesson of just being open and being curious, and saying yes. I started helping him get that machine to market.

I bring this story up because nothing really happened from that business, but what ended up happening is I met my future business partner because of it. That story, real quickly, I ended up bumping into a buddy of mine that I hadn't seen in like six months. Said, "Hey, what are you up to?" I said, "Working on this hot food vending project." He said, "Hot food vending? What the heck is that?" I explained it to him, he said, "Oh, well I know a guy who's been doing Healthy Vending for the last couple years. He's been experimenting putting healthier snacks into vending machines. Why don't you guys link up? There's probably some synergies there." I said, "Sure, give me his email."

So I reached out to the guy. Guy's name is Sean Kelly. We met for lunch in the summer of '07, became fast friends, and the long story shortened down is that we ended up about nine months later, became business partners and launched America's first Healthy Vending opportunity for people who want to own and operate a Healthy Vending business.

[33:29]
James McKinney: Now, the vending business if I'm not mistaken is really a real estate business, right? I mean it's really about securing the locations for the vending machine. It's about securing the prime locations and then it becomes a logistics business on stocking and cash collection, things like that. Correct?

[33:48]
Andy Mackensen: Absolutely. Location, location, location.

[33:51]
James McKinney: Yeah. So Sean is your cofounder. Ultimately, to raise the spoiler flag if you will, that became SnackNation over time, correct?

[34:01]
Andy Mackensen: Shh, don't tell anybody. Yes.

[34:04]
James McKinney: What was that journey with the vending business that flipped the switch to the current model that's SnackNation?

[34:09]
Andy Mackensen: You never know where life is going to lead you and what path. The reason that Sean and I, one of the reasons that Sean and I became business partners is because I had marketing knowledge, and I was giving him advice on his website, on how to generate more leads. That was because I was doing the network marketing business that I was, by all accounts, I was not successful in. But I had learned a very important skill set from that I picked up, and then I started helping someone else out, and that's what brought Sean and I together on a business level. We became friends, but on a business level, I had value to bring because I had learned a skill set that self taught.

Then coincidently, the vending business, the program that we launched for all intents and purposes was an opportunity. I was selling opportunities before with network marketing and the personal development business because it was an income generating opportunity through network marketing. Then I could take that skill set and directly apply it to another industry. So I just wanted to make sure I brought that up, because it's important to say yes and acquire skill sets along the way as well.

[35:14]
James McKinney: I'm a big believer in seizing those opportunities. Everything is going to pour into the next chapter. You just have to have your eyes open to these learning opportunities, so I'm a big believer in saying yes. I love networking marketing opportunities. I've never been successful at them, but I love the general concept of them. I do know many people that are incredibly successful through them. It's just never worked out for me, which is fine.

[35:37]
Andy Mackensen: Oh, so you're part of the 97%, got it.

[35:40]
James McKinney: Exactly.

[35:42]
Andy Mackensen: Yeah. So the transition there from vending to SnackNation, so what we did through Healthy Vending, we created a new vending machine from the ground up. It had LCD screens and credit card readers. It was a nice white and colorful machine wrap instead of the dirty old black or brown machine wrap. We were just creating vending 2.0 and we would place these machines all across the nation. Schools, hospitals, health clubs, all of the prime locations on behalf of our franchisees. One of the things that we learned in placing all these vending machines all over the place was when we called businesses, there was not as big of a desire to have a vending machine in a business. And the big thing was the big vending companies, they're typically going after businesses that are 100 employees or larger. A lot of the leads that we had were 20 to 100 employees, where the big vending companies they were just overlooking them.

We actually saw a hole in the market. We're like holy cow, there's these big food service vending companies that are overlooking these smaller businesses. And by the way, if you look at United States, there's 29 million businesses in the US. 20 million of them are solopreneurs, so those are actually not candidates for anything. You're really looking at 9 million businesses in the US. If you start sectioning off 100 employees or more, it's actually a much smaller percentage. So looking at the total addressable market, the most of America is 20 to 100 employee businesses. So we saw this gap in the market. We also knew that a really nice, new vending machine was anywhere from $5-10,000, so too much capital expenditure in a business that had that low amount of foot traffic. The return on investment would, it would take too long to get your money back.

So we said well what if we just take an old idea from the vending industry, which was the honor box. The honor box is where vending operators would go around their regular routes, stocking their vending machines, but then they would stop by smaller businesses and put a cardboard display box and put the Lays potato chips and Fritos, Oreos, all that stuff. They would place it in there and there's a little cashbox. You would grab a bag of Doritos and put $0.50 in the cash box on your honor. That was the honor box concept. So the vending operator would get permission to place these. Then the smaller businesses helped with the route density issue, because they were already going around on the route for the bigger accounts with the vending machines. So now you can plug in a smaller business with a little bit incremental revenue there. They would go and restock these honor boxes, and if there was too much stuff taken out with not enough money in the box, then they would just remove the cardboard box and be on their way. That was the age old honor box system.

We said hey, we can kind of reinvigorate this. What if we called on these businesses, the smaller ones, and got the businesses to pay for the snacks instead of the employees? Position it as a perk. We looked at the trends of where free coffee was heading in the office space, and pretty much everywhere now has free coffee. We believed that at the time, we saw with Healthy Vending machines and kind of the at the time Michele Obama and the Let's Move campaign, America's Obesity Epidemic, all of these macro trends were pointing to hey, offices are starting to offer snacks as a perk. And not just snacks, but healthier snacks. People were getting more in tune with healthier items. So what if we sell this to the office and then have them offer it as a perk? So we tested that.

It was a beta concept. We still had the vending business coming, here comes the side hustle. Hey, let's go test this beta business in some accounts and see how it goes. We had one guy on the team who had been with us for five years. He's like, "Guys, I've had every single job in the company. I think I've got to go do something else." We're like, "Oh, cool. Do you want to go be the CEO of SnackNation? You can be the intra-preneur and launch the business internally." He said, "Yeah, that sounds awesome." So for the entire year of 2014, he was the intra-preneur, the CEO, of SnackNation and figured everything out from the box sizes to the curation, to how do we ship them, to how do you sell into the locations, what's the sales pitch, what's the customer service structure on how to help people when they're having problems. Figured all that out.

By the end of 2014, we had 100 recurring customers on SnackNation, and we had at that point, for 12 months we had the retention data. Started running some spreadsheets and we're like holy cow, this is a phenomenal business. Not only is the office market larger than all of the schools, hospitals and health clubs, overall the metrics are all bigger too. So we could create a larger influence by having more people eat more healthy, which was our underlying mission of why we started all this. We can impact and help more people, oh and the economics are better?

At that point we had brought on a $5 million investment for our Healthy Vending business. About five or six months later, we decided to pivot over to SnackNation model, and we told our investors. We're like, "Hey, by the way here are the numbers." At first, we had a lot of jaws dropping and saying, "What the heck?" and but obviously, the numbers spoke for themselves. 20/20 hindsight based on where we are now, it was absolutely the right decision.

[40:56]
James McKinney: So in 2014, you build this SnackNation business of 100 customers. Obviously, you roll that into 2015. You're not peeling off the vending business because this is only 100 customers, but you're seeing opportunities, you're growing. How much longer did it stay an internal side project before it became the point where it's like it's time to cancel out the vending business and focus solely on SnackNation?

[41:22]
Andy Mackensen: The turning point was early 2015. So we had done SnackNation as the side project for a year. At that point really started looking hard at the numbers and the vending business, it's a publicly stated number. We were on the Ink 500 list. For human it was $9.2 million in revenue that year and what was so difficult about it was the SnackNation business was doing like $20,000 a month, $25,000 a month, something like that. So here we are with almost a $10 million business over on one hand, and then on the other hand we have a $25,000 a month business and we're running the projections and saying, "Nope, it's basically saying we've got to stop selling new franchisees for the Healthy Vending business and go all in on SnackNation."

Again, everything that was driving the decision was how much impact could we create, and what are the economics of that impact look like. So that's really, at the end of the day, we had multiple weeks of discussions, and back and forth, and pros and cons of all the difficult scenarios.

[42:24]
James McKinney: That was going to be my next question is how hard was that process to get to the point of making the decision? Because again, you're talking $10 million versus a $300,000 business. You have an existing $10 million business. Just on boarded another investment partner with capital attached to it, and you're looking at this $300,000 business. Again, all signs point to it being great but signs are different than real money. So how hard was that season of do we do this, do we not do it? And then what was the tipping point where it was like okay, this is a no brainer, we've just got to just pony up and just go on it?

[42:59]
Andy Mackensen: It's a gradual process. I don't recommend anyone make that decision in 24 hours. Multiple nights of sleep to really hone in on it, but we had lots of discussions. Finally, the discussions, we started saying the same things over and over, and all the signs pointed to this is a better business, and by the way we're not doing this to be a $10 million business. We're doing this to be a $100 million plus business, because that's where you really provide more impact is getting to scale. We just saw that it was going to be a lot harder to get to that kind of scale with the existing business.

[43:34]
James McKinney: Got it.

[43:35]
Andy Mackensen: There are a lot of pros to pivoting to the SnackNation model as well, because we had a lot of inside sales reps from the vending days. We could repurpose those reps over to SnackNation because it was still inside sales. So there were a lot of things that we could… that the resources and the assets that we had, we could repurpose a lot of them.

[43: 51]
James McKinney: You made an interesting comment there about you could make more impact being $100 million business versus a $10 million business, because it wasn't about being a $10 million business, it was about impact. How significant was your purpose in building SnackNation? Because you reference it a few times, so it obviously tells me that it is absolutely part of the DNA of SnackNation, and that purpose being bringing healthier options to the workplace. So how significant was it in those decision moments?

[44:21]
Andy Mackensen: You mention DNA, I think that's a good phrase for that. When you have clarity in terms of your lowest common denominator of what is important to you and you have clarify on that, all decision making comes back to that, and it makes it a lot easier to make decisions if you're very clear on what your values are and what you want. So for us, making an impact on helping people eat more healthily, making conscious food decisions, that is what originally drove us back in the day. It still does today, but that was our thought process. It helped make that decision. If we were unclear about what we were made of and what we were doing, I think it would have either taken longer to make that decision or we may have made the wrong decision and we would have gone with what's comfortable. You know what was comfortable? Sticking with the existing business. That's what was comfortable.

[45:07]
James McKinney: Before we talk more about the transition and the growing of SnackNation, why don't you unpack what SnackNation is for our listeners.

[45:16]
Andy Mackensen: SnackNation, in a nutshell, it's healthy snack delivery for offices. We're expanding into more than just healthy snacks. We're now fueling the entire workplace, so you think of fruit, coffee, better for you snacks. We're even dipping into some of the classic snacks. I can talk about why we're choosing to go that route, but it is still based on impact for us. We're also launching full service in Los Angeles and then many other cities, full service is trucks on the road. Actually having people come into the office, stock the shelves, bring in beverages. We don't ship beverages right now, but having a full service component we can actually deliver a lot of that stuff in the office as opposed to ship it via FedEx.

[45:59]
James McKinney: That's incredible. So when you think of SnackNation's anniversary date, what year do you point to? 2014 as you were building it or 2015 when you made the shift to go all in?

[46:09]
Andy Mackensen: That's such a difficult question for us. Our first SnackNation sale, the beta test, first customer was January of 2014. We don't count hat. We were still full on Healthy Vending. We hired our first sales reps August 26th of 2014. That's the date that we use internally. The pivot decision was March of 2015 and that's really… and then the incorporation of the separate entity because we needed to make it a separate entity. That was December o 2015. So there's like four different dates that we look at.

[46:39]
James McKinney: So whatever the dates may be, let's call it five years old, SnackNation being five years old we'll say.

[46:44]
Andy Mackensen: That's about right.

[46:45]
James McKinney: So in your five years of growth, what has been some of the challenges that you've had to encounter as you are growing this healthy subscription box business?

[46:56]
Andy Mackensen: Is everything an acceptable answer?

[46:58]
James McKinney: It is, but for you particularly because you're the cofounder but you're also the CMO, so for you in particular what are some of the challenges for you?

[47:07]
Andy Mackensen: Growing an inside sales team is incredibly hard. B2B sales is not easy and I have handfuls of friends who are founders, growing inside sales teams, and they can all confirm that. It's very difficult, but we actually look at it as a competitive advantage of ours. When you have a well organized, well trained sales team it is a competitive advantage. Other difficulties for us has been increasing our lead generation so that's a continuous, constant effort to in terms of demand generation, to look at all of the different marketing funnels and the traffic that we're generating to our various offers, and converting that traffic into leads. Getting those leads to the sales reps so that they can convert them into paying members.

Other challenges on a personal level? I got, throughout this journey I've gotten married, had two kids. So balancing now with four and six year old kids, balancing the personal life and being a dad. This morning I was down at my son's school for his first day with the flag ceremony. Balancing that with hustling in and getting on a phone call, and getting to work. So being a dad has added some complexity to it, in making sure I'm very mindful of the balance that I'm deploying here.

There's always people challenges growing a business. We have 150 team members and there's always challenges with people.

[48:25]
James McKinney: So you're at 150 team members right now, and when you started you converted a lot of those Healthy Vending sales reps over into-

[48:33]
Andy Mackensen: Yeah, back then it was about 40 people.

[48:35]
James McKinney: So quite a bit of growth there. So that helped ease some of the transition though because you're bringing people over that you know, that knew the business, that were going to easily understand the business because they'd been with you for some time.

[48:35]
Andy Mackensen: What was great about them is they were already indoctrinated. They knew the culture. They knew the culture here internally. They knew certain things. But we still had to learn a lot about the particular nuances of SnackNation. This was not a vending machine placement sale. This is a recurring revenue sale. You're talking to different stakeholders in the organization. You're not chasing down school principals to place a vending machine. You're talking to an office manager inside of an office, and there's different sales benefits and features, all that.

[49:16]
James McKinney: So let me ask you a tactical question for some of our less experienced entrepreneurs or our want-repreneurs that are working on their side hustle. Because you are obviously, I mean the accolades point to it. You are an internet marketing genius. If you were a want-repreneur, working a 9 to 5, wanting to bring a product or service to market, what are some tactics that you could share with our listeners that they can move on to help either prove the demand for what it is they're wanting to do, maybe even get a first couple sales. What are some internet marketing tips you can offer to those listening?

[49:52]
Andy Mackensen: Well the first thing is all of the most successful marketers that I've ever met are self taught, meaning they have a genuine curiosity. They really like learning. And so seeking out specific resources within internet marketing. Now there's hundreds and hundreds of gurus that sell courses. Many of them are crap, but there are some phenomenal resources out there within copywriting. Read all the greats. Copywriting is like the foundation, so understanding Ogilvy and Eugene Schwartz and Dan Kennedy and all these copywriters, read those books because words matter, and especially in marketing and driving lead gen. Words matter. Training yourself up on those particular areas.

One of the things that worked really well for me is I paid, at the time when I had no income, I paid $2,700 for a Google ad words course, and it was a six or eight week program. You get on a couple group calls a week. You had like a one on one call with a trainer, and they walked you through. By the end of the six to eight weeks, you got your ads up and running. You're actually driving traffic. And by the way, you're spending your own money on your ads. That's another huge lesson for me. Is when you're spending your own money on ads, not only do you watch them like a hawk, you learn so quickly. You learn so quickly what the right things are to do. Then when you're getting your ass handed to you because you're spending so much money and not getting any return, you're like, "Uh, I better go learn something about this."

Then in terms of for want-repreneurs or people that are looking to get started, I think the easiest way to get up and running is be an affiliate marketer. There's platforms like Commission Junction. Shoot, what are some of the other affiliate platforms?

[51:38]
James McKinney: Amazon has an affiliate platform.

[51:40]
Andy Mackensen: There you go. In terms of like Commission Junction, there's all these information marketing course that people have. You can go sign up as an affiliate in there. Go find what some of the top converting marketing courses are in there, and then you basically advertise those courses. When someone buys the course, you get a commission. That is the best way to learn marketing quickly, because you don't have to create a product. A lot of people get stuck on, "Oh, well I don't have an idea. I don't have a product. I don't have a service. I don't have the idea yet." You don't need an idea to get started. Go sell someone else's product, because you still have to learn all the fundamentals of how do you write ads, how do you create demand, how do you get people to desire something to then pull out their wallet and pay for it. You can learn that very quickly through affiliate marketing without having a great product.

[52:25]
James McKinney: Oh my goodness, that was incredible. I hope, for those of you who are listening to this while driving, when you get to a place whether it be your office desk or back at the house, mark this point. Go back about five minutes. Take all these notes. This was absolutely gold.

As our time comes to an end, I would be remiss if I didn't ask from a perspective standpoint, when you look back on your military journey what were some of those lessons that have just absolutely helped to accelerate and enhance the success you've experienced in your entrepreneurial journey?

[52:58]
Andy Mackensen: Do the work. Do the hard shit. I've just learned life is so counterintuitive. A lot of cliche statements are coming up in my mind right now, but it really is true that when you do all the easy stuff, your life is hard and when you do all the hard stuff your life is easy. I was on deployments and working 18 hour days doing… having two watches on the deck. One in the morning, and then one at like I think they called it balls 30, that watch. But it was super late, you're so tired. The watch I hated the most was the 2 am to 7 am watch, because basically had to get up at 1 am so you basically had a couple hours of sleep from the night before. You go on watch and then you're into your full work day, and then you go back on watch again that night before you can go to bed.

Those type of things like oh wow, I can do a lot more than I thought I could. Especially at an early age. The military just teaches a lot of good discipline, and then the perspective is a big thing of you see all walks of life on your ship, all different types of people. As an officer, you're managing those people. So I was a young 20 year old, never managed anyone in my life, and learned stuff real quick.

[54:12]
James McKinney: Yeah. Oh my goodness, that's incredible. My final two questions as our time does have to wrap up unfortunately. I feel like we could go on for hours more, just unpacking this, but the final two questions that I love and I ask every founder. The first one is about gratitude.

So when you think back to your entire life's journey, and all the bread crumbs that lead you to where you are today, and all the people that contributed to your journey and your startup story, who do you look back to with such immense gratitude for? The reason I ask that question is that I believe if we don't maintain that perspective of gratitude, we will begin to think we did it on our own, and ultimately that will isolate us and isolation is what will lead to our failure. So who do you point to with such incredible gratitude for what they contributed to your journey?

[54:56]
Andy Mackensen: Early, early days I credit it a lot to my dad with his work ethic. His principles. Talking about integrity and harping on that, and really a lot of the stuff we talk about in the military. Also his effort to really help me out and push me through Boy Scouts. Only 2% of scouts make Eagle or something like that, so I think it's very difficult to make Eagle without parental support. My dad was there to help me achieve that, and it got me on the right foot.

There's a high school soccer coach, Jeff Tolsen, that I attribute some of my personality to, and also work ethic as well, working hard on the soccer team. I know you said not being grateful for yourself because it causes isolation, but I'm grateful for all the people in my life that have helped giving me my mindset, my work ethic. I am also grateful for myself that I stick through the hard times. At the end of the day, you still have to make the internal decision of whether you're going to complete the action or not complete the action. Life is really sucking right now but I'm going to do it anyway, that kind of attitude. You've got to give yourself kudos too. It's all part of the package.

[56:07]
James McKinney: Love that.

[56:08]
Andy Mackensen: And of course, after high school going through college, military, later days, I'm grateful for my business partner Sean Kelly. Incredible guy. One of the most intelligent, bright, energetic people that I've ever met. He's helped me stay on the right track and achieve a ton. Right around the time I met my business partner, I met my future wife and without her, I'd be nowhere. So I appreciate her. I'm grateful to have the business life that I have, and I would not be able to have that without the personal life that I have with my wife, and the two phenomenal kids that we have. You know what? We're big on gratitude here at SnackNation.

Every Friday at 4 pm, this is a little culture hack for people who have existing businesses or if you're going to start a business, think about infusing this into your culture. Every Friday at 4 pm we have what we call a crush call. Everyone in the company comes together and you crush someone, meaning in a good way. You crush someone for a job well done. So you publicly recognize someone for doing something well, and then you also say one thing that you're grateful for. So we end every Friday afternoon, we cut off work an hour early and we go around in the circle. It's a big thing. Sometimes it's emotional, sometimes there's tears. A lot of times there's laughs, and often times there's beers. Get that all together, and we have a grateful culture.

[57:33]
James McKinney: Oh my goodness, I love that. That's incredible. So our final question, we've been talking to tens of thousands of listeners as we've been thinking of your entrepreneurial journey, at a high level just kind of walking through it all. And we've been speaking to many different personas. But right now, I want to bring this conversation between just you and one of my listeners. Whether that listener is the frustrated entrepreneur that has been doing this for some time and just not getting the traction they had hoped for, or maybe it's the want-repreneur, the one who's got a 9 to 5 but they have some narrative in their head as to why they just can't make the leap and do it. Maybe it's just out of fear and responsibilities, married with kids, or maybe they think because they're 55 and 60 they're just too old to do something.

Or, maybe you want to talk to the defeated entrepreneur. The one who has been punched in the gut too many times and they're just ready to call it quits completely. Whoever it is you want to talk to, this conversation for the next few minutes is just between you and that person. What do you have to say to that person?

[58:29]
Andy Mackensen: I've got to quote Gary V. This next statement is what hits home for me so strongly is that you're going to die. So whether you do it or not, t his business or this thing that you want to get going, whether you do it or not you're going to die so which choice do you want to make, right now, so that when you're on your death bed you're thinking to yourself, "All right, I went for it and I've got no regrets," or, "I was scared and I didn't go do it, and now I've got regrets." That's what I look at in my decisions.

The other thing that I would say is there's so much to do when you start a business. There's so many things. The issue is you can't do everything all at once. The only thing that you can do is one thing at a time. All of these other things that are stressing you out, like I don't know how to do this, or I would have to manage 18 different things, none of that matters. The only thing that matters is this present moment and what you can do right now, the one thing. The one most important thing you can work on right in this moment, that's what you need to focus on. Everything else is extraneous and is just causing a whole bunch of wasted mental energy.

[59:42]
James McKinney: What an incredible startup story, featuring one of the industry's best internet marketers. In our time with Andy, he gave us some real tactical advice when it comes to internet marketing. But what I want to reiterate is what he spoke to at the end of his story. The idea of that one thing.

When you make the decision to start a business, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the extensive list of things that need to get done. That list can seem daunting and never-ending. For many, the response to that list is to not do anything and therefore their business begins to fail, or just sputters along until they realize their flawed thinking. The reason for this is that we desire accomplishment. We're wired for accomplishment. We're wired to win. We want to know that we did what we set out to do, and when the list of things to do never ends, it discourages us.

What Andy spoke to at the end is pure gold. He told us to focus on the one thing that we can do. Think about the power of that decision. If you take your list of everything, trim it down to a list of two or three things and then focus on just one item at a time, you will get that dopamine hit of accomplishment, and that will put you onto the next item. It's a brilliant brain hack. That is what accomplishments do for us. There's a chemical reaction that takes place within us and we can leverage that hit for the next push. Focus on the one thing and watch how fast you accomplish all the things.

All right. Let's keep it real. The list is never going to end, so you won't ever really accomplish all the things, but you will accomplish far more than you thought possible. Now, go get after it.

I hope you found some real value in Andy's startup story. If you've been around The Startup Story for any length of time, then you know how much emphasis I put on the idea that entrepreneurs support other entrepreneurs. In fact, Andy wants to keep delivering value to you by offering you, The Startup Story listener, an entrepreneur, want-repreneur, or solopreneur, whoever you may be, you a free box of snacks. So just visit snacknation.com/startupstory for your free box. Entrepreneurs support other entrepreneurs, so let's make sure to show up for Andy in a big way and visit snacknation.com/startupstory to get your free box of snacks.

And now for my personal ask. The Startup Story community has been so incredible about sharing our podcast with others, but we have more stories to tell and more people to reach. We too are a startup and word of mouth is everything, so please follow us on Facebook and Instagram @TheStartupStory or on Twitter @StartupStory_. If you're on LinkedIn, please search for The Startup Story and follow our company page. LinkedIn is a really powerful way to raise awareness of the show. But the most impactful way you can help us grow our audience is to leave a review on Apple Podcast. Or if you listen to the show via Spotify, then please simply share the podcast directly from your Spotify app or wherever you listen to the show.

These simple actions can make a huge impact in getting these amazing founder stories out to the masses. And please make sure to tag or mention The Startup Story when you do share so that we can connect with you and say thank you directly. I'm so incredibly appreciative of the fact that you listen to the show each and every week, and I look forward to sharing these amazing stories with you every Tuesday with hopes of encouraging and inspiring you to start your story.

If you like this podcast and are thinking of creating your own, consider talking to my producer Danny Ozment. He helps thought leaders, influencers, executives, and authors create, launch, and produce podcasts that grow their business and make a real impact in this world. You can contact him today at emeraldcitypro.com/startupstory.

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November 12 2019
Andy Mackensen, co-founder of SnackNation

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