About the Episode :
Today we welcome Adam Mendler on the show, CEO of the Veloz Group. Adam brings his perspective on mentorships, and the different levels that exist. Learn how his career has been formed, and why he focuses on learning from others to better himself every day.
About the Guest :
Adam Mendler is the Chief Executive Officer of The Veloz Group, where he co-founded and oversees ventures across a wide variety of industries: Beverly Hills Chairs, a leading office furniture e-tailer; Custom Tobacco, a one-of-a-kind cigar customization e-commerce platform; and Veloz Solutions, a technology consulting and software development practice. Adam is also the creator and host of the business and leadership podcast Thirty Minute Mentors, where he regularly elicits insights from America’s top CEOs, founders, athletes, celebrities, and political and military leaders. Adam has written extensively on leadership, management, entrepreneurship, marketing and sales, having authored over 70 articles published in major media outlets including Forbes, Inc. and HuffPost. Adam’s Lessons in Leadership series in Thrive Global and other media projects total more than 500 one on one interviews with America’s top leaders. Adam draws upon his insights building and leading businesses and interviewing hundreds of America’s top leaders as a keynote speaker to businesses, universities and non-profit organizations on leadership and related topics. Adam’s unique professional background includes experiences working for D.E. Shaw & Co., then the largest hedge fund in the world; for Credit Suisse, then a Fortune Global 150 company; for the strategic planning groups at William Morris Endeavor and Universal Pictures; at TWC Sports Management, a leading sports agency; and on a successful presidential primary campaign. Adam has served as the Executive Producer of Virtually Israel; as a Strategic Partner and Advisor to Here Media; and has been an advisor to the accelerator Fusion LA since its inception. Adam graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Southern California, earning a B.S. in Business Administration and a B.A. in Political Science, and earned an M.B.A. from the UCLA Anderson School of Management, where he received the UCLA Anderson Fellowship Award. Adam teaches a graduate-level class at UCLA on teamwork and leadership; serves on USC’s Board of Governors and on the board of UCLA’s Master of Applied Statistics program; and is Chairman Emeritus of the USC Alumni Entrepreneurs Network. A Los Angeles native and lifelong Angels fan, Adam loves sports, classic movies and TV, politics, physical fitness and backgammon.
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I feel a little cheeky today so you’re going to get some of that in this episode. It’s going to be good, but I need to ask for your help. Please can you share this out with at least three people. We don’t take sponsors on the show, we’re out here to provide a service, bring knowledge, and bring truth to the world. The only way we can do that with more people is if you help out and share this, when we’re done and you’re gonna want to today I’m excited today because my guest is CEO the Vilas group the purpose of that is to build and operate technology driven companies and apply advanced technology skills and creative outside the box thinking to underserved markets. That is a mouthful, because here’s the really exciting stuff. This dude’s a podcast host of 30 minute mentors but I found a testimonial on his website, and before I read this, I’m gonna welcome Adam Mendler to the show. Welcome brother,
Rick, thanks so much for having me man excited to be here with you excited to be here with your listeners fired up.
Yeah man, that’s awesome, dude. I saw this on your site, you know, because I always try to do my, my team does amazing research and all of our guests that come on you know with the, with the info you submit and they go out and try to find obscure things on their own, you know, I’ve found some funny things about some people here and there, but this is one because I love, as I was reading through all the info that I had on you, you know, and this is where I’d like to start the show today because you’ve done a lot of really cool things, and your site really promotes all the really cool things that you’ve done just like mine does, right? I always try to find those nuggets of like real humaneness, and you’ve got testimonials right on getting me. I read one of these to you because it’s amazing.
Absolutely, I appreciate what you’re sharing with listeners because if you go to Adam Sandler comm if you go to Rick’s website if you go to any of our websites, you get to see the airbrush versions of ourselves. Yeah, that’s what we do. We take whatever tools on the internet we airbrush ourselves and we take it, we put it out there for everyone to see, but if you want to see who we are in real life, that’s what this is all about. That’s what these conversations are all about so excited to dive right in.
Right on, that’s I love these types of conversations man because I just I Adam brings a true authenticity and transparency to his story, and advice on how to pursue career goals build key relationships and remain agile in the business and life planning process, I left a 90 minute session with Adam inspired, while also clear and tactical steps I could take tomorrow to improve my career in business and my biggest takeaway was the power of relationships and people. Dude, I saw this I was like, man, you know, cuz I don’t know if it’s you, you know, because one, I like seeing haters sometimes, right, because, because we know that hey, this is cool, we’re, we’re inspiring some emotions in people, you know, and I went, probably about a month on social media without any haters and I knew my contents, and I was like “What’s wrong team what’s going on here,” you know, but the hate disappeared like “Well Rick it’s good time 10 year engagements up.” Like, “I know, but we’re not stimulating enough!” Right? But then, but then I love seeing these things and how do you feel when you, when you hear those words when you see when you know somebody else’s words about you that are just amazing like that. What does that do to you?
I love it. I mean you can’t help but feel good when you hear people who are moved by the work that you do, so I teach a class at UCLA. I love that I love the fact that every week that I go and show up in the classroom, in some shape or form, helping to mold the next generation of leaders I try to do that through my content through my podcast, through my writing, through my speaking. And when you hear the feedback in real time. It’s obviously rewarding, and I don’t hear a lot of hate, hopefully, the people who hate me, or at least in some sense kind and don’t share their hate to me directly, I do hear some hate on occasion about some of my guests, which I you know, all right hate on my guests but at least you’re not hating on me.
I had one guest in particular who inspire a lot of hate and I was really surprised by it, but then I realized that you know we live in such a polarized environment that you put anyone on your show with any kind of opinion and someone’s going to hate on them so you could bring on the most successful people in America. Someone said one thing one time at one point in their life, and someone’s gonna say something negative about you, right to your point, it’s just important to focus on the positive life is all about trying to uplift others trying to make a positive difference in the lives of others trying to make an impact that will allow others to become their best selves and if that’s your mindset, then whatever negativity, there is that’s around you just sort of flows in one ear and out the other.
Yeah, no doubt, man, there’s scenarios I can think of in those too but I used to be focused on it’s like I want to help everybody you know and then when I started down this track of really putting myself out there. I remember this you know when the, when the people came about and at first it was people that I knew like knew me my entire life and when I started, you know, putting my content out there and started just talking about stories in my life and there were some things that they, they were jealous of that I was accomplishing and that it was also things that I was talking about some past childhood stories that might have involved some of them you know and some parents back then and all that and then it came to where they started hating me. I was like man is this just like preparation for the future because I realized very early at first, my heart sank and then I was able to realize it’s like you know when I just gotta keep going, man, because it no matter what anybody is going to think about me, My purpose is to bring truth into the world, and I want to do that in a very positive and motivational way, but that’s not going to resonate with everybody, even when you’re trying to do the best and bring the best content the most uplifting message possible, sometimes there’s just people out there that just have a lot of trauma, man, that are going to project that on you.
Rick I think more broadly a I hear your point I hear everything you’re saying and I think to take it one step further, your message, and I don’t mean you personally, I mean this to anyone listening I’m sure your message isn’t going to resonate with everyone, your content isn’t going to resonate with everyone, your product isn’t going to resonate with everyone. I think that a mistake that every entrepreneur makes I could tell you that I’ve made it in my businesses and you make it, you learn from it is that you try to be all things to all people, and you come up with a product you come up with a service, you come up with content, and you think that everyone is going to love it and in reality, that isn’t what leads to success.
What leads to success is understanding who your audience is, understanding who it is that’s out there, that your content, that your product, that your service is going to resonate and make sure that you’re focusing on them, delivering it to them. If you have something that’s really good. It’s going to appeal to a large audience. So, rather than focusing on trying to be someone else something else, focus on who you are, focus on becoming your best self, discover your own inner voice, and go with it, because whatever you have whatever your unique voice is your unique offering is will resonate with someone out there and the more you can hone it the more you can polish it, the more it will resonate with a larger and larger audience
For sure my man and this would translate I would think into leadership too which is obviously your area of expertise. How is it possible this is a trick question right almost like rhetorical but how is it possible to be an effective leader if you’re not actually bringing who you truly are there if you’re almost trying to impersonate somebody else, you know, rather than being your true self like you’re talking, is that a concept that you start to teach too?
Absolutely, and you hit the nail on the head I give a talk on the core principles of resonant leadership, and I have seven principles on what it takes to be a resonant leadership and the first principle is self awareness. Before you can effectively lead others you need to be able to lead your own life and it starts with understanding who you are, understanding your strengths, understanding your weaknesses, understanding your superpower, understanding what it is about you that makes you different that makes you special, that makes you unique and before, others are going to listen to you before others are going to accept you as a leader, before you can effectively drive organizational change before you can lead others, you need to really be in touch with yourself and when you look at people who lack self awareness and are in managerial positions, they’re not effective leaders, they might have a business card or they might have a title that says manager, but their effectiveness as leaders are not our suspect to say the least
You mentioned something in there. Maybe we can unpack this a little bit as it’s key for leadership to identify what your superpower is right. Do you have a process that you teach on and what is that process to help identify that because that’s a lot of internal reflection right?
Absolutely, absolutely and just to hit that point home to listeners. I’m a very big believer that most people in life are bad at most things, and I can tell you that. Personally, I’m bad at too many things to lessen Rick. I know that if we took the time to go through all the things that I’m bad at. You wouldn’t have enough time in your day. I know that I’m just one person that you’re interviewing today, we would probably go all the way through the end of the calendar year, just listing all the things that I’m bad at. But we have a few things that we’re good at and we have that one thing that makes us great. That makes us special, that makes us different from everyone else around us and the more quickly you could figure out what it is that makes you special, what it is that makes you different, what it is that makes you unique, the more effective you’ll be in life the more effective you’ll be in business, the more effective you’ll be as a leader and what is that process?
Well, first things first, it’s never too early and it’s never too late to get on that journey of self discovery, and it starts with taking the time to understand who you are. Block out meaningful time to think through, Who am I, what are my strengths, what are my weaknesses, what is it about me that makes me different? So step number one is committing to this process and committing to deep self reflection. Number two is going to the people around you, going to the people who know you well, including the people who know you best. Your family, your friends, your neighbors, your colleagues, your co-workers, anyone around you who has a perspective on you, someone who knew you when you were a kid, former teacher, maybe even a customer. I would put together as big a pool as you can and have this conversation with them. Ask them, “What is it about me that makes me different?” What is that one characteristic about me that differentiates me from everyone else, you know, what do you believe is my single defining trait. And you’re gonna see a theme emerge.
I highly encourage anyone listening to this conversation to get on this journey and start doing it and what I see over and over and over again is, when I asked people when I asked audiences to speak, it could be an audience of senior executives, it could be an audience of emerging leaders, it could be my students who I give this project to. It’s the first homework assignment I give my graduate class that I teach on leadership at UCLA and what I always find is that there might be one exception but 99% of the people come back and say, “This is my superpower.” and for that 99% of the people you need to dig deeper, you need to probe further, you think more extensively you need to ask more people you need to you need to really take this process as seriously as you can, because the outcome is so important, the outcome is ultimately going to lead you to so much more success as a leader so much more success professionally and personally.
For sure man, you’re hitting on a major key there too, because when you said that, you know 99% of people come back and say oh this is my superpower and you’re like you need to dig deeper, you know, but may I share with you my personal experience and identifying my superpower, because it was a lot of what you were saying, because I’ve asked people what they thought of me but even more so if you give people the opportunity to even with the I’ve discovered anyways even without asking, they will start to identify things in you, and they’ll verbalize it to if they have the space to do that if they know that you’re not going to be off putting or push them back or get defensive, whatever you know and this comes down to criticism but it’s also on the on the good side to where it’s, they will help you identify your superpower if they, if you just give them the opportunity to to speak about you sometimes, even without asking questions. So I was at an event a couple years ago, I’m sitting there because I do, I mean even today people ask us like what does Rick really do, you know, and the message is become clear and clear over time it’s great, but there’s so many things, right, you know, like last year I made a documentary, you know, about government overreach I have a cybersecurity company that has an IPO coming up. I’m a musician, I’m an ordained pastor you know I’m a public speaker I do all these all these things, and I started to think about this because the question that was posed in this event I was attending was today, we’re going to figure out the answer to the question, “What are you known for?” Which really is your superpower I discovered.
So I started thinking it’s like so I go through these things in my head I’m like okay well I know cyber security that’s cool people know me about that you know the last me questions, you know, and I think back to like Geek Squad days when I was the first Geek Squad agent in Chicago, everyone, you know, family friends would be like hey I got this computer problem now I became the Family Computer Guy, you know, and then it’s like, oh, but uh, I’ve played on stage and have led 1000s In music, you know, audiences of 1000s of people at one time you know those large crowds and I’ve done that and I’ve spoken in front of these large crowds too, and they know me as somebody who has sound in faith they know me as a dad, they know me as a husband, they know me as all these things, and I’m like this is what people would say about me but then I stopped I’m like, wait, wait, it’s like these are like things that I do almost, you know what’s, what’s the resonating thing it’s like okay I’m a leader, I get, you know, people will want run through walls for me though, they always like Rick I got your back, you know, anything goes down on behind you take us anywhere all, I’ll break through, you know hells flames to, to make sure that we succeed as long as you’re leading us I’m like cool. That’s awesome.
So I’m a leader and like no that’s not really nicely, either, because those are skills that can be learned, but then I stopped, I thought back, and I started hearing these things resonate, because I had asked people over time I’m talking like over a decade, man, it’s like what do you see in me. Who do you see, who do you see that I am. What are qualities about me that you see? I kept hearing this, like, you know, passionate, authentic, in all these different words kept flashing from conversations that I had in one conversation when I was sitting in the car. I was training salespeople for Best Buy in their, their brand new business to business division and I had a brand new salesperson in the car with me and I was just coaching and mentoring him hardcore, and then I go into something personal. I don’t remember what it was but I got super passionate about it and I apologized and I’m like, “I’m sorry I just got so passionate about this” I knew him for three months, he goes, “Rick. I’ve only known you for a short time, and everything that you talk about. When I see that you put your heart into it, you’re passionate about it, dude. Whatever you decide, you are all in.” In that moment it’s like I felt like from my feet to the top of my head just completely filled up. When I came home. When I remember that conversation then the dude said “Rick, you are all in.” Then everything underneath that leadership, dad, musician, your pastor, the public speaker, public figure, thought, thought provoking, I mean mentor, all of these things fell underneath I’m like that’s it. That is it and obviously I mean the show’s all in. That’s the theme of everything that I do in my life because it’s when I decide, even losing weight, dude. When I made the decision it was a snap decision that was like, “Alright, I’m All In.” I didn’t stop and dropped the 80 pounds so that is what I determined was what my superpower was by the key of exactly what you’re saying was listening to what others had to say about me.
Rick, I love that. I think that that’s amazing. I think your story is as great an illustration as I’ve heard of the fact that this is not a homework assignment that you can complete overnight. No way. We’re looking, we live in a world we live in a time in place, in which we want immediate answers we want instant gratification, and when I give this homework assignment, whether I give it to students, or whether I give it to audiences, there’s this temptation to say all right it’s a problem. I’m going to solve it, and I’m going to come back with an answer, and your story, your personal story is such a great example of the fact that this isn’t something that you’re going to solve right away. This isn’t something that you’re going to solve in a defined amount of time. This is a journey. This is a process, and even when you think you know you what the answer is, it’s something that’s going to evolve as you continue to listen as you continue to learn as you continue to better understand yourself better understand who you are, the more self aware you become, the better you’re going to be as a leader, the more successful you’re going to be and Rick you really hit the nail on the head there.
Thanks brother. I appreciate you, and you take the perspective that it takes a lot of time to discover what this is about you because it takes time to become that word that you just said self aware, and it takes intention to to become self aware, it’s sitting and thinking in the moment. Why am I feeling this way, why am I the way that I am, how can I change my behaviors, how can I improve where do I need to grow. What is it about me that I want to continue right now is to become such a lifelong journey man and because you obviously teach leadership you teach teamwork which is incredible and this is a concept that can be translated into teams to candidates
Absolutely. I’ve had this conversation and similar conversations with people on all kinds of teams, and when you talk to people on teams on winning teams, you could talk to Super Bowl champions, you could talk to World Series champions, you could talk to leaders of teams who are winning wars on the battlefield, yeah right on literal literal wars on the battlefield, you could talk to leaders of teams that are excelling in Fortune 500 companies, and you could talk to leaders of teams that are building the fastest growing companies in America, startup companies that are no longer startups because they’re now multi billion dollar household names, and the core principles of effective leadership, the core principles of effective teamwork are universal, and that’s a theme that I’ve learned by interviewing more than 500 of the most successful leaders in America. When you talk to a Hall of Fame athlete, when you talk to a four star general, when you talk to a fortune 500 CEO, when you talk to a founder of a $40 billion company, the same themes emerge, and the core principles are applicable from the battlefield to the boardroom to the basketball court.
Amen my man, I appreciate that. Tell me about your podcast 30 Minute Mentors, I love the name.
I appreciate that hope. If anyone listening to this podcast enjoys the name, please check it out.
I’m sure it’s more than yours. but I want to send people what’s it about man and why did you start it with two questions there.
Sure, so is. I’ll give you a quick rundown, the concept is. Every week I bring on one of the most successful people in America for 30 minutes. So, the guests who I bring on. I just alluded to them but fortune 500 CEOs, retired generals retired admirals Hall of Fame athletes, the political leaders of America, cabinet members senators, you know founders of household name companies so it’s really CEOs and founders of companies that anyone listening to this podcast, would have heard of or household names people who you would know by just seeing their name. So the most successful people in America, I bring them on for 30 minutes. The idea is, I want to give listeners access to the best network of mentors possible for 30 minutes at a time, and my job is to try to bring out the best and most valuable information possible so that anyone listen to the podcast, can tune in and become more successful personally and more successful professionally by virtue of listening to any of the conversation so it’s really about tangible, practical advice. The conversation centered around how, whoever it is, I’m interviewing got to the top, but more importantly, how anyone listening can get to the top as well.
So that’s the concept of the show, and the backstory as to why I started the show is that, you know, I am an entrepreneur. I’ve started a few different businesses myself, I personally am a huge believer in the power of mentorship. I’ve written about the power of mentorship. And I also believe in a concept that I call mini mentors. So when you think about mentorship, you tend to think about a traditional mentor, you think about that one mentor in your life who you might go out to lunch with once a month, you might have on speed dial and whenever there’s a problem in your life, you can call him or her, they could be the sounding board, they’re the person that is that rock and has helped you out through thick and thin. That’s great, that’s so important to have in your life. However, I’m a I’m a very very big believer in what I call many mentors, which is what I try to bring to listeners of my podcast 30 minute mentors, what are many mentors, many mentors are people who you might interact with once, it could be a one time connection.
That one interaction could be a game changer to your life could be a game changer to your business and when you think about Rick I’m sure you can think through your entire career you’ve been in so many different fields done so many different things you think about all the people who you’ve connected with maybe once, maybe twice, maybe for 30 minute conversation maybe for one coffee, maybe there was this one instance where you connected with someone and you said hey can I pick your brain, or I need some advice on this one topic and then game changing conversation, helped you in measurably, well that’s what I’m bringing to listeners through 30 minute mentors,
That’s beautiful, man. That’s true though because you tend to look over those people too and I humorously a 30 minute mentor of mine was the dude that was walking in the theater and I’ve told this story but the short is short, the short short of it is dude walking in a theater that looked over me like hey chubby, when I was actually overweight, and I was like, man, you know he was super drunk, walking through the theater, but that one dude caused me to look at myself a different way, I was like, Man, I need to do something about this and there’s of course been many many other ones that have had those powerful impacts too, but you know even something like that even somebody, you know as you hear Adam talk here is using my personal experience, it doesn’t necessarily have to be somebody that is even, like speaking positive things into you right because you can pull something positive out of something negative.
If somebody even comes up and criticizes you This is bringing full circle back to like the hater conversation that we were talking about when we first started right, you got somebody that’s a hater but the thing. Hmm, interesting. Maybe I could go down that path and help more people. That’s what they’re talking about, it’s really cool because if you allow it and have that space man i This mini mentor concept is amazing and you could have so many more people impact your life in your direction than just focusing on just one or two major people.
Rick, I also want to elaborate on something you brought up, which I think is just so important. You’re talking about haters and at the beginning of our conversation we were talking about how it’s important to focus on the positive. But I also think it’s important and you gave such a good example there about someone who threw something negative at you and said, “Hey, you’re fat and you don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re an idiot.” You actually absorbed that negative feedback and looked in the mirror and said, You know what, I want to get in better shape, I want to lose weight, I want to take ownership of my life and even though people can at times be inartful in their phrasing.
That’s a beautiful word, inartful.
There often is validity to negative comments when someone says something negative about you, about your product, about your service and to give an example for one of my businesses. Whenever we hear something negative, the first thing we do is we get up on the edge of our seat because we love it, we want to hear it, we say please tell us more. We don’t say you don’t know what you’re talking about,
Just like me, like where did the haters go? Bring them back!
We want to listen, we encourage it and instead of pretending like you’re perfect and instead of pretending like everything that you’re bringing out there is perfect, listen to the people who are saying negative things, understand why they’re saying negative things because there’s a good probably a good chance that there’s some validity to what they’re saying so, you know, if someone says that you’re fat. Well, maybe they’re a hater and maybe they’re maybe you’re, you know, I had Tony Horton, the creator of P90x on my podcast if someone tells Tony “You’re fat.”
There’s a threshold I think.
But put us out if someone says to you if someone says to me, “Hey, I don’t like this,” about your product or if someone’s negative about some experience they had, well, I don’t want to hear it. I want to know, I want. Our customer service people are the absolute best so if there’s some negativity. I want to know about it so I could view that as an opportunity to improve as an opportunity to grow as an opportunity for me to deliver something better.
That’s an awesome man. I appreciate your perspective on that stuff. There’s one thing that somebody found in your bio here. Remember how they go looking at obscure information right yeah that
It’s just like an opposition research team.
It’s more like, you know, When we started when we shifted this out like you know you know what, I’ve always loved the you know the tonight show or Conan O’Brien, you know, and I love it when he’s interviewing guests I love Conan, Conan is one of my favorite of all time. You know, I would love how you’d have somebody on you know somebody prestigious you know and his, his edginess was just amazing too but his team, you know his producing team would find like these things out about people that are really that listed, pretty much anywhere I mean they’re out there obviously but he’s he’d bring them up and, you know, bring up photos I’m not doing that to you today, you know, like embarrassing photos or something but you know that this is one thing that you’ve worked on, uh, this isn’t like anywhere in the forefront of your stuff but you’ve worked on a successful presidential primary campaign. Right. Who was that?
Well, before we get into that I want to share a story just because you’re talking. Yeah please, my bio and funny story which I’ve shared over the years and talked about a podcast episode of mine. One time I was trading emails with a retired general and the retired general sent me an email and said, You know I was reading your bio, and I really admire you and I’m thinking like you know I wear contact lenses so my vision isn’t that great, am I my eyes going blurry wouldn’t be retired general admires me what I admire retired general what’s going on here and so I keep reading further and he says, “You know I admire you because you say that you’re a lifelong Angels fan,” and he said, you know, in my bio throughout my entire military career. I declared that I was a proud Ohio State Football l fan, and you would know how much crap I took from everyone. Throughout my career for being an Ohio State fan so I admire you for owning up to the fact that you’re an Angels fan. I thought you were going in that direction. It’s been a rough time.
Okay, you’ve shared some more deep dark secrets.
I work for John Kerry. Oh cool, college, yeah when I was in college, I was actually the first intern hired by John Kerry’s presidential campaign. In the western half of the United States. So, I was there, right at the beginning, and it was a great learning experience. John Kerry didn’t win but it was close and as a college student, I learned a lot.
I love that man, that’s awesome. Even if you like the Angels. For sure, brother Adam, thank you for being on, you know everyone who’s listening, go check out Adams website Adam mendler.com You’ll find links to his podcast his social media is social media handles is that Adam Mendler at all platforms, and go listen to his podcast this idea of mini mentors is just amazing. Adam brother, thank you for the conversation today.
Rick, this was an absolute pleasure. I really enjoyed it. Thank you so much for having me.