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Greatness Comes From Trying and Failing Multiple Times with Mike Beckham - Honest Ecommerce Ep. 187

Mike Beckham is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Simple Modern, a leading producer of premium drinkware and lifestyle products. 

Founded in 2015 and based in Oklahoma, Simple Modern currently generates a nine-figure annual revenue and is committed to generosity, donating at least 10% of annual profits to nonprofit organizations. 

Under Mike’s leadership, the company has grown into a category leader for Amazon, Target, and Sam’s Club. 

In addition, Simple Modern will be launching in Walmart stores nationwide in spring 2022. Prior to founding Simple Modern, Mike spent over a decade working for the worldwide Christian ministry CRU. 

Equipped with a deep understanding of the nonprofit sector, Mike transitioned into the business world and helped found and operate several e-commerce businesses, which cumulatively generated more than $1 billion in revenue. 

Mike graduated with a degree from the University of Oklahoma Price College of Business, where he currently serves as the senior entrepreneur-in-residence.

In This Conversation We Discuss: 

  • [00:00] Intro
  • [01:08] What brought Mike to the Ecom game
  • [05:09] Accepting that Amazon wins the Ecom fight
  • [07:12] D2C brands transitioning into traditional retail
  • [08:43] Make your brand indispensable to platforms
  • [09:25] Brands reaching “escape velocity”
  • [10:48] The newer value props for D2C
  • [14:12] 2 ways to position a D2C brand to customers
  • [15:34] Reasons to invest in domestic manufacturing
  • [17:56] Sponsor: Electric Eye https://electriceye.io/
  • [18:16] Sponsor: Mesa https://apps.shopify.com/mesa
  • [19:04] Sponsor: Loop https://loopreturns.com/honest
  • [19:57] Sponsor: Klaviyo https://klaviyo.com/honest
  • [20:44] From the starting phase to the scaling phase
  • [21:59] Moving into the enterprise level
  • [23:09] 2 Ecom things that catch people off-guard
  • [24:48] Ecommerce can make you age fast
  • [25:40] Mistakes Mike wants you to avoid
  • [26:41] You have to have a learning mindset
  • [27:29] Process-driven mindset vs results-driven mindset
  • [29:11] Entrepreneurship doesn’t start with novelty
  • [30:45] Trying is what makes people great
  • [32:26] Being a net positive brand/business
  • [34:15] Where to find Simple Modern

Resources:

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 Transcript:

Chase Clymer  

Before we get started, if you're enjoying this content, you can do us a favor by subscribing to our YouTube channel and ringing the bell.

That will let the algorithm know that you like this content and it will help us produce more.

Mike Beckham  

The reality is, failure is not just a bug. It's a feature of getting to where you want to get.

Chase Clymer  

Welcome to Honest Ecommerce, a podcast dedicated to cutting through the BS and finding actionable advice for online store owners. I'm your host, Chase Clymer. And I believe running a direct-to-consumer brand does not have to be complicated or a guessing game. 

On this podcast, we interview founders and experts who are putting in the work and creating real results. 

I also share my own insights from running our top Shopify consultancy, Electric Eye. We cut the fluff in favor of facts to help you grow your Ecommerce business.

Let's get on with the show. 

Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of Honest Ecommerce. I'm your host, Chase Clymer. And today, I'm welcoming to the show, Mike Beckham

Mike is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Simple Modern, a leading producer of premium drinkware and lifestyle products. So welcome to the show, Mike.

Mike Beckham  

Hey. Thanks for having me, Chase.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. So let's just dive in here. Let's talk about what brought you to the world of Ecommerce. How did you get into this game?

Mike Beckham  

Yeah, so super atypical arc. I was a finance guy in college. 

When I graduated --for a number of different reasons-- I actually joined a nonprofit right out of college. I thought I'd do it for a year and then go work in the business world. 

And 1 year turned into 2, turned into 10... And so when I got to be 30, I was like, "Well, I guess I'm not going to do anything in the business world." But I really loved being in the nonprofit world. 

I have a younger brother. He's a couple of years younger than I am. And he had started an affiliate marketing company. So this is like 2007 - 2008. He'd done pretty well. It was kind of the Wild West back then. 

Facebook was just starting to learn how to monetize the platform. Google was still fairly early on. And he'd done really well on affiliate marketing. They want to start a larger company. 

So anyway, we had this idea. It was an auction website idea. And he approached me and just said, "Hey, would you be willing to do this with me on the side?" I said, "Sure." I helped him recruit a couple other executives. And we launched that business in October 2009. 

By November 2010... It was just an online auction, basically. By November 2010 --so 13 months in-- we were having million dollar revenue days. 

So we... Nobody really had any clue how abnormal or absurd that was. I was the oldest person associated with the company. I was 31. I wasn't even full-time. I'm doing this as a nights and weekends thing. And it's a bunch of people under 35 and the, it's like the inmates running the asylum. 

So over the next couple of years, my wife and I got pregnant with our first kid and I just realized I was doing too much. I was riding multiple horses and had to pick one. 

So I decided to move into the for-profit world, which will be relevant in how I think about Simple Modern and our mission and all of that. 

But over the next few years, we did probably $1.1 - $1.2 billion in revenue with that company over a 6 - 7 year period so it was pretty wild. We had a ton of experience and all of the blocking and tackling of Ecommerce. If you... 

Outside of working for Amazon, we had this small group of people randomly in Oklahoma that had about as much experience with Ecommerce, as you would find anywhere. 

We started a few more businesses, a couple of them are huge failures, a couple of them are marginally successful. 

But around 2015 is when we really started to realize what an opportunity there was selling on Amazon. We'd been competing with Amazon. But it was an opportunity... 

There was an opportunity to sell on Amazon and we were tired of competing with Amazon. It was obvious that they were going to win in the Ecommerce space. So I helped my brothers to start one more company. 

And then a couple of guys that have worked with me approached me and said, "Hey, would you like to start something?" 

And honestly... A lot of people will ask Chase, like, "How'd you get the idea for your product?" For us, it didn't really start with a product idea. It started more with... 

These are guys I really want to spend time with and I enjoy. I want to be selling online. We had a ton of online Ecommerce experience. 

We want to sell really high-quality products and we knew we wanted Amazon to be our first sales channel. And that was it. That's the extent and that's what turned into Simple Modern. 

So we didn't sell our first water bottle until about March of 2016. So at this point, we're like about 6 years in. 

But I guess I've been in the Ecommerce world now for about 13 years and I've done a little bit of everything all the way from you D2C, to selling into mass retail and selling on Amazon. 

We've sold both as a marketplace vendor and directly with Amazon. So we've done a little bit of everything over the last 13 years.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. It's a wild ride with a lot of sales. So, obviously, you gotta feel blessed in that regard and to cut your teeth. 

And I think recognizing that "Amazon might win this fight." back then might have been a great choice to make with you and the team.

Mike Beckham  

Yeah, absolutely. In retrospect, it was crazy to be fighting them for all those years. But you know, it's hard to understand today how in 2008 - 2009, it really felt like there was going to be this incredibly diverse Ecommerce ecosystem. 

And then from that period to 2015, it felt like it collapsed all the way down to almost a monopoly. 2020, COVID and the pandemic, I think, really expanded the ecosystem quite a bit. 

Obviously, there have been a lot of challenges over the last couple of years, whether it's logistics, or tariffs, CPMs going up, the iOS 14 update... 

There's been a lot of really challenging things. So I think one of the things that... The most interesting [thing] about the last 2 or 3 years is [that] we're in a period of real disruption. 

Amazon is still the 800-pound gorilla. But over the last 2 or 3 years, you've really seen some real success stories that haven't been on Amazon. So I'm definitely really curious to see which of those are sustainable. 

And then I think the other theme that I see these days is omnichannel. I just really don't know how you run a brand that's not omnichannel. I just think it's very... 

It's increasingly difficult to make the economics work when you're a pure play D2C or you're a pure play Amazon. You really want to be building a brand and brand equity and getting that benefit across several sales channels. 

So I'm always fascinated by people that are able to make it work. But it seems like the winners that I'm seeing, especially in consumer packaged goods, are people that are able to build this brand through leveraging a bunch of different channels.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. Those are definitely the ones that I think that penetrate your home. And it's a brand... 

When they say a household name, those are the ones that definitely get there, especially some of the newcomers to this space now that are out there. 

One [brand] that comes into mind is like Dollar Shave Club started, D2C, and then now they have probably one of the biggest end cap deals at Target I've ever seen. 

Mine is just full of that junk. So it's just wild to see these newer business models, then go full circle back to a more traditional model.

Mike Beckham  

Yeah it's fascinating if you think about it. 

Originally, the value proposition of D2C was supposed to be [that] you're going to cut out the middleman of the retailer and all of the profits and costs associated with that and so you're going to be able to offer customers this superior offering from a cost perspective, or value perspective, or whatever. 

And then what happened is the retailer came out and Facebook and Google got inserted in. And so you just got a different toll booth between you and the customer, then the retailer. And so anytime there's... 

You're dependent on a toll booth between you and the customer. It's very difficult to have a profitable business. 

What you really have to do is build a relationship with customers that regardless of where they buy your product, they want to buy your product. And so anyway, I was telling somebody today that I view it, not in an adversarial way. 

But the job of these big sales channels, the job of Facebook and Google is for you to be dependent on them and you're interchangeable in their eyes.

In their eyes, they can swap you out for somebody else. But for you, you have to have them. And so part of running a brand I think is making yourself indispensable.

Making it where you can't be commoditized and where there's not a substitute where people are saying "Yeah, I want to buy a simple modern water bottle. And if you don't have it, I'm gonna buy it somewhere else." 

Or "I care about this brand enough that I'm going to organically come to the website." Now saying it's one thing. Actually pulling it off, that's the tough part. And I think that... 

There's this phrase that I've heard before that I think is a good description. It's called "escape velocity". 

That's basically when a brand reaches escape velocity, it's when it hits that tipping point that you're talking about, that household name. 

And so if you think about a space shuttle, you think about how much gravitational pull there is on a space shuttle when it's trying to launch. It takes... 

Those engines produce just enormous amounts of thrust to get that thing off the ground. And it's so much energy and so much force to get it going.

But at a certain point, if it gets to a certain layer, past a certain layer of the atmosphere, all of a sudden that Gravity's not pulling it down as much, and all of a sudden, it's smooth sailing. And that's the way... 

I think I've experienced it as a consumer brand. It's that in the early days, it's so hard to get anybody to take you seriously or to care about your product that you can hit this tipping point where all of a sudden, not only do people know who you are, but people are saying, "This is what I want to buy." 

And then all of a sudden, operationally, it's really almost like this total paradigm shift.

How you sell, how you think about customer acquisition, how you think about the products and your pricing, all of that stuff kind of gets restructured once you can reach that point, if you can get there.

Chase Clymer  

Oh, absolutely. So there were 2 things that I made notes over here that I wanted to bring up from the conversation thus far. 

Mike Beckham  

Yeah. 

Chase Clymer  

First one being, you said something earlier that I hadn't thought about in the longest time, which was the idea that the internet was going to get rid of the middleman. 

And it was the concept of like all the old furniture stores or mattress stores where you're going "factory direct". 

Mike Beckham  

Yeah. 

Chase Clymer  

And that was part of their value prop. And then you said, "That just went away." And I hadn't thought about it that hard. I was like, "That's not a value prop I see anywhere with any modern brand that's starting D2C because..." That isn't a differentiator anymore. 

And it's not going to set you apart from everyone else, because it's kind of what everybody else is doing. 

So I just thought that was fascinating. And I like that you brought it up, because it's good fodder to think on? 

Mike Beckham  

Well, it's a great question, Chase. We should constantly be asking the question of "What is the new unique value that I'm driving, if my company went away? If the market... If I wasn't in the market? What would people be missing?" 

And it's easy to ask a question of "How do I get more sales?" It's harder to answer that question of "Why am I indispensable to the market?" And "What's the value that I'm creating?" But long term, that's where the safety is, right? 

It's when you're actually meeting a need for the market, that if you're not there, nobody else is going to meet. So I think to your point, there's a lot of different ways we can meet that need. 

Obviously, sometimes… Walmart’s done a great job of meeting the low price. That's what they're gonna do. They're gonna drive those prior... Dollar General or whatever.

And you can be really successful doing that. I think the reality is when you sell digitally, rarely, is that going to be your value proposition. 

The cost of shipping and other things, it's difficult to really lead on price. One of the things you can lead on... 

And this is where I think, from a D2C perspective. The way that we think about our D2C strategy with Simple Modern is you can lead on selection, you can lead on experience, you can lead on personalization, you can lead on bundling... 

These are kind of vectors where you can offer better value like with Walmart, there's certain things we can't do better than Walmart. 

If you're going to come and buy just one water bottle from us, we cannot compete with the economics of Walmart. We got to pay $7 to ship that thing. There's no way we can make the same value proposition. 

But if you're shopping for your kids back to school, and you want to buy a backpack, and a water bottle on the lunchbox, and a pencil bag or whatever, all of a sudden, we can actually offer a better value proposition than anybody else. 

Because of our ability to bundle those things together and take advantage that I only have to pay $10 maybe to ship that whole thing to you, in the same way like... 

Physical retail, even Amazon, you have limitations of how much you can show people and how it gets shown to them. But when you run D2C, you have the opportunity to give a much more comprehensive and customized shopping experience. 

And so to me, it feels like that's the way D2C is going. It's that we're going to offer a better shopping experience that prioritizes selection and prioritizes the experience. And people are willing to pay a premium for that, to some extent.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. I think that the experience in general and... I'm gonna get in a little bit here on the concept of... 

You brought up low prices as a motivating factor for positioning in building a business. And I agree with you 100%. If you're going direct-to-consumer and price is going to be your differentiator, I think you're going to be... 

One, you're gonna lose. Your margin is not going to be there and you're not gonna be profitable. 

But the exception I would say is if you have something in the way that you're constructing or patenting or whatever within your product and you can lead on price, you will destroy it on Amazon. You will be... You'll make a lot of money on Amazon. 

There's this idea that I've been playing around in my head of where brands will win with how they're positioning themselves.

And so on the left hand side, you've got a more commoditized product, a more price point-focused product, something with that would just absolutely just be delivered on Amazon day in and day in. 

And then on the other hand, you've got something that's more brand-driven, values-oriented and probably higher margin. And that I think... 

The way that you win there is building a better customer experience, probably through your own website where the experience is superior. 

The customer service is through the roof, but that can't afford you those better margins. Now, your velocities are going to be different. But there are 2 ways to play the game.

Mike Beckham  

Yeah. And you know, there's a way to marry them, too. For us, what we're investing in right now is... 

We've already invested about $6 million this year --I think we'll invest 11 million in total this year, probably north of $100 million over the next 7 or 8 years-- We're building out domestic manufacturing.

And so if you can control the brand experience and people are willing to pay a mid-tier or a premium price point for your product and you have the competency in the supply chain to be able to make it better, to be able to make it more efficiently... 

Even one example of how you can use manufacturing ability is... This is kind of tactical, but it's practical.

If you've grown an Ecommerce business, especially in the last couple of years, you realize that one of the tensions is so much of your money gets tied up in inventory.

And you got to carry 6 months of inventory or 9 months of inventory, just to make sure you stay in stock. 

When you have the ability to make your product, all of a sudden, you don't have to keep these months of inventory, because you can make it and you can take that capital and put it to play in different ways. 

If you think about it, if you're a customer of mine, if I've got 9 months of inventory or 6 months of inventory, it doesn't improve your life at all. 

It only improves your life if I'm in stock as opposed to out of stock. But if I'm able to offer 4 colors instead of one because I have leaner inventory, then that does benefit you as a customer. 

And so for us, we're making all this investment in domestic manufacturing. And one of the biggest things that's gonna allow us to do is to just serve the customer better not just on quality, not just like, "Okay, we're creating jobs locally and you know that things are ethically made." but also because I think in terms of ornamentation and the amount of products that we're going to be able to offer, that's going to actually scale. 

We're gonna be able to do a lot more interesting things. And we're gonna be able to steal some of that money that's been sitting there in inventory that just sits and deploy it in all these other interesting ways that actually make our customers' lives better. So I... 

And that's one area that very few people are doing. But I think over the next 5 - 10 - 20 years, hopefully others follow our lead because it turns out that if you can vertically integrate that. 

That's how you make the unbelievable value proposition.

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Chase Clymer  

It's fascinating talking to you. And I'll let everybody listening know, we had one question when we started this interview and I'm enthralled so I hope the listeners are enjoying it because I'm really enjoying this conversation, Mike. 

So you were talking about this... The time to cash flow or I don't know what the actual proper term is in Ecommerce. But it's basically like... 

What you're saying is this money sitting on my shelf is like you're taking $1 bill out of your pocket or your business and just sitting it on a shelf anytime you're holding inventory there. 

The faster that you can get that cash back in your pocket to redeploy elsewhere to grow the business is basically, I would say, 300-level Ecommerce. 

So 100-level ecommerce is where.... I'm using a college course analogy, right? But  100 would be, you gotta... 

You're finding product market fit. That's basically it. Where the heck are customers? What are they gonna buy? How am I gonna do this? Right? 

Mike Beckham  

"Will they buy my stuff?" Yeah.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. And that's zero to one. And I would even say, zero to $1 million is where you're playing that game. 

Mike Beckham  

Yeah. 

Chase Clymer  

Now you move forward and you're going from $1 to 10 million. Now, you're in the scaling phase. It's the right people on the bus and the right seat on the bus. 

Those are two different problems to have. So you're scaling and you're starting to now experience money management or "money magic" as me and my business partner call it.

Mike Beckham  

Yeah, your unit economics start to matter. 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah.

Mike Beckham  

It's not just "Can we sell stuff? It's like, "Hey, are we making appropriate margins? Does that give me enough for my overhead?" You start to understand I agree. Yep.

Chase Clymer  

And then as you move into an 8-figure business, $10 million a year and plus, your baby enterprise, maybe you're going... Whatever you want to call your entreprise... 

Anyways, at this point, you start to bring a lot of the things in-house. So you're bringing key players in-house. You're probably using less agency partners for key roles, you're probably still using partners for random stuff. 

But you're hiring really smart people and you're starting to vertically integrate some of your stuff, and how you can stretch your lead times on "When do you have to pay bills? And when do the bills get paid?" 

And how you can have that float in your business separates people getting to whatever the next level is after that.

Mike Beckham  

I totally agree. So we're about $110 million revenue this year. We think we'll be over 200 million next year. 

So we're at a pretty significant scale, just to give you an idea of how significant this becomes at scale just to support our growth for next year. 

We're probably going to have to add $20 million to the average inventory on hand on any given day. So getting... Just funding that growth... 

You gotta find $20 million to fund that growth, unless you're getting creative about your turns or how you're using inventory. 

But I think that you're right. I think that the 2 things about Ecommerce that catch people off-guard. One is how much the financial engineering of your business matters. 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. 

Mike Beckham  

And then you have to get good at it. Things like inventory turns aren't... They're not vanity metrics, they can be the difference between winning and losing.

And people will often get caught off-guard by the fact that like, "I've got something. I sell it at a good margin. People want it. Why is my business not making any money? How are all the numbers not working?" 

Because on a basic level, it's like, "I've got this thing. It cost me $5. People want to buy it for $20. I should be doing great, but I'm not. Why?" It doesn't emotionally make sense. 

The other thing I think that catches people off guard about Ecommerce is the breadth of skills that you have to be good at. It's just... It's really crazy. 

You need to know some stuff about legal, and you need to know about digital marketing, and you need to know about packaging, and you need to know about sourcing, and you need to know about logistics, and you need to know... 

You need to know about web design, and you need... It goes on and on and on, that you have to have all these kinds of different disparate areas of knowledge. 

And like you said, when you're in Ecommerce, when you're at level 2 and level 3 Ecommerce, you realize just how diverse your skill set has to be of your team in order to actually run a successful business. Now, the thing that's awesome about Ecommerce is its scalability. 

And it just turns out that there's a lot of difficulty to get to that scalability. At this point, I've been... I think I took stock of it and I think in the last 12 years, 13 years, I think 9 or 10 of them, I've been growing a business at greater than 50% year over year. 

So my internal age is probably 80 or something. It's like dog years. Startup years, Ecommerce years, are like dog years. But I do think those are 2 things I've learned along the way that are counterintuitive about scaling.

Chase Clymer  

(laughs) I couldn't agree with you more that you get aged in this industry a little bit. Under this hat has a lot of gray hair. 

Mike Beckham  

Yeah. 

Chase Clymer  

But yeah. So we've been talking a lot about, I think, problems that might be a little bit ahead of some of the listeners. 

So let's bring it back down to some more tactical stuff for people that are just getting out on that journey, say they're in that 100-level or 200-level stuff? 

Do you remember anything from back in those days? Any of the businesses, the various businesses that you built... Maybe mistakes that you want to point out like, "Hey, don't do this because I've done it for you."

Mike Beckham  

Yeah, absolutely. I think in the earliest days, just a few practical things that I... 

I teach entrepreneurship at OU. Here are some practical things. One is that you're willing to do everything. For your business to get to that $10 million mark, you're going to... 

It is going to be built on your back. And when you scale your team, eventually if you do get there, it's really critical that you are great at the blocking and tackling of Ecommerce because that actually helps you to hire the right people when you do start to replace yourself. And so early on, I remember that there's... 

There were a lot of late nights and a lot of me needed to have a growth mindset and a learning mindset because of all the different things I had to learn about. 

I think trying to avoid making decisions that take you out of the game is the easiest way to describe it when you're in the earliest phases. You don't want to be making any bets where if they don't go well, it knocks you out of the game. 

So early on, it's not so much that you're trying to get to a certain magnitude, it's more you're just trying to learn. 

And everything should be optimized around learning and just becoming as knowledgeable as you possibly can about what people want in that particular area of the world that you're in. There's no shortcuts. 

If I want to be great at selling hydration products, my internal mindset has to be that I want to know more about this industry. 

I want to do everything I possibly can about this industry. And whether it's publicly available data or data I can get from testing... 

And when you develop that mindset of a learner, and you use that as the mile marker, that's actually more helpful than revenue. Because sometimes we talk a lot about... I'll give this illustration. 

Process versus results. Inputs versus outputs. It's easy to be results or output-focused. But the problem with that is that often the outputs don't necessarily match the inputs. You know what,  when you launched an Ecommerce business in April of 2020, you thought you were a genius. 

It just looked like everything you did was right. If you launched a business in July of 2021, it could feel like everything you did was wrong. 

That's not [necessarily because] your decisions were good or bad. It's because of the context and the environment. So what you instead have to do is you have to approach things.... "Am I doing this with the right process regardless of results?"

And if you keep applying that mindset, that's actually what leads to successful things long term. 

Now, a lot of times, that means you're going through the right process, you're doing the right test, you're having a learning mentality, and it's not working. 

But the thing that I emphasize to people is, even when you have theories or hypotheses about, "I think this will get product-market fit or I think people will want this." 

And then you test it and it doesn't go the way you expected, that's still progress, because you now know more. Your next theory, your next iteration is going to get better. And so if you really... 

More than anything else, if you commit to learning, inevitably, I think that leads to success in some way. Because you become an expert in an area and the more knowledgeable... 

And you eventually figure out how to monetize that in one way or another. But so that would be the first thing I'd say. 

Or one of the things I'd say is that, instead of having a results orientation, have a process orientation. And more than anything else, have a learning mindset. 

The other thing that I mentioned already that I would have again is like what you need or you need it. And I think a lot of times when people hear that, what they hear is... 

Especially in entrepreneurship, it's like "Oh, I need a new product. Or I need a different product that doesn't exist." Almost never is that how companies are started. I bet 99% of successful... I don't know. 

99 point whatever percent of successful companies are just an iteration on something that people already bought. It's just you're doing it in a different way that adds value to people's lives. 

And so it's actually interesting as Ecommerce operators, as entrepreneurs, if we're putting our mindset and our mind focus towards "I want to learn and I want to create value for people. I want to solve problems that are already being solved in a little bit of a different or a better way." 

It's just so much easier to find that path, like you said. Zero to one or one to $10 million. Because there are tons of problems that people have that don't have very good solutions in the market where an Ecommerce solution could be better. Or there's Ecommerce solutions but... 

I love the products where it's like," Hey, I'm a haircare product for African American women that have really curly hair. This is a real problem for them, and no products [have] been built for them." 

So it's like "Hair Care products [aren't] new. But this target market, I can hit this differently." And you hear stories like that all the time and I love hearing stories like that because I think that that's what it's all about. 

So the other thing I would just say is, I've been fortunate that a lot of things have gone well but I would want everybody who hears this to hear me say a lot of stuff I've tried has not gone well. I think I've tried a lot more things that have gone poorly than have gone well. 

There's a guy... I think it's at Cal Berkeley. But he's done research based on the most successful people and what makes them successful. And what he found is somewhat counterintuitive. It turns out... "What makes Mozart Mozart?" 

And what he basically found is the most successful people, the single most identifying fingerprint is how prolific they are. It's that they just take a ton of freaking swings. 

If you actually look at Mozart, even at his peak, it's not like he got better through his career or wrote better symphonies. It's just that his peak, he just churned out more symphonies, and then some of those ended up being these classics. 

And the point that I make the students is you just have to be more scared of never hitting a home run than striking out. Because by definition, this stuff is hard. And I have failed plenty of times. 

But when you have a mentality of "If I ever want to really knock one over the centerfield fence, I'm gonna have to have a lot of strikeouts to get there." 

It's actually healthy. And it sets our expectations, where sometimes if you're on Twitter, you're listening to something like this, it can feel like other people are just more successful or other people have better luck than you do. 

The reality is, failure is not just a bug. It's a feature of getting to where you want to get right.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. Oh man, that was a lot of amazing advice. Now, is there anything I didn't ask you that you think would be worth sharing today?

Mike Beckham  

Yeah, so I'll give one more. When we started this company, I thought about going back into the nonprofit world or staying in the for-profit world. I stayed in the for-profit world. 

Our company's mission statement is "We exist to give generously." And here's just my pitch. I think we're at a place in our country where there's actually among young people, there's more negative sentiment about capitalism than ever before. 

And I think part of that is that we have seen business leaders, where it's a very... It's almost exclusively shareholder-driven and it's very selfish in nature. And that the companies that are going to win over the next 10 - 20 - 30 years are going to look a little bit different. 

They're going to be ones that are really focused on how we improve the lives of everybody that comes in contact with the company: The employees, the environment, the local community, the people we work with like our suppliers, or partners, the customer.... And that's what we're really trying to build. And I try to be an advocate for thinking that way. 

Because 2 things: Number one, I think it'll lead to more successful businesses. But number two, when you're 70, when you're 80 and you think about how you did spend the time that you had, you're gonna be proud of it. 

And I use that as a clarifying principle in my life of "40 years from now, am I going to care about this thing?" 

And it's amazing how it helps me to sort through the things that don't matter and the things that do. And to really think about the type of business I want to build.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. Now Mike, this might be a podcast where I don't think we talked much about the product at all but let's give it a shout out. 

Mike Beckham  

Okay.

Chase Clymer  

Let people know what you guys are doing over there at Simple Modern and where they should go to check out the product.

Mike Beckham  

Yeah, absolutely. So we sell world-class insulated drinkware. And then we've also gotten into plastic and kids' products as well. 

You can check us out at Amazon, Target, WalMart, our website simplemodern.com, Sam's Club... Not only do we have branded stuff, that's fantastic. 

But any of the sports like the NFL, NBA, NCAA, Disney… We've got amazing, licensed products as well.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. Mike, thank you so much for coming on the show today.

Mike Beckham  

Yeah. Thanks for having me, Chase. 

Chase Clymer  

Alright. I can't thank our guests enough for coming on the show and sharing their knowledge and journey with us. 

We've got a lot to think about and potentially add into our own business. You can find all the links in the show notes. 

Make sure you head over to honestecommerce.co to check out all the other amazing content that we have.
Make sure you subscribe, leave a review. And obviously if you're thinking about growing your business, check out our agency at electriceye.io. Until next time.