Listen to the podcast here:
The Remarkable Power Of Building A life With Intention with Mick White
I am welcoming Mick White. Mick, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself? Then we will get into how we first met.
I grew up in rural Illinois in a family of entrepreneurs and I didn’t realize it at the time that my dad was an entrepreneur. He was unsuccessful at times, successful at times. My mom and dad worked together. I went to college in my small town, started in my mom and dad’s office and was there for about nine years. I moved to Minnesota. I’d never been here before. I moved to Minnesota with the intention to move back to Illinois as fast as I could because rural Illinois is God’s country. Corn and beans, hogs and cattle, it’s good stuff. I had the intention to move back to Illinois as fast as I could, then I met this girl. Twelve years later, I’m still in Minnesota and I never moved back. I was here for about five, six years and then I made a couple of career changes, started my own company and that’s how we met I believe and here we are.
Every once in a while on Twitter I’m like, “Let’s initiate a conversation with somebody we don’t know.”
You never know what happens.
I did this years ago in the industry as a consultant. I made some fantastic friends, truly people that are still friends now and via Twitter. It has got the most fabulous funneling algorithms. I don’t know, somehow you find interesting people through Twitter. I happen to be on Twitter one day and Casey Allen had retweeted something of Mick’s and it was an open time on the calendar. I was like, “I don’t know this guy. I’ve got to practice talking about Bella. I’m just going to go practice it on this random stranger.” Poor Mick was the person I subjected to that.
It was awesome. It was fantastic. It was via Zoom. It was great.'Why?' is a difficult question to answer until you know who you are. Click To Tweet
Tell us a little bit about these days what you do.
Time is valuable. In the past, I used to have 20 to 25 meetings a week and driving all over the place for coffee. Two things that are wrong with that are bad for you. You end up having 20 to 30 coffees a week and you sweat at night and that’s not healthy, I don’t think. The other one, you’re spending so much time in the car and just standing in the line or whatever. I started two days a month or every other month just putting it out there. You want to talk about anything. Here’s some time, sign up. We’re going to do it via Zoom or via phone. I’m not meeting you in person, I’m not driving anywhere. I’m going to have my coffee. If that works for you, that works for me. I’ll spend time with anybody and you meet fascinating folks by doing it. It’s my way to give but also have some control over my schedule.
For those reading, anybody who had test piloted some of my marketing punch lines on, Mick’s the guy that gave me those. I talk about that all the time going to deliver and done. What you have to do is on the calendar, get them done, move on to the next.
I love the stuff you’re doing. It made sense to me like this is what you’re doing, just get it done.
I sat there and as I explained to him, “How would you call this? What would you say about this?” I was like a mad rabbit making notes.
With all my marketing and branding experience in life. You’re taking it from me for what it’s worth. I’ve never charged anybody for that advice before.
That was a great way that we’ve met and we remained friends and see each other at conferences. Talk a little bit more about 100 Year Manifesto. This is a topic near and dear to my heart and some things that you’re doing. I want to talk about what we’re doing with 100 Year Manifesto.
It’s about being deliberate with your life of how you can have a framework for using your business and your life for good. We’re so busy. Everybody’s busy. We’re running, we’re driving all over town for coffees with people, networking or whatever without much thought around like, “What am I trying to do with my life?” Starting my father’s office in the insurance and financial world, I was there for nine years. We talked a lot about legacy based on money and based on when you die, what do you want to have happened? Whether it’s with your spouse, kids, whatever. That was great and I did that for about fifteen years and got engaged in 2011. A month later, my mom died from an accidental overdose on Aspirin and she was 58 years old. God bless her. Mom and dad got married when they were eighteen and sixteen years old.
Mom professionally was a grocery store clerk and then worked in our office. In rural Illinois, there weren’t necessarily a whole lot of opportunities for her, but she didn’t have fancy titles. She died on a Monday. On Thursday, the visitation was eight hours long. People kept showing up saying, “This is the impact that your mom had for me on my life.” My mom’s favorite color was orange. We had orange phones growing up. She had an orange car. She was the orange lady. Every day she wore some orange, which is in the ‘80s and ‘90s was fairly obnoxious. They sold out of orange flowers in our town because everybody thought of my mom and it was orange everywhere.
My mom had this visitation and eight years later, people still reach out to me about my mom’s impact on their lives. It opened up my eyes to how you could marry that personal impact. My mom talked about maybe she wasn’t put on this Earth to do anything big but to live with great love. I thought about that coupled with if you could be successful in business or as an entrepreneur or do good over here, if you could mash those up, that person has the opportunity to impact the world. It’s to say, “Go make a boatload of money, go build a great profitable whatever type of company, but do good with it. Don’t keep it all yourself,” that person can change the world. Don’t be bashful about being successful, but keep a framework of, “How am I going to do good with all of my success?” To do that from the very beginning, not when you’re wildly successful.
Talk about what does that look like. What kinds of questions should someone ask themselves? Start walking that path of what does good look like.
During this process, it’s complicated. Life’s complicated. Life’s messy and there are humans involved. When I met my bride, her son was one. He was about eight years old at the time and my mom had passed away. I had taken home a lapel pin that I received in the mail for being in the top 1% of what I did professionally. Apparently, I’d won the award a couple of years in a row, I just didn’t realize it. He comes home and I’m telling this to an eight-year-old like, “Look at this,” and I gave it to him. He looked at me like, “That’s cool,” but then I said to him on the spot, “I want to be in the top 1% of dads and I want to be in the top 1% of husbands to your Mama.” There’s a framework for measuring success in business. How many employees do you have? What’s your growth? There are all these metrics on ROI that we can put out there.
There aren’t metrics around being in the top 1% of dads or mothers or spouses or being for me, with my father, to be in the top 1% have sons or brothers, whatever that is. There’s not easy metrics for that, but I think we all want that. I want to be a great top 1% of dads. For most people, if you just told me how, as a guy I would check that list off. If you know anything about to-do lists and checklists, just tell me what to do, Mick, and I will do that. I want that award that says, “You’re in the top 1%.” We don’t have that naturally. It started with getting my mind wrapped around like in the scheme of the next 100 years, what are you trying to do? How do you measure success, not just now, or how much money do you make or how many employees or what’s your exit plan or all this stuff around business? What’s your impact, not now, not tomorrow, but 100 years from now? That’s four generations from now. I don’t know about you. I don’t know much about my great, great grandparents.You define your success for your life. Click To Tweet
There’s not a ton.
I know a couple of their names. Other than that, I don’t know their values or what they did, but I know my great grandparents’ or my grandparents’ or certainly my parents’ values. What am I trying to do with my life? Simon Sinek talks about Start With Why. That’s a difficult question to answer until you know who you are. Most people don’t know who they are. Tell me about you. You asked me and I’m like, “I grew up in rural Illinois,” rather than like, “This is who I am. Let me give you my business card about who I am.” It’s not the company I worked for, not my sales position or whatever it is. This is who I am. Trying to define, “Who am I?”
The other question that goes with that, I believe, is to define success. Not success based on what I think it is, but you define your success for your life. People are like, “I don’t know.” That’s how it got started and then it just snowballed. Once I started working on it, people were like, “That’s fascinating stuff.” I’m like, “This is all I think about.” It’s not fascinating to me necessarily because I wake up and I think about this stuff or at nighttime. When you grew up in an environment that talks about this stuff, you assume everybody else talks about it too.
You’re one of the few people I’ve found that talks about it. To me, that is fascinating. When I first was starting Wonderly, one of the things I thought a lot about in making that decision, I’ve been in tech for twenty years. I had this idea about building a software and initially had that pause button that was like, “You don’t know how to build a software, Amber. You just implement other people’s software and you just make it work because you’re glue.” I know how to paper over the cracks and fill in things and build custom things that you need to, but you don’t build an architect to yourself. It was a pivotal moment.
One of the things that I thought about too is I’m twenty years in the tech. I’ve seen a lot of women come and go. When their percentage isn’t as big that goes into tech, then we lose a lot out of tech as well. I’ve thought about, “How do I make a positive difference in them? What do I tell my nieces and my friends’ kids when they say you could have and you didn’t?” That was present for me. I can’t tell them, “You can be anything. You can do anything,” but I didn’t. That hit home. If you’re going to take some of these first steps, you need to be it so they can see it. Even if I fail, that’s fine. Most startups fail anyway, let’s be honest. I want them to see that I took the shot, that I went for it. I did it. I thought about with Wonderly, how do I pay that forward now, much to what you’re speaking about? What do I value? I have loved being in tech. I’m a quirky fit.
Quirky is accurate. You’re just Amber. Who are you? What are you like? Me. To be comfortable with that, how long did it take to get to that point without trying to be somebody else?
I’m well-past the mid-30s. It just doesn’t work. I’m just going to be who I am and let the chips fall where they may.
That’s where I think goes back to how I just want to craft something for my life. I want to live my life. I want to live the life that I’m capable of living, not to compare myself to other people. There’s so much measurement around like, “Here’s how the average company grows. Here are other tech companies. They have X number of employees,” all this stuff. I just want to be me, but I want to be the best version of me. Oftentimes if you grew up, being humble was just expected. One of my favorite pictures of my childhood is me playing basketball. We had a cardboard box that was nailed to the garage. The dog was chained to the garage. We didn’t park a car in the garage because we always thought it was going to fall over. You didn’t spend much time. The lawnmower was in there. You didn’t hang out in the garage.
I had a cardboard basketball hoop and I was the happiest six-year-old kid ever. We didn’t have cardboard very often because it meant that you bought something. For a few days until it rained, I had a basketball hoop. How great was that? Just being comfortable with like, “I’m good with a cardboard basketball hoop, but I just want to be the person that I’m capable of being. That person now is more than having a cardboard basketball hoop.” That’s what I’m trying to compare myself and my goals and build a life very deliberately to get to that point of who I am capable of. I mentioned all the time Popeye. I’m 43 years old. In college, I graduated in half of the class that made the top half possible. I also made both Dean’s lists, which not everybody knows there are two of them. There’s the one that they send you a letter home to you that says, “If you don’t get your act together, you may not come back to class,” and then there’s a good dean’s list like, “Good job. You went to class.” I made it to both of them.
The Philosophers that I study in life aren’t necessarily like Plato and Socrates as much as Popeye who said, “I am what I am and that’s all that I am. I’m Popeye the sailor man.” Popeye had a clear understanding of who he was and he was strong to the finish because he ate his spinach, “I’m Popeye, I’m strong, I eat spinach and I’m going to kick Brutus’ butt every single time just by doing the same thing.” He wasn’t a navigator of the high seas. He didn’t try to be Brutus. He tried to be Popeye and to be comfortable. I just want to be Mick and to live my life in a way that I don’t need your approval or anybody else’s approval. I need the approval of myself. This is the life that I want to live, that I’m capable of living and focus on that versus, “This company grew twice as fast as I did or they got bought out or these other people won awards or big clients,” or whatever I’m not. So what?
The comparison will kill you. We all have such different strengths and gifts and things about us that are unique. The other thing we do too is we tend to compare our internal, what we see and we deal with, with what you see publicly of other people. We hold ourselves to this impossible standard as opposed to just focusing on, “How do I make sure I deliver the best version of what I can deliver? I’m growing within everything I am capable of being as an individual, as a business as well.”
It’s being very deliberate about what my goals are. One of the things I’ve learned these last few years is offering myself a lot more grace. I’m the one type of person who if I’m going to set goals for the next 90 days, my 90-day goals can’t be reached probably in five years, “I’m going to do this,” and I’ll sleep for four hours, but I’ll do it in one-hour increments. Do it from 6:00 to 7:00 in the morning and then I get to it. I plan it all out and then I’m like, “That’s not going to happen.” Just being comfortable with what am I trying to do with my life? How can I break it down? I have a four-and-a-half-year-old. For the last couple of years, he’s come with me to most of my business meetings. He comes to lunches and meetings and he’s just by my side. He’s got his own little entrepreneur in his business cards. I’m specific on the thought that I’m raising a man.
People will say, “I couldn’t ever bring my kid to a business lunch. Your son is so well-behaved.” I’m like, “We go to a lot of these.” He’s four, but he’s also someone’s future spouse, parent, employee, employer, student, teacher, friend, whatever. I’m raising a man. We do four-year-old stuff. We tickle and all this stuff, but I’m teaching him how to be a man along the way and being very deliberate about that rather than just like, “He’s four so he gets a pass.” I’m like, “Clean up your own mess.” “I didn’t make the mess. You’re four. Those wrappers aren’t my wrappers. Do it yourself.” Being very deliberate about what I’m trying to do, whether as a parent or in business or as our friend, just being very deliberate about the day to day actions and being mindful in a moment of, “What am I trying to do each day? How can I win now?” I don’t have to win the next 50 years. I don’t have to build a company now. I just have to do these things now. If I only had a tool to help me get things deliberately done would be helpful. It’s winning the day and trying to wrap our heads around what does that look like?
As I think about planning your day with intention, coming into it and what am I going to do and being thoughtful about it? Because it is part of that larger goal. You’re never going to make progress on those other goals unless you start planning with intent. You have to be intentional about it. There’s no other way around it. The more you start to flex that intention muscle, the stronger it gets. It’s always the hardest at the beginning. You take those first couple of steps and then you’re like, “I’m done.” No. Just because you didn’t see it through that first time, get back on the horse, back on the wagon. Keep planning with intention. You have meant to do this thing. Let’s catch it again. We’ll come around again. More opportunities will present themselves for that.
For me, planning with intention with Wonderly was about getting 1% of my revenues back to causes that support women in STEM and girls pursuing STEM. When I set that intention forward, because I have no idea what that looks like. I don’t know what the organizations are that need it. I don’t know the people. I didn’t know when I set that intention. Talk a little bit about some folks you’ve worked with on some intention setting. Can you share some examples about what that looked like and a little bit about things that have happened along the way?
To be successful, I don’t want to be 80 and start giving away money. I want to be successful now. How cool would it be in 2020 to give away $100,000 or $250,000 or some number that you’re like, “I’m good. Here’s a check to STEM, here’s a check to whatever organization. I’m helping you out because it’s the right thing to do, because I want to. It’s part of who I am.” There’s a book shortly after my mom passed away. I don’t know what I was doing reading books, but I read this book and it talked about picking a number that you want to make, then when you make more than that, give away 100%. It blew me away because I’ve been in sales for twenty-plus years. In my first year in rural Illinois as a 21-year-old, I made $58,000. It’s more money than both my sisters made combined. I bought a house, I bought a car, I started going to Home Depot every weekend, planted some flowers. I’m like, “Now what am I supposed to do?” I just did the American dream, but I’m 21.As much as we would design a business, design your own personal mission statement of why you’re here now, tomorrow, and 100 years from now. Click To Tweet
In year two, I felt guilty about it and so I made less money. I made $42,000. There wasn’t someone there at the time that said, “Mick, why don’t you try to make $100,000? If you’re good at $48,000 or if you’re good at $42,000, make $100,000 and give away $58,000. Mick, don’t you get what your gifts are? You’re good at this. It doesn’t mean you have to keep it all.” Trying to find whether it’s giving away 1% of our revenue or giving away 50% of our profit or saying, “I’m good if I make X amount, I’m going to give away the rest beyond that.” Pick something that’s meaningful to you that’s more than just what’s in it for you.
If you want a Maserati, get a Maserati. It’s your money, but also have something for the greater good. At the end of the day, we’re all in this together. We lived downtown St. Paul, so we see a lot of stuff. Growing up, my daddy used to say this nonsense as parents do. Daddy says all the time, “There but the grace of God go I.” I’m like, “What are you talking about?” I was probably 35, 40 years old before it sunk in. It could be any of us, but it’s to acknowledge our lives are blessed. As challenging as it is at times, we still have it pretty good. Also with that goodness and that success, what can I do with that? Not when I’m 80, not necessarily when I’m 70 or 60 but now.
How can I help people while I’m being successful? How can I do well by doing good? How can I share that? Not take a vow of poverty. I’m not Mother Teresa. I’m a God-lover, that’s not what I’m called to do. I want to be the person that I’m called to be or capable of being and how can I share that along the way? Picking a number on revenue, picking a share of a profitability. If I make more than this X amount, give away 100%. Identifying those causes now makes it a lot more exciting, of thinking about like, “Amber, what is that cause?” Not just 1% but start thinking about how cool would it be if I could give away $10,000 or $25,000? That day you first write a check for five or six figures to give to somebody else, no strings attached, that’s what gets you out of bed.
I thought about walking this route, I don’t talk about it a lot, but I worked 60 hours a week in consulting to be able to bootstrap my company. Let’s just say there’s not a lot of sleep and a super patient spouse. He’s my personal hero. It wasn’t easy and there were so many times along the way when it was like, “I don’t want this to be so hard for other women.” I want to get to a place someday where the ones coming behind me doesn’t have to be this hard. Every time we would look around for different sources of funding or other things, we don’t qualify for this, we don’t qualify for that. You don’t get this, you don’t fit that. I want it to be easier for that next generation. I think a lot about that and I like this idea of how do you leave a legacy and how can you get to certain points, get established and then you turn around and feed it back. You’re right, we’re all in this together.
With that success and to say, “I don’t have to know all the answers. I don’t have to have the whole plan laid out. This is my ten-year plan.” These are the causes that I’m passionate about. These are the words that I live by. Many companies set up, “Here are our core values.” That’s great, but those are corporate core values. What are your core values? What’s your personal mission or what’s your vision for your life? Do you have any quotes or scriptures or things that you’re like, “This is my guiding light?” If you can put that all on one page, that’s golden to say, “Here’s my 100 Year manifesto,” you’re going to have a pretty good idea of who I am because it’s what I’ve identified as what my values are, what my mission is, who I am, what I’m trying to accomplish with my life, all on one page. Times are tough, because they are. Nobody said it would be easy. There are dark days, there are scary days, there are days where in my role, you don’t want to necessarily go on and I want to quit. To be able to go back to something like, “This is why I’m doing what I’m doing. This is who I am,” this gets me out of bed on the easy days and it gets me out of bed on the hard days.
I love that idea of the whole 100 Year Manifesto, it is soul food. It feeds your soul. Especially in the entrepreneurship journey in building businesses, things go sideways, go upside down. It is a roller coaster. Having those offsetting things to buff it and the, “I’ve been able to do a lot of good,” or as I do things along the way, that’s amazing. We all have to have that to help us. Part of that grit and determination that keep seeing through climbing X mountain or doing with that next unforeseen thing. There’s just no way we could have anticipated good or bad.
It’s to say this manifesto, this is who I am. What I do for a job or a career or money or whatever that looks like, that can change year-to-year. That can change day-to-day, that can be 100 different things. These core values, this is my purpose in life, that doesn’t change. These are the words that I live by, this is who I am. There was a study one time that said that if you ever want to know who somebody is, ask them what type of person or describe their life when they were seven years old. People will tell you. They’re not putting on airs. They’ll say like, “I was this weird kid who this or that.” You’re like,
“You’re still weird.” When you’re seven, if I said, “Amber, tell me about you now.” You’re like, “I am this and this.” Who you are now and who you are tomorrow and who you were yesterday is probably the same person, but it’s getting zeroed in on that to say, “This is who I am so that I have a fundamental design for my life.” As much as we would design a business, design your own personal mission statement, your own manifesto, having some vision for, “This is why I’m here now, tomorrow and this is why I’m here for 100 years from now.”
This has been a ton of fun and it has been great having you. How would anybody find out more information about you and the 100 Year Manifesto? How do people find you if they wanted to find you?
If anybody else wants to find more about me, you can find me on @BeingWonderly on Twitter or you can find @BellaScena there as well. You can follow me on LinkedIn as well and you can hunt me down. I’m not that hard to find either. If you put in Amber Christian, you’ll probably find me. I’m the curly red-haired one. It’s that magical time again. It’s now time for you all to go be wonderly.
- Mick White
- 100 Year Manifesto
- Start With Why
- Twitter – Mick White
- @BeingWonderly on Twitter
- @BellaScena on Twitter
- Amber Christian on LinkedIn
About Mick White
Mick White is the Founder of 100 Year Manifesto.
He helps entrepreneurs use their business, life, & purpose – for good. He can help you redefine what success is, what it looks like, & how to measure it to create your 100-year manifesto.