Podcast

Episode 79: Mike’s Alaskan Adventure

On today’s episode I want to tell you about the awesome time I had up in Alaska and just take a moment to really stress the importance of vacation time. My family and I went up to the Kesugi Ridge Trail and hiked 32 miles over the course of four days.

During my time away there were some issues with the business, but I have built a self-sufficient team, so I was still able to enjoy my trip. Hiking that trail showed me some parallels to running an e-commerce business.  If you are interested in seeing some of the sights, then there is a link below to a video I took on the hike.

Here are today’s topics:

  • My hike on the Kesugi Ridge Trail.
  • Why entrepreneurs need to take vacations from time to time.
  • The benefits of going somewhere without internet service.
  • How my team handled some business crises while I was gone.
  • Why building a good team is important for your business.
  • My future plans to hike in Hawaii.

I would like to remind our listeners that I am still looking for a Director of Ecommerce. Episode 74 of the podcast outlines what I am looking for in that position. If you know somebody, or if you are that somebody, please email me at [email protected].

Also, I will be speaking at some events this year,

  1. Ecommerce All Stars — Austin, TX, August 4-5.
  2. Global Sources — Hong Kong, October 17-19.
  3. EcommerceFuel Live — Laguna Beach, CA, January 11-13, 2018.

We are back to doing live Facebook episodes again, so follow our Facebook page, and you’ll be notified when we do an episode.

Resources Mentioned Today:

Kesugi Ridge Trail Video

Ecom Crew Facebook Page

Ecommerce All Stars

EcommerceFuel Live

Global Sources

If you have any questions or anything you’d like us to discuss on the podcast you can now email us directly at ecomcrew.com!  Just send those emails to [email protected]. Also, we would really appreciate if you would leave us a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!

Full Audio Transcript

Mike: Hi, this is Mike and welcome to the EcomCrew podcast number 79. It’s good to be back. As you guys know, as I mentioned before, the last couple of episodes were pre-recorded. We’ve been doing most of our episodes on Mondays and this one is being recorded on Monday, July 24th and then broadcast out on Thursdays via iTunes.

So if you ever have a chance to come over to Facebook, Facebook.com/Ecomcrew, you can always join us for the live recording of the episode. Ask any question you may have about the topic, and we answer questions after the show, after we hit the stop button. But I know a lot of you guys obviously listen to this in your car or while you are at the gym, or wherever it might be which is also cool. So without further ado let me jump into this week’s topic which actually is a great segue into what I was just talking about which was my vacation.

You know I’ve been on several trips since starting the Ecomcrew podcast, but never really have taken the time to talk about one of my trips. And I wanted to do that today for a number of different reasons. First of all this was a trip like I’ve never taken before. Typically when we go on a vacation, it’s to a resort or to a hotel, an Airbnb, maybe a cruise. And it’s more of a traditional vacation, I think you might say, where you kind of just put your feet up or have a couple of drinks, and you still have internet access if something goes wrong. But this was totally different.

This was a backwoods excursion into deep woods in Alaska, and something I’ve never done before. In fact at the beginning of this year it’s something I never even thought that I would even attempt. And I don’t know what it was, just living in San Diego and all. I’ve been doing a lot of hiking. There’s just obviously amazing outdoor and hiking opportunities here in Southern California, and I feel like if I’m paying that “sunshine tax,” I might as well take advantage of it and be outdoors a lot here.

So we started doing some relatively easy hikes here that kind of graduated into some more strenuous ones. And then my cousin started talking about hiking in the PCT, which is the Pacific Crest Trail which runs right basically through our back door. And I started doing some of those here and there, and I just kind of really loved it.

It was neat kind of going away for the weekend, leaving on either Friday night or Saturday morning and just going away over the weekend. And at the same time my wife and I were already kind of talking about an Alaskan trip. I had been begging her basically for years to revisit Alaska. We went out there like 15 years ago, and I know that she didn’t like it quite as much as me mostly because the mosquitoes beat the living crap out of her.

But it’s something that I wanted to do for a very long time. And this kind of got combined into that. And then basically I just did some searching for the best hikes in Alaska, and found this trail called the Kesugi Ridge, which was amazing. It basically overlooks Denali the entire time, and kind of basically got our hearts set on it, and figured out a way to make it happen, and we did it.

So basically the first eight days I was up there, we were hiking and had no cell phone access or very little of it. And then the second part of the trip my wife and mother in law joined us. So we had five of us for the second half of the trip, and did some other pretty cool things which I’ll talk about here. But the main reason I want to talk about this is twofold.

First of all I think it’s important to be able to take vacations. If you are an entrepreneur like me there is no time off. My employees probably don’t really see it much, but my wife and I go home and we are still basically on the clock. When we get home, we do things after work after we get out of the office. We’ll go home, have dinner and then very typically we’ll do things after we get home from work, and then also on the weekends as well.

And it’s just, an entrepreneur is always thinking about his business, I think, at least I know I am. Even when I’m not working or I’m out with friends, unless I have enough drinks to  make me stop thinking about my business, it’s very difficult because it’s a big part of our life. Our financial well being is really very much tied to this. So getting away is definitely a way to mentally detox.

And the other thing that I want to talk about is just, if you set your mind to something being able to accomplish it. I think a lot of people that listen to this podcast probably don’t have a hard time with that. But I think that the typical entrepreneur, when they set their mind to something, they get it done. But this was something that again, I had never attempted before. And there were several times throughout the journey on this hike that I might have quit, or thought about quitting. Or I think a lot of other people might have quit and turn back, or taken what they call “escape route”.

Half way through the hike there is a way out, to only have to do half the hike. And you know, just part of it was just really mind over matter. Like you think you can’t possibly take another step and you just, mentally, you are like, I’m going to do it and you figure out a way to take that extra step and keep on taking another step. It was pretty awesome. I mean it was a 32 mile hike, and we did about an average of 8 miles per day.

And these were not easy miles. This wasn’t like walking 8 miles on the street, or anything like that. These were eight miles of straight the heck up and then straight the heck down. Even when there were flatter areas, there were a lot of rocks in the trail which eventually really fatigued my feet. They just kind of go right through your hiking shoes even if you are wearing thick hiking boots.

It just really, really took a toll on me. And it really just became a mind over matter thing, and I’m really glad I did it. It was really the experience of a lifetime. I will drop a link to a video that I put together this weekend of the trip. It’s a long one, I’ll warn you. It’s like a 35 minute video. But it really details the trip from start to finish. And I’ve actually watched the video myself like 12 times; I can’t watch stop watching this video. It just reminds me of the trip, it makes me think of everything that we accomplished. And it was just, it was absolutely amazing.

A couple of things that have also happened because of this trip, I was talking to a couple of people just over the weekend about the trip. And they were like, “How did you survive without internet access?” And I gotta tell you it was incredibly refreshing. At first I kind of had like the internet shakes if you will. But pretty quickly when you realize that it’s not going to be there no matter what, I’d rather have no internet than slow internet. Slow internet makes you kind of still rely on it or to keep on checking.

But I mostly had my phone on airplane mode the entire time, because when it says no service, it just sucks up the battery way quicker. I knew we were in a spot that just had zero internet access. And it was really refreshing not checking my phone like a cocaine addict or a heroine addict every minute or two looking for text messages, or wondering what that ding was for an email.

There has been a lot of studies that I’ve been reading lately just about how people become addicted to their electronic devices. And I feel kind of a shame for letting that happen, right. I mean it’s just kind of a part of the way the world is today. And there is that dopamine hit every time you check your email, every time you read that text message, every time you get a like on Facebook, et cetera.

So not having to deal with that for a couple of days, or really it was almost a full couple of weeks, was actually quite refreshing. But I was able to do all that because I had my business in a place to be able to do that, right. It is something that I’ve worked on a lot over the last couple of years, having the right people in place, having procedures in place, having people that are empowered to take care of their job. And things mostly went off without a hitch while I was gone.

There was only really three small issues that came up while I was gone. One was actually that the EcomCrew website went down. It was wonderful timing. That was fun. So we got that worked out. And that was something I didn’t even know about for a couple of days as I was up on the trail. Our payroll didn’t go through for our Filipino employees which was frustrating and embarrassing, but there wasn’t enough money in our PayPal account to do that.

So luckily that happened on a day where I was in cell service which was only maybe four of the days that we were there. I happened to be driving and my manager over there just emailed me to let me know, or actually contacted me on WhatsApp and let me know what’s going on. And luckily I was able to just transfer the money from one PayPal account to the other.

One frustrating thing with PayPal, and we have all these different PayPal accounts. We have one account for each company, or each website which I had to then transfer to like a main Terran PayPal account which is where all the payments get made from. So there is — unless I transfer money in there — there is no way to get money in there, so that was frustrating. But luckily that got nipped in the bud and didn’t cause any delays. And then the other thing that came up, Dan was asking me about a promotion. Someone was asking for some free stuff to do like a review on their blog. And I was like yeah, just go ahead and send it to him or whatever.

That was something that wasn’t urgent, but I just happened to have email that day, and for the most part like I put on “out of office message.” It was just if you email me and get this message, basically out of office, contact me again when I get back, because I’m not going to be able to check all these emails. And my email box obviously was completely overwhelming, but I did a quick cursory glance at it, and basically just left the last couple of weeks of that stuff behind me and figured out that if it was something important people would get in touch with me.

So yeah, I mean, like I said, it was an amazing trip. I think the moral of this episode is: make sure you go on vacations to clear your head. If you are working at the level that we are, I think it’s really important to be doing that. And make sure your business is in a place where it can run without you. There is a saying that I always tell my employees, and I was told when I was younger, “always be training your replacement.” You should always be teaching people how to do what you are doing day to day, and not be the bottleneck in your business especially for the day to day operations of it. And I’m happy to say that for the most part that’s where we are at.

I’m still the bottleneck for things moving forward, doing new stuff and new ideas and things like that, and those are things we are even working on correcting. This new director of ecommerce position that we are looking to hire for, I even got a couple of replies through this podcast which was pretty cool, and I have some interviews this week on that. And again if you know anybody that’s interested in that position, please let them know. Just send me an email to [email protected]. That’s just my personal email address, [email protected].

You can email me and let me know if you are interested or know someone that might be interested in that director of ecommerce position. There is an episode, maybe four episodes back, if you want to get more details on that, you can go back and find that. But basically what I’m looking to do is get someone in place of the ecommerce side of the house that can replicate what we are doing. Just kind of follow our playbook if you will, day to day, and make sure that when we are scaling our business that all the details get done, right. I mean it’s hard to cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s as we do a second, a third or fourth property. The first time it’s easy because you are engrossed in that property. But as you do it the second time it’s easier to miss some steps. And then the other sites kind of get some things missing.

So one of the things we are going to be working on really hard the rest of this year is just making sure that as we scale, things don’t get dropped, and we don’t end up with inefficiencies in our business to have those problems. But that’s something that isn’t really part of the vacation thing.

The vacation thing is, before I left, quite frankly, I was just really kind of getting burned out. And even though I absolutely love what I do, I mean I think ecommerce, breathe ecommerce, talk ecommerce, also in my sleep probably, at some point that’s probably not healthy, and I think it’s good to get away. It’s that whole like work hard and play hard mentality. So yeah, I certainly don’t feel guilty going away for a couple of weeks, a couple of three times a year. I think it’s really important for creative people and highly motivated people like myself.

So anyway that’s really the gist of it for this week guys. I’ll be back next week with another episode. I think that if anything, use this opportunity to think about planning your next vacation. Typically what I do is when I get back from one vacation, I start thinking about the next one like immediately. And it’s just something on the calendar to be thinking about.

We’ve already been talking about like a late January, early February trip somewhere. I’m probably going to stick along with this hiking thing; I’ve really been enjoying it. Something like maybe Hawaii, or something, in a cold month like January and doing a pretty big hike out there. There is actually a trail in Kauai that I did a part of years ago that I thought, man, it would be really cool to do this whole thing if I could ever get in shape to do it. And that would definitely be one of them.

On the live broadcast as I was recording this, someone just mentioned, “look who didn’t get eaten by a bear.” That’s definitely, that was a good outcome, obviously my interests were aligned on that. I didn’t want to get eaten by a bear. We saw one bear on the five day hike that we did, the 32 mile hike that we did. And it was at a safe distance luckily.

We were really safe. I mean we had a gun with us and we had a bear canister and made sure that we’re as safe as could be, as we possibly could be. And we did see grizzlies in Denali Park, but that was on the bus, on the tour bus like those through the park. So we were only a few feet from them, but we were in the confines of the bus which was good.

We were safe in there which is good. And we camped out at Wonder Lake out in Denali Park again with no cell phone service, and just had a blast out there. Hiked up some glaciers when my wife came and my mother in law, which I’m incredibly proud of what she was able to accomplish. She hiked up to the top of the glacier with us at 67 years old. It was a hike that was absolutely kicking my butt, and she still made it. So again that whole mind over matter. If you set your mind to stuff, you can definitely accomplish it.

I mean some of it is cliché. Obviously you hear that all the time. It’s something your parents might even tell you, if you set your mind to something you can do anything. I don’t believe that you can do anything, because I think that there are certain things that you are physically not going to be capable of. I can never beat Michael Phelps swimming, for instance, no matter how hard I try. But certainly I don’t let a lot of things in life block me or cause a mental or a motivation. And this does definitely show that in another way especially being over 40 now. It was probably the most physical thing I’ve ever accomplished in my life and certainly not in the shape that I was when I was 20 and still I was able to pull it off.

So definitely a really awesome trip. Like I said I’ll link this in the show notes, the link to the video that I put together. But if you go to YouTube and just search for Kesugi, K-E-S-U-G-I Ridge Mike Jackness or something like that, you’ll find it. I’ll also drop a link on the live broadcast here when I’m done. If anyone is interested in watching that video, like I said I have even watched it myself several times. I mean I just, I had the trip of a lifetime.

And we got lucky, we hit the weather lottery. It was — we never got rained on during the day, we got rained on one night. I had sun views of Mckinley almost the entire time. No one got hurt, no one even really got injured or anything. I mean it was just, it was an amazing trip. And the views and the video, I look at them just like, man I was there. I did this and it was pretty cool.

So if you have any interest in outdoorsy stuff or just seeing like what we did there, it’s probably going to be a fun watch. If you have no interest in that, then I would encourage you not to bother. Because if you don’t have an interest in looking at mountains or streams, or bears in the distance or sweaty old men hiking, then you are probably not going to have any interest in that.

But if you have an interest in being on the beach or seeing the world, or just doing a staycation or whatever, I’d encourage you to fit that in your schedule. I think it’s again it’s really important to take those mental breaks. And certainly coming back now, I feel a lot more mentally refreshed, and ready to tackle all the things that are coming up in my life through the rest of the year before I can get on my next vacation.

I certainly have a lot of travel through the rest of the year but none of them are vacation related. They are all going to be business related. And like I said setting our sights for the next vacation, end of January, beginning of February, which is good timing. It’s after the holiday season, and probably about then I’ll be ready to take a break.

So final notes, show notes here. August 4th and 5th I know that it’s still got some seats left, Ecommerce All-stars, it’s only a couple of weeks away. That’s Ezra Firestone’s event. I’m going to be speaking there. If you guys want to come out and join me there, August 4th and 5th in Austin, Texas.

I definitely encourage you guys to come on that event. Ezra puts on world class events. He is a kind of like the most amazing ecommerce guy out there. I mean he’s doing well in the eight figures right now selling some makeup stuff and just really amazing. His story is amazing. Then I’ll also be at Global Sources in Hong Kong. I’ll be in China over there for about three weeks. If there is anyone that’s going to be in China or Hong Kong during that time, I’d love to do a meet up or see you guys at Global Sources. If you want to actually attend the event, that’s October 17th through 19th.

I’ve already booked my flight. So I’m going to be over there, I believe it’s October 15th through November 4th. But I don’t know that off the top of my head right now, but it’s something along those lines. I’ll be at phase two and three of the Canton Fair, and then at the Hong Kong Mega show and Global Sources.

I’m also going to take a side a trip to the Philippines. So if there is anyone going to be in that part of the world at that time of the year, I’d love to meet with you. And then ecommerce Fuel in Laguna California. That event is sold out January 11th through 13th.  And as a reminder if you get a chance, come over to Facebook.com/EcomCrew, and like us so when we go live you guys can get notified of it. And also leave a review on iTunes. We really appreciate that, it helps get the podcast out there.

Yeah, so I’m going to sign off for this week guys. Anybody that’s on the live broadcast, I’ll be happy to take your questions. Next week we’ll get back to some more interesting ecommerce-type topics. But I just wanted to talk about the vacation and get you guys thinking about that stuff while I just got done with my vacation because it was definitely awesome. So until next week everybody, have a great week, happy selling and I will talk to you then.

Outro: If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you. Head over to EcomCrew.com and sign up for the EcomCrew newsletter to get regular updates on what’s working in ecommerce today, and get the latest from our blog. If you haven’t already, we’d really appreciate an honest review in iTunes. These reviews help us make sure we’re delivering exactly the content you need to be successful. And make sure you subscribe to the show for more tips to move you up in the business ladder and into success. We’ll see you next week.

Mike and Grant

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