Josh Landan – Building brands and a great life
By Mary Maxey
October 24, 2019
In this episode, we have Josh Landan joining us today. He is the founder of Saint Archer, a craft brewery sold in 2015, and he is the founder of Ashland Hard Seltzer. Josh started his career telling stories from behind the lens – filming, directing, writing, and producing films and documentaries featuring some of the world’s top surfers, snowboarders, and skateboarders. Today, he shares his journey on building his business without any business knowledge and background!
Why should we listen to you?
[1:17] If you’re a sports fan, you’d probably enjoy talking sports, which is what I would probably bring up. The last thing you’d get for me is business talk.
[4:23] I don’t want the attention. Just like an athlete, you don’t get to the top level, not needing recognition to compete at the highest level and be the best. I’d be lying if I said that the ego wasn’t there, and I wasn’t trying to get approval in some way. I have those insecurities as everybody does, and I went the other way. I didn’t want to go anywhere and didn’t want to go out, and if anything, I got more introverted.
Wanting to Win
[8:18] When you come from doing it yourself, and you’re at the speed in which you’re most comfortable, then you go into that corporate structure, you might want to win, but the speed isn’t there. You’re fine with things taking a long time, whereas that wasn’t conducive to my personality.
Entrepreneur vs. Business Owner
[9:26] There’s a big difference between employees, business owners, and entrepreneurs. Entrepreneur to me means that you have this burning desire to continue to create from scratch. I didn’t know that about myself until I put myself through that. I see people calling themselves entrepreneurs all the time, but they only own a small store or business. But they are a business owner. So there is a big difference.
[14:27] The way I’ve handled certain situations and looking back, I probably could have dealt with that better. Maybe firing certain people or leaving businesses and the way things are handled and at the moment is always more emotional. Hopefully, when you look back, you learn from that, and the next time, you do it better. I just would have maybe handled it with more maturity and professionalism in some cases.
Building a Business
I just had the idea to do a beer brand. But I knew nothing about beer, and I didn’t even know what a capital raise was. I had no idea about starting a business and somehow raised $3 million, and moved my family to San Diego, and we built a 20,000 square foot brewery. But right before that, I fired three people that weren’t the right fit for me. I would never apologize for that because that was the right thing to do. You can’t beat yourself up for your experiences. You can beat yourself up if you do these things repeatedly, and you never learn from them.
[17:35] The biggest key is being self-aware. Many people have a hard time with being self-aware. I’ll be the first to tell you I was not passionate about beer. I was more passionate about getting some approval than I never got when I was young. I just took it to the craziest ridiculous level of building these multimillion-dollar businesses when that’s going overboard. Luckily, the approval was probably the motivating factor that made me do things. I fell in love with building brands. So that worked out. I think where it’s scary is when you’re doing something for approval, then you get it.
Work in Progress
[25:03] I’m a work in progress like everyone else. What I’m looking for now is more so contentment, and I want to win to the highest level at all times by any means necessary. You can separate that from your personal life.
The reality with Managing a Business
[28:10] You have people’s money on the line, and you have people’s families that are depending on you that work for you. You have all these things and like you have to look at them. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns, and they make it look like on these magazines or podcasts. I can think of 10 business owners from the top of my head that are on their third marriage and are completely miserable and have no relationship with their kids. I didn’t want to be that man.
What People see as Amazing
[30:21] You might show up at work, and you can leave everything at the door. If your home life is a tornado, that’s hard to focus on. I can’t focus on the people that I care about most. But society celebrates the asshole. I would turn on this show for the investors where they want you to be, a hard-charging prick who doesn’t care about anything wants to win. It’s funny that that’s the person they see as amazing.
[33:30] I would rather be more myself that is more compassionate and warm, and I can be sympathetic to what everybody else wants to write. I’ve found on the all the way around, that’s how you get the best out of people. That’s how you get the best out of the staff. If you’re not great at many things, you hire the best. If they want to be around you and believe in you, you’ll build a successful business. But if you think you can do it all and you will be a hard-charging egomaniac, the chances are that you’re not going to do anything special.
Believing in yourself
[39:06] When I believe in something and believe in what I’m doing, I can be convincing. As you’re successful, it gets easier. It’s not like that first 3 million every time. But that first 3 million was the authenticity of what I was saying, and people could feel the passion of what I was doing. If you think about it, they’re investing $3 million in a guy that knows nothing about beers and doesn’t know anybody in the beer business. But I think it conveyed my vision and passion for building a great craft beer brand.
The Deep End
[40:13] People start businesses, and they want to keep doing this on the side, and they want to do this until this starts happening. They want to play it safe. But, if you’re really that passionate and you go all in, there is no escape hatch, and there is no plan B. You are in the deep end.
Confidence in Building a Business
[41:27] It’s scary. But it wasn’t scary for me because I knew I would be successful. There was no doubt in my mind, not an ounce or a shred of doubt. I know, in my heart, how I was then. My wife felt the same way. There was no doubt in her mind that I would be successful. She’s probably the only one or my mom that ever just believed in me.
How to Become Successful in Business
[44:09] In my field of alcohol and building these brands, it’s really about innovation. In today’s short attention span society, you constantly need to keep your brand fresh. That’s why many big brands are dying because these smaller brands gravitate towards independent authenticity. But then you constantly need to evolve, and you continuously need to innovate.
What Promise did God make to the world when He created you?
[48:52] I think what God would say is I’m a spiritual guy. I will give you this work in progress. Stick with him because he’s going to figure it out. And when he figures it out, it’ll be special. But stick with it because it might take a minute. The heart and the humility are in there. So bear with it and have some patience.
[8:17 – 8:44] “When you come from doing it yourself, and you’re at the speed in which you’re most comfortable, which for me is foot on the gas, and then you go into that corporate structure, you might want to win, but the speed isn’t there. You are fine with taking a long time, but that wasn’t conducive to my personality.”
[16:47 – 16:59] “You can’t beat yourself up for your experiences. You can beat yourself up if you do these things repeatedly, and you never learn from them.”
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