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Michael Mente

Build a Billion Dollar Brand and the Art of Influencer Partnerships

"It’s all about showing people a genuinely good time.”

Being an entrepreneur is one of the most difficult tasks you can take on. In fact, some people find it soul crushing if not done right. When done properly though, it can be the greatest thing you can do in your life.

Starting as an entrepreneur means knowing what you really want to do, what your passion is, and how to deliver that to consumers. It’s not about pushing it on them but listening to them and seeing how you can serve them.

Most entrepreneurs stop as soon as they hit success and sell off their company, but not all of them. On this episode, we are joined by Michael Mente, who has been a massively successful entrepreneur since 2003 when he helped create the incredibly popular clothing company: REVOLVE.

“All we are doing is listening to the consumer and giving them what they want.”  

Michael Mente dropped out of an entrepreneur program at the University of Southern California to become an entrepreneur by profession. He’s Currently the CEO and Co-Founder of Revolve and is set to bring in $400 million in sales this year. His company is considered the one-stop shop for clothing items designed by some of the hottest emerging designers.

Over the years, Michael began developing organic relationships with bloggers to represent the brand on a more realistic level. To do so, Revolve regularly holds trips for influencers to gather, relax, and recreate the lifestyle of an ideal Revolve customer.

Michael saw a gap between affordable and high end items, which provided grounds for him to create an online shopping experience that falls in the middle. Supporting up-and-coming designers and digital influencers has become the core of Revolve’s growth and they decided to expand their digital offerings by launching a sister company, FORWARD, in 2008. Since then FORWARD has grown to become a powerhouse in fashion and has become the go-to place for premier luxury fashion.

I loved Michael’s humble wisdom about what it has taken to create this kind of success in such a competitive industry.

Discover all of that and much more, on Episode 583.

"If it’s not enjoyable, what’s the point?”  

Some Questions I Ask:

  • Would you say a lot of your sales come from Instagram? (10:46)
  • In the beginning were you buying clothes wholesale? (13:41)
  • What were you doing before REVOLVE? (15:40)
  • What would you say is your biggest inspiration right now? (18:12)
  • When did you realize you had a business that would take off? (21:38)
  • How much money did you raise from one investor? (24:54)
  • Do you think more people should be tapping into influencers for their brand? (28:41)
  • What’s a good way to start approaching influencer marketers and celebrities? (36:54)
  • How do you deal with the competition of other brands? (42:00)
  • How have you evolved from being an entrepreneur by yourself to running an organization with so many employees? (45:39)
  • What do you still need to learn in order to take your business where you want it to be? (49:00)
  • How have you kept consistently excited about your business for 15 years? (50:42)

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Just how long REVOLVE has been around (8:53)
  • What made Michael say, “I want to get into women’s clothing.” (11:41)
  • How they launched the same year as Zappos (14:56)
  • When he knew he wanted to start his own business (17:24)
  • The biggest risks he’s taken (19:41)
  • When they decided to take on investors (23:39)
  • The point when it becomes challenging for a company to continue its growth (26:06)
  • How an influencer trip works (33:12)
  • The biggest challenge for Michael right now (43:55)
  • The most influential person in Michael’s life growing up (47:00)
  • Michael’s advice to young entrepreneurs who want to start their own thing (53:00)
  • Plus much more…

Connect with
Michael Mente

Transcript of this Episode

Lewis Howes:                      This is episode number 583 with Revolve co-founder, Michael Mente.

Welcome to The School of Greatness. My name is Lewis Howes, former pro-athlete turned lifestyle entrepreneur and each week we bring you an inspiring person or message to help you discover how to unlock your inner greatness. Thanks for spending some time with me today. Now, let the class begin.

Welcome back, everyone to another edition of The School of Greatness Podcast. We are starting out powerfully in the New Year and I am just so pumped to be here with all of you. You know, again, as I reflect back on how amazing the last year was, and really, where we’re headed to with this podcast, almost five years of the podcast happening, and it just blows my mind to reflect on what we’ve been building together. And the movement of greatness that we’re all on board with. So, thank you all, again, for being a part of this journey.

We’ve got another powerful interview today. His name is Michael Mente and he is the CEO  and co-founder of Revolve, which is a popular online fashion retailer. It has become one of the leading, trendy fashion brands today. And here’s what I love about it: Revolve was founded in 2003, so in a world where everyone wants to start and launch something quickly and have it sell and make millions of dollars in the first year, or first few months, they’ve been around for a long time, pre-social media.

They’ve had to learn and constantly re-invent and re-evolve their brand and their audience, and so many different strategies to continue to grow. Again, they are getting close to a billion dollars in sales a year, right now. I mean, it just continues to grow and grow and grow, right? And they have almost two million Instagram followers, they’ve got millions of e-mail subscribers, they’ve got a large following.

But one of their keys has been getting the biggest celebrities and influencers to feature their clothes and come to their big events and parties. And they are the brand and the event to go hang out at, at Coachella and other big events that are happening around the world. And I love the strategy behind what they do to find these partnerships with influencers and celebrities and get people to come to their events, which helps their overall brand and overall sales.

What we’re going to be talking about today is, first, how to build trust with your audience when you’re a pioneer in your industry. How do we build that trust? Also, how to decide what and when to scale in your business. The best ways to build relationships with influencers. So, how do you get these influencers to really get excited about your brand when you’re just starting out. We cover that.

Also, how to deal with massive competition in your industry. The online fashion space is constantly becoming more and more competitive with every influencer now having their own brand, so how do you compete with that? Also why balance is as necessary as work ethic in order to succeed, and again, as someone who’s been grinding it out and hustling for over fifteen years now, we talk about really why balance is something that’s important to Michael.

Before we dive in, I want to give a shout out to the fan of the week. This is from Alec Maggio, who says, “I think I’m addicted!” and he left a review over on iTunes. And Alec said, “Wow! I just found this podast a week and half ago and it’s all I’ve been listening to since. I really feel like a changed man. Inspirational, compelling, motivational, and so much more. You have shown me a completely new world of ideas. Thank you so much for what you do. I now can’t wait to see what life has in store. This podcast is what makes me get out of bed in the mornings. Thank you!” Well, Alec, thank you for being the fan of the week and thanks for being a big supporter now, even though you just got in tune with us a week and a half ago.

If you guys want a chance to get shouted out on the podcast, make sure to go to iTunes and leave a review, or you can go on your podcast app right now on your iPhone, and leave a review in iTunes right there, and we pick winners every single week to give shout-outs.

As well, if you think you know someone in your life who could use this inspiration, this information, these tools, these strategies to help improve your life, improve your business, improve your health, your relationships, every aspect of you your life, we’re looking to take to the next level. That’s what the movement of The School of Greatness is. How do we improve our lives in every area so we create maximum impact, maximum fulfilment and maximum income in the process. So don’t forget about that as well.

I’m very excited guys! We’ve got so many good things happening this year. And I want to give a shout out and thank you to our sponsors for this episode, because they continue to support us and make this movement so powerful. And if you are an entrepreneur who’s looking to build your brand, who’s looking to reach a new audience, then you’ve got to be checking out DesignCrowd. Again, DesignCrowd has been a sponsor for a couple of years. And the reason I love having them as a sponsor is because we use them, you know, we use the products that sponsor our podcast and I love working with them.

They helped design so many of the different book covers, logo’s I’ve done through them, website designs, Tee-shirt designs, business cards, any logo’s you need for your brand as well. DesignCrowd has over half a million designers from all over the world, who are ready to help you with awesome creative ideas, and you get the perfect custom design every single time, and that’s why I continue to use them. It’s like every couple of months I go to designcrowd.com/greatness and when you go there you get a special $100 VIP offer for our listeners of The School of Greatness.

And, again, it doesn’t matter what type of product you have, little or small, go and test it out with something small for a logo, or an update for social media graphics, right now and you can check out how it works. But you’re going to get a ton of different designs back from different designers all over the world when you submit your creative project, and you get to continue to talk to them, you get to make tweaks and comments on the designs that they send you, until you’re happy with the one that you want and then you pay the person what your offer is. So, again, check out designcrowd.com/greatness for a special $100 VIP for our listeners.

And also a big thank you to Shopify. Now, I have been using Shopify for a seamless checkout experience in one of my online retail businesses and I love it, guys. It’s so important to make buying your products easy for your customers. If it’s not easy for them to give you their money to buy something, then they’re not going to do it. If it’s all challenging and hard for them to figure out how to pay for a product. That’s why I chose Shopify.

And if you have an online store that you are selling products from, definitely check them out. They’ll take care of all your needs in this one process. Now, I recommend Shopify, because selling online has never been easier, faster, or more scalable. And you know I’m a fan of making business around doing what you love. And that’s why Shopify makes it easy to make money doing just that.

If you’re not already doing this, the best way for you to get started doing this, is to find your passion and sell a product that supports it. For example, sell a fitness course, sell Tee-shirts, sell a digital book, wellness products, the list goes on. Depending on what industry you’re in. Now, if you have a big idea, make sure to go to shopify.com/greatness and get started on it with a free thirty-day trial. That’s right!

And tweet me your story, because I’d love to see what you’re working on. Again, go to shopify.com/greatness to start your free thirty-day trial.

Alright, guys, I’m pumped for this episode right now. It’s lewishowes.com/583, go ahead and take a screenshot and tag me on Instagram as you’re listening to this. We’ve also got the full show notes and full video interview back at that link there, lewishowes.com/583.

Without further ado, this is all about building a billion dollar brand, scaling it up, and the art of influencer partnerships with Revolve co-founder and CEO, Michael Mente.

Welcome back everyone to The School of Greatness Podcast. We have Michael Mente in the house. Man! Good to see you.

Michael Mente:                 Thank you!

Lewis Howes:                       Super glad you’re here. We got connected earlier this year. Someone mentioned me about you, I didn’t know who you were until someone brought up your name, and as I started digging in deeper, learning about you being one of the founders of Revolve, this fashion brand that’s been around for fifteen years now, is that right?

Michael Mente:                 Almost fifteen years, crazy enough!

Lewis Howes:                       Has now blown up. It seems like every big celebrity, influencer on Instagram promotes you guys, if it’s at some event, it doesn’t matter who it is, it’s like everyone is promoting you in the female fashion space.

We were talking earlier, you’re gearing up close to almost a billion in gross sales, total gross sales, for the brand, which is impressive, man! So congratulations!

Michael Mente:                 Thank you so much! Thank you, and thanks for having me, it’s such an honour to be here.

Lewis Howes:                       Of course, man, yeah.

Michael Mente:                 I’ve heard so much from you from the podcasts and books, it’s a privilege to be here, thanks for having me.

Lewis Howes:                       Of course. And you started, I think you said, back in 2003. Pre-social media, pre-Google, right? Or maybe Google was around, but they were still small.

Michael Mente:                 Yes. They were around and they were a little smaller than Yahoo at the time. Yahoo was still actually how we learned, that was the first digital marketing we ever did was Yahoo, and that sort of put us on the map.

Lewis Howes:                       That’s crazy! You were promoting on Yahoo and so much has evolved in terms of marketing in the last ten, twelve, fifteen years, right? When social media came around, early on I remember it was Twitter that was the big thing. Were you even using Twitter to promote? Or was it not even an effective platform for you guys? Because yours is more of a visual, seeing the clothes, type of thing, right?

Michael Mente:                 Exactly. For Twitter, that was one thing that I know so many people use it as a great tool, but we could never crack it, we could never figure it out, because it just wasn’t visual enough, so honestly, we missed the boat when it was the sweet spot of Facebook days. We really were great at the Google days, but we didn’t really quite get Facebook right. But then, when Instagram came out, that was something that, where a lot of the things we were trying to do were really able to be leveraged in Instagram and that 2010 and beyond era.

But there’s definitely so many different phases of having to evolve and get better and stay current.

Lewis Howes:                       Right. Would you say a lot of your sales, gross sales, come from Instagram right now? Or is it pretty diverse?

Michael Mente:                 I think it’s really diverse, and I think ultimately all of the channels kind of interact. Where it’s like, someone may see something on Instagram, but then go on Google to search for it, or someone may Google something but then ultimately see an add elsewhere. We’re really known for Instagram at the moment, because I think a lot of the strategy is a little bit more ahead of the curve, a little bit more pioneering. We’re doing a couple of different things, a strategy that other people are learning from.

But that’s just one layer and then there’s just many other layers that have to be built, so it’s just a stack and I think that’s the thing. It’s not just, “Instagram, boom, it’s all good!” It’s like there’s the fundamentals of Google, which we did back in the 80’s, it’s still huge. I think Google’s still a massive part of our budget, and then of course, Facebook, Instagram, e-mail, everything.

Lewis Howes:                       E-mail’s probably where you get the direct results from, you know, when you send something out you can see sales coming in, obviously.

Michael Mente:                 Definitely.

Lewis Howes:                       What made you, early on in 2003, say, “I want to get into women’s clothes?

Michael Mente:                 You know what’s funny, is that it was purely analytical. And in those days a real good friend who is still a business partner of ours, kind of showed us, at the company that he was working at, how you could actually see results of how many people were searching for what terms, and then you could also see, really transparently, how much it would cost to be listed on Yahoo first or second or third.

So there’s this awesome transparency where we can see people are searching for this, when you do the actual…

Lewis Howes:                       Whether it’s fashion, or shirts or skirts or whatever.

Michael Mente:                 Yeah, and then you see the results and they’re sometimes it would be like none of the results were selling the products, so we kind of like, stumbled upon it. And we realised that fashion, there was a lot of people searching for fashion brands, but the fashion world was a little bit slower to adopt technology.

Lewis Howes:                       They were in retail, they weren’t going online. They were just expecting you to come into stores.

Michael Mente:                 Exactly, from print ads. It was a different world, so there was like an opportunity there. We tried a lot of different things and we were like, “Okay.”  A lot of quick failures, of course, in the early days. We thought, “This brand is going to be big!” or whatever and it was, like, nothing. Crickets. But then we came across, again by chance, that designer denim ended up being very important at that time and that was also something where people were just hearing about it, younger consumers, and it was hard to find at physical stores, there was a very limited supply in physical stores and they had to go online.

Lewis Howes:                       The premium denim, yeah. And so you saw it as an opportunity more than anything. You weren’t necessarily passionate about female underwear, right?

Michael Mente:                 Hey, in different ways, not selling it!

Lewis Howes:                       But you weren’t trying to, say like, “I want to become the new Victoria’s Secret.” You were just, like, “Here’s an opportunity that people are missing out on. This whole internet thing is taking off, there’s a big opportunity and these brands are missing out on it.” But at the beginning you didn’t create your own brands, whereas now you have twelve different brands?

Michael Mente:                 Yeah, I think thirteen now. It’s crazy.

Lewis Howes:                       But then you were just, was it you were buying it wholesale and then selling it online? Or were you drop shipping?

Michael Mente:                 Yeah, exactly, it was buying wholesale, storing it in the house and then shipping it to the consumer. And I think we were very lucky, again, that we were in the area, in Los Angeles, and then all the showrooms, you know, 90% of the brands that we carry have showrooms in Los Angeles, so that was another aspect of luck that we stumbled upon, kind of, that access and did a lot of homework there.

Lewis Howes:                       So you could find people, get them at a really cheap wholesale rate, they would trust you guys, build a relationship.

Michael Mente:                 It was a lot of trust building. A lot of people were, like, “What the heck are you doing? This is weird.”

Lewis Howes:                       No one was doing that.

Michael Mente:                 Very, very few. Some of the department stores had early websites that were experimental, not necessarily as seriously existed. Not much. There was literally a lot of brands with next to nothing, or the competitors that were there were still quite young. They may have been one or two years old as well, so it was early, early days.

Lewis Howes:                       Kind of like Zappos was for shoes.

Michael Mente:                 Zappos was our model. We did the same exact things at the same time, just by observing the market place and we weren’t aware of them, but then, of course, then we started to see them blow up and become something and  we had to evolve to something else.

Lewis Howes:                       Wow, okay. Did you guys launch the same year, or were they before you guys?

Michael Mente:                 They launched maybe a year before us, or so. Kind of the same period.

Lewis Howes:                       Yeah. Didn’t Amazon buy them?

Michael Mente:                 Yes. I think Amazon bought them…

Lewis Howes:                       For like a billion or something?

Michael Mente:                 I think, yeah, it was about a billion and change, and that was probably right around recession time.

Lewis Howes:                       2009 or something?

Michael Mente:                 Yeah, I think it was around then, I remember something about their VC sending out a letter where everyone had to buckle down and …

Lewis Howes:                       They needed to sell it, wow.

Michael Mente:                 Exactly.

Lewis Howes:                       Because how much were they doing in sales? Do you remember? A year?

Michael Mente:                 I don’t remember actually, I don’t remember what was going on there.

Lewis Howes:                       I wonder if they were reaching a billion in sales. You don’t think they were.

Michael Mente:                 I think it depends on the measurement. I remember reading the book and I don’t remember the exact year, but I think they did hit a billion in gross sales prior to the acquisition.

Lewis Howes:                       Right. Okay. Interesting. What were you doing before all this? Weren’t you in a software business or something?

Michael Mente:                 Yeah. You know, before I was lucky enough to be in college during that first dot com boom, but not lucky enough to be out in the workforce long enough to really capitalise, so I worked at a software startup and that’s where I met my business partner, the best thing about that whole experience was that I met my business partner. That was 2000/2001. And it was a random software startup.

Lewis Howes:                       Right out of college?

Michael Mente:                 Right out of college.

Lewis Howes:                       And you went to school for, as an engineer, or what did you go to school for?

Michael Mente:                 You know, it’s funny, I went to school, specifically to USC, because they have a great entrepreneurship program, but the funny thing is, I left a year early to pursue, start off work, so I never actually did the entrepreneur program. So it was actually a finance background, I had a finance major. And the cool thing is that now my business partner manages all the finance, so it’s ironic.

Lewis Howes:                       Amazing. So you guys met at this software company, the company didn’t work out, or you just were like, “Let’s try something else.”?

Michael Mente:                 Yeah. It was just, you know, 99% of the other startups of that day, there was a lot of capital flying around and a lot of startups. And conceptually I still think that it was software systems to help manage enterprise strategy, and I think we still do it a little old-school, where it’s Powerpoint and Excel, and the idea of making it a little bit smoother and easier and simplify it but also with depths of data integrated. I like the concept still, but also the methodology and things like that, there’s a lot of challenges there.

And it was also that time when selling software to corporate America was very exciting, in the 90’s. There were a lot of big companies doing awesome things and now, post internet era, that model’s a little bit different.

Lewis Howes:                       Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur and start you own business growing up? Or is this something, through the years, that you’ve developed?

Michael Mente:                 I think there was always something there. And I think it was not necessarily an entrepreneur, for me, the criteria was very clear, was that I wanted to be in a field where I could put as much as I can into it, and get as much as I can out of it. And there was not necessarily time limitations or educational limitations, or this very structured path where I can just go all in, assume some risk.

Which, you know, is very entrepreneurial, but I thought that potentially could have happened on other paths, like an engineer or something like that. I was debating becoming a programmer and working in the world from that side of things, but ended up going straight to pure entrepreneurialism, like out the gates.

Lewis Howes:                       What, would you say, is the biggest inspiration for you guys right now? Is there a brand or a person that inspires you? From what they’re doing?

Michael Mente:                 You know, this is a tough one. I think all my examples maybe are a little bit cliché, but super amazing. Like Jeff Bezos is incredible, the way he started his business and the way, through the different changes of the world and the different opportunities, he’s been able to grow and build and adapt as the world changes. He sees big opportunities and pursues them, but still has an extremely long term very, very ambitious goal.

I think that’s probably a lot of inspiration for a lot of people, but definitely someone that we look up to very much.

Lewis Howes:                       Sure, sure. What about Wexner? Les Wexner, from Limited Brands? Is that a guy that you’re aware of?

Michael Mente:                 Not super.

Lewis Howes:                       I think he started Victoria’s Secret, too.

Michael Mente:                 Yes, I think… those guys and also Ortega at Zara, you know, top five richest people in the world of making clothes. It’s incredible, it’s incredible.

Lewis Howes:                       Is he from Spain? Is that where he is?

Michael Mente:                 Spain, yes.

Lewis Howes:                       He’s in the top five richest?

Michael Mente:                 I think so, and the coolest thing to me is that…

Lewis Howes:                       Through Zara, huh?

Michael Mente:                 Yeah. They actually have multiple chains, but I think that Zara’s the biggest one. I don’t know, a lot of things on a personal level I would look up to him like, he does zero press, super low-key and I think that my partner and I would like to do that. I don’t know if you can do that in this world any more where people, where the consumer really wants to know the big corporate…

Lewis Howes:                       Who’s behind the anonymity.

Michael Mente:                 Yeah. So I think it’s a different world, but that’s something that we respect about him and obviously the massive business that he’s built.

Lewis Howes:                       What would you say is one of the biggest risks that you’ve taken, that paid off? And then one that hurt you the most. You’ve been doing this for fifteen years now.

Michael Mente:                 I think the biggest risk was really when we first started, because we started with just our own capital, and we were caught two years out of college, so whatever we can save out of two years, was like, “This is what we’ve got, let’s figure something out.”

Lewis Howes:                       Let’s buys some clothes and promote it.

Michael Mente:                 Yeah, exactly! So we probably, I mean, it doesn’t sound massive, but for us it was like the biggest bet we ever made. But to launch the website and have a first tester selection, was probably about, I think it was $16,000 specifically, and that was like, “Alright, let’s buy $16,000 worth of clothes, see how this goes. Worst case, I don’t know what we’re going to do, but we’ll cover half of it on e-bay or something.” Or something weird like that, selling them one by one somewhere, or whatever.

But that was kind of like that big leap of faith, where it was like, the minimum amount of investment we can make, but still have a big enough test where we can see if this works. So that was probably the biggest risk that paid off.

Lewis Howes:                       And what happened, when you guys launched it with those $16,000 worth of clothing?

Michael Mente:                 You know what was funny? The first few brands that we thought were going to be awesome, didn’t work, and one of the second-tier brands, which was a little bit less, significantly less known, worked for us. There were like the big denim brands, and this was like a second-tier denim brand, and celebrities were wearing them and it was a little bit more occulty and that worked for us, then we started to buy more and more.

Because those guys were actually the only one’s who would sell to us. The big brands at the time wouldn’t sell to us. So we were like, “We’re going to go to your competitors and see who would be interested,” and then someone believed in us, or someone needed that support, and needed to sell. “You’ve got money, we’ll take it.” And it worked and that really was what got that initial momentum.

It wasn’t out the gates, but it was probably something like, five, six weeks in, and we were like, “Okay, we got something now.”

Lewis Howes:                       Wow. When did you realise that you actually had a business that could continue to take off. Was it right in that moment? Was it your two and three after testing a bunch of stuff, like, “Oh, we have a brand that did a million dollars in sales, and now we can keep growing.”

Michael Mente:                 It was early, but also maybe never, in the sense that…

Lewis Howes:                       Really? Still today?

Michael Mente:                 Still today. It takes some doing because we’ve been through some interesting times where, like in the early days we started to sell some stuff, we started to see some consistent business, where the first standard was, “I think this can support both of us living, where we can continue to work and we don’t have to get jobs. And I think that was probably in the first three to six months or so, and we were still probably collecting unemployment checks, trying to figure things out at that point.

So, fairly early on…

Lewis Howes:                       Yeah, like, “We’re making a few thousand a month each.”

Michael Mente:                 “It covers the bills, we can eat, we can pay rent,” and that was kind of like the first level, but of course that was still very fragile, but then company continued to grow and then in 2008 we almost went out of business.

Lewis Howes:                       Because of the recession? Really?

Michael Mente:                 Recession. Really. Within a two week period sales dropped by 40% and we had no financial backers, it was just us. And the whole industry, massive slow down. All of the department stores, everyone, just discounted the whole store, like 50% off. It was just a really crazy time. So, even though at that point we were doing maybe $40-50 million, we were still fighting for our lives, and we had not financial backers, and of course that’s when all the banks, in the scary times, that’s when all the money goes away.

So, that was a challenging time, too. So, I think we always still have this little bit of edge, of that at seven “Oh, we’re ahead,” and then at eight, “Oh, we’re fighting for our lives,” and I think that now we still have that scar, that fear, that recession-survivor mentality, where it’s like, “Gotta be very protective. Who knows what’s going to happen?” There’s always elements of this, so we’re always on our toes.

Lewis Howes:                       It’s been ten years though! You’re years from there, but you’re still, like, “Okay, let’s make sure we have money for a rainy day,” or for whatever, right?

Michael Mente:                 Yeah. Exactly.

Lewis Howes:                       Interesting. And then, did you take on investors at some point?

Michael Mente:                 Around nine years into the business, we took on investors. And I think that was actually one thing, a risk that we did not take that ended up being really good for us. From the founding to the recession we met a lot of investors and we saw a lot of things but we just didn’t feel like we could be partners with somebody. It was pretty exciting to be like, “Oh, here’s a $20,000,000 check!” and I think it took a lot of discipline on our part, to be like, “No, we don’t really want your money. We don’t want to be partners with you. We like what we have and we’re going to protect what we have, because you’re going to have a different vision and values than we’re going to have.” I think that was super important.

But in 2012, we would take the meetings from time to time, and we turned down a lot of different things, but then we found someone who really understood what we were trying to do. In a nuanced way. A lot of the money in times past, and I think this mistake has happened to other of entrepreneurs in the fashion space, when a lot of technology investors try to build it in skill like a technology company, but really we’re a consumer brand company, and we found the right investors that we felt really understood that, and it’s been great since then.

That was about five years ago, five on the dot, in like, ten days. It’s been a good relationship.

Lewis Howes:                       Amazing! Are you allowed to share how much you raised? Is that public.

Michael Mente:                 That’s public, yes. It was $40,000,000.

Lewis Howes:                       Forty million from one investor or a venture capital fund?

Michael Mente:                 One investor, one private equity firm. It’s a little bit blended and blurred, and a portion of it went to the business and a portion of it went to my partner and I and I think there’s a number of different things where it all made sense. Where, after the recession we were scared, we were very, very conservative and we were leaving money on the table. We weren’t scared to just keep putting all the money back into the business as we did for the previous nine years, because there’s no cushion.

So, this was the perfect situation where we can build a little bit on the side, you know, personally, where we could be a lot more aggressive with the business again, and I think that mentality really, really changed the business, because since then our growth has accelerated. Since then, in the past five years the business has probably [grown] between four and five times the size, so it’s been super beneficial for both of us.

And it wasn’t necessarily that money into the business, which of course helps. No doubt it was an important part, but it was really of the mindset of “be aggressive again and pursue it. The opportunity is there, it’s a great time to pursue things.”

Lewis Howes:                       Do you believe that it’s really challenging for a company to grow beyond a certain point? Without infusing and investment of ad and media spending? Do you think it’s going to be really hard unless you’re investing back into the promotional side of things?

Michael Mente:                 I guess it depends on…

Lewis Howes:                       And bringing in more people? Or can you grow with the same small group, and continue to 2/3/4X every year

Michael Mente:                 I guess it depends on how fast that growth is and what type of a business it is. For us, dealing with physical products, certain aspects have to grow. There’s this portion of the business that has to grow as the revenue grows, where there’s things like customer service, picking and packing, things like that. But, for us, there’s also other organisations that don’t have to grow as much. Like, this team is awesome, the company can be three, four times as big and this team can grow 10%, because they’re built, they’re amazing, they work together well.

Lewis Howes:                       They’ve got systems and processes.

Michael Mente:                 Exactly, yeah, so I think it really does vary, but also depending on the business, we really see that, back into marketing, I guess it depends of the kind of marketing plans, where if we have a good plan where we’re in invest mode, where we think we have something that works. But we have had periods in times past where there wasn’t actually opportunity to invest the money so we had to be a little bit more patient, where certain channels for us, like the digital channels, we have to be disciplined, because if you want to put more money to work, it gets way less efficient.

So, we’re calibrated at a good level, but our brand spend, we feel, the more you spend, it actually gets easier and there’s definitely some scalability for it. So there’s these two aspects of marketing that work together, but they have different principles and different approaches and we have to separate the two.

Lewis Howes:                       And when you mean the brand spend do you mean more of like the influencer events and things like that? Brand recognition?

Michael Mente:                 Influencer events and kind of like media, and things like that, versus the visual set words, a little bit more functional words, like the Google and the Facebook.

Lewis Howes:                       Now, this is something I think you guys do really well. You’ve figured out a way to curate all these top influencers, whether it be from Instagram or YouTube or just social media influencers and celebrities in general. And you do these really high end curated events for them, right? Where you’ll go to different destinations, you’ll create content for them. You’ll give them clothes, create content, bring them together, you create a unique experience.

I feel like that’s one of the things that I learned about you guys early on, as something you did, because I saw you guy’s brand everywhere, promoted by these influencers. Now, what’s the process for that, or how much are you allowed to share of what you guys do there and why they are effective, and do you think more people should be really tapping into influencers in general for their brand?

Michael Mente:                 Yeah, definitely, and this is an exciting part of the business and a part that I spend a lot of time on, but first, the interesting thing is that it has been very organic and very long term, where we first started working with influencers in 2009, I believe, and that was before they were called influencers. So, they were all bloggers at the time, and that was the platform, because you had to literally create your own platform to communicate with the world. And that was before Facebook was really core and before Instagram was so visual.

So, that was something that we’ve been developing, and nurturing and evolving for many, many years. The world has continued to evolve and of course, you were saying, very focussed on how things go. So, our previous relationship with influencers, experimenting with blogs and such, really made a lot more sense with the rise of instagram. So, that created a good platform and centralised platform for all of our consumers, as well as all of the influencers-to-be and as that’s continued to get bigger and bigger, it’s been more and more powerful.

We’ve done some stuff where, and it’s funny, actually after this I’m going to a meeting to think about collaborations with influencers and the ideas are actually ideas that we tried four or five years ago and weren’t as powerful, but we were a little bit ahead of the curve then. So, it’s been a long time spent. But I think the one thing, for us, that’s been really key, is that it has to just really be authentic and organic. If it was a situation where you could spend money and receive the returns, the big guy would always win. The corporate guys would just be throwing money everywhere and it would work.

But I think, for it to work, it really has to be genuine and authentic and…

Lewis Howes:                       Unique and creative.

Michael Mente:                 Exactly. The influencer really, in my opinion, really has to be a fan of the brand for it to really work, versus attempt to sell something that they don’t necessarily care about. So I think that was super important.

Lewis Howes:                       Yeah. When did you realise, “Wow! This event was a massive success,” the celebrity/influencer event?

Michael Mente:                 You know what? It’s been so gradual. I think that’s the benefit. I think that’s also our mentality of “Test it a little bit, invest as minimum as possible, but enough to get a proper test, and then try to scale it up.” We’re never too aggressive up front. So, a good example of this is, actually yesterday the team was out in Palm Springs, prepping for a Coachella, and I think we’re starting to get known for the biggest party at Coachella. And I think last year was incredible. I think we had massive parties, super fun, thousands of people. I think it was kind of like a rival to the actual festival, kind of unintentionally. So, that was amazing.

And the thing was, we had thousands of people and it was completely free for everyone, and afterwards we were like, “Hey, we should have charged people.” And the funny thing is that it was a very humble beginning where the first Coachella event that we had wasn’t really an event, I believe it was 2010, and there were just two friends who are influencers, who are still good friends to this day.

We all just went and rented a house, just like friends, like everyone does and it really started to make a little bit of sense, like, “We could make this not just fun. I think next year we can make it a business marketing opportunity.” So we went from two influencers, my good friends Ami and Julie who were actually going on a trip together, I guess only in ten days, but then the next time we did it a little bit bigger, half a dozen people. And then last year I think there were, between the people that we hosted and people coming, I think it was several, I think close to 500 or so, something crazy like that.

Lewis Howes:                       Influencers?

Michael Mente:                 Yes. So, it’s just crazy.

Lewis Howes:                       Holy cow! Five hundred influencers would come to an event!

Michael Mente:                 I think the was just trying to deliver something that we would want to go to. So, we had a mini festival. We had Rick Ross perform, and The Amigos perform and actually Drake ended up coming and Leo was there and Kendall was there, Kendall Jenner and it was like, “We got to host people, show them an authentically good time that we would want to come to, that’s kind of the goal. Like, would we line up to goto this party? If we aren’t here are we going to be FOMO?” and I think that’s the standard and ultimately delivering something to them and ultimately it comes back.

Lewis Howes:                       Of course, yeah. So tell me the model of a trip you’re going to be doing. Like, you’re going on a trip soon, how does that model work? How many influencers will go? What do you provide for them? Is it more about just having a good trip and experience to some exotic location where you’ve got video and photographers taking great content for them that they can use and if they’re wearing the clothes, great! How does the whole thing work? How much would it cost?

Michael Mente:                 I think we’ve developed a way where our methodology is we can do it on different scales. So, over the course of the last year, probably the smallest one may have been, maybe five or six. The biggest one would be a month in the Hamptons with maybe seventy, every weekend for four weeks, and there’ll be maybe twelve influencers per weekend. We’ve developed a way where it’s scalable, where we don’t have to do a month-long thing. Where we can do a three or four day event.

So, I think that’s also the benefit. We’ve been able to figure out the nuances of that. And each time there’s core principles, but then there’s a lot of things that are completely different.

Lewis Howes:                       Some people you’re paying, other people are getting just swag and they’re getting their trip paid for and it depends on the level of person it is.

Michael Mente:                 It’s a total, total range, it really depends on the people, the people that we work with will literally be the biggest fashion influencers on the planet, or sometimes on one of the trips it will be like someone who’s been working with us for many, many years, is literally .01% of that person, but still…

Lewis Howes:                       Up and coming, building into the community.

Michael Mente:                 Exactly, so there’s a whole range of people, so it’s the entire spectrum. But really it’s just, for us, it’s so cool in that the concept of just living your best life, it’s also this combination of, “What do we think is awesome,” because it’s probably going to relevant to them and it’s going to be relevant to our consumer.

The mistake we always used to do was, “What would other companies do?” and then when we looked in the mirror and we were, like, “What do we really want to do?” and we started, like, “Oh! Maybe we should go here and do that, and maybe we should go to Croatia for the summer and do this,” and we’re like, “Okay, let’s try it out.” And we built up some successes and it worked awesome! So now we’re, like, “Okay, what else do we want to do?”

I think it is the combination of showing people a genuinely good time. I think that when you see the photo’s, there is just a sense of fun and people really enjoying themselves. And I believe it’s because people really are enjoying themselves. And it shows. The visual imagery of course is an important part of it. It wouldn’t be as exciting if it was mixing in or going to Shake Shack, but having a really beautiful, aspirational but still accessible kind of lifestyle that’s genuinely fun.

And I think, ultimately, the way I look back to it, and of course this is different for everyone’s brand, but I think what we sell is a premium aspirational product that’s still accessible. Something that you aspire towards and you crave, but also something that’s still inclusive, that a large portion of the market can really afford and this type of product is meant for being social in the sense that we sell all apparel categories, but really it’s the feeling you get when, as a dude whether it’s hanging out with your friends or going out to a party, or you’re going to a business event, you put on your nice shirt or jacket and you feel good. Or you’re even just going to the gym and you have nice gym clothes, and you’re, “I’m ready to workout!”

And I think that’s the kind of feeling of fun and socialising that we try to capture with a broad market. That’s what our brand is about.

Lewis Howes:                       That’s great. Now, if you’re, you know there’s a lot of entrepreneurs that do listen and for those that haven’t tapped into influencer marketing, or celebrity marketing, yet, but they want to tap into it. Maybe they don’t have these massive budgets, but they’ve got a little bit of money to spend, and they may be in fashion or some other type of business, it doesn’t matter, any type of brand.

How would you suggest is a good way to start approaching influencers and celebrities in order to get them to promote their brand, or be a part of their brand? Is it through, because, you know, I get sent swag all the time, and I just throw it away. So what’s the creative way that you think works for you guys, that any brand, small or big, could use as reaching out to potential influencers. And that can enhance relationships, because you’ve done an amazing job at keeping the relationships too, right? And sustaining those relationships.

Michael Mente:                 Yeah. That’s a big part of it, that’s an important part, but in this day and age, it’s easy to actually contact them, whether it’s DM or LinkedIn or whatever you want to do. So, it’s easier to establish that, but I think it’s, like, one, there’s a whole range of influencers from super mega to micro and local, that are powerful in their own ways, so I think it’s, first, finding the influencers that truly resonate with the brand. Understanding what your brand is about and then finding the people that really represent that. I think that has to be real.

It’s not just, the bigger the better, the more numbers the better. Of course that’s relevant, but at the same time, as you said, we all have budgets so we can’t just work with the biggest and the best. There’s plenty of people that I would love to work with, but I just feel like it would be financially irresponsible to do so. So, I think, finding the influencers…

Lewis Howes:                       Like Kim Kardashian might be way too much for your cost.

Michael Mente:                 Yeah, so you can do it, it’s possible, I’m sure a lot of us can do it, but is it going to make sense? Does she really represent the brand in the right way? Maybe that makes sense for some brands, where her personal brand is in complete alignment with the brand, but I think that has to be there.

And then just approaching people as genuine fans. People that we work with, we really respect and admire. There’s people that we don’t work with because they’re just not necessarily the type of people that we want to work with, but the people that we work with are people that we’re genuine fans of as well. And I think that will come across as important, that what they’re doing mirrors and reflects and is in line with what we’re trying to do, and finding those right people.

And I think that sense of up-frontness of attempting to work and professionalism with that genuineness of, “I’m really a fan of what you do. I think we can do something awesome together,” and also thinking long term, where it’s not just “one and done, can you tag me or can you do this?” but like, “How can we work together in mutually beneficial ways?” I think that’s an important thing.

Lewis Howes:                       What can you offer them?

Michael Mente:                 Yes! That’s the core of business, where you’re building greater than the parts, together you guys are more powerful than you guys are alone, you know, the influencer and the brand, or business partners, or whatever. I think that’s something to always keep in mind as well. How can you support them? And if the brand alignment is there, if the brand and product or service is in line with the influencer, then it should be quite clear that both can build together.

Lewis Howes:                       Sure, and I’m making an assumption here, and you can tell me if I’m wrong, but I’m assuming you can reach out to them and say, “Hey, we’d love to do a free photoshoot or videoshoot of your lifestyle. Just you and your day, and we’re happy to give you some of the clothes or we can just give you some great photo’s that you can use.”? It might be something that you do, I’m not even sure.

Michael Mente:                 We’re totally on that level. Especially when it’s very scrappy and bootstrap days, that’s exactly how we would approach things, where we don’t really have a budget, especially with the first experiment. I think, when we did actually first start working with influencers it was zero budget. We were like, “We can’t allocate money to this, because this could be completely wasted.” So it was, like, how do we do it in ways that are effective that could give us the conviction to put money behind it? It was done in a very organic, low budget, person to person connection, how can we build together.

Lewis Howes:                       That’s cool. So now you’re reaching out personally to these influencers? Or is it other people on your team that are reaching out.

Michael Mente:                 At this point now, it’s a lot of other people, I think there’s some loose numbers, I think over the past year we may have worked with around 5,000, so it’s become a little more process and system oriented now.

Lewis Howes:                       Because you can’t do that all day yourself, yeah.

Michael Mente:                 Exactly, but a lot of, majority, if not all of the people we work with that are the most established people and the most powerful people, are genuine personal relationships that we’ve developed over the years. Like I just ran into someone, and I’m friends with his sister, and we’ll spend time and do running together or whatever it may be. We’re friends and have relationships outside [of work].

Lewis Howes:                       That’s great. Now, so much has evolved in your business and the industry, where you were just selling other people’s clothes for the first, however many years, till you decided to do your own brand, right? You started to hire your own designers in-house, manufacture, create your own brands. Now you have thirteen, I think you said.

What’s the challenge been, I guess since 2012 there’s been, it seems like, thousands of new brands. It almost seems like there’s a thousand new brands every year that come out in fashion. Maybe I’m wrong here, but it just seems like tons of new brands, and then every influencer now wants to have their own brand.

So how do you deal with that competition? Is that a challenge, where maybe some of the influencers you’ve been working with, and sponsoring or helping out, now are, and I’m assuming some of them have their own legging lines, or whatever, their own brands, is that right?

Michael Mente:                 Definitely.

Lewis Howes:                       How do you manage that when these influencers are now, like, “You know what? I’d rather not promote you any more because I got my own brand.”? What’s that like?

Michael Mente:                 I think it’s dynamic and every situation is unique. No doubt there are so many brands coming out, and it seems like across, in the fashion industry, but across everywhere, I think everything is so much more accessible and manufacturing isn’t as challenging as it was twenty years ago, it’s a little bit more commodified. So, I think it levels the playing field, which is amazing in many ways.

Why we’re able to create our own brand so powerfully is that we have the competitive advantage, we have a lot of data. We can see that, “Oh, wow, people are really rapidly clicking on this category and we don’t have a good selection here. Let’s go make some stuff.” So, it’s not really like what the designer and the human creative is just like, “I want to do this,” it’s data and opportunity, then layered in with someone who can interpret that very well. So, that’s why we’re able to launch these brands.

Lewis Howes:                       So, you’re doing the same thing you did in 2003? You’re finding out what’s the data, what’s the opportunity, what do people want, and then you’re selling them that.

Michael Mente:                 Pretty much, yes. You’re right, and I actually didn’t put that together, but the core principle is exactly the same.

Lewis Howes:                       When people wanted premium denim then, you found the right partner and now it’s like, “Oh. They want this now. Let’s go create it.”

Michael Mente:                 Exactly. And now there’s a more nuance version of, let’s say, denim, where people people want a specific type of denim and we knew it so then we created it, and it’s been great. I didn’t really put that parallel there, but yeah, all we’re doing is really just listening to the consumer and trying to understand and give them what they want.

Lewis Howes:                       What’s the biggest challenge for you right now, that you face? Is it all the competition? Is it just that there’s so many brands out there? Is it that influencers are now starting their own thing and they’re taking their audience with them? Is it just scaling? What’s the challenge for you?

Michael Mente:                 I think the real thing is that, and this hasn’t always been the case, but I think that right now we’re in a position where, in times past I always would identify, “This is a gap that we need to fill,” in times past it was. We were always good at influencer marketing so we had to figure this out. Before we had no clue about how to make clothes, so we had to figure it out.

And I feel like we’re able to layer all these stacks of different competencies and I think that now the challenge is making sure they all work together and are able to grow and scale together at the same time. It’s a different type of challenge and think that’s why I get so, I’m still so excited about everything, because now that, you know, as soon as you figure something out there’s a new challenge, and it’s always opportunity for growth.

We’re blessed with a lot of opportunities, so really coordinating everyone as no longer a scrappy startup entrepreneur, now it’s more like a larger company, CEO kind of responsibilities of management and training and culture and integration, I think. But it’s fun, because my team is awesome! And I think there’s a lot of culture, there’s a lot of camaraderie and there’s not a lot of cattiness and infighting and politics. It’s like everyone is focussed and everyone enjoys working with each other, so it’s like a high functioning sports team and we’re all in it together and rolling. So, it’s challenging, but fun.

Lewis Howes:                       That’s great. How many employees do you have?

Michael Mente:                 I actually just got an employee yesterday, so I think 749.

Lewis Howes:                       Amazing! And how have you evolved into, again, [from] being an entrepreneur by yourself, to now running an organisation with that many employees? What could I take from you?

Michael Mente:                 You know, that’s the other benefit. The fact that I have been doing this for fourteen, fifteen years, I have had the luxury of time to grow. It wasn’t like overnight whole world changes, or one year later the company explodes and I’m in a totally different space. It’s been this steady, long journey.

So, before, it was really, roll up your sleeves, figure out the process, figure out how to do the work, do a lot of it yourself, and then build the process and get other people to do it and make it scalable. And then, I’ve had to do that, and my partner and I have had to do that in different areas of our time. Where first it was website design and buying, and then later on it became more the planning aspect of things, and digital marketing. Then later on it ended up being brand marketing and later on it ended up being manufacturing clothes.

So, for me, building the different aspects and components of the organisation took a lot of time, and now I do feel that the team is good, all the positions I need are there. There’s a few things that we’re layering in, and now it’s just like this orchestra of everyone working together, rather than just chaotic.

Lewis Howes:                       Right, exactly! Well, who would you say was the most influential person in your life, growing up? Someone who made you who you are today?

Michael Mente:                 Early on, my dad was definitely influential on me, in a different way, in that the Asian kind of household…

Lewis Howes:                       So you grew up in Malaysia, is that right?

Michael Mente:                 I was born in Malaysia, but grew up out over here. And I think, in the Asian, at least, in the cultures I grew up, it was a little bit like a stoic mask. It was really not “share your emotions”. So it wasn’t really through communication or traditional teaching, but my dad…

Lewis Howes:                       Showing affection and communicating your affection, and things like that.

Michael Mente:                 Yeah, and really teaching a specific lesson, but what he really showed me hands down was hard work. And it was just work ethic. And that was one thing that I knew was this responsibility and I’m happy to see that role model. It was like, “Times were tough, and the only job was in Santa Barbara, so we got to commute to Santa Barbara,” and then work and then, “Times are tough, but you still have to work on the weekends, so just work on the weekends and just keep level, and just do what you got to do.”

So I think that really resonated, I really internalised that, and I think that, till this day, that really influenced the person I have grown up to be. And you know, actually, I don’t know if I’ve ever told him that. I hope he listens and hears that.

Lewis Howes:                       Yeah, tell it to him. And what about your mom? What’s the biggest lesson she taught you?

Michael Mente:                 I think she really was able to teach me, not so much lessons, but her skill was really listening and really understanding people. She is the type of person that will talk a lot, but is also always able to develop a lot of relationships with people, in terms of having that empathy and understanding where they’re coming from and how you can help people out and why people are acting a certain way and how do you build. And so I think those two things together, or blended, are kind of like the foundation of why I’m able to grow and succeed.

Lewis Howes:                       For sure. What do think it’s going to have to take from you to still learn, in order for you to take your business to where you want it to be?

Michael Mente:                 What do you mean by that?

Lewis Howes:                       What do you still need to learn, or what lesson do you need to take on, or what do you need to let go of, within yourself, in order for you to take your business to the next level you want it to be at?

Michael Mente:                 Well, I think the one thing that, very recently, I started to focus on, is, that work ethic aspect was always there and it is there, but it’s also balancing that. You can’t be at 10 all the time, and you can’t push everyone to be at 10 all the time. I don’t think it’s capable for us to succeed in the next level by everyone just outworking everyone. In the earlier days I felt like you could do that. It’s essential. That was the core competency on day one, we were two guys with nothing to do but work all day and all the energy in the world.

But now, to get to that next level, you can’t be like that. You know, our teams are happy, well, I don’t know if they’re happy, but our teams are committed, that when it’s time to go, it’s go-time, and everyone looks back and, “We’re going to do this!” and it’s a real sense of, “We’re doing this together.” I’m trying to now, at this point, really minimise those times when everybody has to be buckled down and duke it out and really slog through the challenges.

I think, now it’s really like, “What’s the elegant, simple way for us to accomplish the goal without burning out the team and challenging everyone and having to push everyone to succeed just on that sheer willpower,” I think that’s going to be, “How do we succeed and achieve even greater results, but in an elegant fluid way that’s smoother and more enjoyable for all of us?” because if it’s not enjoyable, what’s the point.

Lewis Howes:                       Yeah, I like that! In a world where it seems like every entrepreneur wants to start a company and then sell it within three to five years, how have you been consistently excited about your business for fifteen years? When it seems like you’re kind of like an old business now, if you’re around for fifteen years and you didn’t sell yet, right? So how have you stayed, and what’s your advice, as well, how have you stayed inspired every year? And what’s your advice to younger entrepreneurs who are like, “I just want to build this and sell it in three years.”?

Michael Mente:                 I don’t know. I think there’s a number of different things, I think it’s really complex. I think one thing for me is that the people on our team, through and through, the people I work with directly, or the people I continue to meet in the organisation, there’s a culture that resonates, and I really enjoy it. I can’t imagine not working with these people. That’s something there.

Also, from a business perspective, we’ve always been fans of the long term, and I think ultimately, when you’re focussed on the long term, when you’re executing in the present, I think that’s when the big, magical results can happen. I thing that was something that we, my parter and I, from day one, and it’s interesting, we were like, twenty-two, twenty-three and it was like, “Let’s build a business we want to own forever.”

When you want to own it forever, if you ever change your mind, it’s going to be very valuable, versus trying to build a business that you’re trying to sell. What if the people you are trying to sell it to aren’t interested, or if the world changes? I think, honestly, that was influenced by us coming into the work force in the entrepreneurial kind of community in the first recession, in 2000/2001. We were in that world where everyone was trying to build his company to sell it to so-and-so, to do so-and-so, and it was really a short-sighted kind of play, and if you can’t do that and you can’t go there, and the world changes, then you end up with nothing.

Lewis Howes:                       The business collapses. You get burnt out, you’re bored or whatever.

Michael Mente:                 Yeah, exactly! Yeah, or the potential aquirers, which you have no control of, their business may evolve. So, with us, we always had that long term mentality, and to this day, I think, one of the rare ones who said, “I think I want to do this forever.” I think we’re also just so lucky that the opportunities keep coming and coming, and I think there’s a wealth of opportunities that we can pursue and it’s our responsibility to stay focussed on what we have to do, but I could definitely see myself doing this forever, as long as the opportunities for growth are still there.

Lewis Howes:                       Sure. I like it man. So what advice would you give to young entrepreneurs who want to start their own thing? What advice would you say to them? Is there any principles you would say? Is it to build something to hold onto forever? It is that you would want to? What else would you offer advice to?

Michael Mente:                 I think there’s so many different ways, and I think that it’s ultimately understanding what you want to do. Because I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with building a business that you want to sell, you know what I mean? Certain types of businesses and opportunities may be ripe for that, and I think that might be really supported in certain zones.

So, I think that aligning what your goals are with what the market opportunity is and making sure that those go together, whether it could be starting the awesome doughnut/coffee shop that’s really awesome and you’re into customers, was that success to you? Or do you have to scale it to be 500 locations? Nothing wrong with either of those, but it’s understanding that and then ensuring that the opportunities out there really make sense.

Lewis Howes:                       Sure, sure. I like it, man. This is called, The Three Truths.

Michael Mente:                 Uh-oh!

Lewis Howes:                       We’re getting to the final questions right now. This is The Three Truths, and this is: If it’s the end of the day for you, many years from now, you’ve done everything you want to do in your life. You’ve built the business you wanted to be, you’ve achieved everything, you’ve made your parents proud for achieving what they want you to do, because I know that’s important, to the Asian community, right?

Michael Mente:                 Of course!

Lewis Howes:                       You’ve done all those things. But for whatever reason, it’s all erased. Everything is gone. All the interviews you’ve done, the content you put out there is gone, so people don’t have your information, your words any more. You got a piece of paper and a pen to write down three things you know to be true. The three lessons you’ve learned from your life that you would pass on to other people and this is all they would have to remember you and your information by. What would you say are those three lessons or three truths?

Michael Mente:                 Ah. That’s a challenge! I wish I was more prepared here. Well, I think one thing, for me, that’s important is, we’re always so metric focussed, myself, no doubt. But ultimately the human aspect of things is super important, so it’s not just the business that we built and the numbers that we achieved, which is something I think about every day, but it’s also, who I did it with and how they were uplifted and benefited.

I think that’s super important, to me and to the way we go about business, is that it’s all of us doing this together. Everyone whose who’s committed to what we are doing, we’re committed to their lives and their happiness, and that’s something I’m extremely proud of in our company, so it’s not just what we did, but it’s also who did I do it with and how did they benefit.

Lewis Howes:                       Yeah, that’s great. So, that’s number one?

Michael Mente:                 Yes.

Lewis Howes:                       Okay, what’s the next two?

Michael Mente:                 The other one, I think, is maybe a little bit newer lesson for me, is that you don’t have to sacrifice your personal life and your health for your professional career. And I think that’s something I see a lot of people doing. I’ve been the guiltiest of it at so many different times, whether it’s not being able to be in a good relationship because it’s so secondary to the professional, or sometimes neglecting health, because the professional career takes precedence.

It all goes together. I think there’s a harmony when all three of those aspects come together and that’s when a healthier, happier life really comes together, when you’re healthy, you have great relationships and you have a thriving professional career. There’s no priorities, it’s all one. I learned that one the hard way.

Lewis Howes:                       Yeah, after twelve years of slogging it out, yeah. Okay, that’s number two, and the third truth? Or lesson?

Michael Mente:                 The third truth or lesson… I think this is somewhat related to the second point, and this is something that I’m trying to pay a lot more attention to, is that the hard work and the grind and that effort, there is obviously huge value to that, but at some point that’s not the goal, and actually enjoying it is, and this is super cliché, but enjoying the work, enjoying everything, is more important than achieving it. It’s no point if we build a business that this big, or whatever, how many billions of dollars, if I didn’t enjoy the process of building it, then it was rather pointless. And, you know, super cliché, but also challenging to really internalise it. That’s a personal challenge, I think.

For me, this year was a very challenging year in terms of professional challenges. It was a very successful year in terms of the metrics, the goals that we’ve achieved, but other aspects I didn’t do as good of a job in them. I really was a little bit too intense and focussed, which detracted from my ability to enjoy it, and looking back, it should have been a more fun year. Looking back I feel like I wasn’t really fully present to really enjoy what a great year it was. I look back and remember the hard work and the struggle, which is important, but it should be mixed in with that enjoyment and fun.

So, that’s the goal this year: to maintain that intensity, but also enjoy it much, much more, and I think that’ something which goes back to that. It’s very similar to that balancing thing.

Lewis Howes:                       Yeah. What do you commit to creating then, every month, to ensure that you do that? How are you going to keep yourself accountable in that?

Michael Mente:                 It’s the balance. I think in terms of prioritising and ensuring health, and it’s also working out and eating well. You know, the super fundamental basics. Investing more into personal life. I think it’s easy for me to just work and not, as a single guy, just not put as much energy to nurture that aspect of life.

And really make a little bit more, or better planning. I could plan work and I have plans that go out many years and things, but I’m bad about planning, like, “How am I going to enjoy this weekend?” Or, “Can I get my friends together to go on a vacation in three months?” Those are the things that are always the best moments. I look back, and those are the things that are my favourite times, when you’re travelling with your friends, but at the same time, I don’t even put that much energy to make those moments happen. So, I think that’s another thing that I’ll try to do a lot better.

Lewis Howes:                       That’s great, man. Where can we connect with you online, personally? Where do you like to hang out?

Michael Mente:                 I’m probably more Instagram, so @mmente, you can find me there. Drop by to say hello, I’m always excited to hear from everybody, and of course, if you’re into women’s clothing and men’s clothing, we have revolve.com is, as you know, the main business and we actually have a designer business, higher end designers, F.W.R.D dot com, fwrd.com as well, where our men’s selection is. Lewis, you got to check it out.

Lewis Howes:                       F.W.R.D dot com is the men’s stuff.

Michael Mente:                 Yeah, it’s men’s and women’s, but the men’s selection is real good over there.

Lewis Howes:                       It’s not on Revolve?

Michael Mente:                 There’s some stuff, but FWRD is really, you know, it’s got the good stuff.

Lewis Howes:                       Allright! I’m going there and picking up some stuff tonight.

Michael Mente:                 Perfect!

Lewis Howes:                       Awesome! Now, before I ask the final question, Michael, I want to acknowledge you for everything you’ve built over the last fifteen years, and your ability to be aware and recognise the things that you struggle with. I think there’s a lot of people, when they build something that big, they lose themselves and they forget to take care of their health and their personal relationships.

So for your clarity and awareness around the importance of humans in your team, the importance of humans in your life, and your health, is a great reminder for all of us. So, I want to acknowledge you for that, and all you’ve done to inspire people. You’ve done a great job! Yeah, man!

Michael Mente:                 Thank you so much. Thank you for everything, we’ve all, you know, I have a big group of friends and we all help each other, and you work here, the books and podcasts, we’ve all learned so much from, and I think a lot of the things that we mentioned, I feel was because you think about it in a similar way.

There’s very few sources where I can be inspired and where I can learn about health, relationships and business. There’s a lot of business, but it’s treated separately, but I think I’ve learned so many times from you, and my own experience, that the same things that make us weak in our personal life also are the same things that make us weak in our professional life.

And I think integrating those lessons learned are things that I’ve really started to see, as I get older versus, it’s usually compartmentalised. And I see a lot of that from you and I see that from the books. I see a lot of the challenges with masks, it’s in your personal life, it’s in you professional life, in different ways. So, I’ve learned so much from you, so honoured and happy to be here. Thank you so much.

Lewis Howes:                       Appreciate it, of course. We’ve got one final question, then we’ll let you go, and that’s: What’s your definition of greatness?

Michael Mente:                 I think greatness comes from happiness and happiness comes from making other people happy, and ultimately being your authentic self. And appreciating and being happy with the person you are and the life that you have in front of you.

Lewis Howes:                       There you go. Michael Mente. Appreciate it.

Michael Mente:                 Thank you, man! It’s been awesome! Thanks so much!

Lewis Howes:                       This was great!

Ah, the movement of greatness is strong! And I continue to be inspired by all the people we bring on here. If you guys are inspired by this episode, let me know. Take a screenshot right now and tag me on your Instagram story, @lewishowes. The link for this to let your friends know is lewishowes.com/583. Again, you can share it out on Twitter, on Facebook, Instagram, just tag me and let me know so I can respond back to you and we can have a conversation over on social media.

The full show notes and all the things we covered and talked about, the quotes from Michael, the video, is back at lewishowes.com/583. Share it with your friends, we’ve got to get this message out there. We’ve got to let other people know that they can have that inspiration, the tools, the strategy to help them grow their business, help them grow and launch their ideas, and live a bigger, better life.

Again, it means the world to me that you guys continue to show up each and every week to support The School of Greatness. And my only request is that you implement and take action on at least one idea each time, to improve your own life, your own business, your health, whatever the subject we’re taking about, that you implement it in your life, and then you share it with your friend and let them know how it impacted you and how it supported your life.

That’s how we continue to grow this message, is by you guys taking action, seeing big results and then letting your friends know. Again, this is a free podcast. So, again, thank you for all of your support and the link is lewishowes.com/583. For all the full show notes, the resources, the talking points, the video interview, all that good stuff.

And I want to give a big thank you and shout out to designcrowd.com/greatness. Again, I can’t emphasise enough the importance of quality design. The challenge is, hiring an agency for $20,000 a month, sometimes we can’t all afford, but designcrowd.com/greatness is a great way to get started with a logo, with social media graphics, with a book cover, something like that to get you started where you can still have great design at an affordable price. Go to designcrowd.com/greatness for a special $100 VIP offer for our listeners. Again, designcrowd.com/greatness.

And also Shopify. Again, I love shopify.com/greatness. You can start your free, thirty-day trial there right now. Again, shopify.com/greatness. It’s so important to make buying your products easy for people online. If it’s challenging or hard to figure out, then people aren’t going to buy from you; shopify.com/greatness has a powerful back-end that gives me all the stats. Where all my visitors are coming from, where people are converting from, what I need to do to optimise my sales, when people do buy, if they’ve been fulfilled, if they haven’t been fulfilled.

It’s a powerful, all-in-one solution, guys, and I highly recommend checking it out. If you’re trying to sell a fitness course, from merchandise, to Tee-shirts, to physical products, it doesn’t matter, you can do it all at shopify.com/greatness. Check it out right now and let me know what you’re working on, because I’d love to see it myself.

And Doug Ellis said, “If your business comes from relationships, then relationships should be your business.” I want you to evaluate the relationships in your life. How are you serving people? How are you giving to them? Or are you a one-sided transaction? Are you only looking for things to get out of relationships, as opposed to give.

Relationships are going to be the key to making this year great for you. In your personal life and in your business. It’s all about relationships, everything we do is relationships. So, I hope you guys are optimising the ones you’re in, and adding new people in your life who can support your vision, that you can support as well.

I love you so very much, and as always, you know what time it is: It’s time to go out there and do something great!

Music Credits:

Sunset by Canvai

Next Galaxy by Extan

We were Infinite by Inukshuk

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