You can’t overthink things. If you sit there and think about the situation and don’t just go take action, you aren’t going to get out of it; it will overtake you. If you say ‘I need a week to rethink’ when a major deal falls through, everything would compound. You have to think, ‘what is the action I can take right now to fix this.’
I had the pleasure of interviewing Judge Graham. Judge served as the Chief Marketing & New Business Officer of Ansira, the second-largest independently owned CRM and digital marketing agency in the USA, and was a part of the core deal team and instrumental in selling Ansira to Advent International in 2016. Prior to joining Ansira, Judge was the former Co-Owner and President of Sq1, which he sold to Ansira in 2015. He was also the former Co-Owner and President of Rassai Interactive. He has helped hundreds of small and Fortune 500 companies to focus on growth and the ability to identify and capitalize on opportunities to improve revenue and corner markets through integration of cutting-edge positioning, culture, technology and sales.
Thank you so much for joining us, Judge! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
I served as the Chief Marketing & New Business Officer of Ansira, the second-largest independently owned CRM and digital marketing agency in the USA, and was a part of the core deal team and instrumental in selling Ansira to Advent International in 2016. Prior to joining Ansira, I was the former Co-Owner and President of Sq1, which I sold to Ansira in 2015. I was also the former Co-Owner and President of Rassai Interactive. Through my company JudgeGraham.com, I’ve helped hundreds of small and Fortune 500 companies to focus on growth and the ability to identify and capitalize on opportunities to improve revenue and corner markets through integration of cutting-edge positioning, culture, technology and sales.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I was less than two weeks out from selling my first company; it was a high eight-figure transaction, the first time I was coming across that kind of money. At this point, I had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on deal costs.
One of my clients at the time accounted for 34% of my customer concentration and had bi-monthly 6:30 am breakfast meetings, which my partner and I switched off running. I was in the shower that morning, planning out everything I was going to do with my new money, what I was going to splurge on, buy my parents, in-laws, kids and get out to a call from my partner, who was known for being a jokester, who tells me this client has just fired us. I was sure he was messing with me. He was not.
Obviously, the deal was off. They said it was too risky, even if they tried to recut the whole deal.
I let myself cry in a corner for ten minutes, then came back had to come back and explain to the leadership team why they would no longer be making the money they were promised. Even more difficult, we had to let go of the 35 people who worked on that account.
I didn’t let this keep us down. Six months later, we replaced that account and then some, and learned our lesson and diversified our clients, no matter how big our company may get, so we were never dependent on one account again. The original company ended up buying us but this time at a higher price.
Another big lesson I took from this was that never feel like anything is guaranteed because the second you let your guard down you get soft and you will lose and will be punished; the bigger you get, the harder the punishment.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
My company BurnTheShips.com is a one of a kind brand, it doesn’t exist anywhere else. There is nowhere else to go where you can get sound strategy and statistics from people who have built and sold nine-figure businesses and are committed to teaching entrepreneurs mistakes to avoid and the road map to success.
We have numerous stories from those who have turned their companies around with our advice. Some of the feedback we’ve received from customers are they trusted our counsel and were able to double their revenue and have fun while doing it. The success stories are why we do it; they aren’t learning these proven strategies and tactics elsewhere so our goal is to educate and help other entrepreneurs.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I’ve been lucky to have two solid people in my life that without I wouldn’t be as successful as I am today.
The first person is my former business partner, Ernesto Rocco Capobianco. He was my mentor and was well established in the industry when I first began working with him. He has a special talent of understanding people’s weaknesses and strengths and empowering them to do their best. His belief in me is what made me who I am today. He gave me the responsibility of being a part of his company with the promise of future equity because he knew I would build up his brand with him. His faith encouraged me to work my hardest, I never would give him the opportunity to prove him wrong.
The other person who has been instrumental in my career is my wife, Jordan. I owe her everything. I strongly believe you can’t be truly successful unless you are aligned with your partner. She supported me during my lowest times. We’ve been through it all together, from bankruptcy to huge success. Without her keeping our lives together through it all, I’m not sure where I would be.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Resilience is the ability to quickly recover from whatever the lowest low for that individual is, and be able to gather themselves together and get back out there and fight. Resilient people do not accept defeat. 99% of people would not be able to bounce back with confidence after losing out a huge deal and a major client firing you on the same day. It’s about beating the odds, every time you get the chance to give up, you have to say not today and keep giving it more than you did before.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
Steve Jobs is the first person who pops into my mind when I think of resilience. Apple was failing but he was committed to the vision he had. People laughed at him, told him his company was going to fail. He was constantly being compared to Microsoft but he was steadfast on believing in his product and himself and just kept going.
Others also include Michael Jordan and Oprah Winfrey. Both failed in their respective fields initially but today are the biggest names in their industries. If they gave up, imagine how different the world would be today.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
I had a lot of friends that did not support me. They laughed at me and gave me a hard time for turning down good jobs. Told me often to just give up and take one of the job offers and stop wasting time. I lost a lot of friends along the way. It hurt when people I admired told me to just give up after my first company failed, letting me know I am done for and don’t have it in me to run and build a business.
Never take advice or counsel from someone who hasn’t achieved more than you. We get so caught up with listening to people and their opinions but in reality, they aren’t playing the same game as you, but are happy to speculate and comment. They keep laughing, but I’m going to keep doing me.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
In 2011 I had to declare bankruptcy. What made it even more difficult was my wife had to sign the bankruptcy papers while delivering our son. Her support made it possible to get through it and I bounced back even stronger than I was before.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
My parents were super hard-working people. I can’t remember a time when they didn’t have at least one or two side jobs on top of their full-time jobs. Growing up in that environment where I was also super loved and supportive, their work ethic was contagious. My weekends as a kid weren’t typical. You could find me in the garage with my mom making t-shirts, on-site helping her decorate for high school proms or assisting my dad while he wrote mortgage policies. I was always helping my parents and coming with them to one of their jobs or another.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
- You have to have real experience before you can understand resilience. You must have a supportive tribe and surround yourself with encouraging and supportive people. Those who can’t bounce back often don’t have the right people in their lives. It’s all about your environment.
- You have to believe in yourself first. If you don’t have confidence in yourself to be great, then it is never going to happen. You must be comfortable with yourself, and this is not an ego thing.
- Have to know your craft, to be resilient at anything. Let’s say you get cut from the dance team or football or business, you have to step back and say why did this happen, and take ownership or your mistakes. You can’t win at the highest level until you understand what went wrong.
- You can’t overthink things. If you sit there and think about the situation and don’t just go take action, you aren’t going to get out of it; it will overtake you. If you say ‘I need a week to rethink’ when a major deal falls through, everything would compound. You have to think, ‘what is the action I can take right now to fix this.’
- Have thick skin. You can’t take it personally and always remember ‘haters are going to hate.’
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would like to inspire people to comprehend the importance of compressing time. We are here for such a short period of time and once and you understand the game and you learn how to make things move faster; you can stop sweating the small things. It allows you to make money faster and get more time with your family and other important parts of life. The biggest commodity we have is time and you can’t buy it and you can’t have more of it.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
I greatly admire fellow Fort/Worth/Dallas resident Mark Cuban and would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with. I believe we have similar business philosophy and love how he operates his businesses. Also, go Mavericks!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
“5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient”, with Judge Graham and Fotis Georgiadis was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.