Meet The Disruptors: Jim Stevens Of M3 Commercial Moving & Logistics On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry
An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Win or Learn. I’m a competitive guy — and I hold myself and my team to the highest standards. We’ve adapted a mindset that we are either winning or learning and it’s magically shifted our mindset to find positives in everything regardless of the outcome.
As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jim Stevens.
Jim Stevens is the 37-year-old Vice President (and Managing Partner) of M3 Commercial Moving & Logistics located in Phoenix, AZ. Jim helped launch M3, Muscular Moving Men & Storage’s sister division and started in this role on February 11, 2019 — he’s served just about three years in this capacity and 20 total in the moving industry. Jim graduated with a BS in Marketing from Lehigh University and is a proud Army brat, father of three with one on the way, and husband to an incredible wife, Chantel.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
Sure can. If you told me 20 years ago when I started in the moving industry that I would still be here I would have laughed it off. But I’ll never forget my old operations manager at the first moving company I worked with telling me a few weeks in, “Once you get into the moving industry you never leave.”
I was a passionate soccer player who dreamt of making a living playing the game I loved. While I had a successful collegiate career at Lehigh University and played in the minor leagues, I didn’t have the talent to succeed at the highest level. I worked on the trucks in college and in almost every role a moving company employs (Operations, Project Management, Warehouse, HR, Sales) before I had graduated. When I didn’t have any more opportunities to continue in soccer, I felt going into the industry I knew so much about would be a natural fit. And I loved how ever-changing and dynamic projects were.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
There are hundreds of moving companies in the state of Arizona and thousands around the country. Almost all of them are residential first moving companies. M3 is the only commercial only moving company that exists in AZ — that is, me and my team will NEVER set foot in a house. All day every day we are supporting business on the move and the challenges that come with it. We get calls every day to move houses but rely on our teammates with Muscular Moving Men, true residential moving experts, to assist them with their moves.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I started at the commercial division of one of the industry leading organizations in the country (JK Moving) back in 2008 I was hot off of six years in the industry and really thought I knew it all. I remember my mentor and one of the greatest contributors to commercial moving, Rocco Balsamo, first pulling me and a new colleague into the conference room to ask us questions about our experience. I didn’t know him yet. I have never lacked in confidence — and made sure I was forward in answering his questions with suave “even though I’m young I know it all candor”. By the end of the conversation, very directly and uncomfortably, he let me know I knew nothing about commercial moving and backed it up with some fascinating data and facts. I was embarrassed and to this day we laugh about it from time to time!
As funny as it is to look back on — it was a valuable lesson I learned early on that I have opportunities to learn every day — especially as technical as commercial moving is.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
Jim Stevens Sr. — my hero and father
Betty Stevens — my hero and mother
Chantel Stevens — my wife
Dean Koski — my college soccer coach
Rocco Balsamo — my sales mentor and business father
Vince Burruano — my leadership mentor
Bob Slevin — my business coach
My success is a byproduct of so many who have helped me along the way.
My father is someone who has taught me the value of family, hard work, honesty, and integrity.
My mother is someone who taught me the value of my faith, something that is more and more important to me as I get older.
When I met Chantel on September 25, 2009, she inspired me to channel my energy positively and focus on a future with her — and she’s also taught me how to deal with adversity and inevitable change.
My college Coach, Dean Koski, taught me about a winning mentality and the importance of developing a team to achieve your goals.
Pre 2016, I achieved enormous success early in my career and, at the same time, was the most un-emotionally intelligent person on the planet. My drive for success consumed me — and while I was enormously successful, my behaviors were cancerous to those I worked with. I was given a very direct ultimatum by my former company though I drove sales success. Get professional coaching and work on my behavior or I would be ushered out the door. I started working with an incredible coach, Bob Slevin, and also counted on additional mentorship by Rocco Balsamo and Vince Burruano. The coaching from Bob and assistance from Vince and Rocco changed my life and career trajectory and is a catalytic reason more success than I ever imagined has occurred — both personally and professionally.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
To be considered an industry disruptor for me is the ultimate compliment. And it’s an honor to be connecting with you about what we are doing because I’m constantly referring to our team as disruptors. I do think disruptors are good — they challenge the norm. In our industry it’s a norm that “if it moves, anyone can do it”. Our greatest salespeople are our competitors. So many assume because something moves, they can take on moving anything. And when you move a business there are so many variable components to performing at a high level. Moving businesses are not “cookie cutter” like moving a residence is. And I don’t mean any disrespect by saying the words “cookie cutter” — I see how hard our teammates at Muscular Moving Men work as residential experts and the services they perform, like so many of our industry peers, is not only essential but great. But our business is exploding because we are different. And I don’t need to tell people that we are, they evaluate us compared to our competitors and experience it for themselves. I’m a huge believer in “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it” — one of Simon Sinek’s greatest quotes. The mission for any disruptor should be to provide exquisite value to the marketplace — and if we continue to do that our success will continue to come.
For me, if you are disrupting your industry and providing your buyers and/or employees/colleagues a better experience or overall product/service then it’s positive.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
- Win or Learn
I’m a competitive guy — and I hold myself and my team to the highest standards. We’ve adapted a mindset that we are either winning or learning and it’s magically shifted our mindset to find positives in everything regardless of the outcome.
2. Play the infinite game.
I’m competing in my industry in a game that ever ends. There’s never going to be a “winner”. And that being the case, we need to be building processes that 1. Live on but are all subject to change and 2. Always be open to processes that increase efficiency and our clients’ experience. 3. I need to be an open book to others to assist them — as we can’t keep up with demand for our services. And if we can’t service everyone that wants to move forward with us, we need others to be able to take care of and service our clients’ needs. It’s infinite.
3. Your mission as a leader is to develop more leaders.
We are in a world in need of leaders more than ever. My goal is to build trust with those I’m working with so I can further positively impact their lives and turn them into better leaders. In my leadership journey, one of the biggest honors of my career was playing a part in helping a former teammate achieve success. Jennifer Villalobos and I worked together for about a year and a half and she went on to become a Phoenix Business Journal 40 under 40 — one of the best of the best under the age of 40. Jennifer Villalobos’ challenge as I’ve told her is not to thank me in her career journey, but for someday, 50 other people to look at her as a catalyst to her success. The more you move up in your leadership journey the BIGGER your servant’s towel needs to be. And the world will be a better place if that’s the case.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
We’ve launched a Junk Removal and Liquidation Division on a mission to be the first junk removal company that GUARANTEES donation of assets. Our Director of Junk Removal, Ethan Delahunty, and I are working on building partnerships with local charities and currently are donating about one tractor trailer load per month back to the community. It’s enough to furnish 6–10 apartments.
Next up, we want over 1,000,000 lbs. of excess assets annually avoiding landfills and be donated back to serve the community. It’s a hard road ahead, but we’re doing it because focusing on donating assets is neglected in our industry — and we want to scale doing it right.
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
“Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. The book made clear that any shortcomings, mistakes, or errors must be owned completely by leadership. And if you exude that it will resonate with your team and they, too, will take extreme ownership. We live in a society that points fingers. And it’s the form of leadership I am working harder than ever to exude every day.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Do or do not. There is no try.” You don’t need to try to make something happen. Try suggests doubt. And of course, in the art of doing it you’re putting forth effort! It’s just you’re changing your mindset to convince yourself that you can do it.
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 wish ALL companies, every single one, would create goals around community impact leveraging their own talents. I’m surprised talking to friends of large corporate entities that basically do nothing in the community. I recently asked one the question why and he replied, “because it’s not a requirement for our success”. It doesn’t take much, but if all organizations prioritized community outreach, even just a little, it would make a much bigger impact.
How can our readers follow you online?
Connect with me on LinkedIn.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Meet The Disruptors: Jim Stevens Of M3 Commercial Moving & Logistics On The Five Things You Need To… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.