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Starting a Business: How This Silicon Valley Employee Built a Business in 6 Months

Sean: Hey guys. Welcome back to the show here on Leadership Stack. Today, we have Mr. Jason Treu, and he’s a guy who graduated with a law degree and masters in communication. He spent some 15 years in Silicon Valley working with some of the brightest minds of our time. Like Steve jobs, Mark Cuban, Reed Hastings.

These are big names in the – in the tech industry and this guy learned from them, Jason learned from them, and now we’re learning from him. Jason, thank you so much for being in the show today.

Jason: Hey, it’s great to be here and to talk to you and your fantastic tribe during these crazy, like – In historic time.

Sean: It is a crazy time. And I just want to ask Jason, you are an executive coach and you have coached some Silicon Valley executive thought leaders. I just want to know why do you do what you do?

Jason: I love people and understanding human behavior. And I think that is really one of the biggest challenges for people.

It’s not the business per se. It’s the people part of it and working and getting the best out of people the most out of them and getting them to work together. And that’s a massive challenge. And I, for me, I love that part of the equation because it’s really hard. And it’s really rewarding when you can see a group, a team working together and really accomplishing great tasks and like doing great things together, and being a part of that.

So there’s a lot of rewarding aspects of seeing that other than just success, it’s the feeling like they’re connected, like they belong and you can just see the passion and motivation in them when that all happens. And so for me, that’s like what gets me up in the morning and gets me excited to do things such as this and only just have the conversations with other people.

Sean: I wonder what ha- what was your journey like? And graduating college, taking up your law degree, your master’s degree. And then finally, one day you just say, I want to do this. I want to coach people. This is, I think my calling or my purpose. What led to that? Can you share us about that journey?

Jason: Sure. I mean like anyone, who’s an entrepreneur, it’s a winded road full of, you know, ups and downs and sideways.

And when I was in. You know, law school. I thought I wanted to do crisis communications and work in a law firm and I thought that would be something good. So then I decided it would make sense to get my master’s in communications, because as I talked to lawyers who were doing this, I found out that the communications aspect of, and communicating it publicly was one of the biggest challenge for lawyers.

So it was like, okay, well I might as well get my masters because if this is what I want to do, I want to be great at what I do. And learn the challenges other people are happening because then I would rise to the top. Well, during my second year in law school, in the U S you go for three years. And so my second year I was essentially interviewing for internships and a lot of the lead to full-time jobs.

And so, you know, I was in New York city and I was entering, you know, interviewing at a lot of different law firms. And, you know, I talked to the last law school students who were a year or two ahead of me, and they asked like, what questions to ask what to expect. And then they sit at the end of the interview.

You should ask, you know, An easy question. So now, like looking back, the last question I asked was pretty naive, but at the time I thought, well, you know, it seemed like a good question. And so I asked people, are you happy? It seems like a really simple question to ask someone. But when I asked everyone from a partner to people that were just starting out, it was the answer.

They stumbled over and were challenged with the most in like almost every single interview that I did. And I don’t think I probably would’ve even noticed it if it wasn’t almost everyone and it happens so many times that it is stuck out in my mind because all of a sudden, I thought, well, why is it there’s so many people are having challenges with what seemed to be the simple and easy question.

And then I started to realize, you know, then, then it went off in my head, right? Well, maybe they’re not actually really happy. And then the next question came to me. Well, if they’re not really happy, what makes me think that and do what all these other people have been unable to do. And that was like a lightening ball moment, because I was like – that’s not a smart thing to do is, is to get all this data from all these people who have been there for, you know, 20, 30 years and then some in the beginning. And they’re all in similar places.

I want to have a job that I ultimately love and am passionate about. And through it, I think challenges with that. I need to rethink my own path and where I want to go.

And so then the other alternative that I really enjoyed was technology and that had really started to kick off. Right. And then towards the end of, you know, like the late nineties and I was like, well, if I’m going to do that, I want to go to Silicon Valley because you want to be where it’s at, and learn and be in that environment.

And then I also thought to myself, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do in technology. So I thought, all right, I’m going to go to a marketing agency that’s the best in Silicon Valley because I’ll have an opportunity to work with a lot of great organizations and learn, and then figure out kind of from there, how I want to architect m y career.

And so, you know, that was like the first stages and the things that I ended up doing.

Sean: From going into Silicon Valley and maybe you realize some things while you’re there. I want to know how that led to you deciding, okay, I’m going to be a coach and I’m going to be an executive coach, and this is what I’m going to be doing.

Jason: Yeah. I think it was over time. I realized the channel and it was. Is that it was really hard to find a culture and a team that I both loved and was successful. And that was really hard to do that. And so I went to some startups and they weren’t that successful. And then one of them went public and did well, but it was a challenge because I had a work remotely and it just felt pretty distant in the organization overall.

And then I ended up going to HP because I thought, well, I’d never worked inside of a super large company like that before. And I thought, well, that might be interesting. And then I found it was a lot of politics. And a lot of the other challenges that were really hard to ultimately manage. And I was like, I’m not, I didn’t really enjoy it.

And so I started to think to myself, like, okay, I love working with people and I love helping them. And I’m really good at that part of my job. Why, why couldn’t I do this on my own? Right. And so I decided to look at it in terms of like, well, where would I start? And I was really good on the relationship side.

So I actually started something that I don’t really do now, which is just helping people build relationships and like their social lives. I just thought, well, I have a full-time job. Why don’t I throw out a way to build relationships and help people? And if I could do that and I could sell that. I then know I can move and do it in a business setting.

And then I would just sort of iterate it and then go all in. So I found someone else who had a business, who I had met and I was like, well, if I develop all this stuff and give it to you, right. You’ll use our network and everything else. And we’ll just split everything 50-50. And I thought, well, that’s great.

Cause then my startup costs are zero. Right. And I could see how this could play out and that’s what I did. And then I tried that and the person really didn’t want to go in the direction I wanted to. And then I started to network with people, that were successful business people. And it was like, well, why don’t I try this out?

And get some people that were really high level and that were having some really big problems and see in six months how much I could help them and move the needle for them. And that would be the judge for myself. If like, this is something I want to do. And they went exceptionally well. And then I thought to myself, okay, well, why wouldn’t I want to try doing this full-time.?

And so it just started to evolve from there.

Sean: I want to rewind it a little bit and talk about your time in Silicon Valley. You say you have worked with some of the brightest minds in our time. I’m going to repeat the names – Steve Jobs, Mark Cuban, Reed Hastings. These are the thought leaders. I wonder, what did you do with them?

What did you learn from them? Can you tell us about that?

Jason: Yes,so we were doing marketing launches for them? And some of it was business strategy and right – of working. So Reed Hastings, who’s the current CEO of Netflix, right? I mean, this was back in the late or the early two thousands. And so they, I mean, Netflix is nowhere, obviously where they are now.

But back then they were at a lot of crossroads to figuring out what to do. Right. Blockbuster was in their way. Right. And they were trying to figure it out eventually how to become a movie studio and how to sort of move the business there. They had already been thinking that, but they didn’t know how, and it really wasn’t available to them.

But a lot of that was sitting down having these conversations to map out future directions at a business strategy at a marketing strategy level. And then, you know, with like Apple, it was, you know, Steve Jobs came back to better than an Apple and apple was not an anything. Right. I mean, they were a rinky dink company and like, they, like, they had no market share.

And so how do you create a product launches for new products to start to get momentum into build the company back to where it really once was, and to get people bought into all of that stuff. And a lot of the challenges were not just the marketing challenges. There were business challenges of how do you move to this market?

How do you create things that aren’t there and how do you sell them? Right. So a lot of these things were linked together with the things that I was doing, because a lot of the times when you’re working with a marketing agency, at least my, my time was, was that it was far more than just me helping them.

It was more like I was helping them a lot with their business model and how they were thinking about scaling and other challenges that we’re having as a whole. Right. And then, you know, go through that, you make your share of the mistakes and you see them as well. And then you learn a lot of this stuff.

And when you’re in –  you’re in like Silicon Valley, at that point, things were moving so fast. It was hard to really fully understand like what you’re a part of, because you don’t have any time to think. Because you’re working so much and you’re moving so fast that a lot of the times now it’s like I’ll be doing something and reflect upon something that I did then that I didn’t even realize I did, or even would have ever thought about because so many things happen so fast and removing all over the place so quickly.

The there wasn’t like time you were sitting back at night thinking, well, let me see how my day went. Right. I was going, you know, driving home or like eating and then going to sleep or seeing friends. And then all of a sudden, you know, you’re having to do to work or having to do something new the next day.

So it was a unique time to be in a place like that. And be around all these people and see all this innovation happening right before your eyes and be a part of it. But the time you didn’t really know, because most of the stuff you didn’t even know was going to work.

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