Chris – From Diamond Sales to Skate Shop Owner

Chris – From Diamond Sales to Skate Shop Owner

#22 – Chris Johnson has an idyllic life working at his own skate shop, Passion Board Shop, in Eau Claire Wisconsin. But when he was 18, life didn’t look like it was heading in that direction. With an interest in sales, Chris decided to study business at the University of Minnesota Duluth but quickly decided the degree was unnecessary. As he had learned working at a Zoomies store in his teens, you just had to be a good salesperson to succeed in sales, and that is what he wanted to do. Chris set out to begin climbing the corporate ladder at Kay Jewellers, Helzberg Diamonds, and eventually landed at Verizon Wireless as an Assistant Manager. Then one day, he looked around and realized he didn’t like the person he was becoming and decided to make a change. How does that lead to opening a skate shop?  Listen to Chris’s interview to find out.

Find Chris at the links below

Instagram: @passionpod

Podcast/Business Website: https://www.passionboardshop.com/ 

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The below transcript is A.I generated with light editing and may not be 100% accurate.

Transcript
Jonathan Collaton:

Good morning, good afternoon or good evening, you're listening to career crossroads. And if you're new here, welcome. And if you're not new, welcome back. I'm Jonathan Collaton. And this is the podcast where I talk to one person each week to find out about all the decisions that led them to their current career path. This week, I talked to Chris Johnson, a resident of Eau Claire, Wisconsin in the United States. Currently, he has his own skateboard shop, passion board shop. But that's not how his career started. So let's listen to his career path. And then at the end, I'll share some of the lessons I think we can learn from Chris. Chris, welcome to career crossroads. How's it going today?

Chris Johnson:

So good. Thanks for having me on man.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah, no problem. I'm glad that you were interested in coming on. Because I think as we'll get to, at some point, probably near the latter half of the interview, you've got a podcast where you do similar interesting things, talking to people. And I always like to talk to people who like to talk to other people. So provides usually a pretty good interview.

Chris Johnson:

Yeah, it's nice to change it up, dude. I mean, I'm, I'm the one who's usually interviewing people. So it's kind of nice to like, have somebody asked about me for a change?

Jonathan Collaton:

That's good, right? You don't have to think about what to ask. You just have to you just have to respond when I asked how great is that.

Chris Johnson:

I didn't have to write up the questions or anything.

Jonathan Collaton:

Easy. All right. Well, I'm glad this will be a different experience for you. So at a career crossroads, we always start with, what was life like growing up wherever it is that you grew up, tell me about it. And kind of bring us to the point where you're 16 years old or so because I usually think 16 is about the time when people start to wonder, but what are they going to do once they finish high school there's life is somewhat structured up until the end of high school and then after that it's a free for all right? So I know for you 16 was the time that you started first working. So how did Where did you grow up? And how did you get to that first job? What was life like?

Chris Johnson:

Sure, I'd like a pretty, pretty mellow family like situation. My parents moved into my childhood house in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, which is about 90 miles east of Minneapolis, Minnesota. 60, some thousand people I think 67,000 or something so medium sized city, and it's like the biggest one in that area anyways. And then Minneapolis isn't that far away for like, you know, big time stuff, but grew up there. Stay there the whole time. Parents stay together. I have one older sister named Kate, she works works for Google out in California these days. She's two years older than me, went to a Catholic elementary school, not because my parents are religious, but just like quality education thing for them. So I went to a Catholic school up through sixth grade. And that transferred into public school. And I went to seventh and eighth grade and public school and then public school for all high school, graduated 2008 from North High School, played live sports and stuff, you know, your typical like kid stuff, or whatever, where it was never really into video games or anything too much was more just like, played a whole bunch of different sports. I discovered skateboarding when I was maybe like 10, or something like that. But then I still played other stuff. So I played like basketball and stuff from when I was like, kindergarten Up, up until I hit high school. My parents bought a cabin up on a lake, about two and a half hours drive north of where I'm at, up in the middle of the forest, which is super cool, because my mom was a teacher, her whole career. So I would live up there during the summers. And that got me really into water stuff. Now I'm a scuba diver. So, but super into being on the lake the whole time. And then it was when I was in, when I was like 14 that I realized like it didn't matter how much I liked playing any of the sports I played because I did tennis, swimming all kinds of stuff like a lot of the kids. I just kind of knew I wasn't good enough to actually start on like any of it even in the freshman stuff. I just wasn't that good. And that kind of was defeating and I'm like, Well, I guess I just can't play anymore. Because like I don't want to just go to practice and never play. So I was over it, you know, and open like freshmen day. You know, you've like freshman orientation day at school. I went, one of the kids in my group, his name is Damien Kirchhoff. Still good friends with him to this day, but they go around, they're like, what do you want to be when you grow up to like everybody, you know, and me and him were both like a pro skateboarder, of course. And then immediately, we were just like, super great friends. So it was at that point that it was like skateboarding kind of took hold. And that was what I mainly did then with my free time. And that never really disappeared. I just kind of stayed that way. You know, my first job. We're talking about careers. I was a dishwasher full time when I was 14 at a resort up on my cabin because I wanted to buy myself an iPod Mini which I did. That's what that was like at that time. It was like for for 10 an hour. $4.10 an hour I think was the minimum wage. Wow, yeah, so I did that. After that I worked for Arby's like the fast food stuff I worked at a marina. I just got did whatever jobs, you know, I could when I was a kid, and then started doing sales stuff at like retail stores when I was 16. And then that's really what a stayed man. I mean, I did did different retail stuff, you know, even beyond that, and we can get into it, but skateboarding and I was already in sales at 16. And look at me, I'm 30. And I'm still selling skateboards.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah, no, that's awesome. It's kind of funny how, like, small world where the episode that comes out right before you, Minneapolis came up as well. Because Scott wanted to raise in small town, Kentucky, and he wanted to go where Prince was. And so we could go to the disco. And so, you know, it's funny, because Minneapolis is not a city that comes up in my life very often. But now twice in a matter of days, Minneapolis comes up. And that experience of like going up to the cottage when you were a kid, that's one of those things that I had a cottage until I was about nine. But my dad had that experience of like, every summer the family would just go live up there. And that's something I've always been jealous of. So it sounds like that's a really great way to grow up and, and great that you got to have jobs while you were up there to make a little pocket money and buy whatever skateboard gear you want, I guess.

Chris Johnson:

Yeah, so growing up at the at the cabin was cool, man. I mean, it's just like, my parents bought it when I was maybe nine or 10. So we didn't have it like the whole childhood. I just remember before that being bored out of my mind is like, didn't get super hot, but we definitely got 90 degree days and stuff. My parents were kind of, I don't know, frugal, so we didn't have AC so like summers weren't my favorite thing when I was a little kid. And then when we got the cabin, it was like the best because off the lake, it was always about 10 degrees cooler. So it was always perfect weather up there. And then swimming every day. It was Yeah, it was awesome. Building forts all that. Yeah, I was cool, man. I loved it.

Jonathan Collaton:

Awesome. All right. And so getting back to jobs, cuz Yeah, you know, that's the fun childhood stuff. But we're here to talk about careers. So getting back to jobs. You mentioned getting into sales, I think and you said it was kind of that was it from there. So what was that first sales job that you had?

Chris Johnson:

Well, so what I first did, I said, I worked at like fast food restaurants and stuff. And then there's a little core skate shop that I hung out at all the time. It's called under loud and I would go I would take the city bus downtown instead of take a bus home and just like hang out there all the time. I was like little shopper I was super obnoxious. You know what I mean? taking out the trash for stickers and stuff. Well, after after a period of time the owners change they sold it to this other guy. And he didn't skate and he just kind of got burnt out on And long story short, like I got I was out skating with some friends. And this other kid like through a rocket this cop car ran cop, you know, flipped around, got back told her, you know, said that I did it put me in the back of this cop car. And I'm like, you know, 1516 or something. And my mom has to come get me. grounds me. Reason. I'm telling you the stories because I was supposed to work at this little little skate shop for this guy. Well, that get grounded for several months. When I go back down there because I already had a key to the place go back down there do just kind of chewed me out. He's like, what happened to you? I'm like, Well, I mean, I was grounded him. Like 15 dude. Got me. And he was just kind of a jerk to me and the dude, the the new owner, he didn't skate and there's sketchy stuff happening. So anyways, I was just kind of over it. So I went to the mall cuz I need to buy some shoes and Zoomies, which is like a big old corporate chain. The store manager at the time was like, Oh, do you skateboard? And I'm like, Well, yeah, she goes, you skate at the skate park? And I'm like, Yeah, she's like, do you want a job? I was like, well, I wasn't looking for one. But I guess. Yeah, especially because like I said, I was just at the, at the time, I was like, whatever, you don't even skate. So I worked there. It was cool. I learned a lot of stuff about it. You know, I mean, ultimately, it's just like a corporate clothing, you know, store that's based around the skateboarding lifestyle. And it's certainly not a skateboard shop. But it still was like a cool learning place for me to like, grew up through sales and stuff. And I did that until I graduated high school. Then I went to UMD, which is University of Minnesota, Duluth, for a year for pre business and taking the classes. I mean, I just kind of figured out like you don't, you don't need a college degree to be in sales, like at all because realistically, you're either good at sales, or you aren't. And you have the numbers to show it from any job you have. You can just look up your statistics. And you can say, look, there's eight people that work at the store. But I'm doing 30% of the volume. You want to hire me because I'm going to do 30% of your stores volume, which is going to be x amount of money. I'm worth this amount of money. You know, Nina it's very straightforward. So from there, I was able to get a job at a Kay Jewelers. And I worked there for a little while and then a bunch of family stuff happened. My parents split up. My dad had a nasty heart attack eventually had a heart transplant and stuff and I had to move back to Auclair because when I had that job for Kay Jewelers, I was spending like a year in Minneapolis area. So I moved back to Auclair take care of my dad, and got a position to be the assistant manager of a helzberg diamonds. So I was doing that thing. And then from there, I got a job being the system manager of a Verizon Wireless. And it was when I was working for Verizon that I made, I mean, pretty good money for being 22. In My Zone, I was making more than either my parents ever made. But I just kind of felt like I was a part of the problem. You know, I mean, like, I just, it was easy job super easy. I made really good money, but I just didn't enjoy what I did at all. I felt like I was just kind of, you know, I wasn't greasy, I wasn't any worse than anybody else that says it, but the company is greasy. That's how I felt. And so like I said, I was kind of going through different things of transitions with with my dad having a heart transplant my parents, but uh, you know, I just had my first kid. And it really kind of resonated with me. Like, if I were to die tomorrow, I would not be real stoked on how I spent my time. Like, yeah, I don't, I don't want my kid to like, think that's what that's what their dad was, you know about. So that's when I started thinking about like, Well, what do I do? What do I want to do? You know?

Jonathan Collaton:

And well, before, before you get into kind of what you do there. Let's back it up a little bit here. Because I want to see where sort of some of the decisions that you ended up making, where'd they come from? And so when you went to the University, what was the catalyst for that? You said you went to business? And Was that something where you enjoyed the sales jobs you had? And you thought, Okay, I'm gonna go and get this degree, because that's what I need to do to advance my career in that field, or was it family pressure? Or just like everyone else seem to be doing it? or Why do you pick that?

Chris Johnson:

It's kind of a, you know, combination of things, right? Like my, my eldest sister, I mentioned earlier, Kate Johnson, she works for Google. So she was about graduated valedictorian, and then got her bachelor's degree early. And then she went and got a master's degree, and like an accelerated program in Chicago, then she got her doctorate degree, she was paid to go out there, like paid living expenses, and everything free tuition, to go to USC to get her doctorate, and then grad like, got that done early, you know. So it's just kind of like, my only sibling was so successful on the education side of it, that it was hard for me to keep up. And I always got like a three, five average, like I did well, but but I wasn't a four oh, like she was, I didn't excel in the way she did, I didn't put my energy into it, I was always more of a social being than she ever was. But the expectation was go to college, you know, and I didn't, I wasn't mature enough and hadn't figured it out enough with business to know that you don't need a degree for it. I just assumed, you know, if any company is going to promote me to be a store manager for me to move up into district management positions, or whatever, because that's what I was, like, envisioning I would do, I just thought I would run somebody else's store, I thought I would need a degree. And then, you know, like I said, it was maybe just done with my first semester, and I was like, This is, I don't need this, there's really no reason that I have to have this paper at all. In fact, all I'm doing is like, going to be spending four years delaying me moving up in any company, because I don't have the time to do anything more. So that was really kind of like the reasoning behind it. And I didn't need the experience. It was more just like I felt like it was it was just like holding me back as a time constraint. And I was like, ready to start climbing, you know?

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah. So some people, I think they get to university or college, and they decide like, Okay, this isn't for me, and they think of it as a mistake. But I think with what I'm hearing from you, it's it's not that it was a mistake, like you had to do that to understand that. Actually, this is sort of an unnecessary step for you.

Chris Johnson:

Yeah, yeah, I was talking to somebody on my show the other day, actually, earlier today. And we're talking about something unrelated, but he made like, I have a cool analogy. And he basically said, like, you know, to find like, your passions and stuff was what he was talking about. But he's like, envision like a buffet. You don't know what you like, or what you need until you try things, because you've never had it. And then once you try it, you figure it out. And so yeah, I mean, perhaps if I, if I would have never went to college, I would always thought maybe not having a degree was holding me back. You know, you don't you don't know. So right. But no, I don't look, I don't I don't, I don't have any ill will towards it or anything. I just I just found quickly while I was in it, that it wasn't gonna serve a whole lot of purpose for me beyond being that initial, like moving out of my parents and living on my own type situation, learning from that. But career wise, I didn't think that, you know, it was really necessary for what I specifically want to do not to say it isn't for everybody, because obviously it is it just depends on what the career is.

Jonathan Collaton:

Right. Okay. And so when you make that call to leave, like, did you end up staying for the whole second term, though?

Chris Johnson:

Yeah, I stayed for the whole year. And then I move back to Auclair and then I started, you know, focusing more on on my career from there.

Jonathan Collaton:

Gotcha. And was that the jewelry store that you worked at rightof...

Chris Johnson:

no, that was still I was still working at zoomies for a short period of time. When I came back to Auclair after that maybe like six months, and then I transferred because immediately I was like, I'm not I'm gonna stop going to college because I wanna start moving up in whatever company didn't really matter what it was. But I got promoted from being at the store in Eau Claire, which is a smaller volume because of the area and got promoted to a city in the Minneapolis metro area to be, you know, a higher position or whatever, more money and just like the next step, basically to be a store management or store management position for that company. And when I was in the Minneapolis area, I was like, dude, I'm kind of done with this. Like, I think I learned what I can from this company, even what they pay for a store manager, district manager is kind of ridiculously low. Like, I just kind of felt like I outgrew it by that point. Yeah. And I saw the people wearing suits at like the fancier store. And I was like, I feel like I belong somewhere more like that. Like, I think that's more my zone. So I kind of like chatted up. What I thought was the store manager at the time at that Kay Jewelers come to find out later on. It was the district manager, but I was just kind of talking to her. She's like, well, you ever, you know, think about working in jewelry. And I was like, I don't know, I don't have any experience in that. She's like, Oh, that's not problem. So I ended up having an interview with her. And yeah, got along super well. And she offered me a great, it was a great opportunity. It was definitely more money. It was like a whole new experience a lot higher ceiling for growth with the company because it's a big company. So yeah, I took that position. I want to say the summer after I was maybe like 20, or something when I did that. And I worked there for roughly six months before I moved back to UCLA. And the only reason I did that was because that was when my dad had his heart transplant. And it was like a family need. So I moved back to a Claire stayed with stayed with Kay Jewelers at the time, but switch stores and didn't get along with the store manager there all that well, we just didn't really see eye to eye had a lot higher aspirations. And I think she ever had in her mind. And I think there's a power struggle, because I can be like that a little bit, you know, and that's part of the reason I work for myself. But but so I didn't really get along with her Great, well, then the store manager across the hall at Harrisburg diamonds, again, this is when I'm like 20 and naive and have an ego and a chip on my shoulder and Alice. She was like, hey, come be an assistant management position for me. And I'll pay you more. I said, Yeah, sure, whatever. So because realistically, and maybe I'm a jerk for saying this, but in a sales type position. People who have extreme loyalty to a corporate company, they're fooling themselves, the colleague doesn't have loyalty to you at all. They literally don't, they don't, they'll just close the store out of the blue. And I've had I've had other friends who have had positions where they were supposed to be secure jobs, and then all of a sudden company downsizes. And their jobs gone, you know. So

Jonathan Collaton:

yeah, I think that happens across all kinds of fields. In fact, I just think in the sales job, it's certainly more prevalent. But, you know, you and me aren't too different in age. And I think people from maybe our parents generation, or even grandparents generation definitely have that idea that like, if you're loyal to the company, they're loyal to you. And maybe that did exist back then. But I don't think it does anymore. You can have individuals who can be loyal to you at a place where you work, like they want what's best for you, and they will do what they can to help you. But when it comes down to it, like everyone's looking at dollars and cents on a spreadsheet, and if if you're not worth it to them, they're gonna move on from you.

Chris Johnson:

Yeah, well, but at the same time, too, you know, people always would ask me about, like, they're worried about getting fired or something when I was in management positions like that. And it's one of the fun parts, or one of the cool parts, I guess about sales is it's like, Look, this can be as secure as you want to be. If you're one of the top salespeople with whatever store company or whatever, if you're one of the top salespeople, your job is 100% secure, they're not going to get rid of you. Doesn't matter if your boss doesn't like you, because you're doing too much volume, they can't do it, they can't justify it to their bosses to get rid of you. Your job is super secure, because you have numbers. So the WHO THE playing the whole game of like, Who likes who are popularity isn't as important and sales, which I guess I gravitated to that a little bit. But yeah, so I did that. And then casually found out that one of the employees that worked real part time at the helzberg The reason that she had left was because she started working for Verizon, picked her brain a little bit and was like, Whoa, there's a lot more money over here. There's a lot more money over here. And so that's when I started thinking about maybe I want to do that. And then yeah, I mean, found a job that that's like a whole nother story of like finding a job but, but I did that and the money was way better. And again, now I'm you know, 2122 or whatever, when I started working there, and I was an assistant manager and I was making medium income for Eau Claire at the time, I think was like 59,000 for a family. Maybe. And I was 22 and I was making 60 70,000 a year already.

Jonathan Collaton:

Not bad,

Chris Johnson:

you know, right? I was making good money. And it wasn't hard. It was super easy. And I didn't have a college degree. It was like, how did I get this job? How am I doing this? You know, and i was really succeeding

Jonathan Collaton:

Was it the money, was it the money?

Chris Johnson:

An that's what it was?

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah.

Chris Johnson:

you know, but but again, like you you mature in different things happen to you in your life where all of a sudden your values, your beliefs, your goals, and those things change over time. And I was very money driven when I was younger.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah, that's what I was gonna ask like, what were those? Because, you know, you mentioned like, you realize you didn't need that degree to succeed in those jobs that you were interested in. But then I want to know, right, like, what are the things that did Interesting. Was it the idea of just climbing the ladder? Or was it the money? Like, and it sounds like money was a big factor for sure.

Chris Johnson:

Yeah, it was just like a competitive thing. You know, I mean, like, my sister was so successful in what she was doing that it was like, I need to be successful, like, in my own mind. And my vision of success, because I have a lot of wealthy family members in my extended family was money in status, you know, I felt good about wearing a suit. Everywhere that I went, I felt so awesome about like, having more money than my friends. And looking back on it, I'm like, Man, that I feel like I was such an asshole, maybe. But you know, it's just like, where I was at, at that particular time in my life, you know, you're selfish. And then, you know, like I said, watching, watching what happened with my family kind of dynamic, totally changing. My parents weren't money hungry, or anything, but they were very conservative with their money. And they always talked about next stage of life stuff, you know, like, when we retire, we're finally going to be able to travel, like that type of thing, you know, and they were set, and they were about to retire. And then all of a sudden, politics around us changed. They both worked, government positions, and collective bargaining was eliminated in our state. So all of a sudden, their pensions were slashed. And their insurance was, you know, way worse. So now, instead of retiring two years from now, they're retiring, you know, six years from now. And then during that timeframe, my dad almost dies, and they get, you know, split up, all of a sudden, they don't have the money to travel the world. They're both single. And it's like, well, we worked all these years for what, you know, it was seeing that and then in combination, like I said, I had my first kid, and it was like, I don't, I don't like love the person that I am. And I'm not proud of what I'm what I'm leaving behind. And that that started to, you know, that started to really bother me. Like, emotionally. I was like, this doesn't feel right. I don't I don't like this. And before that, you know, I was just, I was just a young kid. You're 21 it's you want to have a nicer car than your friends. You know, whatever.

Jonathan Collaton:

No, I totally get that. I mean, when you're young, I had a boss who used to say that every decade of your life, you can add a zero to the amount of money that really matters and impacts your life. And so like when you're really young, like 10 bucks is a lot of money, then all of a sudden, you're a teenager, you want to buy a video game, or 100 bucks is actually a lot of money. And then when you're in your 20s 1000 I think it kind of it doesn't really scale up all that well. But I think it's a good quote early on anyway. Right. Go back, though, I want to hear that story. You said I think it was about the Verizon job. He said there's a story there

Chris Johnson:

Oh, yeah. So I always I always like to tell people like you don't, there's not one direct path, like the way you think you find something isn't the way you necessarily find something. And I'm like a firm, I'm a very stubborn person. And I'm a very firm believer of like, if I have an idea, there's a way to do it. It may be hard. And it may be I may have to go around several city blocks to figure out some way to finesse it, but there's a way and I'm gonna figure it out. Right. So I interviewed with the store manager of like, the the higher volume Verizon store, and he didn't, he didn't want to hire me, and I don't know, whatever, didn't want to hire me, it's fine. Still want it? Well, here I am perusing Craigslist, you know, keeping an eye on jobs, like wonder what's gonna pop up, you know, because because I always was like that, through that whole time of, you know, sales and stuff. I really wasn't loyal to a company, because I just knew they didn't care about me, you know, I'm like, why am I I'm always gonna keep an eye out for how can I climb? If I can't climb to the next step with this company? Maybe I can hop over to a different ladder, but already be higher up, you know? Well, so there's a posting on Craigslist, for like a wireless position. I don't even think it's at Verizon. And I was like, Yeah, whatever. So I responded to it. So I met this dude at this Starbucks. And I interview with them. And it's like, oh, yeah, this is very different location for Verizon store that's also in town, interviewing with them. And we don't even talk much business, we just like, get along incredibly well. So we're just talking about, you know, values and beliefs, what I want to do with my life, that type of stuff, really liked me. And he's like, cool. Well, I'll have my district manager, give you a call. And I was like, Okay, and then come to find out that this dude was like a regional manager, like he was way higher up, I don't know why he was even in town. But for whatever reason, he made that Craigslist post and was hiring people, like, two steps above the store manager. So then I interview with the with the district manager, and I sit down with them. This is like, a week later, I sit down with them. And he's like, so I don't, we don't really need to have a conversation. And I'm like, okay, and he's like, because, like, my boss wants to hire you. So, you know, this is what we're gonna offer you. And it was pathetic. Man, it was, it was so bad. And this is another lesson I think. I think people should try to understand I think it's really important. If you want to be successful in any kind of business thing, to understand who holds the cards in any situation? How much leverage Do you have, right to make sure that you're getting a fair deal, it's not about taking advantage, it's about getting your value, like your own worth, right? So the dude offers me like $9 an hour plus commission, and I'm like, No, I'm not gonna do that. He's like, Well, why not? It's a mostly a commission job. You know, I can guarantee you, you're gonna make more money at the end of the year here than you would at your other job. And I'm like, Well, I make you know, 12 or whatever hourly plus My other job, and he's like, Well, yeah, but you'll make more money I can show I can show you. And I'm like, I don't care. And he's like, why not? Like, well, because I'm worth X amount of dollars per hour for my time just for me to physically be present at that place. That's how much I am worth. The Commission is my cut of the money I make you. So that's irrelevant. The Commission isn't included. I'm worth a certain amount per dollar for my time period. And he's like, Oh, well, we don't we hire everyone at this wage. And I'm like, Well, I'm not doing it then. Like, I'm just not. I was like, you can you can talk to your boss or whatever. But I'm not doing that. I'm not taking a pay cut No way. And he's like, Well, okay, well, and then I got a call back. And he's like, this, the highest we've ever hired anybody, and then paid me the 12 that I was paying, you know, and then got a raise from there and stuff, too. But, but the point of it was like, people think that you have to like stick with the company, and you have to go up like every quarter or whatever, you get a 10 cent raise, or every year, you're eligible for a raise up to $1, or whatever. All these rules that people put in their, in their brain don't exist. They're not real. These are guidelines that these companies and stuff throw out there. So that way, they have something to hide behind. But if you're irreplaceable, if you if they need you, you hold the cards, they will go out of their way for you because they need you. So that's ultimately what you have to do is you have to become irreplaceable and needed by the company that you work for.

Jonathan Collaton:

No, yeah, I've certainly I can relate to that story. I haven't had that experience myself. But I get it like I I see what you're saying. And, yeah, it's the guidelines that society puts out. There are guidelines that society has put out there, that doesn't mean that we all have to subscribe to those guidelines, right? So if you want to push back and ask for more money, pushback and ask for more money, I have a colleague who just left working with me, I think he's maybe on secondment, so he'll be back. But he really kind of changed my mindset. When he said to me one time, he wasn't really worried about losing his job, because if he lost this job, he just got another job. And that was a really big, interesting moment for me where it occurred to me like, Oh, yeah, like, I'm, what am I worried about? Like, I'm gonna I do my job, and I do good work, I'm not gonna lose my job. But if I decide at some point, it's not right for me, I'll just go get something else. And so yeah, it's like, that's the moment where I kind of realized I held the cards in that situation. And so I couldn't figure out what mattered to me.

Chris Johnson:

Well, it's super important to think that way, you know, like, and when we get to the entrepreneurship side of this thing, but like, when I walked away, a lot of people said, like, Well, why would you walk away from a job like that? And I'm like, Well, I could get it back. And they're like, What do you mean? Well, I tell I've told people that a billion times where I'm like, Look, if you were really good at what you were doing, and you decide you want to go a different path, you want to go do something else, they're gonna hire you back, if you want to come back, because they know exactly what they're getting. They're not taking a gamble, they can look at the numbers you previously provided. If you were good, they'll watch that. So as far as the job security, that that shouldn't even be something you're worried about, you know,

Jonathan Collaton:

ya know, for sure. So, let's go back ahead to the part where you really started looking at yourself, you had a kid and you were looking at the person you were walking around in your suit, and you just didn't like it anymore, right?

Chris Johnson:

Yeah. Yeah. Like I said, it was going through that hole, it was that it was a whole shift. You know what I mean, in mindset, and that happens to a lot of people when they have kids, all of a sudden, like life isn't about them anymore. You know? And I think what it really was, was, like I said, I thought about it if I was in my dad's position, and he didn't end up dying, like so I'm down here visiting him in Florida right now. Actually, he's totally fine after this heart transplant eight years later, thank God, but but I was looking at that situation. I'm like, What if? What if my life was just taken away? Would I be happy about it? I worked hard. But No, I wouldn't. I wouldn't be happy with what I accomplished. That's not that's not what I want to do. I'm not proud of what I do at all. I just, I make somebody else money. That's all I do. I make somebody else money, and I take a cut of it. That's I'm not stoked about that at all. And then it kind of was like, timing, you know, usually there's like other things that pop up that that like, make you want to do stuff. While so we never had a free public skate park where I grew up grew up in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, we never had one. And even when I was like, 14, I was in print graphics class in high school, and I made t shirts that said build as a park already. And we sold it like at the skate shop, like fundraiser stuff to try to get a free Park. Well, it wasn't until I was 22 that we finally got a skatepark built, and it was tiny. But we finally got this park though. Well, me and a couple people we through this big, you know, contest. And there was way more skateboarders than I ever thought were would show up. I'm like, Whoa, we actually have a skateboarding community here. I did not realize that because that shop that I referred to a while ago under loud that that went out of business back when I was in like high school because like I said the last day didn't skate and it just faded out but but I was like, Whoa, there's there's a scene here there's enough clientele. There's a demand, who wants to open a skate shop So I talked to the other people that were like my general age and older that skated and I'm like, who's doing it because someone has to do it. Like we have to there's there has to be one. That's the next step for like this community. And a couple other people kind of like said, Yeah, I kind of want to do it kind of and do it. Well, so I had conversations with them right up, like a little mock business plan talking to them. And I wanted to be an investor that I didn't, my brain was still like not doing that. Because I was still thinking, like, Look, I got a really secure situation. My wife at the time, I'm divorced now. But my wife at the time was only working five hours a week, just cuz, you know, we live off my income. And I'm like, I don't want it. Why would I walk away from that? All invest in the shop, maybe I'll work one day a week and like, be involved. But like, I wasn't thinking of totally doing it. Well, then as the conversations went along, everybody else didn't want to do it. And I remember it was sometime in December, this was in 2013. I went to Minneapolis to go like, have a dinner with somebody for their birthday or something. And I was driving back. And I remember, I like looked over at my ex wife. And I was like, I kind of kind of just want to do this thing on my own. She's like, really? And I'm like, Yeah, I think so. She's like, Well, I mean, if you're gonna do it now, now's the time because we only have one kid. And we want more like we can afford it more now than we would later on you sure. I was like, Yeah, Yeah, I think so. Well, then it was less than a month later that I signed the lease for a place for my store was like, boom decision made full speed. Let's do this. I got started renting my place in January 2014. And then I was working 40 hours a week still for Verizon. And then on one of my two days off, I went back to working 12 hour shift over at helzberg diamonds, and then spent the rest of my available free time trying to get you know, things ready for the store. And then I opened April 11, on a Monday of 2014. I my last day of work for anyone else was on that Thursday, before partied all weekend. It was like, Alright, let's do this. And then full time from there. I was seven days a week. And I was seven days a week and in the green. By the middle of summer, I want to say with the business. yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

Did you have a business plan going into it? Or did you just try and like figure it out? Because it seems like you probably were thinking about it a bit. But it does seem like you just kind of decided like, I want to do this. And so it was a pretty quick turnaround from there.

Chris Johnson:

Yeah, it was I mean, I did. I'm just a fast mover. Like when I have something in my mind. It's like, Okay, this is what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna do it right now, you know? And I'm not I don't think I'm real reckless, but, but no. So useful tools. I always tell people, if anything you want to do somebody's already done it. And they probably documented it, you could look it up. It's not that those tools are available for you today, because of the internet wonderful tool that people didn't used to have. Well, I didn't find exactly what I was looking for. But I just googled business plan to there's templates everywhere, you know, all this stuff is so much more available and easy. It's, it's I don't say it's easy to open a business because it really isn't. But it's much more straightforward and simpler than people think the tools that you need are there they're so I googled business plan, find one for like a surf shop, and literally like, copy pasted, put a different name. How did this business plan and just use it as a template, horrible business plan, you know, that I put together off of that just plagiarizing garbage. So then from there, now I kind of had a feel did another one that I looked up like how to open a small business, you know, and I found this thing called the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center. And state of Wisconsin, they pay a professor with a business degree, he actually owned several small businesses, who works out of the University of Eau Claire, where I'm from, and you just make an appointment, and you just go sit down, say, Hey, this is what I'm trying to do. And he has all the knowledge and he was like, Well, okay, you're going to need to get a Seller's Permit, you're going to have to have at least a million dollars liability insurance for whatever building you do find, you're going to have to realistically, if you want a loan from a bank, you need to have at least 12 months of this thing for all the numbers like pull it out with all of the information and you have to have your bases covered. I gave him his my business plan. He gave it to his senior students to overlook and say, you know, this is good, this is bad. What can we help you with? At another meeting? He's like, realistically, he was like, do this isn't very good. But, you know, gave me some information. Went to a bank after I fixed what I thought. And they told me Look, skate shops don't make money. Like, statistically speaking, they fail. So no, sorry, I can't get any money. And again, me being stubborn. I'm like, Well, I'm gonna do this. There's just I don't I don't need you. So I thought about it. I'm like, Well, I got good credit. You know, so don't and I don't suggest this to people. But I went to a different branch of that same bank, and I was like, I'll make a credit card Can you give me and they're like, like the biggest you just want to know how high and I'm like, yeah, Hi, there. Like, what about interest rates? I'm like, I don't care how high How high can you give me and they gave me like six grand, and I was like, Okay, cool. So then I went to a different bank in town that had an account with Wells Fargo, and I was like, How big of a credit card Can you give me? They're like, well, you just opened a credit card. I'm like, I know how big of a credit card Can you give me? And they're like, well, 2300. So that was maxed out at $300. That's all I could get on credit cards with high interest rates, right? Well, then, in my mind, I'm like, Well, I'm making a good amount of money at Verizon, I can go back to working a 12 hour day at Helzburg. And I can funnel all of this into this business. And because this is such a niche industry, and I already had grown up skating with everybody in town, everybody that skates, it's not that big of a deal. not that big of a community, everyone knows. So everyone at the park knew that I was opening the shop, and they knew that was where they were gonna get their boards when it did open because people were starving for that, you know, business to exist. But yeah, man, I mean, I hustled for a few months, open in April, with roughly $8,000 worth of inventory sold close to half of it opening day. And it wasn't a good looking shop, it was a very empty shop, when I opened and then, you know, just grew, put all the money I made back into inventory, you know, for a while.

Jonathan Collaton:

Was that one of those things, though, where like, the moment it opened, and you're just standing there, and you sell it after inventory, day one, you're like, Oh, I this was the right decision. Like, did you just feel like everything you had worked towards kind of had built up to that, and you succeeded already in what you wanted to do?

Chris Johnson:

No, not that early. No, because, you know, you're, you're, you've spent so much money, and you sell half your inventory. But that's still less than you spent, you know what I mean? Especially after all this time, because again, that was like, you know, four months of me working two jobs, putting all of my income, on top of that 8300 into painting into buying display cases into getting my, you know, the cash register. I mean, like, all that stuff. So you put all this time and energy, and then yeah, you sell a bunch of stuff. But now your shop looks like garbage, because it didn't have much stuff in it to begin with. Now it has half of the stuff that it had to begin with. And now I got to order new merchandise, I don't even get to keep any of this money. And it's gonna take a week to get here. I was like, I felt like I was a little bit in over my head. But I don't like to admit defeat. So you know, kept kept pushing on. It was I feel like it's hard to remember like when the moment is really, but I bought a house, my first house the year before that. And I was maybe two miles from the shop or something, something like that. Well, so I just remember, sometime, that summer, maybe a month or two in and I had gotten into a routine of I would make my coffee. And then I would ride a cruiser cruiser skateboard like a skateboard with big soft wheels for transportation because I felt like it to my store. And I remember I was like cruising down this little mellow Hill, sipping my coffee. And I was like, This is my life now. It's like, holy shit. This is the coolest thing ever. I'm cruising around with coffee going to my store where like, I just do kick flips outside all day, and no one's gonna even get mad at me. Like, this is exactly what I want to do. I'm gonna go to my store. There's gonna be like, like minded people here. I'm gonna hang out with my friends all day. And that I think that's when it was like this was this was the move. This was what I I made the right decision for sure.

Jonathan Collaton:

And that's a that's a good moment. I had a moment like that myself. I think it was my first ever job. But I was, you know, middle of the summer driving to work windows down sunglasses on coffee. I was in my piece of crap. 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Like locks didn't even work on one side. Transmission blew up on me the first three months I owned it, like garbage car. But I do remember a moment where I was driving. And I was like, Oh, this is it. Like, I guess I guess I felt like I achieved what I wanted to achieve, at least in terms of getting my career off the ground. So I've I feel you on that because I know what that's like when you have that moment, when you just sort of think like, Oh, I'm doing this now. Like, this is that thing I wanted to do? And here we are. Alright, so. So you said six months in you, you turn a profit or you're in the green. And what's it been like, from then till now scaling up over time? Have you had been very consistent or have you like, try to branch out and try different things?

Chris Johnson:

I mean, obviously, like any business, you always have a clear cut vision in your mind. Like, this is what you want to do. And yes, I'm stubborn, but some things don't work. Sometimes, like you gain more knowledge over time. And you're like this idea that I had is not working, this isn't what people want and you have to kind of make adjustments. It's just how it works. You know what I mean? Where there's there's demand, then all of a sudden you got to put more energy into those things. So initially, I sold snowboards to didn't make money on them, you know, invest a lot of money to have them sit around, maybe broke even. But that was just because of you know, friends buying them from me because they wanted to but I didn't didn't really work. You know, you change what brands you carry and different things like that. But it was just like a learning curve. You know what I mean? Like I basically I had enough money set like I got my tax return. And my ex wife had gotten a full time job at that point. And it was like well, I can pay my share of the bills. If we split this I can pay my share of the bills. About six months off of like money that I had set aside so that way, everything I do with my business can go directly back into the business because we need to have way more inventory than this. Like, I know what I'm starting with is not sustainable. This is just because that's all the money I could get. So I did that. And I work seven days a week, I think I was working 10 to eight every day, and then tend to six Sundays, I want to say from April 11, all the way until kids went back to school. And then when kids went back to school in the fall, that's when all of a sudden I started closing Sundays. And I think that's when I started working. I think it was working 12 to eight or something I forget. But that's when I dropped down to six days a week, which is like, Whoa, this is so nice. I finally have days off. This is crazy. But it just slowly, you know, went that way as time went by, you know, I figured out what worked better. What didn't I develop better relationships with brands where I you know, I could put in larger quantity orders where I was able to get larger profit margins, the general reputation, the shop, like any small business, if you do things right, you'll slowly gain more and more reviews nowadays, if you live you know, if you come to Auclair and you Google skate shop on your phone, it's going to show me, you know, because, you know, at least by other people's standards, everyone thinks that I've done things the right way, it seems to be try to be nice to everybody anyways. But so now I have a lot more people just coming in, because they found me online, because I'm the only kind of skate shop, it is still volatile, you know, like, is still tough, because my industry depends on the weather a lot. You know, living in Wisconsin, and same way with you up in Canada, if there's snow, I don't make money. Yeah, just don't you know, and when you talk about a month, like May, like, if I have a rainy Friday, Saturday, when people got paid, I made a lot less money. Like, way less, if I have three weekends of rainy versus like, it's nice out on Fridays, that's really the big thing is Fridays, and Saturdays, if it's nice out during the spring, that's when everyone wants to go buy a new board for the year. When it's nice out, I make a lot of money, when it's not nice out, I don't make any money. So overall, I mean, is relatively consistent at the end of the year. But it's it's it's hard, you definitely have to be conservative with your numbers and stuff. As far as like how much money you think you realistically have to spend, especially personally, you gotta be careful not to dip too much into a business and try to make sure you have things extra, that type of thing. But it's been relatively consistent until COVID.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah, I was gonna ask about that. Like, as a small business owner, that is the demographic that got hit the hardest by this thing. So yeah, tell me about that.

Chris Johnson:

Yeah, I mean, outside of like, people who do events, you know, oh, yeah. I was talking with illusionist today about that. And he's like, look at the entertainment industry, like you can't do shows that they don't exist, you know what I mean?

Jonathan Collaton:

So I'm so aware of that, because I actually, I work at a university, and my job is to assist student groups with their events to help them with the logistics and managing risk and things like that. And so all of a sudden, we're not putting in any orders for any stages or any equipment. Like we're not even on campus anymore right now. So I've been very lucky that I could transition to work from home. But I do think about the guys from the rental companies that I used to see all the time, that now I'm just not seeing because there's there's no not it's not even that there's no need for what they're doing. It's we can't have them right. That's the problem.

Chris Johnson:

Right? Well, and that's, that's what it was, you know, this was a really rough year for me. Without going into like too crazy much detail, I ended up splitting up with my ex wife, two days, I think she moved out of my house two days before quarantine was put into place in my state. And I had just so I started closing my shop for the winters. Last year was the first year that I fully closed it for January and February. So I closed the shop and I just go travel around, you know, established enough that I could afford to do things on the cheap, not like be crazy about it, but but I could travel I could afford to travel around because I didn't make any money anyways. So I was closed for January February, traveling around doing stuff with my show and whatever. And then got their open March 1, I think it was March 27 that my state shut down. So all of a sudden, I was only open for three weeks, going into what I thought was gonna be my busiest time of the year because it usually is. And I'm closed with an indefinite kind of number. They're like two weeks, but we all knew it wasn't gonna be two weeks. So I'm just sitting there. No spouse sitting alone in my house. I mean, I had to start add my kids every other week. But still all of a sudden I'm like quiet sitting my house by myself. No idea when an income streams coming because it's not like I can go get a different job. Like I have my store and I'm tied up in that I can't go you know, do something else. I have to do this. I have to try to write it out. There's no money coming in. Like what do you do sell online. That's what everyone says. It's not that easy, man. I mean, especially skateboards and stuff, the product the profit margins very low on skateboards. People don't realize that it's not, you know, typically if you go to like a clothing store, right? If you buy a shirt, that's 20 bucks, that business maybe paid 10 bucks wholesale. So it's like a you know, a 50% margin or whatever. Well with a skateboard. It might sell for 60 but I probably paid 45 for it. Like the profits horrible Then on top of that, shipping items like that is incredibly expensive. So if somebody buys a skateboard from me in California, and this is why I don't have skateboards on my website, I literally pay more in shipping than I profited. I lose money if I sell them a skateboard, like, so I can't, I can't really just sell online, it doesn't work that way. In every industry, it doesn't work that way in my industry. So I just didn't really sell much. You know, I put it online that hey, I'll do free local delivery. I was delivering skateboards like pieces to people's houses, you know, just scrimping, making, not even kind of what I normally would have made. It was it was horrible. And eventually things opened, you know, I think we were closed six ish weeks or something like that. But when we opened, products weren't available. I couldn't get skateboards to sell. So and people were like, Well, why don't you carry bikes? I'm like, dude, my shop is called passion board shop. I'm the skateboard shop. Nobody comes to me for bikes. I don't even know anything about bikes besides how to ride it. I can't change my business entirely. And then you have the people with the argument saying, well, this is the new normal. And I'm like, it's Well, for one, it's not I disagree, I don't think it is the new normal things will get figured out in time. But not every business can totally change the way that they work and have them still make enough money to survive. That's why people when they're saying like, well, restaurants just needed to take out orders, I'm like, do you really think that they're making even close to the numbers that they made by just doing takeout orders, they're losing an incredible amount of money, we got to figure out a solution. This isn't sustainable. Thankfully, I went into all that mess, with the thought that I was going to travel a bunch and record for my show. So I had a little bit of a nest egg that I was planning on using to travel that definitely went into floating the business over time. And things throughout the season, skateboards eventually became available, and I'll be okay, I'm not going to go out of business. I like to think like going into that of the small businesses in my area, I feel like I was in a more secure place than most of them. And I'm like, if people are going out of business, I feel like I'm not one of the first ones. So I think I'll survive. But I don't know that I can make a whole nother year if everything totally shuts down in our country again. It's tough.

Jonathan Collaton:

Now, like thinking about a brighter future, a better tomorrow, if assuming everything does open up for you. Now, you've got the shop. And for you Do you look at this as like, you got the rest of your life kind of laid out in front of you with that shop? Or is it just like, do you just look at it as like, this is what I do for now. And I love it. And I'm happy with that. And who cares about 10 years from now? 20 years from now?

Chris Johnson:

Well, that's that's the funny thing, right? Like that. When I had that moment when I'm skiing down the hill, and I'm drinking coffee. That's when I'm thinking like, dude, I could do this in my 60s. Right? Like, that's the thought, well, like, the euphoria disappears. It's not that I don't love what I do. Because I love what I do. Absolutely. It's the best. I don't plan on ever selling my shop for that matter. Even if even if I'm never there, I don't plan on selling it because I want to still be directly involved. I really enjoy it. But over time, I'm not a complacent person, most people aren't. You can only do the same thing for so long without starting to get that itch of like, Okay, well, what, what's the next thing? What's the next challenge? What am I going to what am I going to work on right now some people do, just personal endeavors, you know, where it's not business related, which is cool, you know, people pick up other hobbies or whatever, for me, started a podcast. And I started, you know, talking to people and doing this whole show. And that's like my whole second thing. I want to get to the point, hopefully, where I can travel every other week, and I can split time with my show in my shot. That's at the moment. That's what I want to do. Is that what I'm gonna do forever, man, and I'm hoping that I retire at 45 when my kids are out of my house and just be like semi retired, do a little bit of side work doing something chilling on a beach. That's what I'm hoping for. But you know, that's a ways off life changes a lot in a few years, let alone 15.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah. Oh, for sure. So anyway, let's talk more about the podcast. And so passion pod. Tell me a little bit about it. I mean, I've listened to it, but tell the people who are listening to this about it?

Chris Johnson:

Sure. Well, so the premise of the show, I interview unique individuals that are pursuing their passions. So primarily creative entrepreneurs, musicians, artists, like anybody that basically is doing something that they're really passionate about. And it doesn't necessarily have to be for a living, but generally speaking, that's what it is. And the the intention of the show is to inspire the person listening to go, Hey, it doesn't matter what my thing is, you know, maybe I'm really into making video games, maybe I'm super into painting, maybe I'm, you know, in the making candles, I had a candle maker and at one point, like, whatever it is, do, there's probably there's probably a way that you can incorporate that more into your life. And you will most likely feel more fulfilled at the end of the day, if you choose to put that more into it. Because a lot of people they go through college and they start getting into their career and whatever their thing was, you know, maybe they played music in high school, or maybe they they played in a basketball league or whatever, whatever the thing is that they really enjoyed because it doesn't make them money. It falls to the wayside when all of a sudden they need to make money because they have a mortgage. They have kids and stuff like that. But that's when you fall into that space that I don't want to be. I don't want to wake up and just go through the motions of making enough money for somebody else just to be able to live for the weekend. You know, I want to figure out how can I enjoy every day, at least hopefully. So that's the point, the show is to try to get people to look and say, hey, look, it doesn't matter what it is. I just interviewed an illusionist today. You know, I mean, he was doing card tricks and stuff when he was nine. And here he is traveling all over the world still doing magic tricks. He's got way nicer house than I do.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah. So clearly, he's doing something. Right.

Chris Johnson:

Yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

So with that podcast, what's the kind of development of that has it been? Because I'm, I'm still earlier in my journey than you are in yours. So tell me about how that from when it started to to where it is now, what's been the path?

Chris Johnson:

So I'll take it back. I was. I like podcasts. I listen to podcasts for a long time. And there was a skateboarding podcast out of Minneapolis area called locals on the podcast and the student Mitch did it. Go anyways, I found them randomly on Instagram, which by the way, Instagram is an incredible networking tool. If people aren't aware, it's not just for posting selfies. It's an incredible tool. Well, that's how I met that. That's what I'm saying. If you know how to use it, it can be super helpful. So I saw it and I was like, Whoa, cuz I know all the Minneapolis skateboarders and I listened to it. I'm like, this is sweet. And I dm them and I was like, dude, love the show. And he's like, oh, rad, because it was for my store account cuz I don't use personal social media. And I was like, what would it take to get in the show any interest? And he's like, yeah, I want to have you on the show. Because you know, owning a shop and I was like, tight. So I brought to my shop riders because I like sponsor some different dudes and stuff. And we we drove out to the we're in Burnsville was the spot, but we drove out there in Minneapolis area and did an episode of this podcast. It was so fun. I really, really enjoyed it. And like, I remember, I was driving home because the other two guys stay there. And I drove home by myself. I remember I was driving home, and I was like, that was really awesome. I want to do that for other people. I feel like No offense, Mitch. I feel like I could do this better than you. You know what I mean? Just because it was like, it was the homies, you know that they had duct tape on microphones like up on stands and stuff to like, have it set up. We're drinking beers while we're doing it having a good time. me already. Like, you know, I don't know, five years in business already years or something like I was in that zone. And I'm like, I could treat this as a business. I feel like I could do this for other people and give them this same feeling. I feel now about being a guest on the show. I could do that for other people. And then it kind of sat in the back. Like it was something that I thought about and never did it. And then I wanted to start expanding outside of skateboarding. This was September 2019, I think somewhere around there. And I asked this local rapper that I enjoyed his music, and I knew we used to skateboard anyways, named miles Boulevard. I was like, Hey, you want to wear my stuff? Like my brand passion stuff for your shows? You want to do some kind of partnership? And he's like, Yeah, absolutely. That would be so rad. I didn't even realize it. But apparently, he bought his first skateboard from me, like way back when he's a little kid. And I didn't remember but so he was stoked about doing it. Well, so I was like, Cool, let's kick it in. I should get to know you better, cuz I don't really know. You, you know. And he's like, okay, so we scheduled a he comes over to my house, and we drink beer. And I'm interviewing him not on purpose, but I am because I just want to know, you know, because I don't really know him. So I'm sitting there interviewing him. And by the end of the conversation, I'm like, I should have recorded that. That would have been, that would have been a good, good podcast. And he's like, Yeah, what up? And so it was just like a natural thing. I was like, Well, so what do you think? Should we should we try it? We could do the same conversation again, and just like use my laptop. And he's like, Yeah, why not? So we scheduled a day. He came over again, not even not thinking not that big of a plan. But set computer down in the middle of us. We got a couple beers and we record an episode. And it was surprisingly acceptable. Not fantastic, but surprisingly good. I'm like, wait, this this could actually work. So then I hit up another friend of mine who owned a business in town. And I was like, What do you think? would you do it? She's like, yeah, of course for you. Whatever. So same thing she comes over I use my laptop with just like the regular audio from it no mics and still drinking a little bit of beer while we're doing it turned up still pretty good. Realize like, Okay, this is enough. I want to do I want to do this a little more seriously. Hit up my buddy Mitch, we had that podcast. Dude was nice enough to just give me his recording equipment because he wasn't doing the show anymore. And now I hit up and lined up a bunch of guests had actual recording equipment. Definitely decided to do it with questions written out totally sober. Like treat it like a full on business. Ended up re recording episode one and two, like later on, so that way they weren't weren't horrible. And did a whole 10 episode podcast, I want to do 10 episodes this whole season, each guest from a different industry to be able to show like, Hey, we're all like minded people. It doesn't matter what you're into, like, I want to talk about it, because this is really cool stuff. So I did that whole 10 episode season and I'm like, What do I want to do with this project? I don't want to just put this out because again, I'm one of those people that's like, don't do it. Unless you're gonna do it. Well, first season, it's never gonna be that good, but in general, do it best of your abilities. What do I want to do with this project? Well, I gave myself a month after I was done editing it, to focus just on marketing and promo. And what do I want to do with this thing that I just created, got it on, you know, got a hold of my local radio station. And from Episode One, the very first one premiered on radio on air and then hit, you know, Apple and whatnot after that. And for 10 weeks, my show was premiering on my local radio station, it was so weird to hear myself on the radio, like tuning in like that. And then it just kept going from there, because like, it was well received. And I really, really enjoyed the whole process.

Jonathan Collaton:

So and now you're what season four, you just wrapped it in the middle of it or is it wrapped up?

Chris Johnson:

no season four. So again, I still record them in full seasons. So that's why there's breaks sometimes between episodes because I don't want to feel rushed to get anything done. I still own a full time business, that's still my main source of income. But I do them in full seasons, I finished recording season four, I want to save December 3 or something like that. And then the first episode of it dropped January 11. And right now they're coming out week by week. So Episode Five comes out this coming Monday. But season five is what I'm starting to record, I recorded the first episode of it today. And I record another one tomorrow. And then I'm going out to California to do some episodes. So yeah, now I'm back on the back on the grind of putting together the whole next next project of it.

Jonathan Collaton:

No, that's awesome. It's making me regret doing a weekly show a little bit. Because that's all certainly a grind, try and get an episode out every week, I ended up taking two weeks off over the Christmas break, just because I was like I need a break from this. I really love this. But I do need time away from it every now and again. So maybe i'll transition into seasons at some point.

Chris Johnson:

it's hard to get the people that you want to get because people's schedules are all over the place. You know, and especially as your podcast grows, and you don't want to just have you know, whoever owns the coffee shop down the street, you know, because they're available and you want to you want to reach more listeners you want to reach whatever, if you want to curate something like that having a time constraint of it having to come out every week. That's that's really hard to do really hard to do well, when it's not totally on your time. Now, if it was something that you just spoke on, and you didn't have guests, that's a different story, then then you could probably do it every week, but but to try to like put it together the way that I want to put it together. That's too much pressure. That's too hard to do. If if it was my full time career, if that's literally all I did, then I think I could do it. I would still record way I would record a bunch first. So that way I have a head start. But to do it the way I want to do it seasons are by far the easier way for me to be able to do it to the quality that I feel comfortable with.

Jonathan Collaton:

So you got your shop, you got your podcast. Hopefully, the shop opens up again soon. And everything's back to normal. But seems like things are pretty good.

Chris Johnson:

Yeah, no, it'll be fine. I'm not I'm not worried about it. We'll reopen March 1, I'll be back in Eau Claire. Like I said, the shop has a pretty good reputation. And my show is grown pretty significantly in my zone. So a lot of people are aware about my shop, I don't make a lot of money. Don't I'm not trying to say that I've definitely made less than I did when I was 22 working for Verizon, but I make enough to do the things I want. You know, I have the freedom that I want. I currently work when the shop is open five days a week, but six hours a day, like and I take days off whenever I feel like it. I pay people when I don't want to be there. You know, granted, because of my show, I work all the time outside of those hours. So I definitely put in way more than 40 hours a week on the projects collectively, but having the kind of freedom and stuff and I do have a relatively stable store like that. I'm yeah, living the dream, so to speak, trying to, you know, do my best with it. And that ultimately All that matters is like, I enjoy what I do. You know, hopefully it grows and grows and grows. But if it doesn't, I still enjoy what I do.

Jonathan Collaton:

Well, that's a very easy place for me to end this episode then because there's nothing else to say. So Chris, thanks so much for coming on today. And it was a great story. I'll put some links to your show below in case anyone else is interested in checking it out. And if I'm ever in Eau Claire, I'd love to come out of the shop.

Chris Johnson:

Yeah, absolutely man, you can come kick it at the crib. I got some extra space if you ever do roll through the area. There's beautiful things we're right on the river. It's it's a cool spot. Best way to find me is on Instagram. I don't use social media outside of that. I don't use Facebook or anything like that. You can find the podcast its passion pod, you can easily find it on any you know streaming services, Apple podcast, Spotify, that type of thing. Passion. pod.org is my website, Instagrams best way to get ahold of me slide in the DMS. And I'll respond.

Jonathan Collaton:

Alright, sounds good, man. Thanks a lot.

Chris Johnson:

Cool. Thank you.

Jonathan Collaton:

All right, so that is the story of how Chris went from working in sales to owning his own skate shop. Every week on career crossroads, I like to reflect a bit on the story of each guest and try to pick up some things that I think we can learn from them and takeaway from their journey. from Chris, I learned a couple different things. One is that you should know your worth and Be willing to stand by that. And I think it's really Chris's viewpoint on the sales world that helped me realize that he talked a lot about how the metrics are what really matter, a company might not have loyalty to you. But if you're their best salesperson, and you can back it up by showing that you do x percentage of all of the sales in that store, they're going to want to keep you around. In fact, he said that he could leave his job and feel confident knowing he could come back to it, because they would want him back if his numbers were good. And that is why when Verizon offered him a job, and the base salary was too low, he wouldn't accept it. And the person interviewing him seemed to just be incredulous, couldn't understand why he would do that. But he knew that he was valuable enough to the company that he should make a specific base salary before he even started thinking about commission. And in his case, it paid off, he ended up getting the starting salary he wanted. So the takeaway there is, feel free to push back a little bit. If you feel like you won't be happy with the offer that you're going to take, try and negotiate to get a better offer. The second lesson I learned from Chris is that if you have a dream, you have to work very, very hard to make it a reality. So think about what Chris said when he was discussing opening passion board shot. Initially, he just wanted to be an investor. And when everybody else pulled out, he decided that it was something he wanted to do on his own. But in order to do that, he had to work 40 hours a week at Verizon, 12 hours a week at helzberg diamonds, all while working on the business in his spare time, creating a business plan securing a lease ordering product. And the work doesn't stop as soon as the store is open all of a sudden, then he's working seven days a week, eight to 10 hours a day on the business for five straight months before he even goes down to six days a week. And that's just talking about the hours, let's talk about the actual things you have to do. So he had to seek out a business plan and modify templates he found online to fit his business model, which admittedly, he says wasn't incredibly difficult. But then he went above and beyond and went to the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center got help with that business plan. And then he had to hustle to find quote, unquote, financing for the business, which really ended up being a couple of credit cards in his name. And really not all that much. I'm really impressed. He was able to get a business off the ground with 80 $300. But he did it. And now he's been doing it for almost seven years, and he really clearly enjoys it. So all the hard work he put into making his dream a reality was absolutely worth it. So that's something else I'm gonna take away from my talk with Chris is that things are possible if you commit all of your time and resources to them, which you're willing to do if you really want to see it happen. Well, that is all for this week's episode of career crossroads and other we're wrapping up go check out Chris's passion pod. I'll put some links to it in the show notes, so it's really easy to find. And if you know someone who would be interested in hearing Chris's story, do me a favor and share this episode with them. If you want to hear more interviews, go to career Crossroads podcast.com. And while you're there, you can leave a rating or review for the show and subscribe to make sure that you get notified about future episodes of career crossroads. Episodes like next week's interview with Ivan, who went from working in IT consulting to becoming a vocal coach.