Have you found yourself in a moment where you realize your passion may have changed?
Welcome to the Behind the Billboard Podcast, a living, breathing, interactive conversation about getting better as a leader, a team and as a person. We believe that success is all about people and we are on a mission to help you grow. Here is your host, Kris Lindahl.
In this interview, I had the opportunity to interview a great friend of mine, Josh Neumann of Kinds Lips. Kind Lips is a lip balm company but what I love about this company is the mission behind it— and it’s to stop the bullying that happens, you know, in the school, on social media and pretty much everywhere in the world. So his anti-bullying movement has been making a huge difference. So, hope you enjoy the interview. Josh is an incredible person and a super, super humble leader. So, welcome Josh!
Thank you! Thank you for having me. Excited to be here.
Yeah. I love it, man. So, let’s take a step back for people who maybe don’t know you, don’t know your story. Let’s start back at the beginning of where you grew up and sort of, like, what school looked life for you and obviously what you did after that and in your early days of your career because I am always interested in the journey than I am in the finish line. So maybe walk us through some of how this journey has went for you.
Totally. I was one of those kids in school that… I was smart. I could do the work, but I was never challenged and I did not enjoy school. It was not until after I finished school that I started learning how to enjoy learning. So, I grew up in Oklahoma. Moved up from Wisconsin, Western Wisconsin, in middle school and high school age. Went to college at Eau Claire and went to college to be a special education teacher. I was student teaching and I had four weeks left of student teaching and I decided to quit. I had enough credits to graduate but I realized with four weeks left of getting my degree and getting certified to teach I walked away from student teaching in college. Of course my parents were upset. “You are so close. Why don’t you just finish?” Like, I will never teach a day in my life so why would I spend the next four weeks doing it? So, my passions changing and seasonings changing has always been something that has been happening. I left education and I got into real estate and didn’t really enjoy it right away. Had some tough lessons I learned right away and I was like, this business is not going to be for me. I serendipitously ended up getting back into it a few years later and it turned into that point, I loved it. It was something that I loved for ten years.
Yeah. So, I didn’t know that you went for teaching. So did I.
(0:02:46) JN: Oh, really?
Yeah. I have two education degrees. I student taught and said, “Teaching isn’t for me.” It is funny how things change and you just don’t know in the moment. What is interesting for me is, when I student taught, it’s always fascinating that is the last thing you do before you graduate. Like, I think if that was one of the first things I did I would not have gone down towards that career and get that degree. When you talk about, like, going to teach. There obviously had to have been
some sort of passion that led you to multiple years in college to pursue teaching. Like, what were those things or those passion points now looking back from where you are today. What were those things where you were like, I want to be a teacher? Looking back at the core, what were those things?
So when I started at Eau Claire I went in business. General business because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had a good friend and he was going to be a special education teacher and we signed up to do Special Olympics on a Saturday morning and I went to the bowling alley in Eau Claire and I went and did Special Olympics for five or six, seven hours that day, and that morning changed my life. Working with people with disabilities and seeing how happy and excited they were to show up and bowl and how proud they were… Really, I was the one that was blessed that day.
So some of the people listening right now… I love the volunteer, like give back angle of everything but I have found a lot of people don’t do that of haven’t experienced it and I think it is because of fear. Like, they don’t know where to start or don’t know how they can make a difference. I have a good friend of mine that told me, “Just go help more people. Help more people and everything will be better. So for those who are listening who haven’t stepped through in a moment of volunteer, or found a cause to support. What sort of recommendation would you give to people who haven’t done that yet?
Man, you know, in my life I started small. I learned by just opening doors for people. That is something I still do. I will wait the extra two seconds, three seconds to open up the door for somebody. Sometimes people just walk right in and don’t say anything and you kind of want to kick them but you don’t and it isn’t about me opening up the door for them it is about my heart and just consistently practicing trying to go out of my way to do nice things for people so I think that is a good way to start. So once that habit develops then what are you passionate about? Whether it is animal or whether it is people. Whatever cause it is, reach out to one and put one foot in the door.
I love it. Yeah. Open doors for people. That is really good. That is a great take away. So when you look at, you know, we both have talked a bit about passion and I think some people listening are like, “I don’t know what I am passionate about.” How did you find out what you were passionate about? Were there certain exercises that you did? Were there moments in your life? Obviously you mentioned the Special Olympics volunteering you did but what are some of the things you have done along the way that really helped you dial in on what your true passion is?
So, when my first go around with real estate didn’t work out and I bounced around a few different jobs trying to figure out what I was going to do.
So, real quick. When you say, “It didn’t work out.” Why didn’t it work out?
Because I didn’t make any money. Pretty much. I had bills to pay. I had to move on and go do something that could pay the bills.
So through this two or three years of not being in real estate and bouncing around I started learning about personality profiles. My own personality profile so I could learn what is it going to be that I should do or what area would my personality work well with? So when I started learning about personality profiles, Myers Briggs, Five Love Languages, different stuff like that I started learning about who I was as a person. That really helped me understand that I was passionate about other people. So I started learning about other people’s personalities and how could my personality relate to other people’s personalities and I developed this passion and love for people. When I got back into real estate, I think I was successful, not because I enjoyed looking at homes, it was because I enjoyed people, and getting to know them, and truly trying to fit the right property with the right person.
It is interesting that you say that. That is why I asked the question about why it didn’t work the first time. I have found a lot of times, yeah, the money, you mentioned you didn’t have the money, but I think that passion of wanting to help people, when that really truly comes out in everything that you do, that’s where you really start to find success. I know that people are listening right now to this Podcast; I know there are so many people that don’t know why they are doing what they are doing. I was at that point in my life. You know? And you were as well. What types of things do you think someone could do? Whether it journaling or writing things down. Are there certain events? Certain mentors? Where do you dig deep inside and find those things?
For me it has been a journey of change. Right now I am in a season of reading. Two years ago, I was not in a season of reading. Four years ago I was in a season of reading and having mentors in my life. I think it has really turned into, for me, what do I need to do and what is good for me is not always going to be good for you or good for the next person, but it has actually taken that time and attention to being quiet and listening to what doors are open to you and what do you have in front of you. So, if you don’t have any mentors in your life, go seek them out. Put some time and energy into finding that so they can show you what they have done. It is a lot easier to get from A to B by modeling somebody else who has already made that journey instead of having to figure out everything on your own. I think mentors are one of the things that helped me get to B a lot faster.
Yeah. What is interesting about mentors is I didn’t realize as I had my evolution through my company is how many people actually enjoy being mentors. I had this insecurity like no one wanted to help me or talk to me and so I just didn’t say anything. So for those of you who don’t have a mentor, don’t be afraid to ask because selfishly, a lot of mentors learn just as much at the same time and the challenges you may be experiencing right now may are not universal to you. Challenges don’t go away at whatever level of business you are in. Another thing I have found about successful business leaders that are passionate is their routine. So, you have certain things that you do in the morning. What are those things that you do? I am interested in that.
Yeah, totally. I wake up every morning between six and six thirty. I am one of those people that don’t need an alarm. I just wake up and the first thing I do is turn on a YouTube video. Kind of a self-help, or a church video and I listen to that and it gets my mind going in the right direction with positivity right away. I listen to that for thirty minutes while I make coffee and just kind of sit down. Then I read, whether it is the news or a journal. Meditate. The first hour of my morning is just devoted to me, no phone, no anything else. Just myself. Once that is done, I go do thirty minutes in the gym just to get it out of the way every morning. After that, I have devoted that first hour and a half to two hours to myself, then I am capable to give as much energy to everyone else around me the rest of the day.
Yeah. I love it. For those of you listening right now, everyone that I have interviewed so far and everyone I have surrounded myself with through the years like has some sort of routine or moment alone. It is just so important to have that time alone to reflect and do those things. It recharges you too. We need that time. If you are in a moment where maybe you are not passionate or maybe you are feeling a little bit of burnout, it is really how you start your day. You have to have some sort of clarity. Josh shared a story with me that I would love to talk about really quick. You shared a story with me the other day about the guy that was jogging in the morning. Maybe just share that story, because I love those moments. Also, share what you wished you would have done in the moment that ended up working out in the end.
Totally. So, because I have put so much time and effort into myself and into growing, the more I do that the more I feel like there are more opportunities the world or universe gives to me to make a difference and I am seeing them on a different level now than I maybe did five years ago. Lately, I have been seeing people and I see them and I have these random thoughts like, oh, I should help this person or I should go out of my way to do this and I have been second guessing myself when I get these. They are all positive thoughts. This summer, I had done my meditation time and got out to do a run. I went down by the river and as I was jogging I came up behind a man who had two canes, or two walkers with him so he could kind of like walk as fast as he can. I walked by him and I could tell that he was exercising and it just blew my mind away that some mornings I complain about running and just doing it and there is this guy just chugging along, getting exercise, and I almost wanted to cry because he motivated me so much. I was like, I need to go tell him how he impacted my life, so I ran by him and I was just thinking, like, gosh, I should tell him. I should tell him. Then I just kept running and I didn’t stop. So then I thought, well I will see him on the way back around and I will go tell him. Well, of course I didn’t see him. I thought about him every morning for two weeks and every morning I would go for a run and I was really hoping I would see this guy and I thought I missed my opportunity to share that with him and luckily two weeks later I saw him and was able to stop and just let him know the impact he had made on my life and he started crying and it was a really special moment and I think it encouraged him to continue go do what he is doing.
I love that story. I will share this with you too. Probably four years ago one of my big goals was I wished that in that moment I would have done something different and I think a lot of people listening can relate to that where you are in that moment and then your brain kind of takes over and is like, oh no, you are going to be uncomfortable or it is going to be awkward and you talk yourself out of doing it like you did on that run and then you get home or you get done and you kick yourself because you can’t stop thinking about it and you are so frustrated that you didn’t do that in that moment. So, I said to myself I am not going to do that anymore. When I am in that moment I am going to step through that fear and I am going to let someone know whether they are doing something amazing, or I love what they are doing or love what they look like. Whatever it is, I am going to let people know what that is and it is a really hard thing to do. It is really difficult.
Yeah. I feel like the more that I step into that fear and do that, the more opportunities I get to step into that fear, but it also becomes less fearful. You know that you are doing good and good things are going to come from it.
That is right. As we talk about passion and those things, that positive energy of putting that into the universe, like good things show up. You feel better. The people around you are happier. Everything is better when you are complimentary to people around you and you actually share what you are truly thinking and you get that outside of your body.
Yeah. That was one of the first times that I truly did it was when I was starting Kind Lips. I had a tester tube I had made in my kitchen. Just white tube, but I knew what the intention of it was. I was at a local restaurant, Brasa, and I was waiting for some take out food. I saw these two women sitting there having dinner. They were sixty-five, maybe seventy years old. My thought was, these are really beautiful older women. I put my tube of Kind Lips on, like applied it to my lips. I was like, I need to tell them. But then, I was like, well that is awkward. That is going to be weird. I shouldn’t do that. I am starting to sweat. So, I get my food and I walk by them and I am having all of this self talk and I turn around and I walked back and I was like, “I know this is strange I just want to let you know that you are both beautiful women and I just thought that while I was over there waiting for my food.” Then, I turned away and left. I truly just wanted to let them know that that was a positive thought that I had had about them and hopefully it impacted them in a good way. They didn’t bite me. They didn’t scratch me. You know, I left and I survived. Getting through that first moment helped me do it again and again and again and then, you know, seeing the guy with the canes. So.
There are so many people listening that will not do what you just shared because it is not easy. There is always that thought, like am I going to be the weirdo that just said that someone looked good? Are they going to think that I am hitting on them? There are all of those things that go through your head and I am just proud of you for doing them because those are not easy things to do. But, you mention Kind Lips, which is what I am really, really interested in. So, that is your company that you are running today but I want to go back to that first moment that you thought about Kind Lips. It wasn’t Kind Lips at the time, but when you thought about the concept of what that was. When did you actually start thinking about that?
It was honestly about two years ago today. I was really at that point in real estate where I was like; this really isn’t making me happy anymore. Like, what is next? Unfortunately, it happened at a time where my real estate career was where I wanted it to be. I had more time and more money than I thought I would ever have. It was like I had made it, but I wasn’t happy.
Yeah, and at one point it did fulfill me for a long time and nothing had changed other than my heart. I was sitting on the couch one night watching T.V. and I was having some self-talk and I was like, what am I going to do with my life? I am just not happy. I need a change. I have never had a nine to five job, so I knew that wasn’t going to be an option for me. I was like twirling my lip balm, sitting on my couch and thinking what can I do? What kind of business can I start and what am I passionate about? I looked at the lip balm and I was like, man, I have always had a lip balm with me since I was a little kid. I am always trying different lip balms and trying to find a one that I really care about that I really like that I want to buy again. I struggled with finding a lip balm that I wanted to buy a second time. By habit or by convenience I will buy the same brand over, but I knew I could start a lip balm. This can’t be rocket science, let’s figure this out. At the time I was reading a lot about the power of our words and how different sound waves will make plants grow at different rates. There is this scientist out of Japan, Dr. Emoto and he did this rice study, as he called it. He took these three jars of rice and he sanitized the jars in all the same way. He put three scoops of rice in each jar from the same bag and then he put water in them all. He put tape on all of them and on one he wrote love, on one he wrote hate and the other he didn’t write anything on it. So, for thirty days he would walk up to this jar and he would be like, “I love you.” The other he would walk up and be like, “I hate you.” The third, he would walk up and not say anything. Just once a day for thirty days. At the end of the thirty days, the one he said, “I love you,” to was white like the day he put it in there. The one he said, “I hate you,” to had turned black. It had like rotted. The one he didn’t say anything to was kind of brown and mushy. It was just the physical representation of the power of our words, so I was like… it blew my mind. So, that put my down this rabbit trail of really digging into this and reading all of his research and looking at other things. There is also a water study, and this is the one that really got to me, where these scientists would like pray over water or speak positivity into water and then they would freeze that instantly and it would look like these beautiful snowflakes. Then, they would do the opposite and they would say mean things to water and whatever. They would freeze it ant it would be blob-ish and it wouldn’t look like anything. Our bodies, depending on the time of the month, we are eighty to ninety percent water. So, I was like, if our words have that much power over water, that just told me if I can give you a compliment or say something kind or nice that can physically change how your body is made up and how you look and how it effects you.
Another thing that has been talked about is as some people called them haters, or naysayers or doubters. As you take this Kind Lips thing essentially to the moon because I know that this is going to be massive for you just because of where you are as a person. I believe in everything that you are doing. How do you handle those people that are like, this is all about Josh, or this is just a lip balm company or he is selfishly trying to do this. How do you handle that?
I choose to not really even worry about it to be honest because if those people knew me and they wanted to come have a conversation with me, I am so open to having a conversation with anyone who questions my intention with this. I guess that is how I handle it. If they choose to take the time and energy to actually have a conversation with my I think that they would understand that my intention is to truly make a difference and have something out there that is a reminder to someone to say something kind. That energy that they take to write something negative online or say something to somebody else. Have a conversation with me. I don’t really have the time to worry about what they are saying but if they want to take the time and have a conversation, I would love to love on them.
You are reading these books. You are listening to these studies. You are pretty clear, and I think you were pretty clear before that, that positivity and those positive words make a big difference. So, what is the evolution of Kind Lips at that point? You are watching these studies, you are listening to things, you are growing your brain. Then what is next?
Yeah. So, that night where I was twirling the lip balm and reading all of that stuff it just kind of hit me like, I am going to call this Blessed Lips. I was going to be like prayed over, positivity spoken into this lip balm and I was going to market it towards Christians or Yogis and the more spiritual side and it would be kind of like this niche product and it would be this fun thing that could give me some sort of fulfillment. That night, my mom happened to call me after I had this thought and I told her, like, “Hey, I am going to start this lip balm company and it is going to be called Blessed Lips.” She was like, “Oh, you will be great at whatever you do.” Typical mom stuff, which I really appreciate. So I went about my night and thought more through Blessed Lips and went to sleep. The next morning at six a.m. my phone rings and it is my mom and my first thought is somebody must have died. What is wrong? Why is she calling me a six o’clock in the morning? And she said she had a dream and she had been up for three hours and she had been waiting to call me. She had a dream when my sister and I were young and we would get in fights. I was like six and my sister would be like eight. I would always try to win the fight, and one of the ways I would do it would be by saying something mean and trying to cut her down. My punishment was always that I had to write sentences. I was always a rambunctious kid.
Right? I would have rather like got a spanking and then like a, “go play.” But being the awesome mom that she is she made me sit down and write sentences. She make me write ‘Love and kindness is on my lips’ and I would have to write it fifty times. I hadn’t thought about this for thirty some years. In this dream, every time I wrote kind and lips, they were flying off the page at her. If you do this lip balm thing, I think you are supposed to call it Kind Lips and it’s supposed to be for everybody, not just a niche group. I had the chills go down my spine and I knew this was something I was supposed to do. This is bigger than some little niche product. The first thing I did when I got off the phone was I went to Go Daddy. I typed in Kindlips.com and it was there and I bought it for seven or eight bucks for two years and then I was like, this is meant to be. Even afterwards I have looked for ‘Kind Elbows’ or Kind other stuff and you can’t find it. I knew it was just sitting there waiting on me because there is a greater purpose behind this product. So, after that, I was like okay, now I have to learn to make lip balm. So, I started watching YouTube videos and buying every lip balm I could find and Googling top ten lists and writing down ingredients and then researching what each of the ingredients do. I had this legal pad and everything that wasn’t natural or organic were crossed off and just kept whittling it down. My Fridays and Saturdays, I would be at home mixing lip balm on the stove and trying it.
So, you are now at that point where you are now a scientist.
For the first time.
Right. For the first time ever and with no training. But that is the power of watching videos on YouTube and things like that. So, then, along the way up to this point where you are now starting to mix things and figure things out there had to be some major challenges and some set backs where you were like, why am I doing this? Maybe I am not a scientist. I can’t figure this out. Who should I bring in? What were some of those challenges that you had and what was your state of mind through those challenges?
I think I was fortunate enough to be so dumb that I didn’t understand what my challenges were. I think ignorance is bliss in that. I didn’t have any because I have any expectation of anything because I still had my real estate career and that was paying the bills, so I didn’t know what I didn’t know. My challenges at that point were, okay, now I have to make a formula. How am I going to make this the best formula? I just had to perfect it and perfect it and try again and make it harder or make it softer. My biggest challenge was I had to come to the realization that I am never going to make this perfect product because I am never perfect. I am continually growing and changing and as I change everything that I like grows and changes as well. So, I had to be satisfied with having this product where it is and then focus on the mission. I know that I can go back and adjust it later on, which I already did. Yeah.
I love that statement about perfection because I think so many people are literally trying to make things so perfect that they never get anywhere. It’s like they are stuck in neutral. I am hyper critical of myself and everything we do in our businesses and I am always trying to make it perfect. What I have learned over the last couple of years and I was never great at this is, you just have to ship things. You have to get them out. You can improve them. To your point, you made it better already. So what went from the initial product you rolled out to where it is today? What were some on the modifications that you made to that product?
After I had the initial formula, I found a manufacturer. I toured a couple different facilities and I was like these are the manufacturers I want to work with and so they had recreated my formula, or they used my formula and I got it and then I started getting the message out there about what to product is and the mission out there and people were liking it and buying it and they were really enjoying what the mission and the mindset behind the product was. In my mind I was like, I can do better and so I started researching the ingredients again and I removed one ingredient. I removed sunflower oil. Dirty stuff just to have and then increased the olive oil and Shea butter, so I just made it a little bit harder but got rid of one ingredient and had better ingredients and I was going through the USDA Organic approval process. So yeah.
I love that. Something you just mentioned right there was the mission and it is so important in anything you are doing in life and that is where that passion really comes in. Whether it is lip balm or real estate, you have to have some sort of mission for why you are doing it. So for Kind Lips, what is your mission today, and what did you think it was going to be when you first started?
When I started it, you know, all of the self-development stuff I have learned to trick myself into habits. And one of the things that I wanted to do this is going to be a behavior modification tool. Every time someone would grab this tube, they were going to look at it, and it was going to be a reminder for them to say something kind. That is our hashtag, #saysomethingkind. I thought that that was going to be enough for everybody else. I had always known with the way that I church that was a big part of me growing up. Even when I got into real estate that was a big part of me and I always gave ten percent of what I made to a charity or a church. Through my real estate career I knew that I wanted to give more ten percent, but every time I got a check I ended up just giving the ten. For me to give more than ten… I just couldn’t do it. So, when I started Kind Lips I wanted to make sure I was giving back and creating positive change so I decided to give twenty percent of my profit. I knew if I didn’t do that right away and work that into my business model, I couldn’t start with five or ten and get up to twenty. I had to just go and figure it out. I won’t take a salary if I don’t have to type of deal. Whatever I have to do to give the twenty percent. So I started thinking about what is the best thing that fits with being kind and what is relevant? Anti bullying or kids being bullied is such a prevalent problem out there in society. So twenty percent of our profits go to anti-bullying charities.
I love it. The bullying now… I mean, I have a nine-year-old daughter, Victoria and the things that I hear about the way kids are today is so different than we grew up with the cyber side of things. With the social media platforms and with the perception that certain messages and certain images go away after ten seconds. A lot of the kids think that you say something and it just goes away. They don’t realize the impact of those words. Exactly what we are talking about today. I love the mission. Every time I talk about it I get goose bumps because I love what you are doing. So, what does the future look like for Kind Lips and for your mission? When you feel like, okay, Kind Lips has made it, what sort of impact have you made on anti-bullying and on the product itself?
Yeah, so, I don’t know if from my point of view if we will ever make it. I don’t ever want to stop I just want to continue to grow it. I always said it would be awesome to be walking down the streets of New York and walking down a block and someone pulls out a tube of lip balm and it is Kind Lips and they don’t know who I am and they put it on and they just give me some random compliment. That would be a life changing experience. Like, I have made it. But, one of the things that happened organically when I first started it, a teacher reached out and she ordered like thirty tubes for her classroom. She asked for a discount because they don’t have much of a budget. Teachers are usually paying out of their own money to do stuff for their kids. So, I was like, absolutely, I would love to donate this stuff to your classroom. She said that the kids started reminding each other to put their Kind Lips on when they were like being mean to other kids. They started policing themselves. Then, the principal found out about it and was like, hey; if this is actually working let’s do something with this school. I started getting involved in different schools and marketing this to different schools. Just this little weird program with lip balm being this reminder to say something kind and it started taking off. So in my mind, I was like, this is really going to have the potential to change behavior and it is not just because it is a lip balm. It is because it is a reminder. People want to do good. People want to be kind. People want to receive that kindness. So, just having this tube. I would love to be in every school across the county and you know, people are like, you need to get this into middle schools and in my mind I was thinking this through and I was like, yes, middle school is a problem because of the bullying. That is when all of the cyber stuff starts happening but actually, my goal is to go into elementary schools. Pre-k, first, second, third grade. Because that is when, you know, going to school for education, we learned that eighty to ninety percent of what we are going to know for our entire lives we know by the time we are eight or nine years old. So the earlier we can teach our kids those proper behaviors and instill those qualities in them, we won’t have to worry about middle school or high school because they already know how to act properly and treat people with respect and kindness.
I love it. What was the hashtag?
#Saysomethingkind. So, I want to do is for the first hundred people who share this episode on social media, I will buy one hundred tubes of lip balm and then as long as you put the hashtag in there so we can track it. So, the next hundred that are purchased, we will take care of that cost just to help with anti-bullying. Another part of this that I always find when I interview business leaders is joy. You have your product and your product is on your way but we tend to not enjoy the ride. Just exactly how you mentioned is exactly how I feel. You don’t think you will ever get there. It is always that we want to get more. We want to make a bigger impact. What are you doing to bring joy to your life and also joy to the business that you are creating?
Honestly, right now in this season I am just so enameled with learning. I am learning about, I had the opportunity to ship a bunch of product to Japan, so I am learning about how to get trademarked in Japan. I am learning about all of these different shipping rules and I just… I can’t announce it yet, but I was assigned a big deal to get some national distribution.
That is so amazing. Congratulations.
So I am learning how I am getting all of these boxes made and how am I going to get these boxes to the manufacturer and get them filled and get them out. There is so much learning and growth going on that I am so fulfilled and my heart is happy. Every day I wake up not knowing what I am doing but knowing I can figure it out and get through it. I am not worried about what tomorrow is going to bring because I don’t have the time to. I have enough stuff to worry about today and that is all I can focus on. I will worry about tomorrow tomorrow. It is just being in the moment, this has really forced me to be in the moment and humble myself. I don’t know what I am doing. I have never started a lip balm company. I am just waking up and putting one foot in front of the other and when things come up, do the best that I can. I am piecemealing this thing together and it will eventually work out… or it won’t.
Yeah. It will. It will. You mention being humble and that humility is such an important thing to me. I only want to surround myself with people that operate in that fashion. For you, you have had a lot of success. So, how have you been able to keep your humility at the level you have and remain humble? I have seen a lot of people and you have too, who have success in business and then turn into complete egomaniacs. So what are the things that keep you grounded?
I am going to go back to the doors. It is just continually serving other people and going out of my way. It could be because of my personality type, but when I am walking down the sidewalk, I don’t care where it is or how much it is or how big it is, I pick up trash. I am never too good to do small things. I have always wanted to lead by example. Whatever I can do to make someone’s day better and just constantly picking one person today, how can I do something nice for them? Trying to put other people first has kind of kept me focused on being humble. I don’t even ever think of myself as being humble. I just think how can I help other people?
Yeah. I love that helping other people. You talk about putting people first and it reminds me of the two different types of leadership where you have top down leadership where you have someone at the top who is barking orders. No one wants to work for that type of organization or person or leader and then you have that bottom up, which is exactly what you were talking about where you are going to pick up trash next to them and you are going to open those doors. That is really how you inspire others and create a movement where you have others that want to do it with you when you are on the ground with them. I think that too many leaders make that mistake, like hey, I am up here. I am up above. I am at the top of the food chain and I am going to tell you what to do. I don’t want to do any work. People can see that and they can feel it. In an organization like yours, obviously it is an emerging product. There is also this element of culture that you have developed. What I love about the culture you have developed is people think you have to have all of these employees or you have to have this company to have culture. You have created culture at your company and they are not even your employees. Explain to me how this product and this movement has started to take a life of its own? What types of things are starting to happen?
Yeah. Well, the school movement has been really cool to see that. I just finished up a school and I have been trying to learning and grow for how to implement this school program. The last school I did I went in and spoke to these teachers first. I have never done this. I went and met with the sixty teachers that were there and told them about my experience with student teaching. When I was student teaching, half of the teachers didn’t want to go to the teacher’s lounge because they didn’t want to talk to the other teachers. In this conversation, and I didn’t really have this planned, but I was like, in that moment I felt like I was in high school even though I was a teacher. That wasn’t an environment that I wanted to be in. I challenged the teachers, like how can you expect the students in your high school and middle school to act like adults and treat each other with kindness when the teachers can’t even treat each other with kindness? It was kind of like a stab right in the heart to all of them because they knew what was going on. Then I gave them all the Kind Lips and kind of gave them the message. I got so many emails from these teachers saying, we have been reminding each other as a staff over the last week to two weeks to month and it has continued to go on. Like if someone is gossiping, like you better put your Kind Lips on. No one can get mad at the tube of lip balm, you know? Like, you better go put your Kind Lips on if you are being a jerk type of deal. People see it on their desk and they have gone out of their way to give people complements. It has really changed the culture within the teaching staff. I have heard that same feedback and heard similar stories from people that bought thirty or forty of them for their workers and everyone had them in their cubes. It has changed the culture in their workplace. That is the stuff that I am really excited to see it get on people’s lips and truly make a difference. It is just a little tube of lip balm that just sits there and reminds people to be nice.
I love it. It is so smart what you are doing.
It is so simple. I always say that I am not smart enough to come up with anything complicated. The simplicity of this is so beautiful, but it is out of lack of intelligence, it is not from being so smart.
C’mon. You are doing such a great job and I love surrounding myself with people like yourself that are making a huge difference in the world. That is what I love about what you just said. It does not have to be complicated. I think a lot of times we feel like to make an impact it has to be some crazy idea or some crazy movement to make traction. Every single person that you help, if it is one person then that is one more person than there was before. I think too often as leaders we are too scared. Like, oh, only twenty people viewed that video. I wanted to do this to help that. That is twenty more people that you have than if you didn’t do it. Another thing that you mentioned that stuck with me is when you talk about the way that the teacher’s lounge was and that experience. Like how are you supposed to lead students and lead others when your actions are different? What we always say in our company is it is not the words it is the actions. You can say whatever you want but if you show up as someone completely different people can feel it. Anything that you are thinking privately is going to show up publically. You can feel it and you can see it. I love that you walked into that environment and challenged them to be better because I had the same experience when I was student teaching. I have the highest level of respect for teachers and I think it is a very difficult job and they make a huge impact in this world but there is that dramatic side to the teacher lounge. You know, you let the kids our one minute too late or too early. There are all sorts of other challenges to helping them become better students and better leaders and better people. Words versus actions are something I would challenge everyone on. Some people are going to hear this podcast and be very inspired by what you shared today and they are going to go out and they are going to say those things. They are not going to live them and do them. I would challenge everyone that is listening it is not what Josh is saying today, it is actually what you are doing. I watch your actions. I watch exactly what you do. I watch your body language. I watch everything. I know exactly why it is so successful. It is because of your actions and you are actually stepping through and you are showing up to that school and making an impact for these teachers. You are not sure why you even said it but you did and now they are putting that lip balm on their lips and reminding other teachers, like, hey, it is a moment to be kind. That is a huge movement. I have never been in an environment like what you just explained. I always think about culture as like being in our organization and you have to feel it. It is fascinating to me that you are growing this culture that is happening outside of your world. It is almost happening organically at this point.
It is all organic. Again, I had no idea this was going to change behavior in the business. In the workplace. You know, when the student thing came up I was like, oh, I can see this working for kids. But when this started having an effect on adults that is when I was like, wow, this is way bigger than anything I could have every thought of or come up with.
You are two years into this movement right now and what, looking back now what was the biggest surprise of the whole thing? What was one thing where you were like, I was completely miscalculated or I didn’t think this was going to happen. What was that moment where you were like, wow! I didn’t expect that. Out of everything that has happened in Kind Lips. What is that one moment?
That is tough because I haven’t had any expectations. I really feel like, and as hard as that is to do, there are areas of my life where I struggle with having expectations and this last fifteen years where I have been trying to learn to not have expectations. With Kind Lips because there is not a standard, there is not anything I have gone through, and I do not know what to expect. There is nothing that has come up. I have been unexpectedly surprised with good things that have happened and have come about but nothing negative and nothing has been that hard. With anything, whether it is doing good or starting a business it is just doing something and getting one foot in the door. I have a good friend and he was going to remodel his house. He was like, “I just don’t know where to start.” I was like, “Get a contractor. Don’t waste your time.” That is what I would do. That is my lens and my perspective. Right? He was like, “No, I have to save money and I am going to do it myself. I just don’t know what to do.” I was like, “take a hammer and throw it in the wall.” He is like, “What?” And, I am like, “Just throw it in the wall.” He called me the next day and he was like, “I just tore down two walls.” He was like, “I just threw the hammer into the wall and there was this big whole in the wall so I had to start.” I think that is the hardest part with a lot of people. We have these ideas and these good intentions and just do something and momentum builds more momentum and builds more momentum. Just put your foot in the door. Start. Do one kind act. Say one kind thing. Open up one door for someone. What has happened in my own life is it became an addiction. Even to the point where at one point I questioned myself because I wanted to give more to everybody. I want to do more kind things because it got to be such a high for me. I almost felt bad about doing nice stuff for people because I enjoyed it so much. What a funny thing to question yourself and figure out where your intentions are. I questioned my intentions because I love doing nice things for people. It is a good problem to have.
Great problem. You mentioned momentum. I think momentum is pretty much the key to success in pretty much anything in life. When you have those small wins and like you mentioned that one kind word, that one kind thing, those small things you are sharing. It releases that dopamine. All of the sudden you have this huge surplus of positive energy and positive overtaking. I am so focused on doing those same things. I love that you share that because if you look at the momentum that you have created there is no accident that you are where you are today. It is because of that momentum. You have that momentum today. Here is the challenge… how do you keep it going?
Wake up everyday and just do the best that I can. I really feel like for this product and where I am in life right now, that is all that I have to do. If my heart is in the right place, which I know that it is, I think doors are going to open up. Like you said, people are going to know that and feel that and know the heart and the mission behind it is true, and the intention of the product is really to make the world a better place. People want to get behind that.
I love everything you are sharing and I think so many people are going to find what you are sharing today helpful. So, thank you for being here. Twelve months from now… you keep saying that you don’t have any expectations, but at some point you have to be like, okay, here is where I am and here is where I am going. You have to have some sort of target.
My goals are that this is going to be the largest lip balm in the world. I know that I have my work cut out for me to get that. My manufacturer makes a million tubes a day for multiple different brands. I have sold about fifty thousand tubes in the last year. I have my work cut out for me. I think am going to continue to grow distribution. I think that I am going to continue to learn about the logistics of this. It is crazy and I have no idea what I am doing. I am going to be on this path and I think in a year I am going to look back and be like, where the heck did I learn this and how did I get here? I am already looking at that from right now. From where I was a year ago, just starting a website to being where I am actually going across the country and having distribution in thirty-five hundred locations. Honestly, I think it is going to continue to grow. A year ago I wouldn’t have expected it to grow this fast. So, it could exponentially grow out of my expectations. I have no idea where it is going. I just hope that it continues to make a difference.
The continuing to make a difference is what drives most people. I have rarely found that it is just about the product. That is why I was so interested in your mission and anti-bullying. What have been some surprising emails and texts and phone calls you have received from people that you didn’t even know your product was impacting? Where you were like, wow, I had no idea our product did that?
I have had quite a few students who reached out from all over the country. I have had Texas. I have had Illinois. Seattle. I get these emails from people that are like, we bought this and we gave it to our classroom and people started being kind. One of the coolest things that I got was a mom that reached out and was like, “I put this on my kid’s lips every night before they go to bed and we talk about how important their words are and how important it is to be kind. That is our nightly routine.” Stuff like that has really made a big difference for me. It is that motivation to keep going. I think it is still like a drop in the bucket, but those are the cool things that I have seen. Along with, even the cool things, on the surface it may not look like a positive, but I remember there was a march after that school shooting in Florida. There was a march at the capital here. Bailey, who helps with social media, she had taken some photos and posted them online about this march. It was about gun control. I had a couple different people reach out on our social media and were like, “Is Kind Lips anti-gun?” First of all, I’m like we have five hundred followers, who cares? Second of all, Kind Lips isn’t a thing. I had never thought of it as it’s own living organism. I didn’t respond right away. I kind of thought about it. I had three similar messages. I responded to everyone and I said, “We don’t support guns or a ban on guns. We support people. We are here loving people. We want to take care of them. If there is a pro-gun, we will be there too taking photos if it is something people are passionate about and they are not hurting anybody. We want to be there to just love on people and let them know we are here and that they matter.” Even though it started as a negative, it was a really positive for me.
What a smart way to look at things because I think that we do start to get polarized on so many of these hot topics. What I have found is that we don’t even have enough facts to know why we have an opinion. It is just fascinating how many people get so amped up. On social media too, where people get all crazy about something and you look back and you take that sort of thirty thousand foot view, what was the purpose of all of that? I think we forget exactly what you said. We love and support people. That is what everything in life should be about. It shouldn’t be about if you are on this side or that side of politics or this hot topic issue. I think we have forgotten over the years became what it because. It was really about the people. Now, with social media and really this anti-bullying with everything that is happening, the anti-bullying isn’t just the kids at this point. It is all levels of our society. To your point about those messages that you received, there is an element of bullying that is just happening on that topic alone. Our actions as parents and leaders and elders we are training our kids to be bullies through cyber. They hear our conversations and they see our actions and everyone listening has the ability to change that today. I think that if we want our country to be a better place we have to step up with our actions and our words. I love and honor everything that you are doing because there aren’t a lot of people that are talking about this right now, but I know that most people that are listening right now can probably name something that happened in the last few hours that was some sort of bullying case whether it have been on social, internet, email… Whatever it may be. They happen everywhere. It is getting really disgusting how we treat each other. We have this moment where our world needs more leaders. We need more people that care about people and love on people. We are at a pivotal moment in this country where we need people to step up in a big way. I honor you for what you are stepping up to do. People listening, how can they help? You know, how can they help you?
Well, how they can help… I guess what is coming to mind right now is in our culture right now it is easy to call out other people for being bullies. I think the best thing we can do when we are calling out other people for being bullies, or we are saying stuff or saying something negative toward somebody, we are actually doing that action that we are trying to stop.
We are bulling them. Yeah, yeah.
I think the biggest thing people can do is just work on themselves and focus and we can blame it on the president or we can blame it on whomever else… our boss, or whoever. But, you have to start with doing it. You have to worry about yourself and focus on yourself, and then everyone else will hopefully start learning from you. Challenge everybody. Don’t cast that first stone. I think that is my request for people. Focus on yourself. Be nice. Lead by example.
Yes, be nice and lead by example. Just critical things in any sort of leadership role. I think that people always think leadership means you own or run a company. Leadership can mean so many different things. It can mean a teacher; it can mean parent, a spouse, a friend, a family member. There are so many forms of leadership today. I love what you said there because it all stops with us. Starts and stops with us. It is about self-responsibility. We all have the same hours in a day. We have the same responsibility to do these things. I worry that a lot of people, like you said, whether it is the president or the boss. Whoever it is for you, like you mentioned. I worry that too many people are putting the blame on others and are not looking in the mirror and saying, you know what? This starts and stops with me. I hear it all the time when I talked to people. They always want to blame someone else. No one is really willing to get real and look in that mirror and be like, you know what? I need to show up as a better person. That is leadership to a t. If we are going to try to lead others, they have to see that we are trying to get better too. It can’t be this situation where you are like, okay; I need you to do this. I need you to do that. I want to you to stop bullying. If you are doing that right now, it is hard for them to follow along. That is the beauty about leadership. It is that bottom up leadership. You are marching right along everyone else and you are loving and caring for people and it becomes infectious. I have found when I surround myself with people like that; I want to be a better person too. You mentioned about the self-development and the personal development and the work on yourself. What kind of things can people that are listening right now who might be in a bad place and might be struggling, might be unsure, or have some doubt or maybe some negative self talk. What are some simple things you could give for recommendations, you know, just little baby steps that could help them get out of that place and into a better spot?
Yeah, well one of the easiest things, and I think you mentioned this earlier, is just do something for somebody else. Service. So whether it is just opening up that door. Little small things that you get a smile from someone and you get that dopamine shot and it makes you feel good. I think finding so books that you might enjoy reading. One of the books that impacted my life the most is called The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz. It wasn’t anything rocket science and it was a real easy read and it really opened up my perspective on how my actions effect other people. And how I allow other peoples actions to effect me. At the end of the day what everyone else does or says really doesn’t matter. They are going about their lives. They are going home to their family and they are going to do their own thing. We can’t allow other peoples thoughts and actions to effect us. We are responsible for our own thoughts and actions. It is giving yourself and loving yourself and taking time to think about what you want and what you love and what makes you happy. Know yourself. I think that is probably the best advice I can give. Learn about yourself. Figure out what you need to do to take care of yourself and make yourself happy. Whether it is to go to the zoo, sit at home and read or go out with friends. That is why this world is beautiful to me. I don’t want anyone else to be like me. I think that is why everyone is different. One of my favorite examples is my stepfather. He is forty-five years old. He has worked at Cub since he was sixteen. He started stocking shelves when he was sixteen years old. He is still stocking shelves. He has the opportunity to be in management and to do other stuff and he doesn’t want to do it. He really feels comfortable stocking shelves. That is his role. If we didn’t have people like him to show up to work everyday and go and stock shelves, I wouldn’t be able to go to the grocery store and buy stuff and so I love the way that he is who he is. That is how the world turns around. Him doing his job helps me be successful. If we can all pull up our sleeves and do a better job, and figure out what do we want to do, and what makes us happy and do it… the world is going to be an awesome place.
Yeah. You said so many great things there that are going to impact so many. The one that stuck of to me was just smile. Just putting a smile on your face and going places and smiling and having people that are smiling around you. It puts you in a different mood. Just by smiling. I love the self-responsibility, which you just mentioned again. It is getting real with yourself and understanding yourself, exactly like you said. You have to look in the mirror and write some things down. Some of these things are super challenging. A lot of people are walking around with a mask on. It is time to take the mask off and get real. I think everyone deserves a better life. Some people are just scared. I have been on a similar path to you. I focused so much on personal development and trying to become a better person and a better leader for everyone in my life that is counting on me. The breakthroughs that I have seen personally and how I understand myself? They are significant. It is the best ROI in the world to invest in yourself. If you cannot invest in yourself and you are not a good person you cannot take care of anyone else. You can’t lead you can’t inspire anyone else. Those things are things that will pay dividends forever. I love everything that you shared today and I hope people really take some of this stuff seriously. Some of these are really simple things. By no means do I have things figured out or does Josh have it figured out. It is a constant journey. I have my hiccups and moments where I am like, “Why did you do that?” It is a constant battle. We are human beings. But I know that there are a lot of people that we are connected to on this podcast and who follow our businesses that are parents and who are teachers. How do we get them involved in the Kind Lips movement? What are some things that they can do to help really take this Kind Lips movement and help educate kids and people in our society to be kinder to others? Not just buy the product. How do we get involved with you? How do we reach out to your organization and how do we start to make an impact?
Go to our website. It is KindLips.com. You know, there is contact information on there. Josh@Kindlips.com. One of the cool things though, and I want to go back to the school system is when the students get their lip balm they get this little card where it talks about what Kind Lips is. Then they have this challenge where they have to write a kind comment on a tiger paw and post it on a window and/or there is a social media things where kids can get in the habit of speaking kind words about other kids on social media since that is one of the areas of bullying. So, the kids that get the kind words said about them, they have the joy of having a kind work said about them and called out in front of their peers. Also, along with that, the schools are sending home an email and or a letter saying, hey, your kid has this tube of lip balm and this is why. Here are some questions to talk to your kids about are they being bullied? Here is the power of their words. Trying to create that interaction at home between the parents and the students. One teacher has one hundred and one hundred and fifty students every day. The parents want to look at the school system and be like; they are not raising my kids right. I want to say the parents should be the ones having these conversations with these kids at home one on one. I think that is where the real change will come. If it takes a tube of lip balm to remind a parent to have that conversation with their kid, go to the website and buy it. Otherwise, have that conversation with your kid. I think everyone can take the hones and start with themselves and their own family. However, when it comes to Kind Lips, however they want to be involved. If there are parent teacher organizations that want to use it for a fundraiser, I am starting to do fundraisers. Anyone who knows stores of boutiques, I am open to wherever there isn’t a person that I know, including myself that doesn’t need a reminder to be more kind.
I love that. That is so good. I love that the cause of this whole anti-bullying and to encourage people to be more kind. Like you said, you need reminders. I need reminders. We all do. There are moments where we all act like idiots. Including myself. I kick myself for it, but I try to be a better person everyday. Those subtle reminders are so important. I love that starting young and starting with kids and helping them become better people. I hope that some of the people that are listening to this podcast reach out to you to really make an impact and take initiative to help. Not only their kids if they have kids but their neighbors, but their friends, or family or teacher. This can apply to your company, to your business, to anyone. Everyone can be better. If we all get better together, we have a better society. Everything is way better.
I think to add on to that, because I don’t think that I had that question, so thank you. I think that anyone that this strikes a thought or they might want to reach out. Reach out because I don’t know exactly know what I am doing and I am still trying to figure this out. If you have an idea or a thought, let’s talk about it together and we can figure it out.
I love that. You are so funny. You know what you are doing. You are so humble. Reach out. You are all for creative projects, right? For Josh, and he won’t obviously say this, but I will for him. It is all about making a difference and really impacting people. I don’t think there is probably a project that you would say no to if it is making an impact.
One of the ideas that I would really like to work on and I approached a county Sherriff about this that I know, and I was like, all of the cop culture in the media is like, they are just bad. No one wants to have an interaction with a police officer and I was thinking, what is every time they pulled someone over and had a good interaction they gave them a tube of Kind Lips? And if there was something on social media where the person could take a picture with a cop and the tube of lip balm like, “Hey I had this good interaction,” to bridge this gap so that people would be happy when they get pulled over. Then I was thinking it through and I was like, well, if the cops know they have the opportunity to give someone that tube of Kind Lips when they pull them over, maybe they will approach that situation differently because they know they are going to want to have a positive interaction with that person that they pull over so they can give them that tube of Kind Lips and actually make them smile instead of always giving them a ticket and making their day worse. Just thinking through things like that. Yeah. I think something like that would be cool out of the box.
We have so many things in this world where we are in those moments where things are negative or the cultural perspective of an occupation isn’t quite right and where things like Kind Lips can make such a huge different. That is why I like exactly what you are doing because there is no limit to exactly how big of an impact you can make. It almost becomes overwhelming because you could really help everyone. I am fascinated by everything you have done. I am really proud of where you are today and where you are going. What are final thoughts that you have for people that are aspiring to their dreams or they are emerging as business leaders and they are trying to become better people? You have so much wisdom, what are the final thoughts that you want to share with them that will help them get to that next level?
I think for me, I have to wake up everyday knowing that I am going to try to do my best and I know ahead of time that I am going to screw up and I am going to fail. I give myself the grace when that happens. I don’t get stuck on my failures. I just keep doing. I know tomorrow I am going to say or do something dumb. My goal is just to get better every day. A little bit or a lot. Continue to wake up and do the best that I can and try to be better. I know that I am never going to stop being that good.
That is so good. I hope that everyone really wrote that down and took that to heart, we talk about all of the time, those failure or those learning moments where you continue to get better and with that it is increasing and improving your self talk from negative to constructive to positive. We spend the most time with ourselves. Listen, I am so hard on myself. When I look back to three to four years ago I would never talk to anyone the way I talked to myself. I love what you shared there, because I think that those words will make such an impact for so many. I just want to thank you for being here and just one final thought that I mentioned in the middle and I want to make sure everyone caught it. What is the hashtag?
So the next hundred tubes of lip balm, we are going to take care of it, the Behind The Billboard Podcast. All you have to do is post something about this podcast. Actually, you can grab the link to share this podcast episode and make sure to include this hashtag because that is how we will go back and be able to track that you shared this podcast and we will search or that hashtag and the next hundred people we will pick up the lip balm for them because we truly believe in what we are doing. I hope that you do something kind with that lip balm. Whether you take that lip balm that you receive and maybe you don’t even use it, maybe you give it to someone else you think could use it and help them become more kind. I am all in on this movement. I love everything you are doing, Josh. Thank you so much for being here. I know you are a really busy guy and I think this was really impactful for so many.
I appreciate the opportunity.
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