95. Jim Carter III: The Intersection of Passion & Skill

Jim Carter III is the founder of Carter & Custer, an agency providing growth and content services for purpose driven brands and organizations of all sizes. He is a technology coach who uses his 20+ years of knowledge, expertise and experience to advise social impact organizations, brand and experts, where he’s helped raise over $20M for nonprofits in his career.

Unknown Speaker 0:01
salary is a drug they give you when they want you to forget about your dreams.

Alessia Citro 0:06
Welcome to the corporate dropout podcast. I'm your host Alesia Citro. If you're sick of the corporate hamster wheel and looking to feel inspired and empowered to live a high vibe life as your own boss, you're in the right place, dare to drop out in 321. Before we start the show, I want to tell you about the business I'm launching. Do you have a business idea but you don't know where to start? Or maybe you've started your own business, but you know, there are boxes you need to check when it comes to taxes, finance, legal protection, marketing, and more. Same. That's why I founded Theia collective, named for the Greek Goddess of Light Theia was created to light the path for entrepreneurs. We have the community courses and connections that will help every entrepreneur quantum leap and avoid costly mistakes. Learn from experts across professions and get the blueprint you need for your business. Text biz, that's BIZ to 949-577-8709 or head to be a dash collective.com to learn more.

Alessia Citro 1:10
Hello, friends. Today I am interviewing Jim Carter, founder of Carter and Custer, an agency providing growth and content services for purpose driven brands and organizations of all sizes. He is a technology coach who uses his 20 plus years of knowledge, expertise and experience to advise social impact organizations, brands and experts. And he has helped to raise over $20 million for nonprofits over his career. He is also a husband, father of two public speaker and loves a fine cup of coffee. Jim, thanks for coming on the show. Pleasure to have you.

Jim Carter 1:43
Thanks so much for having me today.

Alessia Citro 1:45
So I was an avid coffee drinker. And I recently gave it up, which is not why I'm bringing it up. But as someone who appreciates good coffee, I have to know what's your favorite cup.

Jim Carter 1:55
So it's changed. And that's because my location has changed. So my willingness to really blend in see that it's also a dad joke thing. I love to throw good

Alessia Citro 2:05
things when I like like dad jokes. Yeah,

Jim Carter 2:08
I think I think my all time favorite local cup of coffee would be from Pete's coffee. Pizza has always just been a good staple for being a West Coast kind of La California guy. But for those of you who are watching, I am wearing a Marley Coffee Hat. In our recording right now, my wife and I went to Cancun a couple months ago, and one of the few places that you can actually get coffee, brewed by Bob Marley's family. So it's a legacy that children pass on as they launched a coffee line. And there's only a few places in sort of like the Caribbean and Mexico that you can get it. They happen to have one on the resort, so I had to roll with a coffee.

Alessia Citro 2:43
Oh, wow. I love that. That's a great story. Well, so to kick us off, we're gonna go back in time, I want to hear about the first job you had out of high school that you lasted only two months at, tell us everything.

Jim Carter 2:58
You know? Well, it's funny. Two months worth of a story to be told everything right. So that's that's the funny part about the story is I did not last long. I had every intention to last long, but the case and events sort of made that decision for me. So I always knew I had entrepreneurial spirit. But let's just be honest, when like when I was in high school, I was not mature enough. I didn't know what I didn't know. I kind of thought I own the school, even though I knew I didn't. So I was like, Okay, well, I'm just gonna make money in a way that I know how to make money. And I'll figure it out along the way. I was a big fan of figuring out along the way. So I've been in technology. Since I was in about Junior High. Very early on. I'm an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America program. And one of my scout masters. He saw that I had the desire to just do more with technology, like he could tell. I was always asking questions, things like that. And he was a computer repair technician. And he told my dad one day, he's like, Jimmy, I see Jimmy, as someone who can get into this world. He's like, but you know, like, what's he interested in and my dad was like, he loves putting computer parts together. He was like, Well, I got a lot of computer parts. So he would just drop off all the extra spare parts that he had from when he would go to client work. And he I just have these memories of and I'll never forget his name. You know, there's some people who just like their name is ingrained in your soul. So Bob Chamberlain, Mr. Minister, Robert Chamberlain, he was one of my one of my scout masters and i Holy Oh, so much of my success to him just believing in me and just giving me that one little edge. And that edge was he would come over and he dropped off all the computer parts and be like, here we go. See if Jimmy can figure something out. You know, put it together. And you know, today it's like, you know, my kids have the iPad and they want to play Roblox and stuff. But for me it was I was building Frankenstein computers in in the living room. And it just so happened I had the coolest computer on the block because I was able to take all the best parts figure it all out. So I got really into computer technology very early. And then I picked up programming. And then I picked up, you know, kind of hardware and things like that. And I just loved to tech. So when I broke free of high school, I thought, well, I know Tech, I know computers, I should go sell computers, because I know exactly everything about him. I can tell you why you need this much memory, I can tell you why you need this big of a monitor, so on and so forth. So I picked up a job at Gateway computers. So for anybody? Oh, yeah. Wow. That'd be great. Yeah, no, kind of no dating us. Yeah. Cow and cloud prints on computers. So there happened to be one kind of, you know, kind of in between school and where I was living. So it was an easy commute. So I, I picked up this part time job. And I was just grunt you know, like, they put me on the floor, they'd put me in the back, I move stuff around, it was just a very early like, getting my feet wet, but also making a paycheck kind of job, very quickly showed them that I knew what I was talking about with sales come started to move up. And right, this is just a couple of months time, they just saw that I had this desire. So about a month in one of the b2b salespeople, like sort of saw me and was like, Can I take him with me to like my sales calls, because like, if I put this young kid on site with me, they'll understand that like, okay, they need to kind of step their game up, because the new generation is coming up. And I ended up going under the wing of this, this b2b sales guy, I can't remember his name, but I can remember everything about him. And he would take me with him on site, and I would just help him sell to businesses. And it was so fun, because it was so different. And I found the first kind of essence of what it's like to make money off of a passion, like really making money. And I saw the impact that it was making these, these companies would come in to just 10s of 1000 $20,000 worth of new equipment. And they would, they would be able to do what they needed to do. So it was a very gratifying thing. And I learned a lot about sales. Well, one day, again, like two, maybe three months in no longer I drive up, and I go to a park right in front of, you know, the the gateway computer store. And the windows are just like covered with something, I can't see what it is. So I walk up to it. And all the windows are covered with black trash bags. And there's a simple sign right on the front that says this location is no longer in business. And I was just like, what does that mean? Because like, I need to work today, I need to make a paycheck, like, did they just close this location and not tell any employees or anything? And you know, we're talking this is the late 90s. Right? So nobody can just jump on their phone, check Twitter, or like, you know, rage tweet, or, you know, ask like, what's going on. And so I drive home, I call the like, the the corporate whatever. And they mentioned that they just completely shut down all these locations. And then I received the call a little bit later, they said, Okay, come back at this time, and you're gonna help clear out this entire store. And I was just like, Come on, man, like, I just got out of high school, I just found this, like this early talent to it. And I have memories of helping clear that out. And at the end of it, I was just like, You know what, I know, this is only one example of what corporate could be like, but I got a very real taste of what it's like to be at the mercy of somebody else's decisions where they didn't take the time to even ask opinions. I ended up talking with the other employees, nobody knew. Not even management, it was literally a corporate from the top down type of thing. And if anybody from corporate is listening, you know, I only got I was I was night I was 19. You know, so I only got the information I was told. But I tried to do some homework after and I just found that it was a top down decision. And now as the guy who is at the top of his own company, it's such a humbling experience to realize, I feel so responsible, but I also feel so accountable to the decisions that I make. And that's a that's a it's a situation that will forever be ingrained in my sorrow in my soul. Because I remember the feeling that it put me in, and I told myself, one more reason to be an entrepreneur is to be able to make the best choices that I can and ask for as much help as possible. So I never have to put somebody into an inconvenient situation. That couldn't have been part of being the change.

Alessia Citro 9:30
Yeah. Wow. Okay, that wasn't how I thought that story was gonna end.

Jim Carter 9:36
But yeah, yeah, it was everybody too. But the coolest part about that is it just unlocked this excitement. And this this opportunistic piece of me that I didn't know I had when I was in high school. And from that point forward, I was just set on trying to build something that would outlast me.

Alessia Citro 9:57
So tell us what happens from there then. Do you Do you ever go back into a corporate setting? And also a two part question? Had it not been for going down that way? Do you think maybe you would have, you know, even gone, like become a college dropout and just gone into selling or something like that?

Jim Carter 10:15
Yeah, great questions. And I'll answer the latter one first, just because I knew that I've always had entrepreneurial spirit inside of me. I'm the third. I'm Jim Carter, the third. So Jim senior was really questionably the only entrepreneur in my family. He owned a Texaco gas station, when, when my dad and siblings were kids. And I remember growing up asking him lots of questions about what is it like to own your own business and, you know, have employees and I just, I had that spark. And, you know, again, everybody called me Jimmy, as a voice would be like, Jimmy, let me teach you about what it's like. So there was this desire. And I knew that I had it in me, I just didn't know when I was going to activate that. So this really just accelerated my willingness to try. Yeah, so as as the perfect segue to the first question. It immediately activated my willingness to try I just decided that look, late 90s. I'm an only child living at home, all I need to pay for his gas for my 268 Chevy Malibu, I drove a muscle car, you know, in high school. So I was I was that white kid, you know, that like scrawny white kid at the time, I had a lot of hair. But now, but I'd be cruising around the corner. And everybody knew me in my old blue boat, you know. And all I had was to pay for gas, my Patriot bill and food. Like that was literally it in the late 90s. Like life was a major

Alessia Citro 11:39
bill. Oh, my gosh.

Jim Carter 11:41
Yeah. I mean, I mean, when when else and in history, could you go and get an unlimited paging contract with some companies that only cost you like two or 300 bucks. The thought of the late 90s alone just kind of makes us smile. So I, to answer your question, really, that's what gave me the drive to start to go forward and not necessarily look back. However, even though I knew that I would end up an entrepreneur. I also was very irrespective of my current situation. And what I mean by that is, I'm so grateful to be happily married for almost 14 years, my oldest daughter is going to be 11. This week, my youngest is nine. And I remember when, when I had my first daughter, you know, coming out of the recession in 2009. It's such she was born in 2011. At the time, you know, I was begging people to build WordPress sites for 500 bucks, you know, just to make a mortgage. You know, it was I mean, it was it was a rough time for tradesmen and women. But I'll never forget, like holding my new daughter like walking her in the backyard, just kind of pacing, just you know, making sure she feels loved. And I remember almost breaking down to myself telling her I'm like, I give all this up, and I drive for UPS, if that's what it took. And I'm just picking something, Mike, it doesn't, it doesn't matter. I just I needed to feel about security that I could provide. And I knew that there would be time to pursue a dream later. So again, to answer your question, it's not that I'd like to burn the boats and never went back to a salaried w two job. But I also knew my role, and where I needed to play all out, and where I needed to play more conservative, to be the best husband to be the best father that I could be. Because there's one thing to optimistically pursue your dream. But it's another thing to ignore a very pragmatic reality of what you currently embody, for your family for yourself. And when I decided that it was my time to pursue entrepreneurship, I would go all in, but I also knew when to quit. But that doesn't mean that I ever gave up.

Alessia Citro 13:56
So this leads me to another question then. And I don't think it's something people talk about enough is when you have children, and you have a spouse, and negotiating what that risk looks like, and when it's time to jump. So as much as you want to share about that, but what what was that like with your wife, and yeah, and knowing that it was time and it was okay to do it.

Jim Carter 14:23
It's a big topic, and it does not come up enough. And my wife has a much entrepreneurial kind of spirit in her but she's very comfortable and happy and loves being employed and trying different job roles and, and being the contributor to our family like that. And I adore her for it right. And there's I know a lot of couples that both of them are WSU salary. I know a lot of couples that both of them are entrepreneurs. For us, I don't see it as often where somebody is just happily employed and somebody is happily just trying everything under the sun to make their impact on the world. But, but what works for us is my wife has always been the rock that I would leap off of, you know, it kind of standing on the shoulders of giants like that kind of concepts while she stands on my shoulders when she needs me and what I do as risky to lift her up, and I stand on her shoulders for things like health care, like I, you know, just as simple as that sounds. There's certain aspects of knowing that you've got a stable paycheck, at least one of them want one form of that coming into your life, that just lets us know that, you know, we're good and anything can happen in the future. But for what it's worth, knowing that we've got diversified risk in being risky in our lives, also helps paint a really solid picture to our children, who they see daddy going out in throwing events and doing big charity things, and leading big teams and paying employees. And then they see mom, who also plays all out and loves what she does and learns, and is still challenging and still works her way up. And what I love about that is we give them two very clear paths. What resonates with them the most, to, you know, what, what do they want to get into? What do they want to ask more questions on. And what I love about that is, yeah, anything can change. But right now, my wife loves pouring into our children about how she supports this company that she works with, and how they could not run without her. And I get to have the same conversation about how I love to support my team, and how I could not run without them.

Alessia Citro 16:41
Beautiful answer. So I guess I'm in the minority than to my husband has a great corporate career. He loves it. He is so great at it. And yeah, he's the rock that I jumped off of. So I have to make sure to tell him that. I probably don't love him enough for it. Yeah. Okay, so another question, then, while we're on the topic of the family piece. So you have two kids talk to us, again, something people don't really discuss a whole lot. Entrepreneurship is hard enough without children, let alone with them and wanting to be a good and present parent, how do you how do you balance it?

Jim Carter 17:15
Such an important topic that warrants almost a badge of honor, and probably some kind of a certification, or some kind of honor, just for making it through those initial years. So like I mentioned, my oldest is almost 11, my youngest is about nine and a half, two girls, I'm a very proud curled up. And that makes it even harder, like being the only guy in my house when I didn't get into that, but it's such, you know, in the word balance, there was really key that she used as an entrepreneur. There's so many people are in these different boats of like, I believe in work life balance, I believe in harmony, I believe in seasons. And I honestly haven't decided because I'm such an operator brain type. I'm a people ask what you do. Now I say whatever it takes, but then I kind of expand that a little bit more. And I say I'm a recovering software engineer, because I spent two decades of my life coding. And that takes a lot out of you when you when you when you play all out in one specific trait. But what I found is that my friend, Kyle deputies, who I met one of my masterminds, he throws guys trips were high performing guys can get together, typically entrepreneurs, and everybody can kind of, you know, business happens, but it's really only on the heels of being a being a real human. You know, guys can just be guys have those hard conversations, that kind of thing. And his whole thesis behind the way that he built these trips is it's not so much balance its rhythm. So So being in like a work life rhythm is the way that he likes to put it. I love that for so many reasons. Because days like today, you know, I'll give you my day today, like literally today. My girls are on spring break. So they didn't have school today, which is fun. But you know, wake up early in the morning, go grab a cup of coffee, naturally, we lead with that. I sit in this chair right behind me and I read a book that's also right behind me again for watching the video and just pointing and I just I try to fill my brain with something good, not negative. And then immediately get smacked in the face by the day with my kids and everything that I need to do. And you know, then you do the shower, get ready, all that stuff. And then I immediately turn my phone off and put it in my pocket or leave it on the desk. And I walk my kids with my puppy to drop them off. They go to the YMCA that's where they do after school care but also they're they're doing sort of you know, when there's no school right now they're there all day. I walked the dog around the corner to PetSmart where she goes to puppy daycare dog has the best day ever plays with all their friends gives me some I used to do things like record. And then I walked back and I tried to be present. So I have balance a little bit of like morning for myself, and then morning for my family, then I go right into it, and I work my ass off during the day like today, I've nonstop zoom calls, taking notes, making calls, sending audio notes. But at the end of the day, I'm going to shut off and my team knows that they can call me. But I'm only going to pick up if they call me right, like normal notifications and things are gone. And that's how I can be a husband. So I can be a father. And I may make a call or two or I may check an email or two, but for the most part, I'm done. And that's because I've I've burned out way too many times just trying different things and finding horribly, what didn't work well. And not everybody has kids who are at the sage who did put themselves to sleep, they can make their own breakfast. Let's be honest, they went to run house and I

Jim Carter 21:05
can't wait for you, I'll tell you like my business partner. His name is Artie. He has a two and a four year old right now. And we were just at an event last week. And we had a breakout session. And I started to sense this overwhelm. And I was like, bro, you got to give yourself grace, like I went through that too. Like you're not sleeping at night, your oldest is always sick. They're they're learning how to operate in a world where they can't really be around other kids as well. Like, LA County, my kids finally got to take off their mask, they get to see their friends faces for the basically the first time. Yeah, you know, like, and when we take that into perspective, US also being humans, like grown adults figuring out how to operate like that. It's a big deal. So no matter what your day to day looks like I think what I'm trying to get out here is no matter what your day to day looks like, when you don't forget your why. The reason that you do what you do is everything can flow. And sure it may take a little longer if you're not hustling and grinding it out. But at the end of the day, if you don't give yourself that space to do what you love, then why are you even doing it? And I have that chat with my wife all the time, is how do we balance our insanely crazy, super fulfilling super risky, super awesome lives, with also just being present and going out on date nights and then having time with the kids? And it's not easy? And that's also why it's so worth it.

Alessia Citro 22:30
Yes. Okay. I feel like I really needed this conversation more than maybe even the listeners debt. If so if y'all if this resonated shoot me a DM let's chat because I'm going through it right now, too. So what I'm hearing you say is like, it needs to be a matter of your day actually reflecting what you say your priorities are. Right? Like a lot of us say like my spouse is my priority, my child is my priority. But then we end up working these ridiculous hours or not doing the things like date night or having dinner without technology and all of that, man, I love everything that you said. So and you'd mentioned that you burned out a few times too. Did you initially try to like grind it out? And you know, work too much. And that that just didn't work? Or how did you finally come to this place of a good rhythm?

Jim Carter 23:18
As you said, yeah, yeah, great question in the, I think it's always like, the last time is the time, that means the most like, let's say, like, when you break a habit, like for smoker, or you were a smoker, congratulations. But it's that last drag you ever had that you're like, that's the one I remember, or that's the feeling that I had before I let that go. So for me, I remember that I know, I've burned out multiple times, but I feel like I've I've burned the former ones out of my mind, because the last one was so intense that I was just like, never again, you know, like, like, never again, will I ever let it get to that point God willing. And for me, I don't remember what year it was. I want to say it was probably 2000. And let's see, hold on a second. So it would probably be more around like 2007, I would say was probably the last time that I truly burned out. And it was because I had floated again back to being a salaried employee, because at the time, I was following the money I was I had this upward trajectory with this opportunity. But they were kind of treating me as an owner even though I really wasn't I wasn't smart enough at the time to realize the difference. And when I realized that I was like, Okay, well, I'm making good money here and I got some extra time. So why don't I start my own business on the side and I'll do this as a side hustle, but I really treated it like a whole business. And now I have two full time jobs, both very demanding. At the time my wife was she was managing at a Nordstroms and she was almost the interim store manager so at the time, like her schedule was wild. She'd be out of bed at At three or 4am, so she could do an hour commute, work an incredibly long day, be home by like, six or something like that we barely see each other. We weren't married at the time we were engaged. But then I would sleep in until noon. And then I would work all day until like, almost like 2am. And I would barely miss her every day. And it was just like, neither of us were fulfilled. Both of us were exhausted. And I just had that one day, I just woke up, and I just crushed. And I remember what I was wearing. I could remember what I was drinking, I could remember everything about that day. And I was just like, I just I have to stop. It wasn't even a pause and reset. It was like, I have to stop. And I didn't know what I was doing wrong. Because it really wasn't wrong. It was like, in my mind, I was doing everything right. I was hustling, I was trying, I was making money. But I just had no fulfillment. And then when I went to go turn to my wife, she wasn't even their way through waist to E because she was following her dream. And she was trying to move up the ladder too. And it took a lot of learning for both of us to really figure it out from there. And if this helps the listeners, I reached out to a friend of mine who was also a client. His name is Jason, and he's one of my longest running business partner friends. She's just you know, those friends that you can call them anytime about anything. And they will just drop it. And they're like, do you need me to get on a plane, like, like, that kind of a friend. And he's also been a mentor. He's been an angel investor, he made his money really early in life. He also is very open that he blew it all. And he learned a lot of really hard. He went from owning like multiple, like fancy cars and all that stuff to driving a Prius. But it humbled him and he did it again. And now he did it from a place of like abundance. And I remember calling him and I just I just broke down. And I talked to him about you know, where I was out what I was doing. And he told me to go out and buy the dip. The book, The dip by Seth Godin.

Alessia Citro 27:07
Oh, yeah, I've been meeting for any bad. That's my sign. I have it on the bookshelf right over there.

Jim Carter 27:12
Look, there's your sign. That book was everything to me, right when I needed to hear it. Because I love Seth. He's one of my favorite authors of all time, I've read almost everything he's ever written. And I love his podcast. He's just such a genius genius brain. And that that book just changed my perspective on everything I was doing. And I actually pre quoted him the best way that I can edify and remember it just a minute ago, wishes it's okay to quit. Just don't give up. Because there's such a difference, right? Like, today was an overwhelming day nearly for me. And I told my team on last call, I'm like, I'm not ready to make that decision. I need to go for a walk. And I will get back to everybody. Like for what it's worth, I kind of quit that conversation. But I'm not letting letting go. And there's there's so many times we hear pivot and you know, refocus and all that stuff. But at the end of the day, it's okay to not be the best in the world if you truly don't have it in your heart, but just go find something else that you're ready to pursue. And that's simple permission. When I was at that place in life, it just kind of lit me up. And it gave me everything I needed to really start to channel what I wanted. And that's when I started working on myself. That's when I got more serious about therapy. That's when I got more serious about my fiancee, who was now my happy wife, almost 14 years. And thinking about what life would be like if I really stopped refocused and reset. And with without asking for help, I don't know where I would have been. And that was such a big lesson that I learned is you've got to build your tribe, you've got to build your network of people who when you need them, they're there for you. Because you never know when it's going to happen. But when it does, the ability to know that you've got this option is huge.

Alessia Citro 29:06
So Jim, we actually have a lot of parallels to our story. So I won't tell it too much here because people have already heard it. But I had like a depressive break and December of 2020 and had to stop like took three months of medical leave and then realized it was time to do something else or this would keep repeating. So I'm curious, what did it look like for you bouncing back? So you you stopped? Did that look like leaving your job? Did that look like shutting down the side hustle? Like how did you move on from that? I think now this is a more relevant conversation than ever, because so many people are dealing with a lot mentally after the last few years that we've had.

Jim Carter 29:46
For sure. It's a great question. And mine was semi unique because at about the time I think again, it was around 2007 or so. From there, you know, we sort of kind of rolled into the recession, which was a bigger conversation. And then in addition to that, when my wife and I got married, within one month of each other, both my father and my, my new father in law brand new, as of that year, both came down with cancer. And it was just such a slap of reality that I was just like, Okay, I hear you, like, whoever you are talking to me, like, is this a litmus test is, what is this. And now in hindsight, my wife, and I joke about it from a place of like, okay, if we can make it through our first year, as a married couple, coming out of one of the biggest recessions in our lifetime, hopefully, in our lifetime, and for forever now. And, unfortunately, my father did pass from that. But my father in law did make it if we can make it through that, there's nothing stopping us. Right. And just to think about everything we've done, since, you know, multiple houses, multiple children, multiple businesses, you know, multiple trips, you know, came home on the same airplane every time really proud of that, and just the ability to just truly understand what's important to you, and relentlessly pursue it. So it's a hard one for me to answer with, within with a narrow focus. But the actions that I took, were asking for help, and finding it from a lot of people that I truly valued their advice. And what I did do is I did quit my salaried job at the time. And then I just decided that I was going to take it easy. And I was going to get really clear on what I wanted to do as a human. And I started to pursue that. And this is probably the most helpful thing that I could say, for anybody that's at least in a technical profession, but feel free to translate it to anything that anybody else does. I had I had self identified as a technology generalist most of my life professionally. If you came to me with a technical challenge about how do I build a shopping cart to you know, sell my product? I could, I would figure it out. Hey, Jim, how do I send How do I set up my own email server? I would figure it out. Hey, Jim, you want to be like, uh, you know, work in this brand new technology? Like, yeah, bring it on. I would take everything so I could discern and figure out what I loved. But my problem is, I never took the time to actually decide what I loved. I just kept taking more and more and more and more and more. So what's the adage? A, jack of all

Alessia Citro 32:40
trades, master of none. But apparently that's not the full quote.

Jim Carter 32:44
Is it? Okay, that's why I haven't actually learned it all the way.

Alessia Citro 32:47
I mean, I'll look it up. But yeah, that's not the full quote, allegedly. Okay.

Jim Carter 32:51
So I don't want to misinterpret that quote. But the the theme of that is very true. Like, where you're a generalist and all things, how can you be a specialist in one. So what I did at that time, is I decided, I'm going to be the best in the world, at being an engineer, and building scalable, secure back end technology systems, very niche. But it lit me up. Right? Like it was everything, to me, it embodied how I can make an impact and embody the challenges that I knew I needed to face. It gave me the opportunities to be a better coder, and database administrator and build these things. And guess what, over the next decade, I've worked with Fortune 15 companies building their systems. I've contracted for massive accounts. A couple of years ago, I don't know if you remember his name. He's a YouTube star, his name is Little Dickie, he did this massive release, called, like we are the earth. And it was put on by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, had everybody from Justin Bieber to Ariana Grande and everything on that. I built the entire back end systems for that for Verizon media who sponsored the project. And we had like 100,000 people hit the site within the first minute. And I was able to get it with like minimal, you know, response time. Like I'm just, I'm kind of throwing out a picture here. But it's like I relentlessly focused on what I knew I wanted to do. So I could truly find my niche. And I could poke through. And it was because I showed up that way. And it was because I asked for help. And it was because I denied everything else that came my way. So I could focus on that. I knew that I could be known for one thing. And that was what made it so I would never burn out again. Because I told myself if I can do it for my wife, if I can do it for my family, if I can do it for myself, if I can do it for the impact that I know I can make. How could I ever get overwhelmed? Yeah. And that's that's that's lasted me this long.

Alessia Citro 34:53
Also, coming from a place I sold cloud infrastructure. So what you just said about the little dickie thing that's impressive to me, just so you know. Do you need my external validation?

Jim Carter 35:03
Yes, no, no, I love hearing it. But, you know, your, your project is only as great as your weakest link. And when you're dealing with things of scale, we're talking about these little refinements. And it's such a good adage of life like, well, I just mentioned my day to day, not perfect. And yesterday was different than today. And God knows tomorrow's going to be different than today. But if we don't continue to refine those and find the tweaks, how could we live in that rhythm?

Alessia Citro 35:33
Well, you know, the other thing I'm curious about, you figured out what it was that lit you up, and you just narrowed in on that to become the best in the world, I would imagine that has enabled you to charge much more for that than if you were just doing general stuff, which is now enabling you to have that kind of rhythm, we won't use the word balance that you have. Now, would you agree with that?

Jim Carter 35:56
Totally agree. Totally agree. Yeah,

Alessia Citro 35:58
that's very interesting.

Jim Carter 36:00
You know, in a mentor of mine, also shared this with me once that I loved because there's a lot of ego, there's a lot of personal stuff that comes up when it comes to charging for your time, right. And we think that we have to put a price on our time is a bad thing. But when you realize that, what you're doing is you're providing an equal energy exchange, right? If I can be phenomenal, at this one thing that you need, and that's the only time you have to contact me, we're just going to get it done. And you're gonna be happy with it, because that's what I can do for you. But you're, you have to pay me for everything else, like I don't want to do the other things, you can go find somebody else. But typically, I know somebody and I can help you make sure that it's great. So a lot of times, now people will come to my agency, or me and say I have this big dream, I don't know how to get there. Well, I've put in the reps that I can help people translate that, and it lights me up. But I'm also the first person to say I am not going to be the coder here. But it will come with a level of excellence or standards, because I've seen it. So now, my personal rate is very high. But the thing that my mentor had told me was, the great thing about raising your rate is you're making space for the entrepreneur to come in behind you, and then be able to bring themself up.

Alessia Citro 37:18
And that love that

Jim Carter 37:20
hit home when he reframed it that way for me, wow. And I think everybody in the room just doubled their rate, like that day when he dropped that we were like, Yes, that's it. That's what I'm glad to hear. And sometimes that's all it is. So if you're thinking about, like, let's just say you charge 50 bucks an hour right now, first of all, whoever you are, if you're listening to you don't charge $50 an hour, your rate is now $50 an hour. But permission granted, right? Because if you're great at what you do, then you should be recognized for it. But from here, ask yourself, well, what's my competition? Like? What do I love to do? Where am I at this, this, this journey of my own life? And if somebody questioned why I made that choice? Do I have the ability? And do I have it in me to justify all of my choices? And if you do, and why? Because that's all you need to know. Right? Like, you're not going to hire me to install solar on a house because I don't know anything about solar. But the company we just hired, they were great. And I paid them a premium because they got it done. And it works great. And now I don't have an electricity bill. Life is great. But, you know, when we just when we when we reframe it and look at it in the third party perspective, it's so powerful. So now, when you ask yourself, Well, should I be raising my rate? The answer is typically Yes. And if you need a reason, it's because you're making space for the person who's just 5-10-15 years behind you to have their chance. And that was all I needed to hear in the world to be able to kind of unlock me, and to be able to keep moving up.

Alessia Citro 38:53
Yeah, wow. That's really I've never heard it put that way. And I just love that. So let me ask you, when you started out, doing your own thing with the entrepreneurship, how did you get into the social impact space did part of that come from needing to be involved with organizations that are really doing good in the world? So it would tie into what I'm assuming is the why and to avoid that burnout? Because I don't know about you, but I feel like when I get burnout, it's because I've lost sight of why the hell I'm doing the thing in the first place.

Jim Carter 39:24
Yeah, it absolutely was. I I found that as I was following my entrepreneurial journey, and I was niching down, and I was continuing to grow and I was continuing to do my thing. I was really falling. It's like the apple falling from the tree kind of idea. You know, it just rolls and there's nothing to stop it. And that's what I saw happening personally. So right around 2013 or so. I started to feel very unfulfilled again. And I was still trying to be the best husband of still trying to be the best father. As I was. I was living up in the Bay Area. I'm here in California, and I was doing the tech thing. And I was raising funding and I was growing startups, and I was having a blast. But it just wasn't as fulfilling. And I found myself more disconnected from my family than ever before. And I was like, why I just, I'm missing something. And I did some soul searching. And I realized that I grew up in service in being an Eagle Scout, being in the Boy Scouts of America. So again, if you're watching the video, I have a tattoo of an eagle on on my, on my wrist. And that, that that was my reminder of like, I dedicated almost 20 years of my life to this program, because I believe so much. And then what it's done for me, and the only two I have, but like, it's big, and it's the reason that got me got me very focused. So when I realized, yeah, the reason I'm not fulfilled is because I've strayed from service like service to God to country to the fellow man, woman, and, and community. And I realized that was lacking in that. So like, anything, when you realize you're lacking, you try to fill your cup. So I just, I put good energy out into the world. I'm not very spiritual, but like, this was kind of like a turning point for me. You know, I was born from grew up Roman Catholics, so very much in the in the Christian faith. So I prayed to God, I kind of just I opened it up, and I was like, Alright, give me a sign. One of those good old fashioned things like, just like, now I know, you're gonna go read the dip, just because of our conversation. But I put it out there. And a good friend of mine, that I helped him build a startup. He's friends with the founder of the organization called Pencils of Promise out of New York City, which is a nonprofit organization that helps to bring quality education to children around the world and operates in Ghana, Laos, and Guatemala. And they build schools. And they make a massive impact by offering the support and they, I can explain the model in a little bit. But the founder wrote a book about the founders journey. And I think he was on a panel with my buddy at South by Southwest or something like that. And I wasn't really into social media, I wasn't following much. And it was missing something I wasn't reading at the time, either. I just it wasn't a thing. I was just kind of in like a funk. And I just remember opening Instagram, and I saw his his posts, and he's like, You need to read this book, like he was just endorsing it is just being a good friend. But it was also a really good book. So I was like, Okay, maybe that's my sign, maybe I should trust my friends post about a charity. Because education means a lot to me, my oldest daughter is autistic, she's on the spectrum. And now I'm really happy to say that I'm not not concerned, like she's very high performing. She's in fifth grade, she reads like an eighth grade level, like life is good. But there was a lot that I was dealing with as a human. So I bought the book, I read it, anybody who's ever been in San Francisco, Bart the train, you know exactly what that feeling of being, training is like. And I just remember reading it, I couldn't put it down. And I finished that book, and maybe two days, and for being full time on my startup and all this stuff, like I made a lot of space for that. And at the end of it, I was just so inspired by this one guy's journey. And what he did that I was like, I'm gonna go check out this website. So I went to the website, it's Pencils of promise.org. And at the time, it was slow. And there were WordPress errors, and it wasn't secure. And I was just like, Jesus, like, What a shit situation for this poor founder. Like he hits the top of the New York Times bestseller list. You've got all these people reading the story probably want to go support or learn more of the organization and the can't load the website. So I reached out to my buddy, I was like, dude, call your boy, like, what's wrong with the site? Like, can I fix it for him? Because like, I'm really touched by the story. Like, I don't need money, like, can I just help him? He was like, awesome. So he texted him, texted the founder, founder texted back. Yeah, please connect them. And they welcomed me with open arms. And within a matter of weeks, I got site all fixed up, no security errors, Wordpress, upgraded, you name it. And the outpouring of love and gratitude that I got from the founder, from the organization, from all the employees, even some of the investors were not excuse me, not investors, even some of the biggest supporters, board members, things like that. I was just like, whoa, like, I was good. I was like a very immature, very, I didn't understand why that one little thing that I could do would leave such a big impact. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Jim Carter 44:37
I was like, This is what I've been waiting for. This is the moment where everything that I've done from joining corporate and you know, getting laid off to following my passion and floating between as a dad as a startup ship to burning out to being a father to focusing To refocusing to finally realizing that, like, if I can tie everything I do back to charity in some form, I can't go wrong. And from that point forward, I've just been able to show up and shine. And just be unapologetically me. And because of that, it's unlocked untold things in my life connections that I never thought I would have made. business that I never thought I would have earned. Just a network of people who just trust me, because I trust them. And when we just we start with friendship. And again, if you're watching the video, you can actually see behind me, that's a picture of some of the children in in Ghana, from one of the schools that that we supported, and the pictures above me, which is kind of out of focus. But that's actually a school that my wife and I built with this organization in Ghana, because I've personally helped raise almost $300,000 for that organization through technology. And they honored my wife and I went to school. So I guess that's the moral of that story is, it doesn't matter what you're doing now, it just matters where you're going. And the more that you can stand in your truth and realize that you just have to love what you do. And let that be your driving force. Whether you're working w two or whether you're 1099, or whether you're the owner of your own company, as long as you can relentlessly pursue what you absolutely love, and it means something and being open to like the ups and downs and the peaks and valleys along the way. Anything's possible. And if you would have told my 19 year old self, that by the time that I was 40, that I would have helped raise over $20 million for charities through just being myself and being in technology, and asking questions and trying stuff. I would have laughed in my own face. But now it's just like, great. Now, let's keep going. Let's make it 40. Let's make it 50. Let's make it 100. Because sky's the limit when you love it. You do?

Alessia Citro 47:08
Yeah. Oh my gosh, I just love your story so much. I needed this conversation today. I'm so glad that you kept our appointment despite your crazy overwhelming day. I have one more business question for you before we wrap because I know we're already going a little bit long. But what do you think are the most important pieces of social impact organization needs in order to grow? And I'm asking this sort of selfishly, because the company that I just launched has a give back model, it is absolutely on my heart to help domestic violence survivors through economic empowerment, because that's how I think a lot of the times the cycle of abuse gets broken. So what advice would you give to someone like me on how to grow that and be successful?

Jim Carter 47:51
Well, first of all, I just want to applaud you for for taking that first step, which is realizing that if we don't do anything, nobody will. Right. So the mere act that you have it on your heart that you know that that's something you need to do. I'm super proud of you. And thank you for being the example and being the proof that others can do it still be in business still make a lot of money and still love what they do. I believe my answer to that would be to make it so simple. In however you show up, that you just can't be ignored. And people want to be along for the ride. And what I mean by that is I've done a lot of I've done a lot of research in the area, I've spoke at Charity conferences, things like that. Just just talking about how do we blend the accessibility and ease of what technology offers with the social impact type of way of doing it. And I'll give you a really good example of how you can do that. So a lot of people follow like the 10% of revenue, you know, goes right back to charity type of idea. That's fine, but that's also tied to revenue. And let's be honest, when you're an early stage business, or if 1010 can be a lot, and that's okay. But it makes a lot of sense if you use what's called an impact unit, which is you find what that organization does that you support better than anybody else. And you tie sort of a success metric to that impact unit. So for example, with Pencils of Promise $75 us will holistically educate a child for an entire year, the way that they've worked out their unit economics. Now of course that doesn't go to like gas in the trucks to get you know the worker to the place that doesn't go to like what happens when they have to pay shipping costs for pencils and everything else but they will dedicate 100% of giving directly to the field. So in order to make it super simple, super aligned and make it so easy. For someone like me to be able to say that on a platform such as this. Now I can say with full integrity and transparency, every client that we work with every referral that comes through all of these things, we will donate a year of education to a child around the world, in your name, just for working with us. And it's so much easier to associate that to yourself, because now you're like, Oh, well, that was gonna do that anyways. So hell yeah, sign me up, like, I want that impact in my life. And that's been such a catalyst for change that I've seen through. And I've been able to share that with different organizations who support other organizations. Because when you can be so clear, and so aligned with what you're doing to something that somebody else can resonate with your unforgettable, and then they can't think otherwise. And then they start to compare. They're like, Well, yeah, but she's doing this, but that person is not doing anything, you know. And now, it's not a selling point, it's a sticking point. And that sticking point is something that they will not disassociate from you. So I would challenge you to call somebody at that organization, and ask them, What is the cleanest way that I can promote your work to show positive social impact, and where they can give you a number like that $8 $12 $50 $132, whatever it is, you can just commit to that and be part of that change. And now I can say that for everybody we work with, we donate 10s 50, hundreds of of years of education for students around the world.

Alessia Citro 51:39
Wow, that is so powerful, because right now, if you go on the website of the company I just launched, it says we're donating 1% of revenue, which I need to raise once I pay myself back and reinvest. But I'm like, that kind of sounds really, like not that exciting the impact from it. Oh, I just love that. Okay, we're gonna close out with kind of different questions. You've talked about the Eagle Scout thing twice. And I saw it in your bio, and I actually wanted to ask you about it. So we're going to do two rapid fire Eagle Scout questions to close it out. Okay, the first, how much do you credit, the discipline and dedication that is required to become an Eagle Scout with your success as an entrepreneur?

Jim Carter 52:17
That's a great question, I will try to be as rapid in my response as possible. I credit a lot, but not all, simply because the principles that one learns, as a young human, absolutely dictate so much of the rest of your life, from how you show up to being a kind human to being a contributing member to society, to all of these other, you know, like catalysts to change. So the the mere act of the fact that I was indoctrinated into a group that held me accountable, but also credited me with doing the things that represented, like a holistic growth pattern of somebody who would be a contributing member to society, who did give back, who was proud of what they earned, and would wear it with pride that has absolutely given me just enough of an edge for me to pick it up and run with it later in life.

Alessia Citro 53:19
I can't help but wonder too, if your mentor Bob is also part of what has you wanting to give back as much as you do to another parallel than I

Jim Carter 53:27
am. So I definitely thought about that a long time ago. And it's it's something that definitely sits on my heart, because without Mr. Chamberlain, I never would have found that I was good at something that I was passionate about. So what I can do for others to help them find their own love for it. Being a mentor, in a sense. It's really it's really high on my list.

Alessia Citro 53:51
I love that. Okay, then the final Rapid Fire question. This one is not one. Well, maybe you'll expect it we'll see. What do you think is the most important skill you learned as an Eagle Scout that everyone would benefit from knowing?

Jim Carter 54:07
The most important skill aside from tying knots, which is stereotype I

Alessia Citro 54:11
thought you were gonna say that and I'm like, like, unless you're sailing, I don't really need it.

Jim Carter 54:16
I mean, I can still I can still tie a mean bow line, and I'm not gonna lie to half hitches has come in handy when I was like setting up Christmas lights and stuff. Real talk though. You know, it's kind of funny, because when somebody says that, I go back to the, there was there was a principle that they taught us in scouting. And we recite this all the time. It was the the 12 points to the to the Scout Law. And I could still to this day, repeat it because it's trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent and And those are just locked into my body. You know, like, I promise I wasn't prepared for this, like, I

Alessia Citro 55:06
can just repeat them. Right. But I didn't give you the questions ahead of time.

Jim Carter 55:10
No, I didn't literally, listeners, I promised I had no idea these were coming. But I'm proud of it. But it's also because I was I was incentivized to embody it. You know, it was it was the actions that I did it was it was earning rank and achievement that let me realize that I could be those, those elements, I think if I have to pick one, it would just be kind. I'm just, I'm just such such a fan of being a kind human, because I feel like humanity needs more of it. You know, there, there was recently a situation where I had a bit of a falling out with a client. And I just, we weren't communicating. And I tried really hard, like, everything in me was just like crying because I'm like, I just don't know what we're missing. And in the end, he really questioned my integrity, and it crushed me. And I was like, Well, it's kind of like responding to a troll on social media, like, they've already decided there, there's no going back. And I had to sit with that. But at the end of the day, I can always go back to the fact that I was a kind human to him, and I tried. And at the end of the day, you know, the the Scout Motto is simply to do your best. And that's all I ask of my girls. That's all I ask of my team. And at the end of the day, that's all we can ask ourselves.

Alessia Citro 56:26
Yeah. Jim, this was amazing. I needed this conversation more than you even know. Thank you for coming on. You're going to be back tomorrow for a mini episode with Seo 101. But in the meantime, tell us about your mastermind, as well as where people can find and connect with you.

Jim Carter 56:45
Thank you so much. Yeah, so the mastermind is fun one, and I will keep this micro story short. But when I really started to find my passion, and realize that I had more in me, I started over again in about 2018 2019. And I joined a mastermind for the first time I was like, What is this thing? am I buying friends, I don't get it. But at the end of the day, what I was doing is I was building community and I was giving myself a container to break out of break out of another shell right just to continue to peel back layers and keep growing. And it was put on by for anybody who knows. Entrepreneurs, Chris harder, and Laurie harder, who are in sort of the space. I had joined, because I followed Chris for his philanthropy and the way that he shows up, and I just really admired the men. So joined his mastermind, and I learned so much. And it turned out that after I sort of graduated that mastermind, I ended up acquiring the entire business model, because Chris and Laurie, were going to shut it down. And I found this opportunity that it was like, Look, this was the container that gave me the opportunity to truly shine and to be the person who I am today. And the impact that's possible, with so many things that come out of giving somebody a safe space, to be able to hold the mic and say what their superpower is, and give them coaching and give them support and community and pour into them. I didn't want to let that go. So my business partner and I acquired the business. And it's called fast foundations. And you can check it out. We're currently running it, we just since we required it, we just filled the room. The first class is running right now, we're going to reopen it again in August. But if you're interested in something like that, we just help you with your business, to open you up to give you the freedom to be able to ask for help. And really switched the whole mindset from I don't know what I don't know, to now you do know what you don't know. And you can decide what you want to do with that. That's why I am continuing to grow and to bring this to light again. So fast foundations is the mastermind. And we are so proud to be offering this container to be the quickest way to scale your early stage business.

Alessia Citro 58:58
I love that. I'll include that in the show notes. And then people can connect with you on Instagram, which is how we met I meet a lot of my guests on Instagram. It's a hell of a place and your app cause hacker Correct.

Jim Carter 59:08
Cause hacker That's right. For anybody who's ever heard that term growth hacker. This was one of those inflection points for me, which was like, Well, I'm tired of chasing the money. I like growth hacking, but I want to do it for social change. So when I mentioned putting it out there in the universe, that's when I switched all of my social profiles to cause hacker and I started embodying showing up the way that I wanted to perform. So I am now forever known as the cause hacker self self dictated. And it is my dream. So launch that into a movement to help inspire more product and engineering people to find their passion and to use what they love to do more of it. So you can find me on the social searching my name or at cos hacker. I'd love to connect it to there.

Alessia Citro 59:49
Well, Jim, thank you again for being here. I'm excited for tomorrow's episode, and we'll see you all back here tomorrow. This episode was brought to you by Theia collective the learning community I found it for entrepreneurs, you Text biz that's BIZ to 949-577-8709 or head to Theia dash collective.com. That's THEIA dash collective.com to learn more. Thanks for listening to the show. If you enjoyed today's episode, please help me get the word out about the corporate drop out by screenshotting and sharing this on social. I would appreciate it so much if you would subscribe and leave a five star rating and review as well. And I do the show for you and I want to hear from you. So tell me what is it that you want more of text me at 949-541-0951 or slide into the DMS at corporate drop out official or Alesia Citro with two underscores until next time