Interview with Spencer Jacobson of RealMan Interview
Spencer Jacobson: Okay, welcome everybody! This is Real Man Interview number 16. We’re steadily the numbers are climbing and I’m Spencer Jacobson. I’m really excited to have Dr. Travis Zigler here. Um, quick background on Real Man it is an interview series meant to inspire a healthier conversation about what it means to be a man in our society today and also to help men to live lives that are more purposeful, or heart centered, or self express their authentic or whatever it means to them. And I know Travis is going to have a really awesome message for guys out there and people in general. And Travis could you please introduce yourself to the audience.
Dr. Travis Zigler: Yeah, I want to thank you for having me on. I’m pretty excited to here. As you said Dr. Travis Zigler. I’m an eye doctor. I’m 33 years old and I was, I’m only practicing part time optometry now because we’ve moved on to the e-commerce space and our mission in life or my mission in life is to end preventable blindness. A lot of people don’t realize it but there’s 700 million people blind just due to lack of glasses. We’re trying to put a death in that eventually by creating free clinics in both South Carolina and Jamaica.
Spencer Jacobson: Awesome and you’ll notice that it’s not a mistake that both of us are wearing glasses for this interview. Travis is wearing blue bonkers and mine are not. The fashionable blue markers aren’t tinted really dark. So Travis the first question, and I want to hear, we’re definitely going to hear about your journey and around the organization and how you’ve created that, but where I’d love to start is around- what do you see is maybe society’s definition of manhood and if you could also talk about some of the things that you’ve learned about being a man overtime.
Dr. Travis Zigler: So, I still remember this it was back in 2013 and I was at Mumford and Sons concert, of all places, and we were out to eat at a restaurant and I remember on the napkin it said “A true man does what is suppose to be done when no one is looking” and I thought that defined manhood and just human life in general. We all try to get this all accolades and try to show who is ever the biggest and baddest and makes the most money but I think true manhood comes when you’re doing something when no one is looking and really helping others out and not caring about all those accolades. I was going to say I’ve got to taken that journey and slowly through my career where I have chased the dollar where I’ve tried to make more money, and try to make more money and realizing every time I hit my financial and revenue goal that I was trying to hit it didn’t really do much. It didn’t make me feel fulfilled. And so I wasn’t feeling fulfilled anymore. Money is just a tool for a trade and so what I’ve found was that when we started turning the attention to others and using that increase revenue to them help others to create products that will help others lives that’s when we really started to becoming fulfilled and that’s where my journeys been for the last year or so is really fulfilling that kind of mission in helping others and not really expecting anything in return.
Spencer Jacobson: I love that. Can you, can you talk about, can you talk about what it was like chasing money as your kind of primary means of trying to create fulfillment and how that did not work as well as you’d like. And then , so let’s start there then we could go on.
Dr. Travis ZigIer: I guess when I became an optometrist you expect to just to make you know a lot of money and you expect that to be kind of the end all be all. And we were, I was kind of chasing this goal of I want to hit $100,000 a year because that would just be so awesome and then you hit it and you’re just like okay, now what? And then you try to hit $120,000 and then you hit that and you’re just like okay, now what and the funny thing is that as that kept increasing it kept getting harder and I kept going from 40 hours a week to 50 hours a week to 60 hours a week. So, I was essentially trading my time for money. And then when I turned that all back around and went back to making, I don’t make $100,000 a year anymore because we actually keep everything in our business. We keep everything in our charities to then give it back to all those other people that have number one made it all possible for our business to grow but also to create the free clinics that we are creating.I’ve been a lot more fulfilled and I’m not making even close to as much. I live in a very humble house. We don’t spend a lot of money and it’s the most fulfilled I have ever been. We have our first child on the way. Yes. So, …… we are going to be really tested. So, that’s what I believe is that instead of chasing that dollar, chase the value that you can create.
Spencer Jacobson: Yeah and one of the things that we learned as, one of the thing I’m hearing, I’m reading between the lines is that as man or as just people, one of the thing we learn is to be financially successful,right, if to be successful is to put you know, provide for your family, to just make a lot of money for yourself maybe or whatever that looks like and so, you found yourself making more and more money and working more and more and not feeling happy and that you. How did you identify, so, so and then you chose to actually start to do more purpose. You chose to start turning that around and giving it back and you chose to orient your business around this charitable work in eradicating preventable blindness and that you’re feeling better than you’ve ever had um, I think that there’s there’s probably a lot of guys and people in general who are going to listen to this, who or watch this, who are on some spectrum of wanting to be, just wanting to be financially successful and there’s nothing wrong with that by the way and either accomplishing or not accomplishing that to the extent that they’d like or wanting to do work that is more maybe purposeful and giving but feeling like they don’t necessarily know how or they don’t want to give up the financial trappings of success or whatever that may look like. So, can you, can you talk about maybe the conversations that you’ve had with yourself or the process that happened for you to start to make that transition.
Dr. Travis Zigler: You know it was actually last August-September time and we were just um pretty much moving our e-commerce business forward and there’s we started building communities online and there are communities around very niche problems with eyes. And so we created this Dry Eye Syndrome Support Community and we just started creating value for them. We would come out with videos and we’re both optometrist, my wife and I, and we do videos once or twice a week and then we noticed that this community just kept growing organically and we are growing by a hundred people a week right now and it’s organic. We don’t have any paid traffic but it didn’t start out that way. But once we started getting the snowball effect of wow we’re treating value for free and people are responding to it and then it turn they are buying our products after they learn to trust us and the financial part will come you just have to throw out the value part out there first and this was just something we started last September-October and realizing that if we create that value piece first and we hear it all the time in our training and with our coach and with our mastermind peer group, they always state deliver value first before you go for the dollar and nobody really does that and we decided you know what we’re going to go all in, we are just going to try it. And it worked really well, we love the community we started. It’s pretty crazy, we get tagged quite a bit on Facebook because of it but the value we provide for them, the gratitude they give us is it makes it more worth the time that we put into it.
Spencer Jacobson: Can you talk about the difference in the way you experience life now versus when you were maybe more focused on you know just generating more income.
Dr. Travis Zigler: The funny thing is when you tend to make more money you don’t, you don’t feel any different but money problems are still there so it doesn’t matter how much money you’re really making and that’s the shift that I kind of did in the last year or so is that money is not the "end all be all". It is just a tool to a trade, it is just like bartering, money is just a bartering tool, that’s what it traded for was to end bartering and make it more sophisticated. And if you think of it that way instead of I need to make money to make a living or I need to make money to show my status then once you kind of shift your mind set around what money is then that’s kind of one thing started to change for me and that’s what about at the end of last year.
Spencer Jacobson: That’s awesome and I’d like to this resonates with me with what you’re saying um like to talk about this a little bit as well because I for the longest time I really was convinced that there was like if I could just start making this amount of money you know, things would just be really good you know like I could get, I could afford the kind of apartment I want ah you know I could do the things that I want to do and last year I made way more money that I had ever made before. And it was a great year, many respects me, and I can also distinctly thinking like okay now I know this really just doesn’t work at creating whatever that peace of mind is that we think exists with a certain with a certain amount of money. In actually a similar vain, this is kind of a separate topic, but I went, I traveled, I basically traveled and didn’t do a lot of work, I only did a little bit of coaching for 3 months earlier this year, and I knew in the back of my mind, like this isn’t, I think a lot of people have this romantic view of oh if I could just travel you know, my life would be perfect or whatever that looks like and I have never ah I was pretty be miserable for a lot of occasionally buts base on you know a lot of things going through in my life with my girlfriend at that time and my mother was sick and professionally I was feeling unfulfilled. Um, well yeah I was almost like very close succession, achieved an amount of money that I thought would just make me happy and it didn’t just like work like that and then was able to go to travel and it didn’t just fix all of my problems that I was able to go travel so anyways that really resonates, that really resonate with what you’re saying. So, Travis I’d love to hear a little bit about maybe what your biggest challenge along this road has been if you could isolate it for like a moment, or a certain um, maybe its a self inflicted challenge specifically that you’ve had overtime I’d love to hear about that.
Dr. Travis Zigler: I don’t want to sound too cliche because probably every entrepreneurs are like that or a quick start launch entrepreneur - patience, patience has been the number one difficulty with scaling of business, I wanted to be here and we are here, I know we could get there but I just wanted to get there as quick as possible by doing 50 things at once and its the patience of with staff. When we hire team members, bringing them on board, training them, remembering that it took me 2 years to get to the point of my training where I am as far as e-commerce and it took you know 8 years of schooling to get to optometry, my optometry degree and so when you’re working with people that are that are learning or just beginning the process that you started a couple years ago you have to be patient with them and no matter how much advice you give them they’re still going to make mistakes that you made along the way no matter what advice you give them and so the patience of knowing that, that’s going to happen and then patience of growing our business to where I wanted it to be and the goal of our business is to get to a point where we can start opening this self funded free clinics and what we call them, we call them pay what you can clinics and so we give you a price and you just pay what you can and that’s what we have now in South Carolina and I want to open more of those. So, I want to be able to afford to hire a doctor and bring in staff and pay for all that and it’s just the patience of getting there and we only have one right now but I want to have you know 300 of them. Just because it’s going to help out that many more people.
Spencer Jacobson: Can can you talk about patience, how, how to have more patience, because I think a lot of people especially um #millennials ,there’s you know there’s this feeling that millennials don’t have patience they want to be promoted every 6 months and they want to be there already and that’s also something I think that just a lot of men may feel “oh I have to be successful now, it has to happen now” so how have you worked with yourself around the patience?
Dr. Travis Zigler: Well I was about to ask you if you could give me advice but now, what I do is I think it’s all about creating a vivid vision and that’s a book called "Double Double", by Cameron Harold that I read back in December and he mentioned straitening a vivid vision for your life and your business that create this goal that’s you know 3 years down the line and where you want to be in 2019, and then you could also create a goal 10 years down the line, where you want to be personally, financially, business wise and then you work backwards from that goal. And so that goal, let’s say my business I want to be at $30 million in 10 years. Well, what’s the map to get us there and when you work that map backwards and get to it on a weekly and what you need to be doing weekly and daily then I think that’s where patience can start to come in. Because you’re like okay, 30 million sounds crazy, but we’ve mapped it back down to what we can do today to get us there and do we follow it all the time no, should we, yes, now we’ve create more patience. But, I think it’s just creating that road map to success and whatever you define success, it could be financially, it could be traveling, it could be just staying at home with your kids, I mean whatever success is make that road map and that’s how you can kind of deal with that kind of patience.
Spencer Jacobson: One other thing I’m curious about is your path as an entrepreneur. So, as an eye as an optometrist, I mean I don’t meet that many optometrist who are also entrepreneurs so can you talk about your path to be an entrepreneur and what that has, how that has unfolded?
Dr. Travis Zigler: So when we moved to South Carolina about 3 years ago. We opened up 2 practices, so practice kind of they’re both 30 miles apart and what we, they’re cold start practices, which means we kind of had no real starting foundation, so we’re starting pretty much rush like any business and I was bored. so, I explored the internet space and found a couple just courses that I took on selling on e-commerce and then I look around my practice and just thought what am I selling that it’s other people’s that I could sell that’s my own and it started coming down to dry eye supplements, I sell omega 3 dry eye supplements and I was selling a brand called Nordic Naturals, so we created our own dry eye supplements and as that e-commerce side of things starting to take off more of our practice I became more intrigue in that digital marketing/e-commerce entrepreneur space. And I’ve been told that I have an entrepreneur’s brain before, that was, my uncle told me that back when I first started as a doctor in 2010 and I never knew what that meant and finally about 2 years ago it finally clicked. I was like I get it now, I get what he was saying, and he told me this you know 7 years before. And so it was just kind of looking around my office figuring out what we could do to make these products better number 1, more accessible number 2, and changing the model. Everybody in optometry goes through the optometrist to get to the patient where we’re going directly to the patient and its a pretty simple model it’s been done all the time but we just bought it to a space that didn’t have it.
Spencer Jacobson: That’s awesome and congratulations on creating all of this. Um, the last question Travis is um if you could leave you know if you had one wish for what are, if you could create a new definition of a successful man in our society what would you hope that definition would be?
Dr. Travis Zigler: I’m going to steal this from Gary Keller, and it’s "succeeding through others" and if you ask Gary Keller what, he is the owner of Keller Williams the founder of Keller Williams Realty if you ask him what business you’re in most of his real estate agents will say I’m in realty and if you ask him that question he says succeeding through others, and so that’s how he has built this multi billion dollar empire.
Spencer Jacobson: I think I’m in a Keller Williams building right now.
Dr. Travis Zigler: There you go and yeah I think succeeding through others has to be it.
Spencer Jacobson: Can you say a little bit more about, can you give me a little bit more about what that means to you and how that relates to being a man?
Dr. Travis Zigler: As an entrepreneur we are constantly doing things ourselves and we always feel that we can’t let go of things and I think that’s kind of a man’s problem as well is we are very controlling and we can’t let go of things and succeeding through others means that building a team around you that will succeed and will help you succeed and I think that’s in as far as a man is concerned you could do that with your kids too. You could judge your life as successful by how successful your kids become and that’s being a direct man is fathering your kids and helping them succeed instead of helping yourself succeed. Does that answer your question?
Spencer Jacobson: Yeah absolutely, absolutely. I see the connection to giving. Giving period and what you’ve talked about originally which was transitioning your business from being about how much can I make to how much can I give to others and what’s the impact that I can have and that is a really important message for being a man. I think a lot that we have um some role models in the United States of men who are generally seen as takers. It’s how much can you take, how much can you get for yourself and even that's a kind some misunderstood concept of leadership is how much can you get as suppose to success through others, right. Which is inherently in giving a giving mentality. So, I really really appreciate it. You look like you want to say something.
Dr. Travis Zigler: No, I was just going to say that I’m not perfect in this so don’t think I am it’s just something that we try to move towards everyday and it’s hard. It’s a hard process.
Spencer Jacobson: Well that, and that, and that I mean, that’s this whole conversation as well, you’re never going to be perfect at all of these things right but we have, we can notice our tendencies and we can come back to what our intentions are, right. And that’s what we’ve been hearing you doing over and over again. So thank you very much Travis. Im going to stop the recording and we can hang out here.