PP 652: Bigger Isn’t Always Better with Grant Aldrich
“You have to, from the very beginning, choose the right business. And by choosing the right business is knowing yourself.” – Grant Aldrich
After seeing success an online entrepreneur, Grant Aldrich had the realization that bigger and more wasn’t what he truly aspire to have. On the contrary, what he wanted was to spend more time with his family.
Listen as Grant and Kim Sutton chat about the evolution of their entrepreneurial backgrounds, their opinions of higher education, and critical considerations for entrepreneurs.
09:00 Desiring freedom
17:21 What does Grant do now?
19:56 Why Kim started her business
36:44 Idea generators aka entrepreneurs
37:22 Knowing who your ideal client is
“Whatever you’re going through in your life right now, keep your chin up. Keep pushing forward.” – Kim Sutton
“We sometimes assume that there will be a tomorrow, but we really have to make the most of what we have today.” – Kim Sutton
“You have to, from the very beginning, choose the right business. And by choosing the right business is knowing yourself.” – Grant Aldrich
About Grant Aldrich:
Grand Aldrich is a career entrepreneur. After successfully starting — and exiting — two businesses, he realized there was something more to life than the pursuit of money. He founded OnlineDegree.com to help more people go back to school by preparing adults for higher education.
EPISODE TRANSCRIPTION – GRANT ALDRICH:
Kim Sutton: Welcome back to another episode of positive productivity. This is your host, Kim Sutton, and today, I am thrilled to introduce you to Grant Aldrich.
Grant and I have just had a phenomenal pre chat and you’ve heard me say this before, and every time I’m totally telling the truth. But today is an example of Positive Productivity not being about perfection but it doesn’t need to be painful either. listeners,
Kim Sutton: I just want you to know that whatever you’re going through in your life right now, keep your chin up, keep pushing forward.
The reason I say this is because this morning, we actually had two dead cars in our driveway and we were stuck in our house, but Grant was here to experience both mechanics coming so, Grant, thank you so much. I know this is not like anything about you, but I just want you to know again how much I really appreciate It. Keep your chin up.
Grant Aldrich: Thank you, Kim. And thanks for having me.
Kim Sutton: Grant, I know you have… you have kids, you have another one on the way. Oh, by the way, you’re welcome.
I just need to share I went to the grocery this past weekend. I will only went in to get dinner for the kids because my husband and I were going on out on a date but the grocery had all these awesome sales on meat. And yes, we do eat meat people if you’re a vegan or vegetarian, please don’t hate me. But I wasn’t thinking about meals. When I was picking up all this meat. I was just thinking, Oh my gosh, you know, 75 90% off. I’m just going to get all this meat.
Kim Sutton: It never occurred to me until the second car died and the car insurance callback that we don’t have anything but meat. It’s like… Great! I got this big roast, but roast by itself. What are you going to do with that but i I realized that so many of us and maybe you could speak on this, but I, of course, I want you to introduce yourself and tell us all what you do….
Kim Sutton: And we sometimes assume that we’ll there will be a tomorrow, but we really have to make the most of what we have today. So buy your vegetables.
Grant Aldrich: That’s a good lifeline. That’s good advice.
Kim Sutton: But Grant, could you share who you are with the listeners and how you got here?
Grant Aldrich: Wow, well, how would I would describe that. Well, I am a internet entrepreneur, who after seeing some success, I decided that I was on the completely wrong path in wanting to go bigger and wanting to dedicate more time to business. And I realized that really all I want to do in life is spend time with my family, be happy and help people.
Grant Aldrich: And I think that now that’s what defines me. As opposed to my prior life before, I guess really up until three years ago.
Kim Sutton: What were you doing, you know, prior to that?
Grant Aldrich: I… I’ve been a startup entrepreneur my whole career. So for about 15 years, I had got right out of college got into startups. I was lucky in that I founded and exited two of them. And I was in various industries, parenting and also in health care. And after which, you know, once you as an entrepreneur, you you see a little bit of success after you’ve been eating ramen for eight years. And, and, and get a little bit of validation for all the hard work and that you’ve done. I really thought that the thing that was going to make me happy after that would be to go bigger. I want a bigger exit. I want a company with more employees. I want to make you know more money, all of these things that are selfish, and so and I would say they’re trivial, not really important in life.
Grant Aldrich: And after which I really had a period of introspection, and this was in 2016, where I realized that I didn’t want any of it. I just wanted to… My… First, my wife became pregnant with our first son. And I realized that I just wanted to be happy. And I wanted to spend time at home and that if I wanted to go do all those things, it would take away from the things that truly made me happy.
Grant Aldrich: And so I, I really completely engineered my life and I’m still an internet entrepreneur. But it doesn’t…. It’s it’s a different, far different pursuit. And what I’m trying to do, I’m trying I’m really trying to balance that with my other intellectual pursuits, my commitment to my family, and to doing something bigger than myself.
Kim Sutton: I think 2016 was just that year for a lot of entrepreneurs. I gotta tell you, it was that year for me too, and I know it was that year for a number of other guests. I had that same realization that year because up until that point, I had been pursuing money.
Grant Aldrich: Yeah.
Kim Sutton: And I hit my rock bottom. Or, I should say, the rock bottom of my 30s. I hope that is my last rock bottom. Let’s just put it that way. But when I woke up from that, I realized, oh my gosh, that’s not what I’m supposed to be doing. Like, that’s when I switched my focus from income to impact.
And then it took a couple more years before I realized that both can play with each other very nicely. But the bigger the impact you make, the more money you could make. But that’s not why you should do it, in my opinion, make an impact, the good will follow whatever the good is.
Grant Aldrich: Yeah, that’s very true. And you know, the irony is that I actually feel fairly lucky that when I was 18, and I, you know, just just becoming of age… My parents were not entrepreneurs, they were… They were both teachers. And I had the epiphany then that what was really going to make me happy was freedom. You know, freedom to do whatever I want freedom to explore whatever I want. And that was the goal.
Grant Aldrich: But the sad truth is that in my approach in my pursuit of freedom through my 20s and early 30s, I, in fact, became a slave, and I didn’t allow myself you know…
Grant Aldrich: This blind pursuit of getting there and the achievement and it just goes to show how even with the right mindset, you, you need constant vigilance. Because if you if you don’t, it’s very easy as you and I both know to with all of the demands of daily lives and business, to stray from that philosophy and go…
Kim Sutton: Oh my gosh, yes. So this past weekend was my second weekend in a row…. And I would have to say my second weekend, ever In the seven years of my business that I was not slave to my email.
Grant Aldrich: Wow.
Kim Sutton: Last weekend, so two weekends in a row or ago, I did not open my email. That was huge and somewhat scary. I mean, Monday was a mess. Let me just put it that way, too. This past weekend. I didn’t look at it until Sunday night. And that was because I needed to get an email that had a verification code. But it wasn’t because I was feeling like a slave. But I totally feel that I want to touch on two things.
Number one, you said your parents were teachers were they like K through 12 teachers or collegiate level?
Grant Aldrich: K through 12.
Kim Sutton: Okay, so I’m curious about freedom because a lot of people — and I think this might be a false assumption a lot of people’s part — is the teachers have a lot of freedom because they have the months off in the summer.
Grant Aldrich: Hmm.
Kim Sutton: So what what inspired you to desire freedom?
Grant Aldrich: That’s very interesting perspective, but, you know, I’ll tell you growing up with two parents who are teachers, not just one, but like, you know, the you could you could argue that now all like my entire existence was within parents who had teaching careers.
Grant Aldrich: It isn’t one of freedom because at the end of the day, a teaching career is just another job. And although the people approach their job often very differently with with, you know, a certain enthusiasm for education and helping students, it’s still a job. And ultimately, your… Your entire life is dictated by showing up in the morning, checking out in the afternoon, and the limited time that you spend with your children. And, of course, all the other things that you want to pursue, right?
Grant Aldrich: So they can’t so it’s true now that as a teacher, you do get The benefit of much more time than almost any other job. I mean, you’re off at 3pm you have a week off in the winter time summers off, it’s pretty amazing and extraordinary and that did allow my parents to spend far more time with us than I think if they had a corporate job. But again, at the same time, you know, you don’t make the money that you would with other jobs to also afford you.
Kim Sutton: I just have to say, though, that with my five kids, there’s a reason why I’m not a homeschooling parent. Props to all the homeschooling parents, I don’t know how you have the sanity, but that you can keep that secret because I’m not interested in finding out.
Kim Sutton: And also, you know, thank you to all the teachers who are handling my children, because I don’t know how you do it. I mean a full day of my five kids…. I love them. But by the end of the weekend I’m ready to for them to go back to school. So I don’t know how to deal not just with my kids, but all the other kids.
Kim Sutton: I’m… I have good kids. Sometimes they’re mouthy, but I have good kids. And I know that teachers deal with a whole lot more than mine.
And like, and I also know, yes, they might get out at three, but they’ve also got grading and it’s not like they can just stop. So now I totally feel you.
Kim Sutton: I… My other question was that you said you exited two companies and one had to do with parenting. But based upon the years, you weren’t a parent yet, so I’d love to know more.
(Transcription still being cleaned up. Thanks for checking it out!)
Grant Aldrich: Yeah, you know what’s interesting, so I, the company in parenting was just, you know, it was a it was a parenting network with baby names, interestingly enough, because people don’t realize that baby names is one if you if I was to ask someone on the street, you know, what is the number one search term that people look for? surrounding babies? Most often they wouldn’t guess its baby names, but it truly is because that’s just something that every Buddy looks for everybody who has a very fun experience doing searching online. And so, so I, you know, we created a really big platform on that. And it went really well. And one of the one of the fun, kind of a funny story. So this was before I had children, but because I was working with a lot of brands and a lot of parenting brands, before that, I got to know a lot of the different toys and whatnot. And so one of the ones of course, was that you see is Sophie the giraffe, right? I was downstairs, the time living in, I lived in a building in like a high rise in Nevada. And I was downstairs, just in the common area meeting with someone and there was two moms who were sitting next to me. And one of their children had Sophie the giraffe. And I just learned about this because I wasn’t apparent that point. I had no idea what it was. And I looked they said oh my gosh, and I almost I interrupted them. I said oh my gosh. Is that Sophie the giraffe, and they both look at me smiling, say yes. And they said Are you a parent? And I said no. And they both looked at me like I was insane.
Okay, this is embarrassing, but I my first thought when you said giraffe was I was thinking Toys R Us, but I think that’s Jeff. So who’s Sophie?
Oh, so yeah, Sophie, the giraffe is just this. It’s just this little squeaking teething toy. And it’s just to me, it’s it’s so expensive, you know, for this little giraffe. It’s I think it’s, you know $25 Wow. And anyhow, it became very popular and it’s always, you know, added on people’s baby shower lists and whatnot. And so I’d worked with the company a little bit to do a little advertising and anyhow and so, of course, why on earth would a mid 30s person who does not have children and I guess know about that?
They gave me a look. And then of course at that point, I became self aware and I thought oh, That really sounded creepy. I’m just gonna go now.
Right? So it’s like the peg Perego of teething rings.
Yeah, I think that’s probably Yeah, that’s okay.
For all of you non parents non aunt or uncle like baby shower gift giver, listeners, peg Perego is like, and I might be saying the name wrong a car or a stroller or car seat company that and I could be even seeing what they do wrong, but it’s like top of the line, like the Mercedes have car seats and strollers is that they’re pretty familiar with that one. Okay. So yeah, well, interesting. And I have to say I actually found my middle child’s name on a baby naming website.
So Oh, yeah, I mean, think about it. It makes sense because something that is we we all used to buy books. I remember back in the day when I was just a kid, stumbling upon in the library, the baby name books that my parents had. used to determine our names. And they’re, you know, they’re they’re big you flip through them. And I mean nowadays, I mean, that is really a perfect example of something that can be applied and accessible online. And you don’t need to have the physical book for were like, for example, if I’m reading one of my other books, you know, something, or economics or whatever my intellectual interests are, I want the physical book, but when you’re just sorting through names and the meanings, it’s perfect for all.
as of the date of this recording, you are expecting child number three and I’m not asking for names grant and total disclosure I don’t share the name of my kids anywhere online anymore besides with friends, just because I’ve gotten some test threats Yes, listeners positive productivity, the host of positive productivity has gotten death threats. And they named my children so I just stopped that. But did you use naming websites for any of your kids or did you already have the names figured out?
Oh, that is that is shocking. I mean, one Kim, how could someone I mean, You’re so likable. I’m shocked that you’ve got death threats. I think that just speaks to some of the sick people we have out there.
what’s funny is even after creating one, No, I didn’t. My wife and I, because I share your philosophy on that. We don’t talk, we talk, we sit, we mentioned the names, but we don’t show any photos or don’t post anything on social media, that’s children. And no, I, we’ve just kind of had a few names that have resonated and my wife is from Israel, originally. And she came here when she was in her mid 20s, when we met. And we, when we choose names, we kind of have an act an additional challenge, where we have to come up with a name that sort of works in both locales, because her family’s all still in Israel. And we of course, live here. And so we don’t want a name that is completely unclear unpronounceable or foreign to the Israeli culture as well. So right Yeah, so so we’ve usually that narrows things down quite a bit. Actually.
I love that. And it probably keeps your children’s names more unique over here as well. Maybe not necessarily. I mean, I can think of some names that would work in both quite well. But yeah, always something interesting to think about. So what do you do now? workwise.
So, after that period of introspection, I wanted to solve a very big problem. And I just kept coming back to education. One because of my upbringing that we touched on. And two, I graduated college with an immense amount of student debt. And mind you, it was a lot of debt, and I seemingly did everything right to lower that burden. So I went to a state school, I went to UC Irvine, which is, you know, a top school and also California state school here, our public school, and I had taken an immense amount of AP and community college courses while in high school, so I Basically came in as a sophomore, and I still left college with an immense amount of debt. And since then, of course, tuitions gone up, it’s even changed since I’ve been in school. So, after all that I just kept gravitating that to that as the main challenge to solve. And so finally, I realized, you know, there is a real as I began to do more research, there’s a real challenge for working adults to go back to school because of the accessibility and affordability of college and that was the problem I decided to solve. It was like a my mission that I was going to to work on. And I didn’t really know how to do it at first. So it really just evolved over time. And the whole idea really crystallized when my wife was then pregnant. We were talking about it and she said, You know how and she was kind of lamenting the fact that from her perspective as a stay at home mom, you know how we’re stay at home moms ever supposed to go back to school, because usually they run the household. They’re trying to limit expensive They, their schedules would never permit them to go to school to like go visit a campus, they, you know, the, the schedule doesn’t allow them to like sit down in a classroom for two hours at a time with children. So like, how are they doing? They said, You know what? That’s genius. What you just what you just realized is not just a problem for stay at home moms, it’s for every working adult. We’ve all got busy lives, we’ve all got kids responsibilities, all kinds of things. And I realized that that was the big problem. And so I created online degree comm where in 60 seconds, anybody can get started taking college level courses online at your own pace. And those courses could earn credit towards your degree at universities across the country. And you can also unlock additional discounts to even lower your college costs further, and we do it all for free.
Wow. I just want to thank you. Do you do you know that the reason I became an entrepreneur that Round was because my husband went back to school online. Are you online? Yeah. Yeah. So we got married in 2012. And the week after we got married, he lost his fourth job that he had had in a year. You had been doing warehouse and manufacturing work. He’s an Air Force veteran and he had a GED. But he never went to school. He never had support to think that he could go to school and pursue his dream. But after he lost that job, I just said to him, I said, You know, I think this is God’s kick in your pants that it’s time to pursue your dream. Like, you’re just gonna keep on losing your job because that’s what he wants. He wants you to go pursue your dream. So, yeah, he he applied, and he is now a video game designer, and he got his degree in three years. It’s a four year degree but he full disclosure, he had the GI Bill and the post 911 VA benefits. And he only had three years left to do it. So he crunched it all down. We need an extra So I started my business.
That’s amazing. And so and after that it was all online by the way we use doing online. Yeah, that doesn’t surprise me. Because the reality is, and I’m sure this would this speaks to that situation when you kind of reflect on this. It, it’s just, it doesn’t make sense to go into a campus for someone who’s busy or you know, not the best school for that kind of program is not necessarily within driving distance. And finally, in something, you know, Video game design is a great program that kind of illustrates that online is actually more conducive to learning than perhaps sitting at a desk in
the classroom. Mm hmm. Absolutely. I mean, when I went to school on 2019 97 graduated high school listeners, you can do the math. So I went for interior architecture. And while there are interior design programs online, I am very grateful that at that time, that really wasn’t an option. I’m sure it was an option but I didn’t see it as an option at that point. Yeah, but I really needed the social aspect as well and being there with my professors who took Exacto knives to my models, you know, because that really did they can my skin, I can get through that I can get through a lot more. Still getting through it, but I appreciate I mean, I’m okay so I’m 40 and I still have student loan debt. I did not go to a state school.
you know, but I’m thinking forward about my kids. I’m gonna have a kid who’s gonna be a senior next year and he’s getting ready to take the AC T and the PSAT now in I honestly haven’t been pushing him that hard about college. I feel bad for even saying that but I haven’t been and I love that you brought up that you did a because he’s doing that too. But I’m like, maybe that’s not the route you know, I’m gonna let him pick his own journey. My parents. It was just always assumed we were going to college.
also want to say though, I have appreciate what you’re doing also because my stepmother, when my sister and I started college in 97, at the same time, she also started college. And it was I’ve never had a discussion with her about it before, but I’m going to have to go ask now like, how did you do it? Because we had a brother who was 10 years younger. So he was eight. But she was going to a physical campus, and I’m sure she was probably working around his school schedule. Wow, you get this done. So she started her bachelor’s and then she ended up going for her master’s and she became a teacher. But she was
she was 52 before she started
Wow, good for her that you hear those stories and you just have an immense amount of respect. And in your in, you know, to, to your point earlier about with your children. I know I’ve actually had the same realization as well. You know what you want them because you’re right, you and I are the same age and with our generation, it was just expect it was just a foregone conclusion that you’d be going to college. And I think that part of the problem that we’ve been in is yet Perhaps that in some cases, for some people that’s been over prescribed, and that a lot of people should be going to, you know, trade schools, for example, like I’ve been reading a little nerdy and that I really enjoy reading economic journals. And one of the things is that we are we’ve got this huge supply deficit of welders, and they make excellent money, you know, 50 $75 an hour, you know, sometimes more, and we just don’t have enough of them. And so a lot of people who are very town, that’s a very difficult thing to do, I couldn’t weld. And they, you know, a lot of people who were inclined towards that could have gone to trade school. So in that, but a lot of people are over prescribed higher education. But at the same time, I think that part of that hesitancy that you feel, and let me tell me if I’m wrong, is that what’s really become out of balance is the cost benefit. Right, we’ve looked at, you know, I think everyone would say, Well, yeah, College is a great experience and getting a degree is a great experience and but at what cost that I think has become so out of balance. Yes, so many people and has led to the crisis we’re seeing in student debt, the crisis we’re seeing and people not upskilling not getting the skills they need, despite the demand. And that’s what I’m trying to put back into balance.
Absolutely. Hey there, my friend, I hope you’re enjoying this episode of the positive productivity podcast. I wanted to take a quick moment to invite you to join the work smarter, not harder challenge. Over the course of 30 days these free Yes, free short videos will teach you a few of the systems and strategies I set up in my business so I can get away from my computer and back to the people I love. I invite you to sign up now at work smarter, not harder. challenge.com. Again, you can sign up at work smarter, not harder. challenge.com So I went to the school the Art Institute of Chicago, which is one of the top art schools in the country. I lived in the dorms, which were downtown Chicago. And those alone costs 10,000 a year. Or no, maybe it was 10,000 a semester. In any case, it was super expensive. Plus there was tuition and I was lucky I got a grant. But I it was still 10,000 a semester. So right away, it’s like 30 to $40,000 a year. Yep. Well, I graduated, even from even with that being one of the top art schools in the country, and went to Manhattan and my entry wage was 32,000. This is 2001 where you can hardly live in a closet in New York for 32,000 a year. I mean, the rental agents just slapped me right out. But I’m having to figure out how to, you know, start paying off my student loans. pay your rent, pay for food, I mean, don’t forget food. You know, and Yeah, I don’t want to see my kids set themselves up like that. I love by the way that he said the welding, the welding trade literally three blocks from my house there’s a welding welding Academy welding college. Oh, that’s interesting. Yeah, Hobart it’s called, is right in my town. And there’s houses all throughout my town Hobart I believe was a Kip kitchen equipment manufacturer for years they might still be I mean, they have factories on my tongue but I have to say I lived here 15 years and they’ve never really looked into what they do. But they’re they basically built my town and their houses all over the town that literally have metal walls. You could put a magnet up to the wall, your papers up. But there’s a downside of rust that comes along with it. I when it comes to my kids, so what I was gonna say was like, as long as they’re happy, and you and I talked about happiness a bit on the pre chat. That is my biggest concern. My husband’s oldest is a tattoo artist. And she’s known that she wanted to be a tattoo artist since she was 15. And now, how old is she? She’s like 19 or 20. But she was licensed at 16 which is really young. But it’s, it’s what she wanted to do. So we’re like, Yeah, do it you’re good at it. Follow your heart.
Yeah, absolutely. Because you’re right at the end of the day, that’s the only thing that’s important it’s the I’ve recently come up with that I’m writing a letter to my children you know in the in the letter is like this document being a compendium would be too far but you know, a collection of wisdom through my life that hopefully that will serve them one day and one of the key things of course, the the main thing we can all all relate with in terms of enjoying our lives is that it’s happiness. And so you’re right for her if that’s if being a tattoo artist means you know is that that equates to happiness for her well, Wow, fantastic.
Absolutely. The only thing we asked her not to do, or my husband astronauts who was tattooer face
tattooed her face.
But, you know, he and I are both rebellious to listeners, I don’t know if you know, but I have tattoos. So, like a lot of people would look at me and thinking, Oh, she doesn’t have any tattoos. Yep, I do. And I’m waiting to get more. I love that you brought up earlier as well about Rahman
last week, you know that i
i would love to know that your entrepreneurial journey has been different from mine but we have ridden the roller coaster in some of those riots have been very much self induced, although I didn’t see it at the time. And I was talking to my husband last week, or the week before and they said when we get off this roller coaster, I don’t care if I ever see another hot dog again and my whole life. I never want to see another hot dog. You sleep but I like hot dogs. I don’t care. I don’t want to eat another one.
No, I I’m with you. And I think that because I think what you’re talking about is that it takes a lot of courage to be an entrepreneur, and most people don’t realize that when you become one, ultimately, to the success of the business, you as a person are the one you’re the backstop, who’s always going to give up you know, whatever kind of lifestyle that you’re that you’re having, in that pursuit of that success, and it doesn’t happen overnight. And even if it does happen one night it there you’re your writer to equate it to a rollercoaster where then the next the next month or you know or period of time, it’s really low. There’s there’s amazing highs and amazing lead depressing lows in being an entrepreneur. And I think that’s something that most people don’t appreciate and don’t understand and it’s just something you have to get used to I so I completely understand.
Have you seen any strategies over your time as an entrepreneur that would help avoid the lows more.
And I have thoughts, but I would love to know yours.
Yeah, I actually I have. So I think the first thing is that you have to, from the very beginning, choose the right business and in by choosing the right businesses that knowing yourself. So when you you know, as part of the, you know, most entrepreneurs are very good at coming up with business ideas. It’s part of the exercise, it’s fun, but, you know, you can only choose one. And so you have to ultimately decide on what’s the best idea that you’re going to pursue. But what’s the rubric that you use to determine what that best idea is? And a lot of times people look at it solely because of maybe some financial or solely because, you know, there’s like a cool factor but whatever that is, You have to know yourself and know your personal situation to really say, is this idea going to give me x kind of lows, because lows could be financial lows, it could be depressive lows, because you’re not getting enough clients or you know, whatever that is. And you really have to be realistic with yourself in that. So I think that’s a big part of it, is to really know yourself and know, the business, does that match this business model? What you know, turmoil is coming ahead. And then I think the second thing is just to realize that it is going to come it is going to arrive. And so I think this also talks about a lot of things that you talk about your on your podcast is that you have to build certain systems that in anticipation of those lows, so And I mean that in certain systems that you have to minimize your costs. You have to just you you’ve got to be very, very mindful of your costs personally on the business, I think, to make sure that you don’t run into a situation where it creates undue stress on you need to create systems that don’t demand a lot of your time so that you can with you there is a stressful moment you’re not so bogged down in the details of maintaining this, you know, this this crazy system and you’re not able to to come up with creative solutions on how to persevere out of it. So I think I think
I interrupt you on that. Sure. What’s one system that is been a saving grace for you?
Wow, okay. I actually i think i think a couple popped into my head.
One system is the, the way that I built it was was baking in the system to the cake. So for example, I’m a huge fan of WordPress. And I love WordPress and I and so much so that I think that almost in every case you can build a your business on that platform and save you so much time and heartache unless you’re doing something That’s completely new and different, which very few people really are. And so for example, in that case, I was able to architect WordPress so that it was almost completely automated for our business. It was, you know, lots of plugins and things to access. And so by doing so, by choosing that route, I lowered all of the costs. I was able to bring in and utilize things that support that was readily accessible, rather being this custom system that every time something breaks, it’s, it’s it’s a it’s a huge, stressful endeavor. So I think that would be one. I guess you could call it a system that I chose that is just, I’m just so thankful for.
Oh, I love that. So my first website that I built was through GoDaddy, and everybody starts somewhere, and it was their website in a weekend. And that served me well for a while. But then yeah, when I started learning WordPress, life changer in all my sites, all my programs, my membership site, everything is all in WordPress and I love it. And I work with clients and marketing automation. They’re using things like think if ik and kajabi. And those are great tools too. But I’m just loving the flexibility and being able to do it my own way. And there’s always a plugin for whatever I need. So I love that. My, my saving grace for systems has been QuickBooks. Both of my parents were accounting or accountants. And that was like the last thing that I ever wanted to do. And I can’t stand bookkeeping or accounting. But QuickBooks just makes it so easy for me. And this is no This episode is not sponsored by QuickBooks. But I mean, the fact that I can set up rules in my account in there that automatically classifies whatever transit like, let’s just say Infusionsoft charges my card for my monthly subscription. QuickBooks sees it, they know what category to put it into, and they automatically reconcile it and then like, as your taxes so much better because I was originally doing it in Google Sheets. Every year, I would enter every single transaction into a Google Sheet. And they have to do it all. And it was like, Oh, this is painful. Should I have hired somebody? Yes. Should I still hire somebody? Yes. But in the meantime, QuickBooks makes it easier. Yeah.
Grant Aldrich: Yeah, I agree. 100%. That’s another great example. And actually kind of funny, you mentioned kajabi. So actually, no, the kajabi guys, because they, we have a bunch of mutual friends and their office was right next to my previous office. And yeah, so just kind of small world.
Yeah, it is such a great system. And I love it, especially for clients who aren’t so technologically savvy, they can go in there and they can load their stuff and they can get it out, you know, as fast as they want to get it out. Because a lot of my clients have ideas just like me. Are you an idea generator, too?
Oh, yeah. I mean, and again, I think that’s speaks to the fact that we’re entrepreneurs. I think that’s just part of it. Right? You’re because you’re an idea person, you gravitate towards becoming an entrepreneur to then realize that
so you Yeah, absolutely.
I actually have to give that disclaimer to new clients or to prospects if just say, No, I have chronic idea disorder. So if you don’t want to hear ideas, you just need to let them know. But if they if they tell me that, then they’re most likely not the person I want to be working with anyway. So and that’s what’s helped me, like start moving the bottom of the roller coaster up is knowing who is the right person for me to be working with and who is not and also understanding standing. Let me try that, again, understanding the value I provide to clients and having the confidence to voice that value and to expect compensation accordingly.
Well, that’s actually interesting what you just said, because that I think, shows a lot of knowing yourself and also then applying that with a series of litmus tests to identify who’s going to be the right because it’s very difficult to know in the very beginning, whether or not a client is going to be conducive to you know your philosophies. Your style, all those things. So that’s that’s really interesting.
Oh yeah, it was an evolution because at first I was saying yes to everybody. And then when I had that, you know, that life changing moment in 2016, I realized, okay, my ideal clients are business and life coaches. But then even after that discovery was made, I realized, okay, there, listeners, you may be an outlier for this, but I realized that even in the coaching realm, people who are really struggling to make it are often a lot more difficult to work with. And I really want clients who are already somewhat comfortable, but they trust my recommendations and allow me to sort of go with what I have seen is working and just go with it. And I love that and I’m finding them when you put it out there that that’s what you want. You can find them so much easier. But like you said, knowing and making that discovery and evolving like that, it takes time. It was not overnight. And it took me four years to, as I said, to decide that I, you know, coaches were who I wanted to work with. But it wasn’t just till this year that I realized, you know, the level of coach. So what are you most excited about? And this episode is not going out for a couple months. So I know that there’s going to be a life change, but I wanted to stay evergreen, what are you most excited about in the road ahead? For you, your family and your business?
Yeah, I think that you know, after being you’ll start with the business, you know, I think with the business we’re at a tipping point that we’ve now started to see such a great result with the student outcomes and with on the platform and and you know, where we’ve gotten a lot of great press Forbes inside higher ed, we’ve seen just an immense adoption by students with thousands being added every month with very little marketing at all. And also great adoption with universities. You know, we’ve just got many, many partners who are articulating with our courses, providing our students discounts to make it just very easy and cost effective for people to go back to school and save a lot of money and time. And so with those three things, it’s, it’s, those are really the markers that I’m using for success. And I think that now, we launched in July of 18. So it’s been a little over a year, that has just begun to accelerate. And so to me, that’s really exciting to see. And that we’re, we’re really at the tipping point of, you know, rapid growth. And I just love it because, you know, it’s one of those things where I get to skip to work every day knowing that when everyone’s interests are aligned, if more people are going back to school, and the universities are getting the students they want Well, everybody wins. And you know, anyway, that’s that’s kind of what I joined. So personally, I have a my I do have a son is on the way and should be born and sometime in December. So that’s obviously Really exciting for my family and I? And so yeah, a lot of really neat things to come.
Kim Sutton: You touched on a couple really interesting things that I have two last questions before we wrap up. But the first is, you said earlier that you don’t charge. How do you generate income in your business then?
Grant Aldrich: Yeah, great question. I realized from the get go, it had to be free. And that was because… To get really the main challenge of why there are 35 to, you know, estimated 40 million adults who are not taking that first step who are who have, you know, high demand for new skills, is because there’s a range of impediments that are stopping them from jumping into this very scary pool called higher education. One of which is, you know, psychological. You know, going back to a classroom after a period of time is very scary. You know, can I be successful in a classroom, you know, all the things that you that your husband also probably dealt with where he was the king of why he never why he kind of delayed Right, those are normal. These are normal things and real, then you’ve got the financial impediment, which is that Yeah, again, to jump in that pool, I have to take out student loans to really big jump.
Grant Aldrich: So you know, our process is something where to solve all that is to let people wade into the pool, Hey, get started for free, start taking classes experience when it’s like, start researching schools, and in a very low pressure environment to make that right decision for you.
Grant Aldrich: So I knew it had to be free to really scale and make the platform as big as possible. And then of course, if you have a lot of scale, you can then get the best result with the universities as well. But to do that, you have to dispense with the tuition model in the tuition model is of course, the gold standard to pay for things. I said, Well, I want to dispense with it. So what I came up with was to do that was to make it completely paid for by the universities.
you Yeah, and the reason is, is because so it’s free for students. You can come on everything’s free. For the universities, they get a huge benefit as well. Because in addition to the consumers getting a big benefit, universities are always looking for good students who’ve proven that they can be successful online who are determined to finish their program. And for them, it’s a big win. Like, you know, one of those we’ve always heard that adage, you know, that student, if you go to a community college, you’re more likely to get into a school. And that’s because the universities again, they’re able to point to the fact Oh, this person’s been successful in that environment. Well, the same applies here. And they’re very eager to reach the students on our platform. And so that through sponsorships and advertising all of this, we’ve made it possible to keep it free for students supported by the universities.
It’s brilliant. I love it. One of the programs that I went through in 2018 was Oh, I can’t remember Marissa. Murti and I can never say her last name. Either. Listeners it will be in the show notes, show note card. I can Murgatroyd There we go. I finally got it. Experience product masterclass or something like that. But part of the whole foundation of this program is that when people are signing up for online courses these days, there’s only like 3% and I’m talking about in the entrepreneurial space 30% are actually finishing the programs that they sign up for. So this whole concept like I’m curious to see how universities Yes, we get grades. But even in my husband’s program, he saw so many people who just dropped, they stopped doing the work, but how are we? Yes, there’s a degree at the end, but how are we incentivizing and keeping people like super keeping them? I’m just gonna gamifying it. Like I would love to see how that happens in the future, because I think it’s people need those exterior motivations outside of the degree.
Oh, 100% I think Yeah, you know, it is everything you just described is true. That’s it. That’s one of the known And not often spoken about problems with distance education or online learning is that there’s a much higher dropout rate. And it makes sense because you’re basically now taking an adult who is, you know, has an immense amount of responsibility, interests very little time. And you’re expecting them to be completely on their schedule and to persist through a program with no, you know, no campus or physical support that you would typically get at a university or going into a classroom. And so while online education is so innovative and so disruptive in it, and it’s that it provides access to education, no matter where you are, and what your schedule is, it comes with the price of responsibility and that you have to try it. You have to be able to be self disciplined to stick through it. And not everybody. I mean, we’re all we all lack self discipline, to a certain extent, some more than others. And so these things that you’re speaking about, like gamification and whatnot, those things really do help. And that’s something that really has to be baked into the cake to help people get through this. And, and and it should be just like anything. You want to have those systems in place to nudge people along to finish what they’re doing just
like anything in
life. Absolutely. I have an accountability partner in my business. She’s not physically in my business, but you know, she owns her own business, and we keep each other accountable. So I’m gonna, it’s gonna be interesting to watch my son start college in a couple years to see what his experiences compared to his dad or me or even my husband. But yeah, Grant, this has been amazing. Since second one of the pre chat and I mean, they’re right there. I mean, there’s a relevant example of how we can easily get distracted. I mean, I had the random car mechanic people show up at my driveway. I mean, that if I were studying online that could have easily just, you know, taking me off track for the entire day. But thank you so much for everything that you do. Everything that you’re working towards and just being the person that you are, where can listeners find you online connect and get to know more about, about what you do.
Grant Aldrich: Okay, thank you again for having me, this has been a real treat. And I’ve been looking forward to this just because of how similar our stories are and how much I love your podcast.
Grant Aldrich: And so yeah, for for listeners, you know, LinkedIn is a really great way to connect with me, I’m very active on LinkedIn, and you can just Google or just, you know, search my name. And then of course, the website itself is just onlinedegree.cpm, and you can learn more about what we’re doing in the project and maybe even applies for someone wants to take courses and get started.
Kim Sutton: I’ve been saying on my podcast since day one, that people need to recognize their LinkedIn, you know, whatever their job title is on LinkedIn, but where I’ve been telling them they need to fix it, which is looking for opportunity or unemployed. That’s probably the people that you are Looking for. Thank you so much again.
Kim Sutton: Do you have a parting piece of advice or golden nugget that you can leave with the listeners?
Grant Aldrich: I do. I think I would leave the with making sure that you always ask yourself or you follow the maxim of know thyself.
Grant Aldrich: You know, really that that has that has been my latest Renaissance the last few years is to really apply that to my own life and I can’t even begin to describe the benefits I’ve gotten from that. And then and, you know, just like as we spoke about before, the the heartaches it will save you from when you’re creating your business.
Grant Aldrich: If you really know yourself, you can get ahead of so much that will make you unhappy as you move forward.