Blue Steel: How To Go From Questionable To Legitimate – with Roman Northcut

How did a guy who sold questionable Rolexes end up building a profitable, legitimate jewelry e-commerce site?

Today’s guest is Roman Northcut, the founder Blue Steel, which makes edgy, industrial jewelry.

I plan to ask him about that and about how he built his business, what his revenues are, and what someone at his company did to the breast of a sixty year old woman.

Watch the FULL program


About Roman Northcut

Roman Northcut is the founder Blue Steel, which makes edgy, industrial jewelry.

Raw transcript


Mixergy’s audio transcription is done by Speechpad

Andrew: Hey there freedom fighters, in this interview we’re going to find out how a guy who at one point in his life, sold questionable Rolexes ended up building a profitable legitimate jewelry e-commerce site. My name is Andrew Warner. I am the founder of Mixergy, home of the ambitious upstart.

This interview is sponsored by this gentleman right here, Scott Edward Walker of Walker Corporate Law. I will tell you more about him later. I’m going to open up this box that came regarding him. I will open it in the interview as part of my sponsorship message for Scott.

Now, let me introduce today’s guest. Today’s guest is Roman Northcut. He is the founder of Blue Steel, which makes edgy, industrial, beautiful jewelry. I plan to ask him about he built up his business, what his revenues are, and what someone at his company did to the breast of a sixty year old woman. We’ll find out all that and so much more. Roman, welcome.

Roman: Thank you. Thank you, Andrew. Thanks for that introduction.

Andrew: Thanks for rolling with it. I want to make sure that people see all that’s coming up in this interview. Starting with 1999, you were already selling online. What were you selling at the time?

Roman: In ’99, I started a Rolex business. It came right out of college for me, and I created the website myself. It was pretty crude, and we were the very first website that was dedicated only to pre-owned Rolexes online.

Andrew: These were real Rolexes, pre-owned?

Roman: They were real Rolexes, pre-owned. That’s right.

Andrew: Okay. And then what happened?

Roman: What happened after that?

Andrew: How did we end up with these, what I called at the top of the interview, questionable Rolexes?

Roman: Well, that actually happened before that?

Andrew: Oh, really?

Roman: I was just a really Ramen Noodle broke college kid and went to the flea market and found a guy selling fake watches and fake sunglasses in the flea market and bought a box of them. Actually, just bought one and a pair of sunglasses, wore it back to my fraternity house and everybody said how awesome that they looked and they couldn’t believe they weren’t real. I kind of went back and forth and ended up building that to be an online business that sold fake Rolexes, TAG Heuer watches, Gucci, right out of my fraternity room.

Andrew: Did you tell people they were fakes or at the time, did you tell them they were real?

Roman: I told them that they were fakes.

Andrew: Oh, you did.

Roman: I did. I’m not that brave. We sold them as fakes and that went on for about five months. I went from having no income to maybe four or five hundred bucks a day, just selling these fake watches online. Then one day, literally in the same week, I got attorney letters from every single one of the major manufacturers I was selling, requesting that I cease and desist or Guido’s going to come break my knees.

Andrew: So, what do you do with that? Do you cease? Do you desist?

Roman: I immediately just closed the business and it wasn’t much of a saver at the time, so I didn’t have a lot in savings, but I had a few hundred bucks basically and I wanted to find something else. I wanted to find something legitimate this time so that this wouldn’t happen. I literally just scoured EBay looking for something. I said, well, let me look into watches because I already know how they work a little bit and I just found one listing that sold, it had a reserve on it. I still remember it to this day. It had a reserve on it, so it never meant reserve, but it was relisted many times. At the lowest point it was listed I bid up to four hundred, the highest time it got bid up to seven hundred, and there was no change. When I saw that there was like three, four hundred dollar gap there and then nothing had changed, I thought wait a second there’s something, there’s something here, and I ended up buying that watch. That one watch had everything. I put everything I had into it. I think I paid like six hundred for…the guy let me have it for six hundred and I think I made three hundred bucks on the watch. That was unbeknownst to me, it wasn’t a planned business that I was going to create. It just kind of evolved just taking one step after another into a Rolex business that I ran for ten years.

Andrew: Let me see if I understand this though. You only had a few hundred dollars to your name even though at one point you were making four hundred dollars a day. You said you weren’t a saver. Where did the money go?

Roman: That’s a great question Andrew.

Andrew: Sounds like fun. Tell me.

Roman: I wish I knew. I wish I could remember.

Andrew: What kind of things were you spending it on? Was it just going out to dinner? Was it in the little things? Did you have an obsession with infomercial products like a friend of mine does?

Roman: Girlfriend going out, having fun, vacations. Actually, to be honest with you at the very beginning of that I owed a little money. I was actually back in my rent a few months and I think a few credit cards. I did at least get all that paid off and up to date. I also had to move, so I remember I had to put down the deposit and the first and last month rent, all these kinds of things. I ended up in this new house and like I said, I think I probably had about a thousand dollars at the time.

Andrew: What were you like growing up before this? Did you grow up with this sense of greatness, like you were meant for greatness? Now, finally when this business took off you said, yes, everything I thought about myself is true?

Roman: I grew up knowing that I was going to find a way to make money myself.

Andrew: How did you know that?

Roman: It wasn’t a conscious choice. When I was a little kid, I used to walk around selling my books to the people who lived around me. In middle school, I mowed lawns. In high school, I sold snicker bars to my friends. It just always ended up being some kind of opportunity or trouble that I could get into.

Andrew: What was your home life like? Was this the kind of thing that was encouraged? Did you grow up in a place where you were surrounded by entrepreneurs?

Roman: No. My dad had a business for a very short amount of time back then. I really didn’t have anyone that I knew closely that had any real business. My aunt had a shop at the flea market that she ran for many years. That would be the closest thing to a successful entrepreneur that I had around me.

Andrew: Was that an inspiration? Or just something that happened to happen in your background?

Roman: It was pretty cool. I liked to go into her shop and hanging out.

Andrew: I see.

Roman: I sold my Nintendo games out of her shop at the flea market.

Andrew: That helped you understand what entrepreneurship was like to be able to take something into store and walk out with money?

Roman: Absolutely. And she didn’t have a quote on quote, real job. Every weekend I would go hang out with her at the flea market. I thought it was so cool that she got to do something so fun. At least it seemed so much fun to me as a kid and not to have work like my dad. My dad works really, really, hard. He was a lineman and a journeyman. He worked all day in the Florida heat and if it was raining and thunderstorms, he’d have to get called out in the middle of the rain, thunderstorms to cut off people’s power. I remember thinking how hard he worked and how I appreciate that and I don’t want to do that.

Andrew: I see.

Roman: He said the same thing to me. He said I hope you never have to do this. I saw how hard it was. It made me very determined to find my own way.

Andrew: So, here you are, first business takes off, you get some legal letters telling you to stop, but you find another approach and that’s to buy a fake, excuse me, this time to buy a real Rolex watch on EBay. What did you do with it?

Roman: I just brought it home. I took prettier pictures. I rewrote the ad and I put it right back up the next week.

Andrew: I see. How did it do?

Roman: I made I think three hundred bucks.

Andrew: Really?

Roman: Yes.

Andrew: That’s pretty cool. So, basically the exact same watch, but with better pictures, better copy, sells for three hundred dollars more?

Roman: That’s right.

Andrew: You’re an entrepreneurial guy and you’re not going to end it there. What did you do next?

Roman: At the beginning, I just repeated. Rinse and repeat.

Andrew: Keep buying things on EBay, cleaning up the photos or creating new photos that look better, better copy and selling it.

Roman: That’s it. That’s how it started. Eventually, I met some people in the industry, found out about trade shows that go on all across the country; would end up going there and buying, at this time, thousands of watches at a time. I had a professional watchmaker and a website. It was without a real business plan, but I had a vision of where it was going to go and just one step at a time.

Andrew: How big did it get?

Roman: At first for me, I grew up either on the beaches or the trailer park, those two places where I grew up, so for me, in its first year, its first full year, I was making over $100,000.

Andrew: Okay.

Roman: Right around 100,000. Not only bedroom, you know, playing on the computer part-time. At that point I wanted it to grow, but I knew nothing about managing money. And when I say nothing I mean I knew nothing about real business or managing money. Of course, I took a second mortgage out on my house to buy more inventory because that’s the logical thing to do, right? I guess, I thought I had it made. I always told myself, Roman, you have it made if you can go to the McDonald’s drive thru and you can order anything on the menu without any question and I got to that point. And then I think because I didn’t have a solid grounding in business and money management the same thing happened to me at that point as it did with the money I had made before.

Andrew: Again you’re spending the money, but it’s not just McDonald’s, I hear you bought an interesting car?

Roman: Yeah, I bought my dream car. I bought a couple of dream cars for me. One of them was a 1970 Corvette Stingray and then my other one was one I saw when I was like 10 years old. I saw it drive by and I had a burning, vivid image of it in my head and it was the Lotus Esprit.

Andrew: I’m looking at it on the web right now. It’s a beautiful car. It stands out clearly on the road.

Roman: What’s that?

Andrew: It stands out, I can imagine, on the road.

Roman: When I took it into the DMV to get it tagged, when I came out of the DMV there was somebody taking pictures of it in the parking lot.

Andrew: You’re self-aware enough now to understand the decisions you made in the past and why you made them. Talk to me on a deep level. Why did you buy that car? It’s not just about the dream. Why did you want to fulfill that dream?

Roman: For me, at the time, it was another symbol of I made it.

Andrew: And, why did you need a symbol that you made it?

Roman: Back then, I think it was a way to claim my victory. I was a little bit more arrogant back then. I had this mind set, which it’s a good mind set to have that everything I touched turns to gold mind set. But, I lack the responsibility on the backend of managing money. I partied a lot. I just kind of thought it would automatically be there without me really having to take care of it. I think getting those kinds of things like the cars and things like that it was self-validation in a lot of ways.

Andrew: And then, what happened to the business?

Roman: At the time, I actually don’t go out very much but at the time I started drinking a lot. I was going out a lot like 6, 7 nights a week. I actually spent more, I figured it out, Andrew, I figured out that I spent more time actually in the bar, than I did at work during this period of time. I had the Rolex business for 10 years and I saved for the last 5. It was kind of like that.

Andrew: Just going out and drinking more than working.

Roman: That’s right.

Andrew: Why? Why did you drink?

Roman: This is not an expected interview process.

Andrew: No. You’re a fan. You know I like to get into the psychology and to get underneath the layers, to really get to know the person. I want to really get to know you. Why do you think you did it?

Roman: You know, life is meant to be fun, Andrew. Life is definitely meant to be fun. I’d attached what I would consider the wrong things or at least the unhealthy things to having fun. What I didn’t know, it’s like what you don’t know you don’t know. I didn’t know anything about healthy eating, healthy living, healthy lifestyle. In fact, if anything I made fun of people that had that. Oh, I’m hung over, but somebody’s jogging down the street and I’m making fun of them, right?

It sounds crazy, but it happened. It just ended up I really got caught in the spiral of it. It was day after day after day. It was a world I didn’t see out of or have a perspective of about. I remember the business was already headed south at this point. Our bills were way higher than we were bringing in. The market did change at this time that didn’t help. I was just so self-conscious. And this is when I’m not at the bar. Roaming at the bar is fun, out playing and everything.

But at home I was getting lost in my own house. I would end up in rooms that I didn’t intend to go to and then wonder why I got there. When I would ask my friends, they’d say, “Oh, you know that happens to me sometimes too.” I kept thinking it happens to me a lot, what’s going on here? Then I remember I was walking through my house. I had a beautiful house, which came from that business, and I put my hand on the counter, and when I put my hand on the counter, I asked myself, “Did I do that correctly. Is this how a normal person puts his hand on the counter?”

I sat there and I analyzed myself for at least five minutes of making that motion of putting my hand on the counter to find out if it was the way to do it. Something clicked in my brain right there and it was just like, Roman, what are you doing? I just kind of stood back in awe of what had just happened. I kind of got that glimpse from outside with bubble and it came rushing in that I had lost my outgoing personality. I was very unhealthy. I was very depressed. My relationships had already gone south. My business is going south. My friendships are going south. That was my moment of realization, right there.

Andrew: Why did you get there? Let’s break it down. Let us understand the external first. Why did the business start to go south?

Roman: Business simply went south because I knew nothing about what personal development is at all. I knew nothing about it. In fact, if you said the words to me I probably wouldn’t even known.

Andrew: It might have sounded like fitness at the gym. Personal development, go and develop your body.

Roman: Yes. You know, foo fruity stuff, yeah, you’re not for me and so I had no concept of growing over time. I just had concept of just going after whatever it is I want to go after. I go after the business, I go after the business. I go after partying, I go after partying. Without the foresight and without the understanding of what I may be doing or what might be happening.

Andrew: You’re saying that the business went south because you weren’t paying attention to it because you didn’t know how to run a business that got bigger than your current skills. You didn’t know how to become better than you were.

Roman: Right. Absolutely. I didn’t even know that it was possible. I’d get to my office at eleven because I was hung over, which was in my house by the way. It was just upstairs. I would get there at eleven because I would be hung over, and I would leave at four, so I could beat my friends to happy hour. That was the daily thing. It’s funny. I look back and I think, at the time, I saw absolutely nothing wrong that.

Andrew: Roman, going to alcohol is partially to run towards fun, and I get the understanding that you wanted to be the fun person, not the guy who’s boring and jogging, but it is also a reflection of a need to want to run away from something. For example, when I wanted to learn how to dance, I didn’t know how to dance, but I would have some alcohol and I would run away from inhibitions and then that would allow me to dance and frankly, I still do that to this day. If you were to really look back and understand what you could’ve been running away from, what was it? What were you trying not to pay attention to?

Roman: If I were to take a guess, I mean, it’s a pretty deep question, but it would certainly have something to do with my insecurities about being loved as a person.

Andrew: What do you mean by that?

Roman: Well, I just remember it’s something that I’ve kind of battled with my whole life is this fear of not being loved or being left. Going out it really…even the drinking began with not the interest to drink. It was actually the interest to be social.

Andrew: And be loved by the people you were drinking with. You wanted them to think of you as the party guy who they love hanging out with, I see. Why do you think you wanted to be loved? I’m looking at you, it seems like you had a good background. You look like a good-looking guy. Why do you think you needed that? What was missing?

Roman: Just something within. It was just my own…here’s the funny thing Andrew. Let me explain it this way. This is why I’m having a hard time. I’m realizing this. Before I started drinking, I was very confident and I was self-loved. I had a great mentality. I was automatically outgoing. It wasn’t like I dove into the drinking as an escape mechanism.

Andrew: I see.

Roman: It kind of sucked me in over time.

Andrew: And it caused this hole that you needed to fill and you filled it with alcohol and partying.

Roman: At first, it was I just want to hang out with these guys. I just want to hang out and have fun. I’m not even drinking that much. And then it just, but I just kept wanting to keep hanging out. Now, there having a house party and then at some point, I think it was almost an addiction to attention. Cause I was being rewarded with attention, in those areas. So, I didn’t really, you know, I never drank at the house. I never really felt like I needed a drink until it was already, until I was already too deep in the quick sand.

Andrew: I see. See for me it was the opposite. It was I didn’t know how to relate to people. I had a whole because I didn’t know how to be social without an agenda. You know, if I wasn’t trying to sell you something or wasn’t try to buy something from you, what’s the conversation going to be about. Well, alcohol freed me of those insecurities, made stuff pop out of my mouth that I didn’t know existed in my head even. And suddenly, I thought, I like this guy. And then I got into [??] well like this guy, image this guy times ten. They’re going to love him times ten. And that’s when I had to step back and say why am I doing that. And I realized it’s because I didn’t trust that I was going to have a good time when I was out and I didn’t trust that people were going to be happy that I came, that they came out with me. And instead, I thought that they’re going to think that they made a mistake to hang out with Andrew cause he’s going to bore them. So, I’ll need alcohol in order to get rid of those insecurities and make the cool stuff pop outt of my mouth. But once I realized it was that lack of trust, I said what would happen if I did just trust. And I just kept remembering, trust that it’ll work out and if it doesn’t, trust that over time, if you go out ten times and three times don’t work out, that’s it’s still better. But…

Roman: Yep, absolutely, and I can really relate to that because that is what it developed into. What you started at or what you were conscious of at the beginning, was actually, I kept getting deeper into the fog and it kind of turned into that.

Andrew: For me, now that I have this self-realization and the more self- realization I have, the freer I am of issues. Like drinking. I can drink normally. I can drink socially. Are you at point, place where you can drink socially?

Roman: Oh, yeah. Yeah. I went out actually, I had four beers at karaoke last Friday…

Andrew: Okay.

Roman: …and was drunk.

Andrew: On four beers?

Roman: I was shocked [??]. Yes. I was happily shocked. But…

Andrew: And the reason you were able to get over it, is it seems to me, it’s because of the self-awareness that you have.

Roman: And you know, I never, you know, I did this like I did all my previous businesses. It’s kind of like no help. You know, I didn’t join any clubs or groups, although I totally recommend it. But it was just kind of of, and it took a long, it took a while for me to kind of dig myself out, you know. I was going six says and then I was going five days and then I was going four days. You know, and just kind of. It really, through personal development, it was. When I had that freak out moment at home putting the hand on the counter, I went right to my computer and I googled how to be happy. And that’s when I first found out that there’s something out there called development.

Andrew: I see.

Roman: And grew up [??]. And it was just, at the beginning, kind of just finding a course I could go to or a book I could read or something like that.

Andrew: Is there one that you recommend to someone who’s listening and identifies with this?

Roman: Quite a few. One that made a big difference for me in business was Napoleon Hill’s, “Law of Success in 16 Lessons. That’s fantastic. Paulo Coelho, you know, ”The Alchemist’, it’s kind of, you know, what I would call like the entry-level personal development book but it’s just so good. And recently, you know, we’re kind of skipping way ahead but I was into personal development really heavy for like a few years now. But there was still something missing and I recently got into spirituality, more strongly and it just really took things to a whole new level for me.

Andrew: What’s the spiritual path that you’re on?

Roman: It’s like, to me, it’s spirituality in its purest. It’s not religion but I’ll tell you the person that I follow, like almost every week if not every week. I have him in my car, it’s Michael Beckwith. Michael Beckwith is the black guy with dreads from Secret. The movie, The Secret.

Andrew: Okay.

Roman: And he’s got a sanctuary out in L.A. called the Agape.

Andrew: Oh, you know what, I met him at a party once as the guy who runs Agape. People in L.A. are really into him.

Roman: Yeah. He’s just awesome. He’s awesome because it’s all spirituality. And of course, we heard like Eckhart Tolle. I’m sure you’ve heard audio from Eckhart Tolle.

Andrew: Yup.

Roman: It’s spiritual, but you have to drink some Red Bull when you listen to him. Michael Beckwith, I like to call it’s a spiritual church that is run like down home southern Baptist style.

Andrew: Without the cross.

Roman: Well, without the cross, I mean he talks about Jesus, but he relates to God as energy all around us, through us.

Andrew: The Company went bankrupt. The one that we talked about. Today, you own another company and it’s doing well that’s why I had you here to do this interview. What was bankruptcy like?

Roman: For me, horrible.

Andrew: Really?

Roman: Absolutely, horrible.

Andrew: Not the sense of relief, hey, I got to start a new life, everything is behind me? Why was it so horrible?

Roman: One thing that I did notice Andrew even as a kid and probably a driving force has been my strong attachment to money and having that be a sense of worth for me. I’m really only now breaking, I feel like really strongly breaking through that. I lost my whole identity when that happened. I was known to my friends, this is what I do, the cars I drive, the house I…

Andrew: Now, you don’t have the cars. You have the opposite. You have bankruptcy behind you.

Roman: I have nothing, really, or so close to nothing. I mean it’s not like, I wasn’t smart and got out when it starting turning. I was drinking and got out when it was done, kind of thing. I didn’t really have anything in savings. Of course, not for bankruptcy and really just, house in foreclosure, moved out of the house, the whole nine yards.

Andrew: Wow. How did you build yourself back up? Before we get to the new business, on a personal level, how did you build yourself back up?

Roman: I didn’t have time. I didn’t do that first. If I were to go back and change things, I would have done that first.

Andrew: So, instead you had to work on getting the money in and then the personal growth came along with it?

Roman: At least that’s how I felt at the time. Yes.

Andrew: Do you remember walking out of your house? I can’t imagine taking this place that you love, that you lived in, that you discovered yourself, put the hand on and having to leave it. Do you remember that day?

Roman: I do. I do.

Andrew: Where were you when it occurred to you that you were leaving?

Roman: The house?

Andrew: Yes. Do you remember a part of the house that you had to say goodbye to?

Roman: My room. Yeah. My bedroom was kind of the place and the common areas where I had a lot of friends over. I used to of course, host a lot of parties. I had a lot of memories with friends. We had hurricane parties when the hurricanes would come through. There definitely were a lot of memories that went with that house. I tell you I lived in that house, we did a foreclosure [??] so, I actually stayed in the house without paying for a while, but something in me told me it was time to go and I was actually happy to pay rent again.

Andrew: To walk out? It just made sense.

Roman: For myself.

Andrew: Yeah? Let me take a moment and actually, I’ll talk to people about Scott Edward Walker, the sponsor.

Roman: Okay.

Andrew: There’s never really a good time actually, to interrupt a story like this because we’re getting so personal, but I feel before we get to the next part of your life, let’s take a little intermission here. Since I have this box here, I’m going to open it up. Can I tilt the camera down here? Is it going to be too awkward?

Roman: Go for it. As long as I could drink a cup of water.

Andrew: Oh, look at that. That is a huge drink. Hang on. All this, it worked. I had someone in the office; I said one of your jobs is please create a mug for me, like this. Here we go. Create a mug with Scott’s logo on it. So picture this, while I’m in the interview, instead of drinking off of this with nothing on it, I should be drinking off of this with Scott’s logo on it. That way as long as he is sponsoring Mixergy, and now I only have one sponsor, not a set of sponsors. I want to focus on one. I drink, people get to see it, but there is a little bit of a shine on it isn’t there. We’ll still make it work.

Roman: No, it’s clear, crystal clear.

Andrew: Usually, I would clean this and scrub it. Maybe I should, no, I was going to say drink from it. No, I will clean and scrub it before I actually use it. Oh, Walker Corporate Law, he doesn’t make mugs. He is a lawyer. He is the entrepreneur’s lawyer. I just need a way to show people that he is the guy who is backing Mixergy. There you go.

Roman: Awesome.

Andrew: Thank you Scott. We’ll keep saying it with this mug. All right. New business starts off at bike week. Are you a biker?

Roman: I was.

Andrew: You were.

Roman: I was a biker. I had a motorcycle. Even when I didn’t have a motorcycle anymore I still went to Daytona Bike Week and Biketoberfest here. I live in Orlando so it’s only a couple of hours away, but I would go religiously every single year and just loved it. It was my favorite thing to do.

Andrew: How did this business start out of this personal passion?

Roman: Basically, I still was in my office because we hadn’t got kicked out yet. And, I had an idea. I knew connections in the jewelry business and I had been out to bike week a bunch of times. There was a guy who we were talking about getting into business together and doing something. I went to him and said I have this idea. I think it will work. Bike week is coming up in two weeks. Let’s do a little research and I’ll go out there the first weekend of Bike Week and I’ll scope it out and I’ll call you. I go out there the first weekend and I’m checking out the vendors and watching this. I call him and I say, ‘I think we have something here. This is the slow day and the jeweler’s booth is busier than any other booth and the display stinks.’

Andrew: Back to what you know, the display, the copyrighting the promotion.

Roman: Exactly. Got to make it look good.

Andrew: Okay.

Roman: So, I called him from Daytona. I drove back that day. Again, I had a little bit of money. Together between he and I, I think we pulled together about $1,500 to order some jewelry. We didn’t have a spot. We drove out to Daytona in a truck. Bought a couple of tables at Wal-Mart and had a package of jewelry and just went to Main Street and just started walking. Main Street Daytona is where all the vendors are, where all the action is. And, we just started walking the streets asking anybody if anybody knew if there was any space still available during the busiest weekend of bike week. And, somebody actually said, well there’s a space in the back that I didn’t sell to anybody because it’s not really a great space and it’s only six feet and there’s a pole in the front of it in the back and we said, ‘we’ll take it.’ We took it and we set up shop and we broke even on the very first weekend out.

Andrew: Oh wow. You didn’t lose your nerve? You didn’t question yourself? You weren’t in a place where you said, ‘how can I sell this to anyone? I’m not up to it. I’m not the salesman I thought I was?’ Any of those hesitations come up?

Roman: All of them all the time, entire time.

Andrew: What do you do to get over them?

Roman: For me, at that time especially I just took another step. My back was against the wall. At least, that was my experience my back was against the wall and I just got to keep going. That’s how it happened.

Andrew: Why didn’t you look for a job instead?

Roman: Because that was scarier than to try to sell.

Andrew: I see.

Roman: Looking back, honestly, you know clarity comes with time. Hindsight’s 20/20, all that stuff. I would recommend to someone to get a job. I wish I did. It might have sped things along a little bit but it wasn’t in my nature. I am still pretty resistant to that idea.

Andrew: I have to say I agree with you. There are too many entrepreneurs who say I’ll never get a job when they shouldn’t be saying I’ll never anything that is useful. I can see entrepreneurs who I know well, who I’ve worked with who’ve gotten together with socially who I could say if I could have gone back in time and worked for them, I would have loved it, because they have their work together. They have their systems together. They have processes that I can learn from. In many cases I can even take their whole business model and their whole way of doing things and shift it to another product and do well and at least have their path to guide me. But, it just didn’t happen for me. I would never say no to that.

Roman: I can’t agree with you more. In fact, all those things, like I said I’ve never had any formal training. I haven’t had a job since college. It’s hard to say, you know. We actually grew pretty quickly. We became the number one biker jewelry company on the circuit within two years. And, so I guess we grew kind of quickly and I don’t know why. I didn’t know any systems. I saw a term on the Internet called the rebel entrepreneur, and it’s kind of how I feel like I’ve been. Kind of up until now, I still have a little bit of that sense, but I kind of like to get a little more systemized. It’s just, when you got the heart, it’s either the heart of the need.

Andrew: Heart or the knee.

Roman: Or the need.

Andrew: Or the need, I see, the need will get your going. Two years being on the circuit, what does it mean to be on the circuit?

Roman: Well, so we started at bike week, and then we began doing some local shows here in Florida. And eventually, talk about grass roots up, I had to borrow my mom’s pick up truck, bought a camper for it, put everything in driving around the country to every event, and setting up shop.

Andrew: That’s a commitment.

Roman: It was a commitment.

Andrew: I just talked to yet another entrepreneur who told me he learned how to sell because he sold Cut Co knives. Selling directly to customers seems to be the best sales training there could be. Face to face, one and a time, practicing on one person, when it fails, learning and then practicing immediately on the next person. What did you learn from that experience?

Roman: The same thing. When I started with this company, luckily the guy I was working with he was a great salesman, and I was horrible. Nervous, shaking, stuttering over my words. But like you said, just doing it rapid fire, over and over and over. I would recommend it very highly, if anybody really wants to learn their sales skill, get in a position where you can be in front of somebody rapid fire, it’ll help.

Andrew: At my dad’s store, I used to be the guy who handed out fliers. And, I learned things like, if I looked someone directly in the eye, and handed them the flier, they would take the flier. If I looked away, if I look insecure, they wouldn’t take it. Just looking them in the eye, and saying, I forget what I said, but just that experience did it. I also learned how to get people to go in his store, because I would stand outside his store and try to drum up business, was there anything like that? Something like, looking someone in the eye, that got you to get sales? Were there a couple of tactics that you remember to this day?

Roman: One of them was I didn’t know what to say when they first walked up to the booth.

Andrew: Okay.

Roman: And, I went on YouTube, and I did a search. And I found a guy who said, just simple say, depending on the time of day, good morning, good afternoon or good evening.

Andrew: Okay.

Roman: And, I’m in a biker show by the way, and nobody says, good afternoon. But, I committed to doing it, and I actually said good morning, good afternoon, or good evening to everybody who walked up, and had one of my best sales days ever.

Andrew: Really, that little thing, bikers relate well to.

Roman: Yup. You know I think it wasn’t about the words. But it allowed me to feel comfortable because I knew what to say, and so I could pay more attention to them.

Andrew: I get that. Sometimes I put down tactics, or people put down tactics, because, well what works for this person is not going to work for someone else, and why should I teach you the methodology, and then you’ll learn to find your own tactics. But you know what, just having your own tactic in this case really helps, because then you do it, and you adjust it, and you learn from it and get confident. You went for two years, why did you just do the circuit and not go online? Most people it seems like would go online, especially with your background.

Roman: It’s a lot of time and effort, and work, being on the road like that. So, I really didn’t have much time. Cause we would be at a show, your at a show from either for 3 days or it could be 10 days, and then literally jumping in a car, driving for 2 or 3 days. Finding a hotel to stay at, somewhere along the lines you’ve got to order your innovatory, new displays, drop the money off at the bank, and negotiate your spot at the next show. It was just a matter of not having enough time.

Andrew: I see. You did eventually go online, what happened? How did you get online the first time?

Roman: I had my little sister make a website for me. She had no website experience. We really didn’t do much with it, in fact, I think for the first, 6 months of having the website up we probably averaged 2 sales a month, which is maybe 80 bucks. One thing about working the shows that was nice, we gave out a ton of business cards. So, they always had our website on it, and we would get some traffic in a couple sales, but really only a couple of months, so really nothing happened with the website in the beginning.

Andrew: I see. How did you know what kind of jewelry to buy for people who were coming to the biker shows?

Roman: My experience with bikers, you know. We started out mainly with skull rings. We focused mainly on men at the beginning, so skull rings. Anything really big and chunky. Big pendants, cross pendants.

Andrew: I see.

Roman: Yeah. And of course watching our competitors.

Andrew: I see. How did you know where to buy it?

Roman: My connections from the Rolex business.

Andrew: Oh, really. Okay. So you were just able to go right back to them.

Roman: Yeah.

Andrew: And then I’m looking here through my notes, and Facebook was a big step forward for your online site. What happened? How did you discover Facebook? And by the way, to this day, I think you get over 95% of your social media traffic from Facebook. About half of all your traffic seems to come from social media.

Roman: That’s right. Yeah. We had built up our fan base. Here’s a guerrilla marketing strategy if anybody can adapt this to their situation. When we were at the shows, we would buy some very inexpensive earrings that would cost, I think maybe, ten cents apiece, something like that.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Roman: Anybody walking by, they didn’t have to buy jewelry. We would just say, hey, do you want a free pair of earrings? All you have to do is come over to our computer here, sign on to your Facebook, and suggest this to all your friends. And you get to have a free pair of earrings.

And we did that show after show, and we’ve gone up to about 10,000 fans really, really quickly. And we weren’t really doing anything with these fans. We weren’t even active on our Facebook yet. And then a guy that you know, he was working for me. He was a salesman. And he came to me and said, “You know, Roman, I noticed you’re not doing anything with your social media. I’d like to play around with it. I don’t know much about it. You don’t have to pay me.” And I said, “Okay, and I’ll give you ten percent if you bring anything in because we’re not making anything anyway.”

Andrew: Okay.

Roman: We did some competitive research. I’m really high on competitive research and finding out what other people are doing and what’s working. We did some competitive research on Facebook strategies and Facebook, within a couple of months, just kind of blew up on us. We started bringing in a whole new source of income just off of Facebook with the help . . .

Andrew: What do you mean? What did you learn from that competitive research?

Roman: One of the things we learned, specifically, was a giveaway. Having a giveaway on the Facebook page had enticed sharing.

Andrew: I see. Give me an example. What’s a giveaway that enticed sharing?

Roman: Okay. Right. Good question. So what we do on our website is we’ll offer a ring, one of our rings that we have, that might be $50.00 retail. And we’ll announce on Facebook, with a nice pretty graphic, that we’re going to give this ring away to somebody today. And to enter, all they have to do is like and share that post.

Andrew: I see. And then they like and share it, and in the process, they’re promoting your website and promoting your Facebook fan page.

Roman: That’s it.

Andrew: I see. And, in fact, to this day it seems like that still works for you. One of your biggest sources of traffic is rafflecopter.com. Right?

Roman: Probably. I actually need to check on that. But we did that through bloggers. We work with a lot of bloggers as well.

Andrew: I see. And bloggers are using that site. I don’t know Rafflecopter. What is that?

Roman: Rafflecopter is a tool that bloggers use. Being a product-based website, although we started as a biker jewelry company, our online jewelry is not biker. We changed it. We’re kind of this sophisticated, pretty jewelry. So the term mommy bloggers, who are usually stay at home moms, who like to blog about anything and everything they can, will contact us and say, we would really would like to do a review of your jewelry.

You can also give one away to our readers if you like. And of course, we say, sure. So we send them some jewelry, just maybe a ring, you know. And they write a review, and then Rafflecopter is a little plugin for their blog that their readers can enter in our sweepstakes that’s being held.

Andrew: I see. Okay. So they don’t have to manage the sweepstakes, they just use that tool and you give away the prize. They use the tool. Their readers are happy. They have content and then they get some jewelry for themselves too.

Roman: That’s right.

Andrew: Got it. Oh, wow. All right. What about copycats? As you’re saying this, I worry, ooh, should I have even brought up Rafflecopter. What if other people discover Rafflecopter and now Roman’s upset that he did this Mixergy interview. You don’t seem upset by that. You’re actually smiling about it, but you have had copy. Why were you smiling actually before we talk about other copycats.

Roman: I don’t even know if I mentioned this in the pre-interview or not, but I’ve had two people completely copy my business already. The road team, was one was originally my business partner. My first business the guy that was saying, oh, this guy that I have this great idea let’s do this together. Well, I’d say like maybe six or eight months I discovered that he had made a complete replica of our company and was running it while he was still working with me unbeknownst to me and actually using our fonts as well. I had copies of checks he had written for shows that he worked with this other company out of our bank account.

Andrew: So you’re paying for him to have space to sell his product?

Roman: The same product and the same method that I brought to him. The whole business idea was mine in the beginning.

Andrew: What do you do about that? Can you take him to court? Or do you just cut things off?

Roman: Being the rebel entrepreneur at the time, I didn’t have any signed documents. We did business on a handshake. I basically, when I found about it I didn’t let him know immediately and I just kind of locked him out of the deal. As soon as I got the storage unit locks changed, and the keys changed on everything, then I got a hold of him and let him know what I had discovered and that he was no longer invited to play.

Andrew: How did he react?

Roman: At first, he was a little bit defensive or I don’t know what you mean, but it didn’t take long. When I told him, I had the checks there really wasn’t much else to talk about.

Andrew: I see. At that point it was just done.

Roman: It was done. He went on to run his business. At first, I was very upset. I was very, very, upset. It was hard for me to deal with. I felt very betrayed, but that’s all a fallacy. It’s all like a fear base. The reality is that there’s plenty for all of us, but I didn’t know that at the time. Just over time, I was able to get past it and move on.

Andrew: What about the other person?

Roman: I didn’t learn the first time. I don’t know if there’s any other entrepreneurs out there that learn their first time, but I brought on somebody else to work with me. His business by the way is no longer in business. His isn’t still going on, but this person is. She became a manager for me and I kind of sent her out on the road herself, saying you run this setup and I’ll run this setup. I’ll pay you commission and kind of the same thing happened. She did pretty much the same thing, which was make an exact copy, change the color of the table cloth, banners, and the same thing.

Andrew: What is so unique that they would copy? Just tablecloth and the jewelry? What else was it that’s unique?

Roman: It was the image that we had built. I think it was the image we had built on the biker circuit. We were the cool guys. Bikers are all about looking cool, feeling cool, being cool, and a lot of the jewelry vendors out, they’re are really just focused on just making the next sale. They didn’t pretty up their displays. They didn’t get the image. They didn’t talk to people. They didn’t improve their sales skills. We put that package together. Where it was a fun, and actually, my mission statement included having to be a fun atmosphere.

Andrew: I see.

Roman: We built it up pretty quickly and then the people we working with, my business partner at the time and then especially, the other woman that I mentioned saw that we were doing better than everyone everybody else and everybody came to us.

Andrew: I heard she was actually passing out business cards at your event for her business.

Roman: He was.

Andrew: Oh, he was. Oh, even more painful.

Roman: Yeah.

Andrew: Now you can laugh at it, because?

Roman: Because I have dealt with it internally.

Andrew: What did you do to deal with it internally? I would still in my mind keep imagining destroying them.

Roman: It went on for a little bit, but it caused a lot of stress. It causes a lot of stress to hang on to stuff like that and it did for quite a while, being very stressed out and upset about it, hurt and fearful that my business was going to fail because there was somebody else out there that looked the same. At some point, the stress just became not worth it. I realized for every minute, for every minute, that I’m thinking about what somebody did to me, is a minute that I am not thinking about where I’m going.

Andrew: I see. I see. That’s true and sometimes I still have to force myself to stop thinking about it, but you’re right. It’s another minute where I’m focusing on them and not on my business. Them and not what I want. Then it becomes an excuse not to work, not to think about what’s important.

Roman: Yeah.

Andrew: You also had a situation where a car accident made you feel that maybe the whole business was going to go away. What was the accident or van accident?

Roman: We tell all kinds of good stories today, aren’t we?

Andrew: If you’re open to it, absolutely.

Roman: Yeah. Absolutely, absolutely. Thank you for asking. Laconia, New Hampshire is one of the biggest bike weeks in the country and it’s also one of the most expensive bike weeks to go to. We really pretty much put everything, all of everything. I even took out personal money, most of my personal money to put into the show to go to Laconia, New Hampshire. We had extra inventory. We had extra personnel. We had extra staffing. We had two prime locations. Everything was on the line. I had two managers. I mean everything was set up. We had no money left in the bank. I knew that this show, it had to make it or we’re in trouble. It’s a ten day show and on day two of the show, the van with all the jewelry and one of the managers gets tee-boned in the intersection and the whole van rolls over and it’s totaled. There’s literally gashes in the side of the van where bracelets are hanging outside the van.

Andrew: I picture people just running up to the van and taking as much as they can.

Roman: That would have been a good picture, but luckily, it didn’t happen.

Andrew: Okay.

Roman: It didn’t happen. That was definitely a scary moment.

Andrew: You felt like your business maybe was going to end because of it? How bad was it?

Roman: Well, you have to understand one thing. One of my perpetual fears ever since that bankruptcy, whenever there’s a challenge, even the slightest challenge, I have to deal with, the slightest challenge brings up all that fear and emotion.

Andrew: I see. Maybe this, here we go again, maybe I really don’t have it. Maybe I’m just a fool who believes he has it, but really I’m going to get found out and I’ll end up bankrupt again or end up with nothing again.

Roman: Yeah. Pretty much.

Andrew: So what do you do to get past that? That could be really damaging.

Roman: Yeah, it is. It is. I personally, I learned. One of the things I learned to cope with it, is Qigong.

Andrew: Qigong?

Roman: Qigong.

Andrew: Qigong. What is that?

Roman: It’s like Tai Chi, but it’s a little bit more meditative.

Andrew: Okay.

Roman: It’s when people are out on the beach and you see them throwing the invisible slow motion fireballs?

Andrew: You know what? I thought it was a typo when I saw it my notes. It’s spelled Q-I G-O-N-G. I thought, maybe what Roman meant was he’s going somewhere. No Chi Gong that is what the practice is called.

Roman: Qigong.

Andrew: Okay.

Roman: That was one of the first things that I learned that really calmed the nerves and get centered again, but really it’s about finding a way to get centered. I walk a lot. I didn’t walk before, but I would walk. I would leave my house…It’s funny, I came across a Tim Ferris blog two days ago where he says, “successful entrepreneurs aren’t who you think they are.” He went through all these breakdowns that he had just recently had in the last month. These ways that he is coping, crazy coping mechanisms and one of the ones I developed was walking. I would be in a frantic fear that I’m going to lose, like in my mind, the replay is I’m going to lose everything again, lose everything again or it’s all going downhill. I would literally walk out of my house. I would walk away from my house until I got some kind of insight around this issue that I’m dealing with. Then at that point, I would turn around so that I would have the entire distance back to my house to be able to grow that insight and have some power around it when I got back.

Andrew: I’d worry that that would add more stress to me. What if I keep walking and I don’t get it? The focus on the issue might make it more painful, but it doesn’t happen to you. Why not? What are you doing different than what I’m imagining I would do?

Roman: There’s two methods I have. One of them is ignore the fear. In other words just take deep breathing. I’ll breathe very deeply and I will look at something as I’m walking and study it with full intention. It might be a tree or something that I’ll literally just stand and look at a tree for five minutes. That’s one method that I use to clear my thoughts and usually something will emerge. A new idea will come out. The other one I do is I’ll actually do the opposite and face the fear head on.

Andrew: Just completely focus on this thing that you’re afraid of.

Roman: Exactly. It’s not a focus like okay what am I going to do about this? What’s going to happen? That’s not the focus. The focus is on whether the body sensations that I’m having associated with that fear and I fully accept that this is what’s happening right now.

Andrew: I see. That’s strange that it would work, but it does work. I think I’m so afraid of suppose an interview. There’s someone that I’m supposed to interview and I’m really nervous about it because everyone knows this person and because there’s so much already online about her. What if I don’t get it right? What if I miss something? What if I make a fool of myself?

It’s very easy to be focusing on that without really thinking about it. So, my mind just goes to these random collections of worries, but if I stop and say, what do I really think is going to happen and really focus on it. I realize well, it’s not such a big deal. Well, what I think could really happen is I look like a fool, but I’ll talk about it, I’ll be open and then people will realize that this isn’t just happenstance of how good interviews happen. It’s through work and this one bad interview will justify the fact the statement I made that I work. That it is work.

I don’t know, I can’t come up with it now because I don’t feel it. When I feel it, I’m aware of it and it starts to go away. I also do walking as a way of meditating and focusing on what I want and not escaping the thought. If I’m walking to a party and I’m nervous about being a fool at the party or not being interesting enough, I will go on a walk to the party, which is much easier to do here in San Francisco than other cities. And with these beads, I’ll just think, I trust, I trust, I trust, trust that it will work out. Trust that I can make it work. Trust that if it doesn’t work out and I make a fool out of myself it’s just one party out of twenty that I’ll go to in this month or so. It’s not such a big deal. I trust it will work out. By focusing on that and being in that feeling I walk into the place much more myself. Sometimes people think that it’s just easy and that it just comes naturally, but it’s a little bit of work.

Roman: Even for Tim Ferriss, according to his recent blog.

Andrew: Tim Ferriss, go figure. I like that he’s open about that. I didn’t even see that post. Tim Ferriss.

Roman: I think it just came out a couple of days ago.

Andrew: So interesting that when I do a search for Tim Ferriss in Google, the top auto complete is Tim Ferriss girlfriend. I guess a lot of people are wondering who his girlfriend is. So, his latest blog is Productivity Tips for the Neurotic, then, How to Create a Four Thousand Dollar A Month Muse Business, then You Are What You Read Fourteen Thought Leaders Share Their Book, the one before that is Announcing the Tim Ferriss Experiment

Roman: I think it was actually the first one.

Andrew: The first one. It’s, Productivity Tips for the Neurotic, Manic Depressive, and Crazy Like Me. Okay. I see it. There you go and then he has a reality check right at the top. “Like a child, I hid my head under the covers (literally) and hit snooze until reality couldn’t be postponed any further.” Got it.

Roman: That’s it. Actually, I would like to share one thing that made a big difference for me recently. I mentioned to you since the bankruptcy, I mean even if we have a slow sales day online. You know, just one day, like maybe we had five great days in a row and then we have a slow day, I would almost become paralyzed again in fear, like, oh, no here’s the turn. Here it is. This is the sign. Everything’s going downhill. I kept battling this, oh so long and really so much anxiety behind it. I was listening to Napoleon Hill’s, you know the book that he just released, even though he’s been dead for 70 years?

Andrew: I didn’t know there was a new one. What is it?

Roman: There’s a new book by Napoleon Hill. In 2011, it was released, called Outwitting the Devil.

Andrew: Outwitting the Devil. There it is on Godreads. I see it. The Secret to Freedom and Success by . . . Yeah, what did you like about this book?

Roman: Well, he has a conversation with the devil about the devil’s tricks.

Andrew: Got it.

Roman: And he basically interviews the devil, kind of like you’re doing right now. And he talks about the definite chief aim, which is also in Think and Grow Rich, and it’s also in The Law of Success in Sixteen Lessons. The definite chief aim is not like your overall mission in life, like I want to help humanity. It’s kind of broad.

A definite chief aim is definite. It’s definable. So it could be, I will be this by this date. But it’s a little further out. It’s kind of a big thing. And then you also talk about what you’ll do in return. Like in return for this, I will be this kind of person, or I will do these things.

Andrew: Right. He wants you to write it down and be that aware of it.

Roman: What was that?

Andrew: And he wants you, sorry, I hit the cough button because I coughed. And he wants you to write it down and be aware of what you want, and what you’re willing to do to get it.

Roman: Exactly. Exactly. And I’d written one before and it was kind of lengthy. And I thought I needed to include all this detail and it never really stuck. But I was listening to the audio of that book and he said in that, the number one thing that anybody can do to be successful, out of all the things Napoleon Hill ever talked about, the number on thing was to write down and read your definite chief aim twice day.

And when he said that, and he says that’s the number one thing, I immediately had to write it down and try this again. So I did only a couple of weeks ago and put it on my door. And there have been so many amazing realizations that have come out of doing that. And my stress level regarding fluctuations in the business, I already have a new sense of peace around it. It kind of gave me a broader vision.

Andrew: Because you’re back to focusing on what you want, instead of worrying about all the things that you don’t want to have happen, or that could go wrong.

Roman: Exactly. And it’s my escape route. It’s my escape hatch for when that comes back into my mind, I can quickly go right to that and, just like you said, I’m refocused.

Andrew: You know what. This is the problem with doing promos at the top of the interview. I feel so excited about what you just left us with here, that I think I’d be a fool if I went back to the 60-year-old woman and her breasts. And I think it would be distracting if we end by going to your roommates, which I think is just such a funny story. It’s so interesting that I want to talk about it. So let me say this.

Roman: I don’t live there anymore, by the way.

Andrew: Oh, you don’t live with these. Ah. You might have been better off getting out of there.

Roman: I’m sorry. I love them to death. But I do love my new place.

Andrew: Here’s what I’m going to propose. I’m not doing this intentionally, but I think it’s better to just leave this pure, this interview as it is. If people want to hear that story about the 60-year-old woman, it’s just straight up funny. It’s not going to make you a better person. It’s just going to make you laugh, and it’ll give you an interesting view of Roman’s business.

Or about the roommates again. It won’t make you a better person necessarily. It will just open your eyes up to a different way of life. Ask it in the comments. Roman, would you answer it in the comments, or is it going to be too much work for you to come in and type that out? If people want it?

Roman: I would be happy to answer in the comments about the 60-year- old, but for privacy reasons, I probably won’t say anything about [inaudible]

Andrew: You won’t say anything about your roommates there?

Roman: Right. No. So to respect . . .

Andrew: I could have brought it up in the interview.

Roman: Actually. You know what. I think somehow I started to talk about it, and then I think I told them, wait a second, no, don’t ask me about this.

Andrew: How about if they meet you in person?

Roman: We’ll see.

Andrew: All right. I’ll leave it there. Here’s another thing. If you guys want to learn more from Roman, I think there are a couple of different ways to do it. One way is . . . Roman, did we just lose your video there?

Roman: Yeah, you cut out for just a minute, Andrew.

Andrew: Just let him know in the comments what you found most useful about this interview. And if you have any other questions or there’s something you want to learn from him, I know that at one point in his life, Roman wants to help out other entrepreneurs. I don’t know if this is the right time to do it. But I do know that about him from our conversation from before this interview started.

So if there’s a way for him to help you, let him know in the comments. And if he can’t do it right now, when things slow down, I’d like for him to be there and to share what he’s learned. Because, Roman, beyond just learning how to build a business, you’ve learned how to understand yourself in a way that I think other entrepreneurs can benefit from.

Also, Roman told me before we started the interview that he’s looking to put together a Mastermind, kind of like Napoleon Hill’s Mastermind, with other entrepreneurs who are in a similar situation to him. If you’re in ecommerce, if your business is – and we’ll find out what Roman’s revenues are in a moment – but if your business is a quarter of a million dollars a year or more and you’re looking to talk to like-minded entrepreneurs and go through your challenges openly with them and help each other out Roman wants to put together a group. And, Roman, what’s a good way for someone who wants to be a part of that group to reach out to you?

Roman: Get a hold of me?

Andrew: Yeah.

Roman: Well, just simply email me would be just fine. And my email – would you like me to go ahead and say my email?

Andrew: Yeah, please.

Roman: It’s my name which is Roman R-O-M-A-N and my last name Northcut N-O-R-T-H-C-U-T @gmail.com.

Andrew: So you’re giving up your personal Gmail address. It’s romannorthcut@gmail.com. Just in the subject line say something about Mastermind if you think you’re a good candidate for this group.

Final question – Revenue today, where is it? Where are you guys?

Roman: Revenue today is good. We’re coming in to the Christmas season. As you know, Andrew, we’ve got two different parts to my company which is nice. I recommend having two streams of income if one doesn’t take away from the other strongly.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Roman: But we’re growing. I don’t want to get into the exact numbers but what I can say is that- well, I’ll tell you, October- and last year was a great year for us online but October we were up, let’s see, it would be about 25% from last October.

Andrew: Are you doing over half a million in sales?

Roman: Yeah, yeah.

Andrew: Okay. Alright. I know the number here but if you’re not comfortable saying it then I’ll respect that and won’t push it but I just want to get a sense of where you were. Do you feel comfortable saying any more than that?

Roman: I’d prefer not to go into the details. If anybody wants to contact and, you know, we develop a Mastermind then I’d be really up for- I’m definitely about transparency in a group setting like that.

Andrew: I noticed that. Even over here you’re really open. What’s the proudest part of having done this, of having built this business?

Roman: Hmm. I think the proudest- honestly, like you and I discussed, next year one of the things I’m going to be doing is getting into entrepreneurial coaching and that’s my way of giving back. I want to offer something to people that I didn’t know was out there, that I didn’t know that I could go find out. And, you know, that’ll be my proud- You know, as great as it is to run a business, and I love it, you know. I love my business and I love watching it grow and I love the thrill of, you know, maybe a new marketing avenue worked out and, you know, you can see it in sales. That’s awesome.

But I have to tell you, you know, when I was at the shows I had more fun selling the products of the guys next to my booth than I did selling my products. And it’s just it’s so much fun helping people and being involved with other entrepreneurs that way we can kind of-

Andrew: So why not do it now? Why wait till next year?

Roman: What’s that?

Andrew: Why not do it now? Why wait till next year?

Roman: Like I said, I’d be happy to be in conversation about that. Right now just time constraint to be able to take it to-

Andrew: Right. You know what, and we’re also coming up on Christmas which is one of the biggest times of the year I imagine for you.

Roman: Yeah, we definitely have a lot going on right now. But I’d be happy to get into conversation with people about it.

Andrew: Okay. Thank you so much for doing this interview. I love this interview. If people want to follow up you’ve given them your email address. You’ll be in the comments if they want to hear that story or if they have any business issues that they want you to hopefully do some coaching on next year. And I recommend checking out the website which we didn’t spend enough time on. It’s just buybluesteel.com. Thank you so much, Roman.

Roman: Thanks, Andrew.

Andrew: Thank you all for being a part of it. Bye guys.

Roman: Bye.

Sponsors I mentioned

Walker Corporate Law – Scott Edward Walker is the lawyer entrepreneurs turn to when they want to raise money or sell their companies, but if you’re just getting started, his firm will help you launch properly. Watch this video to learn about him.

  • Owen McGab Enaohwo

    Roman thanks for being willing to get vulnerable and personal in this interview. These are my best type of interviews on Mixergy where I get to listen to both the emotional/mindset of the guest as well as strategy and tactics.

    Andrew thanks for also being willing to engage in the discussion and get more out of Roman by being vulnerable yourself.

  • http://www.tweetybeauty.com/ Matteo

    Amazing Interview! It was great to hear a fellow entrepreneurs talking on how his business affected his life. Thank you Roman for sharing your story and Andrew for been such a great interviewer

  • Roman Northcut

    Thanks Owen. It truly has been quite a ride. I’m glad Andrew asked some of the tough questions that he did. Everything is a step in the process. Even this interview for me is a step. For me, its easy to be an Island with private only access. It feels good to open the gates :)

  • Roman Northcut

    Thanks for reaching out Matteo. I truly believe that a business can only grow as much as the leader and the organization itself is a direct reflection of that leader. As I become more aligned with myself and my mission, I can see it directly reflected in my company.

  • Brendan Love

    Hey nice job Roman! Good to see you doing well old schoolmate!

  • Sheri Reeves

    Awesome interview! Roman I got this vivid visual of you in a black trench coat, standing under a lamp in a dark alley engaging a passerby with “Psst. Hey buddy. Wanna buy a watch?” :) You know how amazing I think your business is and it was really great to hear all of the things you went through to get to where you are today. I definitely want to hear about that 60-year-old woman, though!! :)

  • Enrico Mosquito

    Roman – thank you for that – truly inspirational and fascinating – good luck in all you do; you deserve it …

  • http://twitter.com/nomuu__ Simone

    Loved this interview! I connected with it quite a bit, especially as I also sell a physical product online too. Roman I am so impressed with your Facebook numbers, that’s amazing!

    Loved the gorilla marketing idea, about getting people to ‘like and share’ your page when at your stall. I am doing my first big design stall next weekend, I’m just testing the waters as this is a very big design market (packed to the brim where I could barely move last year). I’d always hoped just to sell online, but I am happy to occasionally go out to venues, but I admit try to steer clear of them , as there is a lot of preparation involved in having a shop front that is constantly on the move.

    I am thinking that I need to think different income streams. I actually do have another art brand that is doing quite well, but hmmm I think need something else!

    I’m a bit of PD fan myself and just read ‘Outwitting the Devil’ recently. Although, I never really can quite get into Napoleon Hill’s writing. It’s not clear cut enough for me.

    Roman I just loved how you figured out ways to move on, especially by observing your own mental chatter, and implementing new approaches.

    Thanks for the great interview!

  • handsomejoe

    You can never learn more from somebody else then from trial and error. Learning from trial error is actionable knowledge which instantly teaches you, how to fail, how to succeed and gives you instant feedback.

    That’s why getting a job is never a good option for the “rebel entrepreneurs” as it will lose that “Fire” and get you off the rythme of progress. When you get a job…everyday becomes just an other day, even when you learn something from more successful people, the knowledge you acquire is less actionable because you did not experience it and always doubt it if you , also can make it work like those people.

    In most cases you end up not taking action.

    Let me tell you why. (i’m speaking from experience). The more you know, the less you act and its true, because the more you know , the more problems you see. In most cases the goal, the vision or whatever you may call it, the dream, is to make whatever you are doing a success. SO the more you know, it kinda works against you, because let’s be honest it’s kinda 90% problems, 10% non problems. It’s like taking 10 steps forward, 90 steps backwards until you make it.

    And when you know it’s 90 steps backward, and only 10 steps forward , you will never start.

    Everything i did, if i knew it was going to be like this, i would have never started. It’s that being “naive” that keeps us going because when you start, and you keep pushing whatever it takes, it’s too late to quit… you just continue because you already went to far, beyond your limits…and that’s when you meet success.

    Alot of people misunderstood the word “focus”. It’s not about being focused on the work you do, its about being laser pixel sharped focus on that one pixel that will give you what you always wanted.

    Getting a job is harder, because you don’t fit in. Like when there is 1 hour break, u see your colleges wasting their time, just killing the time by talking about some stupid gossips or some tv shows while you are feeling bad that you just wasted an other day.

    You will learn faster swimming by jumping in water, then watching a pro swim it in front of you for days …

    and when you start to swim, you will know deep inside when it’s time to learn, time to read a book, and take your skills to the next level.

    Whatever you do guys, be handsome and humble ;)

  • albert yemenian

    Loved the interview. Bye the way, what happened to Melvin?

  • albert yemenian

    Just realized Andrew did not ask about him. If you don’t want to answer, I think everyone would understand.

  • gerprz

    Thanks Andrew and a special thank you to you Roman.

    Roman, you’ve had an interesting life. I suspect that the details to your life journey are even more interesting than what you shared in the interview. I’m left with two questions.

    I don’t really get the “why” of living life “publicly” and nakedly exposed?

    What about the hexagenarian woman’s boob job?

    Might consider calling your “master mind” something less pretentious, perhaps “master mindless” we’re all a bit crazy to do what we do, we’re really masters of little to nothing.

  • http://www.JiansNet.com/ Jian

    Love this interview, especially on the mindset part and how to deal with the stress.

    Andrew, Qi Gong is a very traditional Chinese practice. I’ve actually done it when I was a teenager, at the time my grandma taught me how to do it back in Beijing. It is super helpful to calm down your temper and good for lower the blood pressure.

    I didn’t know that Qi Gong could be something that useful for entrepreneurs. Now I keep hearing about this, I feel like I should pick it up again myself ;-)

  • Arie at Mixergy

    Thanks for sharing that Jian!

  • http://www.iocreativegroup.com/ Kim Walsh-Phillips

    Hi Roman. Thank you for blessing me with your transparency. I listened to your interview right after my company’s advisory board meeting and in the midst of our success, I am having all of the same emotions you deal with. I am glad you have your faith. I choose to call mine God and give him thanks for having your recordings enter my ears yesterday.

    As a scaling entrepreneur who gets it (in business for 13 years and approaching a million in sales) I would love to talk about a master mind. Where can we connect?

  • Roman Northcut

    Hi Kim
    Thanks for reaching out! Yes, I think it must be God :) Yes, please contact me regarding the Mastermind. I am putting it together this week, so if you could send me an email soon, that would be great. Because of email scrapers, I don’t want to type it out, but you can here it in the video at 65:30 minutes. I look forward to hearing from you!

  • Roman Northcut

    Anyone looking to learn Qi Gong, I highly recommend this: qiactivation.com

  • Roman Northcut

    Thanks for your kind words. Yes, I feel like i have lived about 6 lives so far! You are right, I have been blessed with a very wide variety of experiences and they just keep coming!

  • Roman Northcut

    Hi HandsomeJoe
    Great screen name! Yes, it is a series of “failures” or really, just actions that lead to a result and a new learning lesson. I feel creating the definite chief aim helped me to move from 90/10 to a little better ratio. Even moving to 70/30 is a great leap in life!

  • Roman Northcut

    Hi Simone
    Thanks for the kind words! All the best at your event. If you use the technique I described, I would love to hear how it works for you.

  • Roman Northcut

    Thanks Enrico. Much success to you to my friend!

  • Roman Northcut

    Hi Sheri! Thanks and in the very beginning, sometimes it wasn’t so far from that. Once when I was really struggling to find something that worked and get some money for rent, I bought a bunch of glow necklaces and went out to downtown orlando on Halloween. I dressed up as the star face guy from Kiss, stood at the busiest corner and went to business. I think I sold 6. 4 of them to one guy for a whopping $12. Learning lesson? Not my calling :)

  • Roman Northcut

    Thanks Brendan!