Today’s guest says he went from being broke at 23 to a millionaire by 25.
The Mixergy team thought he’d make a great interview and I’m curious, so I invited him to tell his story. For 18 years, JV Crum III ran Crum Transport, a trucker that moved citrus pellets, grains and fertilizer.
Andrew: Hey there freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart, and home to over 800 interviews with successful entrepreneurs who tell the stories of how they build their businesses. The highs, the lows, the challenges, things they got away with sometimes and things that didn’t work out quite so well.
All my interviews are sponsored by Walker Corporate Law. Scott Edward Walker is the entrepreneurs’ lawyer and if you’re looking for a lawyer. Check out walkercorporatelaw.com. In this interview I want to find out how a guy who went broke at 23 ended up being a millionaire at 25. For 18 years JV Crum III, who we are meeting here at this interview, ran Crum Transport, a trucker that moved citrus pellets, grains, and fertilizer. Today, he runs Conscious Millionaire, which he calls a global movement of entrepreneurs dedicated to achieving a higher purpose and higher profits. I invited him here to hear his story. Hey JV?
JV: Hey. How are you doing today?
Andrew: Good. What does it mean to be a conscious millionaire?
JV: To be a conscious millionaire in a nutshell; it’s to create a business that has a higher purpose and you’re also focused on getting higher profits. So, it’s not one over the other, it’s actually the two inextricably intertwined. So that inner purpose that you feel, the passion you had, I [??] purpose is simply of some difference you want to make that transforms other people or society in that it’s really your heartthrob. And build your business along that. Which of course, if you do that, you think of [??] and those kind of companies.
We met with a team of people who attracted much like to a non-profit, except that you’re doing it as a profitable venture. You’re doing it more consciously with honesty and integrity and the goal of partnering people. As what really drives you to a bottom line.
Andrew: And your first million, do I have it right, came when you were running your dad’s transport business, Crum Transport?
JV: Yeah. What happened was he was basically reverted to bankruptcy. I was finishing a master’s in clinical psyche and flew home from L.A. to Florida, for a month. And I had never seen him depressed. He’d always been the optimistic, he was 58 and everything had fallen apart. We’d never had much money. He always had did something or something wouldn’t work and fall apart. I mean. So that was the household I grew up in. Which is why at five I said I’m going to be a millionaire because I’m not going to live like this.
So I just knew from that point that, that was my drive as a little kid. And, so, rumor was, finishing my master’s in psyche, I decided I wanted to go to law school rather than get a PhD. As an opponent, my dad’s going but I want you to come help me with my business. Which, honestly wasn’t something I wanted. But, I deeply like my dad, and so I said I’ll do it for six months to help. [?? audio breaks up]. And I basically took over things from doing nothing but business. I never took a business course because we’d been so successful.
I decided entrepreneurship was definitely the path to being poor. And I never read a business book, although I never wanted to have anything to do with this. That’s what I thought until I looked back and realized I was always starting other businesses as a kid. But you don’t put the pieces together throughout that 23 years. I, was like, going to go to Wall Street. And, uh, what I’ve recently discovered from when I started doing a business was that I was like a duck to water.
[??] And so that was kind of like a 30 day period where I turned everything around. And at that point, over the year I’d paid off nine years of [??], made a six figure profit. And what I’ve now realized when I look back is when I wrote my book, I said what was I doing? I was doing a simple process of being conscious of what we need to change, focusing on that result and taking action and then learning from constant [??].
Andrew: I see.
Andrew: I’m sorry?
JV: And that’s what I did for that first year which made a huge change, and then we had [??].
Andrew: And so there were people who were just taking advantage of him, and he wasn’t being aware of the expenses. He wasn’t raising his prices to the level that he needed to, so you raised it by 25%. And you were paying attention to the details that he might not have noticed.
JV: Well [??] systems, I mean it may sound crazy, he was running a trucking line but there was actually no filing system. Actually didn’t [??] anything, just picked up. So, again, I didn’t know to call it systems, but I had been a really good student. And what was a good student, was I had always had my stuff done on time, and then I had a time I was going to study something and I’d always get the homework done, right? And I supplied those skills to businesses and I started creating systems that would do this – it’s always done this way.
And then I’d keep changing it until I found something that worked. Like there was no policy manual, and truck drivers were doing all kinds of things. So, every week I would change the policies a little bit. And at the end of 6 months I had a policy manual that almost didn’t change for another 18 years, because I found out what policies rewarded behavior, or basically punished behavior. Like [??] fine then you’ve got to pay the fine. Well guess what, everyone stopped pulling over [SP]. All the weights were correct all of a sudden. They had to pay the fine themselves. So I just kept tweaking things like that, and so what has to happen to make this work?
Andrew: I heard from Jeremy who pre-interviewed you that even as far back as five years old, you were starting to dream big.
Andrew: For example…
JV: For example, I had this day that was a transformational day. It stood out in my life forever. I can remember where I was standing – I grew up out in the country, there was 300 or 400 people, nobody had any money, we had the black and white TV back then, and I had a little pup tent and I’d sell cans of juice to high school kids for a dime (which was actually a lot of money then) [??] and some little egg cartons. I was standing there, and it was like something came over me, it was like a vision in a way. It was like, I’m going to be a millionaire.
And I was just thinking, what’s the answer to this? Mom and dad always fighting over money, and it was a real problem. I could see that. And I ran in the house and told both of my parents. I remember my mother shaking her finger at me, because the church was across the street and we went three times a week, and she said “Don’t tell me [SP].”
JV: I didn’t figure that out until I was an adult. Of course as a little kid [??]. Because they felt something was wrong if you made that much money. You had to have done something evil. You had to have taken advantage of people. So there was a whole belief system there.
Andrew: I see.
JV: Making money and having wealth was somehow doing something wrong to have that much.
Andrew: And for you, what was the [??] making money meant?
JV: Freedom. Making meant I didn’t have to be poor. Making money meant I could pay the bills and I didn’t have to live like they were living.
Andrew: How poor were you?
JV: I would say that we were middle, middle class, the Chevrolet, the kind of people who clean the car every week, have the best lawn in town, the house was always organized. So I got all those kinds of skills. But we didn’t have any money. I remember once there was a train crash – a whole train derailed about eight miles from us, everybody went there, and they were carrying [??].
Now don’t forget this was the 1960s, but still everyone can go. Two cents a pound was cheap right? We got a hundred pounds of them, and we had a whole room to spread them out on newspapers so they wouldn’t get bruised and they would last longer. And we ate those for a couple of months. And another time, my dad was at the citrus harvesting but he also had a hundred acres, he did zucchini squash.
Well unfortunately the market fell apart that very week his squash was good. And he couldn’t even pay to truck it to New York from Florida for what they would pay him. We literally ate zucchini squash for three months. So we had food, but it was a scramble.
Andrew: I can see wanting to fight against that and never wanting to live like that again.
JV: [??] And I kept looking because my parents were really smart. And I kept saying as a little kid, there’s got to be a trick, right? Because you’re a kid, that’s the way…
JV: …there’s got to be a trick to this. Now I would call it a strategy, but there has to be something that you do because it’s clear that it’s not about you’re just [??] to make money, but it’s also clear that there’s also something other people were doing. I got that when I was five years old.
Andrew: Did you, at that point, start to read some of the books that influenced you or did that not happen until later?
JV: Well, in the 60s that really wasn’t an era where you had those kinds of books. [??] really started the whole [??] kind of revelation and it wasn’t where thinking rich [??] out in the country. We didn’t have a book store. It probably wasn’t even in the library, so I thought, “What would have happened if I hadn’t been there?” I kind of wonder because I was really ambitious and I would order things like candles. I remember I sold candles for $1.25 [??]. I sold boxes of cards and I got fifty cents…
Andrew: Where did you learn to do that? If you’re not exposed to people who are doing it, or books that discuss it, how do you get to that place where you start selling these cards, etc.?
JV: Yeah, that’s a good question. I think I took the pieces that I saw…nobody’s ever asked that question; it’s a great question. My dad was very…it’s an interesting distinction; my father was very entrepreneurial. He was, to be blunt, a lousy business guy. The difference, in writing my book and thinking about entrepreneurship and working with clients, there’s a difference.
My father could tell you where the money was going to come from and he’d be right over and over and over, but he somehow lacked the skills to create systems and put everything in place to make it happen, and then I think sabotage…and I think part of that was a belief system that it really wasn’t okay to have that much money.
Andrew: The same belief system that your mom had, that if he tries to do too much, then maybe there’s something evil about him.
JV: Yeah, what if there’s something wrong, and I don’t think they were conscious of that. I think I became conscious of it because I wrote a book and thought about it. Why would my mother save something, but I think that was it. My father was kind of entrepreneurial and I think there is something almost genetic about people who are kind of entrepreneurial, like I had the [??], but I did that 12 years after I started…turned around the [??].
And I think that you can go and study and can learn a lot of stuff about being entrepreneurial, but I don’t know that you can actually become an entrepreneur any more than you can become the essence of a great artist or surgeon. I think it’s kind of in your blood and I think it was like coming up, you know what I’m saying?
JV: Yeah, I think that’s why I went out and had my little lawnmower business. I had the lawnmower; people need their lawns mowed; I’ll go mow their lawn. It was pretty simple to me and I wanted the money and I was getting a dime for allowance literally, at age nine. I had a lot of chores I had to do, so I said this is lousy and so I [??] apartment building up on the lake and they gave me $5.00 for mowing the lawn, edging the sidewalk and trimming the hedges.
I thought, “This five bucks is a whole lot better than that dime,” and then I saved it all; I saved every bit of it. I was always saving the money. My parents couldn’t get me to buy a Coke. They would go, “Why aren’t you buying a Coke?” I was saving my money.
Andrew: I’m going to ask you how much you sold the business for. I’m going to ask you how you’re doing today, but first, let me do a quick plug here for my man, Scott Edward Walker, of Walker Corporate Law. He is a startups entrepreneur and one of the things that, if you’re getting started, I think you should do is, email Scott.
Here’s his email address; just firstname.lastname@example.org and find out about his company’s startup All-You-Can-Eat packages. I don’t even know if that’s the real name for it, but he has a low price that helps entrepreneurs get started with their businesses. The goal is, obviously, not to make money on entrepreneurs just getting started.
Those guys don’t really have much money when they’re getting started, trying to save pennies, so he just wants to be there for you at the beginning so that when it’s time for you to raise money, when it’s time for you to sell your business, when it’s time for you to have those major business decisions, he’ll be there for you and he can help you out there.
If you’re interested, go to Walker Corporate Law or just email Scott directly and say, “Hey, what is this startup All-You-Can-Eat package that Andrew is talking about. His email is email@example.com.
One of the things that you did to get the business on track was staff your drivers based on how much money they made you. Why did you decide to do it that way?
JV: Well, actually what I did was, I started looking at what it was costing me to have labor and trucks. A lot of unexpected expenses. And that first year I knew to a strong mix it was about 80 percent owner operating. Because the owner operators, they were seasonal like most people would be, especially during the season of citrus. So eight months out of the year were really strong and four months were not as busy. So I was able to bring on and off trucks.
And I also knew that they were getting a certain amount and the part that we kept, the expenses were very low because it was just the overhead of running a company. The office and office staffing. Trailers, we went out and bought new trailers so we had the lower maintenance costs. So I was much able to get a handle on costs by outsourcing. And actually it’s a decision I’ve made with conscious millionaires that I’m in the process of outsourcing most things because it’s a way to get experts.
But if you give them five hours of that a week that’s all you have to pay for. And then you can contain your costs so much easier when you do something by the project or just by the expertise that you need. And that’s what we did with the owner operators and that’s when the profit soared because we could control the costs.
Andrew: At the top of the interview I said that you were basically broke at 23, a millionaire by 25. That came from the email that we got from you when you said, “Hey, you guys are looking for interviewees on Mixergy [??]. I’ll volunteer to do it”. What does it mean that you were suddenly a millionaire at 25? Does that mean the company’s value was worth a million dollars or that you had a million in the bank or that you guys were profitable at a million a year? What does that number mean?
JV: Yeah the company was worth a couple of million dollars and I ended up owning half of it. I also owned a home, so there was equity that I had. I had cash that I had accumulated.
Andrew: How? You took cash out of the business because the business was doing so well within two years?
JV: Yeah. On our third year we had…I remember the month that I bought my homeowner [??]. Which in Tampa is this beautiful, dry, it’s got [??] and a lot of great townhouse on the water was a [??] townhouse. Which back then was a pretty big deal. You know, we were hitting 100,000 a month in cash flow. So that was after everything. All the expenses. And that was pretty good.
Andrew: 100,000 a month in cash flow from renting out this house that you had?
JV: No, no, no, from the trucking line.
Andrew: Oh, from the trucking line.
JV: Yeah so after all the expenses the cash flow was hitting a hundred thousand a month. So we were on our way to the million.
Andrew: And by that point you guys already had the outsourced truckers. The people who are owner operators.
JV: Most of that the first year. And that’s when we were able to…I put everything around the first year and then the second and third year were all about getting massive [??].
Andrew: OK. How massive did it get?
JV: We built a several million dollar company. And that was good for a regional trucking line for a [??].
Andrew: So you stuck with the same clients that your dad brought in?
JV: He really handled most of the marketing at that point because that was really his strong point. And then I got involved with the marketing. But the actual story has lots of ups and downs. Because the third year I decided OK, I really wanted to go to law school. That’s what I really wanted to do to begin. So I went to law school and ran the company because I went to Stetson which was right by the Campers Grave [SP]. The grade [??] in law school wanted to practice law.
So the next 12 years my mother was dying and my father basically convinced me to stay at the trucking line. And at that point we plateaued because I didn’t want to be there. I really wanted to be practicing law. And probably one of the biggest drivers that I initially wanted to start a company that I could help people build wealth and become conscious entrepreneurs was my drive to make certain that people didn’t do what I did because I gave up 12 years of doing something I wanted to do that I would have been passionate about and really treaded water.
Andrew: Meaning the law?
JV: Yeah, and at that point I wanted to practice tax law just because I loved it. And I probably would have turned it into an entrepreneurial business. But the point is that I stayed and did something that I didn’t want to do and wasn’t passionate about. And so I kept having a [??] because we kept having opportunities and I kept going “I don’t really like what I’m doing”. So if we make it bigger I’ll just have [??] I’ll just have more of what I don’t like. Do you understand what I’m saying?
Andrew: Did you end up creating a law firm?
JV: No. I actually didn’t end up practicing law. By the time we sold it which took a lot of convincing on my part. I was 41 and look at did I want to get my [??] then. I had friends who were lawyers who said I don’t think that you really can handle going, having had your own world. And you’re now going to go be starting over at the bottom with somebody. That’s probably not the right thing for you to do.
And at that point what I really did was I went out and I went to a Buddhist Monastery. I went and lived in Bestland [??], in Boulder, and I kind of did this extended journey because I had the money and I did this extended kind of personal cleansing journey at this point in my life. And I asked myself, in two or three camping trips, why am I here? And what is it I’m supposed to be doing with my life?
So I really got very purpose driven in a deeply spiritual way. Of asking what’s my life really about and why am I on this Earth? And why is it-
Andrew: What’s the answer to that question?
JV: The answer to that question came in Reno, Nevada, the spiritual hot, hot surface of the planet.
JV: I was staying in Reno for six months skiing for the winter and avoiding being a California resident for tax purposes.
JV: [??] And I went over to San Francisco and I picked up a brochure for what was the Balloon Festival. And I brought it back, it was the weekend, I had this great apartment, this great hot tub in the apartment, and I had known for a couple of years, I kept saying, I had worked with different coaches and nobody was able to like, get me where I wanted to go. Like, they’d go “Oh, nobody wants to do that” when I bring up conscious stuff.
You know, they’d go “No, nobody is going to be interested.” I would go, “I think it’s kind of what I want to do” and I wrote down and I saw the word ‘conscious’ and I immediately knew the conscious movement was it. But I had been seeking and asking “what’s my purpose?” when I got a tingling in my spine. And when I get intuition I just get a visual [??] and I just knew. And knowing how the Universe works, I did not rush out to go get conscious[??].com, I stayed in the hot tub for another 40 minutes and celebrated that after seven years of looking for my purpose I had found it.
And then knowing how the Universe works, I went and took it and filed the trademarks the next month at a really good attorney. And six months later I got Conscious Word in a similar kind of revelatory way. And I said, “Oh, that’s going to be the non-profit that I’m going to start” so for me, making it be useful, because this is a little different journey than a lot of entrepreneurs, to tell you that my motto is to trust perfect timing.
Andrew: To trust what?
JV: Trust perfect timing.
Andrew: Trust perfect timing. And this was what year?
Andrew: And I see the website that you launched in 2004 and I think somewhere on this site you said that your goal was to get 100 conscious entrepreneurs.
JV: Yeah. That’s changed since then.
Andrew: How has it changed?
JV: It’s now a million.
Andrew: Over a million?
JV: Yeah, that, well, it comes from the inspiration, and I am very inspiration driven. And we were talking a little bit before the interview and I am certainly happy to talk about, I had a lot of bumps along the way to creating Conscious Linear [??] and getting it up and getting the book finished, it took seven years. A lot for me is about finding the inspiration and getting closure about it. So I bring up that I trust perfect timing.
To me it’s not a fluffy kind of thing. For me trusting perfect timing is that when you come in a place of present authenticity, that things that are perfect in timing occur in your life. And you have to be in authenticity. And I kept getting in authenticity, I’d write the book and I’d go, like my first version, well I won’t, my first version was very philosophical. And it was kind of like the universes’ revealing conscious movement to me. And I got it done and I read through it and I said “Well, this is very good philosophy, however, there’s one problem with the book. You can’t do anything at the end of the book that you couldn’t do on page one.”
So I called my own [??] and I said, “Well, now we know what it’s all about” I could start again. And that kind of thing kept happening until I ended up with a book with over 100 coaching pieces, with 18 videos at a membership site that’s all about how you take concepts like what it means to be conscious that can end up being infinity fluffy and make them into something practical that’s about building a profitable business.
Andrew: So basically, for about-
JV: My book.
Andrew: -for about nine years you’ve been doing this, and I’m trying to figure out what the business is behind it. Is it that it’s still developing and nothing has happened yet?
JV: Yeah, it’s still developing, I think it’s launching. I went through periods where I was doing a fair amount of coaching with people. And I had investments, I had the luxury of having money to live on, so that wasn’t a problem for me. But I also had a father that the entire time period, was diagnosed with, and was in his 80s, died in his 90s two years ago, who was dying of Parkinson’s and he was my best friend.
So there was a huge part of my kind of energy that kept being taken for that. And in 2005, I was ready to move to California because that’s why I was born and lived in Reno. I was starting to develop things and my father got worse.
And I came home and I stayed for a few months in Florida with him, and I realized because I’m the third. So I keep answering the phone and they go, is this Jim Crum? And I go, this is my dad, but I thought, maybe I better say yes. It would be the telephone company he hadn’t paid the bill.
And I said to myself, it was Christmas night, I was, 1:00 in the morning, in the living room and I just started crying. I said, your dad’s dying. He’s not going to make it without you. You’ve got to come back here. So I gave up everything once again and came back. And said I’m going to take care of dad. And that became as much of my journey as getting all of this started.
And then he had a stroke and I had to shut everything down. So I did my launch of the company, my first public event, the book was almost done December 8th of 2010. And my dad has a stroke on December 17th. And I said, [??]. And I said, when he’s gone, he’s gone. I [??] again. That’s what really can happen in life, but I kept asking myself, is this the authentic thing for me to be doing?
What am I supposed to be doing with my life, because it’s really about being of service, and trusting that everything comes together when it does. And when it does come together, it comes together very fast then. Because then things are there. And so then I would coach, and then I would stop coaching to work on the book all the time. And what I’ve created couldn’t have been done in less than seven years because of what I wanted to put.
Andrew: I see.
JV: And I wanted the book that could be like Think and Grow Rich and it could blueprints that could change people’s lives and change the world. And to me, that was my dedication. But it’s great that’s we’re doing this now because I want you to know that within three to four years of doing this journey, I had so many friends that would go, like, still working on the book? Mm-hmm. I went, yeah, yeah. It’s not out yet. And I go, no. I would go, not ready. It’s not ready. But now it’s ready.
Andrew: You must be so proud to have it out there.
JV: Yeah. Oh, it feels great. It feels great. It feels great.
Andrew: You know. One of my challenges as a researcher is that it’s really tough to research people, and it’s hard to figure out what’s there. And I’m especially worried that, if I have someone on who is teaching other people how to be millionaires, that always makes me even more nervous.
How do I know that they really did it themselves? How do I know that they did it at all? So I went back and I started doing research and I just couldn’t come up with anything. I’ve got the membership site that you’re about to launch. I’ve got some behind the scenes access. It was actually not that tough to find it. Someone in my audience found all kinds of stuff on Mixergy and showed me how he did it.
And so that’s how I learned to crawl around other people’s sites. But I can see that’s there is going to be a millionaire membership site where there’s going to be expert interviews, training calls, millionaire blog, an eBook. But it just seems like for the last nine years, you’ve been trying to make this thing work but it’s not there yet. Right?
JV: I think that’s almost accurate. I think that for the last nine years I’ve been taking a journey of getting here. I don’t think it would be accurate to say that I was pouring my energy into trying to make a website work or trying to get a business launched with lots of traffic because I wasn’t even focused on it then. I was focused on finding out what this book was supposed to be.
Andrew: I see.
JV: And taking care of my dad. So I would think the appropriate thing to say is that, while I’ve done coaching the clients, I mean I had one client that doubled from one to two million in five months. And that was 2010. And then dad would have another hiccup and I would say . . . So to me, I was taking the journey I was supposed to take.
And while it was incredibly, or you might have been frustrated, well, why it took nine years to get here. Believe me, I’m really frustrated. Then I would stop and I would breathe and I’d go, are you taking the path you’re supposed to take. So to me, it was about the inception of the idea, did I think it would take nine years to get here. No, not a chance.
Because I did a first audio program, like, in two months. And I thought, oh, this is going to take off. But it’s not what happened. And so now I have a company that’s in true startup. I mean that’s the correct way to look at it. And that’s how I see it.
Andrew: Who’s the client who did that well after your coaching?
JV: Yeah, it was John W. Schepp [SP]. And he gave me lots of testimonies and videos because he was for that.
Andrew: John W. Shepp.
JV: [??] and videos, because he was [??].
Andrew: John Delucia.
JV: Yeah. He was an exciting client to work with. It gave me a model of who I was looking for, for my ideal client. So I learned a lot from playing together. It was fun.
Andrew: Not the actor. Right?
JV: Not him.
Andrew: Not the actor.
Andrew: The name of the book is “Conscious Millionaire.”
JV: “Grow Your Business My Making a Difference.”
Andrew: And you want to give our audience two chapters of the book so they can try it out.
Andrew: Where do they go for that?
JV: And the easy way to do that, we’re just going to set up a special landing page for your people. And it’s ConsciousMillionaire.com/mixergy.
Andrew: All right. How much did you sell the business for, the trucking business?
JV: Yeah. I actually can’t disclose that, because I have a non-disclosure.
JV: I’d really love to answer that, but that’s [inaudible]. . .
Andrew: Is it over five million?
JV: I can’t answer that. I mean, I’m just being straightforward with you.
Andrew: Yeah, I. . .
JV: It’s definitely millions of dollars. I couldn’t say that it’s absolutely true that it was a [??] than five. But I’ve made millions of dollars from business and real estate. But I can’t answer that question.
Andrew: Yeah. I see from your, I think it’s a LinkedIn profile where we got this, that you were doing real estate from ’97 to 2006.
JV: Yeah. I was in commercial real estate, and I’ve been very. . .I’m just very intuitive about trends and about numbers and about what’s going on in the world. And it was very clear to me that we were reaching a peak. So I sold everything in 2005 and 2006 and took a couple of million profit off the table, which was particularly nice considering it would have been very painful a couple of years ago.
Andrew: All right. Final question. What’s the best part of. . .we keep talking about these millions. What’s the best part of having it?
JV: I think the best part is having the freedom to really enjoy life in the way that you want and make a difference in the way that you want. And for me the part and parcel was [??] I care about [??] youth. So I’ve set up a non-profit. I have, of course, I 501(c)(3), and then part of the sale of the book and everything to do with Conscious Millionaire will go to that to help youth learn to be conscious leaders and give back to their communities.
So to me, it’s the freedom to be who you really want to be, whatever that means to you.
Andrew: All right. Thanks for being on here.
JV: Thanks for having me.
Andrew: Thank you all for being a part of it. Bye, guys.