Life is all about embracing its seasons. Learn what to keep, where to go, and when to let go. For this episode, it’s all about business, family, and the art of recognizing when it's time to turn the page. Join us as Brett Snodgrass sits down with Michael Stansbury to explore the journey of managing family relationships amidst the dynamic and hectic world of entrepreneurship. Michael opens up about the challenges and joys of intertwining business with family, sharing the nuances of maintaining a harmonious balance while nurturing a family legacy. He explains the importance of being “yoked” in business partnerships, and how neglecting this aspect can lead to unexpected challenges. Michael also discusses filtering opportunities and distinguishing between shiny distractions and the 'boring' businesses that bring stability. Tune in and learn how to understand the seasons of life, turn the page, and live more intentionally.
I am with my good buddy co-host, Mr. Michael Stansbury. What's going on, Michael?
How are you, sir?
I'm doing fantastic. It has been an awesome journey with you so far. I'll kick off this question. You've been able to host quite a few shows and interview some guests. We've been on several times. Are you enjoying it? What's it like? Did you get the voice back?
The voice never goes away. You can turn it on at any time. You have to use it sparingly. Sometimes people think it's obnoxious. Sometimes you have to dial it down a little bit, but it's going to always be there. What I've enjoyed most about is doing some of the research on the people that I'm talking to beforehand and either reading their books or hearing more about their story and then being able to put that story out on a show about their life.
There are some things that I've learned about and some good friends that I've had on here that I didn't know about their story. It's always been interesting to ask deeper questions about events in their lives that have shaped them. It's interesting because you can see in real-time sometimes that they are realizing some deeper things as well as they rehash the story of their lives. I've enjoyed that part of the show. That's been very enjoyable. It is getting to learn new things. One of the things that businessman entrepreneurs do is we have to grow in our faith. What helps growth is knowing stories of other people's valleys, how they got through them, and what God has done for them to draw them out. That's a beautiful thing.
There are many times that I come on to a show and maybe something happened in my morning that threw me off. Maybe I was discouraged and I interviewed someone. I get to know their story and I walk away feeling encouraged, uplifted, and empowered so many times. I can take what they told me and I implement it too. There are connections and resources or books that I've read. It helps me so much on this show. Thank you for being a huge part of the show. We are moving forward. I appreciate you so much.
In this episode, we're going to talk to Michael. I'm going to be interviewing him a little bit more because he's gone through a lot of transitions in his life. We all have seasons in our life and we start things. We get excited about starting something new and the unknown of that. There is some nervousness with that. He has started some things in his life, but then there are also seasons of endings, or maybe doors are shut or closed whether it's with your family. He transitioned to one of his daughters to move out of the home and into college to move on. We're going to talk about that a little bit.
He's got out of a business venture that he was in. We're talking about entrepreneurs and business guys. We're going to him the questions of when is time to move on and how you know when it's time. We're going to talk about this a little bit, transition seasons, when it's time to transition, and when it's time to start or stop a season in your life. Michael, let's talk about family first. You're a huge family man.
We've had you a couple of times talking about family, fun, and leading your family. I know family is huge in your life. It is part of your core values. You're always talking about your family. Now you're into this transition of your son working with you, but he is older now. Your daughter has transitioned out of the home. Let's talk about that. What has this experience been like for you as a dad and a leader of your home? Talk to us about that and even about your wife as well.
As you're having kids and you read this, you don't blink and then it happens to you. I have a young adult now. It doesn't make any sense to me because I know time goes by and I know how time works, but still, you wake up and you have a young adult. I don't feel like I'm the age that I am. The reality is this. Now you transition from you're still a dad you're still his father, but you're more of a coach in his life. He works for me as well, which I love.
I love my family. Families are the best. A lot of problems that we have stemmed from not building up that family unit and it starts with the guy, the father. Humbly, I try to do my best to lead our family. Let me tell you something. I've dropped the ball a lot, but what's great about that is I try to surround myself with other men in the church that I can go to and say, “I did this,” and they're like, “That was dumb.” “I want to try this.”
Being a father is like anything. You try stuff, you read God's word, and the word has its effect on you, and learn from wisdom. What I know is that it happens very quickly. When they grow up, you have to change your strategy and game. Even though my son does live with me, we have rules in the house and he's respectful. He does everything that we ask them to do. He's not sixteen years old anymore. I'm not going to parent him like I would have a sixteen-year-old. He comes to us, which is great with, “This is happening.”
It's a cool thing to be able to coach him and have that relationship with him. We've accomplished this goal. After eighteen, he didn't leave and ignored us. He's not going the prodigal way. He's within the fold, but we have to be mindful that we don't want to be like the older brother in that story. I love it. It's interesting because when he was 16 or 17, I would tell my wife, “When he's eighteen, he needs to move out and do his own thing.”
COVID happened and all sorts of different things shaped. Other people shape the way that I think about that. What we came to the conclusion was if he's going to be responsible and follow the rules of the house, he can stay here up to this point. That point is once he wants to get another house, my house, or get married, we're okay with that.
My daughter moved to Chattanooga, which is about five and a half hours away from Memphis. That was a new experience for us. It has been very interesting. It was everything that people talked about. You're going to be sad and the house is going to be different. We have four kids. One is gone and there's definitely something missing from the house. It is something tangible. She's got a great relationship with her younger brother, Braden. He was in her room hanging out with her cat.
This is what he was talking about. This is the greatest thing. He's like, “When she gets back, what we need to do is I'm going to get a package of Oreos. I'm going to take all the Oreos out. I'm going to take all the cream out and put toothpaste in it. We're going to do this.” I’m like, “Great idea.” That's how we show love at our house. They always prank each other in love. They both have a great sense of humor about it. They don't get mad. They go. “I'm going to get you.”
That was fun as he was plotting. To give you what's it like, I was talking to my wife and she's like, “We're going to see her in a couple of weeks. That's going to be fun. It's going to be great,” but it hasn’t hit us violently. One of the things is there are a lot of people in the house. There's a lot of things to distract us. There's work. We got to take the kids to school. They are sports and stuff like that. I'd imagine if she was my only daughter. I have a buddy of mine. His name is Jeff. His only daughter is out of school and he's wrecked. I understand and get that, but that's what family life is like now in our household. It is still super fun, but there is something tangible missing.
It's funny when you talk to certain individuals because I have some friends who are empty nesters and they love it. They are like, “This is awesome. We get to do things, go on date nights, and travel.” Other people are wrecked when it comes down to that. We do a lot of family dinners. I would imagine what it would be like if there was a chair missing, for example, even though she's going to be coming home and visiting.
You mentioned some of the feelings around that. Were there any feelings of relief? Some people as parents might feel, “I've made it. I've been waiting for this moment. I've raised them up hopefully in a positive way and they can make their own decisions,” now there's a feeling of relief, nostalgia, or nervousness. What were some of the feelings and emotions that you are going through?
I don't know if relief is the right word, but the biggest thing that we were worried about was, “Is she going to be homesick in a couple of weeks?” The answer is no, she hasn't been. The great thing about nowadays is you can FaceTime. You talk and text a lot. She lets us know, “I'm doing this today. I'm excited about this. I've met this person.” She's meeting new people. The relief is like, “She's made some connections there.” For us, it was big. When I went to college, my mom was excited because there was a Catholic church right across the street from the dorm. She was like, “Saint Thomas is right here across the street.”
I hardly ever graced the church. The truth is she visited another different church on Sunday to try it out. That was like, “This is good. Now she's in charge. She's her free agent she has been since she turns an adult.” That gave us some relief or encouragement. She would text, “Here's the website of the church. Check them out. What do you think about their core values?”
I was talking to someone. When people graduate from high school or leave home, they also leave the church. That's a typical thing. I started reading a book. I went to this Dad Camp. I took my son. They gave us this book by Stanley. I've started reading it. It's called Parenting: Getting It Right. The thing that they're going into is, “What is it? What are you trying to get right?” It comes up with a mission or some core values or whatever.
One of the things that they focused on when they were raising their children was after their children are gone, they want to raise children who want to be around them when they don't have to be. That was one of their goals. There are children who will come home like they want to be home when they don't have to be home. It sounds like your family has that great dynamic like your son. He's still at home. He doesn't have to be at home and your daughter wants to come home. Have you guys thought through that like a goal? Was it for you when you were raising your children?
I read a book called The Household and the War for the Cosmos. What it talks about in scripture is this idea of the household. Back for the longest time up until in America, we had the Industrial Revolution. The home or the household was where all the economies were. That's how you did everything. You learn in your house. You made and sold stuff from your household to other households, and that's how societies ran. In the pre-Industrial Revolution in most societies, if you were an empty nester, you were frowned upon in culture because you wanted not just your nuclear family, but you wanted your whole family unit close by.
It's been interesting that sometimes when we read scripture, we don't have that context. A lot of it is lost or misinterpreted. We have a girl that's five hours away. That still disrupts us. She's not 30 minutes away. If she needed something quick, we couldn't get there quickly. I would prefer that my children stay close to us wherever that is. My business philosophy is this, and I've told my daughter this too regarding college. I would rather her want to build a start building a business and I would invest in that.
That's my preference for her to do that instead of going to college because she can learn a lot there. We would help her with the resources behind that. That's been that's been conveyed to her many times. She chose what she wanted to choose. My son, on the other hand, understands this idea of when you talk to people and ask them what their definition of wealth is.
My definition of wealth has changed. Wealth is my children. Not in the sense that, “I'm going to take advantage of them and make them my slaves or slave labor.” I'm going to help them develop their skills and work out in this economy, whatever that looks like. I want to expose my son to a lot of different people and ideas so that he can be creative and create businesses that solve problems and do whatever he wants to do with them.
My ideas have changed over that by some rather interesting influences. I haven't codified it yet. It's my vision to have my family close by, but that's what we would prefer. That's how I'm tailoring all the business or economic decisions I make as a family to think about their future and not in the, “You're going to inherit a bunch of money,” but, “I want you to inherit not just assets, but the ability to grow wealth in a way that honors God.”
I never even thought about that. I want people to know this because, most of the time, parents want their kids to go to high school and get good grades. Maybe go to college and get a good job. You've went the other way. I am starting to think outside of the box when it comes to college. You say, “Instead of this $50,000 to $100,000, I will invest it into a business.” That's very interesting. I haven't ever thought about that. That's a cool thing. That's awesome.
I know this is a transition in your family. I'm going to turn to page a little bit. Let’s transition in your business ventures. You are a real estate investor in Tennessee. You buy and sell a lot of homes and flip some houses. You got into a venture of part owning a title company, but then you have decided to step out of that. I'm always interested because I know you're excited about what this is going to look like and decided to step out of that, maybe close the door and close the loop on your involvement with that.
Can you tell us about that? Most of the time, I see people put so much time and resources into something that they get stuck. They never want to let it go because their philosophy is, “I put so much money, time, or energy into this that I'm going to make it work.” Sometimes, it's to their own detriment or their families’ sacrifice. Talk to us about this venture with you and why you decided to step out.
This is 100% of Michael having a little bit of a Shiny Object syndrome and a little bit of, “This would be cool to let people know that I own a title company.” The circumstances leading up to it were pretty neat. It seemed like it was a good thing to do. The title company that I used, and I still use, is they're having some ownership. The owner of the title company was having some health issues. One of the people who worked there was a little bit of a risk-averse, but this person ran that company and did a little bit of operations well.
The other person who was interested in possibly being a partner was the person who went and got sales. They were good at getting relationships with people to go out there and close with the title company, and then there was me. I thought, “This is what I can bring to the table. I have a lot of influence on the real estate community. I get them all close to a title.” That’s what we all brought to the table.
There were two parts of this. One, I did not do good due diligence on what that meant as far as what I was committing to us as getting business over there. What I never did is I say, “I'll go out there and get business.” I never defined how much what that looked like. It's like not having a specific attainable goal like, “I'm going to go get 3 to 5 extra closings a month,” because I also had a full-time. I'm a real estate investor. I love what I do. I thought this could be a little backpack.
It goes hand in hand. You're like, “I'm a real estate investor. I work with other investors. I'm going to bring their business over here.” It's not like car wash versus real estate.
I thought it would happen pretty fast and it did not. In 2022, the interest rates went way crazy and sales went down. There was a 30% or 40% drop in the amount of business that everybody was doing. We had the same clients, but we had 30% less business year over year. My task was to go out there and get more business. Over a year, I didn't do that great. That was on me. We're having meetings and things like that. There was some tension that I was the cause of because the business wasn't coming in like it should because I over-promised. I didn't realize that there's a lot more runway. It's not just you take a friend over here. He loves this title company too.
You're going to get you have to manage that relationship and say, “I'll bring some business over to you, but you got to do your part and I've got to get to know you more.” It took a lot longer than I thought it would to generate the business. The other part of it is the most important thing. Both partners were great. They were honest and both good people, but one of the things I clearly ignored is the equally yoked aspect of it.
The Bible talks about how in your marriage you have to be on the same page as far as who God or Christ is. I ignored that in this business relationship. Sometimes, I do deals with people. I'll buy a property with somebody and it works out great. Maybe I need to filter everything I do through that on those as well, but I didn't do it here. I processed it. I was like, “2 out of 3 of us are equally yoked. That should be able to overcome everything.” That wasn't the case. The main reason why it failed was because I overpromised and underdelivered. You only have so much energy to put things behind you. Memfixerupper, my flipping company, was not at a point where I could hand that off to anybody to run.
What happened was like you described, the stress started getting to me. My wife started saying, “Do you think this is worth it?” “It will be worth it later on. We'll figure this out. It will get better,” then I started losing sleep. I was like, “If I took the resources that I'm putting on this back on where it's supposed to go, which is my flipping business, I wouldn't have any problems and I have a lot more time and freedom. What am I doing?” That took a week to process when I was having those thoughts, and then I was like, “I'm going to make it easy for them to say yes to this and exit the business.” I went to him and said, “Let's make this as easy as possible.” I try to make the terms as favorable to them because what I was more focused on is getting my time back and getting any stress off of me so I can put energy into other things that we're going to have a return.
You took the filters. Some things were happening. You were losing sleep and stress started mounting up. As business owners, you have this loss of freedom then you start to ask yourself, “Is this worth it?” You had this other thing going well already. You're like, “Why don't I take my energy and put it over here?” What's this emotionally been like for you to get excited about something to think it's going to go successful with your involvement and it doesn't go like you think? What is that like stepping out? Was there a relief? Was there like, “I failed?” What is this like for you?
I don't know if this is a negative. My wife is very intuitive, as all wives are. They're incredible. One thing that is interesting is how I can move on pretty quickly. I can turn the page pretty quickly and I try to do it in a healthy way. I was upset for a day, but then I realized, “Let's write everything out,” like all the positives. It's the story that you tell yourself. I can tell myself that story. I did fail.
Entrepreneurs, if you don't fail, then you're never going to be a successful entrepreneur. If you don't miss a step, trip up, or faceplant, I don't think you're learning. You want to avoid the worst of the worst. I felt like I was avoiding the worst of the worst by exiting. When I processed it that way, it was a relief. How do you do that and maintain relationships? One of the things I didn't want to do was be very clear and honest to the other two people involved like, “I'm doing it. This is on me,” and how do I do this as gracefully as possible and keep relationships. That's a tough part.
I know some good men who were equally yoked in a partnership, but it went bad and they don't have a relationship anymore. I wanted to avoid that. You have to make that decision as well, which is, “I'm going to do this with as much humility as possible to keep these relationships and not be bitter.” It's hard for anyone not to be bitter about something, especially if you think, “I know I didn't do this right, but they didn't do this either.” I could have put the focus on what they didn't do, but at the end of the day, when I look back, I was like, “This was all me. Let's figure out a way to keep the relationships as much as best as possible.”
Thanks for sharing. This episode is about beginning new seasons, ending seasons, when to move on, and when to close the doors on certain things in your life. I want to wrap up with this last final question. You said that you had this Shiny Object syndrome. I want to dive into that a little bit because, as entrepreneurs, we always have that. I heard a quote. I'm not sure who was but I had this mentor tell me this one time. They did a survey with business owners. They said, “What was the number one mistake that you made throughout your business?” They own multiple businesses.
Most of them said one of their biggest mistakes was that they thought because they were successful in this certain business they could be successful in any business. I could see that. It's like, “I've had some success with real estate. I can go open up a restaurant or a coffee shop.” It's a completely different business. They said one of the biggest mistakes is because they're successful in one business, they think that they can be successful in any business.
We also talked about opportunities or distractions. Talk to us about Michael's Shiny Object syndrome. Do you have anything that you think through when you have opportunities come at you because you have other business things, properties, or real estate things, even if it's inviting you to whatever? Do you have anything you think through like, “Is this an opportunity or a distraction in my life?”
As I was trying to get this business off the ground, I was re-exposed to the idea of, “Do you know what you want? You want a boring business.” A boring business is not shiny. What I don't mean by boring is not necessarily exciting, but if you've done something like we have for so long, we know that there are going to be peaks and valleys, but we have a better idea of what to expect around the corner.
With new businesses like this one, even though I thought I knew how to do this, I couldn't see around the corner. If you have a boring business, you can do a 360 and see around the corner in any economy. You can see how things work. If you think, “I can choose this vertical over here and it's the same thing,” maybe it's not anything like what you're doing at all. The filter is, “Is this boring?” I've got a self-storage deal in Jackson. It's beautiful and it's boring. It's not exciting. It's a metal building that people run out to put their old vinyl records in or whatever.
That's funny because my favorite part of the real estate business is when we seller finance a property. That's a very boring business because after the deal is done, we get our checks, but there's no relationship. That's all it is. It's counting numbers and doing amortization schedules, which is not fun, but it's my favorite part because it's good business.
The filter is, “Is this boring?” I read a book called Bumpers. It was a good book and helps to stay in your lane like what bumpers are in a plain bowling alley. I'm not a good bowler. Sometimes when the kids are bowling, I leave those bumpers up.
Your filter is, “Is this a boring type of business?” I wrap it up with this. I had a guy in the show. He was a basketball performance coach. He watched Kobe Bryant play. Kobe Bryant would work out in the mornings at 4:00 AM. This performance coach was going to go watch him practice. When he watched him practice, it wasn't anything flashy. It was basically doing very basic ball-handling drills that you might see in an elementary. He said, “It's pretty boring to watch you do this.” He said, “I got to stick to the basics. You got to get back to the basics.” That's even one of my business philosophies now because some of the tasks that I've been doing are like, “This is boring. I've done this 2,000 or 5,000 times.” This is boring analyzing deals, but this is good. It makes me money.
That's what makes the money. You got to make offers every day.
I've been pounding my team, which is very basic. It's like, “If we make more offers, we get more PAs or Purchase Agreements.” It's pretty good. It's a math problem. Thanks for visiting with us. I appreciate you. This is a wrap. Thank you.