Meet the Masters - Ted Zoller discusses his role as a Professor of Entrepreneurialism

Meet the Masters – Ted Zoller on his role as a Professor of Entrepreneurialism.  We discuss growing up in an entrepreneurial town, teaching entrepreneurial studies and the ascension of Millennials  

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This material is provided as a courtesy and for educational purposes only from Olde Raleigh Financial Group, A member of Advisory Services Network and should not be construed as investment advice. All information contained in this video is derived from sources deemed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed.  All economic and performance data is historical and not indicative of future results.  All views/opinions expressed in this video are solely those of the presenter and do not reflect the views/opinions held by Advisory Services Network, LLC. Please consult your investment professional, legal or tax advisor for specific information pertaining to your situation.

Trevor Chambers:

Hey everybody. This is Trevor Chambers. I’m the host of Meet the Masters with Olde Raleigh Financial Group here in Raleigh, North Carolina. Today is the 1st of May 2020, and I’m really excited to be present… I have the distinct honor of capturing a talk with the one and only Ted Zoller who… Ted’s an awesome guy. He’s a pretty [inaudible 00:04:55] guy actually in my thoughts and in my personal history, and I’ll let him talk about what he does, but he’s the T.W. Lewis Clinical Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and Director of the Entrepreneurship Center at UNC where he researches, focused on the role of structure of entrepreneurial networks and the interrelationships with investor syndicates.

Let me be more clear. You are at Kenan-Flagler, which is part of UNC Chapel Hill. I botched that whole thing, Ted. But if you could just pick up my slack, that’d be totally helpful. All right?

Ted Zoller:

Absolutely.

Trevor Chambers:

So it’s good to have you. I’m going to start. Can you just give me a nice synopsis of the history of one Ted Zoller? Where’d you come from, how’d you get here, what’s going on?

Ted Zoller:

Geez. You know, it’s funny, we share a similar background. I came from upstate New York of all things. A little town called Seneca Falls, which is one of the most incredible places, because it was the place where Frank Capra actually based It’s a Wonderful Life on, so it’s kind of an idyllic little town. It was a town built by entrepreneurs. I’ve got a map, literally, in my garage, in my shop, of Seneca Falls and the industrial history of Seneca Falls, and all these great entrepreneurs who started companies there to manufacturer things like fire trucks and pumps and it ended up being kind of a major manufacturing town and all these beautiful homes that are there because all these people were first generation entrepreneurs. So it was just a great place to come from. I think that’s probably why I got interested in entrepreneurship, because-

Trevor Chambers:

It was in the water.

Ted Zoller:

It was, and it was part of the town. It was part of the town’s history, and I was just driven from a young time in my life to really understand the impact of technology. I think I had the first IBM 286 computer. I learned to program as a young person, because I was interested in technology and entrepreneurship, and how the two things… And I knew that software was going to be a massive thing. Of course, I grew up in the age of hardware, so I was pretty limited by what I could do. So I ended up being an early employee at the first unicorn in the software industry, American Management Systems, and had a lot of guts back then. Learned, really got my entrepreneurial medal there, because it was a company that was growing so immensely, quickly-

Trevor Chambers:

Wait. AMS. What did they do?

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. They really built the software that ran most of the banks in the country, and they ran the budgets for the federal government, all the financial systems for the major corporations, and they had basically, it’s really amazing, a monopoly in the market. And the guy who started it was a guy named Charles Rossotti, just an extraordinary inventory, software entrepreneur, and he was ironically one of Robert McNamara’s Whiz Kids in the Pentagon. So McNamara was a very famous figure during the Kennedy administration. He was the CEO of Ford, and then ran basically the Cold War for the Kennedy administration. And the Whiz Kids were kind of the folks that brought technology into the Pentagon, and it was a big part of why America prevailed in the space race, and things of that nature. So I had a chance to work with this guy, and he taught me really how to be an entrepreneur.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. You know, the world of mentors, you can’t underestimate that.

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. No doubt. It’s amazing, actually. Mentors, I think, mean everything. And what’s funny is you can’t really preordain people who are going to change your life. You have no idea where you’re going to get the insights that are going to change your life. Some people have 10, 15 thousand contacts, but your life is usually defined by five key people that are going to change the trajectory of your life, and here’s the difference. You can’t predict who they are. The entrepreneur typically is the person who is aware, is ready to listen, and more importantly, is ready to act based on that insight. That’s a real difference for an entrepreneur versus your typical bear walking around the woods. An entrepreneur is usually prepared to take a chance when that insight presents itself.

Trevor Chambers:

Well, that leads me beautifully into… So obviously, it’s the 1st of May 2020, and we are in the middle of some interesting times with COVID.

Ted Zoller:

It’s a big challenge.

Trevor Chambers:

A big challenge. So what role do entrepreneurs play in helping us reset and relaunch into… Because clearly, we’re at a reset point here. Okay. Now moving forward. What role do they play in that recovery?

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. It’s amazing. Entrepreneurs are the first ones to take action. I’ve been just impressed by… And I think it has something to do with the fact that if there’s a synonym to entrepreneurship, it is action, and someone who is prepared to take responsibility for things that really they don’t control. I think the best definition of entrepreneurship is Howard Stevenson said entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources under your control, which is a really interesting way to think about it. But the bottom line is, entrepreneurs give themselves permission to go fix things, and when they see people suffering, they jump in.

And entrepreneurs, ironically, in this COVID crisis are suffering as many of their businesses are being disrupted immensely. Some are even going bankrupt, but you’re finding another set of entrepreneurs who are trying to play a role to help society, and trying to put together things that will help mitigate some of the big challenges we’re facing through technology, through services, through inventions that they’re developing that are fundamentally going to make a big difference, and probably, frankly, will help solve the crisis. I’m not waiting for the government to come to our rescue. Frankly, I’m waiting for the entrepreneurs. And I’m following that pretty carefully.

If you follow any virals that are being built, the vaccines that are being built, some of the medical services that are being developed, including point of care systems and telemedicine, all of those are being driven by entrepreneurs. So I’m just waiting for them to come up with a solution. And I think the solution’s going to be sooner than we think.

Trevor Chambers:

And you’re in education. I think this may have changed. My kids are learning through a screen right now. [crosstalk 00:12:37] up here a little bit, right?

Ted Zoller:

It’s a new normal. I’ve been teaching online, fortunately, for quite a few years, so the transition wasn’t difficult for me. But for some of the folks that haven’t adopted online education, it’s been a rapid learning process, because they were literally compelled to do it. So I think we probably accelerated the transition to online education by about 10 years in one month.

Trevor Chambers:

Right. Same thing with telehealth.

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. And telehealth’s another thing that’s, I think, going to be a major theme in the future.

Trevor Chambers:

Well, let’s focus on a little bit more. [inaudible 00:13:17] we could be looking at a change in supply chains, where stuff’s coming from. Certain things are obviously becoming extremely important that we have those a little closer. What role do entrepreneurs play? We were talking about, before we started, manufacturing. So what’s the theme there, and what are you seeing, and what are you liking, and what are you not liking?

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. You know, a lot of people are saying that Americans don’t want to be involved with manufacturing, and that’s not the America I’ve met. Americans want to work, and they want to feel fulfilled by their work. They want to build, and in the American ethos is the process of building. What are all folks who make things, and I’ve been really focused on the value added economy and how important it is that we don’t overly financialize our economy to kind of drive, just because of the bottom line, the need to build. I honestly think that our focus needs to be, in the next 10 years, on really building and rebuilding our capability in the US to make, scale, and build things. We’ve been so darn focused on the over financialization of our economy that I’m really thinking we’re missing the point. It’s really about people.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. Economist Bill O’Grady, and he said to me the other day it’s efficiency. Maybe this is the tack back away, like maybe we’ve gotten just too efficient.

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. It’s amazing. As a matter of fact, there’s this entire dialogue about productivity going on. We are the most productive society we’ve ever been. We’re approaching a $20 trillion economy right now. However, while that looks great on a balance sheet, look around. Our infrastructure’s falling apart, we have people who are underemployed. I don’t believe that education is keeping up with the trends in society. We need to get serious about this stuff. We have to prepare the next generation for a major transition that’s going to happen due to technology. COVID is just giving a preview to the story. And we really do need to be prepared for this transition. Other countries are doing it, we’re not keeping up. And we have to get this right.

Trevor Chambers:

And I think we will, because of why? Because we’re in a society built on largely, a good chunk of it, on entrepreneurialism, right?

Ted Zoller:

That’s true, and we’re kind of, unfortunately, in a bit of complacency now, because we’ve been very fortunate. We’re the richest country in the world, and our people are the richest people in the world. We have more billionaires than any other country. I’ve been watching the Forbes Billionaire Index, for instance, for about 20 years. And Forbes reported back in the 2000 time frame roughly 400 billionaires in the US, and every other country had less than 20 or 30. If you look at it now, China is roughly on parity with us, and several other countries are rising faster than we are. I look at the creation of billionaires as just an indicator of wealth creation.

Wealth creation is part of the capitalistic model, and frankly, it’s something we need to celebrate, because usually it’s correlated with value creation. And what we need to do is make sure that there’s still opportunities for people to create great value, be rewarded with it by the economy, and be recognized by the future. So I’m bullish about the US, absolutely bullish about the US, but at the same time, I think that we have to get really serious about getting the infrastructure set up and the foundation for our people to thrive, which is increasingly a global type of world, and increasingly a world that relies heavily on the value add. What is the US’s value add?

I thought it was really ironic when the president was using his presidential powers to compel General Motors to build ventilators. It’s like what does an automotive… General Motors really is a multinational assembly organization. They don’t make cars, they assemble cars, and sell, retail cars. But how does an American car company, that was really started before World War II, in a position to build ventilators, and is that the only qualified group we have in the US to build ventilators? That’s really frightening to me.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. Well, I think… I agree with you. There’s always problems, there’s always challenges. There’s always different political wins, right? There’s always new pact regimes.

Ted Zoller:

It’s metapolitical, Trevor, that’s the funniest thing. I’m not looking at it from a Democratic or Republican perspective, I’m looking at it from just the raw reality of being competitive in the future, and America is a great country. There’s no other country that is as great as the US because how the founding fathers set it up. It is a country that really protects the values of independence and interdependence at the same time. It protects the rights of individuals to have freedom, and that freedom is the freedom to build things, to create things, to develop new companies. And these are freedoms that will always make the US the best experiment on the planet in terms of building a society.

At the same time, we’ve got to make sure that we do everything we can to reduce the barriers that entrepreneurs might face, and give them the opportunity to really thrive in an economy like this. So it really is going to take us being very intentional about making some pretty bold moves to invest in our infrastructure, to invest in our education, and to make sure that the next generation is prepared to thrive like the boomers did.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. Well said. I’ll just end this on… I [inaudible 00:20:58] mind Dr. Richard Sylla, at NYU Stern, said to me that we’ve been an emerging market for 200 years. And maybe China’s been doing it for about 30, and let’s say Japan’s been doing it for about 50. But we’ve been doing it for 200 years. So I thought was [crosstalk 00:21:23]

Ted Zoller:

That’s really well said. I wanted to share with you, I did a little study on when people become entrepreneurs. And let me tell you, there’s a lot of dialogue around entrepreneurs. There’s a real difference between an entrepreneurial mindset, someone who is prepared to take action, and a founder, a person who founds a company. Believe it or not, founders are very rare people. They’re an unusual set of characteristics. They’re people that take major risk. They’re usually working against conventional wisdom. They’re not taking the safe path, so they’re pretty rare people.

So I looked at when people founded their own companies, and did a generational study. And ironically, if you marked the baccalaureate degree, someone who went to college, and a lot of boomers didn’t go to college, but if you looked at that as a checkpoint, boomers, people who are postwar, would start a company generally about 13 years after they finished college, or in their mid-40s. Whereas Gen Xs would start companies roughly 11 years after their baccalaureate degree. Gen Ys are starting their companies eight, almost nine years, after they finish their degrees. I’m working now with Gen Zs, kids that are in their 20s now. They are showing and expressing interest in starting companies when they’re… Six years after.

So the time that people are moving forward and starting companies is actually getting shorter. So I think you’re going into what I would call the entrepreneurial generation. Gen Zs are a generation, believe it or not, that are pretty risk averse. They grew up over two crises now, between the 2009 and the COVID crisis. So they’re generally self-reliant, and you’re going to see the same type of characteristic that you saw many of the folks that… Our parents and our grandparents who grew up during the Depression, how they focused on keeping things real, keeping things focused, keeping things pretty durable, and doing things simply. Your Gen Z is not a kid who is going to be taking massive risks. They’re a kid that’s going to try to keep things pretty simple, because they’ve endured and seen how their parents have experienced two rounds of crisis.

Trevor Chambers:

Are you telling me the value stock of generations?

Ted Zoller:

Right. It’s amazing. I think generational difference is a big explanation of how society kind of operates. Everyone gets worried that there’s changes. Well, every generation redefines themselves and redefines their society.

Trevor Chambers:

Going back on that theme, one of the things that I think is a little bit being overlooked in our recovery, and I want to talk a little bit more about millennials, because I know you’ve educated a lot of them. Right?

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. A lot of them… great companies. It’s been a great experience.

Trevor Chambers:

Well, what’s interesting is, the leading edge of those guys, of that group, is getting in their early 30s. And as you and I are well into fatherhood and marriages and everything, they’re starting that process, and they’re going to do that. They’re going to get married, they’re going to mate up, they’re going to combine forces with their incomes, and their going need houses. All this is really getting into it, and I think I’m… Going back to bullishness. I think I’m bullish on this, because that’s going to be a big catalyst. There’s 80 million of them. Not everybody’s going to do it in that group, but I’m hopeful.

Ted Zoller:

Well, they’re going to approach things very differently. One of the biggest concerns I have about the millennial generation, and I’ve done a lot of writing on this, is the fact that they literally don’t listen to people from the past. They don’t tend to… And it has to do with they were the first generation to come native digitally. So they were born as digital natives, and as a result, their peer set are the people who are digital natives. The people that aren’t digital natives, the boomers, typically aren’t communicating with millennials. And it’s not because the boomers aren’t interested in that, it’s just they’re not in the same loop.

It’s fascinating to watch Facebook. As soon as, for instance, the boomers started getting on Facebook, the millennials left Facebook. It’s fascinating, right? Because that wasn’t who they were communicating with. I can go on and on about kind of generational divide and what’s happening, but the truth is this is probably the first generation, Generation X, that is really going alone, and not really linking with the landed generation now. The boomers are the ones who are controlling the resources at the moment. And obviously, that transition’s happening quickly, but because we don’t have that type of relationship, you don’t see succession in the same way. A lot of family businesses, for instance, aren’t finding succession models.

You’re not seeing multi-generational businesses being created, you’re seeing a lot of new co, startup. And millennials typically are a lot more simple as it relates to what their interests and desires are. They don’t want the big house, they want the very kind of simple place. They don’t want a lot of wealth. I think what they are looking for is just a good life. Very different type of perspective, but it’s something we need to be aware of as we move forward. These differences are going to change the nature of our whole community.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. I’ve heard that before, but I still think there is… Yes, what they envision. In fact, I’ve got a neighborhood right next to mine, what is exactly what you’re talking about. They don’t want a huge yard, they don’t really want a huge house, but it has to be nice. And they got used to Starbucks. They grew up in a-

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. They are the Starbuck generation.

Trevor Chambers:

And so I just think that… Yeah, I absolutely agree, but they are getting into that phase, and that’s going to be interesting to see that play out. But I totally agree. And they also want… Don’t they want to [inaudible 00:29:01]? It seems like they want by and they want to move the ball forward.

I think they do. They, I think, are ready to just take control. I was watching politically how things were unfolding in the election, and right now we’re at a point in time when our country is more divided than ever. I’m wondering what the solution will be, but ironically, the millennials aren’t participating. They’re withdrawing, because I think they’re waiting. And then you’ll see the millennials kind of reconceptualize how they’re going to get involved. It’s a fascinating thing.

Millennials aren’t driving this division. It’s two different world views about how our world is going to work. And millennials are, I think, certainly pretty clear on what they want to do, but they’re typically not engaged in the process, because that’s someone else’s process.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. And that’s also being young, [inaudible 00:30:05] too.

Ted Zoller:

I think so. But it comes from the [inaudible 00:30:08] and so forth, but I do think that millennials do have a different view of how the world’s going to work.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. I would agree with that.

Ted Zoller:

And it has to do with the fact that when we were growing up, going to Europe was exotic. If you ask any kid how many… Millennials. I’m sorry to call them kids. If you ask a millennial how many-

Trevor Chambers:

To us, they are. Unfortunately, to us, they are.

Ted Zoller:

Right. If you ask any millennial how many countries they visited before they were 25, most of them would say seven, eight, nine countries. Most of them had friends, as many friends on social media from different countries than kids in their own neighborhood. So it’s an amazing thing.

Trevor Chambers:

The gap years, they really were the kids of globalization. That’s really what they were. And if you think about it and their traveling habits, that reflects that. Well, interesting. So let’s see here. What are you working on now? What is the Zoller working on now?

Ted Zoller:

So it’s funny, I’ve been really focused on this question of taking action, and writing a book called Gumption. And that book is going to really celebrate the people who have given themselves permission to go do something great. It’s kind of a diatribe on and an exposition on what it takes to make greatness, and the type of people who give themselves permission to go do that. So a part of it is just understanding kind of what gives people the juice to really go and change and level set in a whole new way, and transform the world.

Trevor Chambers:

Very interesting. So where are we at with it? When is it coming out?

Ted Zoller:

I hope it comes out next year. We’re in the process of doing kind of a bit of a study by identifying individuals who have this characteristic, and then we’re actually going to distill their stories in a kind of scientific way and make it happen.

Trevor Chambers:

So you said something interesting, give themselves permission.

Yeah. You know it’s funny. Most society, as I said, what makes America great. And honestly, I think what makes American great is that we don’t have to ask permission. Many countries where you grow up, you’re so highly regulated that people are in the position that before they take action they have to make sure that the government’s going to support them. In this case, entrepreneurs typically give themselves permission.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. Because you just have to know that you’re brave enough to do it.

Ted Zoller:

Exactly.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. It’s definitely a psychological thing you’ve got to lead people to, because if you get that done you’re unleashing so much potential.

Cool. What’s your personal entrepreneurial experience, and what was the big thing that you personally learned from that? And also, is there any core message that you haven’t covered about entrepreneurialism in general? And then we’re going to ask a couple more questions and then get on with your day.

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. So it’s really interesting. I think as a young person, I was more of a technologist than an entrepreneur. I was really interested in new technology and software development, and was obsessive about it, as a matter of fact. I think one of the mistakes I made as a young person is I thought I knew everything. I remember a mentor of mine pulling me aside and he said Zoller, you’re never going to be a great entrepreneur, and it kind of was really hard to hear from a person who I celebrated as a mentor. They said you’ll never be a great entrepreneur as long as you think you have to be the smartest person in the room. He said being an entrepreneur is really being prepared to embrace things you don’t know. To work with, as a tool, topics that are totally foreign to you, be comfortable with people who are knowledgeable about things and not necessarily being the smartest person in the room, because that makes you unscalable. What makes an entrepreneur scalable is they’re prepared to dive into uncertainty, they’re prepared to understand things they don’t understand, and use it as a tool for advantage.

And that moment changed my life. It actually came from McNamara, of all things. I mentioned that I worked for Charles Rossotti, who was a mentee of Robert McNamara. Well, he’s famous for saying knowing what you don’t know is more important than what you know. And he always said that to me. I internalized it, used it as a mantra my entire life. I didn’t know it was attributed to Robert McNamara until about 10 years ago, because I heard it at a conference and I went up to the person who asked it. In fact, that phrase was from Charles Rossotti. He goes no, it came from Robert McNamara. And ironically, McNamara had menteed, had been the mentor to Rossotti and Rossotti passed it on to me. So think about that same line. But it changed my life, because I realized that there’s a form of courage in putting yourself in a position to work with people that are not only smarter than you, but know things that you don’t know, and being prepared to embrace that as your advantage. Being courageous.

I’ve worked now with people who are Nobel quality physicists and chemists and life science medical doctors and so forth, and any of these people are truly geniuses. Being an entrepreneur has almost no correlation to being intellectually prepared. I think entrepreneurs just capture opportunity. Now obviously, if you do have some intellectual capability, you probably can get a little bit further, but it’s not really about brain power. It’s usually about recognizing opportunity when it presents itself and then being able to act on it.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. And being steadfast.

Ted Zoller:

Exactly. It is this kind of persistence that’s real. So Gumption, I think, kind of captures this basic notion of a person who’s prepared to go into uncertainty, capture opportunity, and have the guts to make it happen and the persistence to not only survive, but thrive.

Trevor Chambers:

You know, it’s really not unlike what we do here. We’re long-term value people, and largely, especially in times of [inaudible 00:39:22], the fact that people just don’t know and it scares them. But the long-term, you have to stay steadfast, you have to stay dogmatic to the true north, which is you have to stick with whatever it is. I mean that’s what so interesting about… You’ve got to be brave. You have to be brave.

Ted Zoller:

You know, and you have to realize that while you have one identity and you see things through your own eyes, the world is actually extraordinary. It will move on without you. It’s the only self-healing kind of perpetual motion machine we have. It’s amazing. As soon as there’s a major forest fire, a beautiful forest comes up. For every person you attend at a funeral, there are three babies being born. The world’s going to go on, and you have to realize that this is a process of recovery that is part of human existence. Things are going to be born and things are going to die. And either you need to be part of the next new thing and keep moving, or realize you’re just going to be on the other side of that. So keeping focused on the long-term is a great way to think about it, because the long-term looks pretty good. For one individual, you’re going to be born, you’re going to live, and you’re going to die. Your ideas can persist, and the contributions you make are the things that will be durable.

Trevor Chambers:

Well said.

Ted Zoller:

It sounds kind of conceptual, doesn’t it, but-

Trevor Chambers:

No, no. It’s well said.

Ted Zoller:

You put things together in a way that… I think the crisis that we’re currently facing with COVID is underscoring our vulnerabilities, but we’re going to become better because of it. And entrepreneurism is literally putting yourself in a situation where you fail every day, but you learn from that failure. Our society is going to be… And humankind is going to be improved by facing the challenges we face.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. And I know you talk to a lot of people that have founded companies, and start companies, and helped people start companies, that whole ecosystem. And then I talk to a lot of entrepreneurs myself, and I love it. As a friend of mine who’s in the real estate business said only a couple days ago, you’ve got two choices. You can hide in the shower with your thumb in your mouth or you can go out and gain market share, and that’s what a lot of people are… A lot of people aren’t, and a lot of people are. [crosstalk 00:42:15]

Ted Zoller:

Some of the great wealths will be created over the next year, and then there will be horrible losses as well. So during times of uncertainty, entrepreneurs typically succeed.

Trevor Chambers:

Jeff Liston said the other day to me, from… You know Jeff, obviously, a wonderful local regional entrepreneur here, software business. Yeah. He is incredible. These are the times… He said it may actually turn out to be easier for people to pursue entrepreneurial efforts right now because it’s almost become a clean slate. What do you think about that?

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. I think we’re seeing trends now that people can adapt to. I think you’re seeing a huge amount of influx on online learning, for instance, as an example. Telemedicine. But we’re now seeing huge changes in biology, and in biochemistry, and biotech. You’re seeing people starting to respond in different ways to just caring for each other. I think one of the interesting changes you’re seeing is families are pulling together during this time. I think we realize the importance of childcare. Well, right now, a lot of families are really challenged by the mother and the father being workers and their children at home. That’s created pain. That pain is being resolved, and it will be resolved by different solutions in childcare. It’s crazy for me to call that one out, but every problem finds its solution, and entrepreneurs typically are the first ones to find that solution. There’ll be a lot of shots on goal, but they’ll ultimately be a great solution.

Watch Jeff Bezos right now. Jeff Bezos is just a fascinating character. You can have your own opinion about him, but back when he started Amazon, he was a complete joke. People said when is he ever going to be profitable selling books online? Makes no sense, not even a very good business. People didn’t realize what his business model was, is providing e-commerce, and he’s going to be bold. He’s going to take some chances. Not all of them are going to be successful. And at this point, I think he’s the richest person in the world. He’s not doing it for money, he’s doing it to kind of change the basis of how we work.

Trevor Chambers:

That leads perfectly, because I want to ask you a question. Again, you know what I do. [inaudible 00:45:13] long-term investors, and we love companies that have great balance sheets, that deploy capital well, good [inaudible 00:45:27] of capital, they generally operate ethically if not all the time, and we love that stuff. Going back to Bezos, what role does entrepreneurialism play in that publicly traded company? [crosstalk 00:45:47] How important is that?

Ted Zoller:

Hugely important. There’s this dialogue of you’re corporate or you’re entrepreneur, and I think that’s just a false dichotomy. Entrepreneurs are part of big companies. Companies that are entrepreneurial in a continuous way are the ones that succeed. The ones that become inwardly facing, nonadaptive, non-innovative, are the ones that fail. Who’d ever think that General Electric would be on the bricks? Going back to the great entrepreneurs I was mentioning, I grew up around in upstate New York, part of my upbringing. Xerox, Kodak, these are companies that are now dinosaurs. I guess they’re trying to come back, but it’s a fascinating kind of process of birth and life that happens to these companies. But I would submit to you that the companies that are continuously entrepreneurial are the ones that succeed.

There’s a great piece done by Doug Tatum called No Man’s Land. Doug ran Tatum CFO, so he put CFOs in all high worth companies. And his conclusion in No Man’s Land was when a company gets to about $100 million, it starts to top out and many are sold in that window, and generally we’re talking about probably approaching billion dollar valuations. Many of them are acquired at that time, because they can’t consistently keep on the growth trajectory. They can’t bring their infrastructure together to keep the company growing. They would have to buy other companies, they’d have to go overseas, they’d have to open up new markets, they’d have to build new products, blah, blah, blah. My sense is that the companies that are consistently entrepreneurial and bring up and are into the company are the ones that are going to break that No Man’s Land and overcome the No Man’s Land. The companies that don’t are generally acquired or will fail.

So entrepreneurism is a big part of corporate growth. Now would I want a corporation filled with entrepreneurs? Absolutely not. It would be crazy. But if they give entrepreneurs the opportunity to actually build new lines of business, adapt new customer settings, try to develop new opportunities for the company, that company’s going to take full advantage of it. And every company that has entrepreneurs within it are the ones that I would bet on every day.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. Absolutely. All right. I’m going to change gears a little bit. What is Ted Zoller reading or streaming?

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. It’s really interesting. I’ve been working with Keller Fitzsimmons, which is an author of a book called Lost in Startuplandia. It’s a book that I think everyone who does the entrepreneurial journey needs to read. She calls it Lost in Startuplandia: Wayfinding for the Weary Entrepreneur. Keller Fitzsimmons. It’s really about the entrepreneurial process, and what you’re finding, and what I’ve learned over time, is that entrepreneurism is hard.

Trevor Chambers:

Entrepreneur is what?

Ted Zoller:

Is hard. It’s hard. Psychologically it’s hard, it’s brutal, as a matter of fact. And the process of building a company really requires focus on that hardship and to recognize it, to be able to successfully build, launch, scale a company, you have to be aware of your own process in that. So she has really developed a whole framework for supporting entrepreneurs through that journey. It’s a journey filled with nos, it’s a journey filled with failures, it’s a journey filled with losses. At the same time, the rewards are extraordinary if you’re successful. What does it take to be resilient enough to be successful, and bearing it down. So I’ve taken Keller’s work at heart.

There’s a whole group of entrepreneurs I’ve helped develop who have built their companies and then realized at the end they had to kind of go through a process of recovery because it was a hard process for them, and they’re dealing with challenges in mental health and things of that nature. And I know a group of entrepreneurs who are actually looking to develop resources for their fellow colleagues who can help support them on that journey. So I’m really interested in that, because I do know that there’s a special bond among founders that can emerge that would support the next generation coming up.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. Sleepless nights. Not fun.

Ted Zoller:

It can be really hard, but they’re also the folks that move us forward. So it’s really important that we reinforce the need for self care, that you have to keep your fundamentals.

Trevor Chambers:

I mean I don’t care how you make your money or you grow your wealth in this world, and wealth, define it however you want to do it, however you want to define wealth. It’s born of struggle. It is.

Trevor Chambers:

And I think people lose sight of that, even in what I do. I mean this isn’t easy, nobody said this was going to be easy. And when you’re an entrepreneur, as one entrepreneur put it, when it’s great it’s great. When it isn’t, it’s a bottle of vodka.

Ted Zoller:

A lot of entrepreneurs I know talk about the hero’s journey. The hero’s journey is based on the notion of climbing a mountain. To climb a mountain, it involves great pain and lots of risk. But once you reach the apex, there’s this euphoria. Now what’s funny is when you ask a mountain climber… I remember one of the people I knew that climbed Mt. Everest, and I said well, what did you do when you got to the top? Well, I walked back down, and then I went to the next mountain. Fascinating kind of thing. Entrepreneurs just love the challenge.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. Absolutely. Well, we certainly have some interesting challenges ahead of us. All right. Couple more things and then I’ll let you scoot off. What libations are we getting into particularly during the plague? Are you a wine guy, are you a brown liquor… What are you imbibing on?

Ted Zoller:

Well, what’s funny is we have a little park in my community, and there are a bunch of men who get together and we play bocce. We circulate bringing the best beer we can, and what’s ironic is one guy’s Italian, another guy is from Ireland, we have a German, and they bring beer from their own countries. So bocce has the jack or the ball that’s used to [inaudible 00:53:42], well we just use a bottle of beer, and that works really well. Unfortunately, I’m on the losing end of that, because apparently I’m not a very good bocce player. So I haven’t been able to have as much beer as the others, but it works for them.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. You’re just a kid from upstate. I mean what are you thinking?

Ted Zoller:

What do I know? I’m a hick.

Trevor Chambers:

What? Where you from in the old world?

Ted Zoller:

You know, it’s funny, I’m more redneck than you’d think. It’s so funny. I grew up in a farming family, and we could do a little bit of everything. I could weld, I could frame a house, I could wire, I could do mechanical stuff. Right now I’m a wizard, because everyone in my town, here in Chapel Hill, they can’t do any of that stuff. So I ended up building a little library for this little park, and everybody was like oh my God, how did you do that? And it’s like it’s just a box on a stick. What’s the big deal? But now I’m a wizard. It’s kind of crazy.

Trevor Chambers:

That’s so funny. I’ve got a neighbor like that. That’s fabulous. All right. Well, that’s cool. I’m glad to hear that you are drinking beers with the guys and throwing balls around. That’s fascinating.

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. It’s a great way to spend some time. We do it with social distance, too. It’s really amazing. It’s not a game that you have to be really in contact with one another.

Trevor Chambers:

Everyone’s out walking, and you’re socializing. It’s cool.

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. It is great to see everybody out. I think you’re going to find fitness and athleticism actually as another major trend. I think people are going to… It’s another new normal.

Trevor Chambers:

Like we… Bike inventory right now is very thin. [crosstalk 00:55:30] bought out and guess where all the bikes come from?

Ted Zoller:

China, I’m guessing. Which is ironic, because if you know the Wright brothers story, and the Curtiss story, they were both bike builders. And Curtiss was from upstate New York, built the first engine for a plane, and the Wright brothers were from Ohio, and they built from a bike assembly shop the first airplane that flew successfully on its own power in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Trevor Chambers:

Were they good business guys?

Ted Zoller:

Oh, I don’t think so. I think they were adventurous.

Trevor Chambers:

I think one was kind, and one wasn’t.

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. One was more the engineer, and he was the one, unfortunately, who tragically died. They were building planes to… The first aircraft carrier in the US. It was Wright Brother Flyer, and as they were developing the plans for that, I believe it was Orville Wright who passed away. Someone needs to wiki that, I’m not so sure.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. Well hey, tell us about the podcast On the Heels of Innovation.

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. So what I’ve done is, I’ve got this really amazing course at UNC called Entrepreneur’s Lab, and what we do is we bring in thought leaders, national thought leaders, who have generally written books on entrepreneurism. And what’s ironic is most of them are entrepreneurs, you can guess. And the whole idea is to get students to understand the real entrepreneurial journey from a truthful standpoint as opposed to creating platitudes that people kind of follow. We’re trying to get reality on that. So we bring these great thought leaders in, and then we bring in practicing entrepreneurs who represent that story on themes like resilience and failure and questions of success, and what does success look like, and how do entrepreneurs define success? And it’s so funny, entrepreneurs typically don’t define it based on financial outcomes at all. They’re looking to overcome some kind of barrier or create something that doesn’t exist.

So On the Heels of Innovation interviews people who represent the composite characteristic of the great entrepreneur. What I mean by that is you basically can get a picture of what entrepreneurism is by listening to the podcast and hearing the examples of people who represent different themes in entrepreneurism. It’s a highly diverse set of people. People from all walks of life. And what’s amazing is they’ve all given themselves opportunity to thrive.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. Well, I… Go ahead. I’m sorry.

Ted Zoller:

So I’d love you to tune in and join us. It’s on SoundCloud, it’s on all the various podcast resources. So On the Heels of Innovation, it was just ranked in the top 30 innovation podcasts, so very proud of that.

Trevor Chambers:

I listened to part of one, and then a whole one on the guy with bagels.

Ted Zoller:

Oh yeah. Alex Brandwein. Isn’t that great? Alex came to Chapel Hill as an MBA student, and he was like what’s the deal in this town that there are no decent New York style bagels? And he couldn’t see that not being fixed, so he started his own bagel company. I’m so proud of him, that he’s thriving, doing so well. Even with COVID, it’s actually been going very well.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. He’s well positioned for this.

Ted Zoller:

And he’s got an overshare of gumption, for sure.

Trevor Chambers:

Hey, have you heard anything about ghost kitchen?

Ted Zoller:

No. Tell me about it.

Trevor Chambers:

All right. I’m going to let you… You’ve got a little homework. You look that up, because I don’t know a lot about it either, I’m researching it now. But the kind of core of it is, I guess, is that you’ve got kind of like one centralized kitchen that a chefs and entrepreneurs use and-

Ted Zoller:

Oh wow. Interesting.

Trevor Chambers:

I actually brought it up, and I did hear that before. I’m actually going to start a band called Ghost Kitchen and you’re on bass

Ted Zoller:

I have an alum, Ben Sloan, who runs a company called Tiny Drumsticks in New York City. He’s based in Queens, and he’s providing kitchen capacity for new restaurant concepts and caterers that’s the largest in New York City.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah, and I think that kind of falls into this.

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. That’s it exactly. We should connect the dots there. Ben’s a real [inaudible 01:00:20].

Trevor Chambers:

As you know, with my background, my family owns… My brother-in-law and my sister-in-law doing [inaudible 01:00:28] in Bella Monica. You and I have eaten there-

Ted Zoller:

The best Italian food in North Carolina, I’ll tell you that. You’re channeling the best in New York right there at Bella Monica. You don’t have to go to Italy for great Italian food, let me tell you that.

Trevor Chambers:

Hey everybody. This is Trevor Chambers. I’m the host of Meet the Masters with Olde Raleigh Financial Group here in Raleigh, North Carolina. Today is the 1st of May 2020, and I’m really excited to be present… I have the distinct honor of capturing a talk with the one and only Ted Zoller who… Ted’s an awesome guy. He’s a pretty [inaudible 00:04:55] guy actually in my thoughts and in my personal history, and I’ll let him talk about what he does, but he’s the T.W. Lewis Clinical Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and Director of the Entrepreneurship Center at UNC where he researches, focused on the role of structure of entrepreneurial networks and the interrelationships with investor syndicates.

Let me be more clear. You are at Kenan-Flagler, which is part of UNC Chapel Hill. I botched that whole thing, Ted. But if you could just pick up my slack, that’d be totally helpful. All right?

Ted Zoller:

Absolutely.

Trevor Chambers:

So it’s good to have you. I’m going to start. Can you just give me a nice synopsis of the history of one Ted Zoller? Where’d you come from, how’d you get here, what’s going on?

Ted Zoller:

Geez. You know, it’s funny, we share a similar background. I came from upstate New York of all things. A little town called Seneca Falls, which is one of the most incredible places, because it was the place where Frank Capra actually based It’s a Wonderful Life on, so it’s kind of an idyllic little town. It was a town built by entrepreneurs. I’ve got a map, literally, in my garage, in my shop, of Seneca Falls and the industrial history of Seneca Falls, and all these great entrepreneurs who started companies there to manufacturer things like fire trucks and pumps and it ended up being kind of a major manufacturing town and all these beautiful homes that are there because all these people were first generation entrepreneurs. So it was just a great place to come from. I think that’s probably why I got interested in entrepreneurship, because-

Trevor Chambers:

It was in the water.

Ted Zoller:

It was, and it was part of the town. It was part of the town’s history, and I was just driven from a young time in my life to really understand the impact of technology. I think I had the first IBM 286 computer. I learned to program as a young person, because I was interested in technology and entrepreneurship, and how the two things… And I knew that software was going to be a massive thing. Of course, I grew up in the age of hardware, so I was pretty limited by what I could do. So I ended up being an early employee at the first unicorn in the software industry, American Management Systems, and had a lot of guts back then. Learned, really got my entrepreneurial medal there, because it was a company that was growing so immensely, quickly-

Trevor Chambers:

Wait. AMS. What did they do?

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. They really built the software that ran most of the banks in the country, and they ran the budgets for the federal government, all the financial systems for the major corporations, and they had basically, it’s really amazing, a monopoly in the market. And the guy who started it was a guy named Charles Rossotti, just an extraordinary inventory, software entrepreneur, and he was ironically one of Robert McNamara’s Whiz Kids in the Pentagon. So McNamara was a very famous figure during the Kennedy administration. He was the CEO of Ford, and then ran basically the Cold War for the Kennedy administration. And the Whiz Kids were kind of the folks that brought technology into the Pentagon, and it was a big part of why America prevailed in the space race, and things of that nature. So I had a chance to work with this guy, and he taught me really how to be an entrepreneur.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. You know, the world of mentors, you can’t underestimate that.

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. No doubt. It’s amazing, actually. Mentors, I think, mean everything. And what’s funny is you can’t really preordain people who are going to change your life. You have no idea where you’re going to get the insights that are going to change your life. Some people have 10, 15 thousand contacts, but your life is usually defined by five key people that are going to change the trajectory of your life, and here’s the difference. You can’t predict who they are. The entrepreneur typically is the person who is aware, is ready to listen, and more importantly, is ready to act based on that insight. That’s a real difference for an entrepreneur versus your typical bear walking around the woods. An entrepreneur is usually prepared to take a chance when that insight presents itself.

Trevor Chambers:

Well, that leads me beautifully into… So obviously, it’s the 1st of May 2020, and we are in the middle of some interesting times with COVID.

Ted Zoller:

It’s a big challenge.

Trevor Chambers:

A big challenge. So what role do entrepreneurs play in helping us reset and relaunch into… Because clearly, we’re at a reset point here. Okay. Now moving forward. What role do they play in that recovery?

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. It’s amazing. Entrepreneurs are the first ones to take action. I’ve been just impressed by… And I think it has something to do with the fact that if there’s a synonym to entrepreneurship, it is action, and someone who is prepared to take responsibility for things that really they don’t control. I think the best definition of entrepreneurship is Howard Stevenson said entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources under your control, which is a really interesting way to think about it. But the bottom line is, entrepreneurs give themselves permission to go fix things, and when they see people suffering, they jump in.

And entrepreneurs, ironically, in this COVID crisis are suffering as many of their businesses are being disrupted immensely. Some are even going bankrupt, but you’re finding another set of entrepreneurs who are trying to play a role to help society, and trying to put together things that will help mitigate some of the big challenges we’re facing through technology, through services, through inventions that they’re developing that are fundamentally going to make a big difference, and probably, frankly, will help solve the crisis. I’m not waiting for the government to come to our rescue. Frankly, I’m waiting for the entrepreneurs. And I’m following that pretty carefully.

If you follow any virals that are being built, the vaccines that are being built, some of the medical services that are being developed, including point of care systems and telemedicine, all of those are being driven by entrepreneurs. So I’m just waiting for them to come up with a solution. And I think the solution’s going to be sooner than we think.

Trevor Chambers:

And you’re in education. I think this may have changed. My kids are learning through a screen right now. [crosstalk 00:12:37] up here a little bit, right?

Ted Zoller:

It’s a new normal. I’ve been teaching online, fortunately, for quite a few years, so the transition wasn’t difficult for me. But for some of the folks that haven’t adopted online education, it’s been a rapid learning process, because they were literally compelled to do it. So I think we probably accelerated the transition to online education by about 10 years in one month.

Trevor Chambers:

Right. Same thing with telehealth.

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. And telehealth’s another thing that’s, I think, going to be a major theme in the future.

Trevor Chambers:

Well, let’s focus on a little bit more. [inaudible 00:13:17] we could be looking at a change in supply chains, where stuff’s coming from. Certain things are obviously becoming extremely important that we have those a little closer. What role do entrepreneurs play? We were talking about, before we started, manufacturing. So what’s the theme there, and what are you seeing, and what are you liking, and what are you not liking?

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. You know, a lot of people are saying that Americans don’t want to be involved with manufacturing, and that’s not the America I’ve met. Americans want to work, and they want to feel fulfilled by their work. They want to build, and in the American ethos is the process of building. What are all folks who make things, and I’ve been really focused on the value added economy and how important it is that we don’t overly financialize our economy to kind of drive, just because of the bottom line, the need to build. I honestly think that our focus needs to be, in the next 10 years, on really building and rebuilding our capability in the US to make, scale, and build things. We’ve been so darn focused on the over financialization of our economy that I’m really thinking we’re missing the point. It’s really about people.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. I don’t mean [inaudible 00:15:06] add to it too, we [inaudible 00:15:10] economist Bill O’Grady, and he said to me the other day it’s efficiency. Maybe this is the tack back away, like maybe we’ve gotten just too efficient.

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. It’s amazing. As a matter of fact, there’s this entire dialogue about productivity going on. We are the most productive society we’ve ever been. We’re approaching a $20 trillion economy right now. However, while that looks great on a balance sheet, look around. Our infrastructure’s falling apart, we have people who are underemployed. I don’t believe that education is keeping up with the trends in society. We need to get serious about this stuff. We have to prepare the next generation for a major transition that’s going to happen due to technology. COVID is just giving a preview to the story. And we really do need to be prepared for this transition. Other countries are doing it, we’re not keeping up. And we have to get this right.

Trevor Chambers:

And I think we will, because of why? Because we’re in a society built on largely, a good chunk of it, on entrepreneurialism, right?

Ted Zoller:

That’s true, and we’re kind of, unfortunately, in a bit of complacency now, because we’ve been very fortunate. We’re the richest country in the world, and our people are the richest people in the world. We have more billionaires than any other country. I’ve been watching the Forbes Billionaire Index, for instance, for about 20 years. And Forbes reported back in the 2000 time frame roughly 400 billionaires in the US, and every other country had less than 20 or 30. If you look at it now, China is roughly on parity with us, and several other countries are rising faster than we are. I look at the creation of billionaires as just an indicator of wealth creation.

Wealth creation is part of the capitalistic model, and frankly, it’s something we need to celebrate, because usually it’s correlated with value creation. And what we need to do is make sure that there’s still opportunities for people to create great value, be rewarded with it by the economy, and be recognized by the future. So I’m bullish about the US, absolutely bullish about the US, but at the same time, I think that we have to get really serious about getting the infrastructure set up and the foundation for our people to thrive, which is increasingly a global type of world, and increasingly a world that relies heavily on the value add. What is the US’s value add?

I thought it was really ironic when the president was using his presidential powers to compel General Motors to build ventilators. It’s like what does an automotive… General Motors really is a multinational assembly organization. They don’t make cars, they assemble cars, and sell, retail cars. But how does an American car company, that was really started before World War II, in a position to build ventilators, and is that the only qualified group we have in the US to build ventilators? That’s really frightening to me.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. Well, I think… I agree with you. There’s always problems, there’s always challenges. There’s always different political wins, right? There’s always new pact regimes.

Ted Zoller:

It’s metapolitical, Trevor, that’s the funniest thing. I’m not looking at it from a Democratic or Republican perspective, I’m looking at it from just the raw reality of being competitive in the future, and America is a great country. There’s no other country that is as great as the US because how the founding fathers set it up. It is a country that really protects the values of independence and interdependence at the same time. It protects the rights of individuals to have freedom, and that freedom is the freedom to build things, to create things, to develop new companies. And these are freedoms that will always make the US the best experiment on the planet in terms of building a society.

At the same time, we’ve got to make sure that we do everything we can to reduce the barriers that entrepreneurs might face, and give them the opportunity to really thrive in an economy like this. So it really is going to take us being very intentional about making some pretty bold moves to invest in our infrastructure, to invest in our education, and to make sure that the next generation is prepared to thrive like the boomers did.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. Well said. I’ll just end this on… I [inaudible 00:20:58] mind Dr. Richard Sylla, at NYU Stern, said to me that we’ve been an emerging market for 200 years. And maybe China’s been doing it for about 30, and let’s say Japan’s been doing it for about 50. But we’ve been doing it for 200 years. So I thought was [crosstalk 00:21:23]

Ted Zoller:

That’s really well said. I wanted to share with you, I did a little study on when people become entrepreneurs. And let me tell you, there’s a lot of dialogue around entrepreneurs. There’s a real difference between an entrepreneurial mindset, someone who is prepared to take action, and a founder, a person who founds a company. Believe it or not, founders are very rare people. They’re an unusual set of characteristics. They’re people that take major risk. They’re usually working against conventional wisdom. They’re not taking the safe path, so they’re pretty rare people.

So I looked at when people founded their own companies, and did a generational study. And ironically, if you marked the baccalaureate degree, someone who went to college, and a lot of boomers didn’t go to college, but if you looked at that as a checkpoint, boomers, people who are postwar, would start a company generally about 13 years after they finished college, or in their mid-40s. Whereas Gen Xs would start companies roughly 11 years after their baccalaureate degree. Gen Ys are starting their companies eight, almost nine years, after they finish their degrees. I’m working now with Gen Zs, kids that are in their 20s now. They are showing and expressing interest in starting companies when they’re… Six years after.

So the time that people are moving forward and starting companies is actually getting shorter. So I think you’re going into what I would call the entrepreneurial generation. Gen Zs are a generation, believe it or not, that are pretty risk averse. They grew up over two crises now, between the 2009 and the COVID crisis. So they’re generally self-reliant, and you’re going to see the same type of characteristic that you saw many of the folks that… Our parents and our grandparents who grew up during the Depression, how they focused on keeping things real, keeping things focused, keeping things pretty durable, and doing things simply. Your Gen Z is not a kid who is going to be taking massive risks. They’re a kid that’s going to try to keep things pretty simple, because they’ve endured and seen how their parents have experienced two rounds of crisis.

Trevor Chambers:

Are you telling me the value stock of generations?

Ted Zoller:

Right. It’s amazing. I think generational difference is a big explanation of how society kind of operates. Everyone gets worried that there’s changes. Well, every generation redefines themselves and redefines their society.

Trevor Chambers:

Going back on that theme, one of the things that I think is a little bit being overlooked in our recovery, and I want to talk a little bit more about millennials, because I know you’ve educated a lot of them. Right?

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. [crosstalk 00:25:13] A lot of them [inaudible 00:25:15] great companies. It’s been a great experience.

Trevor Chambers:

Well, what’s interesting is, the leading edge of those guys, of that group, is getting in their early 30s. And as you and I are well into fatherhood and marriages and everything, they’re starting that process, and they’re going to do that. They’re going to get married, they’re going to mate up, they’re going to combine forces with their incomes, and their going need houses. All this is really getting into it, and I think I’m… Going back to bullishness. I think I’m bullish on this, because that’s going to be a big catalyst. There’s 80 million of them. Not everybody’s going to do it in that group, but I’m hopeful.

Ted Zoller:

Well, they’re going to approach things very differently. One of the biggest concerns I have about the millennial generation, and I’ve done a lot of writing on this, is the fact that they literally don’t listen to people from the past. They don’t tend to… And it has to do with they were the first generation to come native digitally. So they were born as digital natives, and as a result, their peer set are the people who are digital natives. The people that aren’t digital natives, the boomers, typically aren’t communicating with millennials. And it’s not because the boomers aren’t interested in that, it’s just they’re not in the same loop.

It’s fascinating to watch Facebook. As soon as, for instance, the boomers started getting on Facebook, the millennials left Facebook. It’s fascinating, right? Because that wasn’t who they were communicating with. I can go on and on about kind of generational divide and what’s happening, but the truth is this is probably the first generation, Generation X, that is really going alone, and not really linking with the landed generation now. The boomers are the ones who are controlling the resources at the moment. And obviously, that transition’s happening quickly, but because we don’t have that type of relationship, you don’t see succession in the same way. A lot of family businesses, for instance, aren’t finding succession models.

You’re not seeing multi-generational businesses being created, you’re seeing a lot of new co, startup. And millennials typically are a lot more simple as it relates to what their interests and desires are. They don’t want the big house, they want the very kind of simple place. They don’t want a lot of wealth. I think what they are looking for is just a good life. Very different type of perspective, but it’s something we need to be aware of as we move forward. These differences are going to change the nature of our whole community.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. I’ve heard that before, but I still think there is… Yes, what they envision. In fact, I’ve got a neighborhood right next to mine, what is exactly what you’re talking about. They don’t want a huge yard, they don’t really want a huge house, but it has to be nice. And they got used to Starbucks. They grew up in a-

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. They are the Starbuck generation.

Trevor Chambers:

And so I just think that… Yeah, I absolutely agree, but they are getting into that phase, and that’s going to be interesting to see that play out. But I totally agree. And they also want… Don’t they want to [inaudible 00:29:01]? It seems like they want by and they want to move the ball forward.

I think they do. They, I think, are ready to just take control. I was watching politically how things were unfolding in the election, and right now we’re at a point in time when our country is more divided than ever. I’m wondering what the solution will be, but ironically, the millennials aren’t participating. They’re withdrawing, because I think they’re waiting. And then you’ll see the millennials kind of reconceptualize how they’re going to get involved. It’s a fascinating thing.

Millennials aren’t driving this division. It’s two different world views about how our world is going to work. And millennials are, I think, certainly pretty clear on what they want to do, but they’re typically not engaged in the process, because that’s someone else’s process.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. And that’s also being young.

Ted Zoller:

I think so. But it comes from the [inaudible 00:30:08] and so forth, but I do think that millennials do have a different view of how the world’s going to work.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. I would agree with that.

Ted Zoller:

And it has to do with the fact that when we were growing up, going to Europe was exotic. If you ask any kid how many… Millennials. I’m sorry to call them kids. If you ask a millennial how many-

Trevor Chambers:

To us, they are. Unfortunately, to us, they are.

Ted Zoller:

Right. If you ask any millennial how many countries they visited before they were 25, most of them would say seven, eight, nine countries. Most of them had friends, as many friends on social media from different countries than kids in their own neighborhood. So it’s an amazing thing.

Trevor Chambers:

The gap years, they really were the kids of globalization. That’s really what they were. And if you think about it and their traveling habits, that reflects that. Well, interesting. So let’s see here. What are you working on now? What is the Zoller working on now?

Ted Zoller:

So it’s funny, I’ve been really focused on this question of taking action, and writing a book called Gumption. And that book is going to really celebrate the people who have given themselves permission to go do something great. It’s kind of a diatribe on and an exposition on what it takes to make greatness, and the type of people who give themselves permission to go do that. So a part of it is just understanding kind of what gives people the juice to really go and change and level set in a whole new way, and transform the world.

Trevor Chambers:

Very interesting. So where are we at with it? When is it coming out?

Ted Zoller:

I hope it comes out next year. We’re in the process of doing kind of a bit of a study by identifying individuals who have this characteristic, and then we’re actually going to distill their stories in a kind of scientific way and make it happen.

Trevor Chambers:

So you said something interesting, give themselves permission.

Yeah. You know it’s funny. Most society, as I said, what makes America great. And honestly, I think what makes American great is that we don’t have to ask permission. Many countries where you grow up, you’re so highly regulated that people are in the position that before they take action they have to make sure that the government’s going to support them. In this case, entrepreneurs typically give themselves permission.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. Because you just have to know that you’re brave enough to do it.

Ted Zoller:

Exactly.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. It’s definitely a psychological thing you’ve got to lead people to, because if you get that done you’re unleashing so much potential.

Cool. What’s your personal entrepreneurial experience, and what was the big thing that you personally learned from that? And also, is there any core message that you haven’t covered about entrepreneurialism in general? And then we’re going to ask a couple more questions and then get on with your day.

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. So it’s really interesting. I think as a young person, I was more of a technologist than an entrepreneur. I was really interested in new technology and software development, and was obsessive about it, as a matter of fact. I think one of the mistakes I made as a young person is I thought I knew everything. I remember a mentor of mine pulling me aside and he said Zoller, you’re never going to be a great entrepreneur, and it kind of was really hard to hear from a person who I celebrated as a mentor. They said you’ll never be a great entrepreneur as long as you think you have to be the smartest person in the room. He said being an entrepreneur is really being prepared to embrace things you don’t know. To work with, as a tool, topics that are totally foreign to you, be comfortable with people who are knowledgeable about things and not necessarily being the smartest person in the room, because that makes you unscalable. What makes an entrepreneur scalable is they’re prepared to dive into uncertainty, they’re prepared to understand things they don’t understand, and use it as a tool for advantage.

And that moment changed my life. It actually came from McNamara, of all things. I mentioned that I worked for Charles Rossotti, who was a mentee of Robert McNamara. Well, he’s famous for saying knowing what you don’t know is more important than what you know. And he always said that to me. I internalized it, used it as a mantra my entire life. I didn’t know it was attributed to Robert McNamara until about 10 years ago, because I heard it at a conference and I went up to the person who asked it. In fact, that phrase was from Charles Rossotti. He goes no, it came from Robert McNamara. And ironically, McNamara had menteed, had been the mentor to Rossotti and Rossotti passed it on to me. So think about that same line. But it changed my life, because I realized that there’s a form of courage in putting yourself in a position to work with people that are not only smarter than you, but know things that you don’t know, and being prepared to embrace that as your advantage. Being courageous.

I’ve worked now with people who are Nobel quality physicists and chemists and life science medical doctors and so forth, and any of these people are truly geniuses. Being an entrepreneur has almost no correlation to being intellectually prepared. I think entrepreneurs just capture opportunity. Now obviously, if you do have some intellectual capability, you probably can get a little bit further, but it’s not really about brain power. It’s usually about recognizing opportunity when it presents itself and then being able to act on it.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. And being steadfast.

Ted Zoller:

Exactly. It is this kind of persistence that’s real. So Gumption, I think, kind of captures this basic notion of a person who’s prepared to go into uncertainty, capture opportunity, and have the guts to make it happen and the persistence to not only survive, but thrive.

Trevor Chambers:

You know, it’s really not unlike what we do here. We’re long-term value people, and largely, especially in times of [inaudible 00:39:22], the fact that people just don’t know and it scares them. But the long-term, you have to stay steadfast, you have to stay dogmatic to the true north, which is you have to stick with whatever it is. I mean that’s what so interesting about… You’ve got to be brave. You have to be brave.

Ted Zoller:

You know, and you have to realize that while you have one identity and you see things through your own eyes, the world is actually extraordinary. It will move on without you. It’s the only self-healing kind of perpetual motion machine we have. It’s amazing. As soon as there’s a major forest fire, a beautiful forest comes up. For every person you attend at a funeral, there are three babies being born. The world’s going to go on, and you have to realize that this is a process of recovery that is part of human existence. Things are going to be born and things are going to die. And either you need to be part of the next new thing and keep moving, or realize you’re just going to be on the other side of that. So keeping focused on the long-term is a great way to think about it, because the long-term looks pretty good. For one individual, you’re going to be born, you’re going to live, and you’re going to die. Your ideas can persist, and the contributions you make are the things that will be durable.

Trevor Chambers:

Well said.

Ted Zoller:

It sounds kind of conceptual, doesn’t it, but-

Trevor Chambers:

No, no. It’s well said.

Ted Zoller:

You put things together in a way that… I think the crisis that we’re currently facing with COVID is underscoring our vulnerabilities, but we’re going to become better because of it. And entrepreneurism is literally putting yourself in a situation where you fail every day, but you learn from that failure. Our society is going to be… And humankind is going to be improved by facing the challenges we face.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. And I know you talk to a lot of people that have founded companies, and start companies, and helped people start companies, that whole ecosystem. And then I talk to a lot of entrepreneurs myself, and I love it. As a friend of mine who’s in the real estate business said only a couple days ago, you’ve got two choices. You can hide in the shower with your thumb in your mouth or you can go out and gain market share, and that’s what a lot of people are… A lot of people aren’t, and a lot of people are. [crosstalk 00:42:15]

Ted Zoller:

Some of the great wealths will be created over the next year, and then there will be horrible losses as well. So during times of uncertainty, entrepreneurs typically succeed.

Trevor Chambers:

Jeff Liston said the other day to me, from… You know Jeff, obviously, a wonderful local regional entrepreneur here, software business. [crosstalk 00:42:51] Yeah. He is incredible. These are the times… He said it may actually turn out to be easier for people to pursue entrepreneurial efforts right now because it’s almost become a clean slate. What do you think about that?

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. I think we’re seeing trends now that people can adapt to. I think you’re seeing a huge amount of influx on online learning, for instance, as an example. Telemedicine. But we’re now seeing huge changes in biology, and in biochemistry, and biotech. You’re seeing people starting to respond in different ways to just caring for each other. I think one of the interesting changes you’re seeing is families are pulling together during this time. I think we realize the importance of childcare. Well, right now, a lot of families are really challenged by the mother and the father being workers and their children at home. That’s created pain. That pain is being resolved, and it will be resolved by different solutions in childcare. It’s crazy for me to call that one out, but every problem finds its solution, and entrepreneurs typically are the first ones to find that solution. There’ll be a lot of shots on goal, but they’ll ultimately be a great solution.

Watch Jeff Bezos right now. Jeff Bezos is just a fascinating character. You can have your own opinion about him, but back when he started Amazon, he was a complete joke. People said when is he ever going to be profitable selling books online? Makes no sense, not even a very good business. People didn’t realize what his business model was, is providing e-commerce, and he’s going to be bold. He’s going to take some chances. Not all of them are going to be successful. And at this point, I think he’s the richest person in the world. He’s not doing it for money, he’s doing it to kind of change the basis of how we work.

Trevor Chambers:

That leads perfectly, because I want to ask you a question. Again, you know what I do. [inaudible 00:45:13] long-term investors, and we love companies that have great balance sheets, that deploy capital well, good [inaudible 00:45:27] of capital, they generally operate ethically if not all the time, and we love that stuff. Going back to Bezos, what role does entrepreneurialism play in that publicly traded company? [crosstalk 00:45:47] How important is that?

Ted Zoller:

Hugely important. There’s this dialogue of you’re corporate or you’re entrepreneur, and I think that’s just a false dichotomy. Entrepreneurs are part of big companies. Companies that are entrepreneurial in a continuous way are the ones that succeed. The ones that become inwardly facing, nonadaptive, non-innovative, are the ones that fail. Who’d ever think that General Electric would be on the bricks? Going back to the great entrepreneurs I was mentioning, I grew up around in upstate New York, part of my upbringing. Xerox, Kodak, these are companies that are now dinosaurs. I guess they’re trying to come back, but it’s a fascinating kind of process of birth and life that happens to these companies. But I would submit to you that the companies that are continuously entrepreneurial are the ones that succeed.

There’s a great piece done by Doug Tatum called No Man’s Land. Doug ran Tatum CFO, so he put CFOs in all high worth companies. And his conclusion in No Man’s Land was when a company gets to about $100 million, it starts to top out and many are sold in that window, and generally we’re talking about probably approaching billion dollar valuations. Many of them are acquired at that time, because they can’t consistently keep on the growth trajectory. They can’t bring their infrastructure together to keep the company growing. They would have to buy other companies, they’d have to go overseas, they’d have to open up new markets, they’d have to build new products, blah, blah, blah. My sense is that the companies that are consistently entrepreneurial and bring up and are into the company are the ones that are going to break that No Man’s Land and overcome the No Man’s Land. The companies that don’t are generally acquired or will fail.

So entrepreneurism is a big part of corporate growth. Now would I want a corporation filled with entrepreneurs? Absolutely not. It would be crazy. But if they give entrepreneurs the opportunity to actually build new lines of business, adapt new customer settings, try to develop new opportunities for the company, that company’s going to take full advantage of it. And every company that has entrepreneurs within it are the ones that I would bet on every day.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. Absolutely. All right. I’m going to change gears a little bit. What is Ted Zoller reading or streaming?

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. It’s really interesting. I’ve been working with Keller Fitzsimmons, which is an author of a book called Lost in Startuplandia. It’s a book that I think everyone who does the entrepreneurial journey needs to read. She calls it Lost in Startuplandia: Wayfinding for the Weary Entrepreneur. Keller Fitzsimmons. It’s really about the entrepreneurial process, and what you’re finding, and what I’ve learned over time, is that entrepreneurism is hard.

Trevor Chambers:

Entrepreneur is what?

Ted Zoller:

Is hard. It’s hard. Psychologically it’s hard, it’s brutal, as a matter of fact. And the process of building a company really requires focus on that hardship and to recognize it, to be able to successfully build, launch, scale a company, you have to be aware of your own process in that. So she has really developed a whole framework for supporting entrepreneurs through that journey. It’s a journey filled with nos, it’s a journey filled with failures, it’s a journey filled with losses. At the same time, the rewards are extraordinary if you’re successful. What does it take to be resilient enough to be successful, and bearing it down. So I’ve taken Keller’s work at heart.

There’s a whole group of entrepreneurs I’ve helped develop who have built their companies and then realized at the end they had to kind of go through a process of recovery because it was a hard process for them, and they’re dealing with challenges in mental health and things of that nature. And I know a group of entrepreneurs who are actually looking to develop resources for their fellow colleagues who can help support them on that journey. So I’m really interested in that, because I do know that there’s a special bond among founders that can emerge that would support the next generation coming up.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. Sleepless nights. Not fun.

Ted Zoller:

It can be really hard, but they’re also the folks that move us forward. So it’s really important that we reinforce the need for self care, that you have to keep your fundamentals.

Trevor Chambers:

I mean I don’t care how you make your money or you grow your wealth in this world, and wealth, define it however you want to do it, however you want to define wealth. It’s born of struggle. It is.

And I think people lose sight of that, even in what I do. I mean this isn’t easy, nobody said this was going to be easy. And when you’re an entrepreneur, as one entrepreneur put it, when it’s great it’s great. When it isn’t, it’s a bottle of vodka.

Ted Zoller:

A lot of entrepreneurs I know talk about the hero’s journey. The hero’s journey is based on the notion of climbing a mountain. To climb a mountain, it involves great pain and lots of risk. But once you reach the apex, there’s this euphoria. Now what’s funny is when you ask a mountain climber… I remember one of the people I knew that climbed Mt. Everest, and I said well, what did you do when you got to the top? Well, I walked back down, and then I went to the next mountain. Fascinating kind of thing. Entrepreneurs just love the challenge.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. Absolutely. Well, we certainly have some interesting challenges ahead of us. All right. Couple more things and then I’ll let you scoot off. What libations are we getting into particularly during the plague? Are you a wine guy, are you a brown liquor… What are you imbibing on?

Ted Zoller:

Well, what’s funny is we have a little park in my community, and there are a bunch of men who get together and we play bocce. We circulate bringing the best beer we can, and what’s ironic is one guy’s Italian, another guy is from Ireland, we have a German, and they bring beer from their own countries. So bocce has the jack or the ball that’s used to [inaudible 00:53:42], well we just use a bottle of beer, and that works really well. Unfortunately, I’m on the losing end of that, because apparently I’m not a very good bocce player. So I haven’t been able to have as much beer as the others, but it works for them.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. You’re just a kid from upstate. I mean what are you thinking?

Ted Zoller:

What do I know? I’m a hick.

Trevor Chambers:

What is [inaudible 00:54:06]? Where you from in the old world?

Ted Zoller:

You know, it’s funny, I’m more redneck than you’d think. It’s so funny. I grew up in a farming family, and we could do a little bit of everything. I could weld, I could frame a house, I could wire, I could do mechanical stuff. Right now I’m a wizard, because everyone in my town, here in Chapel Hill, they can’t do any of that stuff. So I ended up building a little library for this little park, and everybody was like oh my God, how did you do that? And it’s like it’s just a box on a stick. What’s the big deal? But now I’m a wizard. It’s kind of crazy.

Trevor Chambers:

That’s so funny. I’ve got a neighbor like that. That’s fabulous. All right. Well, that’s cool. I’m glad to hear that you are drinking beers with the guys and throwing balls around. That’s fascinating.

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. It’s a great way to spend some time. We do it with social distance, too. It’s really amazing. It’s not a game that you have to be really in contact with one another.

Trevor Chambers:

Everyone’s out walking, and you’re socializing. It’s cool.

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. It is great to see everybody out. I think you’re going to find fitness and athleticism actually as another major trend. I think people are going to… It’s another new normal.

Trevor Chambers:

Like we… Bike inventory right now is very thin. [crosstalk 00:55:30] bought out and guess where all the bikes come from?

Ted Zoller:

China, I’m guessing. Which is ironic, because if you know the Wright brothers story, and the Curtiss story, they were both bike builders. And Curtiss was from upstate New York, built the first engine for a plane, and the Wright brothers were from Ohio, and they built from a bike assembly shop the first airplane that flew successfully on its own power in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Trevor Chambers:

Were they good business guys?

Ted Zoller:

Oh, I don’t think so. I think they were adventurous.

Trevor Chambers:

I think one was kind, and one wasn’t.

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. One was more the engineer, and he was the one, unfortunately, who tragically died. They were building planes to… The first aircraft carrier in the US. It was Wright Brother Flyer, and as they were developing the plans for that, I believe it was Orville Wright who passed away. Someone needs to wiki that, I’m not so sure.

Trevor Chambers:

Well hey, tell us about the podcast On the Heels of Innovation.

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. So what I’ve done is, I’ve got this really amazing course at UNC called Entrepreneur’s Lab, and what we do is we bring in thought leaders, national thought leaders, who have generally written books on entrepreneurism. And what’s ironic is most of them are entrepreneurs, you can guess. And the whole idea is to get students to understand the real entrepreneurial journey from a truthful standpoint as opposed to creating platitudes that people kind of follow. We’re trying to get reality on that. So we bring these great thought leaders in, and then we bring in practicing entrepreneurs who represent that story on themes like resilience and failure and questions of success, and what does success look like, and how do entrepreneurs define success? And it’s so funny, entrepreneurs typically don’t define it based on financial outcomes at all. They’re looking to overcome some kind of barrier or create something that doesn’t exist.

So On the Heels of Innovation interviews people who represent the composite characteristic of the great entrepreneur. What I mean by that is you basically can get a picture of what entrepreneurism is by listening to the podcast and hearing the examples of people who represent different themes in entrepreneurism. It’s a highly diverse set of people. People from all walks of life. And what’s amazing is they’ve all given themselves opportunity to thrive.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. Well, I… Go ahead. I’m sorry.

Ted Zoller:

So I’d love you to tune in and join us. It’s on SoundCloud, it’s on all the various podcast resources. So On the Heels of Innovation, it was just ranked in the top 30 innovation podcasts, so very proud of that.

Trevor Chambers:

I listened to part of one, and then a whole one on the guy with bagels.

Ted Zoller:

Oh yeah. Alex Brandwein. Isn’t that great? Alex came to Chapel Hill as an MBA student, and he was like what’s the deal in this town that there are no decent New York style bagels? And he couldn’t see that not being fixed, so he started his own bagel company. I’m so proud of him, that he’s thriving, doing so well. Even with COVID, it’s actually been going very well.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. He’s well positioned for this.

Ted Zoller:

And he’s got an overshare of gumption, for sure.

Trevor Chambers:

Hey, have you heard anything about ghost kitchen?

Ted Zoller:

No. Tell me about it.

Trevor Chambers:

All right. I’m going to let you… You’ve got a little homework. You look that up, because I don’t know a lot about it either, I’m researching it now. But the kind of core of it is, I guess, is that you’ve got kind of like one centralized kitchen that a chefs and entrepreneurs use and-

Ted Zoller:

Oh wow. Interesting.

Trevor Chambers:

I actually brought it up, and I did hear that before. I’m actually going to start a band called Ghost Kitchen and you’re on bass

Ted Zoller:

I have an alum, Ben Sloan, who runs a company called Tiny Drumsticks in New York City. He’s based in Queens, and he’s providing kitchen capacity for new restaurant concepts and caterers that’s the largest in New York City.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah, and I think that kind of falls into this.

Ted Zoller:

Yeah. That’s it exactly. We should connect the dots there. Ben’s a real [inaudible 01:00:20].

Trevor Chambers:

As you know, with my background, my family owns… My brother-in-law and my sister-in-law doing [inaudible 01:00:28] in Bella Monica. You and I have eaten there-

Ted Zoller:

The best Italian food in North Carolina, I’ll tell you that. You’re channeling the best in New York right there at Bella Monica. You don’t have to go to Italy for great Italian food, let me tell you that.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. So that’s an area that’s just so ripe for [inaudible 01:00:51]. It’s going to be so interesting, the things that come out of this.

Ted Zoller:

Oh my gosh.

Trevor Chambers:

Food in general.

Ted Zoller:

It’s a totally new marketplace. This is going to change it fundamentally. Very exciting time.

Trevor Chambers:

It is. Absolutely. Not to diminish the pain, the pain that the [inaudible 01:01:13]. Just through the roof with certain segments. If you’re touching the customer, all the way from the boardroom, all the way down to the little guy, and one lady that owns whatever business. It’s a tough… And guys like you are part of the infrastructure of helping people through it and [crosstalk 01:01:33] big love. You and I have known each other for what, about 15 years? I’m actually looking at… Right now, I have a picture, a plaque that I got from your soft launch in 2007. I got to tell you, I was a lot better looking back then.

Ted Zoller:

You were always a pretty good looking dude. What’s amazing about that is that your concept was way ahead of the trend, building a gluten free set for making the best pizza in the world. You helped a lot of people enjoy a pizza again, who couldn’t do it because of their biomedical condition.

Trevor Chambers:

Well, you know what, thank you for that. That was a very interesting time for me, but I’m going to end it on this. My daughter said to you, as she was probably about four or five at the time. At the time, I was very much part of the pizza business at [inaudible 01:02:37] referencing [inaudible 01:02:38] in the food business, specific to gluten free frozen pizza, and we were one of the early brands that got a decent amount of distribution. But one day Ruby says dad, pizza fixes everything. I’m like it does fix everything.

Ted Zoller:

That should have been your mantra right there. Pizza fixes everything.

Trevor Chambers:

What I’m saying to you is when you come across an entrepreneur, Ted, who’s in a lot of pain, one of the things you could pull out to break the ice is hey man, let’s go get a pizza, because pizza fixes everything.

Ted Zoller:

That’s wonderful. That is a great way to end. It’s such a joy to be part of your story, Trevor, and it’s a been a joy to see entrepreneurs really make a difference. And I encourage the folks out there who are thinking hey, should I go and do this thing? Look, what’s the downside? Make it happen. Get up and do something. In Seneca Falls, I used to have this fellow I’d go get my hair cut with, he was a barber in town, and he used to say you know what life’s all about? He said bottom line, pick them up and lay them down. Just keep on doing that, you’ll be fine. Pick them up and lay them down. And when you’ve got something in your mind, go and act on it. You’ll be amazed where that journey’s going to take you.

Trevor Chambers:

Yep. Absolutely. Well said, Ted. Well, thank you so much.

Ted Zoller:

Thank you, Trevor. It was a real honor.

Trevor Chambers:

We’re going to do this again. We’re going to do this maybe in another six, nine, 10, whatever months. We’ll review the tape and we’ll see if our prognostications have met the bar.

Ted Zoller:

I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds. Wish I had 20/20 vision right now.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. But hey man, thank you for the time. Have a wonderful weekend.

Ted Zoller:

You too. And thanks for having me. Bye-bye.

Trevor Chambers:

Thank you. All right. Bye-bye.

Yeah. So that’s an area that’s just so ripe]. It’s going to be so interesting, the things that come out of this.

Ted Zoller:

Oh my gosh.

Trevor Chambers:

Food in general.

Ted Zoller:

It’s a totally new marketplace. This is going to change it fundamentally. Very exciting time.

Trevor Chambers:

If you’re touching the customer, all the way from the boardroom, all the way down to the little guy, and one lady that owns whatever business. It’s a tough… And guys like you are part of the infrastructure of helping people through it and [crosstalk 01:01:33] big love. You and I have known each other for what, about 15 years? I’m actually looking at… Right now, I have a picture, a plaque that I got from your soft launch in 2007. I got to tell you, I was a lot better looking back then.

Ted Zoller:

You were always a pretty good looking dude. What’s amazing about that is that your concept was way ahead of the trend, building a gluten free set for making the best pizza in the world. You helped a lot of people enjoy a pizza again, who couldn’t do it because of their biomedical condition.

Trevor Chambers:

Well, you know what, thank you for that. That was a very interesting time for me, but I’m going to end it on this. My daughter said to you, as she was probably about four or five at the time. At the time, I was very much part of the pizza business… Specific to gluten free frozen pizza, and we were one of the early brands that got a decent amount of distribution. But one day Ruby says dad, pizza fixes everything. I’m like it does fix everything.

Ted Zoller:

That should have been your mantra right there. Pizza fixes everything.

Trevor Chambers:

What I’m saying to you is when you come across an entrepreneur, Ted, who’s in a lot of pain, one of the things you could pull out to break the ice is hey man, let’s go get a pizza, because pizza fixes everything.

Ted Zoller:

That’s wonderful. That is a great way to end. It’s such a joy to be part of your story, Trevor, and it’s a been a joy to see entrepreneurs really make a difference. And I encourage the folks out there who are thinking hey, should I go and do this thing? Look, what’s the downside? Make it happen. Get up and do something. In Seneca Falls, I used to have this fellow I’d go get my hair cut with, he was a barber in town, and he used to say you know what life’s all about? He said bottom line, pick them up and lay them down. Just keep on doing that, you’ll be fine. Pick them up and lay them down. And when you’ve got something in your mind, go and act on it. You’ll be amazed where that journey’s going to take you.

Trevor Chambers:

Yep. Absolutely. Well said, Ted. Well, thank you so much.

Ted Zoller:

Thank you, Trevor. It was a real honor.

Trevor Chambers:

We’re going to do this again. We’re going to do this maybe in another six, nine, 10, whatever months. We’ll review the tape and we’ll see if our prognostications have met the bar.

Ted Zoller:

I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds. Wish I had 20/20 vision right now.

Trevor Chambers:

Yeah. But hey man, thank you for the time. Have a wonderful weekend.

Ted Zoller:

You too. And thanks for having me. Bye-bye.

Trevor Chambers:

Thank you. All right. Bye-bye.