Nathan Harris Podcast – CEO & Co-Founder of Ease

Nathan Harris

Nathan Harris, CEO, and co-founder of Ease, an AI-assisted global talent platform that connects leading companies with the world’s brightest people based on culture fit and allows you to collaborate remotely within our virtual workspace. Listen to find out how it all started!

Interview Transcript

Announcer: [0:03] Live, it’s the behind the resume podcast, with why scouts, Max Hansen, where you get to know the person behind the resume. The interesting stuff people never hear about just by looking at a profile here intimate conversations with leaders to learn their story, life hacks, life experiences, and any other interesting practices or learning experiences that have made them who they are today. You know, the interesting stuff. Now, if you’re ready, let’s go behind the resume. here’s your host, why scouts back sanson.

Max: [0:43] Welcome to Episode Two of behind the resume with Max Hanson brought to you by why scouts Today’s guest is Nathan Harris. Nate is originally from Milwaukee, a Korean and current Scottsdale resident Nate is a successful restaurant here, tech pioneer. Think it’s a word I just made up growth strategist, podcaster, consultant, motivational speaker and so much more. Nate’s story is an incredible example of the American Dream from growing up and during periods of homelessness to becoming a successful entrepreneur and multiple companies. I can’t wait to get behind the resume with Nathan Harris. Welcome to the show, Nate.

Nathan: [1:16] Thanks. I appreciate the value in intro.

Max: [1:18] You got it. So let’s start out what is a motto that you live by? Let’s just jump right in.

Nathan: [1:25] Yeah, one of the biggest things, it’s also the only tattoo on my body is a is the strength in adversity, I feel like the greatest strengths that you find in life. And in pretty much anything that you do is largely when you’re facing some form of challenge. And you have to push through that. So that’s one of my biggest mottos.

Max: [1:42] Got it. It makes sense. So I know a little bit about you. So I’m going to ask some questions. Normally, on this show, I like to start with the professional stuff, and then dig into the juicy stuff. But you have such an amazing story that I want to jump I want to go back. And I want you to tell me about your journey as a child, and you know, being homeless for short periods of time, or maybe they’re long periods of time, we’ll find out no father figure your mom’s role, your brother’s role, like let’s start with that story. Because I think there’s so much there to unpack.

Nathan: [2:12] Yeah, I mean, I think that that is the most significant part of what made me who I am today is, you know, having a single mom, being able to try and provide for kids and still grow as an individual as well, is really, really inspiring, you know, to see someone that you know, eight to 20 years old, two kids, and at times, he had to live in a shelter, you know, just to get us to that next chapter. But her willingness to keep us happy and to keep us motivated. And always finding that positive spirit, even through the face of that adversity. So she could give us a better opportunity, or at least the best opportunities you could set us up for. That was just something that inspired me and really having her now even we’re walking miles in the snow, you know, with, with no money and just carrying groceries, she keeps us singing, even if our, our feet were freezing. And eventually, though, a lot of that kind of took a toll on her. So by the time I was around 12 years old, my mom attempted suicide out of just facing depression that wasn’t really addressed, right. And there’s no one there for her to call on. She was all by herself raising two kids. And it created a level of awareness. And in that moment, it was when my brother really kind of showed me what what real man is he decided, you know what, I’m not gonna let us get separated, he basically asked me to go with the flow. Because right now, if we tell anybody that mom’s not here, they’re gonna take us. So in this moment, he had to decide like, he’s got to now be kind of like, we got to be our own dads. So that’s really was the turning point for me that, you know, from there forward, it was on us to kind of provide for our families. And it’s been that way ever since.

Max: [3:48] such an amazing story. How will what’s the age difference between you and your brother?

Nathan: [3:52] He’s about two years older than me. So I was 12, he was 14. And we really had to like band together. And so what we did honestly, to survive as a mom would get these checks and melfin disable, we just take him to the corner store and in the ghetto, like no one’s gonna, like was there full girl like cashing a check? I don’t know. But that’s just how it was. So we would go there with cash, we don’t have to, like manage bills. So like, a lot of times we’d be showering with candles, because in the winter, like they would cut the lights off, but they won’t cut the heat off. Because like illegal in Wisconsin, we kind of figured out the loophole or the guy, well, we may not have lights, but at least you have enough money for food. So like, that’s really kind of how it was growing up. It’s like, you had to pick a struggle. It wasn’t like you were gonna have any hair, you just have to pick which one. So um, that was my early part of my life. And through going through that ended up taking a toll on me. So by the time I got to my senior high school, I gave up, I didn’t want to finish I actually didn’t graduate high school on time. I was just like, I want to find a way to live in the streets. And with all this opportunity I had like I was class president I was set up for success, but I just didn’t believe myself. So then, when I did that, my brother’s like Alright, well then I’ll I’m not going to college you then because I’m not leaving behind. So I seen how I was kind of impacting him. And he just basically it really broke me Actually, after a while I was like, I can’t be the dragon a family we’ve been through enough. So then I do a lot of tears decided that I’m going to literally live every day and be better no matter what happens. And I don’t know what that better looks like. And I think I was 19 at the time, and a mom do want to hold us back either. So eventually, I moved and got my own apartment and I started working at UPS. I was a receiving manager. I loaded the trucks first, then I became manager. Yeah, but that was kind of like my origin of really breaking out because I got promoted for months to like management. And I started seeing like a different world. And that’s when I moved to Milwaukee. And I had to like kind of leave my mom on her own. And she did so great. Like she would go to the grocery store all by herself, which was not a thing. So yeah, that was kind of my origin of like, really want to spread my wings. But I eventually stopped the corporate route about a year in two years to end and start a digital agency, which was my first business.

Max: [6:07] Got it. Got it. So did you did you and your brother like play sports? Or like, Did you have any? Did you get to compete when you’re younger? What was your childhood like?

Nathan: [6:15] He did. So my brother was amazing track athlete reward winning, you know, he went to stay metalled Gold all that wrestling conference champion. He was all those great things. I was class president like, and also the number one talent guy because I was a breakdancer. So that was my thing is like I didn’t really like sports. I love dance. So I created my own crew called the fresh bombs crew. And because we live our lives on the ground, but we’re still fresh. So we really competed a lot on computer multiple stages. And it was it was my escape.

Max: [6:48] That’s awesome. I love how breakdancing goes from generation to generation because that was a thing when I was younger, too. And clearly I’m you know, a little bit older than you at least 10 years.

Nathan: [6:57] It’s a lot of fun. It’s a it’s something that like I could control but then push the limits still at the same time.

Max: [7:04] Yeah, that’s what I was gonna I was gonna dig into that a little bit like how do you connect, being a competitive breakdancer to being good professional at what you do now.

Nathan: [7:12] Um, they called me dream all the time. And I think it all ties in everything. So rather be how my bars or how I remind a software company or anything that I’m a part of, like a dream it right is it’s this weird thing I have where like, I’ll even get up and just drive my car for 30 minutes and just like visualize things. So I’ve always been like that as a kid. So I was right on right all the time. So like, I could see stuff. And then I connected writing and music. And as I listen to music, I would see my mom like moonwalking and stuff in the kitchen and stuff because my mom loved to dance. And apparently like you know, my dad was like a DJ and the dance when he was younger. And I was like, oh, man, it’s in the blood. So like, I just got really addicted. And I would dance in front of like the mirror. But it was always like I would Daydream visualize. So it really taught me that in order to dance, you got to be able to create nothing from just to be in a movement or something to be inspired by a trigger, right? So now today rather be when I’m consulting people or are trying to build an ecosystem grow company, my ability to have foresight, my vision, my ability to visualize and created create those experiences in real life, I think is immensely impacted. Because that’s all I do. And it’s all I’ve done is just visualizing and execute on officialize.

Max: [8:26] Yeah, love it. And I think, you know, one of the things that sticks out to me is that you would dream visualize, and then you would write it down. Because a lot of people you know, I for a long time would think of great ideas. And if you don’t write them down, they’re very hard to execute on upon that, because they will just be fleeting thoughts. So yeah, it sounds like you develop some good habits early on through breakdancing, which is amazing. Now let’s let’s change gears a little bit, I will jump in to your company. ease and I’m pretty infatuated with it. Just because I think we’re both somewhat in the same industry. Obviously we don’t compete but you know, it’s it’s around recruiting. Yeah. And hiring. So tell me tell me about your your company ease. I know a lot about it, but I want to hear it from you. And, you know, kind of dig in that way.

Nathan: [9:10] Yeah, then ease is a was accidental brainchild. Everything I’ve done is an accident. I was actually working on like my first like bar deal. And it went bad. And like I ended up like kind of on my own. I was like, I don’t want to work for anybody ever again. But I got where I was because I had an agency. My agency was virtual. So I had all these smart people all over the United States that were awesome engineers, awesome. Marketers, you’re just super brilliant. They were part of a forum that we were on. And I realized, like the thing that I really liked the most was really getting into different business environments and solving problems, but I didn’t really like the execution. So what I would do is like, Hey, guys, like I’m gonna code sell strategy, and I’m going to send you guys a bunch of work down for that. Yeah. Okay, great. Now I have this, you know, repertoire of things that I could execute on, as I started, essentially about building a community first. So then as I built this community, a really smart people started connecting them a jobs started then building the platform where they can manage your projects on, they can connect and send messages, and then eventually file share. So I just kept building more tools that they called on. And then now after a while, I had so many different clients managing talent, that I said, What is the real problem? Now at scale? How do we scale this without the human interaction component. And the only way to really scale it is to be able to predict what the key things that make up an ideal fit for a job are. So those key characteristics are around behavioral dynamics, cultural dynamics, and learning styles. So utilize disk, and a variety of predictive analytics tools now today, to predict who will be the best fit for opportunities primarily focused on freelancers. So we are always been focused on remote work digital nomad, brilliant people that want to solve complex problems. And that’s really was the brainchild of users really just already had the smart people and I just built a community around giving them what they asked for

Max: [11:08] God, what’s that’s unpack this a little bit. So what I love is, and I think this comes more natural to younger folks and millennials. I don’t know, I don’t know your exact birthday. But let’s just say it’s a millennial, I’m just guessing. So the cultural aspect that doesn’t come natural to you know, people that are older, and we we got infatuated, I had been in the staffing business for a long time has started to realize that it was it was the differentiating piece, you know, being able to do a job is one thing, being able to fit in with the culture and do the job was, you know, kind of what you’re looking for. But how did it just naturally that was just one of the pieces of the puzzle that was super important from the beginning? Or was it something that you figured out through, you know, the your other work that you’re involved with,

Nathan: [11:52] it was something that I figured out when I was at UPS, honestly, when I was there, I looked at the way that corporate culture worked from the back in the day, and why they even need the unit just to protect them from the policies are set in place, there was nothing about culture was about get the job done and get out. And it didn’t allow you to have retention. And it didn’t allow you to create what I call the launch pad, right? Every individual today is looking for diversified opportunities, short term burst to get to the next chapter. So realistically, everyone has to think about if you can’t be like the only way to be a launchpad, you have to know where they want to go. So I dove deeper into where do somebody want to go? And how can I set you up for success to get there through what I have to offer today. So that was really, really important to me, then and I always brought it in every business I have is I really want to know where my employees want to go. Or anybody in my community wants to greet my friends. Like, I want to know where people want to go, and how can I help you be there? Because even as easy as a product at the end of the day, like I built my career on being a connector, so just happen to build a product around it.

Max: [12:55] Yeah, that’s it. That’s awesome. And it sounds like from it being a technology base being around freelancers. It sounds like one of those businesses where COVID it might you might have had seen some growth during COVID. Is that true? And tell me about your experience in with ease during COVID?

Nathan: [13:15] Yeah, it’s honestly to the set weird to say this as COVID has a negative impact on society. It’s been a blessing, honestly, because what it did was, it somewhat validated what I had been screaming from the mountaintops for so many years, where I’m like, the world is going to go remote. The world is going to go remote. These are the things you need to understand about your employees. And my first ever, like big conference workshop was around how to build a team of self directed workers. And what does that look like? And how do you make what leadership look like in that environment? So for me, we got about 400% increase in our talent pool, and about a 54% growth rate in sales for just COVID. Because not because we found a bunch of new customers is because the customers that weren’t listening, decided say, Yeah, he talked about that a couple months ago. Didn’t he call that guy?

Max: [14:09] Yeah, that’s amazing. It’s amazing to hear those stories. So looking back at when I when I kind of skimmed through your past and just looking back, it looked like there was a pivotal point, in my view for entrepreneurship. And it was when you’re working for uglies, you started as a director mark and then you had an opportunity to get a stake of ownership through helping them turn the business around or reap rebrand it from kind of what I understood. Tell me about that, because I kind of felt like from my perspective, and obviously I want to hear from you. But tell me about that. That journey or that pivot? Was that was that when you’ve your first taste of entrepreneurship, or was there stuff before that?

Nathan: [14:50] I guess the only other taste I have is when I was in like my dance crew, we would have like performances you’d pay for so they don’t count. That’s like selling lemonade. But I think for realistically, that was my Real first tastes, it was first good and bad taste. That was that negative journey that was talking about. Now I came in as Director of Marketing for a business and quickly became the inovio. Like I’m designing the place, I’m getting us to fire code and turning a grocery store, which was a three and a half million dollar construction project, you know, a multi level bar in front of a dead basketball team called the bucks, which are now like number one. And it’s like I visited before that and everyone’s like, You’re an idiot, there’s no way this the guys you’re working with, they’re going to fail. And why are you putting all your eggs in this basket, because I wasn’t even getting paid for it for free in exchange for set sweat equity. But, um, so I just grinded for two years on that project. And then finally, I hired every employee. And then my birthday was August 5. And then the week after that, they literally like deleted my email, and then like, fired me, out of nowhere, like didn’t, they really never signed my contract so I can do anything. I was sleeping, I just moved out and got a new condo, I was like, literally, all I have is a couch and TV. Like, alright, well and I just bought an office like I’ve no income or at 300 bucks for office $500 apartments 15. Like, I got three weeks to figure this out. And that’s what I came up with ease. And it worked. But that was the time where I realized that the world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows and the capital world is very predatory. So you have to really, really dig deep. And that’s where the values came into play. As I said, I will never work with anybody again, it doesn’t have the same values as me. So then that’s what I that’s what I did. I started aligning myself with amazing mentors like Kevin Kawasaki, who first investor in ease and person has been a great part of my life and snowballing into just like Chris ably who has been a mentor and a guide. I mean, God like to have Chris ably to see me at like 22 years old and say, I believe in you. And never actually like I never asked for anything. I mean, this guy’s dad founded Boston Scientific and he went on to become Walker County Executive and, and you know, the most active VC in Wisconsin, he’s I was just able to sit in a room with these types of guys. So for years, I just kept grinding and trying to grab their attention. And what ended up happening was, I won, took the bar back, because the guys who screwed me over, they ended up failing three months in, and then they literally had a judge contact me to come in and turn it around. And then I basically bought them out of the next few years. So like, after me doing the right thing, I actually ended up taking a bar that screwed me. And then in two years after that, somebody should just sue me Cody ugly for like something for having named uglies. They ended up closing, I end up taking their bar. So it’s like, whenever you do the right thing, somehow justice will come and find you. You don’t have to go find it yourself. So that’s where like, I learned so much about that side of entrepreneurship, because the intellectual stuff will always come right. But the entrepreneurial side is, is is a little more cutthroat and more agile in your mindset. And it’s a lot about like values. I think that that I learned during that time.

Max: [18:02] Let’s dig into I mean, it sounds like you had some amazing, you know, people to look up to and people you could use as resources. But how did you get in touch with those people? How did you get connected originally? And how did you you know, stick stay in front of them? And how were you able to use them as resources?

Nathan: [18:19] Well, I was really blessed. When I first came into Waukee. Like, I didn’t hang out with people my own age, you know, 19 years old, and all my friends like 25 to 35. And I’m like, No, he’s going down to city hall meetings, I’m hearing about what’s happening in the city because I could feel the walk. He was onto something. But I didn’t understand it. And I don’t know why or how so like, I’m looking at everything I possibly can learn about entrepreneurship score, which is like free stuff you can get. And then I’m the only young person in the room. So eventually, they’re like, why is there one young guy here, and they were just drawn to me. And people were just like, Hey, I’m gonna keep watching you. I was always giving business cards. I was just really active, like, I didn’t want to party. I wanted to like figure this thing out. So that’s really how I started meeting people. And then eventually, my work started speaking for itself. So I took a couple retail stores in Milwaukee and a bunch of bars and increase your sales by 50 60% of my name started getting around town that like this guy knows, you know, these parts of business. So I ended up getting hired to take on growth marketing for a startup called chitters at the time, and just Kevin kawaki was a lead investor, that startup didn’t work out. But what he seen from me working, he said, Hey, I want to stay in touch. So then when I finally came up my own idea, he said, Hey, I want to support you. Same thing happened with Chris ably. I’m working my butt off to just really bring this dream forward. And I get accepted into one of the top ranked accelerators in the world generator. And all of a sudden he find out you are an owner that I’m like, oh, wow, it’s amazing. Like how do you own this and all I got about dial back. Well, when I opened my bar, I didn’t know that the Milwaukee Bucks are gonna get bought. So actually find out 2016 some before the public even knows, because they’re coming around like what you sell. Like, let me see your plan. No, like not going anywhere. So like our building owner, all of a sudden on board, we’re like we’re not leaving. So they ended up buying every single thing around us. And eventually, the deal was going to not go through because a lot of city people are fighting it. And they decided to have one bar be the commercial to talk about what would happen if the Milwaukee Bucks left walking went to Vegas or something. And I was in that commercial little nose for Chris ably politician. So I this is like, I want the Bucks here. And also I want to be on TV. So I end up doing it. He ends up to us brings me down to thank me. And they end up talking for three hours, he canceled the rest of his day. And like every since then he took me to every basketball game political meetings flew me to different parts of the country to meet some amazing people of his because he just straight up told me like I believe in you, I love your story and where you’re going. And so when I got into generator, he’s like, you know what, don’t touch any other investors, all of us to half a million. Take this company off, and I’ll introduce you to everybody I know. I really help build it because I believe in you. So same thing always happens is I just asked for advice. And then I get investment or support. But just showing up I think really was the key.

Max: [21:22] Got it, tell me about Milwaukee. I’ve only been in Milwaukee. Once I’ll tell you I was going to Lambeau for a football game and I couldn’t fly in anywhere closer. So I flew into Milwaukee. So I drove by. And it was the most amazing city as I was driving away. But I never went back. And I know you know those are you built some routes there. But I’m just curious as to you know, what, what did you love? And what do you love about Milwaukee

Nathan: [21:45] Milwaukee is such a vibrant city with deep culture that we call a small Waukee the ones that live there is because when you’re there, you feel like you know everybody, you know, the guy walking down the street, it’s selling the same CDs every day, or the guy that you know, the best burger in town, you know who every restaurant owner, like it’s just so small and tight. Where the focus is raw food, good times, cultures, festivals, and just good integrity. You know, that’s one thing I like about about smaller cities is that they the love is so much stronger. Because when you do something like everybody knows, right, it’s like, we got to have each other’s back, then Everyone’s so proud of our city in our state. So they rally together in such big events. I mean, our bar crawls everything. It’s just, it’s just a city that people sleep on, you know, rather be winter or summer. You can dance on though and you can boat on the water or go dance on the ice in the winter. Like, it’s whatever you want to do. So I think that that’s really it, man. It’s just a great food and community that’s really, really tight knit.

Max: [22:46] And what my what brought you to Scottsdale Arizona.

Nathan: [22:50] You know, what’s funny is the traditional story of a girl. So I was bored, I got my bars to autopilot. And I really handed over operations and ex girlfriend was basically, hey, I’m going to ASU, I’m like I vacation there every year. I love to go check it out. I started checking out even more. Also north, I’m getting a place here. So then all of a sudden I’m on vacation home became my main home. Adele, I basically ended up living here full time as of about two years ago, mainly. And I fall in love man like it is just such a great landscaping and more diverse mindset here. You know, there is a lot of walking on cigarettes in America, a lot of barriers there for African American entrepreneurs, that I don’t feel here. You know, it’s people are a lot more open to work with new people because everybody’s transient, nobody’s from here. So you don’t have that generational closed mindedness that I feel that the Midwest can have when it comes to like the entrepreneur ecosystem.

Max: [23:51] Gotcha. And how old are you now? I’m 31. You know, when I graduated from college, I went to North graduate of Northern Arizona University, I moved right by ASU. And so I felt like I got to go to ASU after graduate college too. So similar, similar, similar background, but I’m going to switch gears a little bit here. Tell me you’re just looking back. And this has been an amazing conversation so far, but tell me about kind of a best you know, the best experience in life that you’ve had so far. I know. It’s big question. And and obviously, you know, you’ve had a incredible childhood and a tough childhood and then then incredible runs since then. But what are your best life experiences look like? And then I’m going to flip that to and I’m going to say hey, what does what’s the worst been like?

Nathan: [24:38] Man, that’s tough. I think the best for me, and I always attach my best experiences to professional things because that’s really all I know. But I think mine was getting into my first accelerator and graduating from our first accelerator, and you know, getting a fully funded stepping on premier knife. First time I’ve never actually walked across the stage before. I’ve never graduated from anything. So either just don’t want to show up. I used to be really shy. So for the first time graduating and stepping on stage and being introduced on stage by like Chris ably and being welcomed by 700, Executive leaders and that like believe my idea, that was like a special moment for me, because my brother and everybody, my family, like they’ve got me a graduation cap, everybody signed it, because they remembered that like, I’ve never graduated from anything like this is this first graduation. And everybody made that super special, because they knew how important it was to me, even though I didn’t say anything. Like even my dog was there. So that was one of the most memorable moments.

Max: [25:40] That’s amazing. That’s amazing. I don’t like my kids to hear from people that didn’t have to graduate that are as successful as you. But Congratulations, because then they’re like, see, I don’t have to go to school that guy’s successful. I can do what he did. And I also, at one time, I always felt like I was the youngest person in the room, and then all of a sudden, I wasn’t. So have you crossed that gap yet, where all of a sudden, you’re looking around and you’re not the most the youngest person in the room?

Nathan: [26:03] Yeah, I’d say I have crossed a gap. Because I’m being in the startup ecosystem. It’s constant, where I’m like, man I did so well in life, then like a 19 year old wage raises $20 million. I’m like, Oh, okay. I’m doing all right. But not that great, because there’s just so many brilliant people in the world.

Max: [26:18] Yeah. Oh, yeah. That’s how I feel. And I was an eo I was the youngest person to join eo when I joined. And now I was in eo for 10 years, and I’ve been YPO for seven. And now I’m far from the youngest person in my forum, even like, when I look around, I’m like, Oh, my gosh, these people are crushing it. So what Tell me tell me a little bit about generator. I don’t know a lot about it. Obviously, you’ve talked a lot about it. It’s been very impactful, and getting to where you’re at today. So I’d love to hear more about I think it deserves from, from what you’ve talked about so far, deserves a little airtime. And I’m curious as to you know, what it is and in what the process is like, because it sounds like it’s a pretty successful process.

Nathan: [26:58] Yeah, it was created by Joe cargas. And Troy vossler. To law graduates from University of Madison, they wanted to solve the problem of the drain of venture capital that the Midwest is experiencing. So they wanted to find the best and brightest startups from anywhere, and bring them to Wisconsin. And if they’re in Wisconsin, investing in them, and each startup gets about 100, hundred and $50,000. In venture capital investment. They pick five startups out of thousands that apply per cohort. So is less than a 1% chance of getting in? No sir survived seven years in a row never got in, I was so honored to get into my first try. And it was just a blessing. And what they do is they take you and have you pitch round, Robin 20 pitches a day for two to three weeks, over and over to the biggest executives that are like in all of the Midwest around the country, just as practice, then they put you in like about another month of refining, and Griffin going after marketing, coordinate customers trying to raise up your metrics. Then after that, to take you on a roadshow across the US and nine different states to pitch 300 investors. By the end startups typically raised between one to $2 million and follow on capital, and then go on to got do bigger and better things. So they’ve done that started in 2016. I believe in today, they raised about a half a billion dollars and created 10s of thousands of jobs for startups all over the Midwest and acquired about 13 other markets and startups. So they have music accelerator it Motown Warner Brothers, you know, everything, you name it, they have it now, and they just snowball of growth. And Chris ably is backing that as well. So they’re all part of what CSA partners. So my company is a portfolio of CSA partners, which is crusade was very fun. And so it’s generator. So really awesome for anybody that’s building technology, trying to solve technology problems. And then I also were alumni of plug and play tech center. So that’s the largest corporate tech innovation hub in the world. It’s located in Santa Clara. So your favorite people like Google and Dropbox came from there. We were blessed to get into that. And I’ve been able to see two worlds this does San Francisco Silicon Valley startup strategy, then the Midwest, more traditional strategy. And that makes me come up with this idea. But I always call it like, we’re a zebra startup, where I like to remain profitable while raising capital for growth. Wow, instead of traditional burn capital method.

Max: [29:26] Sure, it sounds like just that process that they put you through even if you didn’t end up getting, you know, the capital that you would be set up for success just based on that process. They put you through,

Nathan: [29:37] yeah, hundred percent, because when you’re done you get access to hundreds of corporate partners, right. So for plug and play, I can say, hey, I need to connect with someone at Nike. That’s in this role. They’ll give me that connection tomorrow. I mean, like that’s all I really been building my podcast to because I’m also eases a partner in HR transform in Las Vegas. So really transformative HR conference in Vegas, where we Bring some of the best leaders and chief people officer from fortune 500 together and really talk about not just people operations, but how is tech impacting culture and corporate ecosystems? And how do we put ourselves in front of tech? How do we not make bias tech. So really, really cool innovative ideas around people and technology that that really give us access to these things. And I didn’t get that until generator got me into that. So that’s where that’s where it’s so great to be a part of accelerators, they take equity in your business, but they buy it. But it’s not about the money, like you get 100 grand for them, and they give you millions of dollars worth of connections,

Max: [30:36] how much do you think in that program? Look, going back to generator How much? What percentage of it is based on the business idea or the leader? Do you think just from your experience?

Nathan: [30:46] Oh, it’s, I would say it’s the 8020 Wait, 80%, the leader 20% the idea because ideas don’t matter without execution. And also, the entrepreneur that you’re looking for, has to have grit, like so many people forget about the grit part. And I think only about the intellectual and metric metric, measurable parts, but that you can’t measure every year predict every challenge. So that grit component, I think, is an imperative part of their selection process, as well as your idea of strategic strategy. And then the another thing that’s important is Who else is a part of the company in terms of your advisors and investors? Because there is a entrepreneur world’s a gatekeeper of society. So you know, you’re not going to run a Facebook ad to get the big deal. It’s all about who you know,

Max: [31:29] Yeah, Absolutely, absolutely. Well, I’m gonna, I’m gonna jump in a little bit. Obviously, you’ve seen a lot of success, and and you’ve been fortunate, but you’ve worked very hard for it. So I’m going to break this down, like on a day to day basis. What do you do on a day to day basis? Like, what habits do you have? Like, how do you break down your day, I want to try to figure out and suss out what has gotten you to where you’re at? Because you’re super humble. So I’m gonna have to dig a little bit. But when what how do you how did you get that grit? How did you you know, take those ideas, how do you act upon execute upon it on a daily basis,

Nathan: [32:00] I’ve actually done the same thing every day since that day, I said, I want to be better. And I used to start off with the only thing that’s changed is the sound in my head. So in the beginning, I would start my day by listening like Eric Thomas and townville use like motivational like YouTube reels, or like two hours long, they’re like, I could do this, because I needed to see that it was possible, like, I just chip on my shoulder at something to prove. But then today, it’s more of a gratitude approach to my day. So I start my day with gratitude versus this burning desire, or chip or rage, I want to fight. But the methodology is the same, or I don’t even have to use an alarm anymore. Every day, my body wakes me up at 530. And immediately I look at I don’t want to touch my phone, because they’re going to create anxiety is going to do things that I don’t want and allow somebody else or something else to take control of my focus or day. So what I do is I make myself extremely selfish in the first hour. So I get up, I do my little routine, I’ll get one my car up, then I go for a nice drive. And I’ll go to the mountains. And I’ll play music and I drive up to like the same houses that I’ve drove up to, since before I had a nickel. And there’s this beautiful view off a Lincoln drive. And I just go over there and I just like look out and I think about what I’m grateful for. and really think about where I came from every day because I don’t want to forget that. And it’s sometimes an emotional experience. And then after that, I go back and then I set up by like 8am or even 730. I’m going to sit down, I’m going to eat I’m gonna do my typical routine. So I’m big into fitness. So I’m always make my meals in the morning. And then from there, I go into my workday, it’s my part until 9am, then the other people can take my day. Now I just organized that because I’ve read Daniel Pink’s when I’ve realized that the difference between an owl and a lark, and because of my Lark behaviors, I know that my inhibited controls are at their greatest peak right when I wake up in the morning. So that’s why I got to be crucial to protecting that. Because my chronotype tells me that I can work diligently on these tedious meticulous tasks until halfway through the day when I start to have what they call a trough. And when that trough happens, that’s when I go to the gym. That’s what I need to get out, I need to lift some weights, I need to really push myself and get everything fired up again, then my inhibitor controls are going to go back up, but they’re never going to reach the level they were when I woke up. So that’s when I do my creative tasks, because now I’ve had outside things going into my head. But in the evening, it’s great because that’s what I want. I want outside influence to execute on finding new ideas. So I’ve always followed that methodology. And a lot of it’s coming from reading Daniel Pink books.

Max: [34:43] Love it, I just realized and that’s exactly how I am. But I now have five kids and the only way to get ahead in life with five kids is you got to beat them up in the morning. That will work out first thing in the morning. But if I had my choice, I would design it just like that. That’s how I used to do it. And let’s speak about working out the guy Scott who works in my office, I think you know him from probably Milwaukee, he’s from Minneapolis, but he said, You guys are gonna, you guys are gonna hit it off. I mean, you’re both, he said, You’re both jacked, he probably not jacked like you because I’m old now. From working out the workouts for me, I always felt like when I was building businesses, when I worked out, I could control that. And so I’ve always stuck with that. And I still will say that I like the, I can always tell when I stick to my workouts and things going good. It just happens that business kind of follows. But it really helps me keep in control. And I just want to say I just want to ask you, if that’s how it is for you. And that’s what has kept you working out like you do or where does your inspiration come from?

Nathan: [35:44] I feel like we have alot in common because I feel like the exact same thing. When I’m working out my life is so it’s like clockwork, man, I’m in my stride. I call it sync, I’m in sync. So it’s like but when I’m not, you know, and I feel like I start to get a little lethargic or when I like have to travel a whole lot. And I’m like, man, like I need to get back in my routine. Like, even though it’s great traveling for work. It’s like if I need my routine, I need my gym time to get that clarity, Alyssa felucca I’m getting buried, but when I’m in my, my daily routine, I can be in the city and just get stuff done that I’ve never, I can’t even put into words how much more effective I am,

Max: [36:22] yeah. Oh, no, I can put it in a lot of words. I sometimes I can’t wait to get back to my routine when I’m traveling or, you know, out of town. So I know exactly what you’re talking about. When did you like thinking back on your journey? When were you called to be a leader like most times, I most of the time, I talked to successful entrepreneurs, and they always tie it back to like, you know, being a being competitive on the basketball team and playing sports. And since you didn’t have that, I’m just thinking about when did when we were called to be a leader like when did you know you were going to be a successful leader, and have the confidence in building businesses like you like you are today.

Nathan: [36:59] I think the turning point was when I had a successful outcome, because in the beginning, when I first started, I didn’t always have successful outcomes. There’s times I wanted to achieve something I just couldn’t figure it out. But right after that, when I got kind of kicked out of the bar, and I had the successful outcome of building ease and seeing it scale so fast, you know, like, literally went from zero dollars to $20,000. In my first month. I was like, what, like, didn’t do that every month. But it was like, wait, what, like, how do I do that again? Now I was like, Alright, the way I did it was by taking all these different people and leaving them towards a mission. Well, how do I do better at that. So instead of focusing on getting better and better and better and better at one craft, I started realizing that every person that I looked up to, they weren’t great at one craft, they were great at being the champion, they’re great at being the spearhead. They’re great at seeing wherever we wanted to go, and being able to pull them behind them and take all the punches along the way to protect everybody else in the back. So that’s really what I started looking at, like, I want to be that person, that’s essentially the hero of the story. Right, like so that’s really what motivated me.

Max: [38:11] Do you feel like you found your purpose in life yet? Are you do you feel like you’re still pursuing it,

Nathan: [38:16] my purpose is, is going to be an ongoing thing, because my main job is I have a mission. And my mission is, I have to do enough in my life to set my next generations up for success. So they don’t have to, like deal with any of the stuff that I went through. And I feel like I’m almost there. But if I let off, there’s going to be some generation is going to get left behind. So I feel like if I can just push my life as far as I possibly can, that when I do die, my kids can say, Man, like your grandfather did all this for us. And this is why we are here. And like, you know, this, you know, my legacy can kind of leave on. And like, really keep moving forward. So I think that that’s my purpose. I mean, it’s to be essentially like this champion right now to do what I can of our family for.

Max: [38:59] And just like fill in the blank, leaders would become better if they did blank…

Nathan: [39:06] listened.

Max: [39:10] That doesn’t surprise me. Let’s talk about like, let’s talk about fun, leadership lessons you’ve learned over the years, I’d like on a little lighter note, like what what have you I mean, you’ve stubbed your toe, um, things that you’ve learned that that might help you become who you are today and really improve and continue, you know, becoming a better leader.

Nathan: [39:29] Honestly, I, oh, my dad always told me like some alluded to just now as you give two ears, one mouth, so like, Listen twice as much as you speak. Because I’m always listening to so many things. It allows me to step back, think speak less, and innovate more. So like, I have so many like compartmental things out here that are problems that I dream about solving one day. So I think that that’s helped me to be leaders because I’m always thinking into the future and always listening to what people’s problems are and trying to help them and it’s kind of I think comes from my mom and My brother’s, like, if you’ve ever meet my mom or brother, like, we’re gonna meet one day, formally, in person, you’re gonna see like, we’re really nurturing people. And I think that nurturing behavior is something that’s been fun. And it’s been great. And it’s why like, I love creating experiences for my staff, my bars, my friends, I mean, I’ve got an event company solely just because like, I just love creating experiences. And that’s what’s been fun about entrepreneurship is like, I would have so many brilliant people, I just love bringing them all together. Like even for Halloween, like I’m written like this extravagant, like mansion of red carpet. And just like saying hey, you guys are all my friends, but you don’t know each other. So tonight you’re gonna meet? And like, of course, you’re gonna have masks on maybe. But, uh, yeah, so like, I just really want to make sure that like people don’t forget that, like, the best part of entrepreneurship is not what you’re working on the day, but the relationship you’re building to create, like what you’re gonna do tomorrow.

Max: [40:55] I love that. I love that. What are you most curious about now?

Nathan: [40:59] Ah, man, like behavioral psychology. Like I’m so so. So in that right now where, like, it’s all I want to read about, it’s all we talked about, because you have a certified behavioral consultant, our team, and assessment like architects. So right now, we’re literally building this technology that is going to be able to predict not only and create a profile of that individual, but to be able to then collect feedback from their peers, as they work on jobs in the field, to then get a more robust profile to predict better matches for jobs in the future. Like if I could like figure out how to get the right data points, to create the roadmap, have a blueprint of our ideal organization, and personality types, really good blueprints for your career path based on these characteristics about you? Like that would be magic to me. So that’s something I’m just super addicted to. And no, I didn’t get a PhD. But I’m sitting with people that have them. So it’s working.

Max: [41:55] You know, one thing I want to go back to, just because I’ve been listening and reading and this has come up countless times, I feel like in the last, I don’t know, two, three months, but it’s your routine in the morning about not getting to the cell phone, and really owning your own time and then grabbing your cell phone. I think so many people, they’re on Instagram and going through their their routine, and you know, before they when they go to bed, and then they first wake up and they get all these texts and emails. So I mean, I just really want to highlight that because if you’re not, you know, this is this is this conversation has come up so many times, but just want to kind of point out your discipline in that and in, you know how important that is? Because I do believe it’s, I’ve heard it from a lot of successful people recently.

Nathan: [42:38] Yeah, this is about producing content, not just consuming it. You know, like in the morning, I may make a video, but I’m not consuming something. I’m creating something that I can offer value on. So you’ll see a lot of my morning wake up routine videos, I’ll say something maybe inspiration or all my mind. I think that’s okay, but you consuming it leaves you subject to so much, especially during election time. I don’t wanna look at my phone at all.

Max: [43:01] No kidding. Don’t get in text, like I keep getting text like, oh, how do you how did you get my number? Nobody texted me anymore. I’m done with the election or at this point, I already voted. If you if you knew a blank 10 years ago, you would have done what?

Nathan: [43:15] Oh, has that means I have to say I wish I would have done something differently. Know what that would be. If I would have known that we will be where we are 10 years ago, I would have told my brother to quit his job sooner. Because I feel like you know, now that he’s in the entrepreneurial world, he can really accomplished even so much more, because he was doing great work at Amazon. He reason all those packages come to your door so accurately. For those flex drivers here. He built that here. So he did that with Amazon. But he was like, in that box. I’m like, Man, you got to see the world and travel. So like, I think that, you know, it’s been so great having him as my partner, and in this business and, and to be able to work side by side, I have always dreamed of working and building the company, my brother. So I would have definitely done that even sooner.

Max: [44:02] So how was that conversation? So I have a brother he’s two years older than me. He’s actually very successful entrepreneur, but we’ve never really been true business partners. We found some stuff together. We’ve lost some money together and some investments, but we’ve never really been in business. So did you courting him or was it a constant conversation? Was there like some monumental, you know, conversation that started the relationship? or How did it go down?

Nathan: [44:24] Yeah, we never really figured out how the heck we were going to work together because he was in supply chain logistics and it and I’m in like this entrepreneurial, but digital transformation consultant kind of role. So I’m doing my thing, no thing and all of a sudden was I did come up the idea of ease. And he was simultaneously building the on demand independent contractor platform for Amazon, primarily focused on obviously flex drivers package delivery, but I’m doing it in a digital space for like we were both solving the same problem but in two different industries. What would you think about join that over here, so we both did. uses a side project. Well, I had my safety net my bar revenue, and he had the safety net of Amazon. It was like, wow, like this thing’s taken off. It’s working. And I told him, Hey, if I raised this money, and I get in this program, you can have to quit your job literally, like, next week. So I pitched generator in three weeks go by didn’t hear anything. And all of a sudden, they called me and said, Hey, you got in and you have four days to be in Madison, Wisconsin. I’m like, oh, shoot, saw you got to quit. He’s like, well, what I’ve been in two weeks knows, like, not today. So he ended up just click it fill up there with me. .

Max: [45:39] It’s amazing What’s one thing that you wish people would stop saying,

Nathan: [45:43] man? Um, I would say the word hate. I think that, like, so many people hate so many things today. I wish people instead say I don’t understand. Because I think that when people will have that inkling of hatred or animosity towards anything, it’s just a lack of understanding of somebody else’s perspective, and at least a confrontation. So if you can stop trying to hate or judge or dislike something and start trying to moreso ask, How can I better understand I think the world would be in a lot better place.

Max: [46:12] And you should run for public office of some sort. We should blast this out from the hills. So in on that same note, like what’s, uh, what’s an unpopular opinion that you have, it doesn’t have to be around politics obviously just in general.

Nathan: [46:26] know. I mean, I, I definitely have an unpopular opinion, that’s been kind of my gears as of late. I feel like in current, like, in my life, right, I’m an African American entrepreneur from a really struggling Trump background. And as I work towards getting to the next chapter in raising my family up, it’s been really, really hard, right. And one of the things that’s bothered me, I think, as of lately, regardless of politics, or side of the party, is that it’s now being convenient for people to kind of monetize a minority pain. So now it’s cool to get behind it. So I think that as of today, on that long that understanding, train, is a list of focusing on how to monetize and capitalize and commercialize a problem. Let’s focus on actually getting stuff done the solver, because I think that that’s one thing that the people maybe may not like to have to say, but like, I want to see legitimate accuracy and not monetizable. Advocacy.

Max: [47:20] Got it. And another thing we start you you mentioned this earlier in the conversation, what are some positive like things that COVID has served up to you? I mean, obviously, your company has, you know, has picked up some momentum. But what are some other things? I love having this conversation? Because I think there’s so many I mean, there’s people, there’s a lot of people that went through a lot of misery. But I think when they really sat down and thought about it, there’s a lot of positive things that came up. But what is some for you?

Nathan: [47:46] Yeah, I mean, I think the things for I’m in two worlds, so having bars and startup and pandemic are two of the worst things you can have. And somehow it’s worked out. But like, for me, the positive parts of of, of it is we’re growing our business, we’re able to see through the between the cracks, and we’re able to also get a better understanding from people and a lot more empathy of around the problem or solving. So that’s been really good. And like really being able to get access to a lot more talent. So many people have left work or different jobs, and now they’re exploring the idea of what if I was just self employed, what if I just free as a freelance economy grew by 20% in the pandemic, that’s like, that’s like point $2 trillion. So you got to think about that. And that’s really important as a whole. And then I think the other thing, from my bar side is I got so much more close and connected to my community, the mayor, the health and City Health officials, and really having them rally behind us instead of kind of shutting us down. Waukee did an amazing job of saying, Hey, we’re gonna work by you, we’re gonna make sure that we can get rules in place that keep you in business. And I think that that brought our community together more than it tore us apart.

Max: [48:55] Wow, that’s amazing. I was just gonna ask how how it was affected in Milwaukee? How was how’s the business going? How’s the bar business going? Now?

Nathan: [49:03] It’s been up and down. I mean, we lost like $2 million or more because we lost the NBA Finals. We had the Democratic National Convention. We had a variety of different major events that it was supposed to be the biggest year in history for Wisconsin in Milwaukee. So like that was like a low blow man like I was like no way and I’m at the entrance of the arena we’re all that is like you can’t go into the arena without walking through my guard your guard so like you walk up you shoot big uncle box last all that but the thing is, though is sitting walkie does it shut us down for a period of time. They had his create real COVID policies, they brought all the best restaurant leaders together and said, Hey, we’re gonna come up with things that makes sense. Have you be our consultants? So they’ve allowed us to survive and thrive so now we’re back to in the green. They are trying to put some restrictions in place in from up top from the governor level. But right now the city is really fighting for us to be able to stay open because about 30% of all right bars city are permanently closed.

Max: [50:02] Wow, man, that’s crazy. I’m gonna throw some quicker questions at you. And then we’ll start wrapping up pretty soon. But I just want to kind of go through kind of a rapid question section. So we know what you like to do when you first wake up. So I want to ask you that. But what what book Have you read more than one time?

Nathan: [50:20] Drive? by Daniel Pink and War of Art? Love it

Max: [50:25] What? Which person has had the greatest impact on your life? A mom doesn’t surprise me. What’s something on your bucket list that you’re waiting to check off? A skydiving? If you could teach one subject to schoolchildren? What would it be?

Nathan: [50:41] Social Studies.

Max: [50:43] And obviously you’re you’re a morning person. That was one of my questions. Yeah.

Max: [50:48] All right. And do you think leadership can be taught? Absolutely.

Nathan: [50:51] Absolutely. Well, everyone has an opportunity to be a leader if you know which characteristics to tap into.

Max: [50:56] If you could change one thing about the world now what would it be?

Nathan: [51:00] I’m a big make it more peaceful making people listen to each other more, because we’re all trying to get to the same goal, but no one’s hearing it.

Max: [51:09] Now, it’s amazing. I’m gonna start wrapping up. But I think about what a great breakdancer you are and how that comes in handy. Like he just did a wedding and somebody’s like, hey, do you want to dance? And you know, he’s just like, yeah, sure you break it out. So I just kind of laughing to myself of like, being able to be an incredible dancer would be a handy tool to have in your tool belt for sure.

Nathan: [51:29] Yeah, it’s been so awesome. One of the things that was really transformative is one time I was really young, not really, I guess I felt like 20 common, who’s like one of my favorite artists was rapping on stage. And I looked at all my voices. Like, we have to do this right now. They’re like, what are they we don’t do this right now. No one’s ever gonna notice this. We rushed the stage while he was dancing or singing rapping on stage. security’s like trying to pull us off. And we’re like back flipping and dance all over. And then eventually, as yankin is off stage, he tells him to bring us back on. And that was like one of those moments where I was like, I knew it, if we just got up there broke, and then he actually broke dance with us.

Max: [52:07] Oh, man, that’s amazing. That’s amazing. One other thing I do want to cover with you gotta love that. from a standpoint of managing your time, I’m just trying to think back through our conversation, like make sure I’m able to pull out things that can help listeners really be more successful in. So but managing your time. So I think, you know, I think when you get married, you have kids things change a little bit, I can attest to that. But so you have a battle with manage your time, how do you effectively manage your time? And is it getting easier or getting worse,

Nathan: [52:40] it’s getting easier. Every single day, like the past in 2016. Sounds crazy about 26 a guy, it’ll all run I need to fight, I want to do something different in my life. So I finally got my bar open. And I found the amazing GM Lawrence. And he took this pace under his wing. And I was like, You know what, like, you’ve been here since I started. Like, he knows it plays back and forth, I literally had to do nothing anymore. And still to this day, he’s still there. And I am so thankful for him. Because now the team, they come up their own marketing ideas, their own events, and everything. And I have amazing partner. So like my partner and their operations, I’m the bright ideas. And now I get to come down and see be the owner where it’s just building its own thing now. And that place will be there forever. So that’s gotten easier. And then with ease, same thing, like I just every business I start, I empower build the people up, my goal is to walk to the next one within two to three years of starting it. Either a solid exit or IPO. I’m the type of guy that I’m not trying to build 1000 person 2000 person company and be a public face and CEO. Even if ideas that great, I will literally build infrastructure and be a part of the core ecosystem of the business. But hand off those tedious tasks, somebody that’s going to be better at them. Because my thought process when you look at my psychometrics, I’m not designed for a job. I’m designed to ideate innovate create. So that’s why it’s become easy for me because I just refused to do the things I’m not good at. Love it.

Max: [54:13] I love it. Well, if I can part on one note, refuse to do the things that you’re not good at is one of them. So that was an amazing conversation. This was the first time we’ve met but I look forward to spending time with you outside of this conversation for sure. Thank you so much for sharing everything you did. You know to learn more about Nathan you can also go check out his website, which I believe is I Ts ease calm, right?

Nathan: [54:36] Yep, I Ts s

Max: [54:39] And he also has a podcast it’s called life with ease. Is that right?

Nathan: [54:43] Yes. Hashtag life with ease all one word, and then you’ll be able to see it’ll pop up everywhere.

Max: [54:48] Awesome. All right, you’re listening to behind the resume podcast brought to you by why scouts we find purpose aligned and performance proven leaders. For more information about why scouts please find us at why Thanks. For listening to behind the resume with Max Hanson

Max: [55:06] thanks for listening to the behind the resume podcast with why scouts max Hansen. Join us next time as we continue to have intimate conversations with leaders to learn their stories, life hacks, life experiences and other interesting practices or learning experiences that have made them who they are today. You can learn more about your host max Hansen and why scouts at why scouts comm Join us next time as we go behind the resume with why scouts max Hansen on demand 24 seven right here at Star worldwide or wherever you get your favorite podcasts.

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