Many people claim to have achieved work-life balance, but in reality, few are able to find the true freedom desired.
In this episode, you’ll learn from an expert in reinventing your business, Matt Sweetwood. Matt is the CEO of Luxnow, and he will share his success in balancing out an active professional and personal life.
Think balance is not achievable?
The strategies you’ll discover may just give you a new perspective.
Matt is a thought leader and a personal branding expert with over 30 years of entrepreneurial experience, and a life coach and business consultant. Matt is also a regular contributor on national TV, and several publications on social media, and within the business, politics, and parenting arenas.
If you’re ready to learn new strategies to create balance and reinvent your business, then hit the button below.
Listen to the podcast here:
Leader Of The Pack With Matt Sweetwood
Our guest is an expert. He’s a thought leader in personal branding. He was the CEO of a large social network. He’s got over 30 years of entrepreneurial experience and has been credited with reinventing the modern camera store, as well as in store photography. He’s also raised five kids. You’re going to want to know his story. Have you ever thought to yourself, “How do I navigate being an entrepreneur and being a parent? Is there a trade off? Do I have to give up one for the other?” What if you found out that you could do both in superior excellence? What Matt Sweetwood is going to share with you might shock you. He’s been a contributor on national TV as a celebrity expert in a lot of different arenas. He’s the bestselling author of a book called Leader of the Pack: How a Single Dad of Five Led His Kids, His Business and Himself from Disaster to Success. Matt, welcome to show. How are you?
That’s a big introduction. I don’t know if I’m worthy of that.
We have to give a shout out to our buddy Steve Olsher who got us connected through his program called New Media Summit. Matt, as you’ve been doing what you’ve been doing, you have this phenomenal success story built around Leader of the Pack. Why did you feel compelled to create this book and talk about your journey?
I can answer that question trivially. When you’ve been through enough stuff in your life, everybody’s got a book in them. How many people walk around and say, “I got to write a book,” or something like that? Ultimately for me, when I looked at the journey, it’s more of a personal journey than it was a business journey. I ran a $100 million company. We had 100 employees. I got to exit that business. It was the journey with raising five kids after their mom had left us. You sit there and say, “God, why did I go through this? Why was I put through all of this?” You talked about me being a personal brander. When I started promoting my business, I found that people connected with me most over the story of fatherhood.
It was that connection that helped my business because I grew a pretty big personal brand out of it. That made me realize that my story was worth telling. As I would talk about being a parent and being a single father, my biggest audience are mothers. They want to see that emotional side of fatherhood, what we go through and the experiences that we have. I started writing articles and I started blogging. It’s one of the things I always tell everybody. When you have an idea and you want to write a book, write some articles. They became popular and I got published right away. I realized that my message had a lot of resonance for both men and women. I was able to affect people’s lives.
I thought that my story was worth telling and the book has done well. We don’t write a book to necessarily make money. Book writing is not like that. The book has 120 5-star reviews. I have people writing all the time that the book has changed their life, has affected them, and has made them realize things. For me, that makes the whole thing worthwhile, which is why I did it in the first place. When I started writing and connecting with an audience, I realized that that message was very powerful. It’s a message of spirituality, success and love for children. I know you have a daughter and an important daughter event. I have three daughters. We know all about it.Spirituality, success, and love for children all bring powerful messages that people can connect with. - Matt Sweetwood Click To Tweet
Go get the book because you’ll be inspired and transformed. It will open up some insights of being able to navigate being a great parent, in this case that of a father, as well as great at business and what it can do for you. Matt, for you on this journey as leader of the pack, it’s such a fascinating story. You had five kids, their mom left, and you are then left in a place where you we’re in crisis mode. If you can remember back when this all unfolded, what was your lowest point to put some perspective? What did you learn from it and ideally, what can our readers learn from it too?
I’ve been asked that question in various ways, but that way you’re asking it is in a deep way. For me, there were two low points. I’m not going to just pick one because they illustrate different things. One of the things when you go through a divorce and you have a spouse leave, you go through a personal issue of feeling like a failure. As a man, your wife has left you under harsh conditions. She was even willing to leave the children and leave you. You bottom out in that position. You struggle with your own self-confidence as a man. I can remember those lonely nights sitting there like, “What am I going to do?” The next moment is when the realism sets in, which for me was probably six months or a year later. You realized the kids were pretty profoundly affected by what happened.
I was in my early 30s. I had a harsh divorce judgment. New Jersey is a harsh state when it comes to men. I had five little children whose lives depended on me. I knew that either I was going to run away or I was going to stick it out. That meant for the next 15 or 20 years. It was at that moment where you just take this breath and you realize this is it. This is what your life is going to be. You have children to raise and you have this responsibility. It wasn’t in the plan. That low point was when I realized that I wasn’t going to just be a business guy or go off and be a professional golfer or whatever fantasy I have. I was going to be a parent. You come to grips with that and as you read through the story, I realized that was the best thing that ever happened to me in the end.
Speaking of the best thing that happened to you, what do you recall is the hardest part in that transition of trying to navigate between a parent and CEO of a company doing $100 million?
It almost sounds cliché, but time management becomes the most difficult thing. I identified that right away. I’m trying to separate the work. I was lucky because I had my own company. It wasn’t a 9 to 5 job. I don’t want to flex my hours, but you have to be there more. One of the tricks that I learned right away was that you mix the schedules together. I owned a Palm Pilot. What I ended up doing was I mixed my personal contacts, my business contacts, my personal appointments and everything together. I started to run both of them like businesses realizing that at some point is what transitioned me into being able to do it. There’s no secret. It’s hard work. It’s being dedicated on both ends but running your family in some respects in a businesslike fashion. You would look at my schedule and you would see, “Meet with the CEO of Canon, kids’ doctor’s appointment, staff meeting, soccer meeting.” You would see these right in my schedule. I would work it out and try to do that, keeping organized and managing your time and putting it all together and not being afraid.
Sometimes as men, we’re afraid to say, “We got to go and deal with our kids.” Now, it’s not such a big issue. Back when I was doing it, for a man to say, “I have to go do childcare,” that was a pretty big deal back then. I would simply do that. I would move meetings around. I wasn’t bashful about it. Managing all of those things together from a time perspective was important. Attaining good physical health was extremely important. Doing all of those things sounds good, but you have to be in a good physical condition. I was in a very bad physical state when all of this went down. Putting myself in good physical condition was extremely important for having the stamina. One of my favorite things that I like to say is that mental and physical strength is the foundation for mental and emotional strength. It’s crucial. You’re not going to be strong mentally or emotionally unless you’re strong physically. Putting myself in shape, being organized, combining the personal and the business together in one life plan made it all work.
As you’re reading right now, the old adage of separating personal from business, the idea of compartmentalizing personal and business, what if what you’ve been taught about that was a lie? What if what you’ve been taught about that was holding you back from a truly fulfillung, nourishing and zesty life? The reality is you can have both at the same time. You can have a great business and great personal life if you take the time to learn how to put it together. There’s an old Indian proverb that says, “He who has his health has 1,000 dreams. He who does not have has only one.”
Are you in a place right now where you’re overstressed, overwhelmed and overburdened because you’re trying to balance it? That’s a kiss of failure. What if on the other hand, you could integrate the two and bring them together to have this amazing life. Matt, as you think on this journey that you’ve been going and creating the framework and the foundation of living as leader of the pack with your five kids, you mentioned time management and being organized. How important have you found being organized in navigating between business and personal? What recommendations could you give to others on being organized without feeling locked down?
Organization is the key to success when it comes to managing any complex project. We have to be creative and work hard, but you’re going to be working very hard and you’re going to lose your creativity if you’re not ultimately organized. Keeping precise information as you go forward. I get laughed off a lot because I organize immediately. This is tip number one. When somebody gives me a business card, if I’m interested in the person, the first thing I do is I enter that person into my address book. If we schedule an appointment, I already made a little note on the side in my schedule that I have to send you something afterwards. I will go back and immediately do that.
The immediacy of recording, scheduling and capturing information is one of the biggest things that I do. I drive people crazy because the second I plan something, a calendar invite goes out. I use the calendar extensively. I use my address book extensively. I use Google Keep and Google Docs extensively. I use Dropbox. I have my photos organized. If you’d asked me a photo of one of my children from 2011, I can find it probably in twenty seconds. The key is to be organized with everything, don’t let anything slip and do it immediately. You never let any aspect off your record keeping and your organization.
You’ll say to me, “How do you not feel trapped?” I’ll flip it around. Everybody knows that if you want to be in shape, what do you have to do? You have to eat right and you have to exercise regularly. If I tell you that you have to exercise three times a week for the rest of your life, where you’re going to die an early death, do you feel trapped or do you feel motivated? It’s the same thing with this. You can feel trapped by this organization or you can make it part of your lifestyle and realize that it’s making you more successful. It’s a mindset. You can get trapped by organization and efficiency or just think like, “This is the key to success.” It’s part of the principles that I use in order to get ahead and to be successful in what I do.
I never feel trapped. I enjoy knowing where everything is and when I have to be at appointments. When somebody asked me a phone number or an email address from before, I’ve got it. I know all my files and all my documents. I do it paperless. I gave you a couple different cloud solutions and online solutions. If you look at my briefcase, I have copies of my book, a low-fat protein bar and some wires. That’s it. Not a single paper in my existence, which is also part of the organizational skill. It’s just to scan and make sure that you have everything organized like that.Mental and physical strength is the foundation of mental and emotional strength. - Matt Sweetwood Click To Tweet
As you’ve evolved over the years, what do you consider your greatest superpower?
It’s my ability to sense other people’s feelings and read them. It’s an extremely important skill in my personal life. It makes you pretty interesting when you date, but it’s a powerful business skill. Almost everybody can possess the skill to a lesser or greater extent. I can speak to somebody for a very short period of time. I can know whether they’re honest. I can tell whether they’re telling me the truth, whether they’re happy, depressed, strong. I have a very good feeling for that. That helps me a lot. It helps me relate to people because if you want to communicate and connect with people, you need to be able to relate on their terms. If you’re dealing with somebody who you can see is agitated or upset and then you add to that, you’re not going to get much to it. You’d want to calm them down. If you think somebody is not being totally honest with you, you start to probe them. It’s also a good business skill because it allows me to be a kick ass negotiator.
Would you consider this strategy empathy? Is that how you would define it?
I have empathy for a lot of people. People always say to me, “What is the thing that you’re the weakest at?” I have sometimes too much empathy for people. When you manage people, sometimes you need to be a little tougher and I have a hard time being tough with people. On the other hand, people trust you. They’ll relate to you and come to you. You get some benefit and some negatives that go with it.
What is a strategy that someone could use to build or create a better sense of empathy in their everyday work, business and personal?
It’s a simple principle and it has a biblical origin. When somebody is talking to you, stop thinking about yourself for a second and put yourself in their shoes. If you’re sitting there looking at somebody, you consider their age, their background, where they’ve come from and what you know about them. Try to imagine what they’re thinking and feeling at the moment. Stop for a second. In other words, sometimes we get into these business situations and I’ll leave it in a business realm where we’re trying to get something from the other person or we’re trying to convince them.
A lot of times I physically lean back, look at them and let them speak to me. I look at them and I say, “This person came from this part of the world, this country or this part of the States.” I know something about their background. I know they have a family at home. Maybe I know they have a sixth spouse. I know that they’ve had a rough existence. They came from a poor family or they came from a rich family or whatever it is. I try to put myself in there so I understand the argument that they’re making and how they’re going to operate going forward. If you make a habit out of doing that, you’ll be much more successful not only in your personal life, but in your business life and in your ability to negotiate.
As you’re reading right now, what would happen for you if you could develop this one skill of greater empathy, stepping in someone’s shoes and understand them? Dan Sullivan says, “People don’t buy from us because they understand us. They buy from us because they feel understood.” Whatever it is, whether you’re selling an idea or a product. Matt, you may have already hit on it but if your superpower is empathy, what’s your kryptonite?
I alluded to it already. I’m going to shift it from people. When I ran my photo business, they used to call me the hammer because they used to think that I negotiated deals with a hammer. We were in a low margin business, very tough business. You need it to be tough. A lot of times and as I’ve gotten older, I see the benefit of having it be fair for both sides when I make a deal. Sometimes I can drive deals harder and sometimes I let up too easy because I want both sides to do well. I don’t know how I was as a consultant and some of the opportunities I have. I have a new position now. Board members would be so happy with that. Over the long haul, when you take a kinder and gentler approach to negotiation, particularly in certain circumstances, it’s better. It’s a little bit of weakness. I don’t always go for the kill. Being a CEO and being in this position, sometimes you have to. It’s a combination sometimes. They’re all together, being too nice to people and not being hard enough sometimes and not driving every deal to the end. Sometimes I let up because I know it’s fair.
I’m a big movie person. There’s a line from the movie Rounders, which a mentor of mine used years ago. It goes, “You can shear a sheep for life, but you can skin it only once.” What would it mean to you as you’re reading to have long-term sustainability? What Matt is alluding to is sometimes it’s better to play a long game than win a short game, especially if you’re looking to have the sustainability. As you look at growing your business, how would it impact you having greater empathy? Also, making sure that the parties on all sides of the table are structured to win or have a sense or feeling of win, whatever that might be for them. As you develop the idea of Leader of the Pack, you transcended a business model with the modern camera store, then you transcended and built this $100 million business. What would be a couple takeaways as you did that, that others in their business could learn a lot from your progression or the way you went about it?
I’ll use the camera business, the electronics business and the film business. I was in an industry that underwent many transformations. My business at one point sold flashbulbs. The electronic flash evaporated the flashbulb business. We used to sell small stores like small independent pharmacies. The big CVS, Rite Aids and Walgreens came by in and took all of those. I used to sell film. My company had a 5% share of the amount of film sold. That’s 5% of the rolls of film sold in the United States. Digital photography took that out. We were selling camera stores. The nature of the business, the big box stores, Amazon, the internet, digital photography took out camera stores, so I opened a camera store and figured out how to do that.
The real lesson that I learned throughout my career is that you never want to stay stationary in your business. The mistake that I think a lot of people make is that they wait until it’s too late in order to reinvent their business. The big lesson that I learned over my 30-year career is that the time to reinvent your business is when you’re doing the best. It’s the hardest time because the money is coming in, but that’s the time you want to leverage your relationships, cash, money, operation and everything you have to look into new areas and figure out what the next thing is. That’s the big lesson I have. In every business, small, medium and large needs to reinvent their business. The example I use is the Eastman Kodak company from my industry invented the digital camera.If you want to communicate and connect with people, you need to be able to relate on their terms. - Matt Sweetwood Click To Tweet
Twenty years after they invented the digital camera, they were out of business because they couldn’t pivot from film to digital. They didn’t want to give up the profits. I use that as a lesson to all businesses. I look at Apple and the way they operate. I’m getting that feeling that they are riding the iPhone wave off into oblivion. I’m not feeling technology and innovation are coming from them. That’s the big lesson. I wrote an article on Entrepreneur about the continuous method of reinventing your business. How you go about doing that. That’s the big tip. Work hard and keep looking for a way to reinvent yourself or you’re going to be out of business sooner than you think.
Reinvent, innovate or perish. Here’s another fascinating thing I find about you, Matt. You do a lot of writing. You put out a lot of material from your books to your articles, blogs, etc. What is your process for writing in addition to what you do with your family and your business, to also be a prolific writer consistently?
Not to use a cliché but I have one of these adult ADHDs where I’m in constant motion. Having a high energy level helps. I was a math major in college. In graduate school, I have a degree in theoretical mathematics. I avoided writing. I remember when I went to write my book, I had somebody advise me and I always call her. She’s like Yoda from Star Wars. She would say to me, “What do you want to write about?” I’d sit there and she go, “That’s very nice. What have you written?” I said, “I haven’t written anything.” She goes, “Why don’t you take one idea and write it down?”
The process that I learned that I tell everybody is that you want to get out there and start getting your thoughts out there. For me, it was very simple. I started to write and I had success. I ended up writing my 3rd or 4th article and it got picked up by a publication. I realized I got better and better and I practiced. I can write an article now in an hour. If you have a business idea, parenting thought, thought about relationships, thought about life or philosophy, it’s easy to do because I practiced. I’ve learned the mathematical formula for blogging and how to do it. I can share it with your audience how I construct an article.
This is down and dirty thing. If you give me a topic, I can formulate even not knowing anything about it. If you want to write about a topic, what you want to do in the first sentence of the first paragraph of your blog is state the problem. People sometimes meander through these articles in the first line, “This is what is wrong with America now,” and you say exactly what it is. In the second line or second paragraph, you state your solution to let people know that you’re there. You don’t make them get to the end. Third phase is you state why you’re qualified to answer. If somebody is asking me what’s the best second language that they should learn and I’m writing a blog, I have no authority to speak on that because I only speak and write English. You need to have authority, and then after you state your authority, you go into the details, why your solution is a solution.
In the end, your final should be a killer line so people hit the share button. I always like to read the last line of the article to see if I read that line all by itself. This is how you make $1 million. People are going to hit share or something catchy to share. Many times, after I write an article and I realize that my share line or my catchy line is somewhere in the middle, I pull it out and put it at the end. That’s it. It’s a five-step process. State the problem, state your solution, state why you’re an authority, explain it in detail and have a good catch line at the end.
Matt, you build $100 million company. You’ve exited and you’ve sold. You’ve found a way to be at peace if there is such a thing in family and business. You’re consulting with large clients. You help companies grow, expand and set the stage for scaling and exiting. From what you’ve learned over the years, things are changing fast. We talked about innovation and the idea of staying ahead of the curve instead of getting squashed by it. What are 1 to 3 breakthroughs the you found either in your own businesses or with your clients that you’ve been able to help that our readers can learn from?
Number one is people. Sometimes you overlook your people. I’ve got walked into companies and they talk about, “I’m having trouble with this employee. I can’t get my department to do this,” and so on. The number one advice I always say is that, “If you want to have employees perform better, hire better.” A powerful tip that I can give any company, small, medium or large, is take a look at your hiring process. That’s number one and almost every organization that I’ve walked into can take improvement in that matter. If you hire better, you look at your procedures, who’s hiring, the qualifications of the people. You look at all aspects of it. There is a place where you can dramatically improve your company and improve lots of things that go on. People is number one because people are your number one asset.
Number two, and every business can do this, if you dive deep into your business, you can always find expense savings. This is my sale line when I walk in and I’m speaking to a company and I want to consult them. I give a little look at the company first and I always say to them, “If you let me in here for 30 days, I bet I can cut your expenses by 3% to 5%.” It’s a hard thing to do and they’ll look at you like, “Is that possible?” You can always do that, particularly if your business gets old, there’s expense creep. Every business has expense creep. If you’re in a competitive marketplace, it’s sometimes hard to gain 3% margin on your product when you’re selling. If you can catch it from the back end, it’s going to make a big difference. The third thing that I always tell businesses is always have a relook at your branding and marketing like a completely fresh look at every cycle that makes sense. In some companies, that makes sense every year. In some companies, it’s every couple of years.
I go into companies and they’re running the same marketing over and over again because they’re afraid to let go of the drug. They say, “That’s how we got our business.” The market could be growing at 20%. They could be acquiring business at their old 3% and they think their marketing is working but it’s not. Those three things when you look at a business and I did that throughout my career. I was big on innovating in those three areas. It took me a long time to learn. I don’t want you to think that on day one when I was a young man, I went at this. It’s over those years that I learned that if you continuously look at those three areas in your business and keep studying them carefully, you’re going to improve your business success and profitability to come full circle.
As you’re reading, do you want more leads, more sales and more profits? Do you want to set up exit or scale to create freedom? Imagine what would happen if you put these simple strategies in place? Create a better hiring system, review it, upgrade it or innovate. Be able to go out there and find the expense creep in your business or be able to upgrade or innovate your marketing and your branding. What would happen for you? Chances are if you apply this format, you would be transforming, doubling, tripling, quadrupling your business, and also creating more growth and freedom at the same time. Matt, this has been fascinating. If people want to go deeper with you to get access to your incredible resources and strategies available through articles, blogs, your book, etc., where can people go to connect with you to learn more?
I want to encourage you to go get his book Leader of the Pack: How a Single Dad of Five Led His Kids, His Business and Himself from Disaster to Success. I imagine as you’re reading, you get a glimpse of Matt’s wisdom and insights. He’s got his 10,000 hours. He’s cut his teeth in a lot of different ways in a lot of different industries. He’s helped a lot of people. He can help you too. Go to MSweetwood.com and access all the incredible resources he’s got available. Matt, what is something I should have asked you that we didn’t get a chance to cover?Work hard and keep reinventing your business, or else you’ll perish. - Matt Sweetwood Click To Tweet
What is my newest gig? We’re going to announce it. I’m going to be the CEO of a company called LUXnow. You can simply think of it as a peer-to-peer marketplace for luxury autos, boats and homes. It’s like Airbnb for luxury. There’s nobody operating in those three verticals in the world. We’re very excited. Our app is about to be released. We have almost $1 billion in rental inventory already. You’re going to hear about us. LUXnow is going to be the next big thing. I’m excited to be doing that.
Congratulations. I’ve got amazing connections of networks of high-profile entrepreneurs. I’d love to connect you. I’m going to say it here on the show because if you’re an entrepreneur and you want to grow and be connected to some of the other top entrepreneurs in the world who are movers and shakers, this will be a great resource for you as you’re reading. There’s no affiliate link here. This is me sharing what I believe to be. If I were in your shoes, I’d want to know this.
Number one is GeniusNetwork.com run by Joe Polish and his incredible team. They have over 250-ish of the top entrepreneurs in the world. People like Cameron Herold, Jay Abraham, Dan Sullivan and many others are part of this community. The other is BoardOfAdvisors.com run by Mike Calhoun, They’re based out of Florida. There’s eComm real estate and a lot of other fascinating industries that you’ll have a great connection. Yanik Silver with his Mavericks brand is another great community and group changing the world as well. I want to go back to our young fellow stage. How impactful were your family? Can you remember back being a kid? When was it you got inspired to be a leader, entrepreneur and game changer?
Both my mom and my dad were business people and I work with them in business. My mom was a female entrepreneur before the word existed. She never missed a day of work in 50 years. My dad was a deal-maker, wheeler dealer. My mom was a great businesswoman and together they made a power team. I went to work when I was a little kid and worked side by side with them. I was inspired very young. When I was very little, maybe I had some business genes in there. I didn’t get the sports gene either. For me, it was at an early age working with my parents who were both entrepreneurial. My mom was amazing. People always say, “Your dad did this.” My mom was an amazing woman way ahead of her time too.
What advice would you give to a parent who is an entrepreneur who has kids working to allow their kids to grow, whether they’re entrepreneurs or not? What advice would you give them?
Bringing your kids to work is the best thing that you can possibly do. If you’re an entrepreneur, you have that freedom of involving them in your business. There’s no such thing as having them start too early.
He’s Matt Sweetwood, Leader of the Pack. Go check out what Matt’s doing. You can go to MSweetwood.com. If you’re looking for luxury, the Uber or the Airbnb of luxury, yachts, cars and a whole lot more go to LuxNow.com. You can dive deeper. Matt, it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to have you here with us. I look forward to us being able to help each other more down the road.
Thanks for having me. It was a pleasure. It was an amazing interview. I’m thrilled to be here.
Thanks, Matt. I want to encourage you. Number one, it doesn’t matter where you’ve been. It matters where you want to go. Don’t let the past create or dictate your future, regardless of how bad it’s been. You can rebound, pivot and transform what it is that you do. Even if you feel like you’ve hit the bottom, even if you feel all alone, the reality is you are not alone. There are others out there who can help support you. Matt may be one of those. He also gave some tips and strategies on being able to write. He gave you a simple five-step formula if you want to be a prolific writer like he’s been able to become. He also shared three breakthroughs; build a hiring process, look at your expenses, look at rebranding and your marketing on it, and a whole lot more. You can come back to this episode on GrowthToFreedom.com/265. If you never want to miss an episode, go to GrowthToFreedom.com/subscribe. Seize the day, make it great and we’ll see you next time on GrowthToFreedom.com.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Leader of the Pack: How a Single Dad of Five Led His Kids, His Business and Himself from Disaster to Success
- New Media Summit
- Steve Olsher
- @MSweetwood – Twitter
- Facebook – Matt Sweetwood
- Instagram – Matt Sweetwood
- LinkedIn – Matt Sweetwood
About Matt Sweetwood
Matt Sweetwood is a thought leadership and personal branding expert and was the CEO of a social network. With over 30 years of entrepreneurial experience, he has been credited with the reinvention of the modern camera store, as well as the country’s largest in-store photography education program. However, his greatest achievement is having raised five successful children to adulthood as a single dad.
He is a life coach and business consultant and is a regular contributor on national TV and to several publications in the social media, photography, business, ethics, politics and parenting arenas. He has a bestselling self-help book, “Leader of the Pack: How a single dad of five led his kids, his business and himself from disaster to success.”