The Entrepreneurial Cheat Code with Mike Gleba – EP 368

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What does success as an entrepreneur mean to you? Does it mean having a million dollars in the bank? Is it all about building a 7 or 8-figure income? Or does the journey as an entrepreneur mean much more than that?

Today’s episode is a very special one because we’ll be talking about what we like to call, the entrepreneurial cheat code. And my guest, Mike Gleba, is a great friend and former colleague. Mike is the Founder and CEO of One 10 Media, a highly successful digital marketing agency that helps DTC eCommerce brands run paid social, email, and SMS ad campaigns.

I’ve known Mike since high school, and he was my Chief Marketing Officer and Strategic Real Estate Coach here at Freeland Ventures for about 10 years. He’s since gone on to have tremendous success, and as you’ll hear, we have a lot of catching up to do.

You’ll probably learn more about me and my entrepreneurial journey in our conversation than his. We dig into the importance of relationships, what we learned from putting on successful live events back in the early days, and how we’re applying those lessons to what we’re doing today with our businesses.

Key Takeaways with Mike Gleba

  • How having a cheat code was instrumental in Mike’s success on his entrepreneurial journey.
  • The importance that relationships have had in both of their lives.
  • The role that Kolbe strength assessments had in their businesses and increased their self-awareness.
  • How Josh’s ACER exercise was a powerful tool for Mike and still helps others set goals, both short term and long term.
  • What motivates Josh today now that he’s achieved so much which will resonate with anyone, especially entrepreneurs.

Mike Gleba Tweetables

“Relationships are absolutely everything. No matter what business you're in, at the end of the day, you're in the people business.”


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Josh Cantwell: So, hey, guys, welcome back to Accelerated Investor. Hey, it’s your host, Josh Cantwell. So excited to be with all of you. And today, guys, we’re going to talk about the entrepreneurial cheat code. I’ve invited my good friend, Mike Gleba, who is a successful CEO of his own digital marketing agency. I’ve invited him onto the podcast to talk a little bit about the entrepreneurial journey and a little bit about the entrepreneurial cheat code.


Mike and I have known each other since high school. We worked together for 10 years. Mike was my Chief Marketing Officer at Strategic Real Estate Coach and Freeland Ventures. Mike has since COVID moved out on his own and created a wildly successful digital marketing agency with clients that saw a lot of different things online, including a lot of physical products. Mike and I are both very successful entrepreneurs in our own right. And we’re going to hash it out today. We’re going to have some fun talking about the entrepreneurial journey.




Josh Cantwell: Mike, welcome to Accelerated Investor. Thanks for carving out a few minutes.


Mike Gleba: What’s up? Josh, I’m excited to be here. I remember when you started this podcast, I don’t remember what year it was, but I was here for it. And now, you’ve got what, 300 or 400 episodes? Something crazy like that.


Josh Cantwell: Yeah.


Mike Gleba: Awesome, man. Congrats on that. That’s awesome.


Josh Cantwell: Yeah, it was so successful at the beginning. We got hundreds of ratings and reviews and then we stopped doing it, like a bunch of idiots. And then we started it back up and realized how much people liked the content. We pivoted over to multifamily. And we also talk a lot about leadership and entrepreneurship. So, we’ll talk about that today. But yeah, it’s been– I think we’ve started this thing, dude, we’re probably going on our nine-year anniversary. I remember, we so much did not have time for the podcast when we started it, that Michael Blank, who is a super successful multifamily investor, came on the show. He was just getting started and I didn’t even have time to interview him. I was too busy, so I let Kyle do it. Remember that?


Mike Gleba: I do remember that.


Josh Cantwell: Probably should have interviewed Michael myself, considering all of his crazy success that he’s had.


Mike Gleba: Yeah, that’s so funny. I’m excited to be here because I wanted to, just have a little context for everybody. So, you hired me in 2010, and it all started with a breakfast, right? You remember that? I saw what you were doing online, sent you an email, said, “Hey, you’re doing some cool stuff online. This is what I want to learn.” I was in the mortgage business at the time. And I worked for you for 10 years, which still to me seems kind of crazy, that 10 years went really, really fast. It also seems crazy to me that it was a great run. We had a lot of fun together. It was really, really super exciting.


And then COVID happened, and a lot changed, right? You were going from single-family investor to multifamily investor. Strategic Real Estate Coach was trying to find a new identity. A lot of things going on with lending. And we had to part ways. And then I had a choice, start a business or go get a job.


And what I loved about working for you is it was always very entrepreneurial. I didn’t necessarily have to worry about the payroll, but I was still involved in all the decisions around the payroll or your right-hand person. And my agency is growing really, really fast. And I get this question a lot. People ask me, they say, “Mike, how did you do it? It took me 10 years to get where you’re at in three.”


And the truth is, I had a cheat code, man. I got to sit next to you for 10 years and I didn’t necessarily realize it at the time, but all of that information and all of those lessons and all of that stuff, which is in me. So, when it came time for me to– like 45 years old, two kids, start a business, you don’t really have an opportunity at that point to mess things up, even though I did. You have to do it. And I wrote down a handful of things that I learned from you. I want to tell them to you.


Josh Cantwell: Oh, please.


Mike Gleba: And then I’m going to ask you some questions about kind of where you’re at because when we started in 2010 and where you’re at now and how you’re thinking about your future is probably really different than– how old were we in 2010? What was that like, 34?


Josh Cantwell: 34 years old, yeah, I was actually– in 2010, I was right before being diagnosed with cancer, we were coming out of, we kind of unthawed the 2007, 2008, 2009 crisis. We were investing in Cleveland, and at that time, I was also parting and separating the businesses with Greg, right? Greg and I decided to buy each other out of Realeflow and Strategic Real Estate Coach. And Greg was buying the apple farm and I was really still focused on real estate, single-family.


And then I got sick, like within two years of that or a year and a half of that, and had that major surgery. So, that was a tremendous, tremendous time of upheaval in my business life and my personal life. So, I’m sorry to have to put you through that. Everything got started. But yeah, that was a wild time I’m in my life, for sure.


Mike Gleba: Well, it was like a lesson. This one was on my list, but that time was sort of a lesson in how to be, I guess, what I would call, like, a wartime CEO, right? Like, everything was good. You walked into that conference room that one day, told us what was going on with your cancer, and then it was a big sort of, oh, sh*t moment for everybody on the team. We didn’t really know what to do. You didn’t know what to do. But we made it. What year was that, Josh?


Josh Cantwell: Yeah, my surgery was in November 2011, so it was 18 months roughly after we brought you on.


Mike Gleba: Yeah. So, I don’t remember exactly what happened, 2011, 2012. I remember it being rocky, but I know those next couple of years were our best years at Strategic Real Estate Coach when the culture was amazing, the team was amazing. Those live events that we did were so much fun. And I think they were a lot of fun, at least for me, because of how much pressure there was. There’s a lot of pressure, right? Like, the budgets were huge, the speakers were amazing. When I think about it, I wish at that time I was just a little bit more present because these things don’t last forever, these moments of time. And to be with that crew, I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, you can edit this up, but getting drunk with Jack Canfield at the bar, that was really like life. Like, those are fun looking back moments, right?


Josh Cantwell: Yeah. I remember the next day, you guys said, “We were up with Jack Canfield all night drinking scotch and whiskey.” I had shut it down because I had to speak the next day. And you’re like, “No, Jack shut the bard out.” He was slugging whiskey on the rocks. It’s like two in the morning. For that dude, I didn’t know he had it in him.


Mike Gleba: I didn’t either. And that was a lot of fun. And I guess that’s a good way to segue into the first lesson. And that’s like relationships are absolutely every day. And no matter what business you’re in, at the end of the day, you’re in the people business, right? And if I think about my agency journey, my first three clients that I signed in 2020 were all from a relationship that formed when I worked for you. And then a lot of the people that I still keep in touch with now in the business world who have gone on to do some really big things are also a result of my time at Strategic Real Estate Coach.


And I’m curious for you, man, like one relationship can definitely change things, right? If I didn’t go to practice with you and you didn’t hire me, if you didn’t hire me, like there’s a lot of things, like, I wouldn’t have met Gary Vee at those masterminds we went to, and I said something to Gary that made him really laugh, that made me think I should try standup comedy. And I did that for a year successfully, and it was great. That would have never happened without all of this.


So, I’m curious for you, man, if you think back to your journey, your entrepreneurial journey, is there one relationship or one moment that really spawned off a series of events that like, do you get what I’m saying? Like for me, it was going out to breakfast with you, a lot changed. What is it for you? Do you have something like that?


Josh Cantwell: So, there’s probably three or four of those moments for me because I’ve had a couple of different phases of my entrepreneurial life. So, the first one for sure, when I was a financial planner and I was considering going into real estate full time, I had gone to this conference with my dad in Beaver Creek, Colorado, and I was very much in flux at that time. Was I going to get in real estate full-time? Was I going to go into financial planning full-time? Was I going to tack on a retirement planning business onto my dad’s health insurance agency, right? Because he was already working with.


So, I remember coming home, and then Greg and I went and met with a local HomeVestors franchisee, Ted Cowan. And if you remember Ted and I remember walking out on to Madison Avenue in Lakewood, Ohio after that meeting. And I looked at Greg and said, “Dude, I’m going to quit my job. I’m all in on real estate. I’m going to forego all these other things that I’m considering.”


So, that meeting with the HomeVestors franchisee was the final decision, if you will, the final decision to get into real estate. So, that was big. So, Greg and I know because Greg was kind of already convinced he wanted to do it, but he was already kind of tapped out of the financial planning. So, that was one big decision for sure.


So, then I met Ted and then we built the business with Greg, and then I met Jason Zak and Derek Walkush and Ted Cowan and all these great guys. And then Greg and I ended up splitting that business up because we built Realeflow and I met Roberto, and Josh Tobias joined us and all that kind of stuff started from that one decision on Madison Avenue. So, that was a big one.


The next big one was really after my surgery when I realized that I had built this wholesaling business is very transactional business. It was all based on closing transactions. There was no recurring revenue. And I knew that I’d screwed that up and I knew that I needed to focus really on getting access to money. And I made the decision after my surgery to really understand the securities laws, to really focus on learning real estate, private placement memorandums and securities.


And when I did that, I realized how many gurus are freaking clueless about the rules and regulations around private money. And all of a sudden, I knew I had a niche. And I also realized this wasn’t really a niche. These rules have been around since 1932, but nobody freaking ever read them, paid attention to them. And so, I made that decision.


So, what happened was I went through a series of securities lawyers, Mike, if you remember Ralph Sherman and then Joe Carney. And then we got really serious. We started buying. We started our private equity fund. And then you met Paul and Adam Vincent, so that decision to focus on private money and the true rules and regulations around private money. And then I realized that so many gurus are teaching people to honestly violate securities laws. They were literally teaching people the wrong sh*t and teaching them to violate securities. So, that was a big decision. That was a huge one because then I became very well known for raising money and doing flips, raising money and building a fund, and then raising money and then buying apartments.


Another one that sticks out is that when I went to speak at with Ryan Moran, Ryan invited me up on stage to do a panel. And I’ll never forget that when I walked off the stage, I was at the bar, I was having a drink and I bumped into a guy named Justin Donald. Justin Donald is the owner of the Lifestyle Investor brand. He’s a bestselling author, a New York Times, an Amazon best seller. Justin has way before he ever decided to write a book or become a guru or become an expert. And Justin and I were just having drinks at the bar, just bumped into each other, just, hey, how are you? Hey, I loved your talk on the panel. Hey, what do you do? Who are you? We literally had no idea who each other was.


Justin and I over the next year, kept in touch. He invested in one of my syndications. He then put that syndication in his book. I then became interview number four on his wildly successful podcast, and we now probably get 10 new opt-ins a month into our investor portal. And we’ve raised millions, if not tens of millions of dollars from leads and from introductions from Justin Donald, which was a total happenstance introduction. But because I was putting myself out there, I was putting myself on stage, I was willing to go speak with no return on investment, no speaking fee, no guarantee of anything, I happened to bump into Justin.


Justin and I are still friends. We still talk probably at least once a quarter. Justin is wildly successful. I’m in his book. And we still get tons of investor leads because for me, now, the most important thing is actually doing apartment deals, like not being a guru, not selling a mastermind, but buying apartments. Building this $300 million portfolio that we’ve built is all I really care about. The podcast and the masterminds are the fun stuff that I do.


And so, Justin’s had a huge impact on and in a very indirect way of us actually making new relationships and raising money. So, those three stand out. My decision with Greg on Madison Avenue, my decision to focus on private money and really understanding the securities laws and doing it the right way, number two, and number three, my happenstance meeting with Justin, which would have never happened unless Ryan Moran invited me to speak at his conference. But those three stand out as far as things that really led to something significant from that one decision. Does that make sense?


Mike Gleba: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s really cool to see like Ryan. Ryan’s awesome. Ryan and I keep in touch as well. and Ryan’s team had done a really great job and like has a great business, And if you think about like way back in the day, like he was a copywriter for us, right? And then, speaking of copywriters, I don’t know if you know, but like Mario, who used to write a lot of our copy back in the day, he is like the number one or two world’s foremost experts on AI right now. He’s got a really big stage. Mario, yeah.


Josh Cantwell: Really? So, I just talked to Mario maybe six months ago, and I thought he was still writing copy for the V Shred guys.


Mike Gleba: He may be, but I have a couple of copywriters on my team. And I mentioned Mario’s name to two of them the other day in our Slack channel, and they were blown away that I knew him. And I’m like, “What are you talking about?” Because he’s just Mario to me. Apparently, Mario, he’s like, what does she call him? She called him like the anti-guru or something like that. Mario is a humble dude. He’s kind of quiet and he’s all of a sudden been catapulted into the public eye and he’s on the stages and he’s using ChatGPT to write copy, yeah.


Josh Cantwell: I’m looking him up on my other screen. Mario Castellini, right, is how you pronounced it and how you said it?


Mike Gleba: Castelli, I think, C-A-S-T-E-L-L-I.


Josh Cantwell: Okay. I had one too many Ns in there. Oh, here we go, Copywriter. Contact Mario.


Mike Gleba: Yes. Send him a text and tell him that I said that he’s famous. He’ll love that.


Josh Cantwell: Yeah, well, that’s freakin’ awesome. Mario was such a stud, such a crazy dude, such a good copywriter for sure. It’s awesome to hear that somebody we know is a stud in the AI space because I did not know that.


Mike Gleba: Yeah, yeah, definitely. And going into– I don’t have a good segue since we have been bumpy. But lesson number two, you’re always so self-aware, man. And like you kind of push that onto us too. I remember, like in 2010, and this might have been before I got there, but you pulled out the Kolbe profile, right? And you had everybody on your team this Kolbe. And everybody that I hire in my business has a good thing with Kolbe because that’s what I learned from you. And I learned kind of like what a high blue means and what a high green means. And if you put too many high greens in the room, like you and I, lots of ideas, no execution. You need the high blue person to take it to the finish line, right?


And I remember, this might have been one of the biggest aha moments of my entire adult life so far. That is, I was going through the Kolbe results and I realized Kolbe basically said like, “Yo, you are not good with tools or diagrams or putting things together, assembly-based or anything like that.” I’ve struggled with that my whole life. Like, my dad is really handy. He and I just had never clicked. So, it was like, I don’t know, a veil lifted or something like that. And it just gave me permission to own that I suck at all that stuff. And I know you can relate because we’re built the same way, right? Like, you always make jokes, you know how to swing a hammer.


Josh Cantwell: Yeah. It’s interesting that you just used the word permission because that’s exactly what was about to come out of my mouth. The Kolbe profile and those types of things when you now can really believe that how you think you’re built is really how you are built and how you can almost prove through like a third-party resource some sort of personality test or instinct test that says and it reassures you that that’s really truly who you are, and then it gives you permission to tap out of the things that you’re not good at, to tap out and say, “I’m not good at this or I’m not good at that.” Like, I’m not good at construction, I’m not good at property management, I’m not good at writing copy, or I’m not good at raising capital, whatever that is. But it also then gives you permission to literally say in public, like, “This is what I’m good at and this is what I’m not good at,” right? I’m not good at these things that I need help with this.


And it also is the ultimate permission again to now say it’s okay to build a team and give up some control because you have to give up some of that control to really build a business, right? And so, I’ve been very fortunate to be more self-aware as I’ve gotten more mature, self-aware of what other people are good at and what I’m not good at, and trying to find people who are almost opposite of me instead of people like me. Like Greg was just like me. You were very much like me. Derek Walkush was very much like us. So, those relationships, although they started out in a lot of cases really, really well, really strong, at some points, we all butted heads because we were so much the same.


And then you realize, wow, all these people have become great entrepreneurs in their own right doing their own thing because they should be an entrepreneur. They should be a leader of a business. You’re very self-aware of that. I just got lucky to have been introduced to that all the way back in, like when I was 28 years old and really, really studied it.


Now, I still use it. I just took my mastermind members, about 100 people through the Kolbe profile last month and they were blown away by it. I’m like, I think this is a cool tool. I still use it all the time. Like every time somebody goes do it for the first time, they’re blown away by how accurate it is. It’s crazy.


Mike Gleba: Yeah, I took it one step further and I developed a relationship with a Kolbe coach I really like. And we do like A to A’s now, so it’s like, how do I relate to this person? And it’s a really great sort of profile. It’s like, don’t do this, do this. And it’s been great for my team and understanding like who’s strong where and who’s weak where and how I’ll do things a little bit differently. But you spend a lot of time thinking about things and you did a lot with whiteboards and you did a lot masterminding with the executive team, but you took a lot of time yourself out to think. And I remember at the time, because I didn’t have a CEO perspective, what is this dude thinking about all the time? But now, I get it. I’m curious, what’s that?


Josh Cantwell: Like, what the hell does he do?


Mike Gleba: Yeah, exactly. And even now, when I have to do the thinking work, sometimes it’s like it still doesn’t feel like I’m being productive, even though that’s a big part of the CEO job. So, I’m curious, in your current version of Josh, how much time are you spending thinking and how do you determine what you need to think about that day?


Josh Cantwell: So, spend a ton of time thinking to the point where there’s definitely days where I don’t feel like I’m contributing to the active business because I’m outside and I’m way above it that I’m not in it and I’m not contributing to it. But that’s not really true because I’m spending so much time thinking about the next step, the next move, the next chess piece. And also, you and I both have subscribed to a lot of Tony Robbins theories and philosophies. We’ve used those.


And so, Tony’s comment about what we can accomplish over 10 years really has resonated with me lately because now, I spend a lot more time thinking because the decision that we ultimately make is going to have a very long-term impact on our business. So, I have to think more to make the right decision because the right decision is going to be a 3 to 5 to 10-year decision, right?


So, one of my favorite books of all time is The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek. That book changed my life because I started really thinking it was okay to have less success in the short term, less money, less dopamine, less hits, less transactions in the short term in order to allow myself to have an even way more success in the long term. And in doing that, in the short term, my income wasn’t as big as it used to be, but now, it’s way bigger than it ever was. And so, that was the give and take was the short term being okay to think more, to make less, to do less in order to make the proper and right decision.


So, I’ll give you an example. We are in the process of looking at buying a property management company. We have a few that we’re negotiating with, talking to. If we buy that, depending on which one we buy and for what price is going to have probably a three-generation impact on my family. Here’s why. So, we buy the property manager, which we bolt on to all of our existing ownership of what we own, but when the property manager comes the opportunity to do all of these other ancillary businesses that the property manager is the centerpiece of, centerpiece of, centerpiece of, and what I mean is we have a whole business now where we buy laundry machines. We have a laundry company. We buy laundry machines, we install them into other people’s apartment buildings, and we do a rev share. It’s a whole business. But the way that you grow that business is by managing other people’s buildings. So, we have to buy the manager. So, we own 100 laundry machines on our own and we do a rev share between our laundry company and our own buildings. So, that is one.


Second one is the utility business. So, we actually negotiate our own utilities in our buildings. We get paid upfront checks plus monthly continuity from negotiating the utilities with the utility companies. And then we actually have a platform where we can plug in other customers into that utility negotiation, negotiate their utilities, and we get a rev share. So, imagine if you spend $200,000 a year on your water and sewer bill, your electric bill, your gas bill, and you can negotiate that to get better rates and then get a rev share from a client, second.


Number three, property management fees. Number four, construction. Like, we own a construction company and we can do our unit turns for about $8,000 to $10,000 a unit like a full turn, full remodel. Well, the going rate for that is about 15 grand a unit, 14 grand a unit. So, if we do it for other people, there’s about a $4,000 to $5,000 profit. It’s about a 50% margin. We do a unit for 10 grand. We make five grand in profit, but a 50% margin of doing construction for other people. So, there’s all of that, plus, hey, now, we can stand up a sales team that can now go out and call on owners and say, “Hey, what about your laundry? What about utilities? What about your management? What about your construction? And oh, by the way, can we buy your building from you?” It all hinges upon buying or standing up our own property management company that will then allow us to make these fees that are not transactional. A lot of these are ongoing monthly fees that we make. So, it’s in perpetuity, which is what I love.


And so, I’ve had to spend a ton of time thinking to get to this point of knowing that the next move for us is to buy a property manager, might cost us a million bucks to buy that business, and then to take that and to grow that to whatever, 5,000 units, 10,000 units and beyond. And so, I also know, though, that going back to yours, lesson number two, which is the self-awareness, is that I can mastermind that, I can raise the money for it, I can create it, but I can’t run it. I am not the COO that can run it. I have to bring in someone like a Jason Schlegel or like a chief operating officer-type guy who can do all the contracts on the back end and all the systems and all the operations.


But what I am good at is coming up with the idea, putting together the business model, and raising the capital. That’s my swim lane. That’s my superpower. I can do that, which most people can’t do, right? So, that’s my superpower. And I’ve been extremely self-aware because of the thinking that I’m doing, but also, that decision, if we do it the right way, is going to create like a half-a-billion-dollar business. We can forecast that that’s a $500 million company on top of our $300 million portfolio we own now. And that becomes a multi-generational wealth machine, if you will. And I can see it as clear as freaking day now. And I’ve had to spend a ton of time thinking to get to this point.


Now, to be able to do that, you have to have some infrastructure. You have to be able to make some money today from your current operation, so you’re not being transactional all the time. You’re not on the hamster wheel. And so, I took the long-term approach to build this apartment portfolio, which kicks off cash flow, which has allowed me the time to think more and to be more self-aware and more niche. So, that’s the evolution as it’s happened for me.


Mike Gleba: I know you’re thinking at the gym, you’re thinking in the shower, you’re thinking when you’re driving, but are you purposely carving out a portion of your day sitting down with a pad of paper or something and just trying to answer questions? Or are you on a whiteboard? Or are you–how are you doing that?


Josh Cantwell: You’re disappearing. Going to my campsite, going to the gym, doing things that don’t require any thought. I’m like, I’m not purposely thinking. I’m not purposely setting a time slot on a whiteboard or a mind map. I’m just disappearing on my own, like I own an apartment building that has a phenomenal gym, like we redid the gym. We spent $50,000 putting in. So, I would have that gym because there’s nobody there and I’ll just think. And of course, I need to have my phone nearby, not because I need to use my phone because that’s where I take my notes. I take my notes in my phone. I don’t take a yellow pad. I don’t take a mind map, I don’t take a whiteboard, I just take my phone. And that way I could take notes in my phone and I can be in a situation where I could take notes because something what I found is I do my best thinking when I’m not trying to think. I do my best thinking when I’m not in the mock, when I’m not forcing it, if you will, I’m away from it. And that’s when I get my best ideas. They pop into my head.


Or I’ll get on the phone with Glenn or I’ll get on the phone with Tyler. I’ll call someone like you. And I have something, I’ll just try to get on the phone and just talk it out with somebody that’s kind of an expert. And to help me move on down the next step, if you will. But truly, I do feel like all of our best thinking happens when we’re not asking ourselves to think, when we have a clear mind with really nothing rolling around in our brains, no distraction. We’re doing something we enjoy. And that like subconscious then starts to kind of take over and then the best ideas kind of pop in. They just literally pop in out of nowhere, like a light bulb. So, to me, that’s the best way to do it. Disappear. Go camping. Go have a couple of drinks. Sit by a fire, go to the gym, go watch your kids at sports. Do something that doesn’t require any business thought and you’ll be baffled when these ideas pop in.


Mike Gleba: Yeah, awesome. There’s a good book I read recently that talks about thinking time in business. It’s The Road Less Stupid by Keith Cunningham. Have you heard of that one?


Josh Cantwell: I have not. That’s awesome. I’m going to write that down.


Mike Gleba: Don’t absolutely quote me on this one, but I’m pretty sure he is the rich dad in the Rich Dad Poor Dad story. Super accomplished businessman. It’s a really great, like, bite-sized book. Each chapter is like two pages or something like that. Really, really good. Josh, how much more time do we have? We’re at like probably.


Josh Cantwell: We’re good. I’m looking at Amazon to see this book that you just recommended. No, we’re good.


Mike Gleba: Yeah. Awesome. So, just along the lines of self-awareness and thinking time, you used to walk our coaching students to do this, a couple of different exercises, but one that stuck out to me, and I’d love a 30-second refresher on it. And I’m curious if you still teach it or if you use it yourself, but it was the 7, 7, 7 exercise, you know what I’m talking about? It is the 7, 7, 7 where you write down, like if you had, I think, it’s seven days to live, what would you do? Seven months and seven years. Do you still walk your students through that?


Josh Cantwell: Yeah, yeah. So, we call that the ACER Exercise now.


Mike Gleba: Okay.


Josh Cantwell: Absolute Clarity of the End Result, A-C-E-R. And absolutely, I do it. I just did it. We were in New Orleans.


Mike Gleba: You did it for yourself?


Josh Cantwell: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I did it for myself, I did it with them. I walked them through. We were in New Orleans back in the first week of December and we spent a good two hours going through that exercise. And essentially, the exercise, for our listening audience, is that I’ve taken note over time that so many people complain about where they’re at, but they don’t really know what they really want. And so, if you don’t really know what you really want, the world, life, fate, whatever you want to call it, is just going to push you in whatever direction the world wants you to go unless you push back.


It’s like being in a canoe and going down the river towards Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls is so powerful, like life is so powerful, it’s going to just suck you to the edge unless you have some direction and some strength to push your own direction. And so, so many people complain about where they’re at, but they don’t really know where they really want to go. And so, I’ve used this exercise called the ACER Exercise. And I say, “Look, put yourself in a situation that you walk into a doctor’s office just like I did. And the doctor says, unfortunately, you’ve been diagnosed with this unbelievably rare disease and you are going to die exactly seven years from now. You’re going to be totally healthy for the next seven years, and exactly seven years from today, you’re going to just die in your sleep. But you know the date. But you’re not allowed to tell anyone. You’re not allowed to tell your spouse. You’re not allowed to tell your kids. You’re not allowed to tell anybody. And so, now, you have exactly seven years to do everything you’ve ever wanted to do. Go.”


And so, the question then becomes is, what I ask all of our members to do is write down five things that they dream of having in those seven years, five things they dream of doing in those seven years, and five things they dream of becoming, like having, doing, and being. Like, you have these material things, that you do these things like experiences, and you become or you be something. And so, write down five things in each category. Now, you’ve got seven years.


Then I ask the audience, now, you’ve got seven months, you have the same diagnosis, the same crazy disease, the same opportunity. But the doctor says instead of seven years, which now seems like you have a long time, you get seven years of health. Wow, I’ve got seven years to accomplish lot of things. But what if the doctor came in and said, it’s seven months? You only have seven months. Now, what would you do? Like, totally different, right?


In seven years, you could build a whole business for $100 million or $500 million and sell it off and have a huge impact on your family. Seven months? Probably not. So, what things would you button up? What things would you do? Now, it becomes in seven– it becomes a lot less about what you would think about having. Now, it becomes primarily, when I run this exercise with our members, it becomes about who they dream of being. Like, how do they want to be remembered?


And then finally, they think lastly about, well, first priority is what do they dream of being, like how do they want to be remembered? Number two, it’s what do they dream of doing, like the experiences. Like, I want to go jump out of a plane. I want to go dive with great white sharks. I want to ride four-wheelers through the desert. I want to do these amazing things. And the least important of them all is the things they dream of having.


Mike Gleba: Absolutely.


Josh Cantwell: Now, the last piece is I ask the same question and say, you’ve got one week, you have seven days. Same diagnosis, same thing. The doctor says, “Okay, we’re recording this right now on a Wednesday, you’re going to die exactly seven days from now. T minus seven days go and you ask the same question, what do you dream of having, doing, and being? And now, it has nothing to do with what they have. Nothing to do really, with even the experiences of what they want to do. Like maybe a couple of experiences with their family last minute, like, let’s squeeze something in. But it 100% becomes about who they are. Like, what do they dream of being? How do they want to be remembered? And then also, it becomes about time. It’s like now time is truly set in and all I want to do, like, if I had seven years, I’m still thinking about working. I’m still thinking about working my face off and building something.


But now, in the last seven days, like a lot of people that respond to this, all they think about is, well, I wouldn’t let my kids go to school. I wouldn’t sleep. For the next seven days, I would just spend time with them. I would listen to them. I would talk to them. I would want to get to know like who they really are in a really deep way. I would want to express to them all of my regrets, the things that I did or didn’t do, and pass along all these lessons to them. If my kids fell asleep, I would find ways to stay up for seven straight days. I would watch them while they’re sleeping. I would listen to them snore or I would– the little things, little tiny things about their life that I could, in the last seven days, remember, right?


And so, it’s funny, the longer you give yourself, the more it becomes about what you dream of having. In the middle range, it’s more about what you dream of doing. And in the last seven days, it’s all about what you’ve become. And that’s the difference. It’s amazing. The more time we give ourselves, it’s less about who we are and what we’ve become. And it’s so much more, especially for men, especially for like, we’ve got to provide, we’re cavemen, we’ve got to take care of our families. It becomes so much more the longer we give ourselves about what we want to have. But what I really think we need to focus on is the seven-day and the seven-month, which is who are you. like how do you want to be remembered? What do you want to be? And what do you want to do? What do you want to do with your life? I want to go to Vegas and I want to jump out of the helicopter with a parachute. I want to bungee jump. I want to travel to Europe. I want to go see the place where Jesus Christ was born, like all these things that could have a significant impact on your life.


Why aren’t we doing that? We’re not doing it because we’re so caught up in what we dream of having. That’s what gets in the way. And so, you realize what’s truly important. You’ve got to pivot and realize and force yourself now to have this moment of I’ve got to focus on what I’m doing and who I am, not what I have. That’s the ultimate takeaway from me.


Mike Gleba: I remember how impactful that exercise was when you would do it from stage. And I feel like it’s time for me to do it again, because I think it’s different for every entrepreneur, but the stage I’m in right now is still very much a startup mode and I’m hustling. And two days feels like four months to me. And it’s easy to get lost in the crazy, right? And then, realize that you’re climbing a ladder really fast, but is it up against the right building? And so, I’m going to do this exercise soon. So, thanks for that refresher on it. I have a thousand more questions for you, man. We’re almost out of time. So, I got one more big one for you.


Josh Cantwell: Sure.


Mike Gleba: What’s your motivation now? Like, for a while, it was money, right? A lot of us started as entrepreneurs for time and money and freedom. I’m assuming you have plenty of both if you want it. You’re in your mid-40s. Like, as much as we hate to admit it, we’re halfway to 94 at this point. Like, what’s your motivation for continuing to hustle and build and just do hard things?


Josh Cantwell: Yeah, I can tell you, dude, it comes down to one thing. For me, I had the special experience of surviving cancer. And my father, who recently passed away a couple of years ago from Parkinson’s, he would say to me, he would say, “Son, you were spared for a reason. And the second half of your life, the only thing you need to do is find out why you were spared and then maximize this second chance.” And so, I think about that all the time, if not daily on multiple times a week basis.


And what I think it really comes down to, Mike, is fulfilling your potential. And so, I think often that I was blessed with tremendous amounts of potential, tremendous amounts of talent, a really great mentor, my father, not just as a father, but as a business leader. I’ve been given tremendous amount of opportunities, leverage, access to money, access to relationships. So, I’ve convinced myself that my potential is huge. And so, it really comes down to fulfilling that potential and not having a regret because when I was diagnosed, it came out of left field, like totally came out. It was just a random Tuesday and came out of nowhere. That could easily happen again. Matter of fact, I’m convinced at some point, it will happen to me again. Something will come up out of left field, out of nowhere, and I will be pushed to the edge again. I know that’s going to happen at some point in my life. I don’t know if it’s going to happen when I’m 85 or if it’s going to happen when I’m 48. I have no idea. But I don’t want to regret walking into that next time when it comes out of left field. And then I say, sh*t, like I’ve left so much on the table, so much potential that I did not capitalize on.


And so, it’s really not about like, how much money. That’s a byproduct, right? How much money? How much is your portfolio? How big is your business? But when I look at potential, I also look at relationships with family and friends, relationships with kids. Like, I have a big desire to help kids because so much of the world is broken, so many people are divorced, so many people are aloof, clueless, stuck in social media, so many people are underperforming their potential. And so much of that is falling onto these young kids. And when I say young kids, I mean like high school and under.


And there just isn’t a lot of good leaders. There just really isn’t a lot of good leaders for young kids right now. And so, when I say potential, it’s not just about how big of a business, but– so like I delivered a speech last week to the Strongsville Middle School Leadership, 100 kids. That’s one of my favorite moments. Speaking to my daughter’s confirmation class, 150 kids in eighth grade, I feel like those are the kids that– they might have great parents, great parents that are very engaged, but are their parents leaders? Are their parents leading them? Or are they just parenting them? I think there’s a big difference.


So, it comes down to like, I think, fulfilling potential. And only you, each one of our audience today, you can only convince yourself what your potential is, and you’ll limit your experiences, you’ll limit your ability if you limit your potential. If you tell yourself you have massive amounts of potential and there’s so many things you can accomplish, then it opens up a lot of things because you’re convinced that you need to strive for more to fulfill that potential.


My dad reminded me, said, “Josh, God gave you so much talent. It would be a shame if you didn’t do something extraordinary.” So, it’s my dad’s kind of words from the grave still that motivate me. That’s primarily where it’s coming from. Like, I’m deathly afraid to get sick again. I’m deathly afraid to underperform. I’m deathly afraid to have regrets of not living a life of fullness with fulfilling that potential. That’s where my desire comes from, not in buying the next building and how much money it can make me.


Mike Gleba: That’s amazing. I don’t even want to say anything after all of that because it was super inspiring. But I will say this. I plan on writing a book someday. And absolutely, dude, you’ll be in the foreword or maybe even a chapter. I owe a lot of my success to you and the things that you taught me. So, it was awesome catching up here today. I hope we can do it again. And yeah, let’s do it again. Or let’s drink some beers. Or let’s drink some beers and do it again, whatever you want. But it was awesome, dude. I appreciate you.


Josh Cantwell: Drinking beers out of podcast, talking entrepreneurship and life with a good friend. Like, it doesn’t get any better than that, Mike.


Mike Gleba: That’s true. I agree. Absolutely.


Josh Cantwell: Yeah. I want to thank you and just express my gratitude for you because this was your idea, putting this podcast together, doing this interview. This was totally fun for me. I love the last 55 minutes of doing this with you. Let’s do it again super soon, man. Thanks so much.


Mike Gleba: Awesome. Thanks, Josh.

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