Meet Serial Entrepeneurs Mike and Summer PerkinsJan 07, 2022
Mike and Summer Perkins are serial entrepreneurs. They have been married for almost two decades and really enjoy each other's company. When I met them in Florida, their joy was overflowing. Mike and Summer are members of the MC Business Coaching program. Mike has an IT service company, Northrock Technical Services, that serves Houston automobile dealers. And Summer is a former sales executive turned Realtor.
John Cunningham: Thanks for joining me today. I'm glad that we could meet up. So can you tell me a little about yourselves?
Summer Perkins: Hi, I'm Summer from Spring, and I'm a Realtor with Realty Associates. Mike and I've been married for 16 years, and we have four kids; ages 26, 20, 17 & 7 years old. We had a little bit of a surprise at the end; a little girl.
Mike Perkins: I am Mike Perkins, husband of Summer. And I am unemployable.
SP: Yeah, he's pretty much always worked for himself, and there's no way he would ever be able to work for anyone else.
MP: I have been in the entrepreneurial space since I was a kid. I actually called my dad, because I knew we were having this interview, and I was like, okay, what happened here? He was a union worker. He always had to know where his money was coming from. He had to know exactly how much he was making. So I didn't necessarily have somebody that spoke to me on that level (of entrepreneurship) , as a young person. He said, ‘I kind of figured there was something different about you the day I came out of the house and you were standing on the hood of somebody's car, washing it.’ To be fair, I was young and didn't know better. I told him that I started a carwash business. I kind of had the entrepreneurial thing going, before it was really cool. I think from the beginning I couldn’t not do that, it was in my DNA.
SP: Mike would go and get people's free newspapers out of their driveway and then knock on the door and sell them back their newspapers for a quarter. I have had his former neighbors tell me, "I can't tell you how many of my own tools I purchased back from Mike." It was so cute, because he was little, and they would give him a quarter to get the own screwdrivers back that he found in their driveways.
MP: Then, when I finished high school, I decided I was going to sell cars for a living. I thought, you know, that's sort of like a hybrid of actually having a real job but also a little bit of freedom. So I was kind of drawn to that idea. I had to talk one of the car dealership managers into giving me a job selling cars since I was only 18 years old. The seasoned salespeople ate me for lunch. Somebody always got in on my deals. Everything that I sold, somebody else was getting half of the deal or something. I could sell, but I was inexperienced enough that they could figure out some way to weasel in on the deal.
I remember thinking, this is kind of cool when it's working out, but honestly, most of the time this sucks. And so at that point, especially as I was standing outside in the cold waiting for customers to show up. I decided that I probably needed to go back to school and learn computers because I had always had a natural knack for that. I tested out of all my computer courses in school, and it was something that I could sit down with and get absorbed in for 10-12 hours. During highschool I had gotten away from it but I know I had a knack for technology, so it seemed like a pretty good fit.
SP: His mom says that he is an amazing adult, but she's not sure how she got through his childhood.
JC: That's like me like I wrote my book. And so I said to my parents, Mom and Dad, you see all those struggles that we went through? They all led to this. Isn't that cool!?
MP: Later, As a young 20 something year old, I thought I was a business savant because I built this multi-million dollar business on the back of the dot-com bubble, and y2k. And as quickly as it went up, it came back down when people stopped spending tons of money on upgrading their computers every three or four months. That business sort of died out a little bit, and my partner and I split the company. I took the service side and my business partner got the product side. I also had a marketing consultancy for a while after I sold the first business.
JC: Summer, you're in real estate. A lot of people kind of happen into that business after doing other things. What's your career path?
SP: I didn't know what I wanted to study when I was in school. My mom was a teacher and gave me one of those career aptitude tests. It said that I was going to be in sales and I remember telling her, I will never be in sales, like, no, absolutely not.
And then in my junior year, I decided to get a BBA specializing in Marketing/Management. Right after college, I started working on my real estate license. It hit the radar in my senior year because my college roommate’s sister-in-law was in real estate and it just sounded really fun. I went into a Realtor broker's office and said, this is what I want to do. I don't really have the money to go to school so will you hire me and help me get my license? He hired me as a front desk person and to write marketing copy. The broker agreed to pay for my classes with our agreement that my first deal, I would pay him back for them. While I was working there, I actually got an opportunity to sell advertising through a friend of my family.
I recognized that I was getting in debt before I ever started in real estate. It scared me off a little bit. I was thinking, what am I doing? I'm not making money, and I'm spending it to make money. I haven't even made a dime. So I went ahead, took the advertising sales job but finished getting that license, paying back the broker and immediately put it in inactive mode.
Then, I got to work selling print advertising. I sold commercial ads for Thrifty Nickel/American Classifieds for eight years. As I was working, I realized that I was doing a lot of work on little bitty accounts. And I wanted big accounts because I understood that it was the same amount of work per account, and you get paid more. And so I started sneaking my way into the outskirts of Houston and figured out that I could get them to send ads to other city’s publications. They would advertise in my paper, and I could send ads to the Houston paper. I ended up doing really well. I was mentored very well by a couple of really strong sales executives. It's funny, I listened to a lot of the same people that I'm constantly hearing JB talk about that he was listening to back then, like Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins, and Jim Rohn.
At one point, I was eighth in the nation out of about 800 salespeople. I was working a lot of hours and I really enjoyed what I did. I'm a little bit of an oddball. I liked cold calling. Unlike a lot of people, I think it's a challenge, and it's super fun to meet people and talk to new people.
JC: One thing that strikes me about you guys' relationship is that you really seem to enjoy spending time together.
SP: We do. And that's kind of what happened. We got married, and I was working 70 hours a week. Mike had three kids from a previous marriage and I wasn't bonding with them because I wasn't home, so we weren't getting to spend time together. So that's when he finally said, Why aren't you using your real estate license?
That was my transfer out of advertising; that confidence and a backup income were what I needed. It also allowed us to spend more time together. I was working with him on a lot of his IT stuff as well. We were working on getting that company up and going.
We like being together. We know we can work together. Like any other marriage, there are still ups and downs. MorningCoach® is good for us because it is the connection of the business and the personal.
MP: Because we don't punch clocks, the lines between personal and business are very blurred for us. They've always been intertwined. She's a Realtor and has to take a call or go out and work (at different times of day). She doesn't tell clients, I'm sorry, I only show from eight to four, Monday through Friday.
SP: I mean, I grew up on a farm and ranch, and dad also worked in the oilfield. My mom was a teacher. So personal was always mixed with the business in our everyday lives. It's all I know.
JC: How'd you guys find MorningCoach®?
MP: I kept seeing these advertisements for the Remarkable 2. So I thought, wow, that's cool. I'd like to look into that because that looks like something that I could use. I always used to carry like 15 spiral notebooks. I watched JB's video on the Remarkable 2. Based on what I saw and what he taught, I went ahead and ordered one. And then, I wanted to look at what else he was doing and I ended up finding Sacred Six. And I was like, wow, this is really cool; it resonated.
One of the things that he said in the intro to the book was that he was working, and he realized that he was going to this job, but he had built a life that didn't speak to the values that he held. The connection was insane for me. You know what, that's exactly what I did wrong in my first company. I did the 80-hour workweek, but that wasn't necessary. I was in the process of building my own prison again. Sacred Six helped clarify what I was doing. It brought a lot of the unconscious things that I was doing out into consciousness. So I could throw it in the middle of the floor and shine a light on it.
JC: How long have you guys been members of the MorningCoach® community?
SP: So probably since early spring 2021. Mike found out about the business coaching. One day he said he had a coaching call thing. He didn't exactly explain what it was. And I was like, what kind of coaching thing? I wondered why he didn't invite me to be a part of it, after all, we usually do these things together. So I asked if I could listen in on the call too and ended up getting involved because I liked it and plus, why should he do it without me? It would be great for both of us.
JC: In that time, what are some of the benefits that you’ve realized from being part of the program?
SP: I think the biggest benefit for me has been kind of going back to the values. Basing your decisions on values has been very...valuable. It was one of those pieces of information that was eye-opening. Just trying to figure out what those values are is big.
Now when making decisions, we think- does that decision line up with what we've said are our core values? That's probably my top takeaway.
MP: I would agree. A lot of people make decisions that are not necessarily being based on anything. And then they wake up and discover they've been sleepwalking through these decisions. They've built this life that they don't like. But the fact that you're putting your values down, and you're working backward from that, instead of saying, Hey, you know, this is my goal. You start with your values. Then you can evaluate: is this going to violate my values? You know, I've stated that family is one of my top values. I've stated that health is another one of my top focal points. So when making a decision now, I ask- is what I am doing congruent with my values? For me, that was the biggest thing. Another huge one was, and this is more tactical, was goals and projects and steps, like breaking everything down. Instead of saying, I want to do this, then walking in that direction, you have to break down goals into projects and tasks.
JC: Yeah, I'm surprised that that's a huge stumbling block for people making achievements. Being able to define what the tasks are within a project.
What are some other roadblocks that you're trying to overcome going into 2022?
SP: Mine is probably going to be actually putting systems in place. I also feel like I've been a little bit complacent. We focused on being content with the way things were and now I feel like we're a little complacent. And so trying to figure out how to push myself. I like where I'm at, but I guess I should want to do more. So where's the balance? Being a better version of myself is important. That seems really kind of cliche, but I mean being a better Realtor, working hard, better in all aspects.
MP: Yeah, for me, it's just complacency. We've hit all the marks. We're at our ILD number and it's really comfortable right now. Roxanne is pretty good about pushing you a little bit on that. She definitely holds your feet to the fire.
SP: I have got to figure out if I want to push myself. Do I want to move into the education element, or become a broker? Am I brave enough to suck at something new?
JC: I love that quote from Matt, “You're gonna suck until you don't.”
You guys are entrepreneurial. So if someone was looking at taking that plunge, what's one piece of advice that you would give them?
MP: When you're making a living in a job and want to do your own thing, you've got to move the boat and the dock closer together. Like you need to not give up the job until the new thing is close enough to make the leap. You have to hustle to get it started. And the closer you move them together, the easier it is to make that jump.
SP: The best piece of advice for most entrepreneurs is not to start too big and fancy. No need for large debt. Instead, put in the hours and get something that works. Also, make sure it's a passion. Like it and then learn, learn, learn. It's never-ending learning. I mean, we have, well I can't tell you how many books we have on Audible.
SP: I think that's what makes him successful. He's definitely got top books that he listens to, and he's constantly listening to new ones as well. If you're going to be an entrepreneur and you want to go out on your own, fill your head with knowledge, lots and lots of that knowledge. So that when you are there, you are not doggy paddling, you're swimming.
MP: A lot of that goes with IT. It's long-term education. Because if you're not constantly learning, you're gonna wake up in 10 years, and you're irrelevant, and you have no sellable skills. If you're in it, you have to learn new skills. It's not optional. I have met so many people in my career that used to make six figures being a Fortran programmer. Now they have to work at Walmart because nobody needs Fortran programmers anymore. I keep thinking, that's your job. Learn another programming language. Learn C++, and then Java. Technology doesn't stand still.
SM: Be willing to change. Recognize the end of an era, and change or at least adjust to meet the needs of the market. I finally gave up trying to take my own listing pictures and realized that this is what I need to do to move forward. So, I just don't do it myself anymore. I need professional pictures and videos for my listings. And it has made a huge difference.
JC: One thing that I remember JB used to say was that nature abhors a vacuum. If there's an empty space, something's gonna fill that in. So find a way to fill that need.
Mike said you have what? 243 books in your audible account? What's a book that guides you, Summer?
SM: Oh, my word. You should probably ask Mike for his top 10.
JC: I want to hear from you first Summer because you said you're not much of a reader. Mike has a huge list.
SM: Have you seen this list?
I just heard Soundtracks by Jon Acuff. I actually thought that was really solid. It’s about how to control the soundtracks that play through our minds. It was really helpful when we were moving my mother from her ranch. I had to let go of the place and hold on to the memories. And my newest book that I just listened to is an autobiography called Never Broken. And it's actually the story of Jewel. It is a pretty inspirational and outstanding book.
JC: Mike, of all the books you have on Audible, what is the one I should read next?
JC: Leaders Eat Last? Tell me about that one?
MP: It is the principle that when you're a leader, a lot of times people like to view that everybody works for them. When in reality, you work for everyone. As the leader, you are there to serve. This saying came from the military. The enlisted soldiers would eat first. Even if that meant that the leader didn't end up eating. You've got to take care of those in your charge.
And the Infinite Game is a book that is a really interesting look at life in that we often play this game of business like it's a finite game. Like it’s baseball. There are nine innings and you know, there's a winner. But life doesn't necessarily work that way. There's no winning in marriage. There's no winning in politics, and there's no winning in business at the expense of the other. Life is not a finite game. This book was a good wake-up call to what we actually are.
JC: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
MP: If you don’t get intentional about the life you want to lead, then you can end up sleepwalking through life and miss a lot. Morning Coach® helps you to live an intentional life.
JC: Summer, how about you?
SP: Same. Yes, this intentional living has made us a lot more focused.
JC: Thank you.