Trevor Cherewka: Good afternoon. Welcome everyone to another show. It’s Trevor Cherewka here from Smashing Pixels and the LevelUp Academy. How many people are feeling stuck right now where they are at? I mean I think we all are feeling stuck. We’re in this, in the new normal as some people like to say. The new normal is new to everyone, not just to us. It’s uncomfortable. Some things are becoming very comfortable such as the couch, such as the bed in the morning. We might be waking up later. Going to bed later. Routine is off. Well, guess what? You’re in for a treat because I brought in a special guest that’s going to help us kind of get realigned and refocused and learn how to get unstuck from the position that we’re in, as well as talk to all of us about inspiring us to how we can move forward and align things. So, my guest today is Raul Hernandez. He is the author of the new book, I got to look down, Productive Profits: The Founder’s Guide to Scaling your Impact. Welcome Raul. How about you introduce yourself and let everybody know a little bit about who you are?

Raul Hernandez: Absolutely. Thank you for that. Sure. Raul Hernandez, San Diego based, it’s still morning for me, so I’m unable to surf. Beaches are closed right now. So, that’s the new normal, but love surfing, love hanging out with the love hiking. I love helping people get unstuck from their business and reinvigorating their day, their business, their life.

TC: Unable to surf, that seems to be a first world problem. I think we all have those things right now. So, I mentioned unstuck. You use the word unstuck a couple of times and I’ve seen you use it throughout your messaging. I know that when you wrote the book, it meant one thing. It probably still means that for it, but it might mean something totally different to the situation we’ve all been in for the last two months. What kind of words and what are you sharing with people to start the process of getting unstuck?

RH: That’s a great question. The word is stagnant, right? But the evolution of how we interpret the word has changed. Depending on their circumstances that we’re in, typically it’s a feeling, it’s not really a friction in regards to actuality and actions, but it’s a feeling that, “Oh, I’m not getting the results,” or, “Oh, I’m doing the same old mundane thing.” “Oh, my day’s just going by how is it five o’clock and what did I do today?” Right? So that’s the stuck. That is the feeling and that’s the emotion that’s tied to it. If it’s due to the situation, like you mentioned sleeping later or waking up later, or if it’s in your business. How do you get that momentum and keep that fire going? So, that’s how I think that word has adapted and shifted.

TC: Another group of words or saying, or slogan that I saw when doing my research was “show up.” I think that unstuck and show up, they are polar opposites of the same thing. They have to coexist together. So to get out of that unstuck, you become show up and I’ve seen you talk about it a couple of times. How do we start showing up? How do we start showing up a for ourselves? So, let’s not worry about customers because right now, we’re in a funk, we’re in a haze, we’re kind of walking around. How do we start to show up?

RH: Showing up begins with intention for the day. You mentioned that you wanted to discuss I think today about how do you approach your day? I was like reflecting on my day in my life and how I, not create structure but framework because between you and me now, the audience, I was first a creative, I was always creating animations, drawing, painting, all that jazz. But then as I grew into business, I had to have framework or some sort of structure in order to actually have momentum. So, I never really left the artistic and creative side. I just adapted that to move forward and to achieve. So the same thing with how we approach if we feel stuck or showing up for ourselves is there is some sort of framework and discipline that you have to include, but it doesn’t have to be regimented or structured like a clear cut cube. Because that that creates fear. Ambiguity in regards to, “well I don’t know if that’s comfortable for me,” it’s being more fluid within your day so you have a natural flow to it, but still doing the things that are important to you.

TC: So, I know that you said it doesn’t have to be so structured. Would that kind of mean, it doesn’t have to be as structured as what it used to be, but it’s almost like the new structure for your day.
RH: It’s a new structure for your day that flows naturally with your personality, with how you flow throughout the day, as well as the things that need to get done. I can share personally how I approach the day and how that might be different from how you approach the day, but we still achieve the same level of outputs.

TC: So then, are we going back to what we would traditionally use from a business point of view, which is “Hey, you know what, I’ve …list your work, work your list.” So maybe, maybe start. I know a lot of us might have stop doing that, but maybe a good thing to start is whether you’re coming into an office or whether you’re at home, start creating those lists, start creating tasks for us to accomplish. Because I guess in some sort of way, accomplishment in our minds means success. So, we put a check beside it, “Hey that’s a success for the day,” and then we start trying to get out of the funk. Is that kind of what you’re suggesting?

RH: It is part of it but even before the to do list or the checklist because we already have a thousand things in that thing. So, it doesn’t matter how many things you put down on it. The thing about, it’s before you actually approach a checklist or a to do list or what my agenda for the day, it’s about what are the habits that you’re going to focus on and that flow with you. For example, for me, when I wake up, ever before I even look at it to do list or before I even look at my calendar, I’m going to pray and then go work out. Do I do that early? Yeah. I have to. It’s like who I am right now. But that structure or that habit has allowed me to have some sort of sort of normal in this whole funk because it’s a consistency. Then from there then I can go, you know, go home after working out or if they’re going outside and then from there, now I can take on the day I’m going to create something because I’ve found that I’m most creative in the mornings after a workout. More juices running. I’ll create something. Then I’ll connect with people and then I’ll address the tasks and responsibilities of the day.

TC: I’m having this kind of deja vu thing. Did you ever see the movie Stepbrothers?

RH: I have not. No.

TC: Okay. Regardless Will Ferrell and who, I forget the other gentlemen, he stars in a bunch of things with him, but there’s always, “on three, say this.” I need to know on three, we’re both going to say what time we wake up in the morning. I have a feeling who wakes up earlier, but when I say three you just shout it out and I’ll shout mine out because I don’t want to embarrass you and how early I get up, but I think that you’re going to beat me quite handily. Ready? So when I say three, you just yell it out. Ready? One, two, three, 8:15.

RH: 4:00.

TC: Oh 4:00. Your day’s half done by the time I’m even rolling out a bad. But you know what the nice thing is. I know that you were an early riser, so that’s the one, one of the constants that you’ve kept is you’re still getting up at that same time.

RH: I’m still getting up at that same time because I need to be working out at 5:00. So, if it takes me a little bit extra to stretch or to get that coffee or to get my body to where it needs to be.

TC: Dude, I was up at 4:00 once, but I stayed up that late, so I’ve done that too. Okay. So, I guess just starting back with, getting back into it, this goes back and we’re kind of repeating ourselves, but yeah, just routine helps us get out of that funk kind of because we like as humans, I think we like routine, we like comfortable things. We like things that we’re used to.

RH: That reminds you of the past.

TC: Right. We stopped walking around like zombies because right now I think there’s a funk, and there’s a haze. That part of the day is clear, and the other part of the day is, could be a little bit fuzzy and all that. But we’re trying to talk and inspire people. So yeah. You know what? Start know kicking yourself in the butt to get out of bed early and start.

RH: That day can be 6:00, 6:15, 7:00, whatever your early is. I would say, at least buffer out time where you can focus on some exercise. Movement will always help you feel better no matter what. Some exercise, even if it’s a walk. If it’s a walk outside or if it’s burpees inside, whatever you need to do, but movement and then either journaling, reflecting or prayer and then doing the most, the biggest thing that you need to get done that day. If that’s creating a podcast episode like this or if that’s writing a poem, I have someone who’s doing like a daily poem or if that’s a connecting with a new client or customer, whatever it is, just get it done early and then address the day.

TC: So, no more rolling out of bed and just grabbing this phone and going straight to Facebook to see what the news was that you missed from midnight until seven o’clock.

RH: All notifications are off always except for obviously family or calls. Then also only if you have a watch with notifications, shut them off immediately.

TC: Oh, absolutely. Start your day fresh in your own mind before you bring the world into your day. Now let’s take some of these thoughts and start putting them into a business point of view so that the people, a lot of the people out there will be either busy professionals or business owners or entrepreneurs that are now at home. Some of them will be displaced because they can’t go back to their offices. So, they get through that part of the day and then they open up their office. Like myself, I’m the only one here. It’s a thousand square feet and it’s like, “Hello.”

RH: That’s cool.

TC: So, it’s pretty lonely. I walk around and like when you would visit your grandma’s house and there’d be that creaky step and you’d be like, “who’s making that noise?” Sometimes they get that here. I’m like, “who, is somebody here?” And it’s kind of weird. But yeah, so then just keep from getting back into that old, the new habits that you’re creating. You unlock the door, you walk in and it’s like, “okay, I’ve got to keep creating. I’ve got to keep getting there,” because I totally believe that that people are out there searching for brands, searching for answers still. People are still shopping. People are still going online and actually they’re going online more than ever. One of the things, if we go back to it. is showing up. So, you showed up for yourself personally. Let’s first work on the mental side of it. We got that. Now we’re talking about your brand. Your brand has to continue to show up. What can you say to people who are now in that business fog of, “I don’t want to talk to a computer. I don’t know if I should put a Facebook post on. I don’t want to email people and bug them.” And so, so the brand is shrinking , as you and I know, what inspiration can you give them, for getting for reawakening their brand?

RH: Well, I mean right now let’s put ourselves in our customer’s shoes. Some I have personally, friends who’ve had good business days and I also have some whose business they’ve had to close shop. So, you have to understand the situation is real and others are getting affected. While others may not be as affected, but your customers are still experiencing it. We have a funk. Our customers and clients have a funk. There is a deep seated root in humans that we want to connect. That’s it. Just connect. Connect with your customers. If you have a client list, text them or email them or send them a post or send them a video in an email saying, “Hey, how’s it going? How you doing? If you need anything, let me know. I’m available X amount of times,” just to be there. They may not take you up on it, but it’s the fact that you were like, “you know what, let me reach out to you.”
Even if you don’t take me up on it, I know that you’re going through the same thing I’m going through. Let me be there with you or at least be a resource if you need me there with you. So, the things are shifting that people who are authorities or influence in their market space instead of being, selling, it’s now being there as an advisor and as a support system because those are micro actions that we can take every single day. And those micro actions will yield, if it’s revenue or if it’s greater brand awareness, whatever it is, it is going to yield a return over the long term, 60, 90 days after this thing is over.

TC: Well, and you bring up a great point because I think it was yesterday, I was watching one of the stations and the talk then morphed into isolation and the mental state that isolation breeds and that which is forget about the, the economy going into the dumper. Our mental state was going into the dumper. So, we really could be the lifeline for that customer who’s sitting at home lonely and waiting to hear from someone.

RH: Exactly, exactly. And like every, anything that you’ve learned here in this podcast to share that with them, right. Mental state is heavily influenced by our physical state and vice versa. But also if we’re indoors not doing much, not moving, we want to get that movement in ourselves first so that we can have that mental clarity before we can actually give others that mental clarity.

TC: You know what? Another thing that you had chatted about that I think segues in nicely here is people are looking for leaders. Is now a good time to become that next leader or that new leader?

RH: Yes, absolutely. Without a doubt. Yes.

TC: And what inspiration or how can we start to lead?

RH: The thing is to lead yourself first through this funk and those experiences that have helped you to share on to others, but also being, let’s say there’s a ship and it’s in Rocky waters. You need to be that lighthouse, that light post. You need to be that, “okay. There’s the light. Let me go gravitate towards that because they’re still there no matter how foggy or how rainy or how storm it is out.”

TC: All right. So, we’ve been chatting with Raul Hernandez and we’ve talked about how to get out of the funk at home. We talked about how to get into the business or get into your office and get into that business sense first thing in the morning. We’re reaching out to our clients. Now we still need to create some commerce because all of this is great. It’s great that there’s, I mean, you’re in San Diego, I’m in Ontario. There’s four months worth of money up here to support people. I know down in the U S there’s money to support people for the short term, but the long-term is we need to make money. We need to make money to move forward. So, what are, it’s really weird talking about making money during the, it’s weird because there’s two camps, which is what I see.
We’ve got the camp, which are, “Hey, you’re making masks, you’re making creams, you’re helping out society, you’re feeding them your essential services. You can make as much money as you want.” Then we have the other camps of sometimes people and through conversations I’ve had, it’s almost like they’re feeling guilty if they’re trying to make a sale or trying to, I’m trying to bring in some commerce. What can you say for those people? Just to “get that out of your head. Like don’t feel guilty. You’ve got to take care of yourself, take care of your family, take care of your bills, and you’ve got to make money during it. There’s nothing wrong with that. So, what are some ways that we can get into our head that, “Hey, listen, let’s start making some money now because it could be a big windfall when we come up with this thing.”

RH: Well, I’ll give you what I’ve learned from different leaders in regards to, a buddy who’s an authority in his space and then a client was an authority in her space. Okay. A, one is more dominant than the other. So, the buddy, he’s an influencer as well as an authority in his space, but he doesn’t like to overly be direct in the close or the sale. He always says, “let me go ahead and just kill them with value so that they’ll want to ask for more value.”
And then on the flip side, we have someone who’s very aggressive with the sale, but the mentality is “selling is serving” because it really is the products that she’s selling is legitimately serving and helping her customers in a very significant impactful way. So, I think it depends on where you come from on that scale. If you have, you don’t want to do upfront selling right now, it’s not the time to say you normally would do lead generation. If you get those LinkedIn spam messages, you can’t do that right now. You shouldn’t be doing that right now, ever. But more now than ever, don’t do that. You want to create connection with those in your market and see how you can either introduce them to your network or introduce them to your services if they need you. But you want to create that relationship. If you’re doing account selling, if you’re doing service based selling, if you’re doing mass eCommerce sells, then you definitely want to be looking at what type of industry you’re in, what are the offers you have, what inventory you have as well as how you can leverage ad networks in order to gain momentum and more sales. So again, that depends on your business personality type and how you’re actually transacting and operating the sale.

TC: Oh, I mean, relationship marketing, that’s kind of the school. The class that I came in, I came out of. So, when that started to take over, I was like fantastic. I fit in very well with the relationship marketing. Helpful marketing is what I also like to call it for people. What we’re doing over here is a couple of things. One, we’re doing a lot of podcasts, sometimes two a day talking to experts such as yourself, Raul, that we can share, not just our knowledge, but we can share the expert’s knowledge and freely. Just give it out to people. Here you go. This is a, and I had an awesome time with this interview. I think you will like it as well. Take a listen to it. So we’ve been doing, so we’ve been doing that. Fortunately, we’re in a space where we manage a lot of websites.
So, when the initial impact came, we had to update all the websites to let people know whether they’re over, whether they’re closed, what are the new rules. So, we had a lot of business coming in and then we had a lot of sites that were just starting. That was good. That kind of carried us. We have a lot of not-for-profits that we work with. So, we’re fortunate that, that we don’t have any massive big projects starting right now. We have a lot of little projects. So, for us it was about pivoting, to be able to stoke the fire. But I’ve talked with a number of people and they’re kind of, I don’t want to say stuck in their ways, I want to make it sound like that, but they’re afraid to pivot. They’ve always done what they’ve always done because it’s always worked.

I do what dad did, what grandpa did, and it’s always worked for them. It’ll always work for me because let’s face it, really since the second world war, so 1945. From there forward, yes, we’ve had some catastrophes, but nothing earth shattering like that. So, we’ve all lived comfortably. Everything’s always worked cause it always did. We’re in a pivotal position right now. I think that it’s pivot to succeed and pivot to launch forward and some people have pivoted and have made giant. What’s your advice to people who, this kind of goes back to like a lean mentality, fail fast, but, they’ve been comfortable? They’ve been making money. They haven’t had to pivot for years because they did their pivoting at the beginning. What’s your advice for people who are afraid to pivot right now, but they might be sinking, sinking into a slow, a shallow grave?

RH: Okay. I think the key thing, and I love this question because it all speaks around where you believe you are at in business, but also you need to measure the reality of where you are in business. Some business owners aren’t seeing it as it is, and they have their head in the ground like an ostrich. This is not to call anyone out, but it’s just reality. It’s happening and you have to call it as it is. And this affects other businesses more than more than others. So, we need to be assessing where are we in that spectrum of red, yellow, green, and what are the pivots that need to happen? But it’s not, let’s redefine pivot. Pivot sometimes might be dramatic. 90, 90 degrees, 180 degrees., right? But what does a 10% pivot that you can do? What is something subtle different that you can adapt to, to meet your customers where they’re at in order to gain momentum for you and them? So I think it’s redefining how I can pivot. But first it always starts with self awareness. Where am I my business? What’s the real raw reality? Let’s measure the numbers. They never lie. And let’s also measure where am I and do I want to do it? You know, it’s all, it’s always, it will always be led by the leadership. Do I want to, do I have to and should I?

TC: You had said, do you want to do it? That’s probably the number one reason why we see half the restaurants open and doing curbside pickups and the other half closed because half of them decided, “I don’t want to do this. It’s too much money to do the curbside pick up too much to turn on the lights and, and I’m not ready to pivot.” I think that those lost out very quickly because those that started curbside pickup week one, they’re now there. They now have regular customers who are coming to them every Thursday, Friday, Saturday to pick up their food to take it home, like they always would. They’re just not eating it in your establishment any more. So, I think that’s kind of what you’re talking about for restaurants still cooking the food, still giving the food to a customer who’s hungry.

The pivot or the maybe more like a 20% pivot is customers no longer coming into my establishment. A person that we both know who sold cleaning and cleaning products for a fundraiser now said, “Hey, why don’t I sell cleaning products for people to use for personal?” Again, it’s a pivot. But he didn’t go from, “Hey, I’m selling cleaning products to now I’m selling food,” so we’re not, so when we’re saying pivot, we’re not talking pivots. It could just be small incremental pivots to survive.
RH: Exactly. That’s the thing to measure is, how can I improve or how can I measure cadence and then see what I need to do, how to change and how to be agile. Like if it doesn’t work, I’m not risking 90% of the farm.

TC: Were you, did you ever serve? I noticed in some of what you just said, cadence, and I noticed in some of your writing you’ve used words like adapt, overcome. And I’m like, “I wonder if Raul ever served.”

RH: No, I haven’t.

TC: No. Well you sound like you did so, but you know what, whether, that’s again, that’s a situation where they’re very regimented in their ways and all that and they’re having to pivot that way, as well. Now let’s look at now the mindset for those who were not fortunate that their business did an uptick. We’re not fortunate that they had enough business to kind of feed the fire and just kind of limp along until we can get out of this thing. But let’s look at those who unfortunately had to put a closed sign up and are right now in that reinvention part of their mind.

Part of me thinks it could be a blessing in disguise.

RH: Yeah.

TC: There are some people who are out there that have thought, “do I really want to run this business for the next 25 years or 30 years that I’m working?” Or if I was ever given that what we used to call a do over when we would play sports and somebody who’s scoring you, you’re like, no, no, no. It’s got to be a do over. That was a bad pitch. It’s a do over. Should we look at this as a blessing? Should they look at this as a blessing in disguise and how can they start to come out of it?

RH: Okay, so I’ll answer that in three different ways. The first, it’s easier for us to say this than it is to do it because we’re not experiencing it. That’s the first. So for those who are actually going through it, like this is not like a sympathy in a way, like I feel sorry, but more like, “Hey, I’m with you. I feel you. And anything that you need, reach out.” Honestly, because this is not easy. It’s not easy, not easy for anyone, for the first pivot, there’s two ways you can really go about it. I mean, you can go several, but I see two ways. The first is taking the time. Let’s take a breather if possible. Let’s take a breather if possible, to recollect. I think that is a more peaceful approach. Recollect, review, reflect, see where you’re going and see how the family’s doing.
Making sure that you have that new peace or ambience around it first. That’s one way. If you have that opportunity or if that’s fits your personality or not. The other way, if you’re a bit more aggressive and assertive and moving forward is to take that still take a rest. Not an elongated rest, but take a rest, take a breather, but get back into it with a small pivot or a big pivot. But getting into it in regards to right now is not the best time, but it’s one of the greatest times to know what my market is thinking or what customers are thinking, what are essentials, and what are non-essentials and how can I serve them by the means of resources or abilities or skill sets that I have or that our team has or had. So, that again, it depends on the personality. Both obviously should take rest in the beginning. I highly recommend that. Yeah, it’s not easy. It’s not easy for all of us. It’s not easy for us to hear that news to write. Like for a buddy of mine who had a clothes shop, like, wow, that he was a community leader. He is a community leader, but it’s like, “wow, that’s incredible. And I’m here for you. Anything you need, I’m here for you.”

TC: Yeah. It definitely is a shock and as you said then and, to echo your sentiments, yeah. Feel free. Yeah. But it’s hard to relate exactly to what they’re going through. That going back to the unstuck where we started so we can kind of close this, start closing it off. I think unstuck then is also a mindset. Some people, and it’s easy to look at this as, “Hey, the sky is falling,” and we take the Chicken Little approach to it. But if we look at the things that we’re now given, “Hey, you know what, dad’s not working 60 hours a week anymore. We’re eating dinner at the table every single night.” We were all kind of, I see more people building puzzles than ever before. I see more people, “Hey, we’re having to sit around at our home.” I see kids getting bored of looking at their phone. Imagine that because even they’re looking at it too long. So, we’re really getting back to, we’re escaping the rat race. So, we’re almost getting back to enjoying life as, as weird as that sounds. Does that make sense to you?

RH: It does. I saw a funny meme or photo on, I think it was Instagram. It was “before COVID” and the whole family on their phone, then “after COVID,” the family walking outside. Yeah. So, I think there are lots of good that is still happening and it’s up to us in us listening to this to see the good. Good is always happening. Bad is just absence of good, but therefore good needs to be always there, in order for that to be true and good is always there. So, looking at the good, if it’s for the family, if it’s with the business, if it’s with the kids and that people want to take their kids to the ground because they’re home and loud as you work out from home is, that’s very, that’s difficult. But that was a joke just so everyone knows for that.
But it’s just looking at the good in regard to that and adapting and this isn’t going to last forever, thankfully. It’s just getting through this hump and then now when you get over that, you’re like, “wow, we were able to do that.” Then after that, what habits or what actions did you enjoy the most during it and how can you keep those recurring thereafter? If it’s a family walk, if it’s a monthly puzzle, I’m not sure. But it’s always capturing what good happened and then let’s keep that momentum going into the future.

TC: Yeah. That focusing on the good, it’s such sage words and, and you’re right, there are many things that I’ve already said. Oh, I hope. I hope this stays around after we get back to normal. I enjoy that the seniors have, I don’t know if they do it down there, but here it’s senior grocery shopping hours. Now the first hour of the day, it seems so simple. Why? Why hasn’t it always been like that? It just makes sense. It makes sense that things are wiped down. It makes sense that we’re not going to be all crammed into places at once. So, focusing on the good really kind of makes it a lot easier to say, “Hey, you know what? It’s not as bad as,” and what I guess we can segue into before we leave is what the new says. If you are turning from Fox to CNN, to MSNBC, to Fox, to CNN and MSNBC and trying to find good, you’re not going to get it.
They are going to keep you in a mindset that things are bad. Thankfully, you’re listening to them because they’re going to get you through. Turn the news off. The happiest people that I’ve met lately, they say, and I’m a news junkie, but the happiest people that I’ve met, I go, “how are you? How are you?” And I think I’m a happy person. I’m like, “why are you so happy?” And they go, “because we don’t listen to the news.” And I’m like, “wow.” And then you see people are like, “I’m turning off Facebook because I don’t need all of that cynicism going into our head because that stuff is, that’s the propaganda that we allow into our head all day long.” And once we allowed it, we start to believe it. We start to believe we’ve got to work 60 hours. We start to believe that we have to come home later. We start to believe it’s okay that the kids are just on the phone all day long because I could work on my laptop, at the table until midnight. We start to believe all that stuff. It’s creating a better life. Yeah. And once it was taken away from us, it’s like, “you know what? It ain’t that bad missing out on it.”

RH: Yeah, and the key thing too is like, yeah, revalidating values or seeing what actually matters during this, like you mentioned, right? Oh, why didn’t we have it like that all the time? It’s just like those subtle shocks that’s like, “Oh, let me rethink this,” and I think we’re going to see a lot of good change come out of it as well.

TC: Yeah. Sometimes the simplest things are the ones that knock us on our head and say, “why? Why? Why was it not like this before?” Raul, it has been fantastic having you on. I’ve enjoyed this. I was writing down notes. I don’t know if you saw me scribbling to the side. I’m going to have to re-watch this to keep up with everything. But for those who are listening and want to connect with you, what’s the best way or easiest way for them to start following you or connecting with you?

RH: The easiest way is just to my website, That’s input, output. You’ll be able to connect with me on any social platform that you use. Then I just keep up with any posts there as well.

TC: Perfect. I will be putting the link to connect with Raul in the description. Thanks a lot everyone. I hope you had as fun of a time as I had. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and remember, we’re all in this thing together. We are going to survive it together and we’re going to beat this thing together. So, let’s stay connected, stay positive and have a great weekend.

RH: Thank you. Take care.

TC: Take care.