Each season of Just Stories has a different eight-episode theme. The show kicks off with “Recycled Dreams,” featuring eight CEOs who have woven giving back into their business strategies.
These episodes will give you a blueprint for doing the same in the most efficient way possible, which is making their learnings your reality.
Solutions to problems tackled on this episode:
When struggling with depression or anxiety, having moments of giving back to others can fill the hole you may be experiencing.
2. There are so many companies and people who want to give back, but it feels daunting. Scott has an easy solution!
On this episode I had a blast talking with Scott Smalling, CEO of Relief Bed International who has donated tens of thousands of beds to needy people and organizations. Besides the motivating stories and laughs, Scott really breaks down why companies need to add giving back into their business plans moving forward.
Season 1 of the podcast is titled “Recycled Dreams” because each episode focuses on CEO’s who have utilized giving back as a part of their main business strategy. The purpose is to use the art of story telling to motivate our business communities into giving back more because when you do, everybody wins!
Be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and never miss an episode.
Brett Thornton: All right, Welcome back, everybody. This is a very, exciting episode of just stories with BT. Because as you know, we are continuing with our recycled dreams series, which is focusing on, you know, CEOs, entrepreneurs, businesses that are utilizing giving back as part of their business strategy, whether that’s their business, or whether these are actually the businesses that people are utilizing, which is our case today. So welcome, Scott, I appreciate you for coming on. This is awesome.
Scott Smalling: Hey, thank you for having me. We love to tell our story. So any chance we get this is wonderful. Thank you.
Brett Thornton: Yes, and I’m so excited. And we know kind of each other in passing that a couple times, but haven’t physically worked with you a ton and so in looking into your story, and when you send me your deck, I was extremely motivated by it and I’m really glad that people are gonna be able to hear your story. And also hopefully get involved in maybe working with you guys down the road, which is exciting. Well, so as you know, this is a podcast based around stories and learning more about you through some of your experiences. And then at the end, we’ll have a chance to kind of tie back how people get involved or how they can do this in their own business, you know, and what we usually do in podcast, right is we give it we give you a chance to introduce yourself and talk through all these different things you’ve done. And what happens is, some people don’t know what that means. They don’t know if that intro means 30 seconds, or 10 minutes or 20 minutes, right? So because of that, I’m going to actually introduced you. Okay, so that we keep it to 30 seconds or a minute.
Scott Smalling: Anyway, that’s brilliant that you’re doing that.
Brett Thornton: Well, some people unless I bought it, so you can tell me after if I bought it, but I’m going to introduce you and then you tell me what I missed. Okay, got it. Awesome. Okay, so here we go. So 60 seconds of Scott. Alright, here we go. So first off, you were born in the Pacific Northwest to comb area you grew up off of the Puget Sound, right, which is awesome. Love it. So you grew up swimming, skiing, fishing, all those amazing things. Your first job you started very young, because your parents had their own business. So you kind of grew up in that at 15. You are working for them. You started your own window washing company, which is awesome. Love that entrepreneurial style. Big into sports lettered in basketball, football, track Water Polo, which we’ll talk about because I play Water Polo, same thing. You’ve enacted into play, which is awesome. That’s why you’re so good on camera. Look at this already. You went to University of Washington go Huskies, I believe. And then you got married after that to Carolyn, you have two amazing kids, Hunter is 21 and Sharkey, who’s 19 we’re gonna talk about that in a minute. Um, and so then that, that spurred you into a career, right? You ended up even though you’re working for your family or business, you didn’t start competing, what you ended up selling to Simmons in 2007. And then you end up going to Simmons to work for them to help run that for about eight years. But before that, in the early 2000s, you do have a bout with anxiety, right? Where you’re dealing with some different things. And to come out of that you realize one of the things that would push you forward is that a life of giving back for you is something that drove happiness inside. And so that would kind of spur you on to what you would do later, which is in 2015, you would launch relief that you will leave Simmons to do this full time. And since 2016, you guys have distributed or given away 27,000 beds, which is incredible. And then recently you didn’t stop there, you also launched the new technology called IO bed that formed a successful multi-million-dollar partnership with King coil, which is really cool. And I want to talk about that. And then of course in 2021 you’re on the just stories podcast. I mean, you can end it any better than that. That’s right. Yeah, I ended it. So a couple things from that. So first off, is your daughter’s name really Sharky, or their nickname.
Scott Smalling: It is Sharky, quick story. When she was born. She was born into Jordan and that was her name before birth as we you know, came up their name prior three weeks old. She I mean, she were I’m a tall guy. So she you know, had a lot of growing genes in her. She was feeding on the bottle to such a degree that she would shake her head back and forth really hard and be sucking very hard in the bottle. So one day my wife handed her to me and we’d like nicknames and fun names and we say yeah, here scotch because you feed the shark. We’re like, Oh, that’s kind of cool. So we didn’t call her anything but a derivative of shark Sharky shark khatron whatever from the time that she was three four weeks old. And tell us she was about three and a three years old. We said what do you want this to be? You want this to be your name? And she said yes. is a time if we ever did call her Jordan It was like you know she was in trouble? Yeah. Which was rare for her thank goodness and so yeah, passports birth certificate, the whole thing. Never tees a day in her life and just finished. Prep School is the valedictorian and just an amazing person and artists so hasn’t hurt her.
Brett Thornton: It’s awesome. That’s such a great story. I love it. I’m so that’s cool. So you’ve got these two kids. You’re up in the Puget Sound, which I love. I actually spent a little bit of time up there one of my dad’s good buddies from college. And he actually played some ball in, in the Southeast Asia for a while, which is randomly played with this guy who lived up in the Puget Sound. And I’ll never forget, we went up and spent we were in the summer we spent a week with him and we were, you know, jet ski and all this stuff in the Puget Sound. And on like, our last day of the trip, like one of those kid’s son mentioned something about, yeah, you know, right where you were the day when you couldn’t figure out how to get the jet ski going, you’re swimming. We saw an orca there just like a week, right before you came. And I remember, you know, I was like, Yeah, I was like, 10 or something. And I was from that moment, I was terrified, you know, like, Oh my gosh, orcas.
Scott Smalling: Yeah. Movie, but Orca is and it was called Orca. And it was a, you know, kind of a draws kind of a thing. So I’m not normally that I’m not very afraid of them. But you know, you see a movie like Orca, and you’re, you know, you change your mind a little bit.
Brett Thornton: Absolutely. So, um, have you always lived up there?
Scott Smalling: Yeah. So yeah, born in a little fishing town, which is now kind of becoming like a Sausalito of San Francisco. It’s really become a beautiful and upscale area. I don’t live there anymore. Maybe that when I moved out, maybe you know, it got better or something. But anyway, it’s called gig harbor of all things and it’s just over a bridge that funny lives very, very similar to the Golden Gate. Many people call it the green gate, even though its name is a Narrows Bridge. And the only thing that stopped the town from blowing up is the fact that the bridge was very much a bog down it was very much an issue. So they built another one think about the Golden Gate Bridge, and then building another Golden Gate Bridge right next to it. Obviously not quite the scale the Golden Gate Bridge, but they build another one in that Miss Maggie harbor blow up and now you got to go out at the base of Mount Rainier is where I live now. little town called Roy.
Brett Thornton: Oh, nice. I love that area, especially when it’s not raining. Absolutely.
Speake 2: Which it is today and for anybody who wants to move here rains all the time. No,
Brett Thornton: Yeah. You know, what’s funny, I you know, when I used to be with sleep train, you know, I we had these five districts and one was Seattle and then the other was Portland, you know, and so I had just directors in each area. So I’d fly up there every six weeks or so and I just for whatever reason, I seem to score it gray all the time, and whether it would only be good and so I remember my director was like, you come anytime you want. And so it was great. Especially the summer, I’m gonna be like the most beautiful ever, if no one’s flown down into Seattle, flying in that airport, and you’re going over all this. It’s amazing. It’s so lush, and beautiful and unreal.
Scott Smalling: But I’m 54 recently, and I still and before COVID, I flew a ton and I hope to again, I’m jonesing to get back on an airplane. As weird as that may sound to some, but I’m still an offline into my town. And I think if you can still be that inspired when you’re flying into the place you live and you know, almost at times, especially if I’m tired, emotionally inspired.
Brett Thornton: Yeah.
Scott Smalling: It obviously means that not only do you live in a nice place, but that you know, you can stay.
Brett Thornton: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve always felt that way of San Diego too. So, um, all right, well, I know our time is short and I want to get as much background and value out of you as I can. And so I usually start out by asking someone to tell a funny or entertaining or some story from their history, but you were actually telling me a story right before we started about something happen this weekend. So I want to start there, because you got to tell people about
Scott Smalling: The third there, but you know, just I just enjoy humor so much. And I’ve incorporated into my entire work life. I think humor in the workplace is important. Humor is important for your physical well-being. And so sometimes, when people you know, see what I do from the nonprofit side, they want to maybe see this very serious and son as sappy person, well, I am that person. But the person that I’m going to be more so is funny, and I’m going to be playing practical jokes, and I’m going to be sarcastic. And sometimes for people, they don’t really know how to take that. Because they don’t think I take my maybe my organizations and things like that serious, but I take them dead seriously. The humor is there just to kind of make things easier. So this is a joke on myself. And there’s nothing better than that. Making fun of yourself right? The only thing more fun than that is making fun of other people. I’m kidding. That’s not funny, though, this weekend, I have a little OCD about going to McDonald’s. It’s did get a drink and actually isn’t to get food. In fact, one of the things I’ve enjoyed in the last year to do is I’m not necessarily eating their food is I’m buying the people’s food behind me, which makes it kind of fun, you know, you just it’s that kind of give back thing. And it’s enjoyable. Well, this I don’t go on the weekends was I’m at home and this weekend I went and a voice came across the box of somebody that I have was very familiar with.
[ INAUDIBLE (9:58)]
We’re With that the McDonald’s, working with a McDonald’s Yeah and I heard her voice and I said, Hey, is this Hauer? And she goes, Yeah, it is mean very distinct voice. And I go, Well, you know who this is, I want to see if she could recognize my voice by the voice versus the camera or whatever. And another voice first time and 10s of 1000s of times that I’ve been in McDonald’s that I’ve heard somebody come over the top of another person, like they were listening in, and the person says, in a very deadpan voice, but it was meant to be funny. He goes, we all know who you are.
Brett Thornton: That’s awesome.
Scott Smalling: Oh, that’s, I had the most just happy laugh at that. Because it there was so many trigger points on that, you know, it’s like, hey, they know me, you know, that’s kind of cute, right? But then, hey, you’re making fun of me, which I love. You know, and it just, I don’t know, it was one of those little experiences that I’ll never forget it because it’s never happened. You’re the voice of God, over the microphone came over the top of somebody else and so we all know who you are.
Brett Thornton: Yeah, we know a guy. That’s got to get to the Diet Coke every day and buys people’s stuff behind the get awesome. There’s something about like a local merchant knowing you or like recognizing you or something that.
Scott Smalling:Then you choose from in tears.
Brett Thornton: Yeah, I you know, I I’ll never forget, I felt like, at this point in my life, I think I was 22 or 23. Yeah, maybe 23. But I lived in Mission Beach in San Diego and with my best friend the time he’s now my brother in law, so we’re no longer best friends. And he know, we’re still super close.
Scott Smalling: It’s going to get edited out, I think No, I’m kidding.
Brett Thornton: No, yeah, definitely. So but we live in this little apartment in Mission Beach. And we had the bay 100 yards this way and the ocean 150 yards this way. And this is perfect, you know, right, where they kind of come close by. And there’s a little local coffee shop and there’s a little local pizza shop. And so we lived there for years. And I’ll never forget, like one day I came in. And I would always get my coffee in the morning before I go to work or whatever. And there’s in a summer the lines are out absurd. Because everyone’s from Arizona is there the whole state moved to Mission Beach and so the I got to know everyone working there and so finally, one day I remember the lady behind the counter is like her name is Jane, I think and she’s like, hey, Brett, by the way, from here on out, just walk around the whole line. Make your own coffee on this thing and just leave a buck for you and I remember being like, okay, and the next day, you know, the lines packed. It’s like a Friday morning I walked past everyone I’m just kind of staring at him I walk over make my coffee through my dollar Hey, thanks, Jane, or whatever, you know, and the whole line is staring at me. And I it was that like height of my life. I don’t think I’d ever felt so cool. In my whole life. I’ve just given people the mean mug. You know, as I walked out, I was like, Yes, local status. I was there. That was my locals only status. And then we do the same thing with pizza lifeguards to get pizza for $1. And eventually we got to that level of like, here’s $1 and we’d get pizza. Oh, epic. So you know, same thing, you’re at McDonald’s, me at this copy, we got it?
Scott Smalling: Well, one funny story in the McDonald’s is that you have to, this could be a whole podcast, but I promise to make it 45 seconds. If that is when you do the giving back thing you know, you just you do it, you drive off, you already don’t stay on, stay there to high five them or anything. So you have no idea how it affected their day, which is good, right? You just got to let it kind of happen? Well, when I first started doing this, I would look over and see who was going to be my next person more so in the hope that it just I don’t know, what combination would be a cool, you know, thing to do it for you know, is it a mom, Bollywood or kids, you know, and this is going to make her day doesn’t make any difference what it is, but you tended to do that, then I kind of felt like there could be a judgment thing coming in there Am I going to all of a sudden go Yeah, today, I’m not going to do it. So I didn’t I never pay attention. I just do it. But the funny thing is, when you get to the window to pay, and you say I want to pay for the person behind me, you know, the expectation is three to $7 is going to be somewhere in there. Right? And so, and when I tell them is I don’t want their receipt, you need to get that that’s private information, you get the receipt to them for whatever reason. And just I’m moving on. Well, though, one time that was kind of shocking. They go Hey, Scott, the Just so you know, the bill is $27 you still want to pay for it. You’re like I had to look in the rearview mirror for a moment. But of course I did. Because that’s the game, you got to do it no matter what but $27 god bless them is all I can say.
Brett Thornton: Yeah, that’s awesome. So tell me I want to try to transition into relief that a little bit. You know, because obviously, you know, I mentioned in the in the brief intro, just the sheer amount of relief beds that you guys have obviously, either donated or people have purchased, how, you know, I want you to talk a little bit about that in a minute. But, um, you know, give us the give us the 62nd version, right of like, just overall what this program is about. And then after that, you know, is really what I want to go and hear you kind of tell some stories around. Some struggles and some low points and in some challenges you faced as you’ve kind of gotten to where you guys are now.
Scott Smalling: Sure, well, in terms of just the general, kind of how it was created is, that I think different people, and you’ll find this, you know, especially if you get into a nonprofit, it’s a little bit more exposed. But Different people have different gifts, right? And I’ve decided that that giving is a gift because it doesn’t make a difference if somebody has means I’ve found many very wealthy people that just and again, it’s not necessarily a negative kind is, but you know, they just did just, that’s not a gift. They have their, maybe their gift is something else that they do. That’s wonderful. But so I think that’s just something that was implanted in me along the way, because prior to relief bed, I would work with World Vision, I would work with different charities and things and I just loved it. Maybe it’s a little churchy in the sense that you know, when you grow up, you’re doing tithing, and those kinds of things, you kind of get into that mindset. But that was kind of something that was implanted in me and I really enjoy it. Hence why the addiction of you know the McDonald’s things or something, because that’s a quick fix. You know, that’s a I get to feel good. It’s an adrenaline rush with an endorphin rush. And so I think there’s a little bit of obsessed around, wanting to feel good, and wanting to do good. And so it may be chemical at some level, which obviously is to hopefully turn out can be a good thing. So, you know, all these different things I was doing was outside of what my passion was, and my passion was around sleep after creating competing, I got into the that betting arena, which sucks us all in and those who are listening that are in this, they understand it, you really can’t pull yourself out of this out of this business once you’re in it. One because it’s kind of fun and awesome. But to just sum about it, do people stay in. So what I was looking at sleep, and then looking at how I could give back it was like why don’t you give back the exact thing that you have a passion for, and that you’re pretty good at. So that was the impetus for it. And also, the fact that what was happening a lot of times is when matches were being donated to places that needed them, like homeless shelters and disaster relief, that the mattresses weren’t paired properly with what they needed, right, they needed waterproof cleanable different sizes, not you know, beds that can be sold or beds that were returned, that were still pretty new. And those definitely have homes, the foster organizations can definitely use those kind of beds, and many others, I wanted to build something, use a little innovation and create something that would actually be able to be used in those organizations. Hence the relief bed was created both the self inflating model and then the standard foam model to be you know, waterproof cleanable very transportable. And so I kind of just use a little bit of innovation and new market that needed to be served. The number one thing in disaster relief that is not being served, because they are doing good job with water, they’re doing a decent job with medical, and a decent job was sheltering. But sleep is a number three biological need. And by the way, that has to be in every podcast or interview or anything. It’s like a contractual thing. I have to say sleep is a number three biological need if it was a drinking game. That’s why we do it. And so hence, that’s why I focused on that because it was actually an underserved need also.
Brett Thornton: Awesome. And I mean, I’m just thinking right now obviously, it’s so current, you know, obviously with what was going on, in, Texas, you know, and all these people’s pipe overheating, right? These aren’t these scenarios that come across your desk, right?
Scott Smalling: Well, perfect scenario there. And I you know, maybe you could say that it was luck and maybe was you know, it meant to be but a pastor Alex, I’ll leave it at that. The church down there reached out to us about to man three months ago or so, and wanted to get a bunch of relief beds to create a shelter. And, or I should say, of shelter, he had a need right then for some sheltering. But he also, I think, had a bigger vision to you know, if an opportunity came along well, as everybody knows, who were impacted by this though, winter cold, and those frigid temperatures, he was in full, you know, Sprint mode, and was able to house a lot of people during those cold times. So it was neat, to be a part of something where he had a vision for something and then have it actually, you know, have a big need.
Brett Thornton: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I know that just in my experience in working with donating lots of mattresses. You know, in my last few jobs, we’ve done a lot of different things, foster kids, veterans, different organizations. You know, like you said, the all of that has been awesome and in so impactful, and there was so much good done, but, but oftentimes these immediate things will pop up. And people will reach out to me all the time, especially in other living spaces, because they knew we did the donation prep things in projects, and they would just be like, begging for what do you have, we need something tomorrow or like, hey, we’ve got 50 people that are on the ground, or we’ve got, and it was always like it. You know, I didn’t have an answer. I think there was nothing we could do. You know, it was like, Hey, I had to plan this out, I got to get these things made, actually in three weeks, you know, or whatever. So, this obviously builds such a need, you know? And so, as you were growing it, you know, when it started, you know, how did you get it from being, you know, just this idea, and you created to donate 27,000? Set? I mean, how does that even come about?
Scott Smalling: Well, it comes about through help from either personal donations, corporate donations, and or, you know, I would say, just in kind, so, for example, unlike what we do, we don’t normally have a large amount of inventory, although we can build quickly. But right now is one of those rare times where my new relief bed era that we are very proud of, we’ve got 1000 of those right now, here, and then we’ve got a bunch of our other original tri folds in stock. And so it’s kind of an ebb and flow thing where the inventory comes and goes. But back to your question. You know, we, it’s really the support of the people that has have come around us, you know, our personal column, cash donations, has not been anywhere near what a normal, you know, nonprofit would enjoy. So what we’ve had to do over the time, we’ve just kind of made it work is we’ve then created a year later, relief products, LLC, and that is a for profit company, which is using its abilities, its assets to pour into and fill the gap on the when we’re running short on the nonprofit side. So you could even argue it’s like a tom shoes. The for profit is I think there’s was actually, you know, there’s a midterm type of a company between a for profit and nonprofit, but basically, where we’re gonna have you know, you buy one you give one, in fact, you know, your organization, Brentwood home, is and I know, this is not what this podcast about, but I have to give you guys a shout out, because Brian and we being the owner, and Brian being a longtime friend, and obviously, everybody knows Brian in the industry. You know, Brent wood has been a partner now for almost three years, I think. And a great story there is they’ll donate a bed with every bed sold on Crystal Cove, on that product line, which is a beautiful yoga inspired bed. Short pitch. They’re sorry. And but what’s really cool is about a year and a half ago, we had this idea and we say you know we’re going to do, we’re going to actually ask the customer to donate money over and above the purchase of the mattress where that is already embedded no pun intended in the sale, right? The gift is, and it’s going to do two things. One, we’re going to find out if they’re paying attention, if nobody does it, I don’t think it’s because nobody has got a big heart. It’s because they’re not paying attention that far down the website and that much in the details. And then so maybe the program, maybe it’s not seen, and maybe it’s not worthwhile, right? besides it being a really good thing. And I think that’s where Britain vs. Heart is. So that’s, thank goodness, well, it was better than that. Over 30% on a consistent thing for well, over this year and a half period, the people have actually made a donation. So you think about this person who’s calling in to buy a mattress, right? And then they’re getting off the phone, they’re getting off the computer. And they’re going yeah, I’m inspired by what Brent was doing with relief bed, and I’m going to make a donation in that short period of time to get that inspired. That’s meaningful and I know we’re getting ahead of where you want to go. But I think there couldn’t be a better advertisement for why companies should be doing that giving back scenario. If you do it for any reason do it for greed and I don’t mean that bad at all. I mean, do it because it’s the right thing to do but do it because your customer will appreciate you for doing it. And it will separate you from the other 75 billion people that are that are also selling mattresses are selling whatever people are doing out there.
Brett Thornton: No 100% and we will get back to that because it’s a great point I want to touch on so tell me you know you think back at these last four years at you know at relief that you know what do you what could you pinpoint or what story could you tell us around you know, a struggle or failure or something that you was kind of a defining moment that you had to work through or get through?
Scott Smalling: Well that’s probably getting out of bed in the morning since I’m an evening person is when I think best and when I’m on an airplane which I you know those things we used to fly in a year ago. of your blood fans when you’re up there but I love being up their busy ideas is click but in terms of a failure I would just say there’s been so many, you know, hundreds and 1000s of little small failures. Thank goodness, you know, I haven’t had the, I would say the fortune sometimes, you know, it is good to fail, right? As long as you’ve everybody’s heard these 10,000 motivational Brett Thorntons, but you know, if you’re going to fail forward, right. And so there’s been so many little failures all the way along. It’s just not, worth the time in your podcast. But I would just say that when you fail, you need to learn from it, you need to not get tied up around it, and move forward. One funny story. And there’s a picture hanging in my office of everybody’s seen Pirates of the Caribbean. And in the first episode, I’m taking this family business that my grandfather started the phone company that I was working in, and I grew the mattress company out of it as a separate division, we were growing very fast. But when you grow fast, you also leak money. And so we weren’t making money, but we were growing, and the timing of being able to sell a company. And where we were with, you know, cash positions and things could have been a gigantic failure. If we wouldn’t have sold that division, I know we would have made it ,would have been just a really big struggle. But I’d like to tell myself that if we wouldn’t have. So now go back to Johnny Depp. Standing on the top of his mast, as the sailboat is going under the dock, literally it’s sunk and sinking. And he steps gingerly off the, onto the dock. And I felt in some poetic way that was kind of what happened is I was able to step off the map onto the dock and go to now I didn’t rob the purse the money later on in that scene, I didn’t steal from the dock, but anyway, so that would have been a gigantic failure, and pretty hard to recover from in a very quick time. But it but it thankfully, it wasn’t. But again, just a lot of many failures, learning from moving forward, constantly moving forward, constantly, every single day trying to achieve I’m a massive note taker on my phone. So I’ll have you know, tons of notes and checks that of those things. I’m all got to happen. And I think if you do that, over the course of time, you will get so much accomplished. Because you’re doing you’re doing base hits, you know, like a baseball analogy. Every single day base hits and you become an eg ro right who was famous for having as many singles as he did. The singles don’t normally get in the history books, the homeruns do, but I believe in a lot of singles is very goodfor your mind and your career.
Brett Thornton: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, I had a a guy one time in, in, I was actually in downtown Chicago. And this guy was teaching me how to run this business to business office setting the whole another story for another day. But we he was going to show me He’s like, yeah, I want to show you how you interview someone who’s going to go do business to business like sales. So I said, Okay, so we’re in this big high rise in Chicago, we take the elevator down 40 floors, or whatever, we get the applicant to come up. And we get out of the elevators in this in this guy’s office. Because at the end of this hallway, it’s pretty long haul like three 400 feet. We you know, the elevator, and this guy is just taking off that that I’m supposed to learn from and he’s walking so fast, I’m almost jogging, keep up, well walk in super fast, because he’s walking fast, you know, so we get to his door, he opens the door and turns around, and I’m standing there and the guy’s a good 30 paces behind us, you know, he was just walking like a normal pace, you really want to slow he’s just kind of normal pace. So the guy gets fun incident, the guy was just standing there waiting when he finally gets there. And he just sticks out his hands. And the other two, the new guy in the interview, shakes his hand again and goes, Hey, just want to thank you for your time, you know, but you’re just not going to be a good fit. And just turns around and we close the door and walk in the office and the guy’s just standing out there. Just waiting. And it’s not a joke. So then he goes and sits down, act like nothing happened. I’m like, oh, what’s happening? You know? And he’s like, oh, man, we’re doing business to business sales. I’m in the business of numbers. You know, I he’s got to hit 115 doors a day. This guy’s not going to do that kind of pace. Forget that guy. Move on to the next. And I was like, you know, you’re I’m like this young 24 year old kid where I was like, what is happening right now. But he’s like, he looked at me said listen in life. He’s like, whether you do lists or you do checkboxes or you do num, whatever it is, he goes, it’s a numbers game. So figure out what your number is to him. His business was hit 115 doors and you’ll get one you’ll get one sale, right? But like from a leader perspective, he told me Hey, I do this thing every day where I set these, whatever it is 5 or 10 things he says I don’t go to bed till I check off I don’t care. And you know, the other day he was a 25 year old millionaire, you know, turned out to be this crazy cokehead guy that was doing Ponzi scheme and all this. But besides that he was successful. A way you know to what you’re saying to your point. I mean, at the end of the day, it does matter and I can imagine, you know running the company and having these challenges you know, you got to keep yourself. Just keep going. You got to keep.
Scott Smalling: Don’t keep your head down. I know these all sound like, you know, analogies that we’ve all heard 1000 times, but if you can hear things 1000 times, but if you’re not doing them, then you’re you know, then again, that’s your call. But failing forward, you know, and keeping your head down, and just keeping focused on what you’re doing and not listening to others. I mean, I’ll tell you what, I am a good foot soldier. If I’m building a house, if I’m doing something where I, where I’m the volunteer, I’m sandbagging. I’m doing whatever I am really good. And I’m, for lack of a better word, I’m a good grunt. But when it comes to certain parts of business, I can be somebody grunt if I’m in their realm and their world. But when it comes to many other things, it’s not that I don’t want to have let somebody else lead out of the out of a negative thing. I just by my nature, I have to lead. And so by doing that, you have to put your head down and just go forward and not listen to the naysayers or whatever.
Brett Thornton: Yeah, absolutely. What was the tell me? Is there one thing you can think to one story or one time you can think of in the last few years when you know, especially with relief fed, where you kind of just step back or take a step back, and we’re like, oh, my gosh, this is really happening. We’re actually doing this is like the we’re seeing some success. We’re seeing beds coming in or out or whatever, you know, there was one moment that just kind of caught you off guard when you think back
Scott Smalling: Two quick ones. The first one was when we first started off, with a Roy Artscape. Bryant, orange self inflating bed that you would use to go camping. And we started off with that bad I went down to San Francisco to do one of my first gifts. And we had, you know about 50 beds with us. We were partnering with a with an organization that was providing showers to the homeless living on the street. So we’re there kind of with them. And we were as people were getting off the bus with their new clothes and their shower. We were providing them with this relief bed. Well, the political office on keep it that way was down there at the time, and they were just you know, overviewing this just nice thing that was going on, obviously approved by the by the city, the shower buss was, if you will, and they came up to me and they said, Well, this is very nice, what you’re doing Scott that but you know, we’ve got an issue with it. I said, What’s that? Well, you’re actually providing these people and it’s allowing them to camp on our streets. Well, the Robin Hood, the do goader inside of me was lying. All right now that’s, you know, I’m sorry, but I these people are not sleeping in by not sleeping, you are only exacerbating all the different problems that anybody has in homelessness, you know, it could be addictions, it could be mental health, it doesn’t matter. It’s something that’s not right. And by not sleeping, well, they’re only going to potentially get worse is not necessarily, you know, obviously not gonna make them better. That’s just sleep. So that didn’t really resonate with me, but then when they said that providing these beds could get people’s hurt or killed, because there’s a value attached to them. That was it. And so from a changing course perspective, we went from being on the street, which to only working with companies and organizations that were in the trenches, 24, seven, like homeless shelters like disaster relief that had lots of people supporting it, frees up resources for what those people are doing. So they can provide maybe more things around mental health and not be using their resources to buy beds and things like that. But that was a quarter’s change in terms of when did I think back, you know, it may be the head down, move forward and not look back kind of mentality. But I did do that one due to COVID. Because there’s more time in our lives to do it in two. In October, November of this last year, we hit five years. And that was kind of cool. So I started going back and my son hunter does a lot of marketing for us while he’s in college. And he’s in film. So, he’s created a lot of these mini films that are like one minute long that we’re from different gives that we had over the course last five years. And it was really nice to sit back and just enjoy those fruits and those in those things that we’ve done. Because, you know, again, it’s what’s going to happen tomorrow is always more important to me, but it’s nice to occasionally sit back and kind of look at it was it motivates you to do that?
Brett Thornton: No, absolutely. I love that. You know. And I want to go back a little bit and talk about the mentality of today’s consumer. Right. And when you think about you know, I can still remember hearing the term millennial you know, and I’m, I was on the cusp. I didn’t quite believe in that, but I remember hearing it, you know, 10, 15 years ago and it was a thing here we are now right now Millennials are 30, 35 years old, they’re in a career, they are now this this big, if they’re not the biggest, they’re about to be the biggest buying market in the US. And one thing is consistent, which is, you know, as a whole, you know, they want to work with companies who are giving back. So they want to support those companies, right. And so, as you think about the bind, market moving forward, that’s not going to change, it’s just going to get more important, you know, and so what have you seen with the organizations that have chosen to work with you as a partner? How has that helped their business?
Scott Smalling: Yeah, well, no question about it. I mean, you know, we’ve set a nice enough nice things about Brent, when we can move past that a little bit. Because I think it’s been a great thing for you all, but you know, the different organizations, if anything, it’s internal pride, that from an employee retention standpoint, we’ve already proven the rule by the customers are donating over and above their purchase price of 10,15 $100 or more. And so that’s a proven thing. So what’s the metric that I’ve used, because I can’t, you know, reach out and talk to these consumers. And yes, the people businesses have grown .One of our early ones we did with a retailer of about five stores, and I’ll keep that was, their business went up 30% in a relative down market back then. And so it was a really good metric. It wasn’t the metric of people were donating over and above, but we haven’t thought of that yet. It was just a metric of their business where people appreciated that they were doing something with their purchase, over and above, you know, just owning something. And I believe it’s the tiebreaker. There’s, a lot of mattresses in our world, and obviously, a lot of other products that are pretty much tie breakers, when they’re technologies. And so what is going to be that thing that’s going to make you different. And this is always kind of a tough point to make. But you know, there’s a lot of phenomenal charities out there. And if somebody is passionately connected to a certain charity, a certain, you know, organization, it can be health related, it can be all tons of different things climate related, it doesn’t matter if the people in that business are very attached to that, and they should probably go with their passion. But I would argue that it probably makes more sense, if you’re actually giving into the thing that you’re actually selling. Again, somebody may have a personal reason to be involved with something else. And that’s good. And I’d almost argue that maybe you just do that, you know, not anonymously, but do that just as a side thing, right? That you’re personally attached that whatever, there’s been family struggles or whatever. But to loop it into a business. I think that has to be and it’s may sound weird, but more strategic in nature, you’re still doing something phenomenal, but you’re doing something that is basically magnifying your brand. And yet in So no, I think people understand what I’m saying. I’m not trying to dismiss doing other things that are, in some ways, maybe much more worthwhile than providing better sleep to organizations like shelters and homelessness. But it’s kind of cool, because it is a very good thing, it is a needed thing. And it would magnify your brand and show you that you have a passion for sleep. Then bifurcating that passion.
Brett Thornton: Yeah, no, absolutely. And I think to your point, I mean, I think there’s enough people out there who can give you enough metrics around the success of giving programs, you know, and I’ve talked about this already on this podcast, you know, just about my personal experiences with taking three week sale chunks off and not putting anything on sale and just doing a given event. And then you know, next when you go back and I did a sale event, and you check it the traffic and it was like we drove just as many people through the doors or to the website, based on a given event, then we did put on something on sale, but then you had to discount 20 or 30%. And so it just started showing me and just like you said earlier with the example we bring with home, it’s like, you know, people are they are reading, they are looking into those things, they do care about it, and they will continue to care about it more and more. And it’s you know, it’s the example that I like to give, you know, is that I like to call it experiential giving, right so somebody can, can buy something, you know, do something. And then there’s this big cycle that happens, which is as an employee of the company, I feel good, because hey, we’re the guest, I did a really good job, I got them to make a purchase. But then because of that this person or this charity, or this organization, they got the relief better, they got this or whatever. So then that person’s excited because they got into that organization. And then the guest is all excited because they’re like, Hey, I got a purchase I was going to do anyways. But now this whole other cool thing happens. So it’s like this great circle. And I think that as we progress throughout time, I think even within five years, I think there’s going be a lot of things that become almost standard practice for success to come.
Brett Thornton: No, it’s like I think companies ,these who aren’t looking into sustainability down the road are going to wind and don’t wind up in trouble in five years, because it becomes so many businesses doing it that all of a sudden be like, Hey, you know, like, if they can, if their factories can have no waste, why can your or whatever, you know, I mean, like it just.
Scott Smalling: I think you’re, you’re dead on?
Brett Thornton: Yeah, and I think so I think it’s the same thing with giving, you know, I think that you’re, you know, obviously, everyone knows the Tom’s model, you know, just because it was just so kind of in your face when it first came out, like buy one, get one, this is brilliant, but people have just morphed into all these other things. And I think that weaving that in the structure is really important, you know, so, tell me is I know, you’ve been here a long time already. And, and we don’t have too much more time. But I do want to give people an opportunity. So like, if they’ve got a business out there, it’s mattresses, furniture, or whatever, you know, like, how do they partner with you to set something up that they could do an event?
Scott Smalling: Yeah, what’s really nice and simple, is that everything is turnkey. So we try to have everything be done for them. So not only is it you know, a good thing and proven to be a good thing, in the giving back and doing the one for one or they can do you know if that for some reason isn’t in their model, because the amount of the value of a bed is you know, too much into the margin, which I get, depending on what you’re selling, you know, you don’t have to do the one for one, you can just have a relationship where we do a give of 50 100 and 1000, whatever beds to an organization that becomes your budget. And then we talk about that scenario. And we weave that into the business. But the best thing, like I said, is that it’s turnkey, you don’t need to have their marketing department go into heavy mode of creating this campaign from scratch, creating the assets having to go out and do all these things. It’s all tailor made and done. And then what happens is as soon as they’re, they reach a certain budget, they want to do a give several things happen. Number one is we’ve got a lot all of our things ready to go me and ask them and inspire them to please have that give be in their region, you know, if they’re a national company, they have the ability to go maybe where the hot buttons are, the need is in the country, if they’re a regional country, excuse me company, then they absolutely want to be doing something in their region, right? Because they want to be giving back in the communities that are giving to them. Yeah, but we take it a step further, we don’t say you know, they write us a check, we then get the beds together and make the give and then say, you know, here’s what happened, this was great. Here’s a few photos from it, post them on your website, it’s really good thing. Thank you. That’s, we don’t like that scenario. The scenario that we really like is that we ask them to please go with the product. They’re with their team, make it a team building event, get that internal pride growing everything else. And oh, by the way, you’ve got all your you know, photo assets, and you’ve got your storytelling at the same time. But there’s so many things that can click within that’s a much preferred, way that we do things is to get the companies completely involved from the beginning to the end of the process.
Brett Thornton: That is awesome. So last thing is what if somebody wants to reach out to you how do they get in touch with?
Scott Smalling: Yeah, super easy, Scott a relief that calm website is relief bed calm or relief ben.org. And there’s, you know, ways to reach out through us through that. There’s, things in there that people can buy, as long as they’re playing on giving away through the website, they can literally go on there and buy things. And then our hopes are even though some of those things actually, you know, are useful for themselves. But that’s not the way it’s set up. And so, or you can call us a lot of the time, the larger, I hate to say deals, but we’re businesspeople that we do, you know, is definitely over the phone, and we work through what people want. But if somebody just which happens quite often, if somebody just wanted to, you know, give relief kits, or actually pass out relief kits, which are on our site, which is a kit with like a yoga mat in it, and a nylon bag, and then inside that as socks and medicine kits and things like that. Those things can be purchased. And then they can just go out and either give them to a shelter who uses those to build bridges to the homeless to try to bring them in, or they can give them out themselves as long as they’re safe. I don’t want to endorse anything that that isn’t safe. I can tell you I’ve been doing it for five years, and I found it to be pretty safe.
Brett Thornton: Awesome. That is awesome. Well, thank you so much. Our like breezed by so fast.
Scott Smalling: Oh my goodness.
Brett Thornton: It’s just how it goes. You know, like this though. I love story, favorites. You know, so, thank you again, so much for the time. You know, I just want to encourage people, you know, regardless of the industry you’re in, you know, you’ve got to start thinking about putting giving back as a strategy for your business. I just don’t think it’s going to be an option the future and your customers want it. It’s better for you it’s better for your employees. It’s a win for all you know, there’s so many people out there right now with you know, supply Chain issues, you know, things due to COVID. All these costs have gone up, everyone has to raise their prices. And I’m, you know, I’ve been on clubhouse lately listening in different rooms in these chats with people talking about how do I raise my prices and all this? I’ll tell you, you got to raise your price, why not raise it, and also include a given event, you know, like do something where your consumers like, yes, maybe they’re paying another $100 or $200. But wrapped into that there’s a giving event or something that people can get behind or feel good about, you know, there’s, there’s other things to do besides just raise the price, you know, there’s always an angle, and I think that giving back is going to be the angle that’s the best as we move for sure.
Scott Smalling: Absolutely. I love what you said about the sustainability piece that’s very near and dear to me, is that that isn’t going to be a question mark in a year, two years, three years, five years from now, that’s going to be a rite of passage. I would hope that the giving back model be the same. I’d hate to do to delete myself a little bit or my organization, but I would almost say sustainability first folks. And then then the giving back is amazing. But please work on the sustainability piece because that’s we’re all going to be affected by that.
Brett Thornton: Yeah. Awesome, Scott. Well, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it is amazing.
Scott Smalling: Thank you, Brock
Brett Thornton: All right.
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