#9 Business & Balance with Russ Perry

Updated: May 11


Topics Discussed: Design Pickle Good To Be Home Podcast Core 4 EpisodeGarrett White WarriorWarrior Core 4 Books: The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris The One Thing by Gary W. Keller & Jay Papasan The 5 Minute Journal Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff Built To Sell by John Warrillow Principles by Ray Dalio


Social Media: Russ Perry Instagram Design Pickle Instagram Design Pickle Facebook Design Pickle Twitter

Amy Riordan "If no one has ever told you this before, I will tell it to you one more time and hope you believe it and never forget it for the rest of your life. You deserve to be treated well."

- Russ Perry.  

Amy Riordan Welcome to The Amy Riordan Podcast. They say owning a business is a journey in self development, so I decided to explore just that. Whether you're an entrepreneur or looking for fulfillment in your day to day life, get inspired here through interviews, life stories and proven self help techniques. What you do with the information received in this podcast is completely up to you, but if you act, you will alter the course of your life in ways you never could have possibly imagined. I'm Amy Riordan. Let's do this.  

Amy Riordan I hope you guys are ready to listen to me geek out with another interviewee. This time it's with Russ Perry, owner of Design Pickle, the world's number one graphic design platform. Now Russ is very important to me, and that's not just because he's this business owner who can completely dissect how he's built his business and to really help all of my listeners, but it's also because he completely helped me a few months ago at Craft & Commerce, and that is a conference in Boise that's very near and dear to my heart. It's opened up a lot of doors for me and allowed me to realize a lot of things. And during this year's conference, where Design Pickle was actually one of the main hosts and sponsors, he spoke about picturing yourself one year from today in the same exact spot, which I had already bought my tickets for next year, and it brought me to tears. This meditation made me realize that there are a lot of things that I wasn't going after that I needed to go after and quite honestly, it was the beginning of this podcast. So without further ado, me interviewing Russ Perry.

Amy Riordan Hi Russ. Thank you so much for joining us! I'm really excited to have you. Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about yourself.

Russ Perry Yeah. My name is Russ Perry, I'm the founder of Design Pickle. We are the number one graphic design service out there for flat rate graphic designers, which basically just means you just pay one price and get a designer every month for as much as you need to design. It's a nice little set up we have.

Amy Riordan Tell me a little bit about the podcast that you and your wife have.

Russ Perry Yeah, so as a creative, I love creating and, as a CEO, sometimes I get in trouble because I wanna do all these crazy, creative ideas. So a couple years ago, my wife and I started to talk about the story behind the brands, the story behind the businesses. You know, there's all these business podcasts out there. There's all these other podcasts, but at the end of the day, you go home, some people are married, some people of kids, maybe both, like I do and those stories aren't told as much, especially from like a business perspective. So we travel a lot and a phrase we always used, once we got back from traveling, I was like, 'Ah, it's good to be home.' And that became the name of our podcast and it's basically a inside weekly podcast where we talk about topics related to business; life. Both my wife and I are sober so we don't drink, and we talk about how that's impacted our life. The journey there, the pros, the cons, the highs, the lows And, um, you know, we do a few interviews, but it's it's, like 80% or more, just her and I, which is a different format as well. And you really get an inside glimpse of our lives. Like, we talk about our arguments, we talk about all the stuff that goes on that you don't hear about, so it's been fun. And, at the end of the day, I've convinced my wife to hang out with me once a week at work. So that's really cool, too.

Amy Riordan That's very cool. I know that you have a lot going on. You have your business, I know you travel to speak a little bit here and there. That's actually where I met you, was Craft & Commerce. And obviously you have your podcast. So tell me about how you balance all of those things and how you focus?

Russ Perry Right. I think, as you've grown and as you expand, there is only one sure fire way to be able to manage and handle more. And that comes through relentless planning. Now, I say this as someone who never was a planner. Growing up my whole life, I just kind of went with it. Go with the flow. No big deal, even from you know, 'Where you gonna go College?' 'I don't know. Applied to Arizona State University' and 'Oh, I got a scholarship. Cool.' Like, it's just, like always, really, really as it came. And I realized that, when you start to stack on more on your plate that's not - you can't manage it because you start to drop the ball or the plates fall, or whatever the analogy is you want to use. So, over the years I've, through tons of investment and personal development, I have learned numerous strategies around how do I manage my time, both from the Daily Horizon. Every day, I actually, as I'm sitting here, I don't know if this is video or not, but I'll show you on the video. I have a daily sheet I've created, and I print out a bunch of these and I fill this out every morning; I'm kind of like, 'What's my focus? Where am I going today?' I do this on a weekly basis, a monthly basis, quarterly basis, an annual basis and even multi-annual like, many years out and I might be OCD about it, but I think that this helps me stay focused, which ultimately allows you to do more. And I always give the example, when you feel like the day has just gone by super fast, a lot of the times, it's because you didn't have a plan and you're just, 'Where did the day go? I didn't feel like I didn't got anything done.' So, yeah, I'm like, really, really into planning, which I had to learn. And that's my point is like I was never, naturally this way.

Amy Riordan So tell me about how you got into it. Tell me like a few more strategies that you use for keeping focused.

Russ Perry Right. So I think back to probably one of the first books I read that was really influential and changing my habits. And it was an older book, but still very popular, called the Four Hour Workweek, and this was a book by Tim Ferris, and he talked a lot about lifestyle changes that you can have to optimize your week. This was also in the first, the first idea of having a virtual assistant really hit the mainstream and having someone that, you know, lives somewhere else around the world that can help you with all the little things, so that that was eye opening. But one specific chapter really changed me, and that was cutting out the noise, cutting out the news, cutting out things that just don't fulfill you, that don't give you the fuel that you need. And he recommends doing the news fast, and I forget the specific timeline, whether it was a week or a month, I don't remember. And so, that was like the first domino in a lot of other strategies that our viewed. So I don't read the news online. I have a paper delivered to my house, old school style. Sometimes I read it; sometimes I don't. I make sure that I'm always like, on my daily sheet, I have a section called Delegate, which is what are the things that I can always be giving to a team member? And that's that's a more macro concept is, I can't do as much as I could do without a team, and that's something that people have to realize is like you want to get more done, you want to accomplish bigger things. You're gonna need to be able to build a team. You need to invest in teams, like even sitting here recording this with you, right now, I have a production team member Max, who sets it up, who gets lighting set up to make sure we're all recording. Because we're gonna, like, use this too on our end. And so, you know, delegation and trusting others that's been huge. And then another book that I that I really like is a book called The One Thing, and it really helps focus on, 'Look, if you could just do one thing every 90 days that's really big and impactful, that's gonna be way more progress than a 1,000,000 little things all the time.' And so those I think like, those were, like, the fundamentals that really got me going and Amy, I could talk about this for like, all day like I could do like, a 10 hour workshop on this if you want. So let me know how much more detail you want?

Amy Riordan Hey. Uh yeah, no, I like as much detail as I can possibly get. And I probably will request to have you back on, if you're free, because this is all really good stuff. And both of those books I love. I'm glad you brought those up. Those will be linked below in the podcast notes. So tell me a little bit about your, like, how do you focus on self love like, do you meditate? Do you practice gratitude?

Russ Perry Yeah. So as I sit here today, two tactics that I use every day is a daily journal. I'm currently using the five minute journal. This is a simple, literally five minutes of your day. Three minutes in the morning, two minutes at night, that you sit down and you write gratitude, you kind of set intentions, you write a mantra. And then in the evening, you reflect on that and kind of, you know, 'What's one thing I could have done to improve?' So I sometimes use a journal that has prompt, sometimes I just have a blank journal and then I do meditate everyday, mostly in the morning. 20 minutes. Today is one of the days where I, you know, it's getting to the afternoon. Right now, I haven't meditated, so I'll shift that to an afternoon meditation. The difference for me is morning meditations are about the shift from 'Russ mode' to CEO mode. And so, like in the mornings it's working out, it's green smoothies, it's kind of getting organized, and then I meditate, and then I hit the day. And the afternoon meditations are about re-energizing myself. So I'll do an afternoon meditation after lunch. There is the borderline, almost nap that could happen during this points, which you got to be careful of. But then that gets me, like, re-energized for the afternoon to really be clear and focused on what do I want to accomplish before I jump in my car and head home.

Amy Riordan So this goes in a little bit to the part where you told me about Core Four and I was wondering if you could touch base on that little bit.

Russ Perry Yeah. So, as I've studied successful people, at least the success that we see. Who knows if their lives are in shambles behind the scenes. I notice a common pattern of habits that these people have. Sometimes the habits are insane. Like, for 30 years, this person went on this walk every single day, around the block or, you know, ate three almonds at 9 a.m. You know, like there's these little nuance things, but for the most part, people have these systems of a habit system that kind of gets them booted up for the day. You could look at the computer analogy. I'm a big tech nerd, and when you turn on your computer, there's a little loading bar, and it's getting everything ready for you to use the computer. So a habit system, at its core is like a boot up sequence for your day, so that when it's time to get going, you have stepped into the day as the best version of yourself. The habit system that I have adopted now for almost now on my fifth year is called Core Four. It was assembled by a guy named Garrett White, who has a men's coaching program called Warrior. And it's effectively; its nothing revolutionary, but it's eight habits that every morning I try to do before I get my day going. So we've talked about two of them. We've talked about meditation and journaling. The other is like a workout and a green smoothie. I have green juices that I have every morning. Then I had deliver two notes of intention of, like, positivity and love and appreciation, usually to my wife and one of my kids. And then finally, I learned something new, and I try to share it with my team. So that is my eight items that I try to tackle every morning. You do that, and it's called Core Four its two in the area of your body, two in the area of being, which is kind of like your mindset and spirituality, two in the of area balance, and two in the area of business. Those are the Core Four areas; knock that out by 8 AM, 9AM and you are like, 'Man, I could just kick back today, like I've actually, I've done so much and the day, hasn't even begun!' And so that's what I do. Am I perfect? Absolutely not. You know, some days I'll get four of them, some days I'll get two of them, some days I'll get seven. But it's a continual reminder to say, 'Hey, this is the opportunity I have today, if I really want to go after it and tackle the day as the best version of myself. Here's the blueprint for that.' I don't have to think about it; I don't need a coach. I don't need anyone 'rah-rahing' me. It's just boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom boom boom.

Amy Riordan It sounds like a really straightforward process that I think a lot of people could fairly easily get into.

Russ Perry Right. And it's nothing, like I say meditation, everyone knows what that is. Not everyone - but a lot of people do. I say, have a green juice in the morning. It's not crazy. Like, workout in the morning. Cool. So, all eight things are normal things; I'm not asking you to do handstand pushups or write 500 words or 1000 words in the morning, which, like some people can do but other people would be a chore. These are really - Ultimately it's like 30 minutes max, if not less time for each item.

Amy Riordan I like how you said, in Boise that I mean, you can just go up to a juice bar and just ask him what's the grossest this thing on the menu.

Russ Perry So that's a caveat for all your listeners. Like, if you're wanting to start your day with a good juice, make sure it doesn't taste good. Those are going to be the ones that have the real value and yeah, you could, even if it's not on the menu, just like, 'Can you make me something that's just purely green and kind of gross, maybe spicy? Who knows?' And they'll be like, 'Yes,' and they'll totally, totally do it for you.

Amy Riordan And then I'll watch you as you drink it and cringe.

Russ Perry Yeah exactly like all wheat grass or something like that.

Amy Riordan Alright, so let's talk more about your business. I really love Design Pickle. They were the main host for Craft & Commerce this year, and you guys have a lot of fun. So I want to know, like first like, when did you start it? And how did it turn into this company that seems to really be loving life?

Russ Perry Right. Well, I think I of the typical entrepreneurial story, where I had a problem, I couldn't find a solution, and so I made the solution myself. And that problem started when I had closed my creative agency that I had for 8.5 years. I had 30 team members, I had tons of designers and very unceremoniously, me and my partner decided to close the business. And the next day, I'm like crap, 'How am I going to make money?' So I start reaching out. I got some consulting projects that were really a mixed bag, and then I came to the realization that I haven't done design in probably seven of those eight and a half years; I've always had someone. I suck at it. My clients expect me to do design because that's kind of why they hired me. So quickly, I had to find some help. Ended up finding a couple people; remote people, remote team members and then, as a systems guy, as a tech guy, I thought,  'Well, let me do this a little bit differently. I could start this from scratch. Why don't I create a system that's like a vending machine of design? Where you just consent in your request, it comes out, it's very streamlined.' And so, we did that. We built that and the ah ha moment was when I bumped into a client in person, because a couple of my consulting clients I was meeting that their office, and they said, 'Russ, thanks so much for those business cards!' and I had no idea what they were talking about. And so this was the ah ha moment that I had actually created, of something, that was running without me, which is a great example of what a business really could be. And so 2014 In December, I started building the brand, we launched in 2015 and now we're gonna be celebrating our five-year birthday this January 2020. And here's what has always been the case from the beginning; design is riddled - in creativity, in hiring people - is riddled with tough experiences. Not everyone has had a good experience. They've run into people who might be great designers, but they're terrible at running businesses or they charge a crazy amount, or the project didn't work out as expected. All sorts of things and so we've, from the get go, we wanted to be friendly, we wanted to be easy going, we wanted to be your partner and we realize that we're not gonna be perfect. But we're gonna work our butts off to make sure that you get what you need every single day. And thats been our ethos; our number one core value is friendly. And just this morning I was polling our team; I'm like, 'Hey, what's the one thing we do the best?' and by and far, it was, 'We provide a friendly experience for graphic design.' Are we've the best absolute designers in the world; where you're gonna win New York design competitions with? No, you know? Are we the the fastest, where you blink your eye and automatically it's done? Absolutely not, but we're hardworking. We have, like, a like a very like good ethos those around that, and we care deeply, and that comes out every single day.

Amy Riordan Awesome. And I completely agree, there was a lot of awesome dancing videos and things while we were there. They definitely know how to have fun. What was the hardest part and starting your business, for those that want to start their own?  

Russ Perry The hardest part of starting my business, absolutely, was having the confidence in the deliverable  itself and I think the challenge for most new entrepreneurs is that they have a solution. They have an idea, but they're not confidence enough to charge what they think they should charge for that. And so they undercut their pricing, they pull themselves back, they convince themselves. 'Well, look, I just need to get experience. I'm going to do this, you know, at the cheap or on the free, or I'm just gonna try this out.' And the problem is, you can't build a business that way. Like you cannot; if you don't have any money left over after you've paid your own expenses, you can't market, you can't sell, you can't hire the people, you can't expand. And so the key there is, you have to just be very confident in the value you're delivering first and then put a price tag on that that makes you feel uncomfortable. Where this happened for me is that, we were doing Design Pickle in 2014 as the consulting agency and even though it wasn't called Design Pickle, I was delivering designs, they were working, the clients were giving us feedback. So when I launched, I picked a price, which actually was very; It was even lower, really low than we're at now. But I picked the price that I knew was going to be disruptive, but also was something that I could be profitable on. And from day one, when we were starting to sell Design Pickle subscriptions, we were profitable. We had more money coming in than we were spending. And for some reason, Amy, this concept, this crazy concept of making more money than you're spending doesn't like -People don't get it. They see, think about investors and this and money. We're gonna get this all this stuff and we're gonna grow and we're gonna scale. - Look, I get that could work for people. I just choose the old fashioned path where, let me make more money than I'm spending. And then the difference, I'll reinvest in growth. And we've done that every single year now for almost five years.

Amy Riordan So where did you find that confidence?

Russ Perry It was grown. I didn't have it for really until I started investing in personal development. I invested in coaches, I invested in experiential programs, I read books. If you don't have that confidence naturally, because you weren't fostered with it; maybe there's trauma that happened in your life. Maybe you've had bad relationships. You have to approach it scientifically in a sense. You have to go and find solutions to help rewire your beliefs and stories that guide your decision making. And so I stumbled upon the vocation of personal development and coaching because I told myself, 'Look, I don't want to do things the same way that I did it the last eight and a half years. I need a new; I need to upgrade my operating system. So I'm gonna go find a coach and go to one of their events. I'm gonna invest in personal development.' So I hired a business coach; I hired, like, three business coaches. I've invested high six figures in coaching and personal development for myself, but my results are so powerful around that because the person I am today can run a $10 million plus business, stress free focused on the right things, tons of balance in my life. The person in 2015 never could, like, would crush with one day of my life right now, like they would be crushed physically and spiritually and mentally. The difference between me 2015 and 2019 is simply relentless personal development, relentless. Here's what I would say, because the world of personal development coaching is also riddled with people who have no experience and no right to be doing it. So I will just say this, to anyone looking to invest in it, first find someone with legitimate business experience, meaning they're not selling coaching just because that's their only business, like they've had a legit business success in the area of life that you are existing in. So let's say you are an online marketer, find someone who has sold products online or built online businesses or done things, not someone who's just selling courses on how to be an online marketer. Don't do that, then look at their life. Are they married? Are they not? Like I'm married with kids, So if I'm hiring a coach, I want someone who understands that and understands those dynamics. I'm not gonna hire the 24 year old single guy because his life doesn't match up to mine and what I need. So find someone with a legit business experience, that's point number one and number two, find someone who's on the path of life that you're on but two to five years out. That's the sweet spot. You don't want to find the guy who's 30 years ahead of you, because then you can't relate. But you don't want to find the person who's only five months ahead of you because it's probably easy for you to catch up with them.

Amy Riordan Wow, thank you.

Russ Perry That's my soapbox on it.

Amy Riordan That helps a lot. I feel like we've gotten a lot of really, really good information in this podcast interview, and I definitely want to have you back on. If you're not too busy.

Russ Perry Totally, well it's my pleasure

Amy Riordan So I'll bug you, probably this next spring for Season Two, but I just wanna say thank you again so much. It's meant, a lot to me and I'll put in the intro that you made me cry during meditation.

Russ Perry Well, it's my pleasure. And, you know, if anyone has any more questions, or want to see more what I'm doing, the best place to find these on Instagram. I'm just Rust Perry on instagram.

Amy Riordan Awesome Thank you so much Russ. Have a good day.

Russ Perry Thank you, Amy. Appreciate it.

Amy Riordan Amy Riordan is a weekly podcast brought to you by me, Amy Riordan. Love this podcast? Leave me review and share it with friends. You can also find me on social media. Subscribe to this podcast for all new episode notifications. With questions, topic requests or interviewee nominations, visit AmyRiordan.com. Curious about specific content mentioned in each episode? Those details are linked below.

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