Bryan Rahn – ‘The Big Ticket’ to Building a Side Business You Love – Opt Out

Bryan Rahn – ‘The Big Ticket’ to Building a Side Business You Love

6 years ago · 1:12:00

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Bryan Rahn is an entrepreneur who operates a flourishing ticket brokerage from Missouri. After stumbling into the powers of online marketing at a non-traditional job right out of college, he spent over 10 years honing his skills as a marketer.

He’s a classic case of someone who came upon the “Opt Out Life” slowly over time.  He wasn’t a born entrepreneur, running a lemonade stand or hustling the neighborhood lawn cartel. In his 20’s, he worked a job that allowed him to self-learn a particular skill (digital advertising) that is unique.  A decade later, he first set off on his own as a marketing consultant by asking his employer to reduce his hours and become his first client.

On a whim, Bryan thought back to his days at Show-Me Tickets, and tried buying a ticket and re-selling it for a profit.  Then he did it again.  And again.  And before he knew it, Bryan felt like he had a scalable side business that could live alongside his consultancy.

In this episode, listen as Bryan tells us about how he was able to make that leap from employee to self employed. Bryan’s interview is really good for young people who might aspire to break from the expected career path. Not only has he broken from the path his parents expected of him, but he’s helped his team break free as well.  He advocates work culture that’s fun, and creates meaning for the people you work with, whether it’s you as the boss or you looking for a way to create your ideal work/life situation.

These days, he’s able to travel to frequently from his base in Columbia, MO, while still maintaining his businesses.  This winter, Bryan spent 2 months living and working in San Diego and it was during his stay that we were able to sit down and hear his story.  Enjoy!

Bryan’s resume includes:

  • Founder of Precision SEM
  • Founder of a Ticket Brokerage with 7-figure revenue
  • Executive at 3 Inc 500 Companies


Nate Broughton: This episode of the Opt Out Life podcast, recorded in our studios in sunny San Diego, California, is the Opt Out Life story, of Bryan Rahn.
Speaker 2: Welcome to the Opt Out Life podcast. The no BS guide to living a modern, good life. Hosted by subversive millionaires, Dana Robinson, and Nate Broughton.k The Opt Out Life podcast explains exactly how creative hustlers are turning side gigs into real income, and taking back control of their time. From their studio in sunny San Diego, the Opt Out Life welcomes guests who are solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, travelers, and creatives, who are proof that you can choose a lifestyle over money, but still make money too. If you feel like you’ve been chasing your tail, running the rat race, or stuck in a system that’s rigged against you, we’d like to offer you an alternative here, on the Opt Out Life podcast.
Dana Robinson: We’re going to hear from Bryan Rahn, an entrepreneur who operates a flourishing ticket brokerage from Missouri. Bryan has used his skills to run a marketing consultancy as well. He tells us about how he was able to make the leap from employee to self-employed. Bryan’s interview is really good for young people who might aspire to break from the expected career path. Not only has he broken from the path that his parents expected of him, but he’s helped his team break free as well. Let’s listen as Bryan shares his experiences living the Opt Out Life. Bryan advocates work culture that’s fun, and creates meaning for the people he works with. Whether it’s you as a boss, or as you look for your way to create your ideal work life situation. Let’s listen.
Nate Broughton: Guest today on the podcast Opt Out Life, is a good friend of mine, and an acquaintance of Dana’s, who I think he’s been around several times as well. An old friend of mine from the Missouri days. Mr. Bryan Rahn, welcome.
Bryan Rahn: Hi Nate, great to be here, thank you for having me.
Dana Robinson: Thanks for coming.
Nate Broughton: He is in San Diego actually, living the Opt Out Life as we speak. Still a resident of Missouri, still owns a business there, does some consulting there. But as we’ll get into, he’s been able to spend quite a many days this winter out in the sunny weather here in San Diego. Is that right sir?
Bryan Rahn: Yeah, that’s right. I had the opportunity this winter to come out and spend some time with you and some friends that were here, over the last … Out here for most of the month of December, and then was home visiting my parents for a while. Now, it’s still cold in Missouri, so I decided to come back for a few more weeks.
Nate Broughton: I love it man, living the Opt Out Life. Well, let’s start there. Let’s start easy. Walk me through a day in the life of Bryan Rahn, in San Diego.
Bryan Rahn: In San Diego, my day does start kind of early, because everyone who’s working for me is still on Central time obviously. They’re at work by 9:00, so I’m at work by 7:00 out here, which means that I’ll get up about 6:40, and make it over to the office and kind get everything started for the day. Make sure that they’re going, and that they know what to do for the day. Then, they’ll just go, I’ll get the reports by the afternoon, and then I’ll start to do my thing, and take it from there.
Nate Broughton: Acai bowl, time at the gym.
Bryan Rahn: Yeah, yeah.
Nate Broughton: Go to the beach.
Bryan Rahn: It works out well for me, because then I can, with the timing offset like that, I can go to the gym around lunch, get some food, then yes … The acai bowls around here are just fantastic.
Nate Broughton: There’s our sponsor of this podcast. Acai, taking over San Diego since … You can’t get a good one in Missouri, can you?
Bryan Rahn: They just opened one in Columbia. It’s not bad, but that root has to travel a lot further to Columbia than it does to here.
Nate Broughton: Touche. Okay, well now that we’ve gotten a taste of what the day in the life of Bryan Rahn is like here in San Diego, let’s go back a little bit. You and I actually came up together so-to-speak, in the business world. We started working together in I think 2004. As we kind of unwind the story here, both of us had an exposure to entrepreneurship and online marketing at the same time. It’s set us off on our own trajectories to get where we are today. But yeah, I remember the first day you came into the office back in Columbia. I think a little funny story is, you got hired to do pay-per-click, but you thought it was called, paper clip. The day you began, if I recall correctly.
Bryan Rahn: That’s exactly right. I got set up for an interview at ShowMe Tickets, and walked in a full suit and tie, everything, and was ready for a very formal business interview. I think I sat down at a kitchen table, and there was a dog running around, and the person who was interviewing me was basically wearing shorts and flip flops. I was a little thrown by the interview. Yeah, I didn’t entirely know exactly what they were talking about, but got onto pay-per-click that way, and started working with … That’s how I got my start on online marketing, was working there.
Nate Broughton: Yeah, I think it’s kind of funny. We’ve had some people on the show where we’ve talked about when then got introduced to entrepreneurship, whether it was in middle school and they were selling Christmas cards door to door, selling candy to other classmates. Is that something that you were doing at a young age? Hustling, mowing lawns, or did it come later in life, post college?
Bryan Rahn: That’s a good point to make. I definitely didn’t. I didn’t have that sort of understanding, or activities growing up. Growing up I was raised to work. You work hard to get a job. Then you go work hard at that job. But not perhaps maybe to create your own job, such as whatever, selling lemonade, or baseball cards, what kids do these days.
Nate Broughton: Or selling tickets online, which is where we both got introduced to it. Dana and I have talked about that, and I’ve said, “Yeah I was too busy playing sports, or doing something else with my time.” It was in college that I got introduced to that, much in the same way that you mentioned showing up and not knowing what to expect. I think we would laugh later on when people would show up in suits and stuff like that to the interviews, because we’d been rubbed into the culture, and we were playing Pop-A-Shot in the back, and having coloring Fridays, and listening to music loud.
Bryan Rahn: I believe one person came into the office with a briefcase.
Nate Broughton: Yes.
Dana Robinson: Ready for a job in a cubicle?
Nate Broughton: Right, yeah. One story that Bryan didn’t tell at this point, was that he had two job interviews. One was ShowMe Tickets, and the other was with a local bank in Columbia. Guess what? His parents didn’t want him to take the job at ShowMe Tickets, they would’ve much preferred the bank. We later find out that this was a seminal decision in Bryan’s life to take the job with ShowMe Tickets, and not the bank. It’s where he was first exposed to entrepreneurship, and where the entrepreneurial bug bites him for the first time.
Dana Robinson: Right, imagine that Bryan took that bank job. His life would be completely different.
Nate Broughton: Right.
Dana Robinson: He wouldn’t be building the life that he wants, and we’re going to hear a lot about the life that he’s built for himself, and the life that he’s built for the people that he hires. This is somebody who’s transforming other people’s lives with what he does. He wouldn’t have had that happen had he not walked into that crazy job, been interviewed with a dog walking around in the kitchen, and if he capitulated to what his parents wanted him to do. Inside he probably had the same expectations of himself.
Nate Broughton: Really, that office was a fairly formal environment compared to what the company had been just a few months or a few years earlier. The first time I was there, we were working out of a bedroom. There’s the dog running around, and the wife’s still in the kitchen making breakfast, and we’re all huddled in this bedroom with a couple of Indian guys. I’m just like, “I can’t believe I’m getting paid to be here.”
Bryan Rahn: Right, right, right.
Nate Broughton: But something must be going well, because there’s a lot of action, and everyone seems happy. Yeah, it was an unexpected introduction to entrepreneurship I think for both of us. I mean, what were your thoughts in the first three to six months as you were working at that company with a bunch of 18 to 22 year olds? Not only the culture, but also just online marketing and the power of it. I mean, our revenues were in the 10s of millions, and we were making sales all around the world. That had to be kind of eye opening, and interesting, and shocking all that the same time, with the work that you were doing.
Bryan Rahn: Right, it seems a little funny to talk about now, but back at the time you just didn’t have the ability to reach that many people via marketing. You could do, whether you want to talk about TV, or radio, or magazine. Yeah, those things have huge reach, but the internet is worldwide reach, and everybody’s using it these days. It was interesting to see that, like one of the things I realized was the maximum volume that was there that I wasn’t really receptive to before.
Nate Broughton: Right.
Dana Robinson: Did you guys find it empowering to see a business that was growing that fast, or was it intimidating? Did you look at this and say, “I’m in on ground floor of something,” and as you watch it grow, did you feel like, “Maybe I could do this someday.”
Nate Broughton: Yeah, I definitely did. I mean I was a cocky 21 year old kid. I felt like I should walk across the street, and start something, anything really too, I mean it feels like a super power, because not only were not a lot of people talking about it, but we were really good at it, at the time. I mean it was just like, you pick an industry, I’m going to kill it online. It felt like an ultimate super power then. I wish it still felt that way.
Bryan Rahn: I was really surprised to see a lot of really just, 22, 23, 24 year old people, in the company who were practically running it. I was just kind of expecting to walk into a company that was run by 55 year old people who had worked for 30 years up to the top of their position, but this was just a young company that just hired a bunch of young people and put them in charge. That was empowering for me I think to see, was like, “Hey this 25 year old kid is running the entire operations here, that’s something I could do.”
Dana Robinson: Right, so this shattered your business model, your paradigm shift for you, right? To think of business as a job run by the old guys. You’ll work that job for 20 years, and then you’ll be one of the old guys, and maybe finally make some good money.
Bryan Rahn: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dana Robinson: But you’re seeing this happen to 20-somethings.
Bryan Rahn: Yes, it started to change my perception of what the possibilities were.
Nate Broughton: Yeah, I mean yeah, the budgets that both of us were managing for half a million, million dollars at that age, with no oversight. It’s a really good point to bring back up. Also, just how much fun everybody was having with it, I think that kind of shattered my perception as well. I had never really worked in a real job, or a traditional office. I’d seen my dad work in one, and I know you spent some time at the textbook company. That was a little bit more formal, but I think it had to reshape your view of what company culture is, how an office can and should be ran, and you’ve carried that forward into what you’re doing to day, right?
Bryan Rahn: Right. The textbook company had zero culture to it. But it was very cool to see a company that was friends both in and outside of work, where I think a work function or a social function, was nearly the same thing. It was all the same people at them. That was cool to see that, and be a part of that, and just kind of know those people as they grew in their lives, and careers over time. It’s just kind of a unique, and cool opportunity to see that.
Nate Broughton: Yes, I mean we both jumped into a cool situation that was, it was kind of a once in a lifetime opportunity, and it continued on into other iterations, which we can talk about if we need to. I think what’s interesting also to point out is, while we were in that environment at that particular time at the beginning, we were still working a job. At some point, several years later, I broke off and moved at here, and at some point not too long after that, you actually broke off from full-time employment at what that company eventually became to start your own consultancy, then also some side gigs.
Nate Broughton: I think it’s really cool to see not only ourselves, but there’s a whole host of other people that came out of the business that have done that. But it’s really that, that we want to key in on, is that turning point when you were able to break free from full-time employment at still a fun company, but broke out as an entrepreneur, and started being able to do things like live in San Diego for several months in the winter. That’s what the Opt Out Life’s all about. I think, fast forward a little bit to the point where that was about to happen. What was driving your desire to make that leap, and then how did it actually happen at the time?
Bryan Rahn: Well I think that’s interesting to talk about too, and that the company that you and I eventually both worked at grew to over 2,000 people at the time, and it’s still growing today. That was a tough change I think for me, and for a lot of the people who worked there too. You kind lost a lot of what it was, and they try to maintain it, but it’s never going to be the same. It kind of felt like, “Hey could I create something like that again? It’s not going to be on that scale, but what could you do to maybe bring what you have learned to other people. Could I go now to younger people and get them into a small company, and see if they can flourish in a similar way?”
Nate Broughton: Okay.
Dana Robinson: What was your next move then?
Bryan Rahn: Started online marketing consulting on the side, just worked a few small jobs here and there. Had some successes, had some ones that didn’t go as well, and through that learned which jobs are the ones that you want to work, and then which ones should you probably just stay away from. I think also was able to identify a unique need in the online marketing consultancy space, that I was able to get into, and have a little bit of success.
Dana Robinson: Were you doing that for a little while before you made the leap from the job?
Bryan Rahn: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah.
Dana Robinson: Okay, and then what was your first, the point where you could make the full time jump?
Bryan Rahn: Well, the company I was working with at the time, I was very fortunate in that they saw that I had that drive, and the desire to do that, and they allowed me to continue to consult for them, while I went out on the side. Granted, at a much lower rate than I was initially being paid to actually work there, but said, “Hey, we’ll be your first client, and you can continue to consult with us while you go out and attempt to find other consulting jobs.”
Bryan Rahn: Maybe that’s an opportunity for people too in that you might be working a 40 hour week job, that you might be there for 40 hours a week, but deep down you know that you could do that job in 25 hours a week, or 30. Maybe that’s where you start is you say, “Hey I want to go out and do my own thing. Can I continue to consult and work for you on a consultant basis, and just continue to do my current job, but just away from here so it gives me the opportunity to take on just another one small one?” And maybe move to two small ones. I had that opportunity, and I’m definitely very grateful for that, and I think that’s what, that’s part of what allowed me to get all those pieces in place to sort of be able to set up the Opt Out Lifestyle here.
Nate Broughton: There was kind of a feeling out period, where you figured out what kind of clients were good. Some were good, and some were bad. What were some of those things that you ended up learning the hard way about how to, I guess, function as an entrepreneur really? What was good, and what was bad, and what do you stay away from now?
Bryan Rahn: When you’re talking about consulting jobs that you might want to take, I think a lot of people might be of the opinion that you should just take as many on as you can, and you can scale through a sheer volume way, and regardless of maybe how much they’re paying, or what the opportunity really is. I think that might be a mistake, because what you’re going to do is you’re going to end up spending a lot of your time on something that might not go very well.
Bryan Rahn: I think one of the things that I learned to do, was to evaluate the company that I was actually planning to do consulting for, in that, what are the current advantages and disadvantages of this company? What are their opportunities? Is it likely that they will be successful entering the online space? If it’s not very likely that that company is going to be successful online, and you’re kind of responsible for taking them there, that’s going to be hard on you when it doesn’t go very well.
Bryan Rahn: I think you need to be careful to put yourself in a position where you can be successful, because taking on a project that isn’t going to be successful, even if they’re paying you, it’s just going to be hard on everybody, and kind of draining. That starts to wear you down over time.
Nate Broughton: Yeah, I think initially you get excited that someone’s willing to pay you X amount of dollars to consultant, especially when it’s the first few times. You have to take a more measured approach to that, and not just take the money and say, “I’ll figure it out,” but realize that consulting can be an amazing side hustle if the dollar per hour worth is high, and it doesn’t add a lot of extra stress to your life. That’s kind of some of the basic principles of side gigs that I think you talk about, right?
Dana Robinson: Yeah, so talk me through the other aspects of your business life. YOu’ve started this consulting. You eventually were able to leave the company officially, but then consult back to the company, and you have other clients. Is that a business with employees, or is this just you doing that, and been doing it since.
Nate Broughton: Let’s interject here for a second, as Bryan starts to talk about his first side gig. Dana, in the Opt Out book, you talk about several key principles that define an appropriate side gig, and Bryan’s starting to touch on a few of them here.
Dana Robinson: Yeah, absolutely. Side gigs should be something that is a little different than a normal business. Something that will make you a meaningful amount of money, that doesn’t require a lot of capital up front. It doesn’t require a lot of ongoing investment, has low liability and risk, and is basically something that’s not going to stress you out.
Nate Broughton: That’s I think exactly what Bryan’s doing here. He’s still working for the main company. He’s providing a service and the skills that he knows well, and he’s been doing for several years, and he’s getting kind of his first taste jumping out and doing something outside of regular hours. He’s got low liability, and like you said there’s no upfront cost to get started. I think it’s a perfect place for him to start, as we see it unfolds to be a very profitable venture, and leads to other side gigs in the future for Bryan.
Bryan Rahn: Yeah, I think when I was starting to do some of that consulting, one of the things I kind of realized and learned in doing some research was that there’s a lot of online marketing consulting companies who call themselves online marketing consultants, and their business model is to connect with a company who doesn’t know the first thing about trying to be online, like doesn’t know anything at all. That can be really challenging, because if you’re trying to go into a company that has no idea what they want to do, or has no like even steps in the right direction, there’s an example of a company that’s going to be pretty hard to be successful with.
Bryan Rahn: Now, what I found was, there were these kind of almost like medium-sized companies who already had a successful business kind of in place. Maybe they build their company not through online marketing. They built it through some other avenue, be it, whatever, like word of mouth relationships. A little bit of the problem with online marketing is everybody’s an expert, but it’s like, “Hey, here, I have 15 years of actual experience, and by the way, I’m going to be the one who’s working on your stuff. I’m not going to outsource this to a building full of interns that I have that don’t know what they’re doing. I’m going to be here. I’m going to be in your company for a certain amount of time, and we’re going to work on these things together.” I think there is a need for that, sort of like a mid-range, high-touch consultant.
Dana Robinson: For you, would you consider this your full-time business now? Is this your core business? Or is this still just a side gig that you do part-time?
Bryan Rahn: I consider myself as having a handful of different side gigs. I have revenue streams from … Revenue streams from a couple different sources. One of them being consulting.
Dana Robinson: All right, talk us through another one. Do you mind?
Bryan Rahn: Sure. While I was doing that, I kind of thought back to other experiences I could draw from, and that’s where we kind of landed on looking into tickets. I kind of thought back to that. I thought, “Is that still something you could try to do?” I went and one day I just went and bought a ticket to an event, and just kind of held it for a while, and went over and listed it for sale, and a week or so later it sold, and made just a little bit of money. Thought, “Hey, that’s pretty cool. I wonder if I could instead of doing that once per week, I could do it twice per week.”
Dana Robinson: This is a really critical principle about side gigs, an even about business. It’s the idea that in order to determine if business is viable, it can be as simple as buying a ticket, and selling the ticket, seeing if you make some money.
Bryan Rahn: And see if you could start to do something like that. Over time, that has grown as well, and has been able to grow into kind of a side thing that kind of runs a little bit parallel to the consulting, I would say.
Nate Broughton: That business now has I think eight or 10 employees. It’s made the leap I think, knowing or not, form side gig to real business. I think there’s a few things in there that are interesting that we should talk about. The way you just described you stumbling back upon tickets was very organic, and very side giggy. You bought a ticket. You held it for a while. You sold it. You wondered, “Maybe I could do that two times, three times.” There are actually hundreds of people out there in the country, maybe more, who do this as kind of a side gig hustle and make good money. I don’t think a lot of people know that. Dana actually I think even mentions one in one of his books that he knows out here.
Dana Robinson: Yeah.
Nate Broughton: Who does tickets as a side gig.
Dana Robinson: Yeah, I’ve got a neighbor, and he seems to never work. So, I’d like to contrast that with you started in that, and now you’ve got eight to 10 employees. What do you think about the contrast? Was there a point in the evolution of your ticket brokering where it was good and easy money, and you could walk your dog and not think about it, and how is it now that you’re responsible for eight to 10 mouths that you’ve got to feed every payroll?
Bryan Rahn: I think the important part there is it definitely was never easy. I think when I was building that up, I personally was working more than 40 hours a week on that alone. That wouldn’t be possible necessarily for somebody who still has a full-time job to be able to do that. But, that doesn’t take away from the fact that I think in a lot of these side gig things that we talk about is, “Hey, you don’t necessarily have to have like a fully functioning company immediately.” A good example would be, “Hey, can you sell $10,000 worth of tickets for a year?” That would be something. $10,000 coming in.
Dana Robinson: Yeah, that’s meaningful to a lot of people.
Bryan Rahn: Anyway, just to kind of touch on that. I was doing it all myself. I wasn’t necessarily looking to scale it up really big. It was more so me looking at it as, “Hey, could I just do this personally on my own, and basically make an income for me off that? Could I get to that level with just me working?” As I started doing it, got to like 20, 30, 40 hours a week. Sure enough I was like, “Well, I could make yearly salary doing this.” Then, once I got to that point, that’s when I started to look at, “Hey, let’s see if we can’t … Is it possible to scale it?” Then that’s when I started to say like, “Hey, I could get more tickets if I had somebody who was working for me. Or, I could free up some of my time by having somebody else ship the tickets, instead of having me do it.”
Bryan Rahn: I think the important part of that story is I didn’t one day when I first started say, “Well, the first thing I need to do is hire four ticket buyers, and four ticket fulfillment specialists, and two phone people.” More so it was like, “Hey, I’m going to take this as far as I can, and then get somebody else in, and then get someone else in, and then get someone else in.” It was built more over time as opposed to just, “I’m going to start a ticket company tomorrow.”
Nate Broughton: Yeah, I think that is important to key in on.
Dana Robinson: Yeah, it’s organic.
Nate Broughton: Right. It makes it less intimidating, which I think is something we want to reinforce over and over is like, starting a business doesn’t mean do all those things you just said. It’s figure out something that works, do it once, maybe do it a few more times, and see where it goes from there. Because you, of all people would know that making the shift from, whether it’s side gig or full-time business for you personally to hiring people opens up a whole new can of worms that maybe you don’t want to deal with. It takes away some work like shipping tickets, acquiring tickets. It creates a lot of other work, whether that be HR, legal, paying them, dealing with the person, managing them. That’s work too. You had to kind of want to do that. I guess I’m curious why you wanted to do it, versus keep it just for yourself?
Bryan Rahn: I think it goes back to what we were talking about early on, and that I kind of wanted to see if I could do something similar for other people kind of as what had been done for me. You know, I’ve been hiring college students for the last 15 years, and I think they’re always excited. They’re ready to get into something. They want to work hard. They want to learn. You bring them in, and you give them an opportunity to be successful, and see where they can take it. I think you’d be surprised how far they can.
Nate Broughton: Yeah. We’re nearly 30 minutes into the initial recording of this, and that’s the first time we used the word college. Maybe. Maybe I said it earlier when I was talking about myself being in college, but it’s an important word in this story, because you and I met in a college town. We began working together in college, and as you just said we’ve both employed a ton of college students over the years. I really like what you just said about empowering those people in the way that we were empowered at a young age, and what it’s done for us, and wanting to kind of pay that back. I admire how you’ve done it with your businesses. I guess it’s important to reinforce that Bryan still lives in a college town, at the age of 37, which-
Bryan Rahn: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.
Nate Broughton: 36.
Bryan Rahn: 36. Easy.
Nate Broughton: 36. When this airs, he might be 37. That’s a unique decision to make. It’s a unique lifestyle decision to make, and it’s a unique opportunistic decision to make from a business standpoint that I think a lot of people don’t understand, which we’ve been kind of keying in on here. First of all, what’s it like living in a college town at the age of 36 and 11 months.
Bryan Rahn: You’ve got to just love being around college students, which honestly I do. I’ve always liked working with them. I have a great group of people who I work with right now. I initially hired a bunch of different people, and got them in, and some worked out, and some worked out okay, and then they just sort of moved on. That’s fine too. Kind of got connected with one guy who, he was then able to take it a little bit further. He said, “Hey, I have other people who would want to work here.” I’m like, “You have people who want to work here?” He’s like, “Oh, yeah. I go home and talk about my job, and they think it’s great. They can’t wait to work here.”
Bryan Rahn: I think that’s important too. There’s people in his fraternity who want to work at this company. They think it’s a fun place to work. They think it’s cool. They think it’s exciting work. They think it’s interesting. He’s able to go and kind of spread that in there, and then we bring those personalities in. Yeah, without question it’s for sure it’s a little bit of a college culture in the company, but hey it’s great. I believe last weekend I attended a 21st birthday party.
Dana Robinson: I want to interrupt here and just say to the listeners who think that college sucks, listen up, because what we’re going to hear is that college does matter, but that you don’t have to follow the expected path. You can find a cool job that lets you pursue what you want to do. Your degree counts, but it doesn’t necessarily count the way you think it’s going to count, and it doesn’t necessarily count the way your family thinks it’s going to count.
Nate Broughton: Yeah, I sometimes will say college sucks, or think that college didn’t do anything for me, but as you’ve probably heard through Bryan’s story, and my relation to it, both he and I got our start while in college, at a company in a college town. I think that regardless of what you think of maybe a certain particular class, or what an individual degree might do for you career wise, being in and around a college, and getting exposed to people there, to business leaders, to teachers, to other students, is going to lead to other connections that can play themselves out in ways that you cannot imagine, just as Bryan’s story is proof of.
Dana Robinson: Yeah, so it’s a great opportunity to evaluate what you’re really doing with school, because what you get out of college might not be that valuable in terms of class. It might be these work experiences, the internships, externships, the programs for entrepreneurs. These are going to be the tools that you get from college that actually carry through your life.
Nate Broughton: Yeah, and you have to have kind of that innate curiosity, which we kind of talk about as an entrepreneurs or a person who wants to live the Opt Out Life, but you have to have that while you’re in college as well. You can’t be sitting there expecting to drone onto class, and get something out of going to 15 hours of class a week, and just taking the test, and getting a degree. You have to kind of look around at the opportunities that are there just because you’re in a college campus surrounded by all those people. That’s where you’re going to find opportunity. That’s where serendipity will find you. Not in your 1050 marketing lab.
Dana Robinson: How important is the education for people that you hire?
Bryan Rahn: Like coming in the door?
Dana Robinson: Yeah, you’re hiring college students. You must find that they’re a rich source for human resources. I just wonder, having met some of the people that have worked for you and for Nate, whether their education is as meaningful as their work ethic. How important is what they’re studying? How important is their degree?
Bryan Rahn: I think that how important is their degree, what did they learn in biology class that they’re going to translate to buying tickets, probably not that much. On the other hand, to counteract that, I do think that college teaches people life lessons a little bit, and how to be an adult. That part of it is important. The coursework, probably not so much, but on the other hand how to like manage your daily schedule, I think that is something.
Nate Broughton: Yeah, the quick answer, especially coming from me is it doesn’t mean much at all, but it’s hard to argue that them getting to that point to where they walk in the door at Bryan’s office, there’s a filtering process that gets them there that college plays a big role in, I think. I’ve also been really impressed with some of the entrepreneurship programs, and professors that encourage entrepreneurship, or make connections with local entrepreneurs, both here in San Diego and in Missouri. The students that kind of seek that stuff out, and end up in those positions, whether they’re business majors or art majors that have a bent towards entrepreneurship tend to fit in well. I certainly appreciate I guess the filter that those institutions create in delivering those people to us.
Dana Robinson: Yeah, so college means something different to you guys as entrepreneurs, and business owners, and people have hired than it does to a lot of the rest of the world. There’s an opportunity for kids that are in college to pursue a life that you’re living. It doesn’t matter whether they’re an art major, or whether they’re getting an MBA. It doesn’t really even matter if they’re stellar students, if they’ve got a work ethic, if they’re curious. The traits you’re looking for are not the traits that get them good grades, and have them graduate top of their class.
Nate Broughton: Yeah, and those aren’t the traits that come through on a piece of paper that get illustrated by a major, or anything like that. Bryan walking in the door, of ShowMe Tickets with a suit, with a degree in advertising and statistics was I think compelling, but it didn’t tell us, or the company anything about what he was going to become, I don’t think. Certainly curiosity, hustle, and interest is worth a hell of a lot.
Dana Robinson: If someone’s going to opt out. If they’re in college right now and they’re thinking, “I like these guys. I like what I hear from the people in this Opt Out Life podcast,” what would you tell them? Go get good grades.
Bryan Rahn: I think I’m kind of going through that right now actually, where I have one employee who has kind of risen above the rest, and has taken on a lot of extra responsibilities, and he’s working probably close to 30 hours a week now while he’s in college. One day we just sort of had the conversation. He’s majoring in accounting, which is a five-year program Mizzou. You end up with a Master’s in Accounting with that.
Bryan Rahn: We just sort of had the discussion of, “Do you want to upon graduation go into you’ll have an internship where you’ll work at for a year, where you won’t get paid anything at one of the big accounting firms. Then you’ll work for some company for 60 hours a week as a grunt level accountant, and work your way up over time. Or, do you want to take on this opportunity where you could maybe come in and start to work here on a full-time basis.” He said, “I mean, I would love this, but my parents might have a little bit of trouble with that.” I said, “Let me meet your parents. I need to talk to them.”
Nate Broughton: Which I love, by the way. I love that response. “Let’s sit down with mom and dad over dinner, and talk about this.”
Bryan Rahn: Yeah.
Dana Robinson: That’s a big pressure that’s on so many people. I think that that will come up in every podcast session is that there are social pressures on people, and then they have their own pressures they put on themselves based on those expectations.
Bryan Rahn: His dad is a principal of a school, to even kind of give you a little bit more background. Yeah, he did have this pressure to maybe go down that route, but they came into Columbia. They drove in from Kansas City. We sat down. Had a long dinner at Addison’s, and by the end of it they were just like, “Well, you know, we trust you. We trust him to make the right decisions. If this is what he wants to do, we want him to get that degree and have it, so that …” You know, he’s whatever, three out of five years through of college. It probably doesn’t make sense to stop now. “Get that degree, and then if you want to try this entrepreneurship Opt Out Life now, go ahead.” I think that touches on another sort of concept.
Nate Broughton: Good job, mom and dad, by the way. You’re one of the good ones.
Bryan Rahn: Yeah. Is that, a lot of people would kind of think that when you guys are talking about opt out that like, “Well, I can do this once I get to this level, or I can do this later in life, or I can do this eventually after such and such a thing happens.” People have a tendency to always think that they’re going to be less busy in the future than they are right now, but almost more often than not the case is you’re more busy in the future than you are right now. You just don’t realize that. Like if you think back to high school, you probably thought you were super busy in high school, but you had …
Dana Robinson: No idea.
Bryan Rahn: Yeah, now you would look at it and laugh at it. I think people always think that the time they’re in is the busiest time. That’s for sure something I learned. I thought I was working as hard as humanly possible when I was 25, and that definitely wasn’t the case. I was working much harder at 35. I think a lot of people put off taking that move, because they think it’s going to be easier in the future, but that often tends to not be the case.
Nate Broughton: Absolutely. To come back around, Dana, where you were asking what advice would we give to young people listening to this podcast right now, and I’ve gone to the colleges and said this stuff. I think that the goal would be to seek out people like Bryan, or myself, or Gabe in this office. The people who are making it work as entrepreneurs, just to get a taste of it. Gary V would say, “Find someone like that and work for them for free.”
Nate Broughton: That’s probably not bad advice. The only thing that steered us down this path was like happenstance. We just got a job at a place that luckily was like that, and was led by two 20-somethings who were bent on entrepreneurship, and did things a different way, and had figured some things out. Any way that you can get exposed to that, whether it’s through a guest speaker at the school, or hustling to find someone to work for who’s like that.
Nate Broughton: Let me tell actually a little story about this, because one of the people who used to work in marketing with us is Josh Kaiser. He basically stocked our mentor and the founder of the company for several months after reading an article about him in the local business journal. Emailing him saying, “I do my own kind of side hustle stuff.” I think he had a bail bonds business at the time. “I’d love to sit down and have coffee with you. Anything.” He was so persistent, because I remember Brant forwarding his emails to me and like, “Will you meet with this guy?” I’m like, “I don’t know, man. I guess. I’m not that much older than him. He wants to meet you. Not me.”
Nate Broughton: He, if he worked his way into the door there, would do anything. He would’ve swept the floors at the business just to get closer to what we were doing, and to learn. I really admired that hustle, and that gumption. That led to him starting a business where we were partners that they funded, and that grew into be a huge and successful company in Columbia as well. All down to reading an article about a guy and persistently emailing him and saying, “Give me five minutes,” sort of thing.
Dana Robinson: That’s great.
Nate Broughton: Yeah.
Bryan Rahn: Yeah.
Dana Robinson: Bryan, let me ask you something about business. There’s a lot of people whose perception is that to get into business they’ve got to have an incredibly novel idea, and then they need to find somebody to get money to fund that idea. Then they’re not going to make any money until they sell the business. That’s sort of like the startup chase. Your experiences sound totally different. Can you maybe compare, contrast what you’ve done with what so many people out there are trying to do?
Bryan Rahn: Right. I think that was something that I didn’t even understand about entrepreneurship until I was way older. At the beginning you asked about my early experiences, and I thought that entrepreneurship meant that you had to invent something, like invent a new technology, or a new device. But that’s not at all what it means. You can be in entrepreneurship and open up your own dry cleaners, and just have a better dry cleaners than the person next door.
Dana Robinson: Even your business is very pedestrian. You went back to a business you had done years before and said, “Can I do this again and still make a profit on it.” Right?
Bryan Rahn: Yeah, or in the consulting is that, “Hey, there’s all kinds of marketing consultants, but what’s maybe one need that isn’t being filled right now?” That was how I came across that more like high-touch consultant.
Dana Robinson: Right. Then what about the fundraising? Your businesses, have you done fundraising, or you’ve done these all by your bootstraps?
Bryan Rahn: That was something that I haven’t truly had to do. I’ve been able to just use my savings from my first 10, 15 years of regular work, I guess, and I did. I saved up a lot over that time, and that was what kind of allowed me to be able to do that, and that’s been at times, for lack of a better word, chilling as well. One day I think I looked back at it and I was like, “My gosh, I have my entire life savings in tickets right now.” That was for sure a chilling thought when I thought about it.
Dana Robinson: You know what I love about this part is that when you meet somebody that’s so successful, you don’t realize how much they’ve put on the line, and maybe even how much they have on the line at that moment. Here, Bryan’s being really honest with us in this venture that he realizes that everything he’s got is suddenly in inventory for this business. It’s all tickets.
Nate Broughton: Yeah, it kind of contrasts a bit, because I’ve watched Bryan over the last few years build this ticket business, and admired it as I’ve sat here in the interview. But, what I’m admiring are all the things like outwardly where it’s like, you know, he can come to San Diego for two months. He can meet in Vegas anytime. He’s got this cool company of young people. It’s a very different risk profile and situation than he had just a few years ago through, when he was still working a job with a large company. To hear him say something like this, that his entire life savings was invested in the business, really brings it home for me that even if things are outwardly looking good, and are very admiring of a situation, when you’re an entrepreneur, you’re still always putting a lot of things on the line, and it made me really respect the situation in a different way, I guess.
Bryan Rahn: Because I had grown it more slowly and organically over time, I wasn’t too worried about it.
Dana Robinson: A lot of people have the fantasy that they won’t get to live the Opt Out Life until they sell their business, and in your experience, are you waiting for the big payout, or are you living the life you want right now?
Bryan Rahn: I actually don’t have really companies that I’m looking to sell for a big payout necessarily. What I think a good way to look at that is to say, a lot of people, even if they have an everyday job, they want to make more money, and they want to earn more money, but they’re not exactly sure why, I don’t think. I think a better way to look at it is how much do you wan to spend? What do you want your annual run rate to be for you to have like a comfortable life or whatever. Like whether you’re trying to sell a company, well you’re trying to sell that company so that you can spend more money and live this comfortable life. If you just had that income coming, you don’t have to sell the company if you just did.
Bryan Rahn: A good number, like we could just pull a number to have an example. Say you were spending $250,000 a year, that that was your run rate to live the Opt Out lifestyle. Regardless of your position, that’s a comfortable amount by any measure of success. The problem is to have $250,000 a year run rate, you need to have, like if you were just going to live off investments, you have to have like maybe $8 million in the bank. That’s hard. It’s hard to save that much money, particularly if you’re just one person with one income. If you have a two-income family, you might get there a little faster.
Bryan Rahn: If you’re one person making even a high salary of $200,000 a year, hard to get up to eight million. What if you had a company that was just paying to like $100,000 a year. Now, you only need an additional 150, so now you only need like three or four million in the bank to draw the funds from your investments. I think that’s something for people to consider in that, “Hey not every company that you create has to be something that you’re going to sell for all kinds of money down the road.” Like, “Hey, can this company just kind of provide me like a steady stream of revenue, even if it’s modest?” You start to combine one or two of those together, and then combine it with the amount you’re making from investments. All of a sudden you can get to that number that it is that you want to have as your sort of annual run rate.
Dana Robinson: Yeah, I’ve known hundreds of entrepreneurs in my career, and don’t think I can consider five that have made $8 million in an exit. I think there’s a fantasy out there. A lot of entrepreneurs give up lifestyle chasing that potential for that $8 million payout that you’re talking about, because that’s there. That’s the carrot that’s motivating so many entrepreneurs that give up the life they want to live, because they’re waiting to get that $8 million kill, and I’m telling you statistically that I’d say 2% of the entrepreneurs I know have actually made that.
Dana Robinson: The ones I like are the ones like you, that are living the life they want, making the money they want from their side gigs, controlling their life, they have freedom over their time. You know what? If someone comes along and buys your business for eight million, you’ll sell it, but you don’t need it. You’re getting the life you want through the side gigs you’ve set up, and running them smart.
Bryan Rahn: Right, I think that’s what I hear all the time in the kind of entrepreneurship community is the feedback that you consistently seem to hear and get a lot is people will say, “Well, that’s not scalable. You can’t scale it,” to get up to these high valuations. That is probably true. Maybe this little side gig or side hustle you have isn’t scalable. Me dedicating 15 hours a week to one specific company to come in and help them with their online marketing isn’t scalable. I don’t have an unlimited number of hours per week, but just because it’s not scalable doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. If you can do something that produces $10,000 a month, but it’s not scalable, I don’t think that’s like an immediate, “Don’t do that then.” As long as it’s within the time that you’re spending on it that’s producing those returns, I still think it can make sense to continue to do that.
Nate Broughton: Yeah, I like that a lot. One thing that you said, like entrepreneurs like Bryan, because they’re in total control of their time and their lifestyle. I think you’ve reached a point somewhere in the last couple of years where that is completely true. I think that I admire that about your situation, and getting to that point. The details are interesting, but also I think the benefits are interesting. When I think about the benefits of what you’ve set up right now, you have total control over when you wake up in the morning in Columbia what you’re going to do with your day.
Nate Broughton: You have certain commitments, but it’s still up to you if you want to take another meeting, not go in until 9:00, workout in the middle of the day, take a three-day weekend to Las Vegas, which I know you enjoy doing, and we enjoy doing together. Or, spend several weeks in San Diego, like we’ve talked about. It seems like based on what you’ve set up, and your philosophy, that you’re going to be able to maintain that control for quite some time. If not, for the rest of your life. I just admire that, sir. Well done.
Bryan Rahn: Thanks. I appreciate that. It’s not to say that it was always that way. I think that that can sometimes be overlooked. You talked about the carrot, and that some people are going to jump into that thinking that, “Hey, I’m going to start it that way right now,” but I can definitely tell you that it wasn’t that way when I first started doing tickets, or paper clip, or anything. I didn’t know the first thing about it. I didn’t know the first thing about how to scale people’s advertising using paid search. I worked, and I had to personally learn it myself before I could teach somebody else to do it.
Bryan Rahn: Yes, I have achieved that level now, but you do look back and say, “Wow, you were putting in a lot of hours to get there.” That’s rewarding, in a sense, and then it’s nice to be able to kind of show that to other people too, and to help them learn. I think one of the things that I’ve learned over doing this for the last couple of years or so, where I’ve been even more so free with my time is that I actually really enjoy working. I honestly do.
Bryan Rahn: When I’m here, I miss the employees back home. At the ticket company, we come in every morning. Every morning is fun and exciting in that office. They are happy to be there, because I’m happy to be there, and we’re happy to be there together, and we’re happy to work together. I do miss them, and I do miss working with them, and I discovered that I like it.
Dana Robinson: I’m going to jump in and just say that we don’t talk a lot about how exciting work is. In fact, a lot of what I pitch with the Opt Out Life is not working very much, so it’s interesting that Bryan comes to us and says one of the things that he’s getting out of his Opt Out Life is the enjoyment he gets from work.
Nate Broughton: Yeah, I was almost shocked to hear him say that, but then as I was thinking about it in this conversation I was like, “This is actually an important point to pull out and reiterate,” because if you look at the Opt Out Life philosophy, and what we are trying to convey, it’s very much the four-hour workweek. You probably are picturing us on ski mountains, or hanging out by the week. That’s what a lot of our pictures show.
Dana Robinson: We do.
Nate Broughton: We do. We do that. But, that’s not really the definition of what Opt Out Life has to be. I think everyone can kind of find their own Opt Out Life by finding out what makes them happy. Bryan’s like gone through this whole journey to find out that what really makes him happy is coming into the office, and being surrounded by young people, and having fun, and that camaraderie. I remember those times as well when we were working together back in the day. I guess those times kind of would qualify as happy Opt Outy times, because we weren’t working a cubicle job that sucked. It’s not the 9:00 to 5:00 with the overpowering boss that you don’t like.
Nate Broughton: It’s a life that he’s designed, and that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s going to the beach at noon every day, or throwing his feet up and taking a photo on Instagram sipping coffee trying to make you jealous. It’s, “I’ve figured out what makes me happy, and that’s having young people around me, and bringing them along in a business that’s making me money, and having a little fun, and a fun culture all at the same time.”
Bryan Rahn: That is probably something you might find along the path as well is you don’t want to just set your whole plan up and then say, “See you later,” to everybody who you have kind of put in place to work with you, because arguably, those are your friends. Those are the people you like working with. You enjoy them. That’s kind of why you hired them and brought them along to this point. That’s something I learned as well.
Dana Robinson: Right, you were opting out of the traditional business approach, but you’re not dropping out.
Bryan Rahn: Yeah.
Dana Robinson: An interesting lesson that I’m hearing from you is you like working. I have a problem with the gurus saying that you should do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life. I’ll tell you why, because you probably didn’t as a child dream that you’d be doing the things you’re doing now. What you love is, you love your freedom. You love being empowered. You love the feeling of succeeding at something you’re good at. You like your expertise, and you like applying that expertise, and teaching that to other people. These are far more meaningful than chasing the fantasy that you should be doing what you love. I think that’s a good message for our listeners as well is getting good a something feels really good, right?
Bryan Rahn: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dana Robinson: You’re in your element when you’re doing what you’re good at, and you’re making money, and helping others do the same.
Bryan Rahn: And, I love working with good people too. I know that Nate can speak to it as well. In even just the time that we worked together, and even past that, we have met a lot of really good people along the way, who are good people, and who are hard workers, and how are smart. Just kind of being around those type of people is exciting, and invigorating. You’re not just in an office building where I was describing one of those people that go into an accounting firm where people are probably just working 60, 70 hours a week, pushing billing hours, and pushing papers. You’re working around exciting people who are excited about doing big things. That part of it is really fun too.
Nate Broughton: Yeah, I think like-minded people. It’s surrounding yourself with those who are that way is one of the great benefits of choosing to set up your life like this. Not only that, the camaraderie that comes with it, that was the word that was going through my mind when you were just talking there is that we had a lot of that back in the day. That’s really what I look back on and enjoy. Yeah, it’s the years where we made a lot of money, maybe in my head that’s like what was the best part, but it certainly wasn’t. It was the times in the office, and also the times out of the office, because it was more like a family.
Nate Broughton: That’s what we kind of came into, and what we’ve both been able to recreate at certain points in time. I’ve loved moving out here, and bringing a lot of people from Missouri to San Diego, and maintaining that. I have certain opinions about Missouri that are neither here nor there, but I am always very excited to work with and connect with people from there. There you go, Missouri.
Bryan Rahn: Yeah, thank you for introducing me to San Diego. It’s pretty nice out here.
Dana Robinson: Welcome.
Nate Broughton: There’s a lot of love.
Dana Robinson: Welcome to your home away from home.
Bryan Rahn: Right.
Dana Robinson: The best part about the Opt Out Life, you can live where work flourishes, and then be in somewhere like San Diego as often as you want.
Bryan Rahn: Yeah, absolutely.
Dana Robinson: Then, if you want to make the choice that Nate’s made, you can completely immerse your business into the place that you love. But, Bryan’s able to live the life he wants to live, and take a couple of months, and get out of the cold, and enjoy San Diego while it’s 80 degrees in the middle of winter everywhere else.
Bryan Rahn: Yeah, absolutely. I have, and you asked about what it’s like living in a college town earlier, and yeah Columbia absolutely is a college town. If you like college basketball games, and college football games, and homecoming, and all that stuff, those are the things you’ve got to like to live there. On the other hand, I also have 15 years worth of connections that live there, like these good connections that we’re talking about, about good people. I like being around them as well. Whereas, it’s sometimes what could it be that drives you to a certain place when you’re doing the Opt Out Life? Is it the weather? The food? Or, the lifestyle?
Bryan Rahn: A lot of time I think you’ll find dit could be the people too. That’s why I’m out here, is because I have al to of good connections like Nate and Dana here in San Diego. I’m drawn to here by the people. I think the same could be said about why I choose to live in Columbia is I’m drawn to the people there too.
Nate Broughton: Let’s talk about something else that’s related to travel, because living in Columbia I guess presents its own unique hurdles for travel. You love travel as much as I do, and as much as Dana does, and you do travel a lot. At the same time, you live in the middle of a state that has an airport that has like one flight every other day, or something like that.
Bryan Rahn: Terrible.
Nate Broughton: You’ve got multiple business contracts there, an office, tons of relationships, and a roommate, currently.
Bryan Rahn: And a cat.
Nate Broughton: And a cat. Although, we could kind of talk about how you’ve set up a lifestyle that it’s easy for you to be away, which is important. It’s not like you’ve bought a house in Columbia, and have got to mow the lawn, and things like that. You’ve set up a lifestyle that allows you to still travel. But what I’m interested in is what drives you to travel so frequently. I think you and I are both upset when we don’t have a trip on the books that involves the two of us.
Nate Broughton: Every time we’re on one, we plan another. But, you know that every time you want to take a trip, you have to take several hours away from focusing on your business or doing something you want to do to drive across the state, to then sit in an airport, and then get on a plane, and then fly three hours west. You give up a lot, and you go through a lot of pain to lug your monitor out to another city, and sit in a hotel room and work. Why do you do that, and what drives you to kind of push through those hurdles? Because I think a lot of people would kind of be put off by it, and not travel nearly as much.
Bryan Rahn: Yeah, I think you hit the nail on the hand on the travel life from Columbia, Missouri. Yes, it’s a two-hour drive, and you’re at the airport, and it’s going to be longer than you think. You’re flying three hours west, coming back, you’re losing two hours. I think what drives me is that I do want to explore new things. I have lived in Columbia for a long time. Probably as long as a lot of people who … I mean, I move there to go to college in 1999, so we’re approaching 20 years now. That’s a long time to live in Columbia, but I want to be able to live there and still explore other things, and so I think that was part of what set this up is, “Hey, I do want to go to new places. I want to see new sights. I want to try new food. I want to visit my friends.”
Bryan Rahn: As you know, a lot of my friends have grown and left Columbia, you being an example. I value those friendships, and those relationships, and kind of like we talked about earlier, being around those type of people fosters business, and fosters exciting opportunities. Just today, you were able to connect me with somebody working in a similar industry, and we went and had lunch together. I really want to continue to have and develop those relationships with these people that I have met over so long, because I value them, and I think it’s good to continue them.
Nate Broughton: I like it.
Dana Robinson: Yeah, there’s sort of a point in business where I think your business and your travel can mesh. The travel that you do from coast to coast brings you to places you want to be, like San Diego. You get to expense that as a business expense, but you enjoy the relationships you’re developing in those places, and you get to have a good time while you’re doing it.
Bryan Rahn: Absolutely.
Nate Broughton: And it leads to opportunity, like inadvertently I think. You come for the sun and the friends, and then you get a client. I think a lot of those things play themselves out inadvertently when you invest in relationships exactly like you said today. So many of the things, I mean I met you. None of this would be happening. I might not even be living in San Diego if I wouldn’t have come out to an event via an intro, and happenstanced on your door step, Dana.
Dana Robinson: Yeah, that’s a story we’ll have to tell in our-
Nate Broughton: I know, right.
Dana Robinson: Yeah, we’ll interview each other. I’ve got a question, since we’ve had a lot of talk about philosophy, about young people, and work ethic, education. There’s a pretty common theme amongst millennials that they want to feel that their work is meaningful. In fact, they I think steer clear of what might be really fulfilling jobs in a cool environment like the companies that you have worked for and owned, because they’re chasing the dream that they need to do something that’s going to maybe save the world. You’re around a lot of students. For the listeners who are thinking about how to craft their life, and have the career and the life they want, what do you think about that?
Bryan Rahn: If that is something that you truly enjoy. We might be talking about a position of, I’m thinking of like a doctor, or a veterinarian, or maybe like a researcher in the medical field, something like that. If that’s your passion, and you really want to do it, more power to you. I think that’s great. I don’t think you should necessarily stop what you’re doing and try and do something else. Now, I think that people sometimes working in more of a traditional business sense, not maybe so much in the like research medical field might misplace how valuable their work actually is in how much they like doing what they do, versus how much they actually just like the people around them.
Bryan Rahn: If they actually looked at it and was like, in pay-per-click you do a lot of ad testing of whatever, 60-character advertisements. I doubt that anybody, if they really thought about it would say, “My passion in life is testing 60-character test ads, and that just really brings me a lot of fulfillment in what I do.” That’s probably not at all true. They probably really just like the people around them. They like the company they work for, and they want that company to be successful. That’s really what’s fulfilling them, and what’s driving them is that.
Dana Robinson: You find meaning in a good corporate culture regardless of whether it’s TOMS shoes that’s making a sort of social benefit contract with their customer. Even a company that’s just selling tickets, and making money on brokering tickets can bring meaning to people’s lives if they’ve got community, culture, and are having a good time.
Bryan Rahn: Yeah, absolutely. Interesting story there. We had a guy who was friends with all these people working at the ticket company, and he kind of was a little bit down, down on his luck a little bit was like, “Hey, I really want to work here.” We weren’t necessarily hiring for a position or anything. We said, “Hey, this guy wants to work here. Let’s bring him in. He’s going to work hard. You know he’s going to work hard. You know he’s going to do a good job. Let’s like find a position for him.” He finds fulfillment in his job by doing that, and the people who are friends with him around him, they’re driven by that too. Then, “Hey, now we’re in this together, and we’re driving this forward together. It’s all of us now.”
Dana Robinson: That’s great.
Nate Broughton: Maybe stories like that do happen at the Big Four accounting firms. I think it’s a little less likely than more likely, but back to what you were saying before. Millennials coming out of school, and their expectations, and what they should be looking for. I think that it’s just important to shift your mindset or expectation a little bit, so as not to miss the opportunity that we both got. If Bryan would have walked into the doors at ShowMe Tickets and been turned off by the interviewer in the flip flops, and the hip hop blaring in the background, just immediately would have lost out on what his life’s been for the last 15 years.
Nate Broughton: If someone would’ve walked into his current company, and felt the same way for whatever reason. Like, “Oh, there’s a lot of college kids here. The boss looks young. I don’t really know. Maybe this is a kind of ragtag operation. This wasn’t what I was expecting.” I mean, listen to the story he just told about what they do for people there, and the stories he’s told about the culture that they have, and about the particular individual who’s going to end up taking over the company.
Nate Broughton: If he just had a slight twist in what he was expecting when he walked in and his opinions, then none of that would’ve happened. I think it’s just opening up your eyes, and dropping judgment a little bit, and hopefully being exposed to stories like this, or reading about them in the local business journal, as some of us have done, and chased these opportunities will allow you to see that there’s something else out there.
Bryan Rahn: I think that was exactly right.
Nate Broughton: All right, let’s end this with something fun. You and I have taken several dozen young people, mostly gentlemen to Las Vegas for their first time.
Bryan Rahn: Oh, absolutely.
Nate Broughton: We’ve been to Vegas several dozen and more dozen times together.
Bryan Rahn: We’ve got one first-timer coming up at the end of March.
Nate Broughton: That’s my one-year-old son, [Remy 01:06:17].
Bryan Rahn: And I’m bringing one of my employees, so yeah, there we go.
Nate Broughton: There we go. That’s what I meant. That’s what I meant. Maybe we can verbally recount quickly a few of the important rules for first-timers when they go to Vegas. Some things that we’ve learned over the years ourselves that are often recounted in group emails before the trips come along. One of them is a very simple one. You have to bring nice shoes to Las Vegas.
Bryan Rahn: Absolutely.
Nate Broughton: Very young people necessarily do not know this, but if you come to Las Vegas, and you have scruffy shoes that you wore to your Bar Mitzvah or something like that, or you only come with tennis shoes and flip flops, because it’s in the desert, you will not be able to get around and do the things that you want to do if you don’t have a pair of dress shoes in Las Vegas.
Bryan Rahn: That’s absolutely right. If you’re wearing dress shoes, you probably better be wearing dress socks.
Nate Broughton: Yes. That’ll get you a little farther as well. The dress shoes will get you in the door. The dress socks will get somebody to talk to you.
Dana Robinson: Yeah, no white socks.
Nate Broughton: No.
Dana Robinson: And by nice shoes, you don’t mean like the brand new Jordans.
Nate Broughton: Exactly. Leather.
Dana Robinson: You mean adult leather dress shoes.
Nate Broughton: Dress shoes. Must bring those. Another rule, you can’t win if you don’t gamble. Very simple rule, but people seem to miss that. They’re like, “My buddy went out, and he made 300 bucks,” well he probably put a little bit of money on the line. You’ve got to be willing to put a little money on the line to win something in Vegas.
Bryan Rahn: Yeah, you’re not going to win 300 bucks playing $5 hands, and if you did, you probably should’ve been betting $50 a hand, because you would’ve won more.
Nate Broughton: Yes. Another maxim of Las Vegas. If you go into the trip with a set amount of money in your mind that you’re willing to bet, that is the amount of money that you will lose early in the trip, undoubtedly.
Bryan Rahn: Probably on the first night. Yes.
Nate Broughton: Guaranteed. One hour in, that’s the amount you’re going to lose. Forget that. You’re here, in Vegas. You made it to the desert. When you get there, you’ve got a little money in your pocket, you’ve got a little money in your account. Don’t think about numbers. You’re there to do Vegas things. Just let it go.
Bryan Rahn: How about another one? If you’re standing in a line, something has gone wrong.
Nate Broughton: Yes. Very much so. There will be no line-standing when you’re in Vegas.
Bryan Rahn: Absolutely not.
Nate Broughton: Another one, I don’t know if this has been on the list. Well, I don’t know. This is maybe more of a pet peeve perhaps. You sit down to play at a $5 table, or a $50 table, or whatever, and you lose all the money. It’s not okay to just say, “Well, my drinks were free.” That’s not worth it.
Bryan Rahn: No.
Nate Broughton: You paid for those drinks, very much so.
Bryan Rahn: No. If you’re willing to pay $100 for drinks, I’ve got some drinks I can sell you.
Nate Broughton: Right, exactly.
Dana Robinson: That’s right. Nothing’s free in Las Vegas.
Nate Broughton: Another one. The casinos are very, very far apart. You may be able to see TI from MGM, but you do not want to walk there. I don’t care if it’s 2:00 in the afternoon, or it’s 2:00 in the morning and you’ve got someone with you. It’s a very far walk. You need to get a cab.
Bryan Rahn: Yes, but what everybody says is, they say, “Oh, they look so close together, but they’re actually so far apart,” so there you go. I saved you the trouble. You can just …
Dana Robinson: Is it even worth going to a nightclub if you don’t have a table?
Nate Broughton: There you go, that was the next one. No. The answer’s no. Definitely not.
Dana Robinson: No, because you stand around while people walk past you, because there’s no dancing in nightclubs, right?
Nate Broughton: More and more, there’s nowhere to go. Not only is there nowhere to sit. There’s like nowhere to go.
Bryan Rahn: You have actually just nowhere to be. I don’t know where you’re suppose to exist.
Nate Broughton: Right, the whole time you’re in there you’re just going to be like getting pushed around like, “We don’t want you here,” basically is being inferred. Find your way to a table, one way or the other.
Dana Robinson: The girls that are by themselves are hookers.
Nate Broughton: Yes. Hookers are easy to spot. Maybe. Maybe. I don’t know. I don’t know.
Dana Robinson: Women don’t go to Las Vegas by themselves.
Nate Broughton: That’s right. That’s a good point. I don’t think we’ve adopted that one.
Bryan Rahn: What? I don’t think that’s true.
Nate Broughton: He has evidence to the contrary. Are you sure you weren’t charged for that? All right, that was pretty good. Maybe we’ll think of some more later. Thank you for spending this time with us on the Opt Out Life podcast.
Dana Robinson: Thanks Bryan.
Bryan Rahn: Thanks for having me. This was a lot of fun. Hopefully I was able to provide some insight or some ideas for somebody to help move and make that jump.
Nate Broughton: Go get them, baby.
Dana Robinson: It was awesome.
Nate Broughton: Thanks again for listening to the Opt Out Life podcast. Visit our website at Enter your email address. Get on our email list. We’ll send you updates on new podcast episodes as they come out, exclusive content that we’re publishing every week, access to books, and many books written by Dana and myself, and information about upcoming events hosted by the Opt Out Life. Follow us on Instagram @optoutlife. We’re trying out that whole Instagram thing. Opt Out, out.

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