I’m Josh. I am the CEO of The Refinery, a technology focused marketing company in Cleveland, OH. The digital products we create have been used by hundreds of millions of people. If you’ve used a telephone, been to a hospital, driven a car, or drink water, you’ve almost certainly used a product our team worked on.
I started building this company 16 years ago, the last 12 with my business partner, Dave. Starting from a tiny investment of $1,000, We grew our small business into a multi-million dollar enterprise. We did all this without the strategic use of debt or outside capital.
I speak publicly at conventions and private events. I have contributed to several publications, news stories, and share my opinions with the media.
In 2009 I burned out in a major way. I fell into a state of depression. My pig-headed discipline was the only reason I crawled out of bed and into the office. Our revenue suffered because of my lackadaisical attitude on sales calls. I was unreliable and unmotivated in my service to my customers and business partners. I dragged everyone around me down.
I remember nights where I stayed up till 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning working on an important sales presentation. I would force myself to go to bed, for fear I would sleep through the 8:00 am meeting the next morning. Even when I went to bed, I never slept much on those nights. I suffered from paralyzing insomnia. Even the sheep I counted would taunt me with their own unfinished powerpoint slides.
My Breaking Point
I was working 80+ hours a week, month after month, with no end in sight. The stress was piling on and I was struggling to see things clearly. I became sick, and angry. I lost my Christian faith. To my naive mind, keeping busy was the obvious path to success.
But, being so busy started to weigh on me, big time. I sacrificed time with my friends and family. I neglected my personal hobbies. I started to grow unhappy and resentful. It was quite literally killing me.
At the same time, I saw others who managed to run much larger companies while staying happy and fulfilled, and they did so with the same human constraints that I was facing. Everyone else has the same 168 hours a week that you and I do. How did some of them accomplish so much in the same amount of time?
I started to ask around, and I heard the same old platitudes we’ve all heard before:
- Work smarter, not harder
- Work on the business, not in the business
You don’t have to be a workaholic to be productive.
For many years I wondered if it was possible for an owner of a growing company to take a vacation. I don’t mean just taking a vacation — that simply requires a car and a destination — rather, I mean enjoying a vacation.
Can you really just “turn off” the responsibilities and burdens of running your business for days/weeks/months on end? This seemed like an impossible luxury.
My responsibilities extend outside of the time society deems appropriate for work. The livelihood of the men and women on my team, and their families, depends on my ability to run a successful company. That’s not a responsibility that turns off at 6pm or on Sundays.
With all this considered, these responsibilities don’t have to weigh on you every minute of every day. With the right people and systems, your business can survive — and even thrive — while you are away enjoying life.
Over the last few years I’ve instilled new habits into my home and work life. These habits have given me a freedom to explore and define the business without getting stuck in it. It gave me my weekends back, and has allowed me to enjoy vacations.
Paying it forward
My methods aren’t some new-age self-help mumbo jumbo. I’m a realist and my habits are deeply rooted in truth. It’s hard to see the truth as it comes wearing disguises. Our false beliefs bind us to the way things are and prevent us from challenging ourselves to be better.
When we change how we see the world, we can change the way we live in it. It’s my mission to challenge you to grow radically in your own business, in a way that affords you the time to enjoy the pleasures life has to give. I hope the content on this website inspires you to reach for change in your life.