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Conquer the Chaos: The Strategy of Finding your Niche with Justin Rende

Justin Rende is the CEO and founder of Rhymetec, an industry leader in cloud security that provides innovative cybersecurity, compliance, and data privacy services to modern-day SaaS businesses. Justin started his career working in the film industry. Listen in as he discusses how this background helped him start Rhymetec and how he was able to find his niche. Justin also dives into the importance of finding a niche for your small business and explains why going upstream isn’t always the answer.

Transcript

Clate (00:20.888)
Welcome everyone to the Conquer the Chaos podcast. I'm your host, Clate Mask, co-founder and CEO of Keap, and I am excited today to welcome Justin Rende to the podcast. Justin, welcome.

Justin Rende (00:35.67)
Thank you for having me.

Clate (00:37.792)
Yeah, you bet. Glad to have you. Justin's here today to share how he has implemented in his life a way to find his niche and to do that very effectively. We'll talk a little bit about that, but he's also got some really great entrepreneurial experiences and a very interesting background. So why don't we start there. Justin, you have worked with some folks that none of us have had a chance to work with. I'd love for you to tell a little bit about your background in the film industry.

Justin Rende (01:04.382)
Sure, yeah. So I can give you a little bit of my whole background as it starts to my career background. I live in New York City and I moved to New York City in 2002. And I started working for some technology companies in 2002 and through that time, I was a younger guy in New York and just out of college. And I wanted, frankly, what I thought was a cooler job at that point in time. Something that could get me more access into better parties and clubs and hang out with what I would consider like a better social group. I ended up working through some of my friends who I had known here. I ended up getting a job working in film for a film company here based in New York. There's very few of them. So I think if you kind of think about who they are you could probably narrow it down as to who they are.

Clate (01:52.66)
So did you get on the A-list that you were hoping for?

Justin Rende (01:55.774)
Yeah, I think so. I mean, I got on the A-list that I was hoping for. I soon realized that there wasn't really much to the A-list anyway, and that it wasn't actually what I thought it was going to be. But working for that film company did actually give me the access to the A-list celebrities and socialites, I guess, within New York City that I wanted to, at one point, wanted to have access to.

Clate (02:17.792)
Yeah, that's fun. It's also fun to kind of realize that it's not all it's cracked up to be. And, you know, I'm sure that you have lots of stories and experiences about that. Well, cool. I'm glad that you're here to share with us your entrepreneurial experience. Maybe just give us a little background of how you went from being in film to becoming an entrepreneur.

Justin Rende (02:40.906)
Yeah, so when I was working in film, like I said, I ended up kind of going into this industry because I wanted something that was what I considered at the time a cool job that would give me access to things and it wasn't because I was necessarily a filmmaker or was overly passionate about film. I just wanted something through a lot of my friends who worked in PR or fashion or whatnot, something that would kind of allow me that sort of lifestyle through my job. And while I was doing that, I ended up getting a job, like I said, working for a film company that kind of gave me access to those sorts of people and to that sort of lifestyle. And it was grueling work. I think when you work for a film company, you realize that everyone wants your job, especially in New York. And so you have to be at 100% all the time, because if you're not, someone will come up behind you to try to take your job. So it gave me a really good work ethic by doing that, which was great, because that also translated well when I started my own business.

Justin Rende (03:38.114)
But I think one of the main things that I really took about working with film is I was surrounded by celebrities, I was surrounded by industry executives all the time, and I really got to know these people as people. People that I, before working there, really idolized or thought, oh wow, this is like someone I see on movies or big screen, like on TV or whatnot, or someone that I think of as being kind of better than just a regular guy like me. You end up getting to know them and you're like, oh, they're just people like me with their own insecurities and their own problems and issues and their own qualities and their own things that they're good at, their own things that they're bad at, they're no different than anyone else. And I think through the experience of engaging with all of these different sorts of high profile people, it really gave me the confidence that I needed to be able to start my own business because I realized that you may idolize someone, but then when you actually get to meet them, they're just people. Just like you and just like everyone else.

Clate (04:33.708)
Yeah, that's great. I can see how that would really translate to confidence as an entrepreneur enabling you to maybe break down some of the some of the normal barriers that we have as entrepreneurs, some of the things that might cause fear or causes, hold us back, limiting beliefs, things that would prevent us from achieving the growth and the success that we want. So that's cool that you're able to take that from your film experience, film industry experience, and then translate that to entrepreneurship. So what was it that you decided to jump into as you started life as an entrepreneur?

Justin Rende (05:09.962)
Well, like I said, I was working in film and I think after the novelty of working in film and realizing that, hey, this isn't what I'm passionate about kind of wore off and the access that I had was great. But again, after meeting all of these celebrities and industry executives, you're kind of like, no, they're just like people. I realized that I had a choice. I could move to Los Angeles if I wanted to continue to work in film, which wasn't really, I'm a New Yorker at heart. I love New York City and I'll never not be part of New York City.

Justin Rende (05:37.918)
And so I didn't want to do that. And I also realized that film wasn't my passion and that really kind of building businesses and working with people and providing value to customers and to other small businesses and to other people was really what I was passionate about. And so I really leveraged the skills, the work ethic, the confidence, the ability to multitask and really those things that I learned in film. I decided that I wanted to take over and go back and work in technology. As I mentioned before, I first started in New York. I was just working for a small technology company and that was more my passion, but it was kind of overshadowed at that point in time by wanting to have a cool job. So I took all of the skills that I garnered in the film industry, and then I kind of leveraged those to go back and work in technology again and start at a smaller consulting company that I worked at for a while. And then I realized that my work through this consulting company that I wasn't really relying on them for a lot. I was kind of doing all of these deals myself, kind of bringing in third parties to facilitate the services that I needed to do and kind of leveraging, not really leveraging any of their resources, kind of doing everything myself. And so I ended up working there for a short period of time. And then one of my customers that I had there, who I'd had a long-term relationship with from way back when I worked in technology, before I worked in film, I had been talking to them and I still have a relationship with them today and I was like, you know, I think I wanted to start my own company. I want that independence. I want that freedom. I think I have some great ideas that I can really leverage. I ended up doing some work for that company through my old consulting company that I was working for. And they realized that we did a penetration test for them, which was where you try to ethically hack into their systems and show how you were hacked. This company that we did this for was a big law firm in New York City and we actually ended up doing a really stellar job on the pen test. And again, I put this all together myself. I didn't really rely on any of the resources that my old company had to do this. It was something that I brought in third parties. I facilitated the whole deal, the pricing, everything myself. And so they, after we did that penetration test for them and we ended up kind of showing them a lot of holes in their security program, they were like, wow, this is great. We've hired a lot of other penetration testing companies that have a lot more clout, frankly, than you did. And they weren't able to do what you were able to do. So they said, we know that through our conversations with you, Justin, we know that you want to start your own business. And so we want to refer you into one of our customers to do a penetration test for them. But you need, they kind of told me they're like, the only way we're going to do this is if we trust that you can do this yourself and this is what you want. So we want you to start your own business to do this.

Justin Rende (08:26.21)
That's an amazing opportunity. Thank you for that. I really appreciate it. And so they told me the name of the company and they were like, why don't you go home and do a little bit of research on who this company is. So I went home and it turned out, the law firm that we did the work for was a really third New York prestigious law firm. And so they have a lot of high value clients and customers like that.

Clate (08:47.244)
Yeah, yeah. But before we get to who the client was, let me ask you something, because I want to capture a really important point that you brought out that sometimes entrepreneurs, I think struggle with a little bit, and what I when I heard you tell this, the first part of the story, you said you weren't relying, you were not really relying on your technology consulting firm that you worked for. A lot of times, employees will feel that way. And they're like, hey, I want to go start my own thing. They're good at their craft but they may not be good at landing the clients and getting the sales. And it sounds like what you were able to do. And we'll get to the second part of the story here. But it sounds like you were able to start generating business for your technology consulting firm. Is that right? Were you helping to bring in clients before for your firm before you actually went out to do your own work?

Justin Rende (09:47.346)
I was kind of laying the groundwork to do that, I think. I was putting out feelers, letting everyone know that this is something that I wanted to and seeing how some of my existing clients, some of the people that I just knew in the industry would respond to that. And so I wasn't ready to completely make that jump, but I knew that I was somewhere in my near future that I was probably going to be starting this company myself. And I wanted to do...

Clate (10:07.76)
Well, you had the relationship skills. That's the key thing. You had the relationship skills that would make it possible so that you could go do that. And I think a lot of times entrepreneurs, they want to get it going and they know they're good at their craft, but if they don't have the relationship skills that will translate to selling, then they get stuck in the situation where they're not able to build the business and get the accounts. So kudos to you for knowing, A, where you wanted to go, B, building the relationships so that it was possible that you could start to get there. And then it sounds like they led you right down the path of building your own business.

Justin Rende (10:45.718)
They did. So after putting out those feelers, I think they definitely teed it up nicely for me to be able to start my own business. And kind of going back to your point on the relationship skills versus kind of someone that specializes in their craft. Kind of also this relates to film or a lot of other industries as well. There's always someone that needs to be the relationship person. And then there's always the artist. So there's the actor who's the artist, and then they have an agent and a manager who's the person that's kind of the relationship building person. I think that outside of film that extends in so many other industries. And my biggest skill has always been relationship building. I kind of joke with my team today. We have a pretty big sales team now, but I was always like, I'm a salesperson that ended up running a company.

Justin Rende (11:32.47)
Like that's how it is. Like I now have a midsize consulting company but it's rooted in sales. And it's rooted in being genuine with people. I think that a lot of salespeople are very pushy and just like, oh, but like my skill with sales is always just be honest with people, treat them as people because they are. Show a little bit of vulnerability. No one expects you to know everything that you're going to ask them. But if you don't know the answer, tell them that you're going to find out and then get back to them with the answer rather than give them some sort of half-witted answer which I think most people can see through. And I think that following through on things like that is the differentiator between a good salesperson and someone who's a bad salesperson. I meet with people all the time now that are trying to sell my consulting business different things. And I can tell when there's a salesperson who's just trying to push something on me that's undereducated and has to follow a script or is just kind of like, this is what I need to do and feels like they need all the answers versus someone who's treating me like a human being, answering my question, saying, hey, you know, I don't know the answer to that, but I'm going to find out the answer to that and then I'll get back to you. And then actually following through on that is a key differentiator for salespeople, I think.

Clate (12:39.272)
Great. Yeah, I love the point you're drawing out about, you know, the fundamental point here is the technical skills of doing the work and the relationship skills of building the business. And you're right, whether it's film or construction services or technology consulting or software, you name it, you have to have a skillset that is not just the doing of the work, that technical ability to do the work.

The relationship ability. And this kind of reminds me of Gerber's three roles that he talks about in the E-Myth, where you have the technician, the manager, and the visionary. You have someone that is the relationship builder, like you called out, as well as doing the work itself. And it sounds like when you were working for that IT firm, you're doing a penetration test for a law firm, but all the while you also are building relationships. And that's a very different thing. I can tell you, we've hired pen testing consultants to do our work and they're not always building relationships. They're usually just doing the technical work. And so good on you for knowing where you wanted to go and then starting to build the relationships to make that possible. So tell us what happened. So you go home, they let you know the name of the client, you start doing a little bit of work or a little bit of research on them, and then what happened.

Justin Rende (14:07.79)
Yeah, so we obviously have an NDA with this customer, so we can't say who they are, but I can tell you that it is a very, very high net worth customer that if I were to say the name of this customer, everyone that listens to this podcast and probably across the world would know who they are. And so I was like, oh, wow, thank you for this. This is a huge opportunity for this person to want me to come in and do a penetration test for them. Based on the fact of who they are and all the technology resources that they probably have at their own disposal. So thank you. So I quickly went home and I knew, like, again, I had to present myself to this new prospect that the law firm referred me to, as my own company. So I went home, I quickly put together a website on Wix, and I gathered all my contracts, made everything legitimate, started an LLC, all within a matter of days.

I knew that I had to act quickly on this so that I could make this deal happen. And then I reached out to the customer and I said, hey, we were just referred to you by the law firm in New York City. And they were like, oh yeah, we heard great things about you. And then we ended up scoping out what they needed and conducting a penetration test for them as well. And I pulled together all the different penetration testing resources. I made everything happen. I was the face of what the customer needed to see. I think that one of the things that I am skilled at, and I didn't realize this as being a skill till later in life, I think my life is constantly me learning that, oh, I'm actually, this isn't something I should take for granted, it's actually a skill. I can take very complex technical solutions and I can kind of explain them to someone that's not super technically savvy. And so being the face of a lot of penetration tests, which are relatively technical services, and being able to kind of make it understandable to someone who's not, a coder or a programmer or someone that works in this industry, is a skill. And so I was able to do that with these guys. We did the penetration test for them. We also ended up hacking them a million different, not a million different ways, but a lot of ways, which was crazy considering the resources they had and how we were able to still do that.

Clate (16:21.84)
And by the way, for everybody listening, hacking is a good thing in this case because it shows how proficient you are in your penetration testing. It's not a bad thing.

Justin Rende (16:29.898)
Let's refer to that as ethical hacking. So the idea is that we are ethically hacking these people's systems so that we can show them all the holes in their security program and then we also fix those by offering remediation strategy and advice so that they can close those holes so that someone that's actually trying to steal from them cannot do that. So that's the difference between a penetration test and an ethical hacker versus just some random hacker who's actually trying to commit malicious crimes.

Clate (16:57.784)
Yeah, totally. I think that's a good way to describe it, ethical hacking, I like that. So you did a great job of showing all the ways that they were vulnerable basically and they wanted to hire you, but let me ask you this. You know, every entrepreneur, as they're growing their business, there are certain leaps that they're making. And, when those leaps need to be made, sometimes our personal limiting beliefs, our own mind inside of us, the voice inside of us sometimes will hold us back. And you are sitting there with a situation where you're like, and by the way, everybody, all the listeners are like, Oh, come on, tell us who this client is, we want to know who it is. But you're sitting there with this opportunity of a lifetime. And it's right at the beginning of your business. And so it could be very daunting. It could be very easy for you to say, Whoa, I'm not, I'm not ready to take that on. Dang, I wish this were coming a year or two down the road when I got my business going. Did you have any of those kinds of thoughts? Did you have anything that was like a little bit of self sabotage or a little bit of feeling the imposter syndrome? I would love to just get into your mind a little bit on what enabled you to go from that, the client that you were working for with at an IT firm, this big successful law firm, to now getting your own first client that's this major account, that would cause nearly any entrepreneur to feel a little bit of a lump in their throat, a little gulp as they think about it. So take us into your mindset a little bit as you worked through that.

Justin Rende (18:48.994)
For sure, so I think there are a couple things that kind of helped me get through that and give me the ability to do that and be successful at it. I think, again, kind of going back to the point where I worked in film, I was surrounded by A-list film people and also politicians, high-level people. So being able to interact with those people and realize that we're all the same gave me that no matter how much net worth you have, no matter how big of a profile you have, you're still just a human being just like me. And so it gave me the confidence to be able to speak to these people. I think looking at what was presented to me in front of me, yeah, I was like, is this a huge opportunity for me to prove myself? 100%. But when someone offers you something that's so perfect, it would have been foolish for me to turn it down. I knew that this was my opportunity to prove myself. I was nervous, by all means I was nervous about it, but I would never turn something like that down. I think that part of the reason that my business is successful today is not because, and I think everyone thinks like, oh, you need to go into a business with this like, master plan of exactly where it's going to happen. And maybe that works for some people, but for me, it's really been about identifying opportunities in front of me. I live in New York City, so there's a plethora of them. And really having the confidence and the skills to break things down and problem solving skills to be able to figure out a solution to these problems. And so those are really the three key things that I feel like I honed in on. I had the confidence, I really kind of know, or I think I know, how to do problem solving pretty well. I break things down to what they are very small and then I kind of dilute that into what the actual problem is. And then just the opportunity that was posted in front of me was like, I would be stupid to turn this down. Even if it wouldn't have turned out well, then I just would have been back to square one, which is like, I have to go back and do this myself. So it was something where I just didn't want to turn it down and I had the confidence to know that I would be able to do. I didn't know I would do as good as I did, but I had the confidence to know that I'd be able to perform a quality service for these people and that we would be able to turn around a good penetration test for them.

Clate (21:14.905)
Yeah, well, and you had a great experience with the law firm, you had experience with other clients, and so and you had been building toward this opportunity to start your business for a while. I just think it's awesome that you had the confidence in yourself and your ability to get in and figure out the problems. And I think that there's a certain amount of unknown that entrepreneurs need to be comfortable with in order to go to the next level, in order to move to the next stage of success. Sometimes I think we hold ourselves back because we get a little too intimidated by that unknown. You said it perfectly. You didn't know certain things and you didn't know how well it would turn out, but you believed in your ability to break down the problem into its pieces. You had confidence in yourself and you saw this opportunity and you went for it. I'm glad we talked about this story because it reminds me of something. I see this all the time with entrepreneurs. I've experienced it myself many times. I remember when I was a teenager, I had an experience that set me up to be able to take on these defining moments in entrepreneurship. And I'm calling this a defining moment when you have an opportunity to step up and take the business to the next level. But it requires courage, it requires confidence, and it requires a commitment to solving the problem, a commitment to excellence that you're describing. And that courage, confidence and commitment is something that some people can only do if they've done a whole bunch like they can only prove it to themselves. You know, they have to prove it to themselves. And I remember, on the other hand, there's like this whole fake-it-till-you-make-it and I don't know if I can do it, and that's not the right place either. There's a quiet confidence that I will go figure it out. And I remember when I was about 17, I was sitting at my uncle's house. He was a commercial photographer in Los Angeles. I don't think I ever even told him the story about how impactful it was on me. He was talking about this account that he had with a major household name. Well, I'll just tell you, it was Honda. And he was describing how he got this account. And it might've been Olympia cameras. It was one of those two. He had two really big accounts. And they had asked him to do some things. And at the time, he didn't know how he would do them. And he wasn't, but he knew that in order to land the account, he had to deliver what they wanted to do. So he just said, you bet, we got it. Oh yeah, we can do this.

Clate (23:43.052)
And so he got the account and he said, I walked out and I was like, I gotta figure this out. I don't know how I'm going to do this, but I know we'll figure it out. That kind of confidence was very impactful to me at age 17 because I saw a successful entrepreneur who could have very easily been intimidated by the marquee name of the client that he was trying to win, could have been intimidated by the new technique that he was going to need to figure out in order to produce the work product that they wanted, could have been intimidated by any number of things. But he also recognized he needed to be on the spot, in the moment he needed to give them the confidence that he could do the job. And he did and he had the client for years and years. And I think about how many times entrepreneurs, maybe we take ourselves out of that game when the defining moment intimidates us a little bit too much. And what you've illustrated is, you called out work ethic early on in this conversation.

You called out the relationship building skills, and you called out your personal confidence in your ability to dig in and figure out problems. And just, you know, that figure it out gene in entrepreneurs when we face uncertainty is something that's so powerful because it enables us to step up. It gives us that courage, confidence, commitment to step up into finding moments. So I love that you shared that story. That was fantastic. I didn't expect we were going to uncover that one, but very cool and good on you. So maybe just take a couple minutes and tell us what happened after that with the business. You can tell us where you are now, but maybe from that marquee client that you got to where you are now, give us a little bit of your entrepreneurial journey.

Justin Rende (25:21.095)
So we were just doing, like I said, it was ethical hacking penetration testing at that point in time. This was back in 2015. We did an amazing job for that high, sort of, net worth client. And they in turn then started to refer us to a lot of other high net worth clients, a lot of banks, law firms, foundations, things like that in New York City where we would conduct more pen tests. Which was great. I loved them. You can charge a premium, especially when you're working for companies that are making billions of dollars and they want to keep their assets and everything secure, you can charge a premium for that. But I also knew that this wasn't where I wanted to be. I wanted to align more with companies that I could relate to better. I don't have a lot in common with a multi-billion dollar hedge funds. I don't have a lot in common with these older enterprise-sized businesses. I had a lot of friends, again, at that point in time that worked at startups and worked in the startup space. If I'm being completely honest, I was used to coming from working at jobs where I was getting a paycheck every two weeks and having this consistent income, where I was doing pen tests, which the pen tests payments were much bigger.

But there’d be a pen test, and then there'd be two months where I wouldn't have anything, and then there'd be another pen test. And I was younger at that point in my life, and I was like, I don't know if I'm good enough with money to be able to live off this, with this sort of lifestyle, I need to understand what's coming in, in terms of my cashflow. And I didn't always want to be fighting for my next sort of deal. Like I wanted to know, I wanted the consistency of having like, okay, I know that I'm going to have this at least for the month of the year or something like that. And so, kind of putting all those pieces together, I was like, you know, it's great leveraging these like high net worth companies and being able to charge a premium for this service. But like, really, I think what I want to do is I want to work with companies that I can relate to. And so I started to offer penetration testing, or ethical hacking services, to small to medium sized SaaS based startups. I realized through that, because it's also a larger ticket item to do this, realized through this, a lot of these companies, let's say that were pre-series A or somewhere that they didn't have a lot of funding at that point in time, they didn't always have the large capital expense to be able to charge, pay for a pen test in one payment. And so what I said to them is I was like, OK, that's not a problem. Why don't we take this pen test, I'll let you spread it out over the course of a couple of payments over the course of a couple of months so that it doesn't have to be a large capital expense, you can work it into your operating expenses,

Clate (28:03.972)
and it's smooth income for you. Right.

Justin Rende (28:06.058)
Yeah, and it's more consistent income for me. And so that ended up working out pretty well. And then through the experience of doing the pen tests and then extending the payment terms, I would keep in contact with these customers. I realized that in the SaaS-based startup world, there was a huge hole in the market for overall security services, so not just for penetration testing. There was no one really out there that had a lot of expertise, because in 2016, 2017, Cloud was a much smaller piece of the market than it is today. And so I was like, this makes sense for me to build out some more service offerings around this because I have all of these customers asking me for additional services around security services, helping them become compliant or helping them do source code reviews, just a lot of different things and they didn't have those resources. There were plenty of security resources, I think in the enterprise space still.

It's your job to patch this on-prem SQL server. That's what your job is 40 hours a week. That's all you do is focus on that. But when you migrate to the Cloud, it's a much more overview style of a security program, because a lot of your infrastructure is being outsourced to AWS or Google or Microsoft, so you don't need someone full-time to just be patching a server. You need someone to build a program for you and build a scalable, robust, secure program. So I, through my communication with these people and realizing that there was a huge hole in this market I decided that I wanted to build out really a CSO service, a vCISO service, which is Virtual Chief Information Officer Service, and offer it at a competitive price that these startups could afford. Where I would take one vCISO, kind of spread them out over multiple customers. They didn't necessarily need a full-time resource at that point in time, so I'd spread them out over multiple customers, and then they would be able to get what they needed from us, which was like a scalable security and data privacy program and secure program.

And then I would be able to kind of leverage that vCSA resource on multiple accounts so that I could afford to pay their salary because I wasn't just collecting from only one customer on them. And yeah, that really kind of blew up. This was around 2018, 2019. And again, since I think I kind of, I don't want to say pioneered cloud security services, because I don't think I was the first person to do it, but I think that since I decided to exclusively focus and realize that, you know what, a lot of the money still exists in the enterprise on prem space, but definitely Cloud is the future. I can relate to these companies a lot more because they're smaller, they're closer to my size, they're starting up. When I'm selling to them, I can be vulnerable with them because we're going through a lot of the same growing pains. They understand what I'm going through, I understand what they go through, and it humanizes me in the sales approach. And it also just makes it an easier sell because, again, we're two of the same at that point in time, people talking about the same thing.

Clate (31:01.309)
Yeah, when you are your customer, a lot of things get easier. It's just so many things. The relatability as you're calling out, the issues that you face, the vulnerability that you can share. And so you talked a little bit just before we got started here about finding your niche. And I mentioned, let's dig into that a little bit as we come toward the end here. I believe that this is one of the most significant contributors to chaos that entrepreneurs experience, they are not clear enough on their ideal customer, they're not clear enough on their target market and they end up taking all kinds of different business, it takes the profit, it takes the fun, it takes the growth out of the company, because they're not sticking to their niche. We all the time, you know, there's riches in niches. Help us understand a little bit about your strategy for doing that because I think this is super valuable to our listeners in the discipline of honing in on their niche so that they can create a more enjoyable, lucrative, and fun business. Any thoughts you have for the audience on that? What you've done or what you've helped your clients do?

Justin Rende (32:16.918)
So I think in terms of how we found our niche, like talking about what I just talked about, I think one of the things that I was willing to sacrifice in order to work with these kind of smaller based startups, was money. At the time, like again, working for a multi-billion dollar hedge fund, they're going to pay me a premium. But I realized that wasn't necessarily the future, like I said before, where the money may not be in sort of cloud-based services for startups. I know that technology is transitioning to the cloud, and I know that I can relate to these customers better. Again, I can't relate to a multi-billion dollar hedge fund. We don't have the same problems. And so being able to say, okay, you know what, I'm not going to look for the fast money, I'm going to look for something that I think is more sustainable and is going to last me longer in the future was part of what helped me find that niche. And then after I started to sell into that space and realized that again, they are going through the same things that I'm going through, I can relate to them much better. It just made my entire process easier because I, again, coming as a salesperson, being able to relate to someone who's buying something from you, a service or a product or anything like that, because you're going through the same pains, makes that sales process so much easier because you understand so much more about them. And so I think when people are looking for what their niche is, I think they should lean into what they're good at. You can't be good at everything. And you shouldn't necessarily, it depends on what you're starting your business for, but a lot of times, I mean, most people start a business because they want to make money unless you're a non-for-profit. But you should look at really where the money is, and where the money's going to be, and not always look for the immediate results, look for the long-term results, which is what I focused on. And so by doing both of those things and really honing in on these customers and realizing that I'm really relatable to them and they're relatable to me, made it a pretty easy transition and way to find where we were going to work well.

Clate (34:31.32)
Yeah, I love that. You know, what I'm hearing you say is what you like, what you're good at, and what works financially. And that actually fits perfectly with what Jim Collins calls his Hedgehog Concept. And this is how you find your niche as a larger company. But it applies to small businesses. He calls it what you're best in the world at, or what you're passionate about, what you can be the best in the world at, and what drives your economic engine.

And you think of it as a Venn diagram with those three circles. And when you can find the center of that passion, what you can be the best in the world at, and what drives economic engine, the center of that is where you really find a sweet spot. And so for our listeners, you know, I just want to draw that, that's what you've done. You know, that's what you did, Justin. You like it, right? You found the kinds of businesses you like. You're like, hey, I'm really good at this. I can do this really, really well.

Justin Rende (35:01.366)
Yes.

Clate (35:24.932)
And then I think that part of the genius in what you did is you figured out an economic engine that works well. On the one hand, you were willing to take less pay, but you found ways to make it smooth and consistent and more predictable.

Justin Rende (35:37.982)
or stable.

Clate:
Yeah, you productized in a way that enabled you to get that. So I just think that's a great lesson for people. What do you like? What are you good at? And how do you make it work from an economic standpoint? And sometimes it requires a little bit of ingenuity the way that you described, Justin. Well, that's awesome. I love your story. You know as we come to an end here, I'd love to get your thoughts on this. You know, as I listen to it, you know, kid in New York City who wants a cool job, who actually had a job in technology but wanted the cool thing, went and did that, learned that you don't have to be starstruck, you can be confident in yourself, and then got into back into technology, which is what your passion was, but it was leading you all the while to entrepreneurship and finding your niche. Pretty awesome story. Is there anything, as you look back on that, that you think, what did you take from the, I wanted a cool job. Do you think it served you the way you wanted? Do you have any lessons about that? Do you feel like it distracted you or served you? Or, just would love to hear your observations about it.

Justin Rende (36:44.551)
I think it's hurt me. I think I took, again, looking at the opportunities that are in front of me, I think I took what was best from that, which was really learning that I can talk to the president of a country or I can talk to an Oscar winner celebrity, and they're the exact same as me. And so, I think well, and learning the work ethic, because I knew in technology, like your jobs aren't as indisposable as they are when you work in film. Like there's 100 people lined up to get your job to work in film because they want to meet celebrities and all the cool reasons that I wanted it to. And so I learned that I had to work hard, and that I shouldn't take my job for granted. I learned that everyone, again, is pretty much, no matter how much of a pedestal you may put them on because of their role, or because you see them on TV or whatever, we're all human beings with the same sort of thoughts, insecurities, and so taking those things were truly valuable for me. And I don't know that I would have been able to start my career without learning the confidence by meeting all of these people and by learning the work ethic, by working, because I knew that if I didn't, I was gone, to start my own company. So it really, I think it worked in my favor and I believe I got a high level, like everything happens for a reason. And I think that you should really kind of look at what happens and try to take... There's a whole lot of awful things that happen to a lot of people, me included, there's been horrible things. But like, you should always try to learn something from that. And then you can take something that is a negative and potentially gather some sort of positivity out of it.

Clate (38:23.66)
No doubt, absolutely. I mean, that's life. It's teaching us constantly if we let it, right? And I think you said it really well. That experience gave you confidence and work ethic. And those are two of the most important ingredients for success as entrepreneurs. So, I love it, Justin. It's been so fun talking with you. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with our audience. Any last thoughts that you want to share as we wrap up this episode?

Justin Rende (38:47.434)
No, I would just say that if anyone on here is considering being an entrepreneur, it's some of the most rewarding things, or it's one of the most rewarding things I've ever done in my life. It's also one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. It's definitely a combination of both, but I think if you're willing to put in the effort and make it your priority for a certain amount of time in your life, then it can be extremely rewarding and everyone that has that sort of desire, I think, and it's what's almost worth taking the risk, if you prioritize it and you prioritize what needs to happen.

Clate (39:19.648)
I agree, no doubt about it. Well, thank you so much for sharing your time and wisdom with us, we appreciate it. And that'll wrap up this episode of Conquer the Chaos. I tell everybody out there, keep growing and we'll see you next time on the next episode.

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