With today’s fast-paced world, you can’t always rely on the old way of doing things. You sometimes have to disrupt your now. In this episode, Ben Baker sits down with author and business strategist, Lisa Kipps-Brown. Lisa talks about the entrepreneurial spirit, evolving with the times and enabling others to promote themselves. Lisa also gives us a look at her mental health awareness efforts through NASCAR racing! Tune in to learn more from entrepreneurs who have embraced their brand.
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Disrupt Your Now With Lisa Kipps-Brown
[00:01:18] In this episode, I’ve got Lisa Kipps-Brown on the show and we are going to talk about disrupting your now. She’s got two books, Disrupt Your Now and Boomer Cashout. She has been an incredible person to talk to. We know a lot of the same people. We have had Hoby Wedler, Marlana Semenza and Steve Sims on my show. Shout out to Daryl Hatton who I have not talked to for a while. Somehow or the other, we both know the same people. Lisa, welcome to the show.
[00:01:53] Thank you so much for having me, Ben. I’m excited about being here.
[00:01:57] I got your name from Marlana. She goes, “You need to talk to Lisa.” I always do a pre-interview. We always sit down a few weeks before we are going to interview and have a conversation to get to know the person, find out a little bit more about them, make sure there is some chemistry there and I fell in love. You are a great person. You got this amazing energy. You do incredible things and you have this great passion to help people. I said, “This is going to be a fun interview so I’m looking forward to it.”
[00:02:34] I appreciate those kind words. That makes me feel good.
[00:02:38] That is the fun part. The show is all about you so we got to make you feel good. Let us let people know a little bit about you. You have come from an interesting past, coming up with the books and everything that goes along with it. Give us a short history of Lisa and what brought you to this point, then we can get into the why, why not, and what if, and we are going to talk about NASCAR.
[00:03:03] Career-wise, I studied Accounting in college. I’m good at Math. I passed the CPA exam without studying. I got into the real world and realized I hated accounting. I’m like, “I did not realize I did not like repetitive tasks and all this stuff and working with boring people.” Long story short, I was the controller for an international software company in the early ‘90s when I discovered web design.
I realized, “This is perfect for me because I could combine my business acumen, creativity and everything but get to do different things all the time.” I dropped my CPA license, quit all that, and started my web design and marketing company in ‘96. I have been doing it ever since, but it is constantly evolving. That is what I love about it. It is never the same.
[00:03:57] Let’s think about it. We were talking many years ago, pre-Facebook, pre-LinkedIn, pre-Twitter and pre-Google. That is when I was sitting on LISTSERV. What got you into web design that early because most people were talking about that internet thing and what is this web’s URL. Nobody knew what any of this stuff was. What flipped the switch for you because that was early on in this whole journey?
[00:04:34] I am going to be 61 in 2022. The reason I’m saying that is when I was in college and I took Computer Science, I had to take FORTRAN and BASIC. In FORTRAN, you are doing the punch cards, sitting in line and all that. I hated it. I was like, “I can’t deal with this.” Fast forward to when I was the controller for that international software company, I had a side business. I did business consulting for entrepreneurs.Figure out what you really want and figure out how you can start moving toward it. Click To Tweet
One of the young coders goes, “You ought to add web design.” My thought immediately went to FORTRAN. I’m like, “No way.” He goes, “It is different.” It piqued my interest enough and I’m like, “I’m going to go and look into it.” I was using the internet but just email and everybody were on AOL back then. I started looking into it and I was like, “This is amazing because I can type some stuff in.” Everything had to be hand-coded in.
I type some stuff in and upload it. It took forever to upload a tiny text file then but it felt quick. You refresh it and knew if it worked or not. Even though the web was young and people were not doing that much with it yet, I could see this huge world with no limitations. I did not know how we were going to end up using it but I got hooked on it.
[00:06:00] I have this picture of me in 1982 or 1983 in my high school, on the floor when the rubber band around my punch cards broke. Somebody got a picture of me with thousands of punch cards strewn out over the floor with me with a handful of cards. I was like, “What do I do now?”
[00:06:24] That is funny. You need to post that picture.
[00:06:28] I got to see if I could find it. Hopefully, I have a picture of it somewhere. If I do, I will post it. It is one of my earliest tech memories. You are handwriting these cards using a number 2 pencil. You are going to put it into the computer and it’s going to collate. You’re hoping to God that it’s going to run the first time and it never did. You had to go back, look through it, figure out where the system error was, pull out the card, put in a new card and try it again. Where we are now versus where we were is such lightyears. We were only talking about 40 years ago. For you, we are talking about less than 30 years ago.
[00:07:20] People think, “Whatever we can do on the internet has been done.” We have barely scratched the surface because it is only limited by our imagination. When I was growing up, some people had party lines on their phones and all that. The young people would be like, “What the heck is she talking about?” The older people will know.
We would have never dreamed that all these industries would have popped up around the telephone call centers and all that or that we would be walking around with a computer in our back pocket. I look at the internet now as being the point that the phone was when we had an answering machine. When everybody started having answering machines, everybody had a phone, they did not have party lines and everybody was like, “Whatever, telephone.” That is what I look at the internet as being now.
[00:08:11] Where are we going to go with this? Where do we go with the Web 3.0, the Metaverse and all the things we have not even dreamed of yet that are no more than a decade away. We are learning at an exponential rate and the number of people that are getting into these sciences and the creatives that are coming along with it are pushing the envelope. We are not dealing with 2,400-byte modems, 120-meg hard drives and 1 megabyte of RAM anymore. We are dealing with terabytes in our pockets.
[00:08:50] We have young adults who have grown up or the digital natives. They are automatically merged with the web. They do not see it separately. They think differently than older people do. They are automatically going to come up with ideas that older people would not have because it is natural to them.
[00:09:12] That is a perfect segue into Disrupt Your Now. Every part of our being coming out of the last several years that we have been led me to believe that people are ready for change. People that were terrified of change in 2019 are rolling up their sleeves and saying, “Giddy up. Let’s go.” I’m excited about it. Why don’t you lead me through the premise of what your thoughts are on Disrupt Your Now and then we can get into that?
[00:09:44] Part of the reason I wrote it is frustration because I see many people who live their life and go, “One day, I’m going to do this. Someday, I’m going to do that.” We do not ever know. First of all, someday never comes. There is always an excuse, but we also do not know if we are going to even be here tomorrow.
I’m one of these people that are like, “Live for the day.” I’m not talking about irresponsibly ditching your job, going whatever and not being able to pay your bills, but figure out what you want and figure out how you can start moving towards it. That’s where the idea for the book came from. It’s to encourage people to start thinking differently and start thinking more now, instead of twenty years from now.
My father was blind. I did not realize until I was well into adulthood that I think differently from other people because I grew up with a blind parent who did everything he wanted to do. He rode horses, owned a business, shot guns, and played basketball with us. He had a woodworking shop in our basement. He had a blade never cut himself with that stuff. A sighted man came over and cut his finger off because he was so worried about daddy.
I honestly never heard him say, “I can’t do that.” When you grow up around somebody like that, it is like osmosis. You think differently. I took it for granted and it was only several years ago that I finally realized why I’m weird and why I do think differently. All of a sudden, it clicked that, “I never thought about this.” That whole thing of growing up around him and I have worked for myself since 1990. Even though I was working for that software company, I owned up my own business ever since 1990, one business or another.
I have always been one of those people that are off the beaten path, weird a little bit, geeky, living for today and for what I love instead of keeping up with the Joneses. That is where the book came from. Originally, I was going to have 8 to 10 people that I featured. The more I thought about it, I do not want to have it like, “Here is a story of a person and here is another whole story.” I started interviewing people. I was like, “I will figure out what it is going to be later.” I ended up interviewing 50 people. I’m like, “How am I going to fit this in?” It wrote itself. It evolved from those interviews.
[00:12:57] Let’s get back to your dad because that is the mentality that I’m focusing on. The fact is, “Yes, I have a disability, but I’m not going to let that make me disabled.” It is finding a way up, over, around or through, whatever you need to do in order to accomplish what you want to achieve. That is a powerful thought process that a lot of people do not realize.If more companies allow their people to think entrepreneurially, they would be much happier in their jobs and the businesses would be more successful. Click To Tweet
You said, “I do not want people to quit their jobs and do this,” but we are in a world now where you do not need to quit your job. I talked to somebody. He is a successful entrepreneur within a major university that give him gratis to go and speak internationally. They sat there and said, “It is in the interest of our brand and to be able to enable our people to promote themselves and have these companies while they are working for us because they are valued members of our team. They are doing what they need to do. They are not shirking their responsibilities. They are taking ownership but at the same time, they are able to promote not only themselves but the brand of the university by doing different things.”
It is a matter of sitting there going, “Why, why not, what if?” It is dreaming of, “I may not be an international keynote speaker now. I can’t afford to quit my job and do it now, but what I can do is maybe I can start with ten keynotes a year, and talk to my boss and say, ‘I would like to use my vacation time to be able to do this. Can we figure out a way to make this work?’” We all need to think more creatively, be more resilient, and be more adaptive. I want to hear your thoughts on that.
[00:15:00] First of all, that is awesome that they are doing that. If more companies allow their people to think entrepreneurially, they would be much happier in their jobs and the businesses would be more successful. Many companies are stuck in the past where they are trying to keep people toeing the line. Anytime that you can cultivate entrepreneurial thinking, it does not mean the person has to own a business, but they’re learning to think and create solutions. That is one thing. I love that. Kudos to them.
Secondly, the three questions, why, why not and what if? I gradually realized that I naturally ask those questions without even thinking about it. It is a way that I help my clients figure out solutions. I will give you an example that goes all the way back to the ‘90s. From 1997 to 1998, I was working with a business that was getting ready to go bankrupt. It was an information business and they published technical books for people in the marine industry.
Her husband had died. The books were out of print. She could not take them back to print. It was sad. I started working with her. First, I helped her figure it out. I’m like, “Why do you have to pay for them?” I help her figure out a way to sell enough and pay them upfront. That is the first part. Why are you doing things this way? The next is, why not try this other thing or why not do it this way? What if is the third thing, and that is where the possibilities open up.
My “why not” with her is why not figure out a way that you do not have to have the books printed? She was like, “They are books.” I’m like, “We have the internet. We have the web. They do not have to be printed. It does not mean you have to stop printing them all. We have this other avenue. What if we could develop this subscription-based business that you could constantly add new boats to the database so brokers do not have to wait three years for your next volume to come out?”
Long story short, that is what we did. We developed the first subscription-based service that I knew of that was not an ISP or something technical like that. We ended up right before the dot-com bubble burst, a company came and wanted to acquire it. It was not even up for sale. Less than two years after I started working with her on that, we sold it for twenty times the investment.
She went from thinking all that work was gone to turning around and not only saving the business but turning it into something that she had never dreamed of and selling it when it was not even up for sale. It shows if you have a good idea and you never know who is watching that they might come and want to hire you, buy you out or whatever.
[00:17:58] That is also what if. What if you sell this business? If you sell this business, what is it going to enable you to do? If all of a sudden, this enormous pile of cash ends up showing up in your bank account, what is that going to free you up to do next? We all need to sit there, look at the world and say, “Opportunities are there around every corner.” There are obstacles around every corner, but there are opportunities that are side by side with each one of them.
[00:18:29] The obstacles create opportunities.
[00:18:32] The question is, do we look at the glass as half full, half empty or refillable? I tend to look at the world through a refillable glass lens. I like to sit there and go, “Let’s think about this. What if we could do this?” The fact that you were at a point where the internet was far enough along, that you could get the people to not only buy-in from a production point of view of being able to bring those books online. There was the early PDF. People could download PDF versions of this and easily be able to read it.
You could also get a world that was used to getting paper-based books to stop thinking about the paper-based book and say, “I can download this stuff and be able to have it at my fingertips wherever and whenever.” It is a whole change in the dynamic of an industry because not only do you need to change, but your customers need to change as well. How do you go about helping people? Changing can be the easy part. Helping your clients change can be a little bit more challenging.
[00:19:50] I forgot to even say that we also developed a customer service type database because the other segment of people that bought the books were people who were dreaming of buying a boat someday. They might be sitting around drinking wine. The books were not cheap. A lot of people would be like, “Which one do I need?” I’m like, “I do not know.” Every volume had 500 or whatever boats in it. We developed a database that those people could go on and search for the length, the feel, the beam, all that stuff. What sailing do you want to do, blue water, lake or whatever? Do you want it for people to be able to sleep? Do you want it to have a head and a galley?
In the end, it would come out and it would tell them far as the books, “These are the boats that are in the books that match what you think you are interested in. You can pick if you want to buy those volumes.” That freed up customer service-wise of one of the things that was a pain because people would call a lot. That freed up time for the business, but it also freed up time for that person.
With the subscription-based thing, they could have used the database to decide which book to buy but then it evolved into, “They could get a 24 to 72-hour short-term subscription to that service that constantly had new boats.” We had monthly, quarterly and yearly subscriptions for the professionals. For people like you, you could do it anywhere from 24 hours, 72 hours to a week.
[00:21:24] If I’m out there going, “I know I want inland 30-foot or less sailboat that is tiller driven.” I could go and search the database. You would sit there and say, “Here are the boats that are good for that particular thing. Here are the books that we suggest that you download in order to do that.” What you are doing is you are making things easier for the customer to be able to move forward.We want people to feel like their mind is opened up and that there are all these possibilities that they never ever would have even thought of. It makes us feel better than anything to help get other people excited. Click To Tweet
[00:21:51] The other thing that I did, and this was at the request of a broker, which shows their foresight. They are like, “I wish I could have this on my PalmPilot.” I developed an app for his PalmPilot and I gave that away to brokers who had already bought the book or subscribed to the service. We gave it to them. It was funny because there were already people who were open to change.
Even though that was that long ago, it is amazing to me that now there are still many people who are close-minded to the web. Even though they have lived with it for all these years. With the people who were slow to adapt, you have to nurture them along. One of the positive things about COVID and the shutdown is it forced small business owners to realize, “I have to do something different.”
A lot of our clients over the years, “I do not need to do that.” They might have a website but just a static little site. A lot of them are like, “I do not even need a website. I’m doing good. I’m at whatever age. I’m making enough money and I’m going to sell my business. I’m like, “You are probably not going to sell your business because very few sell. You are probably not going to sell to somebody younger if you are not using technology.” The pandemic forced those people to go, “Now, I get it.” That is one of the positives that has come out of it.
[0:23:37] Because the world has gotten so much smaller during COVID, it truly has over the last several years, with social media and everything that has gone with it. The world has gotten smaller and you are not necessarily looking to the person who is ten doors down to buy something from you. You can go on the internet and buy things from anywhere. You’re looking for what is the best experience somebody can offer me. It may not be the best price, but what is the best experience?
If we sit there and go, “How can we create better experiences for people? How can we enable them to think that we are thinking on their terms, not ours? We are going to build better champions. That is how you disrupt your now. That is how we get into the thinking of the why, why not and what if? It is to sit there and say not why, why not and what if for yourself but why, why not and what if for your clients.
[00:24:38] What is the big picture? What would blow your mind that you would never think that you could achieve? One of the big mistakes that I see that people make is they look around at what everybody else is doing and they do it. They feel like, “That is what everybody else is doing so that must be what I’m supposed to be doing.”
I will give you a more recent example. For the CARES Act when they were giving money to communities, almost all the local communities were taking that money and whatever portion they put towards business, they would divvy it up and give it to several businesses. You are sitting there and you have few businesses that get the money. It helped them but they usually spent it on payroll or whatever and it was gone. Nobody else benefited.
We had an economic development client who was in a rural county here in Virginia. They had $900,000. We were like, “We need to make that mean more.” What we ended up doing was developing a matching gift card program. The county and the chambers put up matching funds so you could go on as a shopper and for $20, get a $40 gift card. The businesses get the money immediately and the consumers save 50%. As the end result, the immediate economic impact was over $2.7 million instead of $900,000.
[00:26:08] It was not just a few businesses that benefited. It was probably hundreds, if not thousands.
[00:26:13] It was hundreds of businesses and many hundreds of shoppers. The cool thing is most people think, “It is just shopping and dining.” No, it was fuel, oil, car repair, dentistry, medical offices and daycare. There were restaurants and shopping, but it was cool because everybody that participated got to either make money if they were a business or save money if they were a shopper. This was the first summer of the pandemic. Many people were not even working. If their car needed to be repaired or their child needed to go to the dentist, being able to save 50% on that was huge. Overall my years, that is one of the things I’m proud of because they helped many people.
[00:27:04] I do not want to miss NASCAR because we are going to run out of time sooner or later. I want to get into NASCAR for you because this is a big pet project for you. Tell me about this. There is a veteran angle to this. There are a lot of different angles to this. I’m going to let you explain it.
[00:27:24] My husband is a retired Navy, 26 years. That is my connection to the military and as background, because I’m going to talk about suicide prevention. When I was five, my grandfather killed himself and three years later, my grandma tried too. In October of 2018, I started working with a young NASCAR driver. He had turned eighteen years old. His father had said, “I want your career to mean something. When you are 40 or 50, I want you to be able to look back and realize that it was far more than entertainment.” Not that there is anything wrong with entertainment, but do something that when you are older, you can feel proud of it.”
It just so happened that a national non-profit that is located here, Racing for Heroes, called and wanted me to come out and talk with them about developing a national awareness campaign. I get out there. I knew they did motorsports therapy, but what I did now know is that they do free physical and mental health treatments, job training and job placement. I was overwhelmed because I thought if my husband and I had had access to this community, this group of people and resources when he retired in 1990, it would have made that transition so much easier.
Coming as the grandchild of a person who killed himself, I was overwhelmed with the suicide prevention stuff that they are doing. I was in tears. I found out they had zero paid employees. That meant if I took any money at all, it was going to be coming directly from treatments. On top of that, to have a national awareness campaign, you have to have a national platform. Even if I did it for free, they did not have any money to do stuff like that.
I called Colins’s dad and both of his older brothers are active-duty military. They are what’s called a double-blue star family. I was like, “Is there any way I can put their logo on the car for free?” It’s just small. That is how it started out. In January of 2019, Colin, his dad and I started promoting Racing for Heroes. Originally, it was a small logo on the car, but we were using that to promote them.
Everything we have done for them since has been pro bono, but Ryan, his dad and I, he says, “We share half a brain.” We are like pinballs firing off and we bounce off each other. One idea turns into another. It grew from that into we wanted the whole car to be dedicated in some way to helping the military community. If you think about it, the military community is a true cross-section of people, every race, ethnicity, LGBTQ and everything. You also have the parents, siblings and the kids.
We are like, “If we can help this segment of people, it will roll out and help everybody. It has grown. Even with COVID and all of that, there are five things off the top of my head. It is probably more because you get used to doing stuff. You do not think about it, but five things off the top of my head that we already made history in NASCAR in 2019 or 2020, right before the pandemic hit, we crowdfunded to race at Daytona and we beat our goal.
Everybody is laughing. They are like, “You are never going to do that.” They were jokingly calling us the people’s team, the drivers and stuff because it’s a small world. We beat the goal in less than a month and raised enough above and beyond that to pay for stem cell treatments for a veteran who has multiple sclerosis from exposure to chemicals while on active duty. Their mind was blown. It went from the people’s team “ha-ha-ha” to the people’s team.
COVID hit so we had to put all that on pause. The first crowdfunded car to pay for stem cell treatments for a veteran, the first black-owned service, the disabled veteran-owned sponsor in NASCAR, the first braille paint scheme and blind-owned sponsor, and the first something else. I can’t even remember because we do so much. The braille paint scheme was Hoby Wedler.
He and I are great friends. We hit it off when we met because of daddy being blind and him being blind, I feel like he was my little brother now. He was launching a seasonings blend company in 2021. We had a philanthropist that backed the car for us to have him the car. We also partnered with a Webex accessibility company called accessiBe and we had this cool braille paint scheme.
We did not go as big as we wanted because everything was last minute. We had braille over the door. It had Colin’s name in braille over the door. In each of the numbers, it had the braille version at the bottom left. If you think about it, a lot of people have never even seen braille. They have heard of the word but they have no clue what it is.
We had Hoby on the car for three races and I was with him in Daytona when he first felt it. I have a video. He walked up, felt over the door and was reading Colin’s name. I was overwhelmed emotionally. All I could think of was, “I wish daddy could have been here.” He died in ’95. My second thought is, “If he was, the two of them would be fighting over who gets to drive the race car.” That is the thing that we are doing through our team. Now, it has evolved into what we call The 11/11 Veteran Project.
We started a business because we do not want people to think of it as being a nonprofit. We do not want them to think we are asking for donations. We are presenting it as a B2B consulting thing. We are not looking, “Put your logo on the car and watch it going around a circle.” We want the companies that we work with, “What is a business problem that we can help you solve?”
Things like recruiting, hiring, training employees, product placement and all kinds of things like that. What is your problem? It does not have to have anything to do with the military and it doesn’t even have to have anything to do with the car, but we are all experts with decades of experience in entrepreneurial endeavors. We are like, “Bring us your problems, do this B2B consulting with us, and that will support the car for us to be able to promote all these causes.”
[00:34:13] What is Colin’s last name and what is the car number? How do we make sure we keep an eye on the car?
[00:34:18] His name is Colin Garrett. Normally, he races in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, which is the second level down. Mind you, he had not even raced until he was fifteen. He went from T-ball to Triple-A ball in four years, which is unheard of. When he is racing in NASCAR, the Xfinity Series car is number 26. We do not have the funding yet for 2022.
The team owner, who is like his brother, had to sell races to other people. There are several races at the end of 2022. We are still trying to get the money, but he does still race a super late model, which is a local race. That is number 24. He is starting to race road courses with BMW. I do not even remember the number.
[00:35:16] I want to land this because we have gone through a lot of different things. I love the passion and this whole concept of Disrupt Your Now because it’s like, “What are the possibilities?” My first question to you, and I got two for you, is how do we get in touch with you? What is the best way for people to get in touch with you so they can harness some of your energy and get it working for them?
[00:35:41] My website is LisaKippsBrown.com. I’m on LinkedIn, Twitter and everywhere. In most places, I’m Lisa Kipps Brown. I have a podcast that I do every Tuesday night live, stream to YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Now, I have launched it as a traditional podcast. A week or two after I do it live, I’m hosting the new episodes there.
[00:36:15] Here is the last question I ask everybody. When you leave a meeting, you get in your car and you drive away, what is the one thing you want people to think about you when you are not in the room?
[00:36:29] I was going to say more about them. I want them to be excited when I leave. Even if we are not working together, as in them paying me, I want them to feel like their mind is opened up and that there are all these possibilities that they never would have even thought of. What makes me feel better than anything is to help get other people excited.
[00:36:51] Let’s imagine the possibilities together. Lisa, it has been a pleasure. I loved having you on the show. Thank you for your wisdom, your passion, and for all the wonderful things you do for others.
[00:37:02] Thank you. I appreciate you having me so much. I enjoyed it.
- Disrupt Your Now
- Boomer Cashout
- Racing for Heroes
- The 11/11 Veteran Project
- LinkedIn – Lisa Kipps-Brown
- Twitter – Lisa Kipps-Brown
- Podcast – Disrupt Your Now with Lisa Kipps-Brown
- YouTube – Lisa Kipps-Brown
- Facebook – Lisa Kipps-Brown
- Colin Garrett
About Lisa Kipps-Brown
I help entrepreneurs 50+ strategize their next act.
32 years entrepreneurial & 26 years web development experience, nonlinear high-level thinker, master connector
In a world full of gurus who throw jargon around like candy, you don’t need more gobbledygook. You need real advice to:
• work less without sacrificing income
• create new revenue streams
• work from anywhere
• create strategic partnerships
• improve the odds of selling to retire
• start a new business *after* retirement
• adjust to a new stage of life
• increase value for M&A