Episode 139

Austin Reed - Cultivating a strong mindset for resilience & innovation

Posted on: 20 Jun 2024

Austin Reed is a seasoned digital nomad with eight plus years of experience, as well as the co-founder and automation expert at Horizon Dev LLC.

In this episode, we discuss the importance of cultivating a strong mindset in order to stay resilient while also staying at the forefront of innovation. Austin shares tips and tricks for having a strong mindset, giving us an insight into his entrepreneurial journey and the key lessons he has learnt from it.


Links & mentions:


Having the ability to like, detach, breathe, look at the situation and move forward without getting caught in a loop of thinking about it over and over and over and over again. I think it's really important.

Welcome to the Agile Digital Transformation Podcast, where we explore different aspects of digital transformation and digital experience with your host, Tim Butara, content and community manager at Agiledrop.

Tim Butara: Hello everyone. Thanks for tuning in. Our guest today is Austin Reed, seasoned digital nomad with eight plus years of experience and as well as the co founder and automation expert at Horizon Dev LLC. In today's episode, we'll be discussing the importance of cultivating a strong mindset in order to stay resilient while also staying at the forefront of innovation.

Hey Austin, welcome to the podcast. Very happy to have you here today. Anything you'd like to add before we jump into the questions?

Austin Reed: Yeah. Thanks a lot for having me too. I'm very grateful to be here and yeah, let's just jump right in.

Tim Butara: Okay. Awesome. So the first question to kind of set the scene. stage and, and kick the conversation off.

Why is it so important to have a strong mindset in today's world?

Austin Reed: Well, there's a lot of reasons we could go at it from a business aspect or a world aspect. I think from a business aspect, you're going to face rejection almost every day. And if you're not facing rejection every day, then you're probably not doing the right things.

So, and not only with rejection, but like things happen, like you've got to meet payroll some months. Maybe you have a big client that just dropped off. Forgot upset because of something. And you got to understand that I like deal with those situations and in a great manner. And so having the ability to like detach, breathe, look at the situation and move forward without getting caught in a loop of thinking about it over and over and over and over again, I think it's really important.

And that translates all the way down to even like school, when you get a bad grade or when you fail at something, or even like on the street, when somebody confronts you and you'd like, I don't know, maybe it's. Someone was having a bad day and you meet them on the street. And then all of a sudden they're saying some bad things to you.

What systems do you have in place for yourself in order to have a strong mindset while that's happening and to be able to take the higher moral ground and let it not affect you, or maybe not let it not affect you, but instead be able to analyze it abstractly in a way that doesn't hurt you and in a way you can learn from.

So, yeah, I think it's really important in a lot of different ways.

Tim Butara: So, you mentioned what systems do you have in place to kind of have a more healthy reaction and a more healthy response to all of this. What systems do you have in place for this?

Austin Reed: Yeah, so, I mean, the first one is, is every morning I wake up and I do Muay Thai.

And I know that sounds weird, but if I go and I do Muay Thai and I spar with my trainer, that is the hardest thing I'm going to do all day long. I promise you that. Him trying to hit me in the face and absolutely destroying me, working out, is And then after when a client says something or when, when, you know, I get a rejection on a, on a demo call or something, it's really kind of easy.

Cause I'm like, oh yeah, well, I mean, this morning, like this dude was trying to hit me in the face. And now you're just like, it's not that bad. You know what I mean? So, so that's definitely number one, just exercise in general. I think you could do across the board. Number two is having the ability to.

Detach and be more abstract about what it is you're doing. So you have a problem that confronts you and whatever. Just the ability to take a breath real quick. Maybe to change context, to go out for a quick run, to go out to have a coffee with your girlfriend, or just something entirely different. Have a shower, meditate, play guitar, you know, just, Just detach and then come back to it with a new, fresh mindset where you're no longer stressed, where you're a little bit more open and stuff.

And then one good exercise that I like is to look at the problem from outside. So you can look at it from the other person's point of view, and then you can look at the problem, like, what would I do in, if I had all the resources in the world? How would I feel about this problem or in 10 years, is this going to matter?

That's a good one. That's a really good one. And so once, once you bring the cons, the concept of extremes and the concept of time, it's really easy to say, Oh, well, maybe this isn't that big of a deal.

Tim Butara: Those are some great tips. And I think that the inability to detach is actually the root cause of so many problems in society and in our interpersonal relationship that could just be solved so much, so quickly, just like this way with a snap of your fingers.

If you just allow yourself that small amount of time for reflection and detachment, and then returning to Whatever the issue is, you know, in a lot of cases, you'll realize that it isn't even a problem once you detach yourself from it and return to it.

Austin Reed: That's true. That's true. And sometimes problems also manifest as added benefits, you know, like at first it's like, Oh man, we have to get rid of one of our best employees because he did XYZ, right?

You're like, Oh, that really sucks. But then you get rid of them and you notice that the dynamic of the team changes and all of a sudden they're doing a little bit better. You're like, Oh, maybe he was, he was a bad apple or a bad player within the team. Or maybe you go and you do some hiring rounds and you find just an amazing rock star, right?

It's like, wow. Well, I've got this new guy who's a little bit cheaper than the old guy who's doing a better job. Now, maybe this was a good thing instead of a bad thing. Right. But you can't see that when you're like in the moment, you're like, Oh my God, I gotta, I gotta fire like our, our best guy. Like he didn't do.

this thing, you know. So there are some added benefits sometimes. If you let time lapse out and you let the game play itself, you might be surprised sometimes.

Tim Butara: So this ability to detach and this, this capability of looking at the bigger picture, so to speak, this would be kind of some of the key elements.

of having a strong mindset, right? Well, what would be some other important ones?

Austin Reed: Yeah. So every day waking up and making sure that you, you get your stuff done, understanding that like motivation is cool, but like you really got to like be a little bit more diligent in, in doing things, even when you don't want to do them, that's really important for strong mindset.

So having the ability to just. Like force your mind to focus. And I think focus is something that I'd love to talk about. That is not talked about enough. A lot of people there, they're saying like work a lot of hours and this and that, which is cool, but it doesn't help if they're not quality hours, you know?

So the ability to, no matter what's going on around you to shut everything out and focus on one thing. And focus on it intently with, with a high level of energy is huge. It's absolutely massive. And so I like, like, imagine like you're having a weird day, your girlfriend just kind of got in a fight with you, whatever you get to work.

The ability to, to shut that out, sit down and to focus on one task, it's really difficult, but if you can do that, then when you go back to your girlfriend, you're going to be coming from a detached mindset. You're not going to have that stress impulse response, which is huge, but you're also chaining your mind to be able to context switch into intense focus, which is absolutely insane.

So I think that's really important. There's a lot of, there's a lot of different things that really help you. With a strong mindset, it's, I think it's not just conditioning your mind to be strong against feedback, to be strong against, Oh, I need to do this. I think it's also the little things too. It's also giving yourself the time to recover.

That's really important too. So for example, if I've noticed that if I push really hard, like 12 hours a day, every day with no days off for a long time, I can usually do that for around like 15, 16 days. And then after that I reach kind of like a burnout state. And so having little breaks in my day or little breaks, like actually taking a day off, a lot of new entrepreneurs, they don't take days off.

You know what I mean? And so actually detaching and taking that day off. And then when you take the day off again, do a hundred percent day off. Don't think about work. So when I started my business, it was really hard for me to transition between like enjoying and work. And so I would go to like, enjoy a beach or something.

And I was still thinking about work. I was bringing that energy with me and I never truly recovered. You know what I mean? And so once I was able to learn again to detach back to the first point, once I was able to learn to do that and to step away from the work itself that allowed my mind to be free, to have some fun, some enjoyment, to relax.

And then when I got back to work the next day, it was a lot stronger for the next time I got back to work. So that, that was a really important thing that I learned as well.

Tim Butara: Yeah, I think time off is definitely an indispensable part of any process of, you know, self improvement or anything like that. You know, even like professional sports people, they'll incorporate, you know, days off into their training routines because you just can be expected to, to perform optimally if you don't have some kind of contrast with that.

Austin Reed: Yep. No, I totally agree. I totally agree. I mean, even with the Muay Thai, like some days I have to take my chair in my hand and I can't train the day like my wrist is like hurting or something, you know, it's I think it's the same with everything, man. It's like working out business life, strong mindset, it's all comes down to the training.

So the key core issues, you know, detaching being, being resilient in a lot of different ways. Listening to feedback without necessarily taking it to heart. That's like super huge back to the detaching thing. And then around habits too, like being able to understand how your body works, how to control your own habits, because everybody's a little bit different.

You know, like I work really great in the morning to midday, but my co founder, he doesn't. And just knowing that difference that he works at night, you know, how many years did it take us to figure that out? Like quite a long time, you know, because like everybody else is used to this corporate structure.

And when you jump out of that, that's, that's really weird. Cause you have to learn yourself, you know, and learn the levers of yourself. Like part of having a strong mindset is just understanding how you yourself work. Right. And that's really important. A lot of people don't think about that.

Tim Butara: That was a really great point.

But, but I want to focus now a little bit on the business aspect and kind of tying to our, the main title or the main topic of today's conversation. So sometimes in business, you know, staying resilient can be at odds. With, you know, properly innovating and being at the forefront of innovation.

I'm wondering how can developing and cultivating a strong mindset help somebody achieve both, you know, innovation while still staying resilient?

Austin Reed: Yeah, so As a business owner, we, we encounter a lot of distractions day by day. I run a software development agency. We do automation. So in our day to day, a lot of times people are trying to partner with us to do different platforms, different SaaS products, things like that.

And a lot of them are really great ideas. A lot of them are amazing ideas, but if I was to take on some of those ideas, they might also set me back. Business wise, because then I didn't have to take the resources. I didn't have to take the mental bandwidth. I have to plan out the projects. We have to take the money, the people, all those things and pivot it over.

So how do you know that it's a good opportunity? Well, the short answer is like, first of all, you kind of never do, you never do until you actually do the thing, but being able to really weigh out the pros and cons and look the big picture of, look, this is what I planned out. For the year. Okay. At the end of the year, my goal is to do this within my business structure, to have these types of results to do this, blah, blah, blah, right?

Does this SAS product fit within those goals? Yes or no? Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn't. And so. Being able to sit down and write like points of the SAS product. Like why would this benefit towards the end goal of the year? And why would it not, I think is really important. It's definitely a hard thing to do though, because.

Sometimes too, being able to innovate is like, say for example, like you need to get something done, like I have the goal at the end of this year. Well, being resilient in your mind is saying, well, look, I don't have the money to do this. So what are some other ways I could do this thing? And so you could think of, Oh, you know, I have this friend who's really, really good at doing X, Y, Z.

What if I traded services with him to be able to do that? Right. And so that's another way of being resilient to innovate. It's like, okay, well, Hey, I don't have the resources to do said thing. How do I get it done? Who has the resources that I might be able to use or to partner with or to help About who can help me to get said thing done.

So there's a lot of different ways to kind of think about it. That's something that we've done quite a bit is partner with other people who have helped brought us forward, helping them build software products. And in return, they give us services when it comes to sales or innovation or things like that.

So that that's a really good point too.

Tim Butara: And so, do you have any special techniques or any tips for maintaining a strong mindset even when you're faced with a lot of stress, a lot of adversity, a lot of failures, maybe?

Austin Reed: Yeah, it's hard, man. First of all, stress builds, especially as you grow. So, I think, Being in stressful situations repetitively is important and then practicing again, detaching, practicing, breathing, practicing.

And, and like, for me, it might be, you know, meditating for somebody else that might be having a coffee. You know what I mean? It's like, It's different for everybody. Really, it goes back to like knowing how your body works. If you understand how your body works, how you can truly relax, bring that into your daily practice somehow, somehow, even if it's for 15 minutes, that way, when you truly get stressed, you can go back to that daily practice that you have drinking your coffee, meditating, whatever it is, go back to your default to be able to.

To refresh your mind, you know, but also realize that stress isn't necessarily a bad thing. Stress can be a very good motivating factor too. A little bit of stress is great. It's amazing. I mean, Andrew Huberman even talks about stress. Stress is a very, very good impulse driver for getting things done.

That's amazing. Again, you don't want it to go above a certain threshold, right? So, at that point, if it does start to get above certain thresholds, maybe you're not working with the right types of clients, you know? Or maybe it's showing you, exposing a problem within your business. You know, maybe you're stressed because you feel like you have too much work and you don't have time because you don't have systems in place to take care of XYZ processes.

And so that's another way to alleviate stress is to make sure you have SOPs for everything, you know, to make sure that you filter your clients like to work with me, we, we say no to a lot of people like you gotta, I've got to be able to go out and have a beer with you for you to be my client. If I can't do that, then we're not going to work together.

And it's just that and part of the reason why is because. So the most stressful moments I've had in business came from a client that. Okay. That like, I had bad feelings going in, but we needed the money anyway. And we decided to do the project and it just turned, it just turned on its head. And every time that I've had that bad gut feeling about a client, it's turned into a bad situation.

Right. And so being able to understand that from the beginning and filter those people, I think is really important as well.

Tim Butara: That was actually a real nice lead into my next question for you today, Austin, and I'm wondering if you could tell us a little bit more about your own entrepreneurial journey and some of the key lessons you've learned from it, apart from, you know, the big one that you already shared just now.

Austin Reed: Yeah, absolutely, man. So I, I didn't have a typical entrepreneur startup. I mean, basically what happened was I was buying and selling stuff on Facebook at the time. I was doing a little bit of drop shipping. I sold Amazon fire sticks. I put Cody on them and sell them to people. And at the same time I was going to college and I yeah.

Went to principles of financial accounting. It was like, yo, how do I open a business? I need to open a business because I want to do some liquidation auction stuff. And he was like, I don't know. And then I got a little too busy selling stuff and I dropped out of university. Right. And so I was living on my own, working with my brother at the time, buying and selling stuff on Facebook.

He was doing the same in another state. And then we moved into liquidation auctions. And then from there, Went full time drop shipper, did that for a while. And then the business crashed, but it didn't just crash. It massively crashed. So, so I had 10 eBay accounts, right? This was before everybody knew about drop shipping.

This was back when it was still a good business model. I had 10 eBay accounts running and I had posted a DJI drone on one of them and it got flagged as a high risk product and I didn't know. And because of that, all of the eBay accounts that were linked to that IP address got instantly banned. Right.

And I don't know why I had five star reviews on all, but they just completely banned them on. So what they did was they refunded all the money to the customers immediately and the products were on the way. So I went from like making like, you know, 20, 30, 000 a month to nothing immediately to having instant debt like that, because margins are really tight on on drop shipping there at the time it was like 35, 40 percent roughly now it's more like 10, 15.

Right. But so instantly I had debt and I was putting the orders on a credit card so I could gain miles and stuff. And I just got a bunch of chargebacks on the card, refunding all the customers and all the products went to the customer anyway, and I was out everything. And so, and I was in Argentina at the time.

I'm actually in Argentina now too. Yeah. I just remember it was like. Damn. And then we had to come up with tax money and we'd lost it because of this. And I basically had two months to be able to do it. And what I did was I called a friend and I was able to use one of their accounts and scale it up because I already kind of knew which products were selling and which ones were not.

So I just took that knowledge and I was able to scale up on another account and kind of get myself out of that situation. This situation occurred multiple times, not in the dropshipping world, but where I built something and it's just crashed down on me entirely. Another time, so for a while I was doing composing music and editing videos on Fiverr.

When I was doing it right, I was making two, three thousand dollars a month, nothing like super amazing, but you know, I wanted, I wanted I wanted to do music as my career. And so I had made that happen. It's not like I was making a lot, but it was, it was okay. And I had this brilliant idea. I had a friend who made beats and I was like, Hey man, why don't you you put a gig on my profile, make some beats and I'll just take 10 percent because you're using, you know, my reputation.

You can just make the rest. Right. It was like, cool. So the dude used sampled beats. So like In the music world, there's these music samples, which are like pre recorded little bits, and they come with licenses. And he used them without having the licenses, and we sent it to the guy, and he got a copyright strike, and they banned my Fiverr account.

Tim Butara: Oh, damn.

Austin Reed: Yeah. And so at that time I was in India, right? And so same thing happened. I had like 700 in open orders, got instantly refunded to all of my customers and I lost the account. I eventually got the account back. But I was really stressed. And again, it was like about a month, a month and a half to recover.

And after that, my account never really did well after that. It was like, it was like shadow band or something, but I made enough, but like it, it kind of struggled after that. But it just kind of goes to show the resilience of like being pushed up against the wall and being able to push through. I've, I've had that happen so many times, like even with Horizon, about three years ago, before we really defined what it is we did, there was a time where me and my co founder, One of our designers, my girlfriend and my co-founder's girlfriend, were all living in a house in Ecuador.

And same thing happened, like we just, we were trying to switch, we were trying to pivot away from doing WordPress to doing Django, and I wasn't quite sure how to land these enterprise clients because the leap from WordPress, the django's huge. It's like a 2000 to a 15,000 powder. Huge difference. And the, and the client's entirely different.

Like WordPress is going to be like a normal entrepreneur. Django is going to be like a small business that actually, you know, has been around for a while. So we were trying to make that transition and we had like a six, eight month runway. Well, Come to the end of that runway, like no money's coming in.

I'm still trying to make these sales. Nothing's happening. And I actually ended up having to call my mom for groceries. I was like, Hey mom, like I need a couple hundred bucks to feed these guys, to get this things going. We had a website we were about to turn in. And then we turned in the website.

And then like three weeks later, I landed 100, 000 a year contract. And I was like, Oh my God, like it was just right there. And so I was really fighting against the wall, you know, and it's like, there's been so many times where this situation happened where like, it seems like everything's about to die. And that kind of manifests this energy of like, I have to make this work.

They're like, there's no option. If you go into it thinking there's no option, either I do this or I'm going to die, like, obviously you're not going to die, but, but if you go into it with that mindset, like you'd be really surprised what things can happen. So. So, yeah, I think that was one of the most important lessons that I've had built and crashed multiple things did kind of the same with marketing agency about like what, like six years ago, I tried to launch a marketing agency.

The difference with that is we got some good clients and I just handed them to some VAs and I didn't train them and it was my fault. It was my fault because I wasn't properly training them. I wasn't properly paying attention. I didn't have the right systems in place. Now I've grown a lot to know, I know a little bit more about hiring.

I know a little bit more about systems. I know more about like managing a team back then. I thought it was just like, here's what you do. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Now I encourage everybody on my team to be a leader. And so instead, like if they have innovation ideas, I'm like, great. Let's try it. Let's see how it goes.

If it doesn't go well, great. I'll take the fault. It's my fault. It didn't go well. You have nothing to do with that. You know, I told you to try it. It was my decision.

Tim Butara: I think you've really highlighted the value that going through these kind of really tough and seemingly, you know, devastating situations can have on your overall, you know, professional and professional development journey.

Thanks for sharing all this with us, Austin, just before we jump off the call and then drive the conversation to a close. If listeners would like to connect with you or learn even more about you, where can they do that?

Austin Reed: Yeah, so you can look up Austin Reed, R E E D on LinkedIn or you can check out horizon.


Tim Butara: Okay. We'll make sure to also include that in the show notes and Austin, thank you again for a great conversation and the great tips.

Austin Reed: No, thank you. I really appreciate it.

Tim Butara: Likewise. And to our listeners, that's all for this episode. Have a great day, everyone.

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