Our guest Dominic Mazzone is the definition of a serial entrepreneur, having started his first business at 16 to being the CEO and founder of MedSpa Partners today. Dominic shares what drove him to start 19 businesses (including promoting American bands in Tijuana), the importance of enthusiasm and leadership, and his strategy for success.
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Intro: [00:00:00] Welcome to Legal 123s with ByrdAdatto. Legal issues simplified through real client stories and real world experiences. Creating simplicity in 3, 2, 1.
Brad: Welcome back to another episode of the Legal 123s with ByrdAdatto. I’m your host Brad Adatto with my cohost Michael Byrd.
Michael: Thanks Brad. As a business and healthcare firm, we represent clients in multiple sectors and multiple specialties, especially healthcare. Obviously. This season we are searching for common ground for our audience, and we’ll be bringing in many guests to help us. This season’s theme is The Universal Language – Business.
Brad: Awesome. Michael, you know, we often refer to ourselves as entrepreneurs trapped in lawyers bodies.
Michael: And yes, those who know us well also think we are 13 year old boys trapped in men’s bodies.
Brad: It’s a very fair point. People, including us, use this term entrepreneur all the time, but I don’t [00:01:00] think in all the seven seasons of our podcast we’ve actually ever defined it. What does that word mean?
Michael: Do I need to get my assistant Siri to search it for us?
Brad: Fair question, but not no, no, not yet. I was thinking instead of Siri defining it, we could give examples of who historians would be deeming to be a famous entrepreneur.
Michael: Your old college days as a history major are coming out.
Brad: It had a small purpose, but a purpose. Maybe because you’re a business major, you should know many of these names. In fact, I think we should play a game, Michael. I’m going to describe the person and you need to guess if you know who this famous entrepreneur is. And then I’m going to ask Riley, when I start describing the person, Riley, I want you to put a picture up right here of whoever this famous person is so our audience watching It will already have a clue whether or not Michael is going to get it right.
Michael: Right. Okay. As long as your picture, doesn’t come up there and you call yourself a famous entrepreneur.
Brad: Riley, you can just delete that picture I sent you earlier of me. [00:02:00] All right, ready, Michael? First one. This entrepreneur was a famous Italian sailor. He developed trade routes with the Far East and growing up, you might have shouted out his name in the swimming pool.
Michael: Well, if you hadn’t given me that hint at the end, I would have had no idea, but yes, of course we all played Marco Polo.
Brad: Yes we did. All right. Great one. Yeah, Marco Polo for those don’t know, developed contracts, actually even filed ways to put insurance on his boats and his goods so he could move supplies from obviously Asia to Italy and other areas in Europe. If this trip was successful, believe it or not, he had equity partners in it. They would get the lion share almost 75% of it and Marco would get the remaining 25% for taking the risks.
Michael: Well, I knew he was a traveler. I remember at some point because I was just curious of why we called the game, Marco Polo and hearing that, I guess one of those, who knows if it’s true, [00:03:00] thoughts is that he was in China with his family and they got separated and his family was saying Marco and then he was calling out Polo’s as they were trying to find each other.
Brad: Yeah, I’m not believing that one.
Michael: Hey, the internet never lies.
Brad: Okay one more. Alright, Riley drop this picture up for our audience. He was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of organized science and teamwork in the process of inventions. He had researchers and employees, and he established the very first industrial research laboratory. He’s known for developing many devices, including electric power generators, mass communication, sound recording, motion pictures, but he’s best known for the early version of the light bulb.
Michael: Wow. You really are making it easy for me by giving me the clear answer at the end. So yes, Thomas Edison.
Brad: Great job, Michael. Yay!
Michael: Thomas Edison, [00:04:00] I think of as a scientist or maybe an inventor, but I guess you’re correct that part of the entrepreneurial spirit is doing something with it once you’ve invented it.
Brad: Yeah, that’s right. And that brings us back to something I didn’t do at the beginning. The actual definition now that we now we have this picture of these two famous historical entrepreneurs. And so basically an entrepreneur is a person who organizes, operates and assumes a risk for a business venture. One who takes the initiative to create or produce or establish a business. And generally speaking, they are the ones who in this enterprise who are taking their own risk.
Michael: Okay. We got our history lesson, Brad. Well, what are we doing with this?
Brad: That was nothing. Oh no, you’re right I should do something with it. Well, today’s guest not only has the entrepreneur bug, it started back when he was 16 and started his first business. And since that time he has started and sold many businesses, more than I could probably describe in today’s [00:05:00] podcast. And he truly is the definition of a successful serial entrepreneur both in the U.S. and in Canada, which is why I’m so excited to have him on this season’s Universal Language – Business. Michael, can you please bring on today’s guest?
Michael: Well, I just want to first say we have a lot in common. He started a business when he was 16 and I would eat two sandwiches after school and still eat dinner after that. So same thing right?
Brad: Same not thing.
Michael: Right. Okay. Our guest today is Dominic Mazzone. He is the CEO of MedSpa Partners. He has been hailed as a digital guru by Canadian Business Journal. I’m curious about that. Brad, didn’t read didn’t you dub yourself as the analog guru?
Brad: Yes, that’s exactly right.
Michael: Okay. All right. Well, the author of Digital or Death, a quaint quintessential book on digital transformation and strategy. He’s been featured in the media across [00:06:00] North America. A speaker on many different topics and has led successful startups in several industries, led a management consulting firm specializing in strategic management consulting and digital transformations. And as you mentioned, he started his first business when he was 16.
Brad: Dom, welcome to the show!
Dominic: Guys, thanks so much for having me. Michael, I’d like you to follow me and introduce me. You made me sound important, more important than I am so I appreciate that.
Brad: Dom he has nothing else to do, I think it’s a really good idea. Finally something useful he can do. Well Dom, I’m going to start off. Obviously we had a chance to meet, we got to see you speak, and I know the audience and Michael and I were really intrigued by a lot of things you had to say when we met you in Vegas. [00:07:00] We have got to go back in time and tell the audience, what was that first business you did when you were 16 and how’d it go?
Dominic: Yeah. So just by way of geo locating here. I was born in Chicago. Lived there until I was 13, and then we moved to San Diego. Living in San Diego was incredible because you had warm weather year round and it provided for different kinds of opportunities. So my first business when I was 16 was I started a car detailing business. My dad loved cars and he used us as unpaid labor for quite a long time. Like all of our dads did back then, but he actually taught me a skill. He taught me how to use like a high speed buffer. And that was a great skill. So I started a detailing business and we were [00:08:00] detailing like nice cars. And I was thinking back like, we charged a pretty good dollar for it as well. And I was in business with my best friend Andreas. So I was in charge of the outside of the car and he was in charge of the inside of the car and. I was very gung-ho on that business, and Andreas was very gung-ho on girls. And I mean, not that I wasn’t, but I was kind of more of the let’s get the money first. You know, that might be like a good way to go. And so anyways, I was always dragging him either away from his girlfriend or out of the house to go, we got to go put flyers on cars. We got to go do all these different things. So it was a good first business and I learned a lot from it and really enjoyed it. And then after that business went on to start, like now I am [00:09:00] on business number 19. And by no means were all of those businesses successful.
Michael: That’s amazing. How long did you run your first business? Did you stop when you got kind of to college age?
Dominic: So, so this may sound crazy, but I ran that business for a solid year until I started promoting American bands in Tijuana.
Michael: Oh my goodness.
Dominic: At 17. I was bringing American bands across the border because all of us U.S. kids would go across the border every weekend. I was a musician and I brought my band there and…
Brad: They were going there for the music right?
Dominic: Oh, yeah, for sure. That and the bacon wrapped hot dogs, they were selling on the street.
Brad: That was it. There’s nothing else in Tijuana. [00:10:00]
Dominic: But I mean, it was literally thousands of kids going across that border every weekend. I was bringing like American bands and I found this pattern where I was able to bring the local high school band and it would basically bring the entire high school. And back then, you know, Tijuana, it was 18 and older to get into the clubs. But if you had a library card that said, you know, you could scroll to whatever number you want, they’d be like, you got money? Sure. Come on it.
Brad: Dom I grew up in New Orleans so it was very similar.
Dominic: Ah, nice. Nice. Yeah. So that business was about a year then I started doing the promotion business in Tijuana for a while.
Michael: That’s awesome. Well I actually would love to hear about all 19. We don’t have enough time today, but I’d love to kind of hear some highlights or themes from the rest of your professional story [00:11:00] that leads up to what you’re doing these days. And did you kind of stick to any certain industries early on, or tell me kind of how you bounced from different businesses to the next.
Dominic: Yeah, I actually think that’s one thing I’ve screwed up in my professional career is I haven’t stuck to industries. I think I had a bad case of shiny object syndrome.
Michael: Very familiar.
Dominic: For sure. And car detailing, promoting American bands, I had a small, like I’m fast forwarding way forward here, but then I started actually doing promotions. I was a professional musician for a while. Started promoting tours. I’ve owned a web hosting company. I started a small investment fund that was kind of doing bridge financing. [00:12:00] I had a mobile chiro kind of natural path massage service for corporate. I started the first internet funeral business in North America, which was a ton of fun. Rocked that industry very hard. And so I skipped a bunch of things in the middle of that but then got to MedSpa Partners, which is my kind of latest thing I founded. I wish I could go back to my younger self and tell myself like two things. Like number one is, you know, if you stick potentially to an industry, you become an expert in that industry. And you’ll potentially be able to create a lot of opportunities going forward. The second thing I tell myself is don’t play drums or bass. Play guitar, that’s my instrument. I just learned that like four years ago. So those are the two things that I tell myself [00:13:00] for sure.
Brad: Based on those other prior 18 businesses that we’ve talked about, then you just reference your current business, Med Spa Partners. Was there anything that you found that you learned, something common in those experience of each one of those different entities that you could say yeah, I can take those and even apply it to this.
Dominic: Yeah. I think by having that many business experiences, I think the one thing I really bring to the table besides all the common stuff that you would expect is that I’ve had the experience of when things don’t go perfect. I know you guys probably know guys and girls that you’ve looked at and they’d have like a road of like university, job, you know, they’ve really gone through it and just haven’t kind of had their ass kicked a little bit in business. And I have. And I bring that with me and I [00:14:00] heard this phrase that I love more than anything. I think it’s so key is that success is a series of recoveries.
Brad: Will you say that again? I love it.
Dominic: Success is a series of recoveries. And it is so apt. I mean, because that’s what it is. I mean, business doesn’t go perfect. And when you have got to dig in the dirt and you got to grind, you can do it. That has been helpful for me in all my businesses. But in my latest business, when COVID hit, I was just like, all right, man, let’s rock and roll. Like, what’s next? It’s just another hurdle. Let’s figure it out. But it also has created a little bit of skittishness in me where like, you know, December, 2019, I was kind of watching paying attention. I’m like, you know what, that doesn’t look good and it kind of said, hey, [00:15:00] let’s get prepared. And when COVID hit, we were like 100% ready for our business to go virtual. Literally within 24 hours our marketing had changed, our setup had changed, our operations changed because we were ready to go. So I would say that’s the first thing. And then the second thing is momentum is the eighth wonder of the world. When you have it, do everything you possibly can to keep it because once it’s gone, it’s very difficult to get back. And it’s possible to get it back but it takes a lot of energy. And energy is really a big part of all of this, because I had a friend once say to me that a business’s most important asset is energy and it’s the energy of the people, but it’s the people that are creating the energy of the business itself. And [00:16:00] when you have that right mix, you have momentum and momentum is just incredible once it’s rolling.
Brad: That’s such a good point. I got to tell you, you know, we’ve had a lot of different people come on and that point has never been made on any of our prior shows. And that’s a really, I mean, as we said, as entrepreneurs who have started their own businesses and been a part of other businesses you’re so correct. We get to represent other people in this space, we see it when that momentum hits them too.
Dominic: Yeah. And I think sometimes a lot of people don’t know what to do with the momentum sometimes. They don’t know how to handle it, but it should be treated as precious is what I’m trying to say. It should be, you know, everything kind of needs to get moved out of the way to kind of hold and keep and secure that momentum to keep it going and going. [00:17:00] I feel like we do that, I feel like it’s something that I’ve seen. I’ve had another business and it feels like you’re flying and when it goes, it goes and it feels terrible. So don’t want to feel that.
Michael: So I’m curious about the digital guru label. Is that something that you got before MedSpa Partners? And if so, is that something you brought into the med spa space?
Dominic: Yeah. So when I started the first internet funeral business, got a ton of press in both the U S and Canada. And what we did is we took the entire funeral model and brought it online. Imagine this was 2008, just going into 2009. So we brought the entire funeral process online where, you know, someone passes away, you go in the funeral home, they go through the whole thing with you, they’re [00:18:00] charging a zillion dollars. You’re grieving. We took the whole thing and put it online like a menu. You picked exactly what you wanted, it gave you a price, and then we developed a whole system on the backend that wrapped up all funeral documents and just sent them right to you via email. And you can print, sign and scan and you were done. There were families that we serve that we never even met and never even spoke to on the phone. It was all done virtually and they were so happy about it because they were just not a good state of mind. Not to mention the cost of like a fraction of what it usually costs. So that’s where it started. And then I started kind of getting pulled and tapped to say like, can you help us with our business? We want to transform all those things. You know, now we’re in 2022. To me, I look at everything and say, well, there are still opportunities to digitally [00:19:00] transform, but at least it’s really kind of top of mind for everybody now.
Michael: I’d love to hear just kind of some lessons learned along the way that could be applicable regardless of kind of what business industry you’re in.
Dominic: Yeah. So lessons learned.
Brad: Besides changing the drummer to the guitar, or the guitar to the drummer.
Dominic: Yeah, we should have a whole separate podcast on that it’s actually really important. One of the things I think is the best definition I ever heard of leadership is the transfer of enthusiasm. And I thought, I didn’t really understand it in the first five minutes, but then I really started thinking about it and I was like, my God, that’s so true. What I have now seen both being on the consulting side, but also being in a business that buys so many businesses, you know, MedSpa partners is [00:20:00] buying medical esthetic clinics across the country and I get to meet a lot of leaders. And in most cases, those leaders are doctors. And what I can tell you is that it’s almost impossible to meaningfully grow a business under bad leadership. It is so difficult in almost any level of management, I mean, a bad leader is a bad leader. And I think what’s different now is that today, you have a kind of generation of workers that really are attuned to leadership a little more, where when we were younger, it was like, we were just happy to have a job. And we were expecting to be treated poorly as a rite of passage. Like that was the expectation and that’s not how it is anymore. And I think just in general in leadership and how your teams are going to look at you are so different now and you really got to be on your game. [00:21:00] I’ve just gone off on a tangent here, but we’re in a world of like influencers now, and everybody wants to be inspired. And I think what’s incredible about that is you have a lot of people that are influencing people that their biggest accomplishment is that they’re popular. And for us as business leaders, like when you are running a business, you can’t be popular all the time. It’s very hard to be popular all the time and still make the right decisions. But what you do need to do is try to do in a way where everybody knows what the goals are and what you’re trying to get to. And you’re trying to inspire them to get to a direction to say, look, this is why this has happened. And this is why we’re doing it. This may not look like a decision you’d like right now, but in the end, it’s going to build our company and make us stronger on the long-term. And I am going on a tangent even further is that I think that’s [00:22:00] harder for folks that are younger now coming up because their world has become a very transactional place. We used to have a relationship with kind of people that sell us stuff, like the checkout person at the store or someone who sold us insurance, or like even people we were dating. Tinder has made like dating a transactional event whereby like kind of relationships they have like less value because the supply side is so great and the barriers to entry are so low. And so we have all these folks that are out there that are looking for leadership that have actually grown up on a transactional world. Where we’re trying to say, no, this is a relationship world and we want you for the long-term and we want goals for the long-term and those types of things. So that’s a bit of a tangent on that, but that’s kind of like leadership to me, that’s what I’ve kind of learned from it.
Brad: That’s awesome. I mean, you might have already answered my question I’m about to ask you, which [00:23:00] is really what is the proudest business strategy or accomplishment that you’ve done and how it can be transferred to any industry? I almost feel like you somewhat said that, enthusiasm.
Dominic: Somewhat yeah, like if I actually look at like hard strategies, I’ll see if I can wrap it up. What I liked about booking American bands in Tijuana is that I found a pattern. I found a pattern where high school local bands, bring them down, it’s going to bring in a ton of people. That worked. Basic Funerals, which was our company for the internet funeral company. The digital strategy was incredible for a business at that time because we found a pattern digitally that we could actually pioneer through. And I feel like that was so key to the success of that business. And Med Spa Partners, for me, I’m really proud of what we’re doing now. [00:24:00] And in all frankness, like this is my biggest success so far, but not just on a financial level. Just kind of what we’ve created in a small amount of time. So we’ve gone from 0 to 24 clinics in two years. We built a world-class team and I don’t mean little clinics, I mean, big, giant clinics. And we hit the market right out of the gate. We hired the right people, we put the right processes in place, but we also built a pattern. Building a pattern, and it’s seeing that. And I really think from a strategic perspective, like for myself, it’s about finding patterns. And there’s a lot of patterns out there that you can identify and figure out how to create a strategy around them that you can actually execute something that could be really successful. And if you look at a lot of the successful businesses out there, they’ve seen that. They’ve seen that. You know, some people call them trends, some people [00:25:00] call them patterns, those types of things, but all those things are really out there for us to go and grab and do something amazing with them. So I would say that like strategically, like those are the kinds of things that I really see as a flow that have kind of created success on more of a consistent basis.
Brad: And I would just say Dom, based on what you just said is that as a serial entrepreneur, that means that you can’t be focused staring down at your financials every day and not looking up because otherwise you’re going to miss the pattern. And so you talked about vision and having your team understand your vision, but having the vision literally to look up and see those patterns, that’s difficult. But I agree with you. That’s a very important element to being successful.
Dominic: Yeah. I mean, you guys have heard this before, but my job is to work on the business and not work in the business. And a lot of entrepreneurs get stuck working in their [00:26:00] business. One last thing on this that I want to just say is that I didn’t have the experience that I have now when I was 30. I love when I see younger people that are so much more advanced than I was at that age. But for me, it’s taken me all these years to have the answers to the questions and also know what I don’t know and know these are the things that I should be focusing on because the younger Dom would have been focusing on all the wrong things. And I think I also probably would have been more of a control freak when I was younger to say, well, I think I got the answer to this, or I got the answer to that and grabbing. Like my job as a leader, and we now have like, we’re about 350 employees. My job is to make them more of them. My job isn’t to tell them how to do their job. [00:27:00] And I think that’s a really important distinction.
Brad: Great point.
Michael: That’s amazing. And I just, I love where our time together went today. I didn’t have expectations, but I’m very passionate about the leadership and hearing your perspective is applicable to every business. I love it. And so thank you Dom for sharing and joining us today. It just went by really fast. What we’ll do now is go into a commercial and on the other side, we can kind of wrap up with a couple of legal insights and go from there.
Brad: Thanks, Dom.
Dominic: Hey, thanks so much for having me guys appreciate it.
Michael: Thank you.
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Brad: Welcome back to Legal 123s with ByrdAdatto. I’m your host Brad Adatto with my cohost Michael Byrd. Now, Michael, this season we’re searching for this common ground. Our theme is The Universal Language – Business. Dom came on and he had an amazing aspect of how to succeed, but something he also noted, which I thought our audience should consider is when things don’t go well. And obviously he talked about all the ways to make it go well, but as lawyers, we have to say, well, when things don’t go well, when it hits the fan, what are you supposed to do? And maybe the next few minutes, you can just tell our audience what they should consider.
Michael: Yeah. I mean, I love it. He said success is a series of recoveries, but what does the recovery look like? And what is it from a [00:29:00] lawyer’s perspective? And so when we get those calls, we get them and they’re no fun. Things are not going well. You have to take stock of the risk of your situation. So we know that typical businesses, the most expensive items on their P and L are going to be payroll, rent, and then you got to look on the balance sheet side at their debt. And so you’re kind of quickly trying to assess, okay, are there employment contracts and what does your employee handbook say? And so what ability do you have to make alterations to your staff size if you need to make workforce reductions. On the lease side, how many leases do you have? Are there personal guarantees involved? And then, you know, kind of on the finance side, the balance sheet, you’re looking at your bank loans, personal [00:30:00] guarantees and what those terms are. And then at the same time, if you’re a business that has investors, your investors may have preferential rights. And so you have to understand, you know, what are your obligations on that front and what permissions do you need? But you have to develop a recovery strategy. You got to know what you’re going to navigate.
Brad: Absolutely well, Michael, that’s basically all the time we have today. I’m again so thankful Dom could be here. It’s very inspirational. But next Wednesday, we get to discuss something that I know a lot of our audience is probably interested in is cryptocurrency with a very strong focus on Bitcoin with another serial entrepreneur, Les Kreis.
Outro: Thanks again for joining us today. And remember, if you liked this episode, please subscribe. Make sure to give us a five- star rating and share with your friends. You can also sign up for the ByrdAdatto newsletter by going to our website at byrdadatto.com. ByrdAdatto is providing this podcast as a public service. This podcast is for educational purposes only. This podcast does not constitute legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by ByrdAdatto. [00:31:00] The views expressed by guests are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Please consult with an attorney on your legal issues.