David VS Goliath Podcast – S1 – Episode 33 – Joe Amaral
In this very special edition of the David VS Goliath Podcast, Joe Amaral the COO of Anthem Software joins Adam DeGraide to discuss his life’s journey to being the General Manager and now COO of 2 INC 500 companies. This interview covers the gamut of Joe’s experience from being a Caddy, Navy man and Digital Marketing expert all with a little DVG fun sprinkled in.
Adam DeGraide: Coming up today on David Vs Goliath. An automation is the key, Joe.
Joe Amaral: So you have to have a few people that you can trust. Always, always, always be looking for ways to make the 80%-.
Adam DeGraide: You’re not good at drawing?
Speaker 4: Welcome to today’s episode of David Vs Goliath, a podcast dedicated to helping small businesses leverage technology, to not only help them compete against their large competitors, but win. Your host is currently the CEO of Anthem Business Software, a three time Inc. 500 recipient, and a serial entrepreneur with a passion to help small businesses everywhere find, serve, and keep more customers profitably. Please join me in welcoming your host, Adam DeGraide.
Adam DeGraide: Hey everyone. It’s Adam DeGraide, with David Vs Goliath Podcast. Welcome to another amazing episode. Today’s episode is going to be with Joe Amaral. You will see my glasses on and off throughout this episode, because as I’m getting older, I need to keep my glasses on, and sometimes I take them off. Today’s episode is brought to you by Anthem Software, where you can find, serve, and keep more customers profitably, with their all in one software marketing consulting platform, to help you find, serve, and keep more customers. Check it out. They provide CRM software, marketing services for small business, anthemsoftware.com. Today’s episode is awesome, but before we get into it, make sure you visit davidvsgoliathpodcast.com. There, you can subscribe and apply to be on the podcast. We have awesome interviews coming up from the applications. Don’t be shy, it’s going to be great. Anyway, with no further ado, let’s get right to today’s episode. With my glasses off to start, here it is with Joe Amaral. Joe, welcome to the David Vs Goliath Podcast.
Joe Amaral: Thank you so much for having me.
Adam DeGraide: You kidding me? I’ve been so excited to have this interview for so long. I wanted to start with it, but I figured it’d be a little bit too self-indulgent, having the COO of the corporate sponsor on David Vs Goliath kick it off. So I figured I’d wait a few months, get a bunch of interviews in the can. And Joe and I have been business partners for years, for the watchers and the listeners. Joe and I met, because Joe was dating the sister of my wife at the time. Joe ended up becoming the husband-
Joe Amaral: That’s true.
Adam DeGraide: … to that sister. We became brother-in-laws. And over the year, we became great friends. And things didn’t work out with the wives, but we kept each other. And here we are-
Joe Amaral: True that.
Adam DeGraide: … Here we are, having a great time building businesses together.
I brought Joe into my very first business, not the very first business, but his first business with me, years ago. It was a company called Squid Insurance Marketing, which was a subdivision of Astonish Results at the time. And basically, what was happening, for the watchers and listeners was, we had so many leads coming into the big mothership, that we couldn’t handle them all. And there was smaller agencies, Joe, as you know, at the time, that we couldn’t really help, because Astonish was too expensive. So we brought Joe in to run a division where he could take those smaller agencies, offer a more affordable program. And what happened, for the watchers and listeners is, as the company kept growing, Squid became one of our most successfully run divisions of the business, and in some cases, was even more profitable than the big ship at the end. And it was fascinating. And Joe, you did a great job.
And so, for the listeners and the watchers, tell them a little bit about your journey of how you ended up joining us at Squid, and because I think a lot of people, when they talk to you, Joe is the COO, currently, of Anthem Software, which means that he basically runs the company. He’s one of the smartest digital IQs I’ve ever worked with, but you self-taught yourself this stuff as time went on. And I think people would love to hear where you were, really quickly through your work, to Squid, to where you are now, and then we’ll go from there.
Joe Amaral: Well, I think some of it starts off with just, and I know I’ve probably mentioned this to you a number of times over the years, stubbornness is a virtue. So I’ve got a very inquisitive mind. I like a lot of different things. My interest is peaked, tends to be towards more the analytical and history side of the world. But either way, I’m very inquisitive, and I like to learn, and I’m not afraid to put my hands in something and figure it out. So I would say I started that journey from an employment perspective in the Navy. Everyone’s done odd jobs when they were a kid. I caddied. You would appreciate this. You know that I was a caddie for a number of years-
Adam DeGraide: I had no idea that you were a caddie for a few years. You probably have told me at some point-
Joe Amaral: … No.
Adam DeGraide: … over a couple of beers. But I forgot-.
Joe Amaral: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Probably don’t mention it all much. But that was probably, me cutting grass in the neighborhood was probably my first employment gig, at maybe nine or 10 years old, cutting neighbors lawns. And then, maybe by 11, 12, 13, in those years, I was going to the local private golf course with my cousin, generally. We’d walk up there, and usually, either do one or two, do an early morning and afternoon, and did caddie for a while. And then, obviously, after that… So I’ve been working all my life. I come from an immigrant family. And so, work ethic is a very, very important thing in our family. And so, always encourage us to go out and work, figure it out, make money. And so, I did anyway. But later on, joined the Navy. And so, that was a really, I didn’t know what I exactly what I wanted to do.
In high school, I went to vocational school. Did a lot of auto body. Actually had job for a while at an auto body shop in Seekonk, Massachusetts. Then, decided I was just going join. And actually, I went and visited, oddly enough, something I sometimes forget, with my parents, almost went to an auto body post vocational tech school in Connecticut, went and visited and came really close to doing it. It was at the same time I was considered going in the military, in the Navy. And then, decided to go in the Navy. Just really didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. Probably like many young men and women. Sure, at that time, people tell you a million things, but didn’t quite know. But I knew that sounded good. And I have a whole long history of many family members who were in the military.
So I decided that would be a good thing for me. And travel seems like fun, which is what really intrigued me about the Navy, is being able to go out and see a lot of places in the world. So I really, really got to do that. And I would say I really learned a lot of, not only technical stuff in the Navy that helped me a lot in the coming years after that. I ended up working for a fire protection company, which I’ll briefly get into. But I think one of the most important things I learned when I was in Navy, aside from the discipline and you got to do all that, is the sense of reward for hard work. So one thing that the military does really well, is you have advancements, you have tests you got to take, you have a lot of trainings you got to do, and you get certificates, and you get, you qualify for this, you qualify for that.
So that worked out really well, because as you work hard, you will be rewarded. There are many, many ways you can get rewarded. And even as a young man, there are many ways for me to put my energy in, put my mind into, and then be able to be rewarded for it. Someone tells you, “Congratulations. You qualified this watch. You qualified for this.” Or as I did, when I was in the Navy, you got a couple of letters of accommodation, and I got a Navy and Marine Corps medal, achievement medal, for a project that I worked on there. So that really boosted my confidence in my ability, very early on, that if I do work hard and I do something, not just monetary reward, but people, you know, recognize the work that you do. So that thing that was really important.
And as in then in the Navy, I was what would be considered the rate of a damage control man, which is a ship’s fire flooding and chemical, biological nuclear warfare defense team. And the firefighting part really helped me because after that I got out of the Navy and I ended up working for a small fire protection company. And that’s what I did commercial fire protection in some capacity first in the shop, and eventually as a manager salesperson. And then when I moved to Florida, as both the branch manager opened up a new branch and I was also the primary salesperson for that branch. So I did that. I think it was like 12 years, 11 or 12 years. I worked in the fire protection industry. So that was like my first career.
Then, my second career. So I, obviously, I knew you, and you knew me, and you knew what I was doing. And I think you probably saw my work ethic, and my ability to grasp, and learn things, and advance in the career that I was currently in. And you were like, “Well, you’re probably a good person to manage this new division that we have set up.” And I’m like, “Well, I know nothing about digital marketing.”
Adam DeGraide: Yeah, you absolutely knew zero, zip, nada.
Joe Amaral: Nothing.
Adam DeGraide: What I remember the most about you and our years of getting to know each other, was you loved our country. So thank you for serving in the Navy. Appreciate that. You loved rugged individualism. You’re a big believer. You and I would talk about that often, right? Politically-
Joe Amaral: Yes.
Adam DeGraide: … we were aligned more than we were not aligned.
Joe Amaral: Correct.
Adam DeGraide: And we valued people with great work ethic. And we had lamented to each other often, how you would struggle with people in your business at the time that you had a bad work ethic. I was telling you about the teams that I built. And those, some of the people that I had thought had, would have had some of the best work ethic. They had some of the worst work ethic. And when the time came for Tim and I to decide, who do we want to run this division, work ethic was the number one thing that came to mind. Because I figured, I could teach you what I know at that point in digital marketing, right? Cause I didn’t go to school forward either. And-
Joe Amaral: Right.
Adam DeGraide: … we really needed someone we could trust, and someone that we knew we didn’t have to manage, because as you know, Joe, the other mothership was growing so big, we hired Joe, Tim and I, and we threw him to the wolves and we said, “Here you go. Good luck.” And that was relatively the instruction we gave you to start. Continue your story.
Joe Amaral: Yeah. So I knew very little to nothing about it, but I’d managed teams, I’d managed projects. I’d, you know, a lot of management experience on many different facets and levels. And, and so I felt confident that I could figure it out, did sales. So I’d done sales, obviously, as I, as I mentioned, the fire protection division, I know this is a different type of sale, but it was sales. Nonetheless, it’s really about selling value and getting people, you know, fired up committed and understanding the value proposition you’re giving them. So sales to me is just not that much different. Once you figure out what the components are that someone’s trying to solve for, you can, you know, tailor your presentation or tailor your, your talk track to them based on what you’re trying to solve for, for them. So anyway, so I, that was a big component on the, especially on the front end of what we were trying to do, we had to manage putting together a new business and sell it.
So along the way, I learned, and did a lot of homework and research about it. I mean sense. A lot of it is somewhat technical, so it’s easy to figure out. It’s not like trying to create something beautiful, of which I’m not good at. I’m not good at drawing. I’m not good at particularly writing. I’m not-
Adam DeGraide: You’re not good at drawing? The one thing, by the way, clients of Joe in the past, and also in the future, and present, don’t ask Joe his opinion on whether it looks good or not, because he doesn’t care. Number one. And it’s not his gift.
Joe Amaral: Not my gift. Aesthetics is really not my gift. So obviously, then, I formed the team, got some people together who did have some of those skills. And I learned as much from them as they probably learned from me, especially early on in Squid, because you know, brought a bunch of people on with, that had some experience in digital marketing that I did not have. Learned a lot from some of the team members over at Astonish, and just ran it. And then, the first 56 deals were just really me. I sold the first 56 deals. Still remember doing it. And it was all dead leads, and eventually, even some new leads. And then, we finally hired someone to do sales on a full-time basis. But originally, it was me and a few people building websites, doing SEO, social media, doing all that stuff.
And I was also doing sales and follow up at the time.
Adam DeGraide: Amazing.
Joe Amaral: But it was really great. It was really great. Really rewarding. Obviously, getting a sale is always a rewarding thing. So that also goes back to what I was saying earlier. The whole reinforcement, being able to get wins, hard work, and then you end up getting someone signed up. You get someone launched, you give someone some success. All of those things are big wins. And so, that was our first endeavor together. And I think, on many, many levels, it was very, very successful.
Adam DeGraide: Yeah. And I think I want to stop here, Joe, because we’re ready to take a break from the corporate sponsor that we actually both own and work with, Anthem Software. And then, I want to continue. But you said something really interesting. And before we go to break, I want to show people, let them listen to this track. So sales, if you’ve never sold something in your life, you don’t know what it feels like. But sales can be incredibly rewarding and incredibly discouraging. And we used to literally, when, to think about the fact that Joe sold 56 of the very first 56 clients, he not only sold them, he had to install them and service them throughout the life of the relationship.
And at Astonish, and previous to that, I’ve always called it a critical hit. And one of the things I love about critical hit, is it’s a saying from the game, Dungeons and Dragons. It’s when you roll a 20, you get a critical hit. And we actually used to pass around this song. I’m going to play 30 seconds of it. Here’s the chorus of Critical Hit, by No More Kings, which is what you got to play if you get a sale. Here it is.
And that was No More Kings with Critical Hit. Joe, there’s nothing better than a critical hit. And before we continue with our interview, we’re going to take a special break from the corporate sponsor right here on David Vs Goliath, Anthem Software. We’ll be right back
Speaker 4: Anthem Business Software System is designed to specifically help small businesses just like yours, find, serve, and keep more customers profitably. We do this by providing you with the most powerful software automations and marketing services, to help your business compete and win in this ever changing digital world. Take a short video tour at anthemsoftware.com.
Adam DeGraide: And we’re back with Joe Amaral, the extraordinaire COO, fire extinguisher, fire suppression specialist, chemical warfare Navy person, guy who’s taught himself how to run a business out of nowhere. And he was just telling us about Squid, and the fact that he closed 56 of the first 56 deals, installed them as well too, Joe. And so, I wanted to continue, before, continue with your story, because it’s fascinating. Keep going.
Joe Amaral: Yeah. And so, not to believe the point, but learned a lot about it along the way. And I think that served very well, obviously to our next business, if you just want to jump in there. So obviously, we successfully exited that business, that eventually Squid was rolled into Astonish. Just to finish that story, I guess I’ll, when we got private equity investment, and then eventually, a couple of years later, they took over the whole company, and we walked away. We all, slowly, one by one, left that company to someone else’s capable hands, and went on to start Crystal Clear Digital Marketing. And that was December of 2013. But leading to that, I remember, sitting, you and I, and Crystal building. Basically, the same thing we’re doing, we did with Anthem. But sitting in your living room at Park Royal, and building our Crystal Clear website. Remember that?
Adam DeGraide: Wasn’t that good, but it wasn’t that bad. Yeah. You and I-
Joe Amaral: Wasn’t that good, but it wasn’t that bad.
Adam DeGraide: … Yeah. You and I built the very first website, because we decided we were going to go for it, and we would decide we were going to go tackle another industry. We didn’t have any clients. We didn’t know if it was going to work. But we had a business plan. We had an idea. And most importantly, we had work ethic. And-
Joe Amaral: We did.
Adam DeGraide: … we got to work. Yeah. I do remember that, Joe. It was fun.
Joe Amaral: And first couple months, we just got together ad hoc. That was probably September, October, November, a number of times we got together, and put together our budget, put together projections for the next number of years, what we were going to offer. We put together all of that, and in December, started Crystal Clear Digital Marketing, which was, as I’m sure if anyone’s heard any previous episodes, was geared towards the aesthetics medicine business, digital marketing and software. And for the next seven years, I hunkered down and put my head to the grindstone, and worked hard. And we built up a great business together, that served, I don’t even know. Over the years we signed up-
Adam DeGraide: Yeah. It was well over 800 providers at the end. It was-
Joe Amaral: … At the end we were, yeah. 800 providers. But over the years, we probably signed up-
Adam DeGraide: … You used to have a sign. And so, Joe was the COO of Crystal Clear as well, by the way. So it’s funny. You think about his whole career. From being a caddie, you’re putting out fires on the golf course. You go to the Navy, you put out fires on ships and around the world. You go to Squid, you’re starting fires, you’re putting fires out. You go to Crystal Clear, same exact thing. You have a t-shirt. Do you remember what your t-shirt says? The one that I’m talking about-
Joe Amaral: … Yeah, it actually said, it was general manager. So being a general manager, is like riding a bike, except the bikes on fire, you’re on fire, and something like you’re you’re in hell, or something like that. That was basically what it is.
Adam DeGraide: … Yeah. Yeah. The bike’s on fire, you’re on fire, and you’re actually in hell.
Joe Amaral: Yeah. Something to that effect.
Adam DeGraide: Yeah. And it was-
Joe Amaral: Yeah.
Adam DeGraide: … It’s amazing. So being the CEO is nice, because that’s what I’d been, Joe, as you know. I can have a lot of the good times. That doesn’t mean I don’t deal with the problems as well, too. But most of the problems fall on your head. And that is a challenge. There’s no doubt about it. What was the biggest challenge for you at Crystal Clear, as far as, when you, because you were starting as general manager, and then you transitioned as time went on, to chief operating officer. Building that staff, training that staff, getting the help you need, automating those processes, I think people would be fascinated as to what you tried to do. How often you met with your team? What did you guys work on, as far as processes are concerned? Because when you’re dealing with 800 plus providers, and thousands and thousands of tasks that have to be managed, right? And then, you’ve got a fire burning here, you have maniac boy over here, screaming at you on this side. You got another maniac guy over there, screaming at you.
How did you put it all together? And how did you try to create processes in that business?
Joe Amaral: Well, I think, one of the more important things, before getting to that, is you have to build trust, as you know, with a certain key important employees. I think that’s a really, really important thing, is you have to, early on, carve out a few of your employees that you believe have the potential, and the gift, and the dedication, to really be invested emotionally, and invested in the business. So you have to have a few people that you can trust, because without that, you’re going to really burn yourself out. So you have to find who those people are going to be, and work really well with them. I think, another thing that I like to do, is I like to be involved in a lot. I’ve learned over the years to be better at letting go of certain things, but I also still like to be very much involved.
So I do, I don’t hide out in the closet, or hide out in the room in the corner, and don’t talk to everyone. So a lot of the conversations, and the check-ins, and finding out the pulse and the beat of what’s going on in the business, really comes from a lot of micro conversations that you end up having, right? But most teams weekly, but I think a lot of figuring out, because you can’t have a meeting every day. You need to understand every day, what’s going on. You need to understand how not only your key employees are feeling, but as things pop up, and as you know, we would have over 2000 tickets a month, just tickets, nevermind phone calls, that would come through our help desk every single month. So that’s a high volume. And to try to figure out which are the ones that need my attention, versus which ones can be solved by someone, either at the managerial level or even below them, it’s quite a task.
So there’s got to be a lot of things. Obviously, having our help desk was really good. Although, there were a lot of tickets still in the weeds there that could be classified. And so, you have to try to figure that out. So a lot of that comes from those micro conversations. You go around, and you just get a beat on it, and you ask some questions. And someone says, “This client’s in need of attention here. They’re requesting this. They don’t understand that. We’re behind on this for them. How do we explain it? How do…” All of those things. And you have those conversations with people, and you just ask them questions. What’s your temperature? Who it is we’re speaking to? Does the doctor know? Or is the doctor… So you have to have all those conversations-
Adam DeGraide: And you created a lot of process documents with the team, where it was, okay, to launch a website, it was this. Here’s all the steps. To launch a software, it was this. To create a promotion, it was this. Talk a little bit about that process with people. I’m sure they’d be fascinated. How granular did you really get?
Joe Amaral: Well, at first it was really, really granular and short, what we imagined. If we go back to the Piazza Del Grande or Piazza Grande days, our first office or whatever. It was me creating every single one of these documents. And then, they would evolve, right? So it’s, start with a theory, and what you assume something’s going to be, and you have a basis for it. Then, you add on to that through input and learning through experiential knowledge. And then, eventually, I would pass that along to the managers. And then, they would be responsible to update that document, because things evolve all the time. And that’s another important thing, is if for any entrepreneur, is always to be ready to move and change as things change, as the business changes, as the atmosphere, environment around you changes.
But our process documents first started with a theory that I made, edits from me with a little bit of input. And then, maybe year five, year six, it became owned by the respective manager of that department. And we would just change them. And you start that cultural way, that I to the manager. And it’s just them and I. And then, eventually, the manager has it. And the manager is talking with their team. And between them, then they’re changing that document. And then, I’m just monitoring whatever changes, and those will come up in meetings or whatever, the process document updates.
Adam DeGraide: Yeah. It’s fascinating, because if you don’t have process documents at your business, you’re in trouble, right? Because then, people just start making stuff up. So Joe made a good point. You start with a theory, then you go to the real world, and then you make adjustments from there. So as the company grew, and you changed roles, and you went through the exit, talk a little bit about that for people. What was that like for you?
Joe Amaral: Well, it was doubly triply, probably stressful and difficult based on a number outside. Factors that were either personally imposed upon me, life or COVID happened to all of us, right? So that significantly changed a lot of our business. And that was basically in our last year. So the change was pretty dramatic for us, and good from a business perspective, because then I took on managing the software team as well, the last two and a half, three years of the business. So that was a new challenge for me. I’d worked with them a lot ad hoc, but I didn’t really manage them directly. So I had to learn something new. That is a new responsibility that I took on. And we were also, at the same time, with the software changing what it was from basically a marketing and reporting, small scale CRM, to a full blown practice management solution, that did soup to nuts with everything an anesthetic or plastic surgery practice would do. So the business was changing. Pricing changed. Everything changed. Everything was changing. And you were-
Adam DeGraide: You were managing the software team, and that team was about what at the peak, 12 people? 10 people?
Joe Amaral: … Yep.
Adam DeGraide: I can’t remember exactly. That’s no small feat, by the way, folks, to manage that kind of team.
Joe Amaral: Yeah. It was great. A lot of pivoting. It was always in the plan. So it wasn’t unexpected that we were pivoting to becoming a practice management solution, rather than just a marketing CRM solution that we’re having. So it was an evolution of that as well. And so, that was a challenge. They were tackling a lot of new functions and features that didn’t exist in the software system. Our own business itself, had changed a lot. The market around us had changed, in part, because of COVID. So we had to readjust how we delivered certain things, what we were delivering, price points. Flexibility-
Adam DeGraide: And then, how you manage the team? How did you go from having the management of the team internal, to external?
Joe Amaral: Yeah. So as time went on, it’s difficult to stand in the COO role, and then, we haven’t really talked about it about. But managing people is, quickly becomes one of the most challenging things of running a business when you get beyond, say, 40 people. Becomes a really, really big challenge. And it’s an important part, and you can’t lose sight of it. Gratefully, we brought on an HR director somewhere around that point, and she helped out tremendously. But I was spending a lot of time, either in meetings with employees, or talking to employees about their issues, their concerns, personal problems that they had. All of those things. We had up to 86. We had up to 86 employees, which is very, very large. And scaling that became a challenge. Scaling having more, and more, and more employees, became a huge challenge to do, as people inevitably, even if you only lose 10% of your workforce every year, that you’re talking about eight or nine people that are leaving. If you’re viewing 10 applications for every person who you have to hire, to replace those eight or nine people.
Now, you’re looking at 80, 90 applications. And then, you’re doing probably a three or four interviews for each one of those applications. That’s a lot of time and effort that is being spent in hiring new people, as you grow. And at certain points in Crystal Clear’s life, we were growing very fast. So that becomes exceptionally challenging when you’re trying to manage fast growth. So at some point, realize that it’s better for our clients, and also better for us as a business, if we started to look externally, and said, “How can we get some contractors to do some of this work, because that’s their specialty, and they’ve got bandwidth for it. They can move people around. That’s what they’re doing on an everyday basis.” And even if you don’t think of it this way, but you’re also offloading some of that HR. You don’t have to do the hiring and firing if your contractor is responsible for that-
Adam DeGraide: Yeah, totally.
Joe Amaral: … portion of business.
So we started to look for that, and we found a couple of different contractors that became very, very reliable and instrumental in how we delivered, and what we delivered, and also did a much better job in many cases than we did, on those particular key points that we contracted them to do, because it was their sole focus, right? One of the things that we struggle with too, is even as we are hiring and bringing out more people, is that we needed more customer service time, right? So every new 10, 20 clients that we brought on, required certain level of touch. And even though we were hiring people to fill in that need, what ultimately ended up falling behind was not the conversations with clients, or the emails and the communications with clients, as we would fall behind in some of the tasks that we were supposed to be performing for clients.
And so, it just made sense that we offloaded some of that to people who were not going to be responsible at all for the customer service experience. We still own that. And we still talk with clients about strategy, philosophy, results, all of that. And we had someone else who was working on it, day in, day out, unfettered from having to answer questions or concerns from clients. And just be solely focused on the execution of their digital marketing strategies. And so, that worked out tremendously well.
Adam DeGraide: And that helped you, that was one of the decisions you made when you transitioned to COO, right?
Joe Amaral: Correct.
Adam DeGraide: Yeah. I remember that. That was pretty dramatic. And it was not an easy time, but it made it a heck of a lot better when you came in as COO and you helped to rearrange everything. And you’re right, by the way. HR directors make a huge difference. So shout out to that HR director that helped us all with the people and the process. So Joe, we’re going to take another break. And then, we’re going to come back and talk about the sale. And now, what you’re doing at Anthem? You’re with Joe Amaral, the current COO of Anthem Software, and Adam DeGraide, your host of DVG. Here’s another amazing message from one of our sponsors. We’ll be right back.
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Adam DeGraide: And we’re back with Joe Amaral and Adam DeGraide, on the David Vs Goliath Podcast. Now, Joe, before we continue on with your COO experience at Crystal Clear and you transition to Anthem, I love the fact that you have passions outside of that. Matter of fact, one of your nicknames used to be called Farmer Joe, because you actually owned a farm that you farmed, and you actually own a website. I think it was, what was it? Organic Farming Florida or something like that. What was the website that you actually managed at one point?
Joe Amaral: Well, no, no, I have it. It’s amaralfarms.com.
Adam DeGraide: Amaralfarms.com. And so, Joe got the nickname Farmer Joe. Joe, what I love about Joe too, is he has a zest for living, and a zest for travel. And you love to travel. You love family. You love friends. You love those things, the things that make the world a beautiful place. Tell the folks a little bit about your farming, or your passion for it. And then, tell the folks a little bit about your travel, because you’ve been to places I haven’t been, especially in the Navy. And I’d love to hear a little bit about that. And even some of your recent trips. In two or three minutes, or less.
Joe Amaral: Right, right, right. So I think my love for gardening, generally, just that may even come beyond my parents. But obviously, growing up, we would always have some kind of garden, whether it be fruit trees or vegetables. A combination of both always going on at the house. And my grandfather was also a farmer. He had a fairly large farm on St. Miguel in the Azores. And he had that for many, many years until his children grew up, and he imagined… Brief story on it. Because I think it tells a little bit about the character of my grandfather, my father’s father. And he imagined he had, his sons would probably take over or help him with it. But my dad always tells me the story when he was younger and became a teenager, his grandfather, his father asked him if he was going to, wanted to get in and be a farmer.
And my dad said, “No, I don’t really want to do that, Dad.” And his other sons didn’t want to do it either. So what he ended up doing, is he ended up selling it off, or leasing off the land, really. He leased the land to someone else to farm. And he moved his family to the city, because his kids didn’t want to live and be in that environment. To farm. That was not what their passion was going to be in life. And he decided, even though he had been doing it all of his life, that he would do something that his family wanted to do. And so, he left that and went to the city, and bought a hotel, bed and breakfast, or whatever, and did that instead, and just leased his land to other people to farm. I thought that was pretty interesting. So I’ve always had that, I think, in my family, and I’ve always enjoyed it. Growing vegetables again, it’s a very rewarding thing. I-
Adam DeGraide: Didn’t you have llamas and stuff like that too?
Joe Amaral: … Not llamas, but sheep, chickens. Up to one point, I had a hundred chickens, had rabbits, had a donkey, had guinea fowl, ducks, and a bunch of fruit trees, and a pretty large garden. It was about 2,400 square foot garden that I put-
Adam DeGraide: I remember you used to bring Crystal and I, and by the way guys, I had to throw my glasses on. I see so much better with them. I keep squinting at the screen, trying to get to see Joe. You used to bring me these eggs. And you used to-
Joe Amaral: … Yes.
Adam DeGraide: … tell me, you used to educate me about how eggs, by the time they get to the market, they’re so old. And so, very few people actually don’t even have really fresh eggs, even though they say they’re fresh. I guess they’re relatively fresh. But you said these last for whatever. And some of the best eggs I ever had, were the Amaral Farm eggs. I used to make up the omelets with them, and the cheese, and the ham. And it was awesome. And you used to make all these breads. You used to make this-
Joe Amaral: Yes.
Adam DeGraide: … nut bread, I think, at one point.
Joe Amaral: Yep. Yep. So I’ve always liked that. It’s always been a passion. It’s a really rewarding thing to do. I like to be outside. So it combines a little bit of exercise, fresh air, and then something that’s really rewarding, because obviously, with vegetables, you take care of them, you plant them, you take care of them, and then, 90 to 120 days later, you have something from it. And it’s really cool. It’s really fun. What was the other thing that you asked?
Adam DeGraide: Oh, about your travels. So you traveled a lot in the Navy-
Joe Amaral: Travel.
Adam DeGraide: … You traveled a ton in the Navy. Where were you stationed again? You told me a thought a few of these places.
Joe Amaral: I was stationed in San Diego, 32nd street in San Diego. I’ve been there a number of times-
Adam DeGraide: That’s a tough place to live. San Diego. The weather’s not that great. The women aren’t that pretty. That’s so not true.
Joe Amaral: It was a nice spot. And so, people who are not familiar with the military, you go on what are called in the Navy, you go on deployments. And you’re usually away for six months. And it’s Westpac, or I forget what they call it on the Atlantic Coast when you go away. But on the Pacific Coast, they call it Westpac. Western Pacific deployment. And I got to go on two of those. So during 1994 and 1997, with my two Western Pacific deployments, and it would always have a very familiar track that you’d go. It’d be, you start in Hawaii. That would be your first port stop, would be in Hawaii. Then, you typically would go up to Japan, down the coast there in Asia, to China, Indonesia, and a number of different places to the Middle East.
And then, you’d come back out, stop in Australia, back to Hawaii, and then back. So I got to go to, not the same places every single time, but Malaysia, Indonesia, along the way. Australia, Oman, Dubai, Japan, China got to go. Interesting story about China. One of the most interesting stories I had when I was in the military about China, cause Macao is a gambling mecca. It’s now the largest gambling place in the world. It’s in Macao. And that’s in China.
But when I went there, and I didn’t know this at the time, when I went to China, I think it was the first time in 1994, we went to Macao, and it wasn’t as big as it is now. Obviously, back then. But you could still, you could see a lot of construction going on there. And I went to a bar, an Irish bar, with a few buddies, to go grab a beer. And there were a couple of Chinese people sitting next to us. And I looked at my friend, and I said, “I understand what these guys are saying.” They said, “How the heck can you understand what these people are saying?” I said, “I think they’re speaking Portuguese.”
Adam DeGraide: Oh, interesting.
Joe Amaral: So Macao was a Portuguese colony for a very, very, very long time. And a lot of people there still speak Portuguese. So I looked over them, and I started to speak to them and in Portuguese. And that’s how they explained to me that Macao was a Portuguese colony. Up until that point in my life, I hadn’t known that.
Adam DeGraide: Yeah. I had no idea. I had no idea. And I noticed that Macao-
Joe Amaral: Yeah. So that’s where I’ve been.
Adam DeGraide: … hasn’t been locked down, has it? Not like Shanghai. Shanghai, those poor people, dude. Shut down like freaking slaves. Macao hasn’t shut down, far as I know.
Joe Amaral: I really haven’t kept up with the news in China, what they’re doing, but I did hear about the Shanghai shutdown. But so I got to do a lot of traveling there. And then, since, some international travel to Costa Rica, Puerto Rico. I love to [crosstalk]-
Adam DeGraide: Where’s your favorite place? You’ve been to so many places. Where’s your favorite place you’ve ever been, and that you look forward to going back again?
Joe Amaral: … I think one of the most tranquil places I’ve ever been in my entire life is Costa Rica. And I’ve been there twice.
Adam DeGraide: And you love it.
Joe Amaral: I really, really love it. I love the specific spot that I went to. I don’t even remember who gave me the advice to go there. It’s the Osa Peninsula. It’s on the very, very Southwestern Pacific Ocean side. And it’s just a small little peninsula, but, and most of it is a national forest. And it’s a very, very eco-friendly. And it’s just a very, very beautiful place to be. I really liked it. And I stayed at, probably doesn’t hurt that I stayed at a yoga resort when I went there, the whole time-
Adam DeGraide: Yeah. You get some peace. Tim used to say, as you know, Tim wanted to sell the company, he said he was going to go to Japan. Put himself in a straight jacket, have water drip on his head for six months. Sounds like a pretty good idea. Not a bad idea that.
Joe Amaral: … That might be Tim’s idea of peace and relaxation. Not quite mine. But yeah, that was a beautiful place to go. I’d love to go back again. I’d love to do some more international travel. It’s been tough, obviously, with COVID, but recently went to the Azores. For the first time in my life, I’ve been to the Azores, where my family was originally from. And still have two uncles and an aunt who still live there on my mother’s side. So I got to see them. Haven’t seen them. One of them, actually, my mom’s oldest brother, I’ve never seen. I’ve never met before in my life. So going there in the Azores, 2021. Yeah. It was the first time I’ve ever been there, the first time I ever saw him. So he and his wife. So it was a great, great trip. Plan on going back again.
Adam DeGraide: That’s awesome. Well, we’ve only got a few minutes left on the podcast. It’s been great having you. And obviously, transitioning from COO of Crystal Clear in the sale, to now starting up once again, Anthem Software. Tell the folks a little bit about that transition quickly. And then, what’s going on currently with Anthem?
Joe Amaral: Well, I stayed on to help the new team who purchased our business, for a number of months, to help them, guide them and make sure that no knowledge was lost, and relationships were transitioned with high value clients and all of that. And then, of course, we did the same thing we did before. You really have to sit down after you’re done with a project, and really take a look at what worked well, what you wish you could have done better at, what you learned along the way not to do, or a lot of that self-reflection. Because as I tell everyone, it’s really, really tough to do when the ship is moving. Once the ship really starts getting going, turning it around and doing things differently, becomes a huge challenge.
Not only do you have the logistics and the difficulty of trying to get clients to understand, but you also, of why a difference and a change needs to be made, but also, you have your own internal employ employees who get used to doing things a certain way and used to performing in a certain fashion. So introducing stuff can be very, very challenging. So better to, of course, have good theories up front. What’s the assumption? What have you learned? And then, you formulates the new project. In this case, Anthem. Around those ideas, and try to build it up to the best of success. Because eventually, a few years from now we’re going to have the same problem, right? We’re going to have a thousand clients, and you’re going to have a lot of different embedded processes that you’re doing and vendors that we’re going to be working with and the software systems that’s going to work a certain way.
And, and a whole cloth changing things becomes a challenge. And so, you’re going to only be able to make some changes around the edge. So we obviously, as sat around and thought very deeply and hard about how we’re going to construct Anthem a little bit differently based on the knowledge and experience. And I think, we’re, right now, firing on all cylinders, where we’ve got our plan in place, we’re going through all the motions and the exercises and learning, putting our theories to use, putting our theories to the test, and learning what’s working and making small tweaks along the way. But I think, so far so good. We’re doing really well. Really confident in what we imagined, where we imagined we were going to be, and what we imagined we were going to do. And feeling very, very comfortable about the progress of all of that.
Adam DeGraide: And automation is the key, Joe. You got to automate things you can automate, do the things you have to do manually, and then try to figure out how to automate them. Joe, what final advice would you give to somebody right now, who’s trying to automate things in their business, or they’re struggling with processes. Give them 30 seconds, 60 seconds of advice.
Joe Amaral: Yeah. I think something that everyone’s familiar with is the 80 20 rule, right? And most of life is operated around the 80 20 rule. Of course, it’s a loose thing. But the idea is that 20% of all the value, most of the value. 80% of the value happens on the 20%, and vice versa, right? There’s a lot of block and tackling things, that need to be done in any business or any process. But most of the value is done at the very, very end. And so, the more you can focus your time and energy on how that 20% is going to be fulfilled, the better off you’re going to, you’re going to be and looking for everything else, whether it be hiring outside, or if you can automate it through a software system or some kind of process that you can create to tackle the 80%, the better off you’re going to be.
Because you tend to spend a lot more time on the 80%, because it tends to maybe sometimes be a lot more tedious work that needs to be done, but you need to, but you end and you spend up less time on that last 20%, which is where all the value is. And so, try to always, always, always be looking for ways to make the 80%. Figure about a car. The last, the chrome bumper you’re going to put on it, the little emblem you’re going to put on it, the paint color you’re going to put on it, the little flare and everything you’re going to put on a car, right? It ends up being the thing that people tend to, themselves, visually value the most, over the things, you have to think of a BMW or a Mercedes, or some high quality car.
The last pieces that they put in it. The seat coverings, the leather, the way they construct the odometers, and everything like that. Then, ends up being the wow factor that everyone buys the car for, right. Is really for that. But that’s such a small part of the car, right? So it’s that idea, is how can you make a streamline, quick, automated as possible, or hire outside to do that 80%, so you can focus more of your time, and energy, and resources on that last 20, which has majority of the value?
Adam DeGraide: Amazing advice from Joe Amaral. Joe Amaral, from Anthem Software. The COO. As you can tell folks, I’m the guy with the vibrant personality and the bloviation. Joe is much more cerebral, he’s much more articulate, he’s much more focused and organized. That’s why we make great partners.
Joe Amaral: Yes.
Adam DeGraide: I might be considered the 20% of the chrome on the company, but 80% is Joe. Joe, thank you so much for joining us on David Vs Goliath. Thank you so much for watching another amazing episode of DVG, where you get education, inspiration, and most importantly, activation. I’m your host, Adam DeGraide. I’ll see you next week. Have a fantastic day.