Finding Value in providing value: The story of two different entrepreneurs

By Devon Martinez

Click Below for an excerpt of a podcast featuring Christy Avis:

The alarm goes off, it’s early and it’s time to wake up.

Christy Avis used to dread this moment—death sounded better than getting out of bed and going through her day. But after starting her business and changing her mindset she now wakes up and finds the motivation needed to ensure she has a successful day.

What does it mean to have a successful day in Avis’s eyes?

It’s accomplishing a couple of non-negotiable’s that she promises herself to accomplish every day. First, she goes to her day job at Timberland Landscaping, where she is the marketing coordinator for the organization. She is a one-person team, so the day is long and tough.

When the workday ends, she moves on to her passion–her marketing business. Where she completes the one non-negotiable task for the day: to be there for her audience in any way she can.

The long days and early mornings that Avis is used to is the life of most entrepreneurs, including 4G Concrete and Construction owner, Cody Curtis.

Curtis wakes up early, drinks coffee and pours concrete around seven a.m. every morning during the week. He works with his dad most days, who is the founder of 3G Concrete.

Curtis is the fourth straight generation in his family to start a construction company. He began the company right after high school and has helped pour concrete since he was in eight grade.

They’re two different kinds of people and two different kinds of entrepreneurs, but they wake up with the same goal: to provide value that goes behind the dollar to their clients.

 

Humble Beginnings: 

Art, is what Avis wanted to do with her life; she listened to suggestions made by her parents to major in business at Pikes Peak Community College.

Overtime Avis developed a love for business, but it came in fruition when she discovered graphic designs.

“I got really lucky to do graphic design in the first place,” said Avis as she reflected on her journey into marketing.

She wanted a job as a graphic designer despite having no experience, but that didn’t stop her from applying. She designed her resume to reflect her creative experiences where she dipped her toe into the respective field.

When Avis got the job, she bought a Mac and went to work.

“Graphic design is the one place where I find my flow space,” said Avis.

Prior to this opportunity, Avis worked in a dentist’s office, which was a nightmare. The Dentist would yell at her for the trivial act of stuttering while talking to clients. One day, she walked out and never looked back.

Originally, her business was a side hustle. She connected with people that she knew needed graphic design assistance. The money she brought in varied from $100 to $1,000 each month. But she knew the side hustle wouldn’t last unless she took it seriously.

Avis applied for a scholarship so she could take a course on creating business plans with a local organization in Colorado Springs. Once she won the scholarship, Avis placed all her extra energy into her new business. The corporate job she fought so hard to get into was only a steppingstone for her future.

For Curtis, his humble beginnings towards a career in concrete began before he was born, when his great grandfather began his company. Little did he know that this small act would eventually lead to the next three generations doing the same thing. Curtis’s father told him stories about how he did concrete with his brother when he was eleven.

“If your dad was at work, then you went to work with him,” said Curtis.

The first time Curtis did concrete was in eighth grade. He continued to help his dad whenever he wasn’t playing basketball or in school.

When Curtis went away to college, he ended up working for a concrete company in his spare time. He also did rodeo. His love for concrete overpowered his will to stay in school.

“If I’m going to do this, then I’m just going to go home,” said Curtis. He followed in the footsteps of his genealogy and began to work for his dad while starting his own company.

In concrete, it takes a while to build a name for your brand and to get the jobs needed to sustain a long career in the field. That’s why he and his dad still work together because it’s better to seize every opportunity.

The days are long. And since he and his dad work together, they sometimes pour concrete twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Being with his dad all the time is both a blessing and a curse because by Friday they just want to go home and not see each other until Monday.

Providing Value: 

“I’m a hippy-dippy person,” said Avis who believes that the universe responds to positive energy. And that a person can create new neural pathways by working to be what they want to see in the world.

Avis’s perspectives come from past failures, and the success she’s had by just changing her mindset.

“Everyone is one decision away from completely transforming their lives. And I believe that in my business so that’s why I keep going even though things are hard,” said Avis.

Avis is focused on creating a business that adds long term value to people’s lives. This means generating marketing strategies that last a long time for the person she’s creating it for. Money isn’t what drives her, but instead finding strategies that allow people to be themselves and to market themselves.

Avis believes that because she once created a failing business due to her failed strategy that she could stop others from making the same mistakes. She is open about this on her website–it’s rare for a business to admit its mistakes as openly as Avis’s does.

“If you know your values then it’s so easy to make a decision,” said Avis, “you then dig into how you want your brand to make people feel.”

The first change Avis made with her business was its name. The business was originally called ASYM Designs. This was changed to Christy Avis. Yes, it’s her name. She wanted her business to be hers, and for it to be personal, because if it reflects who she is, then she can help others do the same thing.

The second change to her business model involved moving away from building just logos, and into a long-term marketing strategy.

“The vision is the long-term focus, and the mission is that shorter-term focus. Making those together. Makes it so you can focus in and focus forward,” said Avis.

This means creating business strategies that aren’t published, but instead, are authentic. Because she doesn’t believe people relate to perfection, instead they relate to what’s real.

“If you do something to get something it’s never going to work,” said Avis. “You have to enjoy the process.”

Curtis is someone who loves the process, and just like other people in his field, he’s become addicted.

“You can tell a concrete guy walking down a sidewalk because he is looking straight down,” said Curtis, because they are amazed by the work. They notice mistakes in concrete that no one sees. They see the hard work done by others, and they appreciate it. It took time to set up the site, and to pour the concrete, and then finish the concrete.

Curtis is motivated by clients who send pictures of his finished job because he doesn’t want to diminish his name or family name in any way.

“When you’re the fourth generation down the line—I really don’t want to go up to heaven and my great grandfather hit me in the face, because I sucked at something,” said Curtis.

Curtis understands the effects that working in concrete has on the human body because no one who’s done it in his family stands up straight. But it’s in his genes to go until he is unable to work. His great grandfathers did his final concrete job at the age of 85, and his grandfather did it until he broke his back falling off a trailer—now he’s a chiropractor.

After long weeks that involve overtime, he still can’t turn down helping a friend with a concrete job on Saturday.

Value is found by both Curtis and Avis when they provide value to others. And despite starting two different businesses this is the connection they share.

Finding Beauty in Depressing Art

As an optimist, people are surprised to find out that my taste in movies, music, and storytelling is as dark as it is.

Some of my favorite stories are the ones without happy endings. Whether the bad guy wins, the good guy fails, or nothing is resolved, something is satisfying to that kind of ending.

I find inspiration in depressing music. My favorite artist, The Smiths, is known as one of the most depressing bands of all time. And I feel motivated to create whenever I listen to The Black Parade, by My Chemical Romance; the entire album is about cancer and death, yet the roaring guitars open up my heart and mind to endless possibilities.

Either I’m a walking contradiction, or bad endings, and depressing art is used for not only myself but others as a way to cope and move on through the pain of life.

Because I’m not the only one.

I used to joke that Morrissey, the lead singer of The Smiths, made music so depressing that I realized how great my life was, and looking back there is truth in that joke.
By seeing and realizing the darkness, I could see the light that others had missed.

Tragedies written by Shakespeare are not only warnings about human nature but reminders of how life can get so much worse. His stories provide insight into how we contribute to our own suffering. Some of his characters are so real that we see ourselves in his stories.

When seeing destructive or evil characters in movies or books we can do an audible on ourselves to make sure we don’t become the evil we just learned about.
We learn more from failure then we do from success, and I believe the same things true in storytelling.

Some of the best artists have tormented pasts, and they use this as motivation in their art. What comes out are beautiful images or stories that are told from dark places that few will understand.

So embrace the darkness. Don’t be scared by your love for dark story telling, and songs. Instead use it to your advantage as you turn the world into a beautiful canvas.

 

Let’s Rejoice, Because It’s The Best Time To Be Alive

The mainstream media will have you believe that the world is falling apart; data analysis shows that life is getting better for the average person, but why are people in such a rush to prove the opposite is true?

There is more push back against my podcast The Best Time To Be Alive, than on my libertarian views, some of which are declared problematic by many in the mainstream.

I’m not trying to prove the world’s getting better, I just see this as an incredible story where the world is getting better, but no one knows. The day to day news tells the story of the day, which is normally more depressing, and to be fair it’s tough to share daily improvements because things don’t get better by day.

It takes more work for something/someone to improve, and it takes no effort for something to get worse.

The truth is we are built psychologically to focus on the negative for survival purposes. So being negative can be beneficial, but currently, it’s hurting more than it’s helping.

I believe that it’s dangerous to discount the improvements of humanity so we can fix today’s problems. Instead, we should take what we learned from past improvements to solve our current problems.

We are facing gigantic problems, but that doesn’t mean we should avoid logic and reason, and attack everyone before us, because they weren’t perfect or as enlightened as we are. As the world improves and people become smarter it is expected for future generations to laugh at how dumb we are currently.

Let’s embrace the past, focus on the present, and focus on the future.

Some facts to prove that the world is improving:

Wealth:

In 1900, 90% of the world was living in what’s labeled has extreme poverty: today where that number is under 10%. This can be traced by the UN, World Progress, and the bank. Some people believe we could end poverty by 2030.

 

Violence:

Homicide deaths in America, for example, have fallen from around 10 people per 100,000 in 1965 to 4 today. The world’s rate is around 6 per 100,000 per year, and in Singapore, the rate is at (0.2), and in Iceland is at (0.3). Both countries have radically different approaches to solving violent crime, but it’s obvious both solutions work. The World Health Organization wants to decrease these numbers in half within the next 30 years, and it’s possible.

 

CO2:

Oil spills have been going down even though when they do occur the news acts like it’s a daily occurrence. In 1975 there were about 125 oil spills, while in 2015 that number fell to under 25, and it continues to fall because the oil companies have an incentive as well as everyone else to not destroy the earth. The US leads all nations in the decrease of CO2 emissions. Since 2005 the US C02 emissions have declined by over 758 million metric tons. Emissions increased until 2000, and since then it’s gone down by a lot.

There’s more data to prove that the world is improving there are 70 graphs of data to prove it in Steven Pinker’s book Enlightenment Now.

These stories aren’t being told so I’m going to tell these stories with The Best Time To Be Alive.

 

Sources:

On Wealth:

  • OurWorld in Data, Roser & Ortiz-Ospina 2017, based on data from Bourguignon & Morrison 2002 (1820-1992), averaging their “Extreme poverty” and “Poverty” percentages for commensurable with data on “Extreme poverty” for 1981-2015 from World Bank 2016g.

On Violence:

United States: FBI Uniform Crime Reports, https://ucr.fbi.gov/ And Federal Bureau of Investigation 2016. England (data include Wales) Office for National Statistics 2017. World, 2000: Krug et al. 2002. World 2003-2011 United Nations Economic and Social Council 2014. Fgi 1, the percentages were converted to homicide rates by setting the 2012 rate at 6.2, the estimate reported in United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2014, p. 12. The arrows point to the most recent years plotted in Pinker 2011 for the world.

 

On The Environment: 

Ritchie & Roser 2017, based on data from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/emis/tre_coun.htm;l.

Our World in Data, Roser 2016r, based on data (updated) from the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation, http://www.itopf.com/knowledge-resources/data-statistics/statistics/ Oil spills include all those that result in the loss of at least 7 metric tons of oil. Oil shopped consists of “total crude oil, petroleum product, and gas loaded.

 

Forgiveness: Let’s live in a society that treats everyone as human beings

Narcissism has plagued our society, and we normally see its effects through social media in the age of Instagram influencers.

That hit of dopamine feels so good, so let’s try and reenact that feeling with another post and another post; it’s a drug and I can’t stop.

But there is a different kind of narcissism that exists, and its lifeline is in virtue signaling by people who attempt to destroy other peoples careers.

Words are tricky, and to be honest as a writer I am nervous every time I publish anything because of this fact. I could say something with the best of intentions, but the people reading don’t always interpret what I’m saying the same way. And if you don’t like what I’m saying it can mean something worse to you.

My point is we have reached a point where we no longer forgive people for being human. If you haven’t said something mean, messed up or ‘problematic’ than congratulations you’re above and beyond everyone else around you.

Being offensive is easy because the line is subjective, everyone has a different perspective on when a joke goes too far.

Sometimes just a word can trigger someone and all of a sudden you are on the receiving end of internet hate.

I noticed it first hand when last year rapper Kendrick Lamar invited a girl on stage with him to sing along with one of his songs which featured the ‘N word’ in it several times. He stopped the song and scolded her for using the word that was placed into his song several times.

An argument broke out about white people singing along to songs to the ‘N word’.
An honest girl on my friend’s list admitted that she does the same thing, and wanted to strike a conversation with people about the word. She wanted to understand the problem with her using that word when listening to rap music.

A virtue-signaling mutual Facebook friend attacked her and tried to pin her down as a horrible person for trying to strike up a conversation about the use of the word. He claimed that because she is white she is not allowed to be in the conversation at all, and only black people can decide.

Ironically he’s white.

Both arguments have validity to them, but I’ve hung out with this virtue signaling monster before, and I heard him use the word several times.

The purpose of that story was to show that people act differently in the public eye, then they do behind closed doors. And when someone in the public eye messes up we shouldn’t be so quick to condemn that person as a bigot.

This kid may have sounded better on Facebook, but I know who he is and if he doesn’t want to admit it than he doesn’t want to accept his humanity.

I’ve been a hypocrite before, so I understand him.

My goal isn’t to try and destroy someone’s career for something they said even if it’s disgustingly wrong, a better solution in my mind is to try and understand the full context of who that person is because everyone has said something clumsy.
If that person has a history of saying racist or sexist things in a malicious way than I’ll condemn that person.
On a side note, I will always give a pass for comedians. There is a difference between saying something offensive in the context of trying to make others laugh and having malicious intent.
I’ve said some messed up things in my life. A lot of it I regret saying. Looking back at the age of 23 I’m embarrassed for being so dumb with my speech over and over.
The truth is I am just like you. I am human, and I deserve forgiveness for being human, and so do you.

The Future is Optimistic

I can’t help myself.

I am a contrarian. Nothing places a larger smile on my face then being in a room full of people I disagree with. And when I am in rooms filled with like-minded people I tend to split hairs and argue points that don’t need to be addressed.

That’s why the world needs contrarians. Cults begin because no one has the guts to say enough is enough.

Naturally, being around pessimists would assist me in developing optimistic viewpoints. Journalists, in general, tend to tell negative stories. In some circumstances, the bad news is needed especially for investigative journalists uncovering sinister plots and organizations. The truth needs to be uncovered.

But can we as journalists uncover the truth for the positive elements in society? Well, I argue we can and we should.

In 2018 I read Enlightenment Now by Harvard Psychologist Professor Steven Pinker, and the book changed my life. Pinker used data to argue that the world is slowly improving and we don’t notice it due to our instinctual bias towards the negative, which was detrimental towards our survival.

Examples from his book include: The number of people living off of a dollar a day has decreased by 30% in the past 30 years, and is now under 10%. People in developing countries have more access to food. Fewer people are dying in wars. The global homicide rate has declined.

Behind these facts were stories waiting to be told.

The world we live in today is full of problems waiting to be solved, but if we don’t take a step back and learn from our past accomplishments I don’t believe we can take on our current problems.

To be honest I want to tell all stories including the negative stories need to be shared.

But as a contrarian, I can’t help myself.