Ep. 29 Finding My New Identity After Selling My Business

Ep. 29 Finding My New Identity After Selling My Business

Ep. 29 Finding My New Identity After Selling My Business


On today’s episode of The Ripcord Moment, host Joe Seetoo welcomes Tim Gaspar, CEO and Founder of Gaspar Insurance Services.

Tim spent 15 years building his company and began feeling uncertain how to continue growing within the insurance industry. In 2021, he decided to sell his business as various assets such as Bitcoin and real estate were experiencing high valuations. He considered the possibility that if he didn't sell his business at that time, he might regret it in the future when valuations could potentially decrease.

Tim acknowledges that selling his business had a considerable impact on his personal life, as he saw the business as a part of his identity. He emphasizes the importance of being mindful of how the transition can change your sense of self ahead of time and finding support from family and friends during the transition. Tim also finds fulfillment in getting involved with his local community and giving back. He says community work can improve one’s sense of ownership, accountability, and responsibility- and therefore their leadership skills.

Tim encourages listeners to take a leap of faith when they feel called, even if they do not feel “smart” or “ready” enough to. Many people try to put goals or tasks off due to the amount of time or energy it would take, but Tim says that time passes anyway and it’s better to start now and stop making excuses. He also suggests business owners to find wise people to learn from with a humble spirit.  

Check out Gaspar Insurance Services here.

Watch previous episodes here:

Ep. 28 Going into Business With My Best Friend: Meli's Cookies

Ep. 27 Bootstrapping My Liquor Brand and Starting a Distillery

Welcome to The Ripcord Moment. I'm your host, Joe Seetoo. We're joined by Tim Gaspar. He's the founder of Gaspar Insurance Services Company he founded in 2008. Tim's a lifelong entrepreneur. He actually ran businesses when he was in high school and in college. And then prior to founding Gaspar Insurance Services, you were in the insurance industry with one of the largest insurance companies.

It was Marsh is where you started your career, then decided to follow your lifelong passion of your entrepreneurial spirit, starting your own company in 2008 and recently sold it through a transaction. By 2001, the company had grown to have multiple offices not only in California but in Arizona and New Jersey. It was named one of the fastest growing companies, I think in 2018, through recently here in the Los Angeles area.

So, Tim, welcome to The Ripcord Moment.

Well, thank you for having me. Super excited to be here and would love to share my experience with doing the sale and hopefully I can share a few things that, you know, that will be meaningful for maybe somebody in the same boat.

Absolutely. So this season we're focusing sort of on the younger entrepreneurs, which I would, you know, puts you into that category. Walk us through why, you know, you're the company is growing. You're relatively young. Why was now sort of the right time to go in and think about a transaction from your perspective?

Sure. Well, there were really a lot of reasons, but there's a few that come to mind. It's kind of like the primary reasons that sort of pushed me to make the transaction happen. So any business, if you stretch out the the timeline long enough, they only do one of two things: either go out of business or they sell and that's it.

So one of those things are going to happen. And so I was looking at, you know, what the future might hold for the business. And the first part of it was for myself, professionally as an entrepreneur, I had spent 15 years building this agency and was at a point where I wasn't really sure what the next steps were within my industry to really continue to grow.

And in regards to what it would look like in regards to our systems and operations and, you know, I didn't know what I didn't know essentially. And so I was looking for an environment that I can grow on a personal level, on a professional level. And joining another group that was much larger than me and was one way to do that, right.

And then in 2021, you know, when I sold, there were so many assets. Take a look at like Bitcoin, real estate, every asset. Everything was crazy. And so, I looked at what the valuations were and thought, if I don't sell now, there's a very strong likelihood I'll regret not selling in five years when the valuations come way down.

And I was at a point where I'd had a about 15% year over year growth over like a 15 year time period and mind you, wind up having a really good 2022, thankfully. But I was I was concerned with some things happening in my marketplace and within the ability to manage my team that I was concerned that I might plateau.

And as a business we had a really great growth trajectory and then you plateau if you wait too long into the plateau and look to make a sale, then it's going to look like you have to and that's going to affect the valuation.

Yeah, well, you touched on something really interesting very early on in your comment and I go back to which was you recognized and I think this has a tremendous amount of emotional intelligence on your part like that. Perhaps you had grown the business with your own skill set to a point where when you said you just wasn't sure sort of how to take it to the next level on your own.

Right. Right. And I think that's one thing that's really sound advice for any business owner, but also maybe for those who are maybe on the younger side that they will likely at some point get to a point where their skill set that the alignment between the company and their skill set is kind of maxed out.

Oh, yeah, 100%. And generally speaking, the type of person that makes a good entrepreneur does generally not make a great executive. And so I used a lot of duct tape along the way to kind of figure things out. But now you have to be mindful of who you are and what your skill set when you need help.

So maybe you can unpack that for us just a little more because I agree with you. What is it about the entrepreneur that... why do you think that some of them aren't necessarily great executives?

Yeah. A lot of entrepreneurs, you know, they have an idea, they run with it. It's kind of a little bit of like fly by the seat of their pants. I think a lot of emotion involved. And I've always ran my business with a high level of emotion, which can be great when it comes to just getting beyond hurdles and and making things happen even when they're difficult.

It can be not as great when you need to make decisions based on consensus. And yeah, and you'll also tire folks out that way when you have executives that work for you or team members that eventually get tired of running at like 100 miles an hour.

They want to take a break. Sure. And so it's the biggest thing any entrepreneur can do, whether you're selling or not, is having obviously, you know, having the right people on the bus and a competent team. And if you can be smart enough as an entrepreneur to bring on the folks that are going to be the opposite of your gung ho, personality and more sort of patient and offer a different perspective.

And different skill sets, you're balancing out who's at the table. Yeah. How you know, some people aren't always open to having additional sort of perspectives at the table, especially those who are the ones who kind of are the visionary or have a clear vision or a clear thought of how would they want this thing to unfold.

Right. So was that something that just naturally came to you because of who you are? Is that something you had to learn to? I guess, learned to incorporate into how you ran the company?

I think, well, I generally learn things the hard way and as I like to say. So the reality I thought that was just me. Yeah. Yeah. No, I think it might be fairly common. Yeah. So I think that if you, you know, you have to know kind of what your own strengths are. And I think anybody who makes every decision on their own without getting input from the team, number one, your team's not going to want to stay because they're going to go, what am I here for?

If this guy doesn't listen to anything I say?

And generally speaking, you know, just about every decision is better when you get input from all sides. And actually, that's the most valuable thing you can have as a leader is folks that are willing to disagree with you and give you honest input, because the more you grow and the more direct reports you have in, the more people on your team, the less likely you are to hear the truth and you're going to end up hearing a lot of crap.

Saying your ideas are wonderful, right? Once that happens, you're really I'll use the word doomed if you're surrounded by a group of people that say yes to every idea you have or yeah. Oh, you're really in a lot of trouble. Maybe without knowing it. And at some point in some way, I sort of realized, came to really value folks that would push back on my ideas and offer other points of perspective.

I'm intrigued by this point because I think it's you're 100% spot on. And I think even in our firm, we've grown to 55 people. And so we have to constantly message that to everybody in the firm. I'm curious, how did you as your firm grew, you're one of the fastest growing companies for X number of years. Like how did you go about instilling in your culture this idea of, you know, intellectual honesty or being open to, you know, respectful disagreement?

It's well, it's all just based on your actions. It's just like when you're a parent, like you could tell your kids anything but at the end, they're just watching you. They're just going to, you know, puppet what you do or look at what your actions are. So it's the same thing with being a leader. If you're in a meeting full of people and somebody disagrees with your idea, however they do it and you shoot them down or afterwards, you have like a stern conversation with them, Obviously, everybody will see that and they'll know like, wow, this is not a place that’s safe.

To say stuff versus like somebody disagrees with you and you really genuinely want to hear more about the disagreement. People will also see that. Yeah, and that's what's going to dictate what the culture is, regardless of whether you say afterwards, oh, feel free to disagree, feel free to like push back. You've seen that leaders say that and then people do.

Right. And the reality of what happens is way different than like, you know, what they said it would be.

Yeah. No. So you got to create obviously, alignment between not only what you're saying, but the actions.

Oh, absolutely. Well, it's a matter of being genuine and everybody wants to follow a leader that's genuine, who is what they say they are. And so all those things have to be congruent. They all go together.

So, you know, one of the things that, you know, you and I have sort of talked about, too, is that as you're you've made this transition, you've sold the business, you're in the process of what that incorporating that, you know, into the new company. What's that been like for you in on a personal level in terms of sort of what might come next for Tim in terms of his sort of identity.

Yeah. It's a that's a, it's been a tough thing, honestly. And then I say that kind of knowing that it would be so you know, that the business was my baby and I think that's how most entrepreneurs are. And I had talked to a number of folks before I did the sale about other folks that had built their business and had a similar exit and kind of what it meant to them.

And so I definitely was mindful of it and took it seriously. But it's a major transition in your life and it affects on some level, you know, your identity and kind of like, you know, obviously how you view yourself, you know, and you just have to work through it. So I think being mindful of it ahead of time is is probably half of it.

Because if you think that you're going to wake up the next day after a sale and feel exactly the same, especially the next couple of months after that, there's just no way. Yeah, you're sorely mistaken.

You're sorely mistaken. Absolutely. So being, you know, aware of it and then leaning on the things that are consistent in your life, like your family and your friends and all of those things, you know, it's growth and any kind of growth that you have in life and generally, you know, going to be it's a good thing. Sometimes it can be a little painful, but it's a good thing at the end of the day.

Well, you know, one of the things that, you know, I have always respected about you is you're obviously very good at business. You're a great family man, but you also pour back into the community in a way that is, you know, it's just a tremendous thing. And so maybe talk a little bit about how, you know, why that's important to, you know, how maybe you looked at it perhaps even differently now after the sale.

Well, I think so... for me, you know, being involved in the community and being involved in certain nonprofits wasn't something that was like an epiphany I had for business purposes. Like, Oh, this would really have a great ROI if I was to spend time and money on this stuff. You know, part of it is just the, you know, the way you’re raised.

And so I was raised that my family was always involved in some level in regards to, you know, helping out with community events or, you know, being kind to your neighbors and things like that. So and thankfully, I live in the same community I grew up in- the West San Fernando Valley, and so I feel a connection to the community.

And I'm a big believer in life that we all have a responsibility to give back to where we grew up. It's not a situation where you can just point and stuff and complain about how things are going. Sure, if you don't like the way something is going, you need to. You're the one that has to be the difference.

And so I noticed that when I would get involved in stuff on different boards or doing community cleanups, the biggest thing was honestly how I felt afterwards, that I knew. I knew I felt really good and I knew it was like a dopamine rush. So that made me want to do it again. Yeah. And then the other thing is, and this relates to business success and success in life and all these other things, the people you meet in these organizations that give back are... there are certain caliber people that and I don't just mean like they're successful business people, like their whole person is a higher quality person.

I agree with you. I think that what resonates with me because I'm involved as well in Boys and Girl’s club. They tend to, you know, give from the heart. On everything they do, whether it's with their family, with their community, with their business. Yeah. Whatever activity it might be. But then also that concept of like ownership, I think, which is what you talked about, like, yeah, rather than just assuming that somebody else is going to do it, Yeah. Take care and say like, Hey, you know what? I'm going to pitch in. Sure, sure. Make sure that you know this gets done.

So, if you're genuine, like good things just happen. It really is the way the universe works and you don't know when and how or what it is, but it's real. And, you know, I always sort of look at like, I think I'm proof of that. Like if I look back at anything I put time into, I've always gained something and in some fashion or another, new friends or opportunities or whatever it is.

Well, it's like the old adage, right? People will constantly say, and I would agree with this like you you you're giving. But the reality is you get more in return and there's so much truth.

In terms of, you know, you know, you just returned from a trip from the Philippines. We talked a little bit about, there was some business and pleasure. And you talked a little bit about just sort of the difference in culture. Sort of what you experienced there and how you'd like to maybe borrow a little bit of that up and bring it back here. Share with us a little bit about what that was like.

Yeah, it was a great trip. And the Philippines have some of the nicest people. I didn't know, it just the culture’s like very, you know, how can I help you in just a very warm, inviting culture? They make you feel very welcome. The moment you step off the plane. So we have a group there that we utilize for back office support, making sure that you know all of our ducks in a row from a compliance standpoint, a lot of just work that needs to be done by really you know, smart capable hands.

And there's a group in the Philippines that does that. And so I was there with the team and they were doing a giveaway for the holiday party. And the giveaway was items like some household items like toasters. And you know, something that, you know, heats up boiling water and things like that. And when somebody would win and this was a room that had, you know, a few hundred people in it, when somebody would win the room, like exploded.

It was crazy. And I was there with a few other folks that run insurance operations. And we looked at each other like, wow, this is crazy. Yeah, but like, in a really positive way, because here in the U.S., because there's such a labor shortage, which is really I look at as being a long term big structural problem in this country. It’s a structural problem- it's really something that's going to be a hard thing to solve until we start having a lot more babies. And even then, it'll take time. It's just really a, you know, just a different culture in regards to there's more job scarcity there. And so folks there are sort of more... I don't want to use the word ‘appreciative’ because it is not like people in the US are not appreciative. No, but it gives you some perspective there. Yeah. And people all over the world, there's lots of smart people in the world. We don't have a monopoly on that.

And it's a big world that I don't know. I just like the idea of being able to do business with different people from different cultures. I'll just touch on real quick. I read a phenomenal book. It's called The End of the World Is Just the Beginning. But it talks a lot about the demographic issues that we are facing as, as a country, but also how, you know, and I think through this, how it affects business owners.

Well, Tim, I want to sort of bring this full circle. And, you know, I always ask our guest for, you know, maybe two bold action items that you would, you know, either give to a younger entrepreneur or maybe even yourself if you go back and talk to the Tim Gaspar five or ten or 15 years ago around business and ultimately some sort of succession event, what would those two things be?

So one is for the folks that may be sort of budding entrepreneurs or sort of figuring out what they want to do, and that's just go for it. Just go. I've seen a lot of people, there's a lot of people and everybody says like, “Oh, I'm not the smartest guy in the room.” Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's definitely me.

I've met so many people that I can't even count that were sharper than me. And more intelligence, more resources and all the tools to be more successful, but just were scared to take the leap. Yeah. And there's really nothing on the other side of here. You can get laid off from a job anywhere, right? And so just going for it, having a plan, not being silly and, you know, deciding the same day, you’re gonna leave your job.

But sure. But, but going for it and making the leap. And then on that point, I think there's a Jim Carrey quote that he said something along the lines like you can fail at like a job that you don't really like.

Yeah. One hundred percent. And the time goes by the way, people say, like, I want to invest the time and building the company. And I think like, it's like folks that say, I don't want to spend four years going to get an extra degree or something. And I always think like, Yeah, but the time goes by regardless.

Yeah. So it's not like all of a sudden you actually save that time. Sure, time passes. It just matters what you do, what you do with it. And the other thing that I think is critical is learning from other people. And there's a lot of really fantastic organizations that exist. So I'm in one called Vistage. This is a CEO group, which I've really enjoyed.

Yeah, but there's YPO, very positive things about entrepreneurs, organization and those are just like the formal ones sure that you learn so much just talking to other people about their challenges and are able to really just get a different perspective and people that push back and that's critical. I've avoided a lot of really significant pitfalls just by discussing certain ideas and challenges and questions I had with these folks that are able to give me input, but also, you know, call me out on, you know, when I'm full of baloney, okay.

Something like that, which is also something we talked about with the team members, it's critical to keep you in check.

That’s sound advice, Tim. I really appreciate it.

And find a great financial planner, too.

Well, you know, that certainly helps. And I'm grateful that, you know, you've entrusted Morton and myself to work very closely with you. Absolutely. You know, and, you know, Tim, again, we've known each other, I think, since 2011 years. Access is is just been it's been amazing to watch that because I'm also looking forward to seeing where you go over the next, you know, ten, 20, 30, 40 years.

Thank you. Thanks for being on the podcast. I'm gonna sign off and this is Joe Seetoo from The Ripcord Moment. We'll see you next time.