John Stewart Hill, The GOOD Contractor, is the Founder of The Good Contractors List in the Dallas / Fort Worth area, a business designed to protect homeowners from shady contractors. His high integrity business model, that offers a third party $10,000 guarantee to the homeowners that use his list of contractors, has earned him entrepreneurial awards, public recognition, and the respect of many in the contracting industry. John has been featured on radio, TV, and podcasts sharing his insights on contractors and on life. John is a published author, speaker, and is driven to help others find their purpose to do GOOD in the world. Lots to emulate here!
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Inspire Integrity with John Stewart Hill
I’m excited about our topic, which has to do with inviting and developing integrity as a quality for business. First of all, I should say that our guest is an atypical guest for us to have in the sense that he’s not famous. He’s not somebody who’s created a world-famous brand or changed something at that level. He’s just a remarkable guy who in his world and his region has done a lot of great things around the area of integrity. To me, integrity is so important. I wanted to introduce him to you, I wanted him to share his story with you, which is a story of discovering one’s true purpose and a story of building a business around authenticity, reliability, responsibility and integrity.
I find it fascinating and inspiring. For my guests, for you, this is the thing that we need to be hearing more of because it’s the thing that reminds us what being a good businessperson is all about. Integrity is a word that’s been floating around my consciousness for a long time. I took a course back in 1983 that many of you have heard of called EST and that was before it became the Landmark Forum. It was a personal development program, a spiritual, psychological retooling of how our minds work. It was the earliest introduction that I had to mindfulness, to being self-aware, to know what’s going on in my head and knowing how the way I think influences how I behave and how I behave, influences the results that I get.
Many of us think that we just show up, the way we show up, we do what we want to do and then if we don’t get the results we want, it’s somebody else’s fault. What I learned from EST back in 1983 was the power of integrity. The way they defined integrity is maybe not the way that everybody defines it. Although it’s a good definition. It is being whole and being your word. Being whole, meaning that there are no missing pieces from your communication. You’re putting it all out there. You’re not inauthentic. You’re not leaving parts of who you are unattended or unaccounted for in your communication or in your planning. You’re whole. Being your word, meaning that you have come to be the person that when you say that you’re going to do something, you do it, you follow through on what you say. That includes but is not limited to honesty. Being honest, not lying. That’s one fine point of integrity but it’s not the biggest.A much bigger part of integrity is your willingness to stand behind your word. Click To Tweet
A much bigger part of integrity is your willingness to stand behind your word. That if I say I’m going to get up at 6:00 in the morning and meditate, I’m going to get up at 6:00 in the morning and meditate, even though when 6:00 comes, that’s the last thing in the world I want to do. Integrity dictates that I am my word. If I am my word, that means that I, the small I, the emotional I, the moody I of the moment doesn’t hold sway over my word. My word is my truth, my word is my bond. What I have discovered in my experience is that as we become creatures of higher integrity, as we follow through and do the right thing, even when the right thing is hard to do. When we say what we mean and we mean what we say, when we are held accountable, not just by others but by ourselves for what we intend, then a lot of things in our lives start to improve because we’re no longer needing to be motivated by how we feel.
Some part of us gets the idea that if I say it, it’s got to happen. If I say it, it’s got to come true because I don’t accept any other version of reality. I’ve got to do it. I have got to make good. I don’t call somebody or tell somebody I’m going to call and then not call them. I don’t make an appointment and not show up for it. I don’t set a goal and then just forget that I set the goal. Certainly, we sometimes have to renegotiate our goals and renegotiate our agreements, but we do it with openness and frankness. That’s where being whole comes in.
Integrity has been a cornerstone of everything I’ve done in my life. I don’t always like it. Sometimes, it will be a lot easier if I didn’t have integrity. Sometimes, I would love to be able to just live by my emotions rather than my code. I’ve told many stories along the way about situations in my life where I would have liked to let go of my honor, my integrity by going on the high path, the high road and whale somebody or lay into somebody or do something passive-aggressive. There are so many things that we want to do but if you live with integrity, you don’t do them.
That’s a great personal development idea, but is it a business idea? Is it something sustainable in business? Can you, as a conscious leader, commit yourself to a life of integrity? Can you build a business with integrity? Can you do what you do with such absolute certainty that you’re going to follow through? That there’s no question in your mind and therefore there’s no question in anybody else’s mind that you’re worth doing business with? That’s the question we want to explore. In order to do that, I brought a guest who was introduced to me. He wasn’t somebody that was on my radar, but I had a conversation with him and was pleasantly surprised by the way he showed up. None of us know anybody else truly until we spend a little time with them. We get a sense, we get a gut feeling and I got a gut feeling for this guy that who he is, is who he says he is and that he follows through, that he has integrity. His business is about that and his discovery of that business is inspiring.
I’m thrilled to be introducing my guest, John Stewart Hill, the GOOD Contractor. He is the Founder of The Good Contractors List in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. A business designed to protect homeowners from shady contractors. We’ll talk a little bit about the propensity for that in the profession. His high integrity business model that offers a third party $10,000-guarantee to homeowners they use as a list of contractors has earned him entrepreneurial awards, public recognition and the respect of many in the contracting industry. John has been featured on radio, TV and podcast, sharing his insights on contractors and on life. John’s a published author, speaker and is driven to help others find their purpose to do good in the world. Our title is Inspire Integrity and that’s what John’s all about. I want to invite you to welcome John Stewart Hill. John, welcome.
Thank you so much for letting me be on the show.
It’s a great pleasure to have you. Where have you been, John? I know you do a little bit of traveling, but you’re mostly planted in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, right?
I love how you spoke about me. We are a small company still but trying to make a huge impact where we are. I’m back in the sales field. You always try to plan for bigger things where you’re touching a larger market but now I’m finding myself one-on-one with contractors again. It can be humbling to a degree but I just love what I do. I feel like every step that I take is ordered and I’m in a great place. I haven’t got to travel much. I haven’t gotten to speak a lot of places because I’m in my business again.
Let me predict that you will. I think that your message is timely and the way that you’re executing it is something that the world needs. You’re going to be getting more and more opportunities to take this message on the road. As speaking for myself, I wish there was an organization like yours where I am. You have heard me open the show. I always open the show with a bit of a preamble where I talk a little bit about the topic of the day. Integrity is a big deal for me. Was there anything that I said in that intro that you wanted to comment on or any way in which you want to correct me for completely blowing the moment?
I am my word. I love that. That is exactly what I live every single day for. You can try to blow smoke up people’s skirts to try to get them to do what you want them to do. If you’re doing what’s good for the world, you show it and you’re honest about it, people resonate with that. People are tired of being sold products. I think they would just like to know what’s good about it. Everyday my mission in life is to be my word.
I’m glad that wording resonated with you. I thought it might. I’ve used that a lot. It’s one of those things, sometimes you hear a couple of words and the words have power. Be your word that has power. Bravo to you for recognizing that. Let’s reel back the clock a little bit because I know when you and I spoke, you had a story that resonated for me where you discovered your purpose. I want to ask if you wouldn’t mind sharing that with our audience.
When I was 42, I had a health scare and it was during a freeze that happened here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I was having issues with breathing and I found myself in the hospital thinking it was pneumonia. Later on that night they realized that I’ve had a heart attack and it was pretty massive. It was during a freeze, so it was going to take the doctor some time to get in. To tell you where I was at this time when I had this heart attack, I wasn’t in a good place. I’ve gone through three divorces. There’s never been a time in my life that I could ever say that I was successful in any form or fashion up to this point.95% of the issues that happen, happen out of fear. Click To Tweet
I’ve always tried to be a good person. I’ve always tried to be positive, but it seemed like nothing ever happened good for me. I was always disappointed with life and I always expected disappointment, which is even when you’re trying to think positive. Sometimes people have this tendency to be afraid to be successful because when they are, surely that hammer is about to drop. That’s where I was at this time. I was so miserable with my life at that time that I had been praying for about two solid months that God would just take me off the planet. Here’s my opportunity, I’m in the hospital, I have a heart attack and the doctors say, “Call your family back up here.”
It was 3:00 in the morning. It was going to take about an hour for the cardiologist to even look at me. On the way to ICU, as they were wheeling me there, I watched the lights pass. I was thinking to myself, “If this is dying, it’s not that bad.” At that time, I was able to breathe again. They had put straight oxygen on me. I knew that I was going to be able to just fade off. I wasn’t going to have any more pain. I felt peace. I wasn’t sure where I was going at that time. I felt this peace and all I can say is I am not this God always speaks to me kind of guy but I felt like God spoke to my heart. On the way to ICU it was a question he posed and he said, “John, do you want to stay or do you want to go?” I was hoping he’d say, “John, you have a great purpose,” and that I had some big moment but all he said was, “Do you want to stay or do you want to go?” That’s what I felt in my heart. I started thinking about my life and I realized the gravity of that question. I had literally my life in my own hands. The easy way would be to go. I knew that and I was like, “I could just go. I don’t have to mess with this world anymore. There will be no more disappointment.”
There was this thing deep inside me that said, “You do have a purpose. If you live, you have a purpose.” I argued a little bit and started thinking. I went over my life and I was like, “If I die right now, there may be a few people who will go to my funeral,” my kids and I had a girlfriend at that time that I was planning on marrying. I was like, “They would go to my funeral and people might remember me. They may go, ‘I remember he was a nice guy.’” I didn’t do anything. I hadn’t done anything with my life. I thought about all those things and I realized that I lived most of my life being disappointed.
Whenever I finally came to my final decision, I said, “God, I’d like to stay if that’s okay with you, but I should lay down some conditions. I am not living my life the way I’ve been living it. If you allow me to stay, here are the conditions. One, I want to be remembered for doing something good. I want to make a difference in people’s lives. It had to be. The second thing I asked for is I wanted to live every day, not just be alive, which meant that I had to turn from being disappointed, into being grateful for every moment. The third thing was I was wanting to touch as many people as I could possibly touch while I’m remaining on this planet.” All I could say was I felt this energy coming into the room.
If I could see into the spirit realm, it would be like God was dancing around that hospital bed going, “That’s my boy. You just made a fantastic decision. So be it.” The cardiologist came in and they were not allowed to put me out because at that point I was too far gone. I had to stay awake for the whole thing. They did the catheter where they pump the dye up into your heart and try to see what’s going on up there. He showed me the screen and said, “You see this little part of your heart. You can see your heart here. Do you see this part over here that looks like a stump?” I was like, “Yes.” He goes, “That’s a whole series of arteries that go to the back of your heart. One artery was 100% blocked, the other one had a small trickle, you could see barely going. That’s 99% blockage. I don’t know if we can fix this. We may have to crack you open.”
He was very open with me and I was like, “At this point, go for it. Whatever you need to do, I know I’m going to be alive.” He went about it. He was able to put up three stents and pump the dye back through. This was an emotional point because the whole hospital was about 3:00 in the morning. I was standing behind that glass wall looking and just waiting for me to die for close to an hour. The hoot and holler and the clap, it was amazing. It was like, “He’s going to live and he’s going to live.” I walked out of that hospital a few days later and not a lot had changed. I still had the same job. I still was broke. Now I’m broken because I have this heart condition. That’s what led into this. What I did walk out of the hospital with was a knowledge that I was here for a purpose. I went in with no purpose, just disappointment. I walked out with a lot of purpose.
I know the story goes on. It’s echoing to what I know a lot of other people are experiencing hearing that story. The story’s tremendously inspiring. We could all relate to feeling like our lives aren’t the way we want our lives to be you. You said, “Nothing could ever happen to me. I don’t expect it to.” You were almost praying for annihilation because what’s the point? That’s leading to having peace facing death like, “I’ll accept death because life isn’t that great,” and then, the choice. What was funny about that is you set conditions for God. It was like you were exactly in a bargaining position, but somehow it worked.
You said, “I want to live a life of purpose. I want to live, not just be alive. I want to touch a lot of people.” You felt something lifted inside of you. You felt God’s presence. You felt however people like to frame that, whether they’re religious or not, there was a transformation and a powerful one at that. That gave you the certainty to go through a procedure, come out the other side, feel better, and feel like it was a new life. Here’s my question, what you were feeling before and immediately after the surgery, the despondency, that emptiness, the lack of purpose that you felt before and that lift inside of that that you felt after it or just before it and continuing through after it. How private were those experiences for you? Did other people around you know that you were phoning it in, going through the motions before it or were you just hiding that pretty well?
As soon as I walked out of the hospital, I started telling my story. I had a new vision for my future. I didn’t know what it looked like. I knew I walked out with purpose, but it wasn’t a seeing purpose. All I knew was here were the three things I asked for and I’m going to get them. I just know it.
Did people immediately resonate with that? Did you find that people heard your story and were like, “I could see a new John here?”
There hasn’t been a day since that day that you could just say, “John’s depressed. John’s not seeing a clearer future.” It didn’t happen right away. I went right back to work but I was a new John. Here’s the thing, I knew that the best thing would be to go. I’ve got only so much more time left on this Earth and my reward happened at the end of it. I knew that the reason I was here was for other people. It wasn’t for me anymore. I don’t have to lie, steal, cheat, and do whatever to make John happy anymore because if I’m here for me, I don’t want to be here. That’s just how I felt the minute I walked out of that hospital. I am here for other people. I’m here to touch lives. I’m here to inspire people. At that point it was like, “What do I have to inspire?” I just lived and God showed me that my future is going to be great. I promise you it’s going to be great. Watch me.” That’s exactly what happened. They’ve got to watch me go. I had nothing in the bank. When I decided to walk this idea came to me. I went to my boss, I worked at a company called MoneyMailer. It was a direct mail situation where they have coupons inside of an envelope and you mail it out.
I had been working there, and I had a small salary. I probably never made more than $50,000 in a year’s time ever in my life. I was a halfway decent salesperson. I was committed. I always try to do my best. One day I had this idea that I had a way that I felt I can protect people from shady contractors. I was out selling ads to some of the big guys. The big guys I can’t say they had integrity. It’s how you put yourself in advertising, you can be whatever you want to be. I saw the inside that was like, “I would never send these people to any person that I cared about. I can separate the good guys from the bad guys.” That was the idea and it wouldn’t leave me. I had built a few small websites in the past, so I had an idea for my little town of Mansfield, Texas and I was going to call it Mansfield Service Connection. I went to my boss and I said, “I have this idea and it won’t leave me. I feel like I’m supposed to do it. I can’t even talk to anybody about this while I’m working for you.”
I quit my job. One check came to me and I had no money in savings. It was an absolute step out in faith, but I knew I was supposed to do it. I went out and started talking to contractors and they loved the idea and they saw my passion for what I was trying to do. There is such a need that there are just enough bad contractors out there to give all the good guys have a bad name. They knew that there had to be a way to separate this. What I was coming up with was going to potentially be the way. They were writing checks to me before I had a website and saying, “I want my spot. Save me a spot,” and it started growing. That’s where it came from.If we’re not grateful for our life, more disappointment will get drawn. Click To Tweet
Define the business model now, what does it look like?
Now, we have about 240 contractors out in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area. Every contractor that’s on our list, we back with a $10,000-guarantee to the homeowner. It’s not just leads that come through the Good Contractors list website. Every job they do, we have $10,000 invested in. If a homeowner has an issue with the contractor, typically all they can do is run to the review sites. They write bad reviews about them, start badmouthing them and try to force them to do what they’re supposed to do. The thing about it is most contractors are good guys. They’re just people. Contracting is the hardest job ever. They have to juggle people around. If someone gets sick or a death in the family, things get thrown off and homeowners can’t see the big picture. All they see is the fear that they have going into the relationship because of all the horror stories you hear about contractors.
To have us as third party here in the middle when things start going sideways became just the most valuable thing because homeowners would call and they’d be afraid. We could go, “We’ve worked with these guys. We promise you you’re going to have the product that you need.” That relationship would get restored and they’d be able to get the job done and be perfectly happy. 95% of the issues that happen, happen out of fear. We were able to remove that fear by telling them we’re here. If that guy doesn’t get it done right, we’re going to pay to fix it. You’re not going to lose any money. Whatever you agreed on, you’re going to get. We kept that word. It’s hard when you’re out. We interview every contractor face-to-face. We have a specific thing that we’re looking for.
I definitely want to hear how do you recognize the good ones?
In a lot of times, it’s just meeting them face-to-face and seeing the owner because you can tell if someone keeps their word. At the beginning prescreening in itself. There are places that say we prescreen contractors. You might run a background check on them and you may say that they’ve been in business for a certain amount of time. You might look on the BBB. There might be some prescreening, but it doesn’t save anybody. Prescreening doesn’t do anything for anybody other than say, “This guy hadn’t been caught in doing something bad yet.” What we do is we have the relationship afterwards. If they call through our website, we have call tracking numbers. We call back every single homeowner to find out how things went, so that we know that our contractors are doing the right thing.
It’s that relationship that we keep afterwards and the accountability route we require. The contractor doesn’t come on board unless they agree that, “If we’re calling you, things are escalated to the point where you need to drop everything else you’re doing and let’s get this thing finished.” Whenever I go through the interview and I talk about accountability and responsibility, watch the guys who don’t have it scramble. They will not come on board. It was neat when you were saying that you do the right thing no matter how hard it is.
Imagine me out in the field talking to contractors about a future thing that I’m going to be trying to put together and I need your money and I’m living off this. That’s all I have to live off of to see someone who isn’t a good fit, who’s willing to write me a check, so I can go make my car payment at that time. To go, “This isn’t a good fit for me,” and walk away. I had to do that on a regular basis, which is another reason why I’m in the field again. We had a salesperson that we’ve had started building up, but you can start seeing that he was scrambling. We have a very expensive background investigation software and half the stuff that he was bringing in, we had to call him back and go, “I’m sorry you’re not a good fit.” It’s hard to have integrity but it’s worth it. If I have to be out in the field and make it happen, so be it. That’s going to happen.
The underlying mindset that you came into this whole thing within the first place is, “I’m not here for me, I’m here for others.” That automatically fortifies you to work harder, to accept disappointment, to screen people more carefully and all of that stuff. If you’re not here for yourself and then how could you possibly justify doing things for yourself? You are creating a safer environment for a homeowner so that they can cut through the very real problem in this industry where there are a lot of people. They may be good people or maybe they’re the good people or whatever who just have bad business practices. We’ll talk a little bit about what that means. You’re helping filter that out, so that you are bringing the very best people to the table. What you’re saying now is you need to be out there in the field, making sure that that’s what’s happening.
For about the last years, I’ve not had to be the one out talking to contractors. I’ve been growing other things, going out and speaking, and trying to use the platform for what I felt was my purpose which was to go inspire other people. There are millions of people who have amazing stories. I want to help those guys tell those stories. That’s where I’m at. I want to inspire people to understand that if they’re going through something tough right now, that’s part of their story. If they can just see the purpose in what’s going on in their life at that point, it could change everything for them. I didn’t see purpose in all the junk I was going through, but now I do. I can look back and go, “I was divorced three times and I might be embarrassed about that, but that was the old me. That was the me before purpose.” That’s where I’m going with now as I wanted to do that. To do that you have to have integrity where you are because as soon as you keep that integrity there, more integrity gets drawn into your life, more opportunities for greater integrity that comes into your life.
I do believe in the Law of Attraction. I’m sure that’s something you’ve probably had talked about on your show. What we think about and we put our emotions into gets drawn to us. If we’re not grateful for our life and we’re disappointed with our life, what’s going to get drawn into our life is more disappointment. If we have purpose, we have joy and we have thankfulness for the good, the bad, the ugly, “Thank you, God, for the story that you are building in me.” You start drawing more things to be grateful for into your life. It’s just a tweak. It’s just a little bit of a change. It’s a good decision, a good thought and you’re heading in the right direction.
It’s a small bridge to cross that a lot of people are afraid to cross because that might violate reality. “You’re just being Pollyanna. You don’t know how bad my life is.” A lot of people hold on very tightly to their version of their story, how miserable it is and how other people have done them wrong. When you take this perspective that you’re describing, which is everything happens for a reason and there’s something to be gained and learned from all of this, I’m going to bring appreciation rather than disdain to this experience. At least according to the Law of Attraction, you attract more of the same thing. I absolutely believe that not in a magical way, but in a very pragmatic way.
I hate to say it but sometimes people just love to be miserable. I don’t know why, but it becomes their identity, “That’s my identity. I’m a miserable person. As long as I stayed miserable then I don’t have any expectations. People don’t have any expectations of me to be anything better.”Everything happens for a reason and there’s something to be gained and learned from all of this. Click To Tweet
You’re off the hook. I want you to talk more about this book idea of yours and building the community of people who are sharing their stories. Before we go there, I want to go back to this question of what are the qualities of a good contractor or a good business person that you’ve discovered? What are the things that you’re looking for after them? I know you have a process to look for it, what is your gut looking for?
I categorize contractors into three different groups. The first group I call Buck in a Truck. Buck is a great guy. He may even have skills but he’s not a big business guy. He’s never going to have a bigger business. It’s going to be him. Maybe a helper, he may not have insurance. It’s going to be the cheapest. If someone’s looking for cheap, Buck is the guy to go to. You could go to Craigslist and you can probably find Buck in a Truck all day long. You can pop down the street and see Buck on a corner waiting for a job. These guys will do labor for you but there are no guarantees. If they burned down your house, you’re just out of luck. Buck is not a guy that was going to be on our list.
On the opposite side, it’s the guy with all the resources. Mega contractor is the absolute opposite side of that. They have all the resources. They can be there quick. They spend millions of dollars on one company. They’re on TV all day long. They’re on radio. You’ll see them in the newspaper. They’re everywhere. The spend millions of dollars on advertising. For whatever reason people don’t equate that they’re spending millions of dollars, somebody’s paying for that and it isn’t donations. Mega contractor, although just about everybody in this area has said, “How do I get on your list?” I’ve had to tell him, “I don’t want your money,” because although they are a safe bet they’re going to be way more expensive.
Typically, they’re not service-oriented anymore. They do service but they’re very sales oriented because they need to make all that money. You’ll see billboards going down the road, “We’re hiring,” and then when you get there, they teach you the sales process. It’s to get into any home and to sell as much as you can while you’re in there. If you can create something that looks like a problem for the future, do that because we’ll get thousands of dollars out of this guy. We’ll get it on credit, so you’re not going to have to pay for it right now. It’s just the American dream. “Let’s fix my whole house up while you’re here.” They’ll make tons of thousands of dollars on some people on a job that should have cost $100 to fix.
On that side of it, I don’t like that high pressure. Me personally, I don’t want to be sold anything. I want somebody to come in and fix my plumbing or my air conditioner. I look for what I’d call the honest guys in the middle. The ones who have been around for quite a while, who look clean online. They just want to sleep at night and they’re building their business, maybe four or five trucks, nothing huge. We have some companies that are bigger, but that’s their mindset still. They’ve got bigger because they were so good, and they don’t take it out on people. We find out very quickly because of our follow-up process, what people think about our contractors. If I hear high pressure, maybe one time they might get away with it but if I hear it two times, I’m following up on it. We don’t ask enough money from these contractors for them to be a liability to us.
There are no big elephants in our organization. This is because I haven’t been a businessman. I didn’t set this up to make the most money, I set this up for mission. Here is a business model. I have a $10,000 guarantee liability on every job our contractors do, and I have a low flat rate for them to advertise with me. Basically, they give me a monthly flat rate and I pull all that money together. I advertise in the Dallas-Fort Worth market. One bad job could cost me more than the guy spends in a year. It’s not a great business sense. It was a great idea for mission but it is absolutely the opposite of any good business model.
Most people want no liability and they want to have every opportunity to sell as much as they can to everybody. I’ve limited my pool. I’ve limited the number of contractors that can be on the list. It is not a high dollar business model, but what I have gained out of it is worth more than money to me and that’s respect for doing what I said. The guys that joined me in the beginning before we even started advertising, we had to go for a couple of years where I had to tell him, “We don’t have enough contractors yet agreeing on a future rate to buy the advertising we need.” We kept adding them on. It took me about under two years to bring enough contractors in to where I can start spending the money on radio and TV to start driving it.
I had to tell them, “You’re not going to get a return on investment for a while until somebody knows who we are.” I was completely honest with what their potential was but I said, “If we can pull together the honest guys and we can hold our integrity throughout this together, what impact could we make on the world? How much will this small investment you’re making in the beginning allow you to have five or ten years down the line whenever you’re on this list?” People saw the vision. It was a vision of integrity.
This is an invitation to a great experiment. You’ve got this idea, this notion that if we build a building, where each brick is a good brick. We’d use a good mortar. We’d use care and craftsmanship as we build this thing that eventually what we’ll end up with is a good building. I’m looking for good people. I’m looking for honesty and reliability. I’m looking for people who are willing to play the long game with me. I’m going to put myself at risk as well as them in order to not compromise my integrity. Therefore, I’m going to have a building. I’m going to have this structure. I’m going to have this business that is profitable and that does what it says it’s going to do. The question that begs is, is it profitable and is it doing what it’s meant to do?
My theory was that if I find the good guys, then they would want to protect the organization because there’s nothing like this anywhere. There’s nobody dumb enough to put up $10,000 guarantee on every contractor and bring it on a list, a little one contractor. It’s going to be difficult for someone to recreate what we have here. The potential for it to grow as big as it needs to grow as long as we keep our integrity will be fantastic. Can you imagine the message it would send to the world? It’s profitable. I didn’t have anything. I went from broke and never making more than $50,000 a year. Millions and millions of dollars don’t impress me. I don’t even have a clue what I would do with all that. If it becomes about me, I don’t want to be here. That’s where my soul is. I’m going to do everything I can to touch as many lives as I can while I’m here. This has become a great platform.
In the water that I swim in, which is mindfulness and Buddhist philosophy, we call it nonattachment. You’re not attached to the outcome. You don’t need to get a certain thing out of it. You’re driven by something bigger than that, it’s your spiritual quest. As a new businessperson with a new vision and risky one at that, how did you get all these people on board? What was it about you that made them give you their trust?
I think they can see the faith and the need. There is such a need for this. In that industry, it’s dark. There’s so much bad publicity surrounding it that fear is common with just about every homeowner. If you’re a contractor, it’s almost like if you’re a used car salesman. Before you’re even going in, you have this stigma on you. To have a light in this darkness resonated with the contractors because they’re fighting this every single day. They have to go out there. Contractors don’t just have to be skillful, they have to learn patience. They have to learn to understand. When homeowners get vicious, you wouldn’t believe how angry they get when they start feeling like they’re getting taken advantage of.
It could be simple human mistakes. They’ll start attacking and the contractor has to get past that and go, “No, come on, let’s finish this job.” Even whenever they’re the nicest, people would bend over backwards to do anything for you. Sometimes they’re not given that opportunity. They are so angry, they’re ready to sue them and would rather lose money themselves and take this guy out. It would have been fixed in maybe even a day that seemed like, “This is not that big of a deal. Come on, let’s look at this.”How big an impediment to a customer satisfaction is just plain old conversation? Click To Tweet
How big of an impediment to a customer satisfaction is just plain old communication? In my experience working with contractors, where I’ve ended up being that angry homeowner if I look back at it, it’s almost always that the contractor didn’t communicate well with me. Maybe I’ll have a role in that as well, but of course, I’m the customer. You’ve got to come to me. I’m curious as a speaker myself when I’m hearing all of this is, you guys should be doing some seminars. I’ll have to come and teach one myself to contractors about how to communicate with people so that their expectations are clear, so that they’re not blindsided. Somebody as a homeowner, maybe you get new ideas along the way and the contractor doesn’t think enough to say, “That’s going to cost this much more.” They wait until the very end and they’d hit you with a bigger price than what you originally agreed on. You just thought you were adding stuff that wasn’t going to cost you anything extra. There are so many ways that the contractor may not be a bad contractor, they’re cowards. They’re just not being courageous enough to say what needs to be said when it needs to be said to prevent aggravation.
I can avoid those guys. It seems I can find those guys very quickly and purge them. It doesn’t take very long to find those guys. It doesn’t matter who you are or how good your company is. A ball is going to get dropped. There’s going to be someone who’s like, “I forgot to call, Miss Jones,” to say he was going to be an hour late. He’s stuck under a house. The smaller you get, the harder it is. If one plumber is sick, that was supposed to be taken care of a couple of jobs and that gets now pushed back. Let’s say on a remodel or something like that, it could throw the whole system of whack. There are so many human things that could happen that are just out of people’s control sometimes. A lot of times these contractors are out. They’re driving down the road. They’re trying to schedule things while they’re on the run. It’s a very fast-paced, multi-level communication.
You’re a juggler. It’s what you’re saying.
They’re juggling constantly, so they’ve just found out their plumber’s not going to be able to make it. What jobs are associated with that guy right now that I’ve got to go now and call? If you can imagine having to juggle that on a regular basis. At some point, somebody is not going to get a phone call and does that mean that the guys are awful? No. Maybe he does need some help that’s coordinating and keeping track of where everybody is. Most of my guys do have full on office staff. There’s a percentage of them who are smaller and are still taking care of their own businesses. That’s why we follow up on every phone call too to make sure things are happening.
I want to make sure that we have at least a few moments to give you a chance to say a couple of words about your book idea and the gathering of stories. Will you tell us a little bit about that?
The particular book I’ve been working on is called A Life Rebuilt: The Story of the Good Contractor and it’s my life story. I feel that there have been multiple things that God has built me from the foundation of, it takes sometimes. What I’d like to say is God doesn’t want to remodel us, he wants to rebuild us. He wants to take us down to our foundation which he has to do that in our mind. He has to do that spiritually and even physically, what we eat, how we take care of our bodies affects everything. It can affect our mood. It can affect our mind on how we think. He has taken me, amazingly enough. I’ve got to tell you this one story.
After my heart attack and I have congestive heart failure, 40% of my heart was damaged. I’ve got an extreme heart damage. I have a pacemaker and I was told I would never do anything more than walk on the treadmill. I believe that I got up over 240 pounds. I’m 5’8 and I got very heavy. I had been trying to diet and trying to lose some weight, but I was just getting sicker. I couldn’t tie my shoes without having to stop to rest two or three times. I was considering a heart transplant. My heart was damaged enough. It has been for years enough that I could actually get on the transplant list and get a heart transplant. I went and prayed at church about it. I was like, “I need some wisdom. I don’t want to do this transplant. It scares me a little bit.”
I felt like God was saying that he was going to rebuild my heart and I was like, “How in the world?” He showed me something that felt like this plant-based diet idea and I was not happy about that at all. The way he did it was so evident that, that’s what he wanted me to do. I started and I went to a plant-based diet. I went to Whole Foods and there was a Dr. Esselstyn who has a book on Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. It’s about eating this plant-based, low oil to no oil diet. I committed to it. It’s a mind change, a mind over body. Every time I got hungry for meat I’d say, “I’m not going to die. I’m going to live.” I just fought through it.
Before long, I learned how to find foods in that demographic that was okay. I slowly started changing within two or three weeks, I had energy again. My congestive heart failure symptoms started diminishing and I was like, “I’m going to go try the treadmill. I’m going to go see if I could just walk and not get out of breath.” To make a long story short, I went from that on April 2018 which was one year later, I was on a bodybuilding stage doing a posing routine to my story. I’d put music in the background and told my story of my heart attack and won the 50-year-old plus masters at this bodybuilding competition.
How can people learn more about you?
You can go to a JohnStewartHill360.com or JHS360. That will connect you to all my Facebook and I’ve got everything there. Any way you want to connect with me, that would be a great way. I have a website called IAmTheGood.com. I Am the Good is where I’m hoping millions of people will go to tell their story. I think that our stories have an impact on people’s lives and it’s those stories that are to change those people’s lives. I’m just one story, there are millions out there. I want all of them to go to IAmTheGood.com and sign up there. We’re building the website and we’re going to try to have stories from every level, every direction of struggle. They come out on the other side to be agents of good.
That’s a wonderful idea to go and contribute your story, read other people’s stories, but just telling your own story is healing and transformative. This is quite a conversation and I am so glad that I invited you on to the show. If you’ve enjoyed the show, please send your comments to SteveTaubman@Gmail.com and please feel free to suggest a topic that’s particularly meaningful to you. If you’d like to learn how to bring me to your company to create a mindful holistic organization of fearless leaders, contact me through SteveTaubman.com. It is our tradition in the show to end with a few formulaic pieces. We do a metaphor, a quote and a challenge for the week. I always default the challenge to our guests. Before I do so, in John’s case, I’m going to share my metaphor and my quote, and then we’ll leave John to share his challenge with you.People are not being courageous to say what needs to be said, when it needs to be said to prevent aggravation. Click To Tweet
The metaphor I’d like you all to take away is the one that I alluded to. That is as a business professional, as a leader, you are building an edifice, you’re building a building. If each brick of that building has been inspected and it has passed the test, that each brick has integrity and that the quality of the workmanship used to place one brick upon the other also has integrity. You’re going to end up with a building that has integrity. Regardless of the potential risk, I want to encourage you to build a building with integrity and keep that in mind, “What am I building this week?” Try to take that metaphor with you this week. The quote of course comes from Werner Erhard who said, “Without integrity, nothing works.” One of my favorite quotes of all time. Try to live your life without it and watch how things fall apart around you. With that, I’d like to invite John who has been a phenomenal guest to share a challenge for the week with you.
Wherever you are in your life, especially if you have some struggles and some obstacles that you have going on in your life that you’re just fed up with. My challenge for you is to write your story, the end story of what you want it to look like. See how those items played a part in the story of your good future. Right now, you may be thinking that you don’t have a great future because of these obstacles. God’s got a bigger plan for you. My challenge for you is to sit down at the end of your life what you would like all these obstacles to have done for you. It’s a dream eulogy, I guess is what I would call it to see your future where you have touched maybe millions of lives through your story.
This has been terrific, John. I’m so thrilled to have you. When we return for the next episode, my guest will be a surprise. I’m not going to tell you just yet, but I promise it’s going to be quite a wonderful show so tune in. Share this with your friends. Subscribe to my podcast. Visit iTunes and find my channel, Executive Zen. Thank you for joining our show and remember to live consciously and profit responsibly.
- The Good Contractors List
- Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease
- Executive Zen on iTunes
About John Stewart Hill
I spent most of my life disappointed and frustrated with the person I had become. At the age of 42, I found myself at a very low place with multiple divorces, failed jobs, no education, and no real hope for a future. I prayed for God to take me out of this world and end my misery. So in February of 2011, just two weeks before my 43rd birthday, I got that opportunity. I had a massive heart attack and I believe God gave me the choice to live or die. I chose to live, but I asked God for three things if He saw fit to grant me this opportunity. I wanted to be remembered for doing something GOOD, I wanted to LIVE every day NOT just be alive, and I wanted God to use me to touch as many people’s lives as I could for the remainder of my days on Earth. He has honored my requests!
Today, I live a full and joyful life and show others how to do the same! Although life has many obstacles, we can rebuild our lives in every way…Mind, Body, and Spirit…by finding our foundation and consistently building one brick at a time. Take it from “The GOOD Contractor”, no matter how bad things look, you can build the life of your dreams!