Episode 35 - Justin Wolff - Just Do It

Justin Wolff (00:00):
Get all the selfish stuff that you ever wanted to do out of the way before you have kids. If you have big dreams about going and, you know, climbing in the Andes or going to Patagonia for six months and getting lost and all that kind of stuff, do it. What I wanna do for my kids is give them the tools to figure out what they truly love. If you do something that you love, you know, and that really, you know, you wake up to do every day, you're gonna be better than others at it. And success will follow.

Young Han (00:33):
Hey guys, I'm young a full-time dad and a full-time professional with the goal to become the best parent possible. The girl to that show is my journey interviewing fellow working parents aspiring to be both good at work and parenting. I'm gonna do this by gathering and sharing unfiltered perspectives for my guest to join me as I research parenthood one interview at a time.

Young Han (00:55):
Justin, thank you so much for joining me on my show today.

Justin Wolff (00:59):
Pleasure to be here Young. Thank you so much as well. I'm really looking forward to chatting with you.

Young Han (01:02):
Yeah, me too. I'm very excited. I I have a lot of questions for you, but I lo I'd love to start with just like sharing with the listeners, what your professional journey's been like.

Justin Wolff (01:13):
Yeah. It's been a bit of a an atypical sort of career it's it's almost like not having a career in, in the traditional sense. My first job outta college was jumping out of perfectly good airplanes into very dangerous areas of the world.

Young Han (01:32):
No way. Wait, what did you do?

Justin Wolff (01:36):
I was in the IDF the Israeli defense forces. I was a paratrooper there.

Young Han (01:43):
Oh you're kidding.

Justin Wolff (01:43):
I think from, from when I first started my career really wanted to do things that that would challenge myself and and, and, and really create a, a sort of impact in the world that went beyond, I guess, the self and the now. Right. So I, I, I figured, you know, we have plenty of time to enrich ourselves and, and, you know, grow our bank accounts and all that, but a very kind of unique opportunity to do things that, that I guess kind of make you you know, part of a story that's bigger than yourself. And certain series of events had happened. I, I grew up really secular and I, I wasn't, you know, particularly religious or anything, but while I was in college, kind of witnessed a couple of events that really started to make me think about, you know, because of events that were taking place in this country that was on the opposite side of the world, you know events that were taking place impacted me directly. You know, as some Berkeley student, I really started a question, what's my relationship with this place. And is there anything that I can do to to help you know, just make it a safer, you know place in the future for, for everyone, my family, I'm originally from South Africa and almost my entire family left South Africa, no one wanted my generation growing up you know, with an apartheid government and, and that kind of way. So my family on my dad's side, almost exclusively moved to Israel on my mom's side, it was us Australia and the us. So I left South Africa when I was a kid moved to Los Angeles and grew up here in California. But growing up, I had always kind of made trips to Israel and it was a pretty, pretty important place for me. So that got me out there. And I, I, you know, got to Israel, didn't speak a word of Hebrew and learned Hebrew really quickly. And 11 months later volunteered for the draft and and served the IDF, which was probably one of the most pivotal things or events in my life. And then following my service there I started my first company when I was about 25 years old in the media technologies space.

Young Han (04:00):
Right after this, after you just went from that to entrepreneurship. Wow. You literally just like jumped from a plane to jumping into a rocket ship. I love it!

Justin Wolff (04:09):
Kind of, yeah. I, I started up by working at a media technology company that was developing point of sale advertising displays and ended up patenting and creating a new in a personal display or point of sale display where in, instead of a kind of static poster, which you would hold up at a convention or something like that, we created one that would scroll kind of like what you see in bus stops. But it was really over-engineered and too expensive. And I would say it was the, the, I would call it a failure except for the fact that I learned so much from it, you know, and nothing is a failure if you're, if you learn something from it. That's right. So I, I learned a heck of a lot about what not to do. I learned a lot about partnership and partner relations and whatnot, and learned the importance of law behind behind business. And that's what eventually got me to come back to the states and not really knowing exactly what my journey would be. I did what a lot of forgive me law souls do ended up going to law school.

Young Han (05:13):
Oh gosh, you went that route. I see. Okay.

Justin Wolff (05:17):
So I figured, you know, my thinking was with a law degree, I could do anything that some with a business degree could do, but I would also have a very distinct kind of profession. So you know, when I was in my young thirties, I graduated law school and I practiced law for about five years. I was very into kind of sustainability and, and, and I, I'd been a big lover of oceans. I'm a, you know, scuba diver, I started surfing and all that kind of stuff. So I really wanted to protect the ecosystems. And I thought that working in energy was, was a really great way to do that. So I became a project finance attorney. I started out at Paul Hastings in New York where I worked on utility scale utility scale clean energy projects. So building wind farms, solar solar fields at, at a utility scale. So awesome. Did for about five years in, in New York and later in Hong Kong, I started practicing law about two weeks before Lehman collapsed.

Justin Wolff (06:27):
You did that in Hong Kong?

Justin Wolff (06:30):
Yeah, so I was, I started out in New York and then because of the financial collapse and the, the recession, a few will you know, deal flow kind of all, but dried up in New York. So I was sent off to Hong Kong to, to work on projects in there.

Young Han (06:49):
What the heck, dude, this is amazing. I love it!

Justin Wolff (06:52):
Yeah, it was it was awesome, man. I loved Hong Kong. It was great to work there, I'd spent a few prior to that living in China part of my degree, my undergraduate degree, it was I did a degree in political economics and my focus was on China originally. I, I had I'd studied Japanese earlier. I just thought it was really fun and it was great. I, I got a, I got to go to Japan when I was 14. I on this kind of scholarship to spend a summer with a Japanese family and I just loved it. Wow. It's my first time abroad on my own. And so after that I started studying Japanese, but then when I got into college a good friend of mine was like, what the heck, man, China's the future! Like you should really learn Chinese. And I kind of agreed. So I ended up really focusing on Mandarin spent about collectively about three years in China studying and taking university later. I practiced law in Shanghai in Hong Kong as well. So that got me through about my late thirties, I would say, oh my God. But you know, it was interest thing because while I loved the subject, matter of what I worked on you know, wind and solar projects and, and all of that, the day to day of what my life was like as a lawyer was just not a good fit for my personality and who I really was. I found it to be quite lonely and you know, you'd sit in a very fancy office and I had a secretary and paralegal and books on my shelf and everything, but at the end of the day, I mean, I wasn't interacting that much with with other people, which is what I just, I love the most is connecting with other people and, and, you know, being with others and to sit alone in an office all day drafting documents and reviewing documents just was not a good personality fit. So my last year of practicing law, I did a lot of pro bono work in the education space where I had a real front row seat to see the difference in access to basic school supplies between let's call it, you know, kids and families of means and those without. And I just thought, you know, this is crazy in the United States that things like crayons and pencils and markers and erasers are, are really a privilege and not a right for kids here. Yeah. Was just nuts. And then kind of looking at how much teachers were spending out of pocket to provide those things for their kids. Right. You know, that was just nuts. So got together with you know, who later became my co-founders who were, you know, pretty big players in the, in the CPG space. And in 2014 we co-founded the brand UBI which was kind of like, this was right at the time of the rise of sort of Tom's shoes and that one for one giving model, but no one had done anything like that in the in the school supply space. So we came up with some really novel things that I thought were, were really exciting for the category. One being every item that we sold, we would donate a school supply item to kids in need in the us. A lot of people, you know, there's plenty of organizations out there that support kids, you know, around, around the world. But if you wanna see need, you, you don't have to go more than about five minutes from where you live no matter where its that's and there is real need there. So we, we, we're very intentional about focusing our donations to kids in the us. And secondly, you know, when you were walked down a target aisle and, and kind of take a look for schools, supplies, everything was kind of organized by, by, by product, right? So you're looking for pencils, they're over here, pens are over there, you know, notebooks are, are, are over there and, you know, for a kid that's not very fun, you know, so we merchandised our, our offering in a different way. So when you looked in into a target store and you saw UBI, it was the UB section was organized by color. So everything blue was here, everything pink was here, everything green was there and it was just the idea was can we make it as difficult to pull a kid out of a school supply aisle as it is to pull 'em out of a toy aisle? Hmm. So with that we launched UBI, which was just, you know, so just really a passion project, if you will, you know? Yeah. my heart was really behind it and and we just had such a good time with it. It was really fun. It was coming up with new products and, and ideas behind the category. That was just, it was fun, you know?

Young Han (11:18):
Yeah. Sounds amazing. Sounds amazing.

Justin Wolff (11:20):
My role in the company was chief giving officer. So I got to run the impact side of the company, which all of a sudden I went from this like highly technocratic lawyer to a heart forward kind of business executive where I got to go out and travel across the country to see kids in some of the most dire situations out there and just let 'em know how amazing they were and how important they were. And every time we went to one of these schools and we would give out school supplies, taking a moment to recognize teachers for how incredible they are, you know, it's like a, as the expression goes, you know, not all superheroes wear capes. Yeah. And to see how hard these teachers work and to be able to back them up saving them hundreds of dollars, you know, a year on, on these basic school supplies. And, and to give the kids these, you know, the kind of confidence that they need to know that they can accomplish anything. We just need to give them the tools to, to make their dreams come true if you will. I'd always kind of had this attitude that in every school that I go to, there's potentially a future president sitting in one of these classrooms.

Young Han (12:24):
Oh, that's a great way to look at it. Yeah. I love that.

Justin Wolff (12:27):
You know, and just like, if, if they love something, let's give them the tools to create and express the, in that, you know? Yeah. so that's how I spent the last seven years or so of my life yeah, kind of growing and, and building UBI from an idea to you know, one of the biggest rollouts that target had had done with a brand to now today, UBI being in most major retailers was just a fantastic, fantastic journey to see the growth of a brand like that. And something that I could really put my heart and soul behind because it was so much more than just numbers, you know, and, and profitability, but it was really creating meaningful change and not in some kind of marketing sort of, you know, capacity, but, but truly you know, a, a meaningful change for, for, you know, the, the kind of folks that we were trying to impact. And I think, you know, the, the reward comes not, not just from, you know, a salary that you receive from something like that. But when you start to get thousands of letters from, from kids, handwritten letters, from kids, from across the country, saying how much they loved, you know, getting these supplies and the things that wanted to do with themselves, I think it's a better business practice to, to really engage in sort of triple bottom line businesses that, yeah. That are, are way above just simple profitability and bottom lines around that stuff. So you know, you can win in so many ways when you start to create impact behind a brand, both from, you know, a customer engagement first. So for example, when we started receiving these letters you know, what the heck do you do with these things? You know, I was reading every single one of 'em, but we started getting, we needed like storage for this stuff. Yeah. And then I was like, what, why don't we why don't we give this to our customers? You know? So we started integrate those letters into every eCommerce order that that you know, was done through UBI. So when you ordered your school supplies, you would get a handwritten note from a client.

Young Han (14:23):
Wow. You literally gave the direct, the letter that you got, you sent that out.

Justin Wolff (14:27):
Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, thank you for making a moment like this possible to our customers and what a different experience, you know, as a consumer. But at this same time, it was also amazing to integrate into our, you know, into our employee base because you know, it, it, you know, a lot of people view their jobs as a job, but when you start to get into the impact side of your business, it becomes much more than that. So someone who is, let's say in operations or, or different, you know, aspects of a business who wouldn't, you know, necessarily have direct contact with the impact side of the business, I wanted to give them that feeling that the work that they are doing around, you know, for example, ops or, or some other space, HR was in fact creating moments like this. So a lot of times I'd, you know, take our letter, you know, the letters that we got from kids or videos that we produce and, and whatnot, and, and, you know, I'd put those letters on people's desks for them to come into each day or from time to time. And so I think that was really helpful from like employee retention and and recruitment as well. So people wanted to work for UBI and become a part of that. Because I think in today's age, you know, people are looking for more than just a job. You know, we spend so much of our time in an office. It's gotta be more than, more than just a salary. And I think when you're in the social impact space or working in the kind of ESG space you're able to do that in a way that other companies simply can't. So that got me to about about a, you know, almost two years ago now when I began to think, you know, as, as a dad and as I started, you know, having kids and watching them grow up and climate change issues started to become more and more relevant in my life. I began to really question and think about like, well, what's the legacy of all this stuff that we're making, right. How much plastic are we using and how much of it is just single use and, and things being thrown away and whatnot. And that started to kind of that itch became really kind of, it grew inside of me. And so now I getting ready to launch a, a new brand late summer that I'm super excited about that really engages in in sustainability and gets people to think about the full product life, life cycle of something that they're purchasing. Right. So it's not just about the actual, you know, stuff that you're buying, but what does that stuff come in? How much plastic is being used and is a company really giving thought to the, the end of life process for, for whatever it is they're creating, right? Because at the end of the day, if you're producing millions of things, maybe the company should be giving thought to what happens once those things are done. Yeah. You know? Yeah.

Young Han (17:12):
What if, what if every company did that? Right. Oh my gosh.

Justin Wolff (17:15):
Yeah it'd be pretty, it'd be pretty amazing. And I think it's, you know, when you start to engage in sustainability and other ESG aspects there's a real opportunity to create something that's not just incrementally better, but something that's impossible to ignore. And I think that's when you can start to really, you know, take market share and, and and grow a business in, in a really exciting way. So really looking forward to that this year.

Young Han (17:42):
That's awesome. Yeah. I am too. I mean, just based on your professional trajectory and journey, I can't even imagine how amazing this next thing is gonna be. So I'm very, very excited about it. You have lived an incredible, incredible life so far. I'm like really? And it's really, it's really, you know, what frustrates me the most is that you have a really cool man bun too. And it's just like, I'm like, you have like, literally everything. I'm like, what the heck I'm in.

Justin Wolff (18:09):
That's part of my post lawyer recovery.

Young Han (18:11):
Is that what it's I like it, you're just like, Hey, I'm cutting loose. I'm gonna have a really cool looking man bun. Yeah. It's gonna be awesome. I can't, I, I, I was, I, I'm obviously joking about being frustrated. You look really great. I love it. I'm very jealous. I'm gonna try to copy that very soon here and I'll take a picture and I'll, there you go.

Justin Wolff (18:28):
You've got yours longer than mine now.

Young Han (18:30):
I know I got it. I'm getting it there. Right. Look at that. So amazing though that you started as a paratrooper, it was a paratrooper, right. And then you, you, but you were also wait, wait, wait, wait. Before I even get into that, what, what citizenship do you have? So you were born in South Africa?

Justin Wolff (18:47):
Born in South Africa. So had south African citizenship immigrated to the us. I got my American citizenship. It took me, I think almost I mean, it must have been like 12 years to get my us citizenship. Yeah. I think when I was 18, I became a us citizen.

Young Han (19:02):
Nice. And then it, it, I mean, you had to get one for Israel, right. Because you, yeah. You couldn't be a, you couldn't be part of the yeah. If you didn't have one.

Justin Wolff (19:11):
Yep. So Israel is a kind of very interesting program for, you know, folks that live abroad that wanna end up coming over there or serve. And so long story short I'm, what's called an Ali warden, Hebrew, which means like coming to Israel and got my citizenship Israeli citizenship when I ended moving there.

Young Han (19:31):
Man, that's awesome. You're like, you're like the living James Bond here. I love it. It's so cool. You have like citizenships all over the place. You have like passports everywhere. Like that's amazing. That's, that's really, really cool. Very, very exciting. So I, this is a really cool story and I could probably talk to you the full hour about just your professional journey, cuz I have so many questions, but it is a parenting podcast. I'm gonna switch gears and come back to it. Talk to me about your kids. Who are they, how many do you have and, and then more about like when did you have them in this journey of yours? Yeah. Like how do they fit into your timeline?

Justin Wolff (20:08):
So I have two kids. I love them to pieces, Noah is my daughter. She's eight and my son is Atlas and he's five.

Young Han (20:20):
Awesome those are great names! So, Atlas, thats amazing.

Justin Wolff (20:25):
Yeah. He's got got a lot of weight to carry on his show, right?

Young Han (20:30):
No dad pun.

Justin Wolff (20:33):
I hope he yeah. Grows into it. Yeah. I, my, my daughter came around just as I was getting ready to launch UBI. I really felt kind of ready to be a dad. I was, I think I was 38 when I had her and had just left kind of my, my legal practice and was getting ready to launch this new company that was all about school supplies and kids and everything like that. So I thought the timing was great, you know, I was very excited to be a parent. And yeah, so she, she came around then just as a, I was getting ready to start a, a new company, which is, I think a kind of scary time to become a

Young Han (21:11):
Yeah, wait, wait, what, so the timing of it is things are, that's a very risky thing. You went from an incredibly lucrative, stable job to jumping into something that you had to start and build on your own. Yeah. And you simultaneously decided to have the kid during that jump.

Justin Wolff (21:27):
Yeah. Okay. Decided. . . it was kind of, it, it kind of happened, but

Young Han (21:32):
Okay, got it. OK. Got it. So it was a, it was a happy accident.

Justin Wolff (21:35):
It was, I was definitely ready for it. And I think the other thing that, that really made a big difference was having an amazing partner as well. You know, my partner she's you know, had a very kind of stable career, very different than, than sort of mine she's been in finance. And so, you know, she was that kind of like stability rock for us that allowed me to kind of do the more risky things, you know, take the really low salary as you're kind of starting a business and, and, and be able to take those kind of risks because, you know, she had something that was like, you know much more stable, let's just say

Young Han (22:12):
Yeah, just a secure thing. Yeah. It's a great partnership. What a great partnership.

Justin Wolff (22:15):
Yeah. It's really, really great partnership. And I, I think that that was a huge part of us being able to do the kind of things that that we wanted to do both as parents and as professionals.

Young Han (22:26):
Yeah. That definitely helps a lot. I mean, it's so key, right. People don't really realize that like being an entrepreneur is like, it takes a village. Like you need a network, you need a support group, and it's not just like this lone Wolf thing where someone just goes out there and like they magically like create and build these magical businesses. Right. It's like, no, it's a whole ecosystem. Is your partner staring at you? As I, as I talk about this.

Justin Wolff (22:52):
It's like, I'm like, she's not here. Right.

Young Han (22:54):
Okay. Yeah. Right, exactly. We better talk some more, better things about her. I love it. Yeah. So it's really, really, it is really, really important to have that kind of understanding of what you're trying to go, what you're trying to do and what you're trying to build for. And I, and I have found that you know, that partnership can be more than just money. It could even be like, it's not just about the, you know, the financial aspect. It could be also the emotional and stuff. Cuz the journey of an entrepreneur is also rife with mental and, and emotional tolls.

Justin Wolff (23:23):
Yeah. You better be man. You, you better have mental steel. If you're gonna be an entrepreneur, it is not for the faint or weak at heart. Literally, I, I feel like being an entrepreneur is, is it's basically a, a series of, you know, putting out fires constantly and being able to roll with punches and and, and get through things that, that, you know, nine out of 10 people I think would say F this I'm out, you know, that's right. It's really about a heck of a lot of grit and and being able to, I guess, be, be optimistic. And I don't mean seeing everything through rose colored lenses, but I mean viewing threats and, and things like, like that as as opportunities. Yeah. I found that that, you know, every time the mindset something is yeah, every time something has come in, which is like, this is an existential threat to our business. Our business has gotten better and stronger for it. And, and because of it. Yeah. And I think that mindset is really important for entrepreneurs. How do you handle and manage stress? How do you view challenges and how do you constantly, you know, strive to make whatever it is that you're building better. And if something doesn't go the way that you want it figure out something that's gonna be better than, than your original plan.

Young Han (24:43):
So I have to ask then, because I also feel like, and you can correct me if you disagree. But I also feel like having kids a lot like that too.

Justin Wolff (24:53):
Nothing goes the way you plan nothing. Right. Nothing expected. Yeah. And it, it's funny because when you have more than one kid, you begin to realize how unique each one of them really are. 

Young Han (25:04):
Yeah. There's no, you plan with the second. Yeah. The second, well, it kicks you into teeth, right? Cause you're just like, wait, I was expecting this because of the first you're totally different. You're like, dang it.

Justin Wolff (25:12):
Yeah. Yeah. My, my, my daughter and my son couldn't be more different. You know, my daughter, Noah, she is just, she's very independent, very strong willed. Very creative loves art, dancing music. And, and she's a bit of a risk take like me, you know, she wants to do all these kind of like, I love doing outdoorsy stuff. You know, things that have a slightly higher risk factor from like rock climbing to, to mountain summiting and hiking, you know, extended hikes and stuff. She wants to be a part of every single piece of that, you know, but she's very independent and very strong willed, very difficult to convince her to do something that she, you know, let's say, you know, or, or change her mind about something, Hey, you know what, you know, bedtime really means bedtime. You know, she's like maybe for you. Whereas my son Atlas is very different. You know, this kid is like the sweetest pancake in the whole stack, such a lover, you know, the kind of kid who, every time I leave the house, it's not just one hug. You know, it's like third hug for the road, you know, fourth hug for the road. Then, you know, I got in the car, he's like open the door, you fifth hug for the road, you know, kind of like that. He's the kid where whereas no will be like, Hey dad, you know, I'm, I'm ready for I'm ready for bed. I'm gonna, I'm gonna hit the sack, you know?  Like yeah, that happens at like 10:00 PM. Okay. Two hours after her bedtime. But, but my son is, is the kind of kid where it's I fall asleep. We basically fall asleep where I'm, I'm like holding his hand basically every single night, you know, it's, it's this vice grip on my hand as I'm laying on the floor next to his bed and so cute. I love it. I love every, every moment of it. Cause I know it's not gonna last for forever, you know? Oh yeah. It's like, I think a lot of times people think you know, Hey, I gotta start weaning the kid off of this kind of like dependence on you and make him no, that'll happen in time.

Young Han (27:02):
They're gonna do it whether you want it to or not.

Justin Wolff (27:06):
They'll, they'll all become teenagers eventually. And that's right. I just wanna enjoy this time with them, you know, especially when they're younger and sweet and think that you're their, their world, you know, because that, that's not gonna last.

Young Han (27:16):
No. Yeah. I mean, I'm looking at some of my nieces here, cuz my sister has older kids and I'm like, oh yeah, we should just enjoy this because cuz they're gonna like naturally not want to be hanging out with me. Yeah. Just about five or six years here. Yeah.

Justin Wolff (27:28):
Yeah. And I think especially when you have daughters, you know, the girl, dad show and everything like that. I think the role of the dad is, is really important. Especially in those young years, you know, when, when I found out I was having a daughter first, you know, I kind of there's this moment of panic in me, you know? Yeah. I was like, you know, I'm like, I dunno, can I say this on the show? But like, you know, one of my friends who was just like, well, when you have a son, you only have to worry about one penis, you know?

Young Han (27:54):
I earned that joke,

Justin Wolff (27:55):
Oh my God, what am I gonna do

Young Han (27:57):
That joke?

Justin Wolff (27:57):
I know how guys think and all this.

Young Han (28:00):

Justin Wolff (28:01):
And but I think that, especially with my daughter, you know, I, if, if dad is there, you know, and really present and showing them what positive male interaction looks like and, and real love looks like, you know, you do the first eight years. Right. I think the next eight are gonna be okay. So that's been my kind of mindset with her is, you know, I love it really being engaged and involved in her life. You know, her to do things that, you know, I think most, most dads or others, you know, might not want to do. I'm all about like kind of letting them take responsible risks, you know, and being there with them. I think that's what builds confidence. And that's what lets them know that, you know, I've got, I've got someone here backing me up. So I'll take that extra risk. I'll climb that extra rock or whatever I need to do.

Young Han (28:51):
What do you, what do you want your kids to do when they grow up?

Justin Wolff (28:55):
Whatever makes them happy? I, I just think, you know, as, as, I don't know, as an immigrant, I was always kind of, I, I, I feel like you know, I had this like sort of family expectations of, you know, you, you should do this, you know, have a career. That's gonna make you, you know, money and, and, you know, give you that kind of like security. And I love that in all. And I think I tried that with the whole lawyer thing. Yeah. But then I saw how unhappy I was on a day to day basis, you know, trying to do something or trying to fit into a mold that wasn't right for me. And I learned this much later in life, probably, you know, in my early forties where I did these like personality tests, you know, the Myers Briggs and the 16 personalities. And yeah, I really took the time to start to really learn about myself. You know, who, who am I, what makes me happy? How do, how does my personality really work? You know, from my, my career to, to my day to day at my job, to being a parent, to being a friend, to being a partner. And the more that I learned about my myself, the more that I realized that, that I really need to do something that I truly love because I spend so much of my day doing that. So what I want to do for my kids is give them the tools to figure out what they truly love. You know, the rest will come after that. You know, if you try and fit into a mold, that's not right for you. You're never gonna succeed in business because there's always gonna be someone else doing a similar job that F loves it, you know? Yeah. And they're gonna be better than you at it, you know, but you do something that you love, you know, and that really, you know, you wake up to do every day. You're gonna be better than others at it and success will follow. So yeah, that's beautiful. That's kind of, that's what I'm thinking for 'em

Young Han (30:39):
Man. I, I actually want, I actually feel like that's something that I should listen to and learn, you know, and I'm like, that's not even for my kids. That's a beautiful message. And I think that it's really, really like hard to do that for people because the fear it's like the fear of like, you know not having that security, not having that set like kind of standard. Right. And then second of all, just like the societal pressures of what normal and success looks like. It's so prescribed to us at this at this day and age. And it's so unfortunate because like, we talk about my kids and, and I talk to my kid about my wife about like what we want for our kids. And, you know, like I don't even care if they go to college or not. Right. I'm like, I don't actually really care. You know, I actually just I mean, obviously I know what I want them to do, but I'm, I'm, you know, like it's not anything that's normal, right? Like I personally want them to be artist. I want them to be musical and, and, and sing and, and all those other things. And, you know, and they're showing interest in that obviously, because it's in our family and I like to play music and I see, I see a cello or some sort of larger yeah, yeah. With a lot of flags on, I see a Korean flag on there actually. That's pretty cool.

Justin Wolff (31:43):
Yeah, sometimes there as well.

Young Han (31:44):
That's awesome. Yeah. But you know, I I think that it's like one of those dilemmas where you're like, you know, like you gotta figure out how to like break it yourself. Yeah. Because you will naturally do what, you know, your parents gave to you. And I'm not sure if you share the same sentiment. I don't think you do per se, because it sounds like your childhood was, oh ways kind of riddled with discovery and trying new things and kind of taking things in the stages, learning and go to the next and taking stages and learning the next. But, you know, my parents were, you know, trying to make sure that they created a better life for us. Right. Yeah. And so they had this kind of immigrant, you know, mindset of like, Hey, I gotta do this thing and to get to this level of money so that we can build a better life. And, and, and it's like one of the situations where I have to learn how to break that because I won't be doing service to their sacrifice if I just do the exact same. Right. Yeah. It's like now I have the opportunity in the luxury of thinking about this and more than just making money to eat and live, I can actually like think bigger than that because of the sacrifice they made or else I'm gonna accidentally give that to my kids as well, too. So it's this constant battle of like, trying to figure out like what that, what that temper is, right. Or like the gauges. Yeah.

Justin Wolff (32:52):
And I, I think it's, you know, it's really interesting as, as we've transitioned into, you know, a really service based kind of economy, the skillsets that you need to be successful in a sort of technocratic world are, are much more, much more siloed and, and narrow. And what that can potentially create as a world where there are fewer and fewer people that have the skills to be kind of successful from a financial perspective, more and more people that are gonna be left out of the game. You know, if you're a truck driver right now, I'd be pretty worried about automation and yeah. And where that's going through your industry and whatnot. But at the same time, you look at how things have developed, you know, and especially in the digital world. And all of a sudden there is a huge role for artists, you know, that's right. And, and musicians that there's just all kinds of like ways to be successful in creative capacity that, that we couldn't have imagined, I think, growing up. So it's all about, you know, figuring out what your, you know, what your passion is and, and, and then, you know, how do I turn that into opportunities to get the things that I want to get in life? And I think, you know, really, there's, there's a, at least for me, and I think a lot of people there's a different mindset on, on what derives happiness, you know, as you look at that kind of like wheel of life, how important, and how big of a role should money play in your overall happiness and success. And I think after a certain point of income, there's, you know, there's just diminishing returns on that. So, and, and at least for me, I think, you know, when I was a lawyer, so much of that was about FaceTime. Who's gonna build like the 2,500 hours this year and all of that. And what, what really doesn't get discussed is, you know, what's the cost of that, you know, your time is everything. And, you know, basically being hired by a company is them your time and you gotta really ask yourself, is it worth it? And what am I giving up in exchange for that? And, and does that incremental amount of income really make up for what I'm giving up? And my answer to that today is, is, you know, basically no way, you know, like I, yes, I wanna earn and I wanna do well in things like that, but I wouldn't do at at, at, at a cost of not seeing my kids grow up. There's just too much value in that for me to, to sacrifice it completely. So, you know, I, I really think it's about figuring out what kind of, you know, how do you balance, you know, the, the things that are important in your, in your life. And not just going that sort of traditional route of I'm gonna be hyper competitive. I'm gonna be the top of my industry and this and that. But you know, I I'll see you kids once you're 18 or something, you know, something like that. You, you miss, you missed the point of life.

Young Han (35:36):
Yeah. I, I, I don't know how you are. So Sage at such a, with such a hipster look, and so so young in age, right? You're, you're like talking, you're like talking like, you know, a lot of the I mean, not that age matters, but like a lot of the older mentors that I have right. That are, you know, seeing life in kind of in reverse and, and look at it from like, Hey, but you're, you're basically talking like them. And so, so con congratulations, you're wiser than your year. So there you go. There's one thing, but just to kind of break down some of the tactics, like, I, I, I, I, I love to know like how you personally are like, like combating this, because I think more than the normal per that's a W2 or worker B, you're building a business. Yeah. That is insanely sporadic time consuming hurry up and wait, like, and then now it's like, like nail biting, slow. Like, there's just a lot of things that you can't plan for as an entrepreneur, that's building something. And you're talking about like, how do you temper that and control time with your kids? Like, so what are some of, of the mechanical things that you're doing?

Justin Wolff (36:39):
Oh, I, I think one of the most important things is like, I have a kind of life partner and who helps me raise my kids and do all that. I, I have the best co-founder business partner I could ever hope for. I think that's one of the most important things is understanding what you're good at, what you're capacity is to put into something and finding someone who will match that and and exceed it in, in so many ways. So I credit a huge amount of how far we have gotten to my co-founder Allie, who is, you know, she works like, I, I have never seen another human being work. And there is just no way the, that I could have done this without her. So again, just kind of, it all comes back to finding the right people and, and surrounding yourself by by people that will enable you to get to where you want to go.

Young Han (37:31):
I love it. And so just on a more tactical level, what, how much time are you actually allocating to cuz do you have like hard block off times like that? You

Justin Wolff (37:39):
Yeah. Yeah. I kind of do so you know, mornings typically I'm, you know, kind of getting them ready for school taking care of all of that stuff, and then they're off to school. They stay in school and then do like kind of after school programming typically but they're also doing things like TaeKwonDo and violin and piano and Other stuff. And, and I don't wanna miss that. I don't want to subordinate that to nannies and, and things like that. I want to be there for it. I mean, I got to see, you know, yesterday my kids breaking, breaking wood and, and TaeKwonDo and, you know, doing all of that. And I don't wanna miss that. So know Allie and I just have really good communication around that kind of stuff. And I say, all right, look, typically, you know, three to four days a week from about four o'clock to six o'clock, I'm gonna be busy, you know, and I'm gonna have that time with my kids or four to seven and then I can hop on and deal with stuff after that as needed. So it's all about kind of communication and, and, you know, having, again that, that partnership that understands that. And I think, you know, look when important stuff comes up, it comes up and then and then we find workarounds and, and, and whatnot, but to the extent that we can play things, and I'm not spending a ton of time commuting because I'm basically working from home right now with everything that's going on. Yeah. Yeah. the, the, the lack of, I used to, you know, U's headquartered is headquartered in El Segundo and I used to go from LA to El Segundo every day and back, you know, that's, that's two hours outta my day. So now without having to do that, I can take those two hours and now I'll put them towards my kiddos. And like I said, when important stuff comes up, you know, we do it and they understand

Young Han (39:21):
That's awesome. I love it. Those are really, really great answers and, and very, very helpful for me. So hopefully it'll be helpful for the listeners as well, too. I'm still trying to figure a lot of that stuff out. Right. And I think it's like, one of those things that comes with being an entrepreneur is like, you have of constantly discipline yourself too. Right. And I don't know if you relate to this, but you can lay out a plan, but because of the nature of building something, it goes to. Right. And so every moment you have to like, battle yourself and say, this is the discipline that I have to apply to myself and say, I'm gonna make the conscious decision to block this off or not do that. And it's, it's incredibly hard. I don't want to like, sound like a total, like for quite Frank, other better lack of better words. But like, there are times where you're just like, wait, I just like walked away from a massive deal to go, you know, like help my kid, like, you know, with her party training, you know, it's just like, like you have to like, justify that. Right. But it's like important. And you gotta like, no, it is that important. Like, and you have to discipline yourself to say in the macro, this is more important, right?

Justin Wolff (40:22):
Yeah. I, I'm not sure I would walk away from a massive deal to go to my kids' TaeKwonDo, but, you know, if there's some typical meeting that I would usually have then, or something that's gonna move something an inch or two further, you know, that can wait, you know what I mean? And I think that I, or at least I hope that the folks that I deal with in business understand that, you know? Yeah. And, and, and support that in many ways. I mean, I don't really wanna work with people who are gonna be like, your kids, you know, let's get this, you know what I mean? I don't, you know, that that's, that's not who I want surround myself with. I love it.

Young Han (40:54):
I love it. So you're also even incorporating everything around it. So it's like only just like your co-founders and your partner. You're also like looking for customers and everything around it that like, that basically resonates on your frequency.

Justin Wolff (41:05):
Yeah. Yeah.

Young Han (41:07):
Oh, I love it, bro. This is great.

Justin Wolff (41:11):
I mean, like, you know, at the end of the day, a business is made up of people, you know? And and I wanna incorporate that in every aspect of my business, you know? Yeah. You know, when, when we start doing more hiring and things like that like a super family friendly, you know, kind of policy, I think that'll make people appreciate, you know, work more. I think it'll make 'em work harder. I don't think, you know, having these structured kind of work environments, the way that we traditionally grew up or knew them really creates better work product or more efficiency. I mean, to be honest, I, I, I want to consider like, even like a four day work week, you know, because if people during the week are thinking about all the that they can't get done, because they're so busy with work and everything they, they're gonna be distracted and they're not gonna be focused. Right. But you give someone a half a day or, or a day in the week, let's, let's call it a weekend, Wednesday or something like that. Yeah. Anyone can work their asses off for two days. Right. If they have that extra day where, okay, this is the day I'm gonna get all my stuff done and everything, then they come back and they put their hearts into work for another two days. I think, you know, in, in places where they've been experimenting with this, the, the, you know, work product and performance out outperforms, you know, traditional work models. So I really want to think outside of the mold about how to give people, you know, the life that they want to have while, you know, ultimately creating more productive and efficient business.

Young Han (42:35):
My gosh. You're awesome, man. I love it. You're making me wanna work for you. It's awesome. Yeah. You're literally your, your tactic is, you know think about the human and then basically surround yourself with people that are in the same, you know, same mindset as you. Yeah. And it's like so obvious, but it's like, so, so clever. Yeah. It's like so simple. It is clever. It's like really, really great, man. That's awesome. How do you teach your kids this?

Justin Wolff (43:00):
Well, I mean, I, I don't know if I'm teaching them business tactics exactly. But, you know, I, I think one of the things that I really enjoyed doing, especially during my UBI time was involving my kids in my work. Yeah. It was the kind of business where I could really easily do that. Right. So you, you know, if I was going out on a give and we'd go to a school and, you know, we're handing out school supplies to every kid, I often brought my kids to that. Right. Why? Because this, like, here's what dad does when he is not around and all that stuff. But more than that, you know, I want you to see how good it feels to give something to someone else. Right. Cause a lot of kids, especially at this young age, me, you know, I want presence, presence, right. I want more and more and more give me, give me. Right. And, and yeah. Getting stuff feels good and that's great and all, but I wanna show them how good it feels to give things to others and to make others feel good. Right. I think that's been one the really great things about, you know, my experience at UBI was being able to show is my kids, you know what I'm doing? You know what it's about, have them, you know, just be proud of me, you know, for, for what it is that we do. And, and to start to give them the lessons that, that we were trying to integrate into our business to my kids, you know, the, how good it feels to, to give and to help others and things like that. So I think, you know, with my next business, I'll continue to do, do the same thing, you know especially around sort of sustainability issues that we're gonna be facing, and that are gonna be very, very present in their lives at five years old and eight years old, they're gonna be seeing it firsthand. When we go and we do some of the impact oriented stuff that we're looking at doing,

Young Han (44:32):
That's awesome. Justin, this has been really, really great, but I do wanna make sure I ask you a couple of fire rapid fire questions that I ask every guest, just so I can be cognizant of your busy schedule here. Yeah. So I'm gonna switch gears here and fire off a couple rapid fire. So there's like symmetry to all my episodes. Okay. You ready for the first one?

Justin Wolff (44:52):

Young Han (44:54):
What advice do you have for other parents? And soon to be parents?

Justin Wolff (44:58):
Get all the selfish that you ever wanted to do out of the way before you have kids. If you have big dreams about going and, you know, climbing in the Andes or going to Patagonia for six months and getting lost and all that kind of stuff, do it, all the selfish stuff and selfish, like kind of, you know, self-centered dreams that you had go for 'em and do 'em now because for many years it's gonna be really hard to do those kind of things. So if you're someone who loves to travel and go on great adventures and things like that, it's really hard to do that with a two year old or a one year or a five year old, later on as the kids get a little bit bigger. You know, they can, they can start to participate with you, but even then it's still a little bit different. So if you have some journeying to do that matters to you personally do it.

Young Han (45:46):
Great advice. Yeah. That's so smart. Yep. If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before you had kids, what would you tell yourself?

Justin Wolff (45:54):
Get ready to, to have your mind blown and your world expanded in a way that you never thought possible? You know, I think a lot of us fell in love before we had, you know, kids and, and things like that. And thought we knew the extent of our capacity to love that world gets turned upside down when you have your first kid, I think, and, and understanding just how deep your capacity is to love and how little of your life I is now about you. So get ready for that and get ready to enjoy it and make the most of it. It's a really exciting time. I thought, I thought that, you know, when I got my first dog you know, I'm a huge dog lover and I have like an unhealthy sort of like, like love for my dogs. And I thought, I don't understand how I could love something more until it happened. So get ready for that. And I think that can affect every aspect of your life, suddenly things stop becoming about you and much more about someone else. And it's hard to sort of describe until you have kids, but it's one of the most exciting things. I think you experience as you get ready to have your, your

Young Han (46:55):
First man, well said, I completely know what you mean. Even the dog thing. I know what you mean. I like that hit me right here. I love that. What is the most surprising thing that you learned about yourself after becoming a parent

Justin Wolff (47:08):
Kind of leans into that previous previous answer, which is it just my capacity for love? And I think also just how much I would enjoy it, you know, I, I think, you know, we grew up in, in traditional sort of, or more traditional kind of families and, and ideas about what family is, you know, and the role for men and dads was really as that's a kind of like security provider and all of that. And I think that's really flipped on its head. Now. I, I, I don't think that's the way the world is. When I look at sort of, at least in, in my home, kind of my, my partner wife, she's, she's like the, the breadwinner of the family and, and has that stability and the job and, and hers is much more rigorous cause she's in the financial world and less flexible. So what, what I really enjoy is, is sort of having that flexibility and, and understanding that, Hey, dads can do all this stuff too. You know, it's like, it's actually really cool. And yeah. You know, for example, at my daughter's elementary school, back before the COVID era began they used to have, you know, exercises in the morning and a parent would come in and kind of lead exercises for the whole school. And that's almost always a mom, but I was like, why the heck should it be like that? Let's get some dads out there and go do it, you know, that's right. So really fun to get engaged and involved and be with your kids and, and things like that. I, I really enjoyed that, that kind of thing. So just how much fun it could be to be a dad and, and and how much that can add to your life.

Young Han (48:40):
I love it. Awesome. If you had one favorite business book that you could share, what would that favorite business book be?

Justin Wolff (48:47):
I think one of the most influential I'll, maybe there's two books that I, that I'll share. One that I think was the most influential to me was called thoughtfully ruthless by Val Wright. It's really about kind of when you're an executive, it's understanding the, the sort of arc between being ruthless and, and no matter what you need to do I'm and the world can burn to get me to where I need to go. Right. versus being thoughtful, which is that I'm gonna think through every decision, how's this gonna affect people, our workers, all this kind of stuff. Right. And if you're too far over on one side of the spectrum, then you never get anything done. And if you're too far over on the other side, then you everyone off. Right. Mm. And, and neither are good. So it's all about kind of finding that, that balance between the two. How do you make decisions effectively quickly while, you know, considering the sort of greater world that you live in you know, from your company perspective? So I, I really enjoyed that because I think I've, I've traditionally been too far over on the thoughtful side. So learning how to be a little bit more ruthless quick on decision making has really helped me grow as an executive. But the other book I'm gonna, I'm gonna throw out there that I think was one of my favorites, it's called comfort crisis. And this really has very little to do with business and everything to do with how we need to get ourselves out outside of our comfort zones. And boy being an entrepreneur gets you outside of that comfort zone really quickly. And instead of kind of, you know, backing a away from it and, and being nervous about it, embrace it understand what it is, take a step back, view it and come up with great approaches to to get over that discomfort. So it's really more a book about life, but I think I try and really integrate that into my business practices as well.

Young Han (50:29):
Oh man. I can't wait to read both of those that seriously, those sound awesome. Never even heard of 'em. This is awesome. And then to bring us home when you're not building the next big thing or your passion projects here, and you're not being a super dad, what does what does Justin do for fun? I think

Justin Wolff (50:45):
I I've, I've tried to get back to my like love of nature and getting outside a lot more. A couple of years ago I got a very small group of friends of ours and we started to do long hikes and things like that. So two years ago we summited Mount Whitney and did about 50 miles on the John mu trail in the high Eastern Sierras, which is just one of the most beautiful things. I, I think I've ever done

Young Han (51:10):
And challenging

Justin Wolff (51:11):
Really hard. Yeah. We, we have to train and I like that because you have to kind of like train for it, you know, it's not like you can just pick up and go, Hey guys, let's do this. You know, that that's right. It's a lot of work to get to that point where, where you're gonna safely be able to do something like that.

Young Han (51:24):
It's like an accomplishment. Yeah.

Justin Wolff (51:25):
Yeah. Last year we did the call LoRa trail about 50 miles up in the Rockies over a couple of days. I've started to get back into the ocean more I got my daughter surfing now, so I'm trying to learn how to surf. Awesome. Gotta put this Manon to you somehow. And you know, just trying to do things that, that traditionally, I, I thought were like really challenging. And, and again, put me out this, this is a direct result of that comfort crisis book. Thank you very much author. But I, I started getting into open ocean swimming. I, you know, I, I realized that I'd never really gone beyond the waves, you know, and I just abandoned the beach a zillion times and I was from Cape town and I grew up in LA and, but I've always, always playing at that water's edge and had always been curious what it would be like to go kind of beyond that. So I found a small group that, that does open ocean swimming and, you know, the last couple of months I've been kind of getting into it and just, wow, you know, swimming beyond the wave line and, and, and, and doing, you know, one to two miles in the ocean and coming back it's you know, things like that, that I, I, I think are really fun and exciting, and you know, really get me to, to do what, you know, I really love doing, which is getting back out in nature and reconnecting with myself and the world around me,

Young Han (52:47):
Justin, thank you so much for taking the, the time to be on my show. This has been terrific interview and episode. I, I can't wait for the listeners to check it out.

Justin Wolff (52:56):
Thanks young, really appreciate it. Have an amazing day.

Young Han (52:59):
Thanks for tuning in to another episode of the girl dad show, we really hope you enjoyed that interview. And as always, please take a moment to review rate and subscribe. We'll see you next time.

Leave a comment