367 Renewed Hope and Success after Losing Millions – Gene Hammett

What you will hear in our discussion with Gene Hammett:

  • Root Cause of the Struggles for Most Businesses
  • Renewed Hope and Success after Losing Millions
  • Recover from Losing Millions – Inspiring Story
  • Losing Hope after Financial Loss? Inspiring Story
  • Want to Make a Difference with What You Know? Inspiring Story

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More about our featured guest Gene Hammett

Gene Hammett helps business owners define their market, lead their market and own their market.

Gene has been a leader for 20+ years. He started and ran multiple million dollar companies. Gene succeeded, failed and succeeded again. What he has learned in the process, he can pass along to you so you can have the business you really want.

On his podcast, Leaders in the Trenches, he has interviewed hundreds of leaders and NY Times best-selling authors. Gene is honored to have shared the platform with legend, Jack Canfield and been featured in Forbes, NBC, and Huffington Post. Gene is also a regular contributor to Entrepreneur.com.

Full Transcript

[00:02] Joel: Welcome to ReLaunch, your go to resource for inspiring stories, fresh ideas, and practical solutions. And if you're a frequent listener, thank you for subscribing to the show. And if you are new here, just know that you are among friends. And you might be asking yourself right about now, who are these people? If you're new that is. Well, let me introduce myself. Hi, my name's Joel, I have a background in counseling psychology. I am an endorsed coach, and I have spent years behind the mic doing traditional radio, and also in front of the camera doing television.

[00:39] Pei: And this is Dr. Pei. I am a dentist, a business coach, and the wife of Joel's for 14 years.

[00:47] Joel: And don't forget you're a full time dog mom to our two golden retrievers. By the way, in case you haven't figured it out, she is also the brains behind this operation. No matter where you found this show, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or our other social media platforms, chances are she did it.

[01:07] Pei: I did it.


[01:09] Joel: Hey, today's show brought to you by the folks at Audible. Visit joelboggess.com/audible and signup for their no strings attached 30 day trial membership. And you get a free audio book, yours to keep no matter what you do, as the promotion there at Audible. On the show today, this man is no stranger when it comes to come-from-behind victories, high stakes situations, and solid business advice. He has shared the platform with speakers like Jack Canfield, and he hosts one of the best podcasts that is out there today. If you haven't subscribed to it, you definitely need to, it called Leaders In The Trenches. Gene Hammett, welcome to ReLaunch.

[02:04] Gene Hammett: Well, Joel, it's great to be here, and I really appreciate you having me on the show.

[02:08] Joel: Absolutely, it's gonna be a lot of fun, and I have been looking forward to this opportunity. This show, Gene, it's highly practical because it is all about the relaunch, and specifically how you did it. And while we've all experienced numerous launches and relaunches throughout our lives, I generally ask our guests to zero in on the relaunch that has been the most significant for them, and then we just unfold the story from there. And we'll do that with you here in just a few minutes if that's okay, but I like to start the show off with a quick piece of takeaway gold if you will. And let me ask you this, Gene, you are a master in helping entrepreneurs and business owners define their market, so let me ask you, based on your experience, and you've been in the trenches for, gosh, over 20 years, what would you say is the number one hesitation or fear that business folks have from really lasering in on their market, what do you think?

[03:12] Gene Hammett: It's the fear of missing out. They just don't…

[03:14] Pei: Isn't that the truth?


[03:16] Gene Hammett: Yeah, I agree, Pei. They just don't want to narrow themselves and block them off from the opportunities that could be attracted to them. So they attempt to serve everyone, and as we all know, this is just impossible, you can't be all things to all people.

[03:34] Joel: But let me ask you this, Gene, how do you help people start to understand what you just said? ‘Cause yeah, intellectually, of course that makes sense, right?

[03:43] Pei: Yeah, 'cause what we see is, “Okay, I'm excited about that. I have ability for this, I have a connection there, so Gene, what do I do?”

[03:53] Joel: Yeah, yeah. How do you start to help people understand that, you know what? We don't need a throw-net, like when you go fishing, but what we need actually a spear.

[04:06] Gene Hammett: One of the things that's hard, it's hard to convince someone of something if they believe it can be completely different than what you're trying to coach them through, but I usually go back to the questions of what's working right now? And really helping them understand if… I work with a lot of experienced business owners, so they already have a job or they already have a business, they have money coming in, but they're waiting for referrals. And I get it, it's great to get referrals, you love to get referrals, right?

[04:36] Joel: Of course.

[04:37] Gene Hammett: And referrals are just amazing acknowledgement of the quality of work that we do and the care that we bring, but if that's your whole business do you really have a business? Do you really have the ability to create the market that you want to really work with and work with those inspired people? So through questions, not through a directive, is getting them to realize, “Yes, I would like to create my own way in this world, I would like to establish myself as an expert in a market.” And maybe that means letting go of trying to serve everyone, which is one of those… That big fear that we have when we're really good at what we do, 'cause we want to… We can save them, but we realize that you can't save everyone.

[05:24] Pei: I appreciate you saying that…

[05:27] Joel: I do too.

[05:28] Pei: A lot of business owners, even their business already operating successfully, still struggle with this, 'cause just a few years ago, Joel's business, he was doing great as a coach, but a lot of his business were referral. And over the last few years, we find out to really market our own business, we've gone through many layers of niche in media.

[06:00] Joel: Yeah, Gene, in all transparency, I ran into trouble where you've probably seen that happen with a lot of the CEOs and the founders that you've worked with as when the… For whatever reason, when the referrals don't happen as you might have grown accustomed to, then it's not a business anymore. Okay, so, the number one fear is the fear of missing out and the antidote for that, or at least one of them that you're sharing with us is the use of questions. And that's how you really help people start to see what they're really trying to accomplish. So let's go ahead and just put that in part for now; we can come back to that if we have time.

[06:44] Pei: We need to…

[06:45] Joel: Yeah, we definitely need to, but let's go back and talk about Gene's relaunch and help us unfold from there, if you will, please.

[06:52] Gene Hammett: Well, where do you want me to start?


[06:54] Joel: Well, I'll tell you what, start wherever we need to. There's been plenty relaunches. We've all been through many…

[07:01] Gene Hammett: Right, right.

[07:02] Pei: Something that's been very transformational for your own growth.

[07:06] Gene Hammett: Well, I'm gonna tell you right now, I had a pretty, pretty charmed life up until about 39 years of age. I had great parents, all the love I could handle, went to a great school; I did my 10 years in corporate America; moving up the corporate ranks, and doing all the things I wanted to do there. I had some tough times, but I got through them. They weren't… They didn't cause me to relaunch, well, I did launch into a new business in 2001 right after 9/11, but that wasn't a relaunch because it was something I really had been wanting to do really since I had been in school. I would just… I was here to build businesses. And so, I started that business and for nine years, worked it and went through some ups and downs, but there was no relaunch necessary, because everything just went fairly smoothly. I made almost as much as I wanted to make. I wasn't driven by some million dollar business, although I did make a million dollars. And for me and my partners in 2008, I was working in the Beijing Olympics, and I worked for seven weeks on a project and made 1.3 million in profit.

[08:26] Joel: Wow! Good for you.

[08:27] Pei: Wow, cool.

[08:28] Joel: Yeah, great… Great job.

[08:29] Gene Hammett: And that was partly because I got very focused with my business, so back to the whole question about narrowing in and zeroing it in, that's where I learned it, was when I gave up trying to be all things to all people in that business and over the course of a few years really zeroed on my sweet spot. And I was able to put together opportunities where I was making half a million to over a million dollars each time. So, that's one of the places where I got that, but you asked about the relaunch.

[09:00] Pei: Yes.

[09:00] Gene Hammett: Just to blurt it out here, 2010, January 15th, I was expecting delivery of 17,000-plus tickets for the Vancouver Olympics. I was expecting this to come from my best friend, my business partner, and I had paid a deposit of three million dollars…

[09:24] Joel: Wow.

[09:25] Gene Hammett: On the delivery of this inventory. And I'm sitting in Vancouver with me and my family; we're getting the business set up, we've been there for weeks. Everything is going just as planned until I get the phone call that says, “We've got a problem. I'll take care of it.” Those were the words I remember. I don't remember much else in that one conversation, but I do remember that everything that I thought was going to be just a normal event for me, working… That's a lot of money, but I'm one of the best at my business. And at that moment, I realize it could all fall apart. And so for three days, I was completely unaware what was going to happen. And the worst things went through my head, and some of the best things… “Oh, it's gonna be fine, it's gonna work out.” The reality of it is, it never worked out. I was caught in the middle of an international scandal. I lost three million dollars. It was all my money. It was all the money I invested into at a personal level, my business. I had…

[10:29] Joel: Yeah, so, you put up personal funds?

[10:31] Gene Hammett: Yeah, I had investors. I had clients.

[10:34] Pei: I'm sure this wasn't the first time you… Two of you had that kinda transaction, so you thought it was just business as normal.

[10:44] Gene Hammett: Absolutely. I had done business with him at the Beijing Olympics, where I made so much money before. And I had… There's a whole background to it I could get into, but…

[10:55] Joel: Yeah, a little bit if you would, 'cause I'm interested and intrigued here on international scandal and just kind of how it unfolded for you personally. There's a lot of different other people and other things that were affected, but I'm more interested in kind of how it impacted you, and then, of course, how you were able to move forward from there, 'cause that was really not that long ago. That was five years ago, I guess I don't have to remind you of that.

[11:22] Gene Hammett: Right. Five and a half years. [chuckle] Me at a personal level, when it was all falling apart, it was really scary, because I wasn't sure what would happen. I hadn't thought through the worst case scenarios in this case. I was worried that my wife would leave me. I was worried that she would take our son who was then almost three years old and I would never see them again, because I made a decision that wasn't… She didn't have to live up to, but she decided to stick with me. I remember her hugging me at one point in time, and literally just I had my eyes closed and we made a vow to I will be strong for her in times of need and she would be strong for me when I needed it. But we both couldn't be falling apart the same time.

[12:11] Joel: Let me ask you something, Gene, one man to another here, one husband to another, what goes to your mind, your heart and your emotions when the rug is literally pulled out from underneath you and you have those kind of thoughts? Your wife is there and you're like, “oh my gosh”.

[12:33] Pei: Especially the prior years, it's like you're very savvy business person.

[12:38] Joel: Right you have a track record. This isn't your first rodeo. So I'm just trying to put myself in your shoes and I wasn't there obviously, so I'm not gonna pretend that I can feel what you felt but help me out.

[12:53] Gene Hammett: It's really hard because I just remember not knowing whether it would fall apart. Everyone around me was telling me that this was going to happen as in it would be bad, terrible. My attorneys were telling me the worst of it. I was instructed to get out of Vancouver as soon as I could. Not that I was doing anything legal, but I needed to come back to my legal team to actually fight this battle because it looked like we were gonna have to fight something. My wife was right there with me a 100% of the time and supported me, and she actually stayed behind. Me and my son and my mother-in-law cross over into… We drove to Seattle from Vancouver and got a plane out. Just the gut wrenching pain of not knowing what was gonna happen, I was in a daze for a few days. My attorneys did arrange for me to sit down with the secret service because this is an international money laundering kind of thing and the secret service grilled me personally for four hours.

[14:05] Joel: Oh my goodness.

[14:06] Gene Hammett: And I was… My attorneys would not share any kind of details about what I had. They had stacks and stacks of paperwork and I said, “well if you just showed them all of the wire transfers, if you showed them all of the email transformation, if you showed them all of these contracts that were signed and all of these stuff that would show that I am the victim here. Not the person who's just trying to protect themself after something went bad.” So all these happened just very quickly, there were days were just blended together, there was a lot of pain that we had to go through. There was a lot of self doubt. I will be honest with you; there was a suicide that really kind of plagued me. It didn't plague me very long. I think the main reason was is a few years earlier, probably two or three years earlier, my brother had committed suicide. And I saw how bad it was for my mom, and I had a good friend of mine pull me aside. I just wasn't sure what to do, and he said” if money can solve your problems, you don't have problems.” And that really helped me out.

[15:18] Joel: Gene, thank you for that transparent story. I really appreciate that. I'm very sorry about your family's loss. Let me ask you this. What did you in the midst of things and then coming out of it, what did you learn or relearn about yourself and your own potential? And the potential of those people that were… That had your back?

[15:52] Gene Hammett: I really… The first thing I really learned was that I get a chance to start over and this is the relaunch part of me.

[16:04] Pei: When did you come to that point?

[16:06] Joel: Good question.

[16:06] Pei: Because you know…

[16:07] Gene Hammett: Yeah. I didn't fully accept everything right away, to be honest with you. I was expecting my good friend would come through for me and all the lies that were being told. I was expecting things to be put back together. It was about 10 days after, and I remember holding my wife and literally just going, “oh my gosh, I don't know what I'm gonna do now”, and she goes, “Well, you are done with this business.” And I said, “okay, I agree with that”, and I said, “well, I don't know what I'll do next. I will own another business, but this time, I will make a difference”. Where this came from was if you go back into my career of building this one business in the… It was in a sports… International sports tour company is what I owned. So international sport tours and the tickets to big sporting events like that were a big part of that.

[17:05] Gene Hammett: So I hated the industry. I hated the work and for about three or four years, I would talk to anyone about there's gotta be a better way. I would never leave that because I made so much money. And so my wife had asked me questions like, “If you hate it, I hate it, you hate it, why not just let's just take what we have and go start something else?” Well, I had built the business up for nine years, my referrals coming in, my fear of missing out. I had certain things going on in my business where I would make 150,000, $200,000 a year doing nothing. I could've just did those things and literally vacationed for 10 months, but I was stuck into the way I saw it so 10 days into this, I realized I could start over and I could create my own way. I could actually do good in the world instead of just making money for me. That's the reason I became a coach.

[18:03] Joel: Okay. Yeah sure. Thank you for that. So I'm just kind of curious. What kind of understanding did you have about yourself when you came to that rev… Realization I should say, that you wanted to do something that really mattered and made a difference to other people. Because it can be absolutely transformative for a lot of folks. Sometimes it sucks leading up to the transformation, right? There's different things that happen in a person's life, and I'm thankful that you were… You felt safe enough to share with us what happened in yours, but talk about that realization of “You know what? I wanna do something that really, really matters.” Not just to my bottom line, which we all know that that's important, but also to your sense of wholeness and making a difference.

[18:55] Gene Hammett: Yeah, it was… There was a few things in there. One of them was there's a quote out there and it goes something like “They won't remember what you said or what you did for them, but they will remember how you made them feel.”

[19:11] Joel: Right. Right.

[19:11] Pei: Yes.

[19:13] Gene Hammett: Maya Angelou. I'm paraphrasing. I don't have that exactly.

[19:16] Joel: Sure. Yeah. I hear yeah. I gotcha.

[19:18] Gene Hammett: But that kept playing through my mind because I remembered getting business coaching in 2002 when I was building that business, and funny enough, there was something around finding your target market and finding your niche inside of that coaching that I remembered forever. It was how she made me feel by giving me the chance to grow and develop as a business owner when I really needed that. I was successful before that. So I remembered that specifically and I wasn't sure what I would do, but I remembered I would make people feel great about themselves and about their businesses and I would help them make more money. Becoming a business coach was the natural progression, but I'll tell you, I was really scared about something and I went back to my coach to ask her if I was capable of doing this.

[20:12] Joel: What was the fear? What were you scared of?

[20:15] Gene Hammett: Well, would you take advice from someone who just lost $3 million and just went through this horrible experience and just went through all of this to help you guide your company?

[20:26] Pei: What did she say when you presented that… ‘Cause you weren't focused… At the time you didn't focus on all the success you built, all the knowledge you gained, but you focused on the most recent fall you had.

[20:42] Gene Hammett: Pei, that's a very, very astute answer to… Or question to that because it's exactly what I was focused on, exactly the most recent pain and how that had taken my confidence. How that had taken and rocked me to the core and really shook me to the point where I wasn't sure what I was gonna do. I lost all my money, all these attorneys were taking everything I had for their billing fees and everything like that. Literally I was days away from bankruptcy and the fact that I was able to center myself and ask the question, my coach, came back to her, and her name is Linda, came back to me and said “You can do it, whatever you want to because everyone has to relaunch.” Right? I don't think she used the word relaunch but that's what… People have to go through these things. So what matters is how you respond to all this, not that you went through it. They'll look at how you got back up on your feet.

[21:43] Joel: Very well said.

[21:44] Pei: Love that. Yes.

[21:45] Joel: And… Go ahead.

[21:46] Gene Hammett: That changed everything from there on and I enrolled. I took the last like $10,000, $11,000 I had and enrolled into coach training school so that I could get some real deep certification. What was really amazing behind that was how much I needed it as a person to operate in the world after losing so much.

[22:07] Joel: Okay. Explain. Unpack that please 'cause that's very, very timely and valuable.

[22:13] Gene Hammett: Well, I… Here's the thing about coaching. No one's ever asked me about my certifications. No one's ever said “Are you certified to coach? Do you have to be certified?” No you don't.

[22:24] Pei: Where did you certify? Nobody ever ask, huh?

[22:26] Gene Hammett: Nope, no one ever asked. But… And you don't know that going into it and did I need to spend the $10,000, $11,000, whatever it was. No, I probably could have just done what I've done. But I wouldn't have had the depth of skills to reach my clients. I wouldn't understand the fears that they have. I wouldn't understand the psychological barriers that they have to break through to pick up the phone and make cold calls because I just do those things. I don't have that fear.

[22:55] Pei: So it was natural for you, yeah?

[22:58] Gene Hammett: Yeah.

[23:00] Joel: So let me… Go ahead.

[23:00] Gene Hammett: I went through and got that training and started off the first literal, like four or five months, was deep work internal as for me, not external, not for others. So the idea was to put us through that coaching experience with our teams and our cohorts that we put together, the live sessions where we were coming together and about 50 of us really bonded through that experience. Yes, it was five years ago, but it was one of the most transformational experiences of my life. Period. Bar none. Just coming through that.

[23:37] Joel: So let me…

[23:38] Gene Hammett: One specific… Go ahead.

[23:39] Pei: Can I say something also?

[23:40] Joel: Yeah, absolutely.

[23:41] Pei: I bet because of that traumatic experience right before you're starting that certification program, I bet that program was somewhat healing for you too?

[23:53] Joel: Yeah, therapeutic. Absolutely.

[23:55] Gene Hammett: Absolutely. That was the basis of it. I didn't know that's what I needed, but that's exactly what I got.

[24:00] Joel: Okay, gotcha. Okay, so let me ask you this. What were some of the strongest parts of your personality, Gene, that you were able to harness as you not only went through the coaching training, but as you were building yourself up emotionally, spiritually, and then of course professionally and financially? Strongest parts of your personality.

[24:23] Gene Hammett: You know, I'm gonna go back to my natural personality, which is a very analytical, logical kind of person. I'm an engineer. I ran a business based on numbers and based on putting deals together and things like that, so I understand how to put deals together and the analytics and the logic behind it. I was really kinda lacking a little bit of the emotional intelligence, let's say a lot of the emotional intelligence, it takes to really be a leader. And when I went through the coach training, I actually felt like I became complete in my ability to serve as a leader and as a coach because I've got both sides of the logic and emotional sides of the coaching process.

[25:04] Joel: Okay, last question, and you've probably already answered this in kinda the way you just framed up that last one, but was there wrong information or maybe bad habits that you had to wade through or break so you could relaunch into this next phase of your business and your personal growth?

[25:29] Gene Hammett: I think that I would not have been that good of a coach if I didn't have to go through all this, because I've been through hell and back. Literally, I mean, what I've been through, and then the journey of building that back with the coach training and my personal work that I did there. Just having an awareness to that and how that transforms people that I'm coaching, has been so powerful, and it's taught me specifically… You know, we talked about those questions that you ask. I think I would've been one of those coaches that's very directed, more consultative, of telling you, “This is what you should do, A, B, C, check back with me later.” But the power in the right questions at the right moment in the right way is what I learned through this journey, and I never would've had that has I not gone through all of these things.

[26:21] Joel: That reminds me of what one of my friends says. John Miller wrote a killer book. You've probably read it, Gene. It's called “QBQ: Question behind the question”. And one of the things that John says is, “The answer is always in the question.” And to your point, asking better questions, you'll get better answers. Leadership in the Trenches is the name of the podcast. You definitely need to subscribe to it if you're not already. Of course, we will have all of the go-to social media hotspots and links to get to Gene's website and all of the usual social media places. Just go to joelboggess.com/367. This has been an absolute pleasure. Appreciate you spending your time with us today on the show, and you are welcome to come back here on ReLaunch any time. Have a wonderful, wonderful rest of your day, Gene, and thank you so much for sharing.

[27:29] Gene Hammett: Thanks for being here and having me.

Connect with Gene on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and his website.

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Joel Boggess

Keynote Speaker | Corporate Trainer | Award-winning podcaster I help teams ignite their courage, take bolder steps, and get greater results. Together, we create possibilities that bring empowerment, meaning, and financial impact.

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