Mike Salguero on ButcherBox's rise, and other entrepreneurial insights

Mike Salguero: ButcherBox CEO on Bootstrapping to $550M | Danny Miranda Podcast #280

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Key Takeaways 

  • Do sales at some point in your life to learn that “hustle = dollars”
  • “Entrepreneurship helps people who might not fit in or don’t play by the rules. It helps them to build a career.”Mike Salguero 
  • The current meat industry is broken; it is bad for the animals, the farmers, the environment, and the end-consumer 
  • Ironically, ButcherBox “agrees” with vegetarians who are critical of the meat industry, it is just going about the solution a different way 
  • “Entrepreneurs spend way too much time on business plans, and not nearly enough time on lifestyle design.” – Mike Salguero 
  • Lifestyle design is going to be completely different depending on where you are personally in your entrepreneurial journey 
  • Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: quantify your nut, craft a daily routine, reflect on the feelings you experience, layer in travel and exploration on top of your entrepreneurial pursuit, and constantly “check yourself” to ensure you’re not becoming consumed by it
  • Only hire people who embody all of the core values of your company
  • Relentless Improvement means the work is never done; there are always iterations to be made regardless of the success of a product to make it even better 
  • Your job as a parent is to help your child find their beautiful light and spirit within; the things they do that bother you are actually lessons for you 
  • Brands don’t go viral, people do 
  • Prolonged water fasts can have a tremendous mind, body, and spiritual benefits    

Intro 

  • Mike Salguero (@mikesalguero) is the CEO of ButcherBox (@butcherbox), traveler, Bostonian, maker, and believer. ButcherBox is a meat delivery service that delivers 100% grass-fed beef, free-range organic chicken, humanely raised pork, and wild-caught seafood directly to your door.  
  • In this conversation, Mike Salguero and Danny Miranda discuss Mike’s journey as an entrepreneur, growing up without a father, his journey to consciousness, the exponential growth of ButcherBox, why the meat industry is desperate for change, how to hire people, the importance of a company having core values, why ButcherBox is expanding into retail stores, parenting, personal branding, Mike’s 7-day water fast, and much more 
  • Check out these Podcast Notes from Pomp & Texas Slim’s discussion on The War on Meat 
  • Host – Danny Miranda (@heydannymiranda)  

The Importance of Sales

  • Mike used to be a walking vendor at Fenway Park, and he was known for his “PEA-NUTS!” cheer 
  • People should do sales at some point in their life to learn that “hustle equals dollars” 
  • Unlike some jobs where you make the same regardless of how hard you work, you make much more money when you work harder in a sales job 
  • When he started at Boston University in 1999, Mike quickly realized that the academic load wasn’t going to be too intense, so he picked up vendor jobs at Fenway Park, Boston Garden, and Gillette Stadium

Entrepreneurship 

  • “Entrepreneurship helps people who might not fit in or don’t play by the rules. It helps them to build a career.”Mike Salguero 
  • When he started at BU’s business school, he was told, “If you don’t have an internship at an investment bank this summer, you’re not going to make it” 
  • This remark made him leave the business school because he knew he didn’t want to work at an investment bank; he wanted to do his own thing 

Growing Up Without A Dad  

  • His father left the family when Mike was only four months old
  • Trying to win his father’s love was responsible for a portion of Mike’s adolescent drive and determination, which both remain to this day 
  • To this day, Mike has fears over abandonment – both in his personal and professional life
    • However, he is much more aware of these feelings now and is less hijacked by them when they do arise 
  • Mike’s mother never let him and his siblings use the “lack of a father” as an excuse
  • As part of an exercise with a Tony Robbins-like coach, Mike wrote a letter to his father forgiving him for what he had done
    • The letter ended up being delivered to Mike’s father, which led to their reconnection over a phone call that allowed Mike to forgive his father and “put a pin” in it
    • Mike’s father died four months after the phone call 

Journey to Consciousness

  • Entrepreneurship, and leadership more generally, forces you to learn about yourself 
  • Mike is a fan of the Enneagram Personality Test that categorizes participants into one of nine personality types  
  • “I look at running a company as a step in trying to awaken to myself and become more conscious in the world.”Mike Salguero 
  • Competition brought Mike the most joy when he was growing up 
  • Before ButcherBox, Mike and his co-founder had a dream to make a bunch of money and then give it all away 

ButcherBox’s Exponential Growth 

  • Companies have a mind of their own 
  • “ButcherBox wanted to be something bigger than I ever dreamed of. This was supposed to be a hobby; this was not supposed to be this massive company.”Mike Salguero  
  • ButcherBox’s success is rare:
    • Tons of customers
    • Tons of revenue
    • Profitable
    • No outside investors 
  • Okay, so what? From Mike’s perspective, ButcherBox has the opportunity to change the meat industry, which is in dire need of change.
    • This purpose found Mike; he did not find it 

Why The Meat Industry Needs Change 

  • The meat industry is pretty broken, according to Mike – Texas Slim agrees!
    • It is bad for the animals
    • The farmers are exploited
    • The methods used to raise the animals are bad for the environment  
    • Conventional beef is inferior to grass-fed beef 
  • The vast majority of animals raised to be food (cows, chickens, pigs) live in fairly horrible conditions
  • The animals exist in confined feeding operations and have a little-to-no quality of life 
  • Many of the farmers have been exploited for years, and are now going bankrupt
    • Farmers have the highest suicide rate of any profession and are the highest they’ve ever been
  • Farming animals has essentially become a money-losing operation
  • The confined feeding operation used to raise the animals is worse for the environment relative to if they were raised on a pasture 
  • The reason why Mike got into this business: his wife has a thyroid condition, and every doctor and nutrition they spoke with recommended grass-fed beef because of the health benefits and because it is so much better for you than conventional beef 
  • Ironically, ButcherBox “agrees” with vegetarians who are critical of the meat industry, it is just going about the solution a different way 
  • Grass-fed beef is only 2% of the overall beef consumed in the United States 

Lifestyle Design 

  • “Entrepreneurs spend way too much time on business plans, and not nearly enough time on lifestyle design.” – Mike Salguero 
  • Create a vision for where you want to be in three years:
    • Where are you waking up?
    • Who are you waking up next to, if anyone?
    • What does your house look like?
    • Do you have kids?
    • Are you working out in the morning?
    • What time are you going to the office?
    • Wait, are you going to the office? 
    • What does the office look like and who is there?
    • So on, and so forth… 
  • Lifestyle design is going to be completely different depending on where you are personally in your entrepreneurial journey 

Lifestyle Design For the Aspiring Entrepreneur 

  • Quantify Your Nut: the amount of money you need to live the way you want to live 
  • Craft your daily routine 
    • Are you going to the office or not?
    • Are you working out or not, etc.? 
  • Reflect on the feelings you experience
    • When you experience joy or flow-state, what led to it?
  • Layer in travel, experiences, and exploration into the overall entrepreneurial picture 
  • You need to “check yourself” as an entrepreneur or it will become a 24-7-365 endeavor that may consume you 
  • Hustle culture may be a lie, according to Mike – having a plan mitigates the deleterious effects of hustle culture 

Why Mike Takes Fridays Off

  • Mike Salguero has taken Fridays off since starting ButcherBox 
  • “Off” as in not taking meetings and not going into the office on Fridays
  • As a founder and entrepreneur, you’re always working (at least in your head) 
  • Mike’s first company fell victim to the hustle culture of burning the candle at both ends
  • Giving ButcherBox employees more freedom with their work schedule has resulted in everyone taking on more responsibility

Hiring Practices

  • Write down the company’s core values before you start hiring people
  • Only hire people who embody all of the core values of your company
  • ButcherBox screens potential employees on all of its core values
  • Does the potential hire use the words “I” or “We” when speaking about previous accomplishments 
  • The Barbell Strategy: Pair young employees with little experience but a lot of grit with really old employees with tons of experience but less fire in their stomach 
  • There are certain roles within a company where experience really matters; you must be cognizant of these positions and hire accordingly 
  • ButcherBox’s core values: Humble, Authentic, Accountable, Relentless Improvement, & Customer Obsessed  
  • ButcherBox wants employees to show up to work humble and authentic, and then approach the work with accountability, the desire for continuous improvement, and an obsession with the customer
  • Relentless Improvement means the work is never done; there are always iterations to be made regardless of the success of a product to make it even better 

Moving Into Retail 

  • ButcherBox has expanded into retail stores, starting with a small sample size of 20 specialty stores as of this writing 
  • The percentage of people who regularly buy groceries online increased from 7% prior to the pandemic to 11.4% after the pandemic 
  • But most of that 11.4% is Instacart where the shopping itself is outsourced 
  • Only a quarter of that 11.4% consists of people getting something like ButcherBox delivered
  • Mike Salguero estimates that about 1.5% of the United States are potential ButcherBox customers
  • ButcherBox has almost shipped a box to that 1.5% – market saturation!  
  • The company has chosen to “go where the customers are shopping” to make the ads more effective 

Relentless Improvement 

  • Mike is far more awake to who he is today than five years ago
  • He is less focused on “numbing” himself 
  • His most important job is being a father, and he’s gotten better at it with time 

Parenting & The Conscious Parent

  • Mike Salguero recommends parents read The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabary, which explains why there is nothing wrong with your kid  
  • Your job as a parent is to help your child find their beautiful light and spirit within
  • Everything else – the things they do that bother you or make you want to yell at them – are actually lessons for you 
  • These lessons will help you wake up to consciousness and help you process things from your past 
  • Kids spell love “t-i-m-e” 
  • The years go by quickly; being present is really important
  • Danny shares an adage from Ryan Holiday: You can choose two of our three between kids, career, and parties 

Personal Branding 

  • ButcherBox has been incredibly quiet up until 2022 
  • Claim your story before someone does it for you 
  • People started to take ButcherBox a lot more seriously when it announced it did $550M in 2021 revenues 
  • Going out and talking about the ButcherBox mission has improved the company’s chances of achieving it 
  • It’s been “very uncomfortable” for Mikle to put himself out there as he has over the past year
  • Mike hired a ghostwriter for his Twitter when first starting out
    • The ghost writer’s strategy was to be a “one trick pony” until getting to 25,000 followers, and then you can talk about whatever you want 
  • It was boring for Mike to repeatedly be doing threads about growing the business, so he pulled the plug on that strategy around 7,500 followers 
  • He used to like Twitter exclusively for information gathering, but after producing content of his own, it transformed into a validation engine
    • He wanted to see if people liked what he was saying 
  • Today, he has backed away from Twitter and is making the effort to go on more podcasts 
  • Brands don’t go viral, people do 
  • Originally, ButcherBox did not want to talk about itself for many reasons
    • One being it did not want to tip others off to the success that it was having
  • ButcherBox has reached a size where competition is good for it and good for the industry   

Mike Salguero’s Seven-Day Water Fast   

  • Mike’s seven-day water fast was “f*cking incredible” 
  • Mike did a 100-hour fast to celebrate his 40th birthday and decided a prolonged fast was something that he wanted to turn into an annual tradition 
  • Mike only consumed water, electrolytes, coffee, and soda water for seven days
    • A simple and cost-effective method 
  • Mike wanted to get mind, body, and spirit benefits from the fast 
  • Autophagy is a bodily process that occurs during a prolonged fast where the body literally starts earring itself for fuel
    • The theory is that the body prioritizes eating the bad cells first, such as pre-cancerous or free-radical cells
  • Autophagy promotes longevity and includes anti-cancer and anti-Alzheimers benefits 
  • Mike did the Liver King’s “Failed Hunt”, where you do an intense workout (mimicking a hunt), then fast for a long period of time (mimicking the hunt gone wrong), and then do another intense workout (another hunt), and then you feast (successful hunt)
  • The first two days of a water fast are really hard because you’re going to be hungry 
  • The body stops feeling hungry after the first 48 hours of the fast 
  • Mike felt tired between 50-100 hours, but mostly felt good
    • He lifted weights throughout the fast
    • He slept well during the fast  
    • Physically, the most noticeable thing was being dizzy if he got up too quickly 
  • His original goal was to go for 100 hours, and if he felt good he’d go for five days
  • He still felt good after five days, so decided to go for seven days
  • Mike lost 18 pounds during the fast, eight of which immediately came back as soon as he ate something 
  • Mike felt great at the end of the fast and thinks his elevated consciousness was a strategy his body deployed to preserve energy
    • “Oh no, don’t get upset about that – we don’t have the caloric output for that petty thing right now” 
  • Mike wants to experience more of the 150th-Hour-Fasted version of himself 
  • He’s going to do a 10-day water fast next year

Challenge for the Listener 

  • Spend a day thinking through your three-year vision, write it out, print it out, revisit it three years from now, reflect on it, and then repeat the process
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Notes By Stan Rizzo

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