How Do You Define Failure?

Posted 4 CommentsPosted in e-commerce, experience, faith, Leadership, marketing, mattress industry, product development, Retail

Before I get started on this week’s blog I want to direct you to this podcast featuring Rick Anderson, the President of Tempur Sealy International. We talk about the reunion with Mattress Firm, MAP pricing, the value of the Tempur-Pedic brand, and Ricks’ very cool Caddy Shack golf bag so check it out.

Q1 of 2017 my brother Jeff and I launched a new D2C mattress brand called Herobed. The goal was to participate in the growth of the online channel and do some good along the way but it didn’t work out how we had hoped. As with any start-up we did our due diligence looking at other brands, their pricing, product construction, advertising approach, did a lot of analysis on acquisition cost etc. and felt strongly that our approach would fit a niche with consumers and capture the hearts and minds of people wanting better sleep, therefore, a better life. The problem was, even during development, the financial models that we created were constantly changing and it was impossible to keep up with new players in the category. When you enter such a dynamic segment the risk factor grows exponentially and we failed. Or did we?

Our concept was to come out with a hybrid, (pocketed coil/gel memory foam construction) which was different than pretty much anything being promoted on-line, price it slightly above the market, and create a marketing message that consumers could get behind. The idea there was that we are all somebody’s hero and in order to make an impact on those around us, we have to be the best version of ourselves, and sleep is a critical piece to that. We celebrated teachers, moms and dads, neighbors, and local charities. ANYONE that was doing something to add value to the lives of others. We donated beds and talked about sleep as a component of a happy life, turned the box into something kids could color, (what kid doesn’t like to play with a big box?), and we even delivered the bed with its very own superhero cape. But it wasn’t enough. Low conversion rates and higher than projected marketing cost kept us from the desired result.

I haven’t really talked about this until now because, in all honesty, I was a little embarrassed. I hate losing which at the time is how I was looking at the year we spent developing the brand; a big fat loss. It’s true that Herobed was not a financial success but we did get a lot from our time working on the project so was it really a net loss? We now have a very deep understanding and appreciation as to what it takes to succeed in that space and we learned a lot about digital commerce, which in today’s world is pretty valuable. Not to mention the fact that I spent a year working on this with one of my best friends who also happens to be my brother.  Somebody said that you aren’t failing if you get a solid education from the experience which I guess is true and something you should always remember if you fall short. Right? It sounds a little like the BS that you tell yourself when something doesn’t work out but there is a lot of truth in that sentiment.

I hope that there are more failures in my future because it means that I am going after my dreams and not sitting on my butt TALKING about the stuff I could do. When you hear about successful entrepreneurs, the story is typically about how they succeeded with their idea, but most of them have a long history of working on projects that didn’t turn out well. Did they fail? I guess they did/ we did in a way but all of those experiences pave the way for what will ultimately be the big win. This is true for me in business as I reflect on other “failures” but also in my personal life. I get it wrong. Try not to repeat mistakes, and always end up better as a result so I’m good with that. Bring it on! Funny thing is that the people who criticize others for failing with a business venture are usually the ones that never try something on their own because the people I know taking risk have a profound appreciation for others doing the same, and I love that about people in the startup space.

My new friend Pablo Frixione recently purchased the Herobed brand from us and has done some really good stuff. Like our version they are launching slightly above market, with a hybrid, and a solid focus on giving back, donating a free mattress to someone in need for every two Herobeds sold. Go check out their site and take a look at their Herobed Pregnancy Test, it will make you smile I promise. Great job Pablo and best of luck to you and your team!


Check out the podcast How I Built This with Guy Raz. He interviews the founders of companies like Tempur-Pedic, Compaq Computer, and Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream and takes them through the early years, how they almost failed, and what ultimately lead to their success. It’s one of my favorites so give it a listen.





Purpose can…

Posted 24 CommentsPosted in culture, faith, Leadership, purpose

Last week on September 4th Kadin Lee Roberts-Day (KRD), a sophomore at Joplin High School collapsed in the gym during football practice and died from cardiac arrest. When someone dies unexpectedly, especially that young, it’s difficult to process. Both of my kids attend this school and didn’t know Kadin very well but that didn’t matter because the impact of his passing in this small community was felt in a profound way by all, no matter who you are or how well you knew KRD.  That’s the bad part of what happened last week, but it’s not the entire story.

High School football is alive and well in Joplin and we have a really solid team this year; maybe one of the best ever. On Friday we were supposed to face off against our arch-rival, the Webb City Cardinals. The Cardinals have a 274-25 win/loss record under coach John Roderique who has been named Coach Of The Year 11 of his 23 seasons and has lead his team to 11 Missouri Class 4 State Championships. Not bad right? These guys live and breathe football and our Joplin Eagles have not won a game against them since 1990, and this year, we had to play them at home and we haven’t beaten them in their stadium since 1941.  Since KRD died on Wednesday the administrators thought they should give our kids as much time to grieve as possible so they pushed the game from Friday to Saturday, so now we were the only high school football game in the area being played that night. It was going to be a packed house.

To add even more meaning to this story, Kadin’s mother LaShanda, joined her son’s football team in a moment of silence at the school. After the prayers and lots of tears, she told the team that her son was always talking about how much he wanted to beat Webb City. The Eagles were torn apart after the loss of their teammate and the coaches were suffering just as bad. So it really wasn’t a question of beating Webb, it was more about holding it together long enough to get through the game. But now they had a purpose.

It was standing room only with over 7,500 people filling the seats. Some parents got together and made up t-shirts to honor KRD’s memory so it was a sea of red in the visitor and home sections of the stadium. The Webb City community was mourning the loss right alongside Joplin and blew us away with their support. Cheerleaders stayed up all night baking cookies to sell for $1 so they could raise money to pay for the funeral. The 50/50 pot was donated to KRD’s family. And when the Joplin Eagles took the field that night, there wasn’t a single person from Webb or Joplin sitting down. Everyone in the stadium was on their feet clapping for the Eagles team. (To anyone from Webb City that happens to read this post, I want you to know that your kindness that night made a HUGE impact on all of us from Joplin so THANK YOU for that.) Both teams met mid-field for a group prayer, after that there were many hugs and handshakes followed by the first play of the game which ended in a penalty. In a sign of solidarity, Joplin took the field short one player as a symbolic gesture for their missing man, and Webb City declined the penalty. More tears. Game on.

Joplin knew they were going to have to play the game of their life to beat the Cardinals and it started out just as we needed it to. The Eagles drove the ball 71 yards ending in a 6-yard touchdown pass, followed by a fumble recovery and another touchdown for Joplin. At half-time, the score was 28-7 Eagles, but we knew that it wouldn’t be enough to win because Webb is just that good. Sure enough, the Cardinals came back strong in the second half, getting within a touchdown. With 5:47 left in the game, Isaiah Davis broke a 47 yard run for a first down but we ended up that drive with a 4th and 14 with three minutes remaining; plenty of time for the Cardinals to score. In the end, Blake Tash passed the ball to Zach Westmoreland who brought it in for a 15-yard gain and the first down we needed to run the clock out. Joplin Eagles win 35-28. RIP #63…that one was for you.

Schools from all over posted pics showing their support for Kadin and the Eagles.

I’m sharing this story today for a few reasons. The kindness showed to Joplin by Webb City, and so many surrounding towns was overwhelming and makes you feel good to live where you do; the people in this little corner of Missouri are pretty dang incredible. The other part of this story is to point out the impact of purpose in your life. Purpose can drive your business, give your life the north star it needs, bring your family together, and even help you win football games. We have some incredibly talented players on the Joplin Eagles football team, but there is no doubt in my mind that when those kids made it about something bigger than themselves, it gave them the edge that they needed to get that win for KRD. 

There were a lot of prayers last week. Prayers for peace and understanding. Prayers for strength. Prayers to win that game. The final score was 35-28. 35+28= 63 which happens to be Kadin’s jersey number. The game was played on 9/7. 9×7= 63. Then there was this cloud in the sky that looked a lot like the head of an Eagle. Some people might write those things off as coincidence which I understand, but other people would say that God’s presence was in that stadium giving those boys a little push. I guess I’m one of those “other people.” Hope I always am.

Rest in peace Kadin Roberts-Day. October 1,  2003-September 4, 2019 #KRD #63







Comparisons Are Tricky

Posted 6 CommentsPosted in culture, experience, holiday, Leadership, Management, mattress industry, purpose, Retail, social media, strategy

One of my favorite quotes comes from Amy Morin, who is a psychotherapist and coaches people on how to be mentally tough. (Several people actually claim this quote but I like how she speaks to it.) She says, “The only person you should compare yourself to, is the person you were yesterday.” I really like this on the personal level for a number of reasons. Everybody has different circumstances, different opportunities, different resources, different obstacles, different connections to people, so to look at your friends lives on social media or the people living on your street and define your success based on what they are experiencing, is somewhat unfair isn’t it?

What is the impact of this on us personally? When you see people doing better than you are it can cause you pain, regret, envy, jealousy, anger or maybe it just flat depresses you. Does that make us petty? I think it makes us human, but we can choose not to do that anymore, I know I have and it has made a big difference. Consider this through the lens of social media and some recent research that says using social media can actually cause depression.

I bring this up because every holiday I start getting calls from retailers wanting to know how everyone else did with business, and yesterday was no exception. My sources tell me that based on a poll of some top retailers out there, the average increase was about 5-7%. So if your business was up 10% should you feel good about that? Maybe not, if your last year’s numbers were horrible so what you were up against was easy to beat. Or if you only showed a 2-3% increase this year but did it with one less store, or in spite of losing a big account.

Comparisons aren’t so bad as a reference point but don’t give them too much weight unless you consider all of the variables. My approach is to look at other people or companies and how they are doing with some regard, but I rely more on things like…

  • Am I executing my strategy and playing my game?
  • Are the metrics I set for myself being met or exceeded and if not why not?
  • How am I handling the roadblocks put in front of me?
  • Do I have the resources I need to accomplish my goal and if not, how do I acquire them?

If your competitor is playing the short game, their results will look a lot different than yours if you are playing the long game of slow and steady growth. So be really careful in how you analyze external factors.

I want to finish with a strong statement about social media. At first, Facebook and other platforms were pretty cool to be able to connect/re-connect with people, share stories, keep up with how others were doing, and learn about new things. Now, so much of it has turned into a place for people to not only share their life but brag about how great their life is.  From a place to have a healthy debate to a bitch session where you troll people and alienate them for believing something different than what you believe. If you have teenage kids as I do, you can take these trends and magnify them by a lot and now you know what they are dealing with. In many ways, it’s not healthy. If you haven’t done it already, take a vacation from your phone in that way and see what happens, you might be surprised. Don’t get me wrong, social media can be an awesome tool if used the right way, but don’t let it become a negative force!

Have you made the mistake of comparing yourself or your company to the wrong things? Has social media become a negative thing for you or your family? Share in the comments section so others can learn!


Dos Marcos Takes The Stage in NOLA

Posted Leave a commentPosted in culture, experience, fun, furniture, Leadership, Management, mattresses, Retail, service

Mark Kinsley and I took the Dos Marcos show on the road this last week to New Orleans, Louisiana for the big Nationwide Primetime event. Over 4,000 people gathered together from all over the country to take advantage of show specials, eat great food, see old friends, and learn. Something really great happens when you get together with a bunch of people that are trying to figure it out just like you are.

Dos Marcos was asked to give a speech to over 500 people in session #3 of their Mattress University. Session #1 was the Chief Sales Officer for Serta/Simmons Bedding where he was interviewed on stage by Jerry Honea the Senior Vice President of Merchandising at Nationwide. Session #2 featured Jerry interviewing Steve Rusing, the VP of Sales for Tempur/Sealy and we heard both sessions went very well so congrats to all. But by the time Kinsley and I got on stage, it was 3 pm, the death time slot where people are getting tired after lunch, and since you are in New Orleans you could actually hear Bourbon Street calling you. We knew we had to bring something big or people were going to snooze right through it. Our talk was titled “5 Fights That You’re In And Have To Win and it started out to the Rocky theme song blaring over the speakers, Kinsley dressed up like Rocky and me as his loyal trainer Mick, busting through the doors at the back of the room and shadow boxing our way to the stage. I won’t get into the details, we will be posting a video of it when those edits get done, but I will say that we had a blast and it ended with a standing ovation. Mission accomplished.

In This Corner…MQ, MK, Jeff Rose, Mike Whitaker, Johnny Lamp, Chad Fischer

In addition to the speech, we were asked to record 25 mini-podcast with Nationwide retailers so that they could use this format to tell their story. So many retailers out there don’t do a very good job of connecting their customers with the heart of their company so we had people tell us how their company got started, what makes them better than their competition, and gave them a chance to talk about all of the cool things they are doing to serve people in their community. Then they can use this audio/video from the podcast and share it on their social media platforms and their “About Us” page on their websites. All of these retailers did a fantastic job with us and we had a great time getting to know them so a big THANK YOU to everyone that participated.

We also took a ride on a rickshaw, attended a BLOW OUT hugely successful launch party with Tempur/Sealy, recorded a music video with our awesome friends from Sweet Dreams, and had an incredible meal at the legendary Commanders Palace in the Garden District. Kinsley says it on our podcast all the time….experiences are transformational. When you attend something like this great things happen.

First, we want to thank Mike Whitaker at Nationwide. He is the guy that drove the decision to sponsor the Dos Marcos podcast but also had the idea for us to speak at Primetime so we are very grateful to him for the opportunity and for his friendship. Mike is an amazing person that goes to work every day to help people be better at what they do and we are so grateful to know him. Then to Jeff Rose the Director of Furniture and Bedding, who after hearing the idea of our speech and corny antics, not only trusted us to pull it off but actually got on stage with us and helped act it out. YOU DA MAN.  When you have the hero fighter or the “Rocky” character also known as “Nationwide”, you have to have a villain right? Well, Thanks to Johnny Lamp, the Director of Furniture playing the role of “Amazon Fighter” we did. Johnny was accompanied by Chad Fisher his “ring man” and Bedding Director at Nationwide and the two of them were the perfect antagonists. We also want to thank the very cool crew at Prime Media…you guys killed it, Lucas our videographer, and Tom Hickman the President at Nationwide. I didn’t know Tom prior to the event and didn’t spend a great deal of time with him at the show as he had much better things to do, but I was around him enough to know this…he has a servants heart and inspires that in the groups culture as they work every day to put their member at the center of everything they do. Kinsley and I were behind the scenes for this event and we can tell you, it’s not something Nationwide just says. These guys live it which is why Dos Marcos is such a good fit here; we all just want to see people grow inside of this crazy industry.

(Check out this music video written by our friends at Sweet Dreams Mattress and Furniture Store in North Carolina and performed on the show floor on the last day. Andrew Schlesser wrote the lyrics, we borrowed the melody and Kinsly kills it on the guitar. This entire video was produced in under an hour; maybe that’s obvious. 🙂 Thanks to Prime Media for shooting and editing this together for us.)

On behalf of Kinsley and myself, we want to say thank you not only to everyone at Nationwide but also to PureCare our other rock star sponsor and all of the retailers at the event. We had an incredible time and can’t wait for February in Houston! The question is, what movie will we use to inspire the next speech? Float your suggestions in the comments section! 🙂




Serta iComfort Launches in Las Vegas

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in marketing, mattresses, product development, Retail, Sleep

2019 Las Vegas summer market is over and it was a success according to most that I talked to. As always, traffic is much lighter than the January market, but the people that are there want to do business so you normally end up in some very fruitful conversations.

I was there talking to Spink and Co customers and prospects and I am very happy to say things went well for us on that front. It’s always fun to see people be surprised and delighted with what you do.  Mark Kinsley and I also hosted a Dos Marcos Meet-Up in the Englander space with about 100 of our best pals and it was a big success, so thank you to all that attended!!!!! I also played Top Golf with PureCare and met some great fans of the podcast, saw a terrific Prince impersonator show, and got to review the brand new iComfort line by Serta. That is a great market.

Serta asked that Dos Marcos come in and take a look at the iComfort program, so we met up with Onney Crawley from Serta to get the full presentation. Onney is really great and did a terrific job of sharing that story so thank you Onney for being so gracious on the tour. I also want to thank Alissa Stevens and Caroline Seume with Serta’s PR firm the Zeno Group, who were a big help and a lot of fun to hang out with. (“The fearless pursuit of the unexpected.” LOVE THAT.)

(If you want to do a deeper dive and hear Mark Kinsley and I talk about this new iComfort line just click on the link below and listen to Dos Marcos podcast.)

What really impressed me from the beginning was the investment that Serta made in research to develop the line. I am a HUGE fan of asking consumers to offer opinions so you have something to guide you to the finished product. This also helps minimize your guesswork and gives you the ability to say to the retailer that “the consumer built this line”. The real trick here is paying attention to the right stuff!

The all-new Serta iComfort

To sum it all up, Serta has brought in some raw materials to build a “Next Level Cooling and Support” story. They use Gel Active Max memory Foam, UltraCool System carbon fiber memory foam, Max Cool Cover’s, and Air Support Foam to bring that “sleeps cool” story to life. One of my favorite things about this new line is the snowflake ranking system to help the consumer understand how it all works together. The more snowflakes on a bed, the cooler the sleep. Got it.

The feels of the beds on the starting numbers at $1499 were not all that impressive but I sort of understand that. The competition is delivering great value at $499 in queen these days, so to differentiate is much more difficult. As you go up the line however, you can see how using these different foam building blocks really add value to the story and to how comfortable the beds feel.

These mattresses looked good but the tick was pretty average and didn’t really stand out for me, however, it had a terrific hand and a nice cool feel when you touched it. When it comes to the point of sale, there is a lot of opportunity for iComfort. They use blue for the color pallet which makes sense given the cooling story they are telling, but the design didn’t really get me all that fired up, nor did it really set off the product or help advance the story in any way. Given the competition in the memory foam category, I think you really have to get this part right. They certainly did on their initial launch if iComfort.

If you can bring a new line to market and make it demonstrable in any way, you will be rewarded for that.  The new iComfort program has a FANTASTIC way of telling the carbon memory foam story using a light bulb. You place the light bulb on the new carbon memory foam and it lights up, showing the consumer how carbon acts as a conductor to help draw heat away from the body. The big question here is, will the consumer see that and start to wonder if their bed allows for electricity to flow through it. Sure we get “heat transfer” because we are in the industry but consumers look at this stuff differently. If Serta figures out how to make sure the rsa can communicate their story effectively using the light bulb, this will be a big win for them and one of the coolest selling tools on the retail floors. I wonder if this demonstration will work with sheep’s wool? 🙂

Things have been rough for SSB in the last six months and they needed something really positive to reverse course, so the big question is, did they do that with this line? The feedback I have been getting from several retailers has been positive with most saying that it is an improvement on where iComfort was. The question is, will that reaction deliver Serta the big win, allowing them to pick up sku’s with their current partners? Only time will tell!