This episode features Greg Frankenfield, the founder and CEO of Magenic. Greg started his career as a consultant for P&G and then General Mills.
He then co-founded Magenic in 1995 and remains their CEO today. Over the past 18 years, Magenic has grown into an international customer software development firm that employs over 500 people in eight offices worldwide. The company is headquartered in St. Louis Park, MN.
Magenic has been recognized for its open culture. Even more, it has been recognized as a Top 10 places to work in Minnesota. Besides Magenic, Greg and his wife are working on another entrepreneurial venture, the Old Log Theatre located in Excelsior, a suburb of Minneapolis.
Bobby: Hello Greg. Welcome to our show. Let’s hop right into it. To this point, what has been the greatest moment in your professional career and why was it so great?
Greg Frankenfield: Probably when I was awarded the Entrepreneur of the Year by the University of Minnesota. It was so fulfilling because I had a little bone to pick with the University of Minnesota revolving around their admissions program and donations. Winning the award allowed me to make a statement on the matter. Also, being named the Entrepreneur of the Year gave me a public platform to acknowledge all those who helped me get to where I am today; I could use the award as a way to highlight the hard work and contributions of everyone else at Magenic.
Bobby: What was the point you were closest to giving up on business? What was your low point?
Greg Frankenfield: My low point was probably 2001, after the tech crash of 2000. Our business shrank by 35-40% in the space of three to four months. Nobody was spending money on IT and software development. We had just opened two new offices and there was not work for anyone.
We had an office in Dallas but ended up never doing a dollar’s worth of work there. The ultimate low point was when we approached a customer, offered to give them six of our consultants for free and they turned us down. It was a dark time, then 9/11 didn’t help at all, because it prolonged the agony. I had severe doubts whether or not I could cash flow the business and make payroll.
Bobby: How do you bounce back from something like that?
Greg Frankenfield: You go to work everyday and just keep on trying until the rope runs out. You really don’t have a choice. There isn’t much else to do. Your own livelihood and the livelihood of others is at stake. You have to look at your strengths and see if you can survive.
Bobby: That sounds tough. If you could go back into your early twenties, is there anything you would do differently?
Greg Frankenfield: No. We all get to a point in our lives and if we like ourselves, we rarely look back and think “I should change that.” Because if we change things from our past, we wouldn’t at all be the way we are today. So out of all the dumb things I’ve done in my past, they all contributed to where I am today, and I like where I am right now. The whole Butterfly Effect suggests that if I changed anything, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
Bobby: So, you took a big risk starting Magenic. If you didn’t start the company, would you regret this on your deathbed?
Greg Frankenfield: You’re making this statement that I took a big risk starting Magenic. But one of my mental faults as an entrepreneur is, I don’t actually think of starting a business as a risk. I never really thought that starting my own business was a risk, but it was just what I needed to do to give me freedom and success. If I failed, I would have to accept the consequences of that failure and be alright with it. Looking back, I had three kids, a mortgage, was in debt. But I had the support of my family and never felt too much risk.
Bobby: How did you not feel risks of needing to support your family?
Greg Frankenfield: Well, we have a tendency to think kids need a lot more than they actually do. They really don’t need much.
Bobby: That’s a good point. If you were to give our listeners one life hack that they should apply to their lives this week, what should they do?
Greg Frankenfield: Two things. First, practice getting up early. I know this sounds really stupid, but I watch my kids struggle getting up early. You may ask, why is it important to wakeup nice and early? It’s because as you get older and your responsibilities increase, your only choice is to extend your day. In the morning, you have control over your day and can spend time on things you want (exercise, with the kids, etc.). Towards the end of the day, you start to lose control. The events of the day will always run away from you.
Bobby: And what time is considered early?
Greg Frankenfield: I have never managed to do much better than 5:20AM. I have forced myself to wakeup then over the past few years. I have never been an early riser in the past, but wish I made myself become one earlier, because I probably would’ve been able to take better care of myself and of others. I go to bed around 10:30 or 11:00.
Bobby: So, what’s your second life hack you want listeners to work on this week?
Greg Frankenfield: It goes off the first one. Take care of yourself before taking care of others. There’s a thing they do on the airlines where they say in the case of a lack of oxygen from the altitude, oxygen masks may drop from the ceiling. They say always place your own mask before helping others. If you think about what this means in the context of your life, it means that if you’re hurt or cannot help yourself, you’re no good to others. To me, I have taken that advice to heart. I try to make sure I take care of myself so I can help others. Those who sacrifice themselves for others often times find themselves unable to help anyone.
Bobby: Man, that’s deep. Before we let you go, you have any parting thoughts for listeners?
Greg Frankenfield: Yeah, there’s an out of date book that actually got me to start my company. I didn’t even make it through the entire book because the ideas were so good that I just got up and got going. It’s called The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz, written in the 1950s.
Bobby: Great. We will have to include information about the book in our show notes. Well, thanks Greg for joining us today. Talk to you soon.
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Next week, we interview Jake Sturgis, the founder of a company that specializes in the creation of professional videos. Until then, adios!