Tim Koeppl has done it all! He was in the Logistics Office for the U.S. Marine Corps, an attorney for Dorsey & Whitney LLP, the president of multiple companies (including a subsidiary of Schwan’s), is currently the Chairman of Vaxholm Holdings, and the CEO of Suspension Systems Technologies.
After talking to Tim for just a few minutes, it becomes obvious that he is not only a successful businessman but also a fantastic husband and father. Learn from his success & failures and hear what advice he has for you.
Bobby: Hello, hello Tim. Let’s just hop on in… What is the greatest moment in your professional career? Take us to that moment.
Tim Koeppl: One of the most exciting things, not a win monetarily, was back when I was practicing law fulltime in Washington DC. I handled a case for a nonprofit on a pro bono basis, meaning I donated my time. The nonprofit worked with at-risk kids before and after school.
It was 2008, and a lot of donors stopped funding this great entity. I worked with the lender of this nonprofit to secure them some more money. I flew to Providence, Rhode Island to work and meet with this behemoth bank. I presented the nonprofit’s books and we came up with terms to help this nonprofit with financing. And that was a great flight back to DC.
You know, people think that your career and all the hustle is to make money. But, really at the end of the day, it’s about helping those people who really need help.
Bobby: Okay, so let’s flip it and explain to us the hardest moment of your career.
Tim Koeppl: I actually have two things that come to my mind. I started my career as a US Marines Corp Officer, so giving up is not in my DNA. But there are times when things are overwhelming and you just have to figure things out.
In 2008, right after buying a house in DC, the law firm I was working at announced a couple days before Christmas that we were going to lose our bonuses and that salaries were going to be cut by 10%. The lesson I learned there was to just keep going. Never stop looking for opportunities and keep working hard and working on your process. If you stick to your plan, you will eventually make it through the bad times.
The other tough time was in 2011 when I was running a commercial defense company. Things were going perfectly for the company, then all of a sudden, the federal government announced it was terminating a number of their programs. With these terminations, all of our previously entered contracts with the federal government were terminated. Just overnight, our revenue dropped from the millions to zero. Me and my partners didn’t know what to do, but we got to the white board the day the terminations were announced, and we came up with a way to generate $200,000 in the short-term to keep things afloat until we had time to pivot. We survived.
Bobby: If you had the chance for one do-over in your early 20s, what would that be?
Tim Koeppl: I just had dinner with a smart friend of mine from the Marine Corp. He ended up selling one of his companies to Pfizer. Anyways, when I was going to start my own business, he told me that other opportunities would come, and that I should probably wait. Well, I didn’t want to miss my chance so I started my business. It was undercapitalized and we weren’t quite as successful with that as I hoped. I could’ve done a lot of other good things instead of working on that business; my friend was right.
Bobby: That’s really cool. If you died tomorrow, what would be your single biggest regret?
Tim Koeppl: For me, the big thing is missing my kids getting married. It’s one of the things as a dad and husband, I just really want to see my kids take on life with their families.
Bobby: Great answer. What is one life hack that listeners can focus on over the next seven days to become more successful?
Tim Koeppl: You can do it right now. Plan your tomorrow tonight. This is something I’ve learned: you can look at tomorrow with apprehension or with great anticipation. Generally, if you didn’t plan out tomorrow or even the following month, you are more likely to go into tomorrow with apprehension because you don’t know what’s going on tomorrow.
However, if you plan out your tomorrow and you know what’s coming, you can go to bed with a smile and excited for what will be accomplished tomorrow. You can wakeup and get going on the day. For instance, I went to bed last night excited about a number of things that were on the docket for today. The night before I also make sure I envision myself being successful the following day.
You can buy a planner or log book and write down your tomorrow. Write down what time you’ll wakeup, when you’re working out, when and who you’re going to reach out to. This makes you a lot more productive and happier in the future.
Bobby: How long should listeners take the night before to plan?
Tim Koeppl: Well, I think it’ll take about ten minutes. I also write down my major goals for the next day and then ten things I am grateful for from the day.
Bobby: That sounds like a good thing to do. Before I let you go here in a sec, do you have any closing recommendations for listeners?
Tim Koeppl: Yes, there are three books that I would recommend. I recommend these books to every young person looking to succeed. The first one is Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer. This is required reading at West Point, and will change your views on leadership.
The second one is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This book will teach you how to connect with people. Even if you’re already good at this, it will help you improve.
The third book is on Bill Gates’s reading list, called Capitalism without Capital by Johnathon Haskel. So I’d recommend you read those three books.
Bobby: Wow, you have been full of lots of solid advice. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Some reminders from this podcast:
1. Remember, as Tim mentioned, your career is not all about making money. Life can be a lot more rewarding if you focus on helping people.
3. THIS WEEK: Take ten minutes every night before you go to bed to plan your next day. Write a brief schedule of the day as well as your goals for tomorrow. Also, write a list of ten things you are grateful for from the day that just passed.