Discovery's 'Undercover Billionaire' Glenn Stearns on what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur when the cards are stacked against you
In an exclusive interview with MEA WorldWide (MEAWW), billionaire Glenn Stearns talks about his humble beginnings and how he believes anybody can be successful despite all the adversities that life throws along the way
Discovery’s upcoming reality show/social experiment 'Undercover Billionaire' will capture the feat of Glenn Stearns trying to set up a million-dollar company in 90 days!
While you might think that setting up a million-dollar company for a billionaire will be a cakewalk, to make things more interesting and relatable, Glenn must set up this company in a place chosen by the Discovery crew without using any of his business contacts or existing capital.
The challenge — he must build the business with nothing other than $100 in his pocket. In case Glenn pulls this off, then the top-performing team members will earn a stake in the company and a key role running it. An independent financial evaluator will also assess the value of the new company to see whether it has hit the mark. If it’s a penny short of $1 million, Glenn will put $1 million of his own money into the business.
When you look up Glenn's background, it's easy to realize that this man had anything but an easy start. He grew up in an alcoholic family, failed his fourth grade, and fathered a child at the age of 14! All the cards were stacked up against him and he still found a way to turn things around.
Glenn shares with MEA WorldWide (MEAWW), "I found through adversity that I could either take that and make my life worse or I can turn it around and try to do something good with it. And so, you know, the worse it got the more I wanted to really try to do good things and, and so I became the first to go to college in my family and then started a business in financial services."
The rest is history. He found great success in his business and even survived the 2007-08 slump. A few years later he was diagnosed with cancer, and during this time he realized that he had been the happiest while facing some a challenging financial market in 2007-08, and began wondering if he could go back in time and do it all over again, would he be able to recreate the success he had attained. This question lingered.
He met Discovery producers and pitched to them the idea of building a company worth a million dollars in 90 days. Discovery immediately took to his idea and encouraged Glenn to undertake the challenge and that they would document it for him. This led to the birth of 'Undercover Billionaire'.
Through this show, Glenn hopes to drive home the point that the elusive "American Dream" is still very much alive and thriving. "I would like to show that if you put together a great team and work hard and you have confidence, you can do anything you want in this country and you know, we have so many resources."
Setting up a business can be daunting, and if it has to be done in a limited timeframe, it can get very overwhelming. So we asked Glenn what was his biggest roadblock while setting up his company as part of the challenge. "I think the biggest challenge was getting people to believe in a dream without being able to get paid. I mean a lot of times, we expect to be paid right away versus delayed gratification. It's hard to motivate people when you know they aren't sure if they're going to have a payday."
When asked what the secret is to becoming a successful entrepreneur or a millionaire, Glenn advises not to chase money. He instead suggests that the focus be on having a team that believes in your dream, run the business with integrity, keep employee and customer satisfaction at the center.
"If you start out thinking that you just want to create a business that is worth a lot of money, then you missed the mark. I think when we chase the dollar, we lose sight of the business. I feel that measurements should be on the satisfaction of your employees, satisfaction of your clients and that you have a very strong business that runs very efficiently and then the rest comes — it's a by-product of that success."
On whether he had any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. Glenn shared, "If you want to start a business and you think it's going to be hard, you must realize that when you're ready to give up, that is when you're starting to learn and grow. So that's the times you need to really expect to get the best lessons out of what you are doing. But always remember that it's going to be a hundred times harder than you ever thought. Don’t give up. Stay with it, because that’s when you succeed."
'Undercover Billionaire' is set to premiere on Tuesday, August 6, at 10 pm ET/PT on Discovery or DiscoveryGo.