#143 Kettle & Fire's Justin Mares | Identifying Trends, 5-Minute Mini Workouts, 6 To Dos Per Day, Favorite Books, and More

Justin Mares has a knack for identifying trends and building D2C businesses to own them—including Kettle & Fire, Perfect Keto, and Surely Wine. Learn how he identifies trends, why he focuses on just 6 tasks each day, how he gets in 25+ minutes of exercise with tiny 5-minute mini workouts during the day, and more.
Last updated
August 13, 2023
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#143 Kettle & Fire's Justin Mares | Identifying Trends, 5-Minute Mini Workouts, 6 To Dos Per Day, Favorite Books, and More


About the Guest

Justin Mares is a serial entrepreneur and angel investor. He’s the Founder of Kettle & Fire, Perfect Keto, and Surely Wine and a Venture Partner at Long Journey Ventures. His products are sold in more than 10,000 retail stores, and each of his companies does tens of millions of dollars in annual sales each year. He strives to make a dent in the problems with our food system and improve the trajectory of health in the United States.

Justinmares.com | Twitter | Newsletter


Episode Guide

Justin Mares has a knack for identifying trends and building D2C businesses to own them—including Kettle & Fire, Perfect Keto, and Surely Wine. Learn how he identifies trends, why he focuses on just 6 tasks each day, how he gets in 25+ minutes of exercise with tiny 5-minute mini workouts during the day, and more.

“I’ve learned to appreciate that people systematically undervalue and write off things that are super weird or that they just don’t understand. So I look for areas where most people think that X has a probability of 10% and I think it’s really closer to 40-50%.” — Justin Mares

 Justin Mares’ Favorite Books

Justin shared his all-time favorite books including:

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

  • Set against the backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. Justin Mares says of The Three-Body Problem, “It’s just utterly fascinating. It made me think in a different way.”

Buy it now: Print | eBook | Audiobook

The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge

  • With apologies to Hegel, Marx, and Lenin, the basic unit of modern society is neither the state, nor the commune, nor the party; it is the company. From this bold premise, John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge chart the rise of one of history’s great catalysts for good and evil. The authors reveal how innovations such as limitations on liability have permitted companies to rival religions and even states in importance, governing the flow of wealth and controlling human affairs–all while being largely exempt from the rules that govern our lives. Justin Mares loves The Company because, “I’m interested in what social technologies that can be created, invented, and promoted to address some of the challenges we face today.”

Buy it now: Print | eBook | Audiobook

Related Episodes

If you enjoyed this episode with Justin Mares—Founder of Kettle & Fire, Perfect Keto, and Surely Wine—don’t miss our other interviews with serial founders and entrepreneurs:


Daniel Scrivner (00:00):

Hello, and welcome to another episode of 20 Minute Playbook by Outlier Academy where we decode what iconic founders, renowned investors, bestselling authors, and Outlier thinkers have mastered and what they've learned along the way. In each episode, we dive deep to uncover the tools, strategies, habits, routines, and hacks that we can all apply in our own work and lives, all in about 20 minutes.


I'm Daniel Scrivner, and on the show today, I'm joined by serial entrepreneur Justin Mares. Justin is the founder of a number of companies including the bone broth maker, Kettle and Fire, America's number one keto brand, Perfect Keto, and the non-alcoholic wine brand, Surely Wines. Each of these companies alone does tens of millions of dollars in revenue each year. And on top of that, Justin is also a venture partner at Long Journey Ventures.


You can find a searchable transcript of this episode as well as our episode guide with ways to dive deeper at outlieracademy.com/143. That's outlieracademy.com/143. Please enjoy my conversation with serial entrepreneur and investor Justin Mares. Justin, I am thrilled to have you on 20 Minute Playbook. Thank you so much for the time and for coming on.

Justin Mares (01:05):

Yeah, thank you for having me.

Daniel Scrivner (01:06):

Let's jump straight into the questions. I always love to start by asking about a recent fascination. What have you been fascinated, or obsessed by recently? What can't you stop thinking about?

Justin Mares (01:16):

I have been really interested in reading about, and kind of fascinated by, environmental chemicals lately. So, I'm writing about this in my next newsletter that'll come out in November, but I effectively think that the explosion in environmental chemicals that we're exposed to, for most people, on a daily basis is quite possibly responsible for a huge number of things around like, autoimmune conditions, allergies, obesity, all the explosion in chronic conditions that we see. I just think it's this huge, huge, huge thing that almost no one is talking about. And so, that's been a recent fascination for me, for sure.

Daniel Scrivner (02:00):

Yeah. I know one of the points you make in one of your newsletters I read to prepare for this was around lead causing potentially a wave of crime in the eighties and nineties, which honestly I was like, "What?" Is that one of the things? And can you talk a little bit about that?

Justin Mares (02:13):

Yeah. So, that's something called the lead-crime hypothesis, which is basically this idea that if you look at a crime data, basically, it correlates exceptionally strongly with the prevalence of lead in the water supply. And so, people... There's this big thing in New York and many of the inner cities in the nineties that where people are like, "Oh my God, crime is exploding. What's going on?" And then, it sort just stopped. And very famously, the original authors of Freakonomics, when it came out in the early to mid 2000s, they posited that it was due to, I believe, abortions catching up and basically pregnancies that were from lower income people where babies were more likely to have criminal activity, or whatever. That scene, they said, did it. I actually think that the lead-crime hypothesis seems to fit much, much better, where basically if you expose prisoners, kids, people in other countries, whatever, lead has extremely well known neurotoxic effects and it massively impacts behavior.


And so, I think that basically when we started instituting controls on lead, both from a drinking water and a gasoline standpoint, you started to see all of these things... A lot of these criminal issues that most people would say are social issues, just sort disappeared overnight. Not disappeared, but normalized. And I suspect that we're seeing a lot of these things today. I think that we have a lot of these environmental contaminants that are impacting testosterone, fertility, autoimmune things, the massive, massive gamut of things that basically is due to environmental toxins that we don't fully understand and can't really measure right now. So, yeah, that's my depressing thing I've been into lately.

Daniel Scrivner (04:09):

No, I mean it's fascinating. We will link to the research that you cite and link too in your newspaper in the show notes for people that want to learn more. It's fascinating, and I think it's also fascinating that it's changing so quickly. One of the things I remember reading about, I've got a filling in one of my teeth that, of course, I got in the nineties that has, I think, lead or something like that in there, and there's a bunch of weird stuff. Even getting an MRI can cause it to emit, and so then you might get a burst of these toxins in your body. So, I don't know. It's just fascinating. Lead's an interesting example. Tooth fillings is an interesting example, but it's a long list.

Justin Mares (04:39):

Totally. Yeah. An endless list, practically.

Daniel Scrivner (04:43):

Yeah. I want to ask a couple questions about some of the companies you've started, but I want to start with a very different question first, which is, if people listening could shadow you for a day, from the moment you wake up until you go to bed, as creepy as that might be, what do you think they would be most surprised by? And I think what I'm looking for there is things that are interesting about the way you live your life, habits, routines.

Justin Mares (05:02):

I think people would be surprised by two things. One, at least right now, I think they'd be surprised by how I'm not working all of the time. I think that I work hard and I try and work very focused and deeply when I do, but certainly, I have heard from multiple people that I know that are like, "You're doing a lot of stuff and yet, you're still playing pickle ball, and you're still going to the gym with friends and have a social life, and all this stuff." So, I think that's one thing.


I think the other thing is I'm not a very systematic person. I think that there's a lot of ink spilled about productivity, and the best tools, and the best methods, and all this sort of stuff. And basically, I have a cup of coffee in the morning. I write six to dos per day on a piece of paper in a notebook that I carry with me all the time, and I just try and crank through that and I handle a bunch of email inputs and stuff like that all the time. I don't really do anything crazy. I think, probably the craziest thing is I don't do any sort of Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse, any of those things. And the closest thing that I do to really taking a performance-enhancing substance, I would say, is I'll occasionally use a Ketone Ester, or something like that to help with focus and sort of knocking out a chunk of writing, or a chunk of deep thinking or whatever it is.

Daniel Scrivner (06:28):

Yeah. Huge plus one to Ketone Ester. I think it's amazing. I usually take it before I do one of these podcasts just for mental performance.

Justin Mares (06:35):

Nice. I probably should.

Daniel Scrivner (06:38):

I would say... So, I had the founder Michael Brandt of HVMN on the podcast, and one of the examples he shared I thought was fascinating was that the US military, particularly the Navy Seals, were looking at doing it mostly for the mental benefits because what they would have Seals basically do is just insanely intense work. So, an example would be climbing up at altitude over the course of, say, four or five hours, and your body's then in this energy deprived state, and they found with Ketones that basically the mental acuity was still there, which obviously is important. You get to your mission site, you still have something to do that you haven't done yet.


Anyway, so just kind of fascinating and tangent. I want to ask one question. You talked about that your friends are surprised by how un-busy you are. What do you credit that to? Is it that you've built a great team that can take a lot of the heavy lifting? Is it just the approach you take to the businesses you run?

Justin Mares (07:30):

I think two things. I think that, one, we have an amazing team across all the companies. The teams are fantastic, and we have leaders that are very responsible and are incentivized. They have ownership and it's theirs. And so, I definitely think that that's like... People are just number one, and I think that finding the right people and giving them ownership and both authority and responsibility, and then shared incentives is a huge chunk of it. The second thing, I would say, is that... Just outside of hiring good people, I have a philosophy that I-


I have a philosophy that I want to do this kind of stuff. I want to start companies. I want to try and make a dent in the food system and improve the trajectory of health in the US.


And I think that to do that, I have to be healthy myself. And I think that this is such a big problem that I think it'll take 30, 40, 50 years to try and even make a dent in it, if I even can.


And so, I think that I'm approaching this much more as a marathon, not a sprint. And I think that if I am healthy and happy and balanced and not killing myself... I could probably kill myself for a decade. I don't know that I can do it for 30 years.


And so, I'm sort of trying to build a life that I'm both happy with and excited by, but also one that can lead to larger amounts of output over a sustained period as opposed to a bunch of output in a very short period where I then burn out or get depressed or get sick, or whatever.

Daniel Scrivner (08:57):

Yeah, I love that perspective. In your newsletter you talk a lot about compounding and compounding in multiple areas of your life. So it seems like that clearly threads that needle. If your goal is to compound, you want to do that over a really long period of time. You can't burn yourself out, you can't treat it like it's a sprint. It doesn't lead anywhere great.


You're the founder of multiple companies, including Kettle & Fire, Perfect Keto, Surely Wines, a bunch of others; I'm just going to name a couple. Looking back, one of the questions I want to ask was what do you wish someone sat you down and told you before founding, say Kettle & Fire or pick one of those companies? And what I'm looking for there is now that you are multiple years into these journeys, what do you wish someone had imparted on you or reminded you or told you that would've maybe prepared you for what you're about to go through?

Justin Mares (09:41):

Yeah, I don't know that anyone could have said anything that would've prepared me. I'll zoom out and I'll say this: I feel like I'm at a very reflective spot in my life. And so, probably a lot of stuff that I'm going to say comes from more of a philosophical standpoint and less from a super tactical standpoint.


But I think for me, I wish someone had told me to, and maybe this sounds cliche, but to just trust the process a little bit more. I think that I spent a lot of my time early on trying to be like, "Oh my God, I need this to work. Oh my God, I need this to work," just a lot of anxiety and self doubt, a lot of candidly emotional and mental energy that wasn't very fun to deal with.


And a lot of that was rooted in, I need this to work and if I don't like I'm a failure. I'll be broke. I will have to go work at X company, whatever.


And I just wish that that's a starting company, especially at 26 when I started working on Kettle & Fire, it's a pretty fun, special time in your life, you know what I mean? And I kind of wish that I had just been able to internalize a little bit better that it's not necessarily, "Will this work it? Won't it?"


I'm super grateful it did, but I wish that I'd enjoyed the ride a little bit better and also just appreciated that, hey, I'm doing the right stuff and I'm taking swings at starting things. I'm meeting with people blurting, I'm reading, I'm becoming a better version of what I think it takes to be a good startup founder and operator.


And I wish I'd allowed myself a little bit more leeway, like the person who's trying to lose 20 pounds probably would be much happier if they felt good about themselves every time they went to the gym rather than being every gym trip, they still haven't lost 20 pounds and they're mad at themselves. Yeah, I think I was very much in the later camp, not the first one; so I wish I'd changed that a little bit.

Daniel Scrivner (11:38):

Yeah, I mean that really resonates with me. I think everyone that has big ambitions struggles with that a lot.


You've also raised more than 20 million in venture capital for Kettle & Fire. You're a venture partner at Long Journey Ventures and you're an active angel investor now. You've got a syndicate on AngelList and you're thinking about doing more there. What are some of the biggest lessons you've learned as an investor and what have been some of the biggest surprises, positive or negative?

Justin Mares (12:03):

I think that Peter Thiel talks a lot about there's this whole thing of being a contrarian investor, which, well, I think, one, is useful. But I think secondly, you really have to be contrarian and right.


And if I look at my best investments, investing I think is all about finding assets that are basically mispriced or that you think are cheap now and will be more expensive in the future.


I think that people are really good at pricing things that are easy to understand or that are kind of obvious. And you see that in early-stage SaaS valuations being high the last couple years. You can now get debt and borrow against, you can basically get debt to acquire a company because you can underwrite SaaS assets, you can underrate e-commerce, you can underwrite all these things, which means valuations are pretty reasonable.


And even if you hit a great win, invest in a SaaS company at a 20 million valuation, they sell for a hundred it's like you're took on a lot of risk and you got a five X.


I think that the thing that I look for pretty systematically at this point, I would say, and I've learned a lot from the team at Long Journey about this, this is not a Justin original at all; those people are much, much better investors than I am.


But I think that the thing that I've learned to appreciate is that people will systematically undervalue and write off things that are super weird or they don't understand. And if you can basically look at something that everyone says is really weird and actually tell yourself or figure out, "Oh, I think that yes, this is weird, but I think there's a small chance that X, Y, and Z works," I think that's probably how you become a good investor.


I think that this applies to trading, I think this applies to a lot of stuff. But early in Covid, for example, I basically, in end of January, early February of 2020, was seeing people start to talk about Covid. And I was like, "Okay, I think that this is a... People are probably giving this a 1% chance that this becomes a big deal. I think the probability is probably closer to 10 to 20%."


And so, I sold all of my stocks basically in February, 2020. I should have bought [inaudible 00:14:17] but got lazy and I didn't, which was really dumb. But anyway, basically sold all my stocks and when the market crashed I was like, "Great, that was a good decision." But on the off chance that I was wrong, I could have just bought back in April and would've been fine.


And so I think that thinking about where do you have a sense for the world thinks that X is a probability of 10%, you think it's closer to 30 or 40. I think that those are the types of bets that are really interesting to make, where you can predict a future or see a future where if X works, it would be huge. And I think that X has a higher chance of working than the average person. And that things that are weird enough but where you have a thesis on why the rest of the world thinks this is, not probable, but you think it's slightly less improbable, I think are the best types of investments to make. Those was a lot of word sauce.

Daniel Scrivner (15:17):

No, no, no. I think it's a difficult point to make because it's very nuanced. I think you did a great job, especially in identifying the framework.


The only thing I was going to add to that is I've noticed this a lot in venture capitals; you and I both have done some investing in venture capital. One of the things that always boggles my mind is you kind of understand that you're making... Your job if you're doing it right, is to make kind of long odds bets that if you're right, it performs really, really well.


And yet the number of people I come across that try to look for deals that make sense; meaning by in venture you're trying to bet on things that if they were to work would be massively successful, but instead people try to bet on stuff that absolutely will work, which just means the return profile is really, really, really low. And it's amazing to me. I just come across this all the time and it just continues to blow my mind. I think it says a lot about human psycho-


Come across this all the time and it just continues to blow my mind. I think it says a lot about human psychology, and fear.

Justin Mares (16:06):

Oh, a hundred percent. I mean, completely. I also think though, to be on the other side of that, not really, but slightly, is there are a lot of horrible ideas out there that don't make sense. And so there's this weird needle that you have to thread where you're like, I think this is, as someone who does angel investing and is now involved in venture, it's like we see a lot of what I would just say, things that we don't think make any sense at all. And our job is basically to look at 100 deals, 98 of which don't make sense, and choose the one or two that makes sense but that everyone else around us also doesn't think makes any sense. And then we're often wrong and it's just a very weird thing.

Daniel Scrivner (16:51):

Yeah, I mean, if there's anything you learn from venture, I feel like it's a lot of intellectual humility.

Justin Mares (16:59):


Daniel Scrivner (16:59):

Because it's like being in the boxing ring. It's a difficult full contact sport. I want to ask a couple other questions. One, given the health-focused mission of your companies that you founded, as well as the topics you cover in your Substack newsletter, I imagine you have a pretty interesting health stack of products or supplements, and maybe not. And maybe it's not so much on the supplement side, but maybe it's more on the way you exercise. Can you just share a bit about how you approach exercise and diet philosophically, and talk about maybe tactically some of what you do?

Justin Mares (17:26):

Totally, a couple things here. I actually started recently working with something called Fount Bio, which I don't know if you've seen, but this is my roll of pills that I have to take a couple of stacks of every day. So it started working with them, which has been interesting. I would say my overall philosophy on health and nutrition has been pretty similar for almost a decade now, which is basically try and eat foods that, I think that the ancestral health lens just still makes a lot of sense to me, eat foods that your ancestors would eat, not too much of them, and try and avoid processed stuff. Gluten, vegetable oils, seed oils, whatever you want to call them. And the class of basically highly processed, mostly packaged foods that I think are making Americans sick. And so I try and stay pretty far away from them and then eat almost entirely versions of foods that are whole, as minimally processed as possible. And do so within, I call it an eight-hour eating window is basically my overall diet principle.

Daniel Scrivner (18:33):

Do you do anything with exercise? I know from reading the newsletter, you're big into lifts and you had a goal of doing three lifts a week and doing 300 lifts a year. I think this was last year. How do you approach that on the exercise side? It seems like maybe ancestral as well too.

Justin Mares (18:46):

It's so funny. I'm very into all of this stuff, but I also am into working and building companies. And so unlike a lot of the other people that I know in the health and wellness world, I would not put myself in an exercise optimizer mindset or anything like that. And so I got a trainer, he programs three different lifts for me a week. I bike or play pickleball or swim or do something almost every other day. And that's basically it. And I'm not the strongest guy, I'm not the most jacked guy at the gym. But I'd say that I'm definitely athletic and fit. And I think that lifting weights is one of those things that if you don't do it, you almost certainly should be doing it just because from a posture, energy level, increasing your base metabolic rate, I just think that it's possibly the most useful thing that you can do for yourself from a health standpoint.


And I think for me, I've found that five times a week lifting, I would end up skipping one to two sessions, which was basically not useful. And so now I stick with three, and have made the internal decision to work more than is probably totally optimal for me from a health standpoint, but fine. Yeah, a hundred percent, that's the trade off I want to make.

Daniel Scrivner (20:04):

Yeah. And I would just add on the lift part, I totally agree. If you're going to do any type of workout, I think a lift makes sense for all of those reasons. But the other reason is just we don't move enough, most people don't move enough. And so if you're going to go in the gym and do something, why not try to go heavier and do compound exercises and use your whole body?

Justin Mares (20:20):

That is another point that I think is interesting, is I actually think many more people should be moving intentionally, and I don't mean just stretching, but just moving, doing intense exercises where you're increasing certain joints' capacity and ability to move through points like hip cars, things like this. I started working with a functional mobility person about a year ago, and just working with him and having him give me exercises so that my lower back is moving well, my hips are moving well, my shoulder joints have a greater range of motion, has been a total game changer from a pain and mobility standpoint in general. So I think that's one thing that I do that way more people should probably do.

Daniel Scrivner (21:06):

Yeah, agreed. I'd love to talk about areas where you have an edge or a superpower. What do you think of as your superpowers? You have quite a number of businesses, you have quite a number of things that you do. How do those superpowers or areas that you have an edge show up in your day-to-day work or life?

Justin Mares (21:23):

I think probably my superpower is if I had to really dial it in, I would say two things. I think I'm pretty good at identifying trends for whatever reason. I think that I'm a curious person who has a bunch of weird friends, to be totally honest, and so I think that my friends I was meeting with and having conversations about Bitcoin in 2011, we were talking about 3D printing then, I was talking about paleo stuff. I got into that in 2011 as well. Now I have friends that are talking about environmental chemicals, and three years ago we were talking about not drinking. It's just I have very weird friends. And so I think that that's one superpower actually, is I am able, sometimes it seems, to be able to be like, "Oh, my friends are talking about packs. Maybe there's an opportunity here."


And because generally the things I'm interested in are so not well talked about or well known, there's a lot of opportunities to do something entrepreneurial in a given space. And so I think the second thing that, I would say, is one of my superpowers is I am pretty good at having an idea and quickly moving it to a point where I'm testing it, talking to customers, getting some sort of validation, and just pushing it in a direction and providing the activation energy to get something off the ground. I think that's something that I do pretty well, where it's had the idea for Kettle & Fire, two weeks later there was a landing page up, two weeks after that we had actual customers that were paying us, and three weeks after that we had started looking for a co-packer and trying to figure out how we can make this product. And I think that that speed is another superpower, I would say.

Daniel Scrivner (23:19):

Yeah, totally agree. I want to ask one more question about habits and then we'll ask a couple closing questions. The question I want to ask about habit is what tiny habit has had the biggest positive impact on your life and work?

Justin Mares (23:30):

I actually would say that probably something I've started to do lately that I really enjoy is talking about moving more regularly. I've been trying to do Pomodoros just from a work standpoint, but where the five-minute break is either me stretching or doing pushups or doing pullups or doing just a little walk outside, something like that. It's super small, but it just helps break up the day from a work standpoint, and get more movement and exercising. And I've been surprised at how well that...


... Exercising and I've been surprised at how well that has worked for me from a focus and just general happiness standpoint.

Daniel Scrivner (24:09):

So, it's almost like sneaking in little five minutes where you're doing something with your body. It doesn't have to be hard. You can do pushups, you can do pull-ups, you can also do stretches. How many of those do you get in on a good day?

Justin Mares (24:19):

Like three to six, somewhere in there.

Daniel Scrivner (24:24):

Which seems great, that moves the needle. That's still, what, 20 minutes, 25 minutes of working out in the day or using your body.

Justin Mares (24:29):

Totally, man, that's great, and then I'll lift on top of that and whatnot.

Daniel Scrivner (24:33):

Andrew Herr, the founder of Fount that was on the show, does something similar. He talked about having trap bars and just little exercise equipment throughout his house and forcing himself when he leaves his office and tries to go to the bathroom or goes to the kitchen to try to pass by that equipment and make himself do at least a couple of reps. I think it's a great, super practical idea.

Justin Mares (24:52):

Yep, I have dumbbells next to my desk for that reason.

Daniel Scrivner (24:55):

There you go. I want to ask about favorite books. I went through many of your newsletters. You have a newsletter on Substack called The Next, which has a bunch of... I don't know how long you've been doing it. There's a bunch of great posts that I got to go through, but you talk a lot about books that you've read. I know you're a big fan of The Three-Body Problem. It sounds like you read The Great Bridge recently, which seems really fascinating. So, I bet you have a bunch to pull from. When you think about books that have had an outsize impact on you or that you regularly recommend or give away to others, what comes to mind? What do you think people should know about and read?

Justin Mares (25:29):

So, The Three-Body Problem is definitely one of them. I think that is one of the most mind expanding books I've ever come across in my life. It's just utterly fascinating, it's so well written, it's so good, and just made me think in a different way. I think another thing that I really recommended and enjoyed is I recently read a book called The Company, which is just a history of the corporation, and I'm interested in these atomic organizational units in society, like the corporation where it doesn't feel like a technology in the same way that the light bulb was or something, but you basically saw the invention, if you want to call it that, of the limited liability company, and that just spurred a crazy amount of innovation once people could actually afford to socially take on risk in a way that it didn't mean their lives were ruined.


And so, I'm actually very, very interested in reading books that talk about similar social technologies. I don't know if there's a better word for that because I think that we're in a spot right now where a lot of our institutions are maybe not working super well from a societal standpoint, and I'm interested in just what sort of social technologies could be created, invented, promoted, whatever, to try and address some of the challenges that we have today.

Daniel Scrivner (26:58):

It's fascinating. On the LLC, it's interesting to think as well too that I don't think anyone would argue that there's a lot still broken or that could be improved about how companies work, how companies are structured, our corporate law works on and on and on, and yet just getting the basic trade-offs and structure obviously has enabled so much positive good. It's just amazing to think on that, that things can be both deeply broken and deeply right at the same time.

Justin Mares (27:22):

100%, it's like any relationship or family or whatever, you could point to a relationship or family and go like, "Wow, that's super broken, or super messed up in X, Y, and Z way," and yet they're also some of the best things that we participate in as humans. I think it's just being human.

Daniel Scrivner (27:40):

No, it's true, and our humanness shows up in everything we do for better or worse.

Justin Mares (27:44):

For sure.

Daniel Scrivner (27:45):

I want to ask one final question, and this one's maybe a little bizarre. You might have to reframe it in your mind, but the way I typically ask it, if you could go back to the start of your career and whisper some advice in your ear, words of wisdom or reminder, what advice would you give yourself? So, this could be even for you going back to college, is there any advice if you could go back in time, you would give yourself?

Justin Mares (28:07):

The cliche is probably like buy Bitcoin or something like that in 2009. Yeah right, so that'll be one, but more seriously, I think that I wish that I had... I wish that I had a bit lower of an ego when I was younger and had been willing to really lean in and learn from some super smart people and be like, "I'm not the guy, I'm not an entrepreneur. I'm just learning," and fully subsume my ego to a process of learning from people that were way smarter than me. I think that I did an okay job of that, but probably could have done much better, and I think could have learned and been exposed to much more opportunities had I been slightly more open to following the amazing people and amazing opportunities, rather than being like, "I have to do all this myself. I have to be the entrepreneur and the guy that starts X, Y, and Z thing," that would probably be my biggest change.

Daniel Scrivner (29:11):

That's fascinating. Perfect note to end on. Thank you so much for coming on, Justin. I really appreciate it.

Justin Mares (29:17):

Thanks for having me.

Daniel Scrivner (29:17):

Thank you so much for listening. You can follow Justin Mares on Twitter at J-W-M-A-R-E-S, that's JW Mares, and you can sign up for his newsletter at justinmares.com/newsletter. You can also find a searchable transcript of this episode as well as our episode guide with ways to dive deeper at outlieracademy.com/143. That's outlieracademy.com/143. For more from Justin Mares, listen to episode 144 where we decode how he's built and scaled multiple companies to tens of millions of dollars in revenue, including Kettle & Fire, Perfect Keto and Surely Wines. Justin shares the framework he's used for all of his businesses, from how he picks trends, to how he creates products and brands to own that trend, and how he scales them, as well as everything he's learned from the highs and lows of building these businesses, from why consumer brands are cash management businesses, to how he creates brands and categories, to why he believes in hiring a financial leader as early as possible within his companies.


You can find that episode at outlieracademy.com/144. For more from Outlier Academy, follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok. Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter at cheatsheetnewsletter.com. Subscribe to our YouTube channel at youtube.com/outlieracademy where you can find all of our video interviews, including our favorite clips from every episode, or visit outlieracademy.com for more incredible 20 Minute Playbook episodes. We'll see you right here with a brand new episode next Tuesday.

On Outlier Academy, Daniel Scrivner explores the tactics, routines, and habits of world-class performers working at the edge—in business, investing, entertainment, and more. In each episode, he decodes what they've mastered and what they've learned along the way. Start learning from the world’s best today. 

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Daniel Scrivner and Mighty Publishing LLC own the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of the Outlier Academy podcast, with all rights reserved, including Daniel’s right of publicity.

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