RWR-012: Eric Zimmer Goes From Drug Addiction to Fortune 500 Consulting

On this episode, Eric Zimmer explains how he has always had the entrepreneur mindset. From a paperboy to owning a small landscaping company to working in various small startups to starting his own companies and so much more.

But all that could have been cut short as he developed a nasty drug problem early on. Luckily for him, he was able to kick that habit and create a lot of success for himself!

At the beginning of 2014, he launched The One You Feed Podcast, and by the end of the year, he was voted one of the Best of iTunes Podcasts of 2014. But it doesn’t stop there, he also does e-commerce consulting for large businesses on huge projects.

I’m excited to share this story with you today, I think you’re really gonna find it motivating and relatable! So without further ado, here’s Eric…

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Show notes:

[00:45] Tell us a bit about yourself…

[02:40] Did you go to college for computer programming?

[05:00] Unqualified but did it anyway

When you’re starting a company, you have to build what you can with what you have.

[06:00] Where do you live?

[06:45] How were you able to get sober?

I hit a point where I just had no idea what else to do. No idea of the next step, so I checked myself into treatment. Something happened in that period where I started to get a little bit of hope, that maybe I could live a different way. So I threw myself into that pretty hard, and that was really all I was focused on for at least a year and a half.

[07:40] Did family or friends or a mentor help you get through all of this?

[08:00] Tell us about your award-winning podcast…

An old grandfather told his grandson, “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, and resentment. The other is good. It is joy, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and bravery.” The boy thought about it, and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?” The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.”

[09:30] What type of guests do you have on your show?

I interview anyone that I find interesting, who I think has something useful to say about how do we make good decisions. What do we think about and where do we spend our time, and that totally determines the quality of our life. And the show is focused on how can we do that better.

I didn’t start the podcast to necessarily be a business. It would be good for me and i get to spend more time with my best friend. The fact that it blew up isn’t the primary focus of why I’m doing it. It really started as a hobby more than anything else.

[11:40] What did you think of the Best of iTunes award?

[12:30] Talk about the solar energy biz you started…

The idea came from something I got interested in, I tend to follow my curiosity. I was at the library browsing around and saw a book on clean energy. I thought there was a great opportunity there and I thought that kind of work was really important.

I just hit a point where I didn’t see the path forward from here, that I didn’t think this was going to make me happy. So I just decided to change directions.

What’s the point of owning your own company and doing your own thing if you’re not enjoying it anymore?

[17:40] Started a non-profit at age 16…

It started when I just wanted to take some kids to the zoo, and it turned into something more. But my transition out of it was hastened by my problems with alcohol and drugs. So I sort of helped to kill that. That’s certainly one of the regrets I have.

[19:20] Have you always had the entrepreneur mind?

If you can find someone who has a lot of credibility who will take you seriously, then to some degree you can leverage that credibility.

I think you’re always projecting an image or you’re selling something that’s a little bit beyond where you are. There ends up being a gap between what you’re out there selling and what you’re capable of at that exact moment. The key is that you don’t let that gap get too big that you can’t jump it when you have to.

[23:15] Did you start the solar company right after you got sober?

[24:00] As the solar company was being put on hold, is that when you got into the e-commerce stuff?

There are ways at any juncture along your career that you can take risks and not expose yourself to complete ruin.

[26:40] How old are you? Is age a factor?

There are ways to do your own thing and make your life different than what it is. There’s a middle ground between staying at something you hate doing and quitting everything to chase what you want. There’s a lot of play between those two things that people can do, and those options don’t seem to be talked about a lot.

[28:50] Do you think a regular job is secure?

I don’t see working for a big company as job security. Having skills that I know I can apply in a lot of different places and continuing to have connections, I see that as job security. I’m confident I can go find some way to make money with the skill set I have. I have no faith that Fortune 100 company “X” is any safer than being out on your own.

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[34:25] Your e-commerce biz doesn’t have a name?

[37:30] How important is networking?

[38:40] What is more stressful, the larger or smaller projects?

[40:25] Tell us about the coaching and public speaking that you do…

[41:45] People come to you, you don’t have to sell yourself as hard anymore…

[42:35] Do you travel much or is Columbus good for what you do?

[45:45] How did you meet Lewis Howes?

[47:05] What do you wish you knew before starting a biz?

A skill worth investing in is learning how to learn things.

[51:45] If you could only read one book, what would you recommend?

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

[52:40] What have you given up to start a biz?

There are definitely sacrifices. I think anybody that says there are not is probably not being honest, or is not real successful.

[55:35] Some people feel like they are stuck in what they have chosen for their life. What are your thoughts?

[56:35] Any daily rituals?

The president exercises probably nearly everyday, I cannot, with a straight face, say that I’m busier than him or that the stuff I have to do is more important.

Try replacing “I don’t have time for that.” with “I’m not prioritizing that right now.” And once you do that, you really are making choices about your time.

If you want a different life, you make different choices.

I’m amazed at what I’m able to get done when I’m that laser-focused.

I think I’ve kinda become one of those people that a lot of people look at and go, “How on earth do you do that?” And I think you have to know how to work smart to do that.

We only have 24 hours, I can’t manufacture any more. I have to think and be as disciplined as I can at what I spend my time on. And, while I’m spending that time, that I am using it well.

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[01:05:25] Doing whatever you want to do everyday is harder than it seems…

The people that have nothing that they have to do or don’t have any set schedule, they find it the hardest to be productive. Those are the people that tend to get the least amount done because there’s just no structure of any sort, and it’s just really hard to function in that.

A wandering mind is an unhappy mind.

[01:07:45] Who motivates and inspires you? Favorite interview you’ve done? Favorite quote?

A lot of times for me, inspiration, or feeling better when I’m down, comes from listening to loud music more than reading somebody’s blog post.

I think that changing our ratio of what we create versus what we consume is a really great thing. I think a lot of us, we just consume and consume and consume. I found that I get a lot more out of slowing way down, consuming less, and actually learning it then applying it.

Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. -Arthur Ashe

There is no substitute for starting the work. Plan the best you can, but just start.

If you have an idea, go find a customer and see if anybody would ever actually even want that thing.

[01:16:00] What is one moment that really makes you proud to do what you do?

[01:18:05] How does social media affect what you do?

[01:19:50] What skills should every entrepreneur have?

One way to not have regret about risks is learn how to take small risks, and do those often. Learn to take a risk and try, versus just thinking about it.

The old saying goes, “Ready. Aim. Fire.” But I think a lot of entrepreneurs are a lot more like, “Ready. Fire. Aim.”

I’m taking a risk, but I’ve got a lot of good information here telling me that this is a smart risk to take.

[01:22:45] What’s a big risk you’ve taken?

The other way to take risks is if you get to the other side of it, are you gonna know a whole lot more than you know now? And is that going to make you valuable in other ways?

[01:25:50] Any cool companies that have caught your attention lately?

[01:28:30] Is that popular advice that you don’t 100% agree with?

[01:30:45] Are you the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with?

[01:33:55] What are you working on next?

I think behavioral change has a lot to do with how you structure your life and the environment. There’s a lot of studies, a lot of science, and a lot of best practice in trying to change habits that I just think most of us don’t ever know.

[01:36:10] Best way to contact you…

Connect with Eric:

Twitter: @OneYouFeed
The One You Feed Podcast:
Personal Website:

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People, websites, & products mentioned:

The One You Feed Podcast
The Good Wolf/Bad Wolf Parable
Tipping Point Renewable Energy
Lewis Howes – The School of Greatness
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
DropTime App App
CommitTo3 App
Wunderlist App
Michael Taft Interview
James Clear Interview
Tesla Motors
Good Life Project Radio
Jonathan Fields
“I’m Fine, Thanks” Documentary

Thanks again for listening and reading the show notes. Be sure to leave me a review on iTunes and I can’t wait to share the next episode with you soon. Until next time, think less, risk more, regret nothing!

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