Entrepreneurial growth with Jock Purtle + Erika de la Cruz
May 31, 2017
Entrepreneurs Snapshot

Key Takeaway: Travel is meant to inspire you. Getting out of your element helps you to be creative. When it comes to implementation, however, staying in one place is most effective.

Jess Ainlay: Welcome to The Postnomadic Project. You two are my first ever couples interview. You two live together, both working on entrepreneurial projects. Jock Purtle, as an expat, let’s start by asking - were you an expat or an entrepreneur first?

Jock Purtle: I’m a serial entrepreneur nowadays, and I started working for my old man in the family business in Australia when I was 10. I’m a hustler and I’ve never had a job…

Erika De La Cruz: Didn’t you have one little job?

Jock Purtle: Actually, you know what? I had one job for like six months and got fired from it.

Jess Ainlay: The true entrepreneur’s tale! Did you go to university?

Jock Purtle: So I went to university because I had a deal with my mother. In retrospect, the biggest value that gave me was I met a supplier for one of my companies there. I wished there was an entrepreneurial apprenticeship program, but I didn’t get much value out of the experience myself.

Jess Ainlay: Is the United States the first place you lived abroad for a significant amount of time?

Jock Purtle: No. I’ve lived in Vietnam, Kuala Lumpur, Thailand, Europe, Budapest. I traveled a bunch around Europe and then I spent a lot of time in America before living here. I haven’t been much to South America. Travel gets tiring after a while, and then you meet the right person, and it makes you want to stay together.

Jess Ainlay: Erika, when did you first go abroad, and how did it affect you?

Erika De La Cruz: When I was in college, I went abroad to five different countries. When I went abroad, I experienced so much for the first time, and forged lifelong bonds, including one of the Passionistas, who I met abroad and am still friends with today.

Jess Ainlay: Do either of you feel like life abroad lends itself toward becoming an entrepreneur? Something about getting out of your element?

Erika De La Cruz: Unlike Jock, I’ve never wanted to stay abroad on a permanent basis. I’ve always wanted to come back. I travel for inspiration, then I come back. I love to learn about each country, each city, the people and their culture.

Jock Purtle: I want to throw this out there. Have you ever asked anyone the question what were they running away from? I feel there’s a correlation and I’ve only realized this very recently, that traveling is not only like discovery toward something, but you are leaving something as well, right?

Jess Ainlay: Jock, are you going to bare all? What are you running away from?

Jock Purtle: I’m running away from my parents’ relationship.

Erika De La Cruz: Wow! You’ve never said that before!

Jock Purtle: I’ve only realized in the last couple of weeks, honestly, that I had to create a space, distance from that. I feel like entrepreneurs have something inside them like this, a drive, that comes from somewhere deep inside like that.

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Jess Ainlay: As a world-traveling entrepreneur, do you think with a more global mindset? Do you target a specific country because you are familiar with it?

Jock Purtle: No. I think you go where the money is and America is where the money is that’s why I’m here.

I evaluate thousands of businesses with Digital Exits, at least 2-5 every day. In my business, if you look at each company’s customer base distribution, the highest proportion of customers come from America. The next highest is Europe, then South Africans, Australians, and so on.

Jess Ainlay: Not China?

Jock Purtle: I do focus on Western countries. There are also plenty of big companies in Argentina or Mexico, but that’s out of my scope, so that isn’t where I concentrate my efforts.

Erika De La Cruz: I have never focused on the money like that. I am focused on impact, influence and inspiration. Also, whether Jock realizes it or not, you work with people in Hungary, Australia, the US, you do hire and work with people all around the world. Co-working with Jock, I have actually learned that if you connect with someone, even just via email, in a different country, and they like you, suddenly they are an ambassador of your brand in another country.

Jock Purtle: I guess traveling has really taught me that humans are human everywhere. Everyone is the same, everyone wants the same thing and is motivated by the same thing. There is no friction for me if someone is from a different country.

Erika De La Cruz: Many entrepreneurs who have never traveled are limited by geography. While they might wonder, “Oh, how would we ever get a hold of someone in China,” we know there are tons of different ways to get a hold of someone in China.

Jess Ainlay: When you live or work from somewhere that is very foreign on the surface, how do you handle that?

Jock Purtle: I break this down into steps, the most important of which is accomodation. I know that whenever I go to a new place, as long as I’ve got accommodation sorted, everything else I’ll figure out. It’s just an attitude thing.

Jess Ainlay: Right. It’s a mindset. But where does it come from? This ability to say, I don’t know, I’ll just figure it out?

Erika De La Cruz: For Jock, having no contact somewhere doesn’t stop him from going. For me, I want to know all the steps and consequences before I go.

Jock Purtle: Erika, you like constant. And I like change. But for me, my routine is the constant. When my routine gets out of whack, then I become frazzled.

Jess Ainlay: How do you keep your routine the same when you’re shopping at 7-Eleven in Malaysia instead of a nice grocery store in LA?

Jock Purtle: That’s not the routine. This part of the routine is knowing where to get food. Done.

Jess Ainlay: You like to keep things simple.

Jock Purtle: Yes, my bullshit radar is pretty good, too. I have a low tolerance for it.

Erika De La Cruz: He’s very matter of fact, and in business, this helps. But I am more intuitive, and I can pick up on nuance. He doesn’t pick up on tone.

Jess Ainlay: Me neither. Only recently did I learn that people don’t always say what they think, and that they might dance around things.

Jock Purtle: You’re my people! My people!

Jess Ainlay: I did not understand those kinds of subtleties. When you are out there doing your own thing, you deal with people differently than when in a collaborative or corporate environment, especially when you’re all not really doing what you want.

Erika De La Cruz: Oh my God! That’s so Jock. People aren’t used to this mentality and being so straightforward can be misconstrued.

Jock Purtle: I’d like to be as intuitive and self-reflective as she is, but I have to really learn about this.

Jess Ainlay: Are you homeowners or location independent?

Erika De La Cruz: We love our place in Los Angeles, but it’s only a homebase. We love co-working from different places. Jock’s goal for the year was actually to travel as little as possible, unless absolutely necessary.

Jess Ainlay: Why? Is this a test to see if you can stay put?

Jock Purtle: No, I just got tired.

Erika De La Cruz: It’s also efficiency. You lose time when you leave, you lose time when you come back and settle back in.

Travel is great for disruption and creativity, but not good for implementation.

Jock Purtle: I’m in the implementation phase of my business. I’m finished starting new businesses. Digital Exits is my company. I love helping people buy and sell companies. I am building an ecosystem around this central brand, and so I’ve made the conscious decision that if I want to achieve this, I need to stop moving around.

I see business and life as one. Working at 6pm on a Friday night, or on the weekend, and then taking off a weekday it’s all just a part of the same life.

Erika De La Cruz: One thing that corporate life gave me was discipline. That five-day workweek is established, and I don’t stray from it. I learned email etiquette, client etiquette, the structure and function of an HR department - which is often last on the entrepreneur’s list, but definitely shouldn’t be.

Jock Purtle: As you grow as an entrepreneur, you need to become more corporate throughout. By this, I mean incorporate the systems and the processes. This is what leads you to be scalable. You need the process to plug someone into each position. Being scalable is what helps you sell. And this going back to what we do at Digital Exits, which is buy and sell remarkable businesses.

Erika De La Cruz: When you scale, you are really responsible for other people’s careers and lives.

Jess Ainlay: Why do you travel?

Erika De La Cruz: I travel to find myself.

Jock Purtle: I think I probably travel to grow up, and to develop a sense of identity.

A lot of my self-worth is associated with my ability to be a businessman. Each member of my staff has their own stupid human trick. To be as efficient as possible, you want to spend 95% of your time on what you’re best at.

So, in general, I think a lot of my identity is coming back to like my ability to be a businessman because I’m good at it. I like it a lot, it makes me happy, and like I can create a bunch of value.

Jess Ainlay: How do you feel about life on a visa, living on a visa? Because that’s a really tenuous place to be at, this is the first in my life I don’t need one, it’s a weird feeling.

Jock Purtle: I’ve never been rejected. I’ve never had any problem getting in any country. I’m extremely lucky to have an Australian passport. My visa for the US was surprisingly so simple. I just paid a guy to do it. It’s not as big of a challenge as you might think. As long as you’re creating commerce, they’re happy to have you.

Jess Ainlay: Thank you so much for the interview, Jock and Erika.

Connect with Erika De La Cruz erikadelacruz.com, and Jock Purtle at digitalexits.com.

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