Mike Beckham is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Simple Modern, a global producer of premium drinkware and lifestyle products. Founded in 2015 and based in Oklahoma, Simple Modern currently generates a nine-figure annual revenue and is committed to generosity, donating at least 10% of annual profits to nonprofit organizations. Under Mike’s leadership, the company has grown into a category leader for Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Sam’s Club, serving more than 20 million customers worldwide.

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The Learning Leader Show

  • Think BIG… But choose what to be ambitious about. Get clear on that first.
  • Simple Modern is a $225m bootstrapped business… Mike owns the majority of the company.
  • Mission: “We exist to give generously.” Simple Modern is an employee-owned Oklahoma based company whose mission statement is we exist to give generously. Our desire is to make 5-star products offering remarkable value so we can give to worthy organizations making the world a better place.
  • Use the “75-year-old self principle:” – What would your 75-year-old self regret if you didn’t do? (credit: Jeff Bezos)
  • Leadership stages:
    • Player
    • Player/Coach
    • Coach
    • General Manager
  • “I love the name of your podcast. You have to keep learning.”
  • What are the best and worst parts of being a CEO?
    • Best: Building culture, being part of a community, having lunch every day with your team. It creates huge leverage to do great work.
    • Worst: Stress, isolation. Understanding your identity? Is it too tied up in an unhealthy place?
  •  Mike’s purpose:
    • Teaching
    • Giving
    • Leading and creating value
    • Parenting
    • Positively alter the lives of others (as many as possible)
  • “Great leaders create more leaders. We measure it wrong. It should be about creating more leaders.”
  • The professor, Rufus Fears, started the lecture. The first thing out of his mouth was, “If you are here trying to get a pink slip, I can tell you that the class is full, and there will be no pink slips given.” Mike did not let that stop him. He stayed after class, talked with Professor Fears, went to his office, and talked with him. And earned entry to his class (and a few others of his later). It’s a great lesson that we need to be proactive and take initiative. We need to go after what we want.
  • Is your identity coming from a healthy place? Is it coming from accomplishments, titles, or materialistic things? Money? Or have you found your identity in something bigger than yourself? A well-defined purpose almost always stems from helping other people.
  • Why you should write: There are multiple levels of understanding. They are: You know nothing, then you have an intuitive understanding of something but you can’t explain it to someone else, then you actually behave in a deliberate way and can explain it. That goes to a point where you can understand a situation in real-time. And finally, you get to the point where you can teach it to someone else. A writing practice can help clarify your thinking and help you better understand something so well that you can teach it to others. Let’s develop a writing practice.
    • Writing scales. Hosting a podcast scales. They also increase your surface area for luck and serendipity.
  • Why Mike has no desire to sell Simple Modern: The whole point of having money is that we can trade it for things that are better than money.
    • “You can’t convert money to friendships. You can’t buy things that give you meaning & purpose. Life is in pursuit of priceless things.”
  • Mike’s favorite marketing pitch ever (Jon Hamm in Mad Men): Kodak asks for a branding campaign around a new product. It is a circular device that allows you to flip through pictures. Kodak hopes to  highlight the technology and call the product “the wheel.” Then, they get a master class on branding from Jon Hamm in Mad Men…
  • Before we can lead others well, we have to be internally healthy. Leadership is an inside-out exercise.
  • What do you value? It is easy to determine what someone truly cares about:
    • What do they do with their free time?
    • Where do they spend their extra money?
    • “I frequently spend time comparing what I say I value to what my behavior shows because the worst lies are the lies we tell ourselves.”
  • Apply to be in my Learning Leader Circle

Time Stamps

More Learning:

Episode 078: Kat Cole – From Hooters Waitress To President of Cinnabon

Episode 216: Jim Collins — How To Go From Good To Great

Episode #300: AJ & Keith Hawk – How To Instill Work Ethic & Curiosity In Your Children

Episode #303General Stanley McChrystal – The New Definition Of Leadership