Matt Fitch of iHaulJunk On Becoming Free From The Fear Of Failure
An Interview With Savio P. Clemente
Change your environment: Step outside of your comfort zone and put yourself in front of new people and unfamiliar places. You will become whoever and whatever you surround yourself with so choose to be around people you can look up to and learn from.
The Fear of Failure is one of the most common restraints that holds people back from pursuing great ideas. Imagine if we could become totally free from the fear of failure. Imagine what we could then manifest and create. In this interview series, we are talking to leaders who can share stories and insights from their experience about “Becoming Free From the Fear of Failure.” As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Matt Fitch Founder and CEO, iHaulJunk, Inc.
Matt was born and raised in a quiet, low-income area of Central Maine. Self-admitingbly, he was the poor kid, in a poor town with little opportunity, and all the ingredients for failure. Through an absence of fear, and a mindset focused on doing what ever it took to succeed, Matt was able to turn a one-man side-hustle into what is now a nationwide network of over 30 Independent-Operators running junk removal crews in major cities all across the United States.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
I grew up in Gardiner, Maine, raised by a single mom on welfare. My mom is an amazing woman who has helped saved countless lives through her work as an advocate for battered women. While the work is crucial to our communities, unfortunately that career path doesn’t pay diddly squat!
My friends who I thought were rich, turns out they were lower-middle class, I didn’t realize this until I was older and had some money.
For many years a $500 car was all we had. I was so embarrassed by it that I would walk miles to school or home from school instead of taking the bus because I didn’t want my friends to see where we lived. For a couple years in middle school I even left home to live with a close friend. I cherish my family like gold, but at that time I was struggling to find my place and I needed to see a world different than the one I was brought up in.
I yearned for stability and opportunity. I wanted a future where I could give my children the things I didn’t have. My children were going to have a father, and damn it I was going to take them on vacations and buy them awesome school clothes! We never went on a vacation as kids and I didn’t want my children to feel awkward on Father’s Day when it was time to make cards in school. I wanted them to be proud of their Dad. I didn’t want my kids to be embarrassed when they came back to school from summer break and had to talk about all of the fun things they didn’t do over summer break. No we didn’t go to Disney World over spring break, and no we didn’t spend a week at the beach last summer. We couldn’t do any of those things because we literally had zero dollars.
I didn’t know how, I just knew I wanted something different for my future.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
We were hired to do a big debris removal job for a wealthy homeowner at a beautiful estate in Austin years back. I showed up with the whole crew. We had heavy equipment, a few trucks and a gang of guys there going to town cleaning up this guy’s property. He was one of the nicest guys I had ever met and towards the end of the day he took me aside because he wanted to chat.
He told me that we were doing a fantastic job but he didn’t think I was charging enough money for the work we were doing for him. He said he had a few other things he wanted to go show me, just a few items he wanted added to the job. We went for a walk and we stood next to a small rock. He picked it up with one hand. “Matt, I need to add this rock to the job today and I’m going to pay you an extra $500 for it.” He proceeded to take me around and we gathered up a handful of rocks, all each worth $500 in his eyes. He felt like he under paid me $2500 and added 14 pounds of rock on a job where we were collecting tons…he essentially gave me a $2500 tip on a $1500 job.
After that he walked around with $100 bills and he gave each one of my guys on the job at $100 tip. Then he brought me into a detached studio on his property, I couldn’t believe what I had just walked into. There was a massive recording studio with every instrument you could imagine, every Disney movie and soundtrack you ever heard of on the walls, and he had the awards hanging there with his name on all of them.
He was a retired executive producer and composer for Disney. He told me stories of the famous people who played the instruments in that studio and what movies they were in, we talked for about an hour. He had me sit in the producers chair, just taking it all in. He said, “Matt, You need to understand your worth and you need to start charging a lot more money. What you are doing is exceptional, and rare.”
In just one day, this one man showed me the value of humility, kindness and fairness through his actions. You are never “above” anyone else and anyone can become anything. Know your worth and give back as much and as often as you can financially, and give back as a leader and a mentor, I learned so much that day!
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Passionate, Positive and Relentless!
I am passionately immersed in my business, to the core. 10 years ago I made a commitment to myself that I was going all-in with my Junk Removal business. For 10 years I have outworked everyone and lost touch with too many friends. I’m just more interested in capitalizing on my opportunity right now. I know I can relax and have more personal time later in life if I just work a little harder now at it. My page feeds, personal and business are all about iHaulJunk, I am the most passionate person a lot of people know. When we find time for family trips, ask any of my friends or family, Matt is always working. Even at the beach or in another country, Matt is passionate about junk hauling!
Having a positive outlook in general is another character trait I am well known for by those closest to me. I know that positivity has been the key to my success and a key component in my ability to overcome adversity. Even through the most challenging adversities I have faced in life, I seek out any positive experience from it and I use that positive focus to get me out of the adversity as quickly as possible. I know from my own personal experiences that if two individuals are faced with the exact same adversity in the exact same environment, the individual who stays positive is the one who’s going to remove themselves from the adverse situation first. We all struggle. But those of us who maintain a positive mindset through the adversity are the ones who will move through it the fastest and are also most likely to actually take something positive away from the challenging experience. Every adversity is another opportunity to learn and grow.
I am relentless, I don’t know how to quit. Before my kids ever hit grade school, I had both of my kids saying “Fitch’s Never Give Up!” They say this and they truly believe this and it’s this mindset that is quite possibly the best gift I may ever give to my children in life.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the concept of becoming free from failure. Let’s zoom in a bit. From your experience, why exactly are people so afraid of failure? Why is failure so frightening to us?
People are afraid of failure because they spend their whole lives only remembering the successes of the people they look up to. If they were able to see all of the failures that their heroes endured before they reached the pinnacle of success, they would know it takes a lot more than just the proverbial silver spoon at birth to succeed in life. And some people grow up with unrealistic expectations placed on them by their parents and society.
It’s funny how as adults, we often forget our past and we seem to think that somehow our children are going to magically become everything that we are today without actually having to go through what we went through to get here. Too many of us are coddling our children nowadays.
Kick your damn kid out of the nest and let them go fail a little bit so they can learn what life means. As long as you give them the tools they need through adolescence, they’re going to be fine. Let them know you are here for them but remind them that they have every skill required to accomplish any goal in life. Child, you just have to go out there and get it, and you can’t be afraid to fail in the process.
What most folks don’t understand is that you won’t be remembered for your failures, you’re just going to be remembered for your contribution to the world. At our funerals and on our headstones, nothing is going to be said about our failures and in fact, rising from failures to achieve success is what many successful people are remembered for.
Your biggest failure in life, may just be the catalyst to your ultimate success.
What are the downsides of being afraid of failure? How can it limit people?
The biggest downside of being afraid to fail is that you’ll never step outside of your comfort zone to try something new.
Success is usually a derivative of creativity and/or innovation. Through trial and error, creative entrepreneurs are able to solve problems and streamline processes and by definition, error is inevitable here. Much like science, an innovator or a creative entrepreneur understands that they are learning through their failures and each time they pick the pieces up out of “error,” the puzzle fits together a little better next time. We must embrace failure and look forward to adversity as real opportunity.
Everyone in personal life and in business is going to fail and face adversity. The difference between those who succeed and those who fail is based on the ability to learn and grow from the errors. Whoever fixes the problem, or adversity first is going to cross the finish line ahead of the others. Pulling yourself out of failure or adversity quickly, is the fastest way to get ahead of your competitors and peers.
In contrast, can you help articulate a few ways how becoming free from the free of failure can help improve our lives? Confidence! Once you realize you can do anything, there are no limits to what you can achieve.
When you are able to dive headfirst into a new opportunity without any fear of failure, you give yourself the best chance for success. Lacking fear and maintaining an abundance of confidence will allow you to try out new experiences both personally and in business. When you put yourself into new environments and around different people who you can look up to, this is when you start to see the new opportunities present themselves.
Put yourself out there and don’t be scared. People everywhere want to support brave entrepreneurs and creativity is magnetic.
We would love to hear your story about your experience dealing with failure. Would you be able to share a story about that with us?
Before starting my own business, I worked in restaurants as a server and a bartender in my 20s.
When I was 25 my brother tragically passed away from a drug overdose. After 10 days in hospice care, his organs finally failed and I had to return home to Texas and get right back to work. I was a single dad to a 4 year old and I was all he had then. Instead of taking the time off and getting the mental health support that I needed, I went right back to work at the bar.
I was spiraling.
I created my own legal problems ending up in jail a few times and I couldn’t control my drinking. I got fired for drinking on the job and my manager called the cops on me because I refused to leave when he fired me, I was a mess and at my lowest point.
How did you rebound and recover after that? What did you learn from this whole episode? What advice would you give to others based on that story? I never went back to work at a restaurant or another bar after that experience and I haven’t drank since February of 2019.
I spent several months sleeping on a friends couch. That friend was and still is an angel who helped rescue me, when I needed saving the most. Not once did she judge or criticize me for my failures, she was just a friend who loved and supported me unconditionally. It was on her computer and using her internet where I eventually found a day job selling insurance benefits over the phone. It wasn’t sexy but it was here that I learned how to sell.
It was during this period where I also met the woman of my dreams and my current wife. Pretty quickly I started making about $1000 a week and shortly after that we were able to get into a place of our own. I wasn’t homeless anymore and I had a job! One sales job led to a better sales job and I started taking a closer look at the owners I was working for.
I started paying attention to how they were doing business and I started reading books about being an entrepreneur, business management and sales. I felt confident in my sales acumen at this point and after paying attention to my leaders, I took a blind leap of faith and went out on my own to start a new business.
It took a few more years of failing in business before I ever discovered the opportunity in junk removal where I eventually would find success. From personal experience, I highly recommend going out and finding some big failures immediately and embrace the adversity that’s sure to come.
It’s climbing out of this adversity where you will take in the lessons necessary to learn what you need to learn right now. When you fail, pick the pieces up, take the lessons learned and have another go at it! But do it a little better next time and apply your new knowledge obtained through adversity so you don’t make the same mistake again.
What’s the worst that can happen? So you fail and you end up back where you were before you tried. At least you can go out on your deathbed someday, with no regrets. You won’t have to wonder what could’ve been. You can grow old comfortably in your own skin, knowing that you gave it your all in life and you can be proud of your contribution to the world.
Side note: My business has grown more in the last two and half years without alcohol than it did in the eight years before. I took a chance on living a new life without alcohol and it has opened up doors of opportunity that I didn’t know existed.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that everyone can take to become free from the fear of failure”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Embrace adversity: Know that we all face adversity. Truly believe that each fall you take forward is not a failure, but an opportunity to learn, grow and move ahead of your peers and competitors.
- Change your environment: Step outside of your comfort zone and put yourself in front of new people and unfamiliar places. You will become whoever and whatever you surround yourself with so choose to be around people you can look up to and learn from.
- Read your hero’s biographies: Read three biographies (preferably auto-biographies) about people you consider a hero, or someone who has achieved the highest level of what you perceive to be success. Listen and learn about all the struggles and adversities your heros had to overcome to get where they are and know that you can do the same thing if you try hard enough. Worst case scenario, you aim for the moon, miss and end up in the stars!
- Start small, then go big: Don’t be afraid to try something new and don’t be afraid of it failing. When you want to experiment with a new idea, find a way to minimize the risk during your “trial phase” that way you don’t lose the farm on a whim. Keep pursuing your dreams but don’t go big until you have sampled the opportunity long enough to know there’s a demand and you have a well-defined template for scalability to capitalize on it.
- Do the opposite: No great innovator, current or past has ever made it by going with the flow, or accepting mediocrity. To create something spectacular, to innovate or completely change a society, it takes a much higher level of creativity, dedication and leadership, most people just don’t possess. You have to be willing to go against the grain, think outside the box and expect some errors along the journey. Most people don’t like change, but an innovator thrives with the fluidity of change, and often seeks it out through curiosity. Be curious about the world around you and be brave enough to take a leap of faith. When the opportunity doesn’t present itself, go out and find it, or create an opportunity for yourself by being relentless in your pursuit of accomplishment.
The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “It is possible to fail in many ways…while to succeed is possible only in one way.” Based on your experience, have you found this quote to be true? What do you think Aristotle really meant? Absolutely this is true. I’ve already experienced lots of ways to fail from my past and I’m not done either. I’ll rack up some more failures in life, that’s for sure. But…hear this, if nothing else. If you never quit, you can’t lose. You can fall (not fail, it’s just a stumble) over and over and the world will keep turning. The world is actually a very forgiving place believe it or not. When you face an adversity don’t view it as failure, you must embrace the adversity for the opportunity it is. There’s only one way to succeed and that is to Never Give Up.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
A fully-inclusive social media platform free from political opinions or outside political influence. I just want a No Politics Filter.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them :-)
@ElonMusk take me with you! Because Mars will need an eco-friendly waste management solution too :-)
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can find iHaul online at https://ihauljunk.com/junk-removal-in-austin-tx and you can follow my story on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/c/MriHaul’sJovialJunkJourney
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.