Seek out uncomfortable situations and don’t fear failure: The willingness to put yourself into situations that you may not be ready for or feel comfortable with is crucial. Your growth will exponentially increase as you continue to put yourself through these challenges.
As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joe Hansley & Paul Sorbo, co-founders of Co-Mix.
Paul Sorbo is the Co-Founder of Go Mix and currently serves as president of the company. He went to school for medicine majoring in genetics and biochemistry. While in school he opened the first of many nutritional stores which grew to several locations across the US, while pursuing his undergraduate degree. Rather than continuing to medical school he continued working in his business and eventually reached out to Joe to “tell him he was running his business wrong, and there is a larger opportunity” and the rest is history.
Joe Hansley is the Co-Founder of Go Mix, and currently serves as the CEO. He developed the Go Mix concept out of nutritional need, as he grew up an athlete earning a full scholarship to play football at Colorado State University, then eventually signing with the Oakland Raiders for a brief stint in 2016. Joe has an expertise in product development, with a deep understanding of the importance of a user's experience when consuming a product.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
Paul- Growing up I was always an out of the box thinker. The traditional school system ended up being hard for me as I ended up being bored a lot of the time and ended up working harder to beat the system than actually just follow it. I ended up going up to CMU for my pre-med undergrad with hopes of medical school, specifically in genomics or neurology. During my sophomore year, I ended up taking over a failing nutrition store and built it to one of the top locations out of 330 in the nation. I continued with that career path owning and operating a number of stores across the country until an exit where I started contracting with a couple of different supplement companies to help with distribution and product formulation. During these years I was exposed to both Joe and Go Mix or Nietorp back then, as well as a revolutionary brain-scanning technology that I still am involved in to this day. At my core, I believe in human optimization and nutrition. I’ve always had a fascination with how the human body works and with my current career path it allows me to do what I love every single day.
Joe — My backstory that led me to my current career path is heavily influenced by athletics. I grew up playing every sport in the book, which inevitably took me to Colorado State University on a football scholarship. I was never the biggest fan of school but enjoyed being social and building relationships. I always had a notion in the back of my head that I would be successful based on who I am as a person and what I could and had accomplished, and not what my degree or GPA was. I played 4 years at CSU and got signed by the Oakland Raiders in 2016. I had dreams of having a successful NFL career but did not enjoy the process that it would take to achieve this. After getting cut from the Raiders I had a previous business partner reach out to me asking if i wanted to start a business. I was in a position where I did not want to be traditional and work a 9–5 sales job so I took the opportunity and ran with it. That’s when Go Mix was developed out of a previous need when I was playing sports. It’s amazing how things work out and I was able to find a passion in business and an industry that is so heavily involved with athletics. My life is really coming full circle as we continue to grow and find success.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
Traditionally innovation in the sports nutrition industry has been consistently about altering ingredients. Each time a new ingredient comes out it's the new, best, most exciting ingredient until something better comes out, or it gets banned. The industry has been looking for ways to replicate ingredients from the past for decades now to try to find something similar. Each time this happens its been another thing, another step, more time for the customer to consume their nutrition. With Go Mix we developed the packaging around the consumer. Thinking not just what we could put into a formula but rather what could we put a formula in, in order to better fit the needs of the customer. We allow them to truly experience their nutrition without limitations of travel, preservatives, TSA etc. We are not only giving companies a new delivery system that allows formulations to be taken on the go that may not have made sense before Go Mix, but also allowing consumers to live their busy lifestyle without limitations.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Thinking that we had to do everything ourselves. I could name countless stories of mistakes that came from this. One that always comes to the front of mind when we talk about where our business has grown to is our supply chain overseas. At one point we were working through a problem that we had on the production line and couldn’t for the life of us get to the bottom of it. This was due to a number of reasons, language barriers, misunderstandings, lack of personal representation, lack of contracts and communication. Once we brought on our team overseas the problem was solved in less than a day and we had the full solution set up in under 48 hours. It gets back to how important having the right people involved is. We sat hours, weeks, countless sleepless nights trying to figure this out without any movement forward, and it ultimately took one conversation.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
As you progress through life your friends, circle, and people that occupy your time end up changing. Fortunately for us, we have been blessed with influential individuals throughout our development with amazing families and friends. As business partners, you end up spending an immense amount of time together, and we cannot stress the importance of finding a partner that supports your weaknesses and builds upon your strengths. The ability to learn together and take on challenges with the right mindset is something that can’t be taught. They say you end up being a culmination of the 5 or 6 people you spend the most time with… these are your immediate mentors and the people that can push you to become the best version of yourself and help push you to strive to grow. The most valuable thing is having someone you can turn to in a rough situation (which will happen and happened multiple times for us) and collaborate, understand the problem, not dwell on it, and start moving forward with a plan to find the solution.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
Disruptive ultimately can exemplify change, or drastic change rather. This can be great in instances but it can also be detrimental in others. One of my favorite examples of this is social media as a whole. It disrupted the way people communicate, the way they are able to hold relationships, and allowed people to connect on a global level. It has added a layer of communication and personalization to relationships that may have never existed without it. It has allowed people to feel as though they belong to a movement or a group without ever having to leave their home. If used correctly this can be an amazing thing. However, the opposing side of this is the negative disruption that social media has caused. Cyberbullying never existed until the internet and social media, in which people can now be exposed to pressures like never before. It has created false expectations based on a “highlight reel” of events and life that people expect to be everyday occurrences. All of this information became instantaneously accessible without any knowledge of what to do with it, or how to teach people to handle it.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
- It’s all about who you surround yourself with: From your business partners to your friends, the influence your inner circle has over you goes unspoken and unnoticed. The right support structure and people that genuinely care about you and your success are essential. Nobody can walk the road alone and when starting you can feel as though you need to do everything yourself. The reality of it is, that’s not feasible for you to maintain nor for the growth of your business. Finding and surrounding yourself with the right people you trust to get the job done will allow you to reach heights you only dreamt were possible. When setting up our entity in China we had countless translations issues and lack of communication problems. We ended upbringing on a person that had expertise in running a business in China and a team on the ground. The minute we had them a part of our journey things grew at an exponential rate and we could let the business run the way it needed to.
- Perception is reality: The ability to keep a positive mindset and continue to keep the glass half full vs. empty is essential. If you know things are going wrong or bad, you have to truly believe that they will get better and be willing to put in the work to do so. The power of a positive productive mindset will continue to keep things moving in the right direction and keep you going. We have run into countless problems and roadblocks as a business, however, they were never deal breakers for us and ultimately helped us improve ourselves and our business. Early in our business, we had orders coming in, no money, and no ability to actually fill our product into our packaging. Enough of a reason to quit that’s for sure, but we kept working, making calls and found a manufacturer willing to invest in our technology. A lot of people hit these roadblocks and give up, it’s too big of a mountain to climb, but every journey starts with a single step.
- Seek out uncomfortable situations and don’t fear failure: The willingness to put yourself into situations that you may not be ready for or feel comfortable with is crucial. Your growth will exponentially increase as you continue to put yourself through these challenges. When we were first developing Go Mix we had an opportunity to sit down with the former president of PepsiCo, with hopes of pitching our business for a potential investment. Ultimately we failed, we didn’t have the answers or the knowledge needed to succeed in the meeting. But walking out of it was one of our biggest growth moments, we learned the questions we needed to know, we learned how to adapt our business model, and learned where influence and major decisions are made. If you run your business based on being scared to fail you’ll never succeed, we learn best through failure and it's not an “if” it will happen, its “when”. Learn from your mistakes and failures and be willing to adapt fast.
Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?
The biggest thing for us is not necessarily the quantity of leads that are coming into our business but rather the quality of leads that are coming into our business. Our success is directly correlated with the success of our partners… and we do not view them as customers but partners and that's how we approach each lead that comes into our business. It is a partnership that we need to make sure that we are fully set up on our end for them to be able to be as successful as possible with our technology. When your business doesn't have its back end processes set up to handle or monetize the leads that are coming into the business you can actually be doing more damage than good. Make sure everything you have is set up to make your partners, clients, customers as successful as possible.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
Go Mix has always been merely a catalyst to provide a larger platform to accomplish other goals in life. We started with a passion to reinvent an industry and the way people were able to consume their nutrition. We want to continue on that line but start to tackle larger problems, creating and pushing sustainable packaging solutions, changing the way in which recycled products are handled both here and globally. Health and long term health is something we have a huge passion for, and starting with Kids is where we can truly create education and change. This goes all the way from exposing underprivileged children with ways to participate in sports for physical exercise, to educating them on proper nutrition. We are just getting started and are more excited than ever to keep disrupting different industries.
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
I’m a huge believer in the power of the mind. People, in general, don’t realize the potential that they carry the day in and day out. If you truly believe something, and I mean truly believe it there is nothing that you cant accomplish with the right disciple to do so. There are a couple of Ted Talks out there that I think every person should listen to, but one that has always fascinated me was David Blaine holding his breath for 17 minutes. This man isn’t a professional free diver, has no genetic advantage in which his body utilizes oxygen or regulates CO2 differently than you or I, but for some reason, he was able to hold his breath for 17 minutes. Now obviously he didn’t just wake up one day and say I’m going to hold my breath and do it, but it all started with a thought, then surrounding himself with the right people to help him get there. Every part of him could have given up at any moment during that journey but he continued to take it one second at a time and move forward. This is how I approach business. You can give me a million reasons to stop or fail, and each time I will continue to work through them one day, one step, one second at a time, because at my core I believe you wont outwork me and there’s nothing I can’t accomplish with the right team.
Joe — “How I built this” is one of my favorite podcasts that have helped me along my entrepreneurial journey. Hearing other people’s stories including both successes and failures was a great way for me to realize the ups and downs that are going to come. I would listen to this podcast and relate it to what I have going on in its own unique sense.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Paul- My favorite life lesson is the golden rule. Treat others how you want to be treated, I use this in my relationships both personally and professionally. There is so much hate and negativity in the world right now and if people just respect others as they would want themself to be respected we have so much ability to grow as a collective group. It is why we approach each one of our partners with the philosophy of bringing B2C customer service to the B2B world. Ultimately we can grow together and all it takes is communication and respect.
Joe — My favorite life lesson quotes are the ones around missing every shot you don’t take, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Seeing an opportunity and taking chances are the only ways to truly get ahead and up in life. Otherwise, you fall into the norm and average categories, no one wants to be average. I try to do something that’s risky or scares me every day, doesn’t matter if it’s big or small.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Go Mix came from the ideal of living a holistic and healthy lifestyle without having to compromise. This is what we want to continue to inspire in the world. You shouldn’t have to compromise your life to be able to have access to proper nutrition. This is all the way from supporting and educating the youth on how important nutrition and exercise is, to allow the working class individual to not have to make the hard decision between convenience and health. Our goal will always be to empower people to take control of their own health and realize that if they want to we will always be there to support them and provide them the tools necessary to do so!
How can our readers follow you online?
Facebook: PJ Sorbo
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!