Ron Holt of Pink Zebra Moving On Becoming Free From The Fear Of Failure
An Interview With Savio P. Clemente
… First, have some fun by dreaming big. Forget the hurdles and obstacles in front of you. Just dream big for yourself without worrying about the reasons you can’t accomplish the dream. Dreaming isn’t natural for an adult, so you’ll need to loosen up in order for the dream to materialize. Sit down today and dream about the future you. Don’t waste another minute. Dream about the future right now. See something amazing and believe it’s all possible.
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 Ron Holt.
Ron is the Founder of Pink Zebra Moving, a local moving franchise brand that provides its customers with unique and remarkable customer experiences. Prior to founding Pink Zebra Moving, he spent nearly 20 years building Two Maids & A Mop from a single location into a nationally recognized residential cleaning brand with more than 100 locations across the country. Ron believes the local moving industry is broken and expects Pink Zebra Moving to create a new category within the industry by delivering a positive consumer experience each and every time.
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 am an entrepreneur. One of those crazy folks who believes big dreams can become true if you never stop believing. That’s always been my mantra, and it’s worked pretty well over the past 20 years. Way back in 2003, I moved to Florida to start a residential cleaning company called Two Maids & A Mop. It took me two years to make a profit and nearly three years to earn my first paycheck. Life sucked for a long time but I never stopped believing in my dream to build one small cleaning company into a nationwide brand. My dream weaved in and out of mistakes, failures and successes. Eventually, my vision became a reality as my little cleaning company in Florida grew into a nationally recognized brand with more than 100 locations across the country. It was truly a dream come true but something happened once my business grew into an adult. I stopped loving it. I had built the American dream but the all-day meetings and corporate bureaucracy slowly forced me into becoming a corporate executive rather than a hard-charging entrepreneur. So I sold Two Maids & A Mop in 2021 to start a moving company. It’s called Pink Zebra Moving, and it exists because I believe the moving industry is broken. My vision for Pink Zebra Moving is to create a new category in the local moving space by delivering unique and remarkable customer experiences. We operate in just two locations today, but fast growth is in front of us. Our plan is to open 10–15 new franchise locations per year. It’s another crazy dream for me, but one that I believe in wholeheartedly. Most importantly, I’m back to being the real me: a hard-charging entrepreneur.
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?
I once published an article about how Warren Buffett saved my life. Of course, he didn’t pull me from a burning fire or rescue me from a hurricane but Mr. Buffett did save my life as a young adult. I read his biography as a 22-year old wannabe entrepreneur and found a new purpose to my life. That book saved my life, and I decided to let everyone know about it with a simple social media post. Someone at CNBC stumbled into the post a few months later and asked me to participate in a documentary on Buffett. I didn’t know what to expect but the documentary turned into one huge piece of PR for my business as it was aired on prime-time national television multiple times. The piece was so popular that Mr. Buffett decided to broadcast it to all of his shareholders at the Berkshire Hathaway conference. It was a surreal experience and all of it was due to a 5-minute social media post. My lesson for everyone. Create and publish content as much as possible. Document your story. It’s possible nothing happens, but something big may happen too. It did for me, as that 5-minute post changed my life by opening up so many professional opportunities later.
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?
Vision. Purpose. Belief.
I would not have been able to build a nationwide brand from one just single location without having a vision for it to occur. Every person — no matter if you’re an entrepreneur, teacher or parent — must have a big dream to chase. Seeing the future is the first step towards a brighter future. Creating a vision for yourself provides purpose. Folks with a purpose work hard. They make mistakes. They never give up. They believe in themselves. I believe that a person’s belief in their future is the key ingredient to any success. Once you stop believing, everything else crumbles. See the future, work with purpose and never stop believing in yourself. Have those three character traits and you’ll never experience failure.
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?
My first day as the owner of Two Maids & A Mop was a complete failure. Only one person showed up for work. I ended up cleaning my customer’s homes with the lone employee, and you can bet the quality of my work probably stunk. It was a disaster of a first day. Fast forward to my current endeavor at Pink Zebra Moving. We were so bad that I decided to stop providing moving services after one week of service. We literally pulled the plug after a week so that we could improve our service offering. All of those experiences may sound like failures to you. But to me, it was all part of the plan. Failing only occurs if you quit in my opinion. And that’s why I believe most people are afraid to fail. They don’t believe their actions are leading in a clear direction, so any mistake can derail the entire project. Failing scares people because quitting is an option. Once quitting is off the table, failing becomes a requirement for every future success to occur.
What are the downsides of being afraid of failure? How can it limit people?
Simply put, no one ever made it big without experiencing a ton of failures along the way. The world’s best athletes still strike out, throw interceptions and miss layups. Bad stuff happens and our logical minds tell us to stop doing whatever is causing the bad stuff to occur. Fortunately, most successful people aren’t logical. Your brain wants you to stop doing something that causes pain. Logic says to stop, run away, quit. But successful people keep on trucking because they believe a better outcome will occur eventually. Running away from a mistake means you’ll never experience the feeling of big success.
In contrast, can you help articulate a few ways how becoming free from the free of failure can help improve our lives?
The easy answer is to just don’t run away. Run to the problem over and over again until you get it right. But those are just words and life is never that easy. So how can you free yourself from feeling like a failure? My advice is to simply dream big. Many of your dreams may require years, decades, maybe even generations to become reality. That’s a long time, no matter how much you believe in the dream. I’ve always believed that small milestones help you navigate the journey required to accomplish a big goal. Set small goals. Feel success. Take small steps, slowly inching your way to the top. The freedom earned by living a life with purpose creates joy. That smile you see on your neighbor’s face when she returns from work, that’s joy earned because she lives her life with purpose. So dream big, create a purpose and then stay happy even when everything is going wrong.
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?
Gosh, I’ve experienced so many failures that it’s difficult to pinpoint just one single mishap. Here at Pink Zebra Moving, we took a big early swing by opening our first location way too early. We invested several months researching the industry and felt that we were ready to tackle it. We had a busy first week scheduled and believed we were ready for the task. Unfortunately, the reality of booking new jobs and actually serving those customers proved to be too much for us. Some of our newly hired movers didn’t show for their first day on the job and we also mispriced every single one of the jobs on the schedule. We ended up subcontracting the work with a couple of local moving companies and somehow survived the disastrous week. We decided to suspend our grand opening by a couple of months so that we could improve some of the shortcomings experienced during the first week of operations. It was a tough week and the battle scars are still present. Of course, we wouldn’t be the company we are today without those battle scars either.
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 made the decision to hit the pause button pretty quickly into our first week. The decision cost me money and time, but there was no way we could proceed without hitting the reset button. I looked back on our first week to uncover all of the mistakes. How did we misprice everything so badly? Why did all of those employees quit before even starting? Why did we not have a better secondary plan during the crisis? So many mistakes, and so many questions to answer. So that’s what we did. We listed every mistake, asked questions and then worked to have better answers. It took us a full two months to recover from the failed first week but the business hasn’t looked back since. The business skyrocketed right out of the gate after the relaunch, serving more than 1,000 customers in a 12-month timeframe.
The key to my story is that quitting was never an option. Losing two months of operations may sound like a colossal failure to some but those two months represent a very small percentage of time when the big picture is considered. I know where we’re going and can absorb any short-term pain as a result. I believe everyone that accomplishes big things goes through tough times. Those tough times come and go when you are confident in your plans for the future.
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.
Dream. Plan. Execute. Celebrate. Fight.
The only way to fail is to quit. That’s my ultimate advice to anyone worried about failure. Just don’t quit. Sounds easy, right? Well, it’s obviously not that easy but there is a way to make failure easier to handle. Here’s my 5-step plan for making sure your failures don’t result in you quitting.
#1 — First, have some fun by dreaming big. Forget the hurdles and obstacles in front of you. Just dream big for yourself without worrying about the reasons you can’t accomplish the dream. Dreaming isn’t natural for an adult, so you’ll need to loosen up in order for the dream to materialize. Sit down today and dream about the future you. Don’t waste another minute. Dream about the future right now. See something amazing and believe it’s all possible.
#2 — Start sketching a plan of attack once you’ve established your dreams will eventually become reality. Don’t worry about the potential failure along the way. Just assume everything will go perfect, even though we all know plans are never perfect. Plan where you see yourself in one month, one year, one decade from now. Establish real goals and don’t look back.
#3 — Here’s the hardest part. Go do the work now. Most people consume themselves with ideas but fail to ever do anything beyond talking about an idea. Just start working. You’ve dreamed. You’ve planned. Believe in yourself enough to start the job. You’re going to screw up at some point. And that’s ok because you have a dream and a plan. So go do the work. Right now.
#4 — Your plan of attack should have milestones scheduled along the journey. Celebrate the achievement of milestones. Resist the urge to just keep on working. Celebrations may not come natural to you. They didn’t for me. However, dealing with a mistake or headache became a lot easier once I started recognizing my little victories.
#5 — The fight to chase a dream requires consistent tenacity. Internal and external factors will cause you to doubt yourself. Failures will occur. When those inevitable failures occur, remember the reason you’re fighting and just keep on plugging away. One big failure can result in massive success later on. So don’t give up. Keep on fighting and keep chasing the dream.
I funded my first venture with my own capital. I was 22 years old with no money. Big problem, right? Well, it wasn’t easy and success didn’t occur overnight. However, I followed these exact same five steps and eventually funded my entire business with my own money. How did I do it? First, I dreamed of the idea of one day scaling a small business into a national brand. I believed it was possible and no one else did. My friends laughed, my co-workers thought I was crazy and my parents were sincerely worried about me. I didn’t care about the naysayers. I simply believed. Once I started believing in the dream, I sat down to build a plan for it to happen. My research taught me that I would need at least $150K to fund my startup cleaning business. That was a ton of money for a young, broke college grad. My plan was to attack the $150K mountain one week at a time. I decided to save $400 a week over a 7-year timeframe in order to build the nest egg. Saving $400 a week would require part-time jobs, future promotions in my “real” job and serious frugality. But it was a plan that seemed possible to my young self, and I went all-in shortly after engineering the plan. Every Friday, I would walk into my local bank and drop off at least $400 into my savings account and then proceed to the nearest watering hole for a celebratory cold beverage with friends. It was a small celebration but always felt so good because that cold beverage represented an entire week of hard work. I did this same thing over and over again for just under seven years. I was fortunate to save more than $400 every now and then so the journey didn’t last as long as planned. It was a serious commitment, however. The fight is real and there were so many temptations along the way. I almost purchased a new car. I almost quit once after failing to save $400 one week. It was tough, but I just kept pounding the rock one week at a time. Some of my friends asked me why I fought so hard chasing my dream. Easy answer: you’ll fight for anything if you truly believe in it. I believed, and the dream eventually became reality.
Dream. Plan. Execute. Celebrate. Fight.
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?
I love that quote. Consider the iconic Walt Disney. He failed at almost everything before finally making magic with Disney World. The world doesn’t have to believe in you. You have to believe in yourself. The world can see all of your mistakes and call them failures. You have to call every mistake progress. There’s no such a thing as overnight success. Even people with overnight success credit a life of mistakes to their quick riches. I truly believe that you can fail your way to the top. Make mistakes, learn from them, make more mistakes, and then learn from them too. Keep failing because reaching your goal is worth it. Success is fun. Failure can be too.
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. :-)
I want people to dream big. So many people get caught up in paying bills, begging for Friday afternoon and dreading Monday morning. It’s a form of survival better defined as desperation. Life should be an adventure, and I believe that one of the easiest ways to make this happen is to start dreaming like a kid again. A ten-year-old kid doesn’t care about bills. They believe they’ll play in the NFL or star on Broadway one day. Dreams give purpose, and a life full of purpose creates joy. My dream is for everyone else to start dreaming like a little kid again. Dream about a future where you land the perfect job. Dream about a future where you invent the next big thing. Dream about a future where you change the world. Think bigger than you’ve ever thought before. Use those big dreams as motivation to make Monday mornings fun. I believe it’s possible, mainly because I’ve lived that same exact way for the past 25 years. It’s worked for me and I believe it can work for you too.
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 :-)
My friends and co-workers would probably say Warren Buffett since I talk about him so much. He’s been a real mentor to me for more than two decades and much of my success is due to his teachings. Meeting Buffett would be cool, but that’s not my guy today. I want to have lunch with Jesse Cole, owner of the Savannah Bananas minor league baseball team. He’s changing the game of baseball by delivering his own version of unique and remarkable customer experiences. He’s an incredible leader and his passion for changing the game of baseball oozes of out him. So Jesse, give me a call if you ever want to have lunch with a moving company entrepreneur.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I’m busier than ever before trying to build a moving company into a national franchise brand. You should check us out if you want to be a part of something big. We’re going to make moving fun for our customers. Lear more about our nationwide franchise opportunities by visiting www.pinkzebramovingfranchise.com.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.
About The Interviewer: Savio P. Clemente coaches cancer survivors to overcome the confusion and gain the clarity needed to get busy living in mind, body, and spirit. He inspires health and wellness seekers to find meaning in the “why” and to cultivate resilience in their mindset. Savio is a Board Certified wellness coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), stage 3 cancer survivor, podcaster, writer, and founder of The Human Resolve LLC.
Savio pens a weekly newsletter at thehumanresolve.com where he delves into secrets from living smarter to feeding your “three brains” — head 🧠, heart 💓, and gut 🤰 — in hopes of connecting the dots to those sticky parts in our nature that matter.
He has been featured on Fox News, and has collaborated with Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, Food Network, WW, and Bloomberg. His mission is to offer clients, listeners, and viewers alike tangible takeaways in living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle.
Savio lives in the suburbs of Westchester County, New York and continues to follow his boundless curiosity. He hopes to one day live out a childhood fantasy and explore outer space.