Keith Kalfas is the social media world’s leading landscaping & window cleaning influencer and one of the most-watched and followed personal development coaches in the industry. His videos have been viewed 15MM times, 200,000 people see his posts each week online and 2,500-plus students have taken his online courses & video series.
In this episode you’ll learn:
- Who Keith Kalfas is and how he started his business
- How and why Keith started his YouTube channel
- How Keith started cleaning for “free” and then the steps he took to scale up his business
- Keith’s mindset and approach to work
- Why Keith decided to get an office outside the home (and why you should, too)
- Why it’s important to set boundaries, eliminate distractions
- Keith’s tips on staying productive
Keith’s YouTube Channel
Keith Kalfas, what’s going on, man? Welcome to the show.
What’s up, man? Thanks for having me on.
So excited to have you here. So tell us a little bit about yourself; who are you, where you’re from and what do you do.
Who is Keith Kalfas?
My name is Keith Kalfas. I’m from Metro Detroit, Michigan and I’m a landscaper/internet marketer/YouTuber/I’m alive man, I’m here because right now is the time.
I love it. So your first trade was landscaping?
Yeah, I started cutting grass with my dad. He just had a side lawn care company when I was a kid and I would go help him for like $4 or $5 a lawn, so I’d be like pushing them over and weed whacking it, you know, 8, 9, 10, 11 years old for side money. When I hit like 17, I’m like, “Dad, let’s go into business!” He didn’t really want to do that, I don’t know why, so I just went and got a job cutting grass. Then became a foreman and then worked my way through a bunch of different companies. And I never made enough money working for anybody else, so I started my own.
So tell me about those early days, man. What was it like going out on your own?
Working a job is just enough money to barely make the bills. Every time anything wrong happened in my life like debts, it just went on the debt pile. I couldn’t afford to pay any debts and my self-esteem was in the gutter. By the time 2010 hit, just everything piled up in my life and it was that one thing that broke and my whole life fell apart and I couldn’t afford to fix it. So by that time, I had a fiancé, I was scared, I didn’t what to do.
I never started a landscape company because I had this belief in my head that you have to have like $20,000, you know, you have to have startup capital. I never knew that you could literally just go door-to-door and just start hustling up business. I mean, that’s what I did. The bills were due, I had an eviction notice on the door and I was scared and I had no choice. I started posting ads on Craigslist saying, you know, “garden maintenance, best deals in town.” So people would call, I would literally show up to their house after work cutting grass, exhausted and sunburned at like 6:00 PM. I’d go home, eat something real quick, use the bathroom and my wife wouldn’t want to know why I’m leaving, it doesn’t matter. I’d leave and go out until dark, I’d show up at someone’s house and give them a quote. “Oh, I’ll pull all your weeds for 40 bucks,” and I’d get on my hands and knees with a bucket and pull all their weeds around their house and then come home and do it again.
So basically, I took the money from pulling weeds in a bucket and I bought a wheelbarrow and I put it in the back of my wife’s car and then I took the money from that and I bought a rake so I wasn’t borrowing somebody’s rake. Then I took the money from that and then I bought a backpack blower. And then little by little by little, by the grace of God, with my fingers crossed, I was able to keep it altogether. And you know what, I’m actually getting fired up right now.
I put out a video on YouTube that I found, that I never uploaded. I have a YouTube channel called The Landscaping Employee Trap. It’s got about I think like 12 million views now online. It should be the #1 landscape search result on YouTube channel for the word ‘landscaping’. You can look me up, my name’s Keith Kalfas. But I put this video up and before I put it up, I found it on my phone. It was like from 2015. I was like, “Oh.” I remember I never even wanted to put this video up because I know a lot of people would get mad because of what I said in the video, but it was so true. So I uploaded the video last week.
Dude, I never had so many people unsubscribe from my channel, I think I had something like 160 people unsubscribe in 24 hours and were just trashing me in the comments, and I took the video down because I realized that I didn’t provide any context around the video.
And here’s what it was: I was saying if you’re broke, and I was talking to people really in this position. If you live in a mobile home or an apartment or somewhere and you can’t even make your bills and you’re getting an eviction notice and you’re scared, it’s never going to get any better. Nobody is going to give you anything. Nobody is going to come give you a handout. And I said, don’t pay your rent, take your rent money and go buy landscaping equipment, door hangers, fliers, business cards and apparel, and go out and start your business. When your electricity bill comes, don’t pay that. Take it, invest it in your business. And right that line, like if you’re in debt, don’t pay your debt. I had student loans, I quit paying on it because I couldn’t even afford to do it anyways. So I took that money, invested it in my business, then within 12 months I paid it all back. Within 24 months, I was up to 100 thousand in revenue. Within 36 months, I had almost everything except for my student loans paid off. Within 48 months, I was debt-free with $30,000 in the bank and moved out of that apartment and I had a condo, then I got a truck. Like, I’ve never gone backwards since. But sometimes you got to take a step backwards and take a step forward.
I kind of put that in the video and people on the comments were like “You should never tell anybody to not pay their bills!” See, I’m being careful when I’m saying it now. But they’re saying “You need to hire a financial adviser before you do that and you need to make it…” That’s people who already got a $100,000 a year income! I’m talking to the guy who’s broke, who has no choice, like you got to figure out whose throat you’re going to slit so you can make it up the river with blood on your face, bro. I’ll never forget about those times and I will never forget where I came from. I’m fired up. A great way to start a podcast, man.
That’s how we like to get it started. Hey, so you’re going to re-record that video and get it back out there again or what?
I am. I’m going to put some proper context around it though, so I don’t just come out and say “don’t pay your bills” because I could see why people unsubscribe. See then, I was a little too passionate with no proper structure and context. And I think that being naïve is the greatest thing you have going for you sometimes. I just think it’s the naivety that gets us to places because if you really knew how hard it was to run your own business, you might not even have the guts to do it in the first place.
If I knew how hard it was being married, bro, I wouldn’t have gotten married. And I’m so glad I did because I grew into the man that I am today.
Starting a YouTube Channel and getting his first clients
I love that, man. Back when you started your landscaping company, the same thing. You started where you were and what you had. You kept going. Your first video… was that one of your first videos, 2015 I guess? I mean, you just put yourself out there.
See, here’s the thing I did. I waited until my business was actually off the ground, like I didn’t have time to make no YouTube videos. Like I will take some video clips here and there, but like, I waited until I got this thing going and then I started making videos because I had to put 100 percent energy into getting this business off the ground, like I stopped everything in my life, cut out all my friends. I mean, it was literally 90 to 100 hours a week for 2 to 3 years straight. Dude, I had bags under my eyes. I was coming home at 11:00 at night in the dark, broke because I was letting clients walk all over me. I didn’t even know that they were intentionally using me like “This guy’s an idiot. He’s a really good worker. He does really good work and he’s only charging me $150?” Dude, I did like a $20,000 landscape job and only made like $1400 profit off of it.
I fired so many of those clients. You think these clients are your friends, bro? You think that “oh”, you’re so cool with them because you mow their lawn and you talk to them and they give you a Coca-Cola? Dude, raise that price and see how cool these clients, how much they really support you and your success and your business. Because you come to their house, next week, awesome there’s a brand-new BMW in the driveway yet this guy is talking you down over a dollar.
That is crazy, huh?
I’m fired up.
Hey, so I know you’ve got like one foot in landscaping and one foot in window cleaning. Tell me how did you get involved in window cleaning.
So, I started doing window cleaning the very first winter of doing landscaping because I wasn’t getting any unemployment from a job anymore. There was no landscaping to do. We had like six inches of snow outside and my bills were piling up again. So that’s what happens. Guys get their lawn and landscape business going, they start making a couple bucks. They think everything is going to be okay and then winter hits. Right?
Because when you’re in survival mode, you’re only thinking about right now. I was literally going out and getting my – I got my CDL, my commercial driver’s license for driving semi-trucks. I put job applications and resumes all over the place. I couldn’t find a job. And I wasn’t about to be 28 years old going and waiting tables again. So I just found window cleaning on YouTube and on the internet. I’m like, “Wait a second. I saw some bummy dude going around cleaning windows in that plaza the other day.” I was like, I would never do that. I would never be the window cleaning guy. Like, that dude.
And that’s when it really hit me. That’s when I kind of got depressed because I realized here I am, I am a bum myself in a one-bedroom apartment with an eviction notice on the door, and what have I done in my life? Because when you work at a dead-end job for other people especially in your teens and twenties, you think because you work hard every day that you’re somebody and you’re something? But when you really get to like what equity you have, what have you actually created? Do you have anything to show for that when you stop showing up to work? Like, no.
So I had to realize “Oh my God, I don’t know what else to do.” So, you know, I went to Home Depot and I bought a scrubber and a squeegee and some soap, and started knocking on doors of local strip malls and plazas and mum-and-pop shops, pizza joints, restaurants. I’m like, “Hey, can I clean your windows? They’re dirty. There’s salt all over them because it was winter. Right?” And people were like, “No, no, no, no.” And I started begging to people to clean their windows. I was coming home with no money in my pocket and fighting with my wife and it was really stressful.
But I met a guy who cleans windows. He’s already making over 100,000 a year. He kind of took me under his wing and gave me advice over the phone, like basically just by knowing that he actually made money doing it and it could actually happen, I realized that the problem was me. So I now had six days to pay my rent, I didn’t even know how to clean windows. All I knew was that I had six days or be evicted. I snapped, I went nuts. I went out at 7:00 in the morning in the freezing cold. I didn’t even know what to put to make the solution not free, so I went and bought bottles of alcohol and windshield washer solvent.
And I went down the metropolitan area where I live, like I got every single person’s business card that I went in and I wrote a 1, 2 or a 3, whether they’re hot to cold. Like I was creating leads and lists and calling them back and following up with them. I went insane. I didn’t come home until dark, until I had all the money to pay the rent. I sold 42 recurring accounts in 48 hours. I went crazy, like I can’t even explain it. I’d go into like this Chinese carryout place and I’d be like, “Hey, I’ll clean all your windows right now for 10 bucks.” And they’re like, “No, no, no. We don’t want our windows cleaned.” I’m like, “Your windows are filthy! This is a restaurant. Look at how disgusting your windows are.” “I don’t care, we don’t want them cleaned.” I said, “Dude, 5 bucks.” “No, no, no.” “Four bucks.” “No, no, no.” “Three bucks.” “I’ll clean your windows for free.” And I’ll start cleaning their windows, “Stop, stop, stop! No, no!” Right?
And I’d go to the next place. “Oh yeah, you don’t want me to clean your windows? I’ll clean your windows for free?” Cleaning the windows, dude runs out and says, “Okay, okay, okay. Here’s 5 bucks.” I say, “Thank you sir. I’ll see you next week.” I go right to the next one, next one, next one, and I just started dominating. Next thing you know, you keep showing up, they’d start giving in and then they want you to clean their windows. Dude, I was cleaning people’s windows for like 4 bucks. I’d clean a whole restaurant, I’d charge like $250 today. I do the whole restaurant for 60 bucks. Dude, I came home with $170 cash in my pocket. Next day, $200. Next day, $90. Next day, $150. My rent was getting paid, dawg!
Like, I started dominating the whole what we call the Van Dyke area. Dude, every single plaza you looked at, I had anywhere from 1 to 2 shops out of the whole plaza. But some of them, I had 80 to 90 percent of the entire plaza. I would go into corporate stores like Bed Bath & Beyond or Body Shops, I’d be like “Hey, your windows are disgusting, they’re filthy. I’ve got your solution. Let me talk to the manager.” They’re like, “Oh, no, no. We don’t want them cleaned. We can’t do it. It’s a corporate thing.” I’ll say, “Don’t you guys have petty cash?” “No, no, we don’t have it.” “Don’t you personally have cash in your pocket? Aren’t you the manager of the store? These windows are filthy. Can’t you get reimbursed? Twenty bucks.” “Okay, okay.”
So my positive expectancy, not saying no, and people complained in my videos goes, “Oh, he’s being pushy.” I’ve got an eviction notice, like I was a loser my whole life and I can’t explain it, but I snapped, bro.
So the spring time came and I started getting to these people’s houses, right, and next thing I know, I’m like landscaping and window cleaning, and a bunch of my landscaping customers, they’re like, “Hey, you do window cleaning too?” I’m like, yes. So we started doing landscaping and window cleaning, and then I got involved and introduced to the entire world of window cleaning and I didn’t realize that there’s people that literally made millions of dollars doing this and I was an idiot for doing people’s entire houses for like 120 bucks. Like this year, our new minimum is $300. If you want us to even like touch a squeegee to your window or show up on your property, it’s $300.
Scaling the Business Up
A $300 minimum. That’s what I’m talking about right there. Hey, so you said you started getting rid of those low-level accounts, you started raising your prices. Walk us through that because that’s something that a lot of people get stuck in and they get trapped with those cheaper accounts and they just have a hard time getting those prices up. So, how did you get out of that?
All you got to do is hire your first employee and go work all day for free for like 3 days in a row. And that’s when you start being like raising the prices on all the customers. But I already knew like in the YouTube video comments, like people will be like, “Oh, you could have subcontracted all those accounts, dawg.” There wasn’t enough money in the accounts to even pay insurance or taxes, let alone like work comp or payroll or anything. Are you kidding me? Like, there wasn’t enough money because how you get them is how you got to keep them.
If you get somebody at low dollar and then you tell them, “Well, I’m going legit now so I have to quadruple your price,” it’s not going to work, right? You have to lose those clients and go get brand-new clients with the brand-new you who’s professional with a clipboard in your hand who’s a legit business. And if they don’t want to pay that, then you got to find somebody who will or drop them altogether. But you can get trapped in this whole paradigm because we’re like the artificial intelligence kind of brain we have. Like I’m really into neuroscience, right? If the feedback that you’re getting from reality, from your customers and clients tells you that you’re never going to make any more than 150 bucks a day – I’m just speaking at a day rate, right – then you’ll actually start to reinforce that belief. No, I’m telling you, dawg, like I’m out here hustling and these customers aren’t going to pay you any more than $20 to cut their lawn or $40 to clean their windows or $50 for carpet cleaning, right?
When you’re looking at your current clientele, you’re looking at your current business and you’re not making good money and you know you have to raise the prices on these clients until they fire you or just fire them, like fire the whole bottom 20 percent. Just do it right now. Because you’re trapped in fear, because your business and your life, we live in a world of commerce, a legal world too, like if you don’t have money it’s very expensive to not have money. It’s more expensive when you start falling behind. Like, you can’t not have money. Money is like oxygen.
So it’s literally got itself implanted in your nervous system like fight or flight. It feels like there’s a pack of wolves that are going to eat you so you keep doing that low-profit work because you’re scared of what happens if you don’t because if you don’t understand sales and marketing and positioning, you don’t understand all that stuff and you don’t even got the time to learn if because you’re so busy doing all this low-profit work, then now you’re trapped in a catch 22 and that’s how people go crazy. That’s how you end up like having depression breakdowns, you can start drinking a lot. Like you could just lose your mind in small business because you get trapped on these very low astral levels, right? Because I could just say just do it, but just do it is like telling a guy who’s hanging off a cliff with his fingers gripping the edge of the rock saying “No, just let go, dawg. It’s okay, I promise you’ll grow a wing. It’s okay.” No, he’s going to die. He has to know for sure for sure that if he does thing and he lets go, that there’s going to be money and oxygen on the other side. You know, why should he trust you?
So the thing I think that really helps is that – and I was talking to, oh God, A Journey of a New Entrepreneur. Bobby…
Bobby Walker. So I’m on the phone with Bobby Walker a couple of weeks ago and we’re talking about the same thing. He’s doing like a… I think it would be like $350,000 his second year in the business. He’s doing like window cleaning and pressure washing service business. And I’m like, “Dude, low-key, how the hell are you doing this?”
So when you start seeing other people that are in the same industry that you are, they’re making double the money you are, you have to let your ego down and just accept the fact that it’s probably you. The more time you waste blaming other people or blaming the neighborhoods you work in or, okay, then get in a new neighborhood.
And then here’s another thing. So Bobby Walker said to me like “Keith, you know X, Y and Z, you’ve read all the books. You know what I’m saying is true, I wouldn’t lie to you. Maybe you need to just fly off your instruments.” I go, “What are you talking about?” He says, “You know, when you’re flying in a plane theoretically and all of a sudden it’s so foggy, like you can’t see where you’re flying, you have to rely on the instruments like the altitude and the air pressure and the barometer and all that.”
Like, I didn’t understand what he was saying but I knew what he was saying and I let it sink in over the next couple of days and then it hit me like a ton of bricks, “Oh!” So sometimes if all the math adds up and the numbers don’t lie but you’re still afraid, like it doesn’t feel right but the numbers add up because the numbers don’t lie, it’s you. You need to step forward and do that anyway and then see what happens. So you’ve got to move out of your comfort zone and just keep moving forward because some people, it has to feel right or they can’t move forward, like they’re stuck in anxiety and paralysis, they can’t do anything because they can’t get themselves to take the next step. Well, that’s when you got to get outside of yourself and start coaching yourself and positive self-talk. Like this is really deep but this is why it’s important to have other people around you to help you, guide you through the minefield. Some people just don’t have that. Like they could just get really successful in business really fast. They see it, they have a really high IQ, they got good emotional intelligence. But maybe you’re listening to this right now, maybe you don’t. Maybe you have to work three times as hard. Maybe you need some coaching.
And here’s the thing that will really help you. Like get off of Facebook and YouTube and sit down and look at the numbers in your business. Are you actually looking at “Oh, how much did we spend on materials this quarter?” Okay. What does the bank account say and how much money came in in gross revenue? How much money am I setting aside for taxes? How much work did we do this whole year? Okay, what was my average ticket price? How far are we driving to each job?
“Oh, no wonder I’m not making any money because we’re driving 40 minutes west and at the end of all the overhead and expenses, I’m not making any money off that.”
“Yeah, but I really like those customers.”
Like, I don’t know, dude, I’m like all the **** is hitting me like a ton of bricks and I’m mad because this hit me like years ago.
So the first step is eliminate the distractions, man. That’s what I really wanted to talk about.
Creating the Right Mindset
Yeah, man, let’s talk about that. So what’s that first step you would have somebody take that was struggling there trying to get their mindset right, trying to get traction?
So it’s like a lion. It’s a wild beast and it’s just running you up. You’re possessed, right, and you got to get ahold of this thing. Environment is key as well. You need to create an environment that’s conducive to your creativity and your success. As I speak right now, I pull the trigger and I upgraded my office. I’m sitting in a $700 a month – I got a deal for $600 a month, a nice quiet posh office in a professional office environment. $600 a month for this thing. And I had to do this. I tried and I tried and I tried to work from home. My dogs keep barking, my wife randomly comes up to me like every 4 minutes and 32 seconds to tell me some idea that’s going on in her head about her internet business or her family issue or something. And I love her very much but if I’m like “What did you say?” “Oh, I’m trying to work from home,” you know, like when you work from home, then she feels like I’m not listening to her and I’m ignoring her and then if I don’t talk to her about it, then she feels like the next thing I know, I’m like, we’re having this whole issue in the house.
It takes an average of 20 minutes just to get back on task when you get interrupted, neuroscience studies show. So if you get interrupted every 20 minutes, you got people calling you, family members, people that are leeches trying to suck off you borrow money. You can’t focus on anything. You can’t get to the deeper levels of thinking that allow you to access the creativity levels or the things that’ll get you to the next step. So you have to create an environment whether it’s you going and sitting out in your truck for two hours every night and just parking in some parking lot so you can focus, or locking yourself in your basement, creating a structure. Like every night from let’s say from 6 till 8 PM you lock yourself in the bathroom, so you live in a small little apartment and you have no space, and you tell everybody in your family to shut up, say “I’m going to sit in the bathroom on the toilet and do this paperwork. From 6 to 8 PM, don’t knock on the door, don’t do anything. Leave me alone and I’ll be out at 8 PM prompt.”
Now you’ve installed that boundary in place people can start to rely on like they can crash energy against it and you’re not going to budge so they can start to feel, okay, so let’s say you have to install structures and boundaries into things that other people can subconsciously feel and they develop habits around it. It’s like a stable datum. So when I say create an environment that’s conducive to success, once you start actually doing this, you start to realize like barely anybody has their **** together because they’re completely possessed by the moment, by their emotions. Like very few people can actually get behind the driver’s seat of their consciousness and get their s*** together because nobody is like that.
So once you start to become like that, you become the enemy of everybody around you because the people that are around you who can get a hold of you anytime they want, they can call you anytime they want. You call them social media. Now, you create a void where you once were and then they start having like these with the draw issues. Your friends, your family, anybody. So once they can’t get a hold of you all of a sudden, they start like WTF and then you can feel that, so it’s like a narcissistic, Eckhart Tolle calls it the pain body, it can jump into you and possess you.
Here’s the thing that I do. I’m not an expert at this. I’m just sharing what I’ve learned thus far. Like Sunday is no cellphone day. I have two smartphones – my business line and then my personal line. I got a Note 9 and an LG V40, they’re nice smartphones but they’re highly distractive. On Sundays I shut my phones off and then I put them in my truck. I also got this thing called Case Safe like you can’t get in the safe unless you break it. I set it for till the next day, if I can’t help myself. Like a drug, right? I put my phones in there and I bought a cheap little flip phone that’s 14 bucks a month. The only person that can get ahold of me is my wife, if she needs to. What do I do on Sundays? I do my paperwork, I walk my dogs. If I wanted to go to the gym, I work out, hang out with my wife. If I want to go run errands, nobody can bother Keith.
Now, it took literally like two months for all the people who know me. They’re like, “I was trying to get ahold of you.” Now they all know Keith doesn’t pick up the phone on Sundays. They just know that. And I got a buddy, Eric Reno, he’s a roofer, you might have seen him or heard me talk about him. I can never get ahold of this dude on Sunday. Right? I’ll call him with some random business idea, I used to do this like “Eric, I got this great idea,” he never picks up the phone. I just started to learn I don’t even bother to call him on Sundays because I know he’s not going to pick up the phone anyways. So what if that was you? What if there are specific times that your customers can’t get ahold of you?
Hours of operation. You run your business from 8:00 AM until 6:00 PM. After that, you forward the calls to an answering service or a virtual secretary who picks up the phone or it goes to voicemail. Now, they can’t bother you. So that’s another healthy boundary. When you install these boundaries in places, how you create freedom in your life.
Why getting an office space might be good for you
Two things that did stood out that I want to just unpack a little bit. One is about the office space; and two, is about setting those boundaries. But like a lot of these carpet cleaners, window cleaners, landscape or service people, they don’t have an office. It’s a home office. Like, what was it that led to that decision to just say “Hey, I’m just going to break down what 600 bucks…” I mean, we look at that expense of $600 but we don’t realize it. Like you said, every time you get distracted there’s 20 minutes to get back on track. All that time adds up and that time, that time is worth more than money. What was it that made you get that office and for the guys are on the fence thinking it’s too much money?
So there’s two parts to this. The one part is me getting the office and then the second part is to show you how much money I made just by having an office because when you look at it from an entrepreneurial standpoint, an office makes you money, like eating healthy, all these things then make you money when you look at it like that, so it’s an investment, which was very hard for me to see.
So I got the office four years ago, it might be going on five. So we lived in a small apartment, I’m trying to get my work done from home and my paperwork, my invoicing, my billing, I had no place to put my huge file cabinet with all my customer information, my tax information, my bank documents. So I’m doing this in our bedroom and at the kitchen table and so I’m like talking with my wife because you’re supposed to run financial decisions across your wife, you know, major purchases. And I learned like you should do that but at the same time, I’m not telling you what to do.
Real quick, I met a really successful entrepreneur one time. I said, “Hey man…” this is when I was starting my business. I said, “How does your wife feel about you running the business and being all over the place?” He goes, “She doesn’t care as long as it’s working.” So the bottom line is as long as it’s working, nobody cares.
So, I started going around looking at office space totally in desperation. What was the fight at home? She’s like, “Why would you go spend money in an office when you could spend it on upgrading our lifestyle and moving us out of this apartment into a nicer apartment or a condo or something?” I said, “Because I don’t have the money to…” so I got to get the office to get the money. Like, that’s what life does. People always want to rush you all the time. How come you don’t have a bigger business? How come you don’t have more children? How come you don’t have this… And you’re just having a panic attack because you’re like “I’m not good enough, I’m not good enough, I’m not good enough.”
So I’m looking at office space and then I come into this like nice office environment where my office is now, there’s like attorneys around and like insurance companies and I’m like, “Whoa! I can never afford this.” I’m like, show me the smallest cheapest office you have. So they take me to this one, it’s like 400 a month. It’s like a little teeny tiny office. I go, “400 a month? Oh, screw that. I can’t afford that.”
Now, depending on where you’re at, 400 is nothing or that’s a lot of money every month, right? So I go around and I look and there’s these ghetto offices all over the place. I come in this place like 5 times and now I can’t get any work done. I want to write my new book, I want to launch my internet business, I have all these great ideas and I can’t do it because I have anxiety at home. I came into this office 4 years ago terrified and desperate. I said, “I’m ready to get the office, I know you got that little office open back in the corner, and I’m like really scared right now, but I just have to take the risk and believe in myself because I have nowhere else to turn.” And they’re like, “Okay.” They take me back to the office and were like, “We could cut you a deal. Make us an offer.” I was like, “You know what, I can’t even afford this. Like, 250 a month?” They’re like, “Deal.” I’m like, “What?” So I sign the agreement and I’m like, “250 a month!” Dude, I got in that little tiny office, I set up shop. Like dude, I made 100 grand on that office because I was able to sit down. But I took it overboard, man. Dude, I was coming there till like 3:00, 4:00, 5:00 in the morning. My wife would call me up at 1:00 in the morning like she’s in bed, “When are you coming home?” “I’m writing my new book right now. I’m not coming home till 10:00 AM.” “10:00 AM?” “You better stop it or I won’t be home for 3 days.” Dude, I slept on the floor in that office. I stayed in the office once for 36 hours straight, bro. I wrote two books that sold 10,000 copies on Amazon and my website, I grew my business because I was locked in a controlled environment.
And here I upgraded this office now, it’s like 600 a month, it’s actually 600 a month. And I’m writing my third book right now, I’m going through all the numbers in my business, I’m doing everything that I need to do. And I think that you should get an office or some type of place that you can work if you can’t do it inside of your home. If you can’t set the boundary, if you can’t get it together, dude, I tried. I tried and I tried and I tried. I still have an office space in my basement. Here’s what I mean. One yell from my wife or one bark from a dog can trigger an anxiety inside of you that doesn’t go away for 45 minutes. So, I mean you can’t get to the point where you want to punch a hole in the wall, you could become violent. And I would never be violent. But, I mean, I was literally going into depression because I couldn’t get any work done from home. And I was going outside and asking my friends and asking people I know for their opinion.
You know, in the world we live in taking a risk really just is code word for write the check, spend the money. And if you keep judging where you want to be against who you currently are, you’ll never get there because you just keep creating more and more circumstances based off who you are. You have to take a risk and stretch yourself to become somebody new and that’s by doing different things that scare you.
And I’ll tell you one thing. When I signed the lease for this office, as soon as I get in the office and I close that door, a whole new Keith takes over. A new confident Keith. And I heard even Latimer say something about this one time, he goes… Joshua Latimer. He’s like, “When you get an office, I don’t know why, but now your business feels official.” So when you feel official, you act official. When you act official, you get official money. The day I signed the lease on this office like 4 days ago, I sat down and I wrote a proposal, I’m waiting for the word back, so I didn’t actually close it yet, for $12,500 on a consulting deal for my internet business. That’s an average of $250 an hour. And that’s all profit. I don’t have overhead like that in my internet business.
It’s funny you say that, man. Yeah, I remember when I go my first office, this little hole-in-the-wall. I actually bartered for it. It was at one of the medical facilities that we used to maintain. They had this like, I don’t know, open atrium type thing. The walls didn’t even go all up to the roof. They couldn’t lease it out. They used it for storage and so, yeah, I just traded services for it. It was great but I never really felt like it was a good space, so I need to back it at home. And I’ve got four kids, man, so those distractions, they were just crazy. I felt like I was wasting about 3 to 4 hours a day literally if I added it all up.
So I went out and got an office space about almost three years ago. Man, I’m telling you, I started dressing differently because I was going to work in a professional environment. I was acting differently, my confidence was up. And we literally had the best year ever then. It’s amazing what happens.
It’s amazing what confidence can do.
I know. Hey, so you were talking about boundaries, man. I want to know what kind of boundaries you’ve been setting because you’re probably getting pulled in all different directions, you know, from the landscaping and window cleaning. I mean, you’ve got last time I checked about 63,000 YouTube subscribers. I mean, people are probably constantly pulling at you. How do you set boundaries in your life?
Well, the first thing is, when you talk about boundaries, imagine there’s a river and then there’s the riverbanks that’s the boundaries of the river. If you don’t have riverbanks, the river is just going to flow and spill all over the place. You can’t even guide and direct that energy or that water anywhere. Right? So I went from being flat broke in a dead-end job to starting a landscape business and then I do about 200,000 of revenue with a couple of businesses, which is less than I thought. I wanted to do a quarter million this year and now I’m looking back and I see exactly why I didn’t because of – that’s a different topic – but also because of boundaries.
So when I say I went from being flat broke in a dead-end job, then all of a sudden I’m having like a million views a month on social media and having all these people trying to contact me for whatever different various reasons, I didn’t know how to deal with any of this. And there isn’t like a place you can go or many books you can read. I was actively looking. Like I might create the book one day, hopefully I could if I hit like a million subscribers on YouTube. How do you deal with, what’s the word, opportunity overwhelm or so many people trying to contact you? Because I, like, started getting depressed, so it was an average of, in the summer it’s an average of 200 to 300 people a day that are trying to contact me through a comment or a Facebook or a personal message or a phone call or a text message or an email. 200 to 300 people a day.
Now, when you really care about people and you really love people, you want to talk to as many people as you can. But what happens is, you’re actually like sinking in quicksand. So, you have to get to the point in anything in life just like your business where you get so overwhelmed that you have a breakdown and not until you have that total breakdown do you have a breakthrough. When you have a breakthrough, you go, “That’s it. I draw my line in the sand. No longer can I do this thing. No longer can I take on this type of customer who’s going to walk on me. No longer will I tolerate this person’s bullshit. No longer will I sit on social media all day answering comments.”
Right? People might feel bad or feel like I’m ignoring them or feel like I don’t answer their comments. Because there are people in my position that message me like they’re upset with me because they message me and I didn’t get back to them. And they just don’t understand that I have like 100 people that day that message me, and, you know, if they get really upset I’ll message them back, “Hey man, I’m sorry. I’m just really busy, you know, here’s the answer to your question.” So you have to put it into perspective like okay, what are my goals? Do you want to get a nice home for your family and be able to raise a healthy family and spend time with them? And do you want to grow your career? Okay. So you have to say no to the good so you can say yes to the best.
Another thing with healthy boundaries is especially family members. Do you have anybody in your life who calls you repeatedly to like they have to discharge all their emotional baggage on you? And especially when you start making money and you’re kind of like an entrepreneur, when people see you as maybe having some money in the bank, you start to get in control of your emotions. They see you as a target, like somebody they can call for advice, somebody they could borrow money from, somebody that they can use as a crutch or lean on. Now you become like you got the whole world on your shoulders and it’s the penalty of leadership is what it is. So you have to develop this whole new level of psychology in the management of yourself in order just to deal with managing all these other people. And since it’s more rare because not everybody is in that position, it’s harder to get advice around those things. So, does that make sense?
It totally does. Hey, you talked to hundreds of cleaning business owners and what do you think is the biggest distractor that they face and what are some tips you can give to eliminate some of those distractions?
I think the biggest distraction are some of the same distractions I have. I’m an information junkie. Like it’s not uncommon for me to stay up until 1:00 in the morning looking at like YouTube videos on consciousness and success and Tim Ferriss and Valuetainment and like I want more, more, more!
Another distraction is I guess trying to do all the work yourself instead of hiring somebody and training them. Your own self-limiting beliefs and your own negative baggage and bull****, that’s a huge distraction.
Keith’s productivity tips
What are some of the things that you do stay productive?
I feel like I’m not productive enough because, you know, how do you quantify productivity? So, some people might quantify productivity as actually physically working hard cleaning carpet or squeegees, where that’s productive. Well, there’s a different level of productivity and that’s actually on the phone with clients closing deals or walking properties; that’s actually cashing checks in the bank. Productivity is quantified in different ways.
So one of the highest things that I can see as being more productive is having a proper sleep schedule. If you’re regularly staying up to like 3:00, 4:00, 5:00 in the morning especially in the winter months, you’re messing up all your biochemistry and now you’re a mess.
One way to be more productive is to eat healthier and more consistently. Like, dude, I love Taco Bell once in a while. I’ll never stop eating it, I don’t care what anybody says. I love Taco Bell! But like if you’re eating fast food all the time and you’re eating pork and sausage and McDonald’s egg McMuffins and cheeseburgers and deep-fried foods and pop with every meal, you’re probably going to feel more sluggish. So that’s another way to not be productive. So you can stay productive if you eat healthier and cleaner.
Like another way to stay productive is get physical exercise. Three or four times a week go jogging, go to the gym, work out. Get some type of physical exercise if you’re not out in the field or if you’re in the off season. Because I had a huge realization and aha because I’m like studying neuroscience and it hit me like a ton of bricks. This is powerful, listen to this. If you’re used to working your a** off in the high months of your business like here in Michigan we had a swamp season and during the winter it’s dead, like nobody wants anything done, so you have a down season.
If your biochemistry and the neurology of your brain is wired that when you’re out physically working in selling jobs and running your business working 50-60 hours a week, that’s when you feel successful and your body is in motion. This is some Tony Robbins type s***. Your physiology is moving. So if you take the same guy who’s working 60 hours a week, he’s hustling and he’s moving his body, but then you put him in his house for three months during the winter and he’s not getting the same amount of physical exercise, it doesn’t matter how hard he tries to be motivated or tries to be amped up and do all the things that he said he was going to do during the summer while his body was moving and he was working and sweating. “Oh, when the winter comes I’m going to do all these things.” But the winter comes and now you’re just sitting there and you go into this lull, into this depression because you’re not moving your body. Your environment has completely changed. When you’re in very painful moments during the season cleaning carpets and you’re dripping in sweat or you’re running your business, you might have these amazing breakthroughs in your conscience and you go, “Oh my God, I can see all these things so clearly,” because it’s inspired by physical activity and pain.
But now all of a sudden when you’re in your house and you’re in a comfortable environment or you’re dealing with your family, all that creative inspiration is gone. That’s why environment is so conducive to your success. You have to figure out how to recreate that environment or get yourself amped up in that state. What I’m talking about is state because there’s levels of states and stages of consciousness. You got to stand up in your house, pretend like you’re cleaning carpets or cleaning the carpet in your own damn house or get yourself in that same mindset so those feelings come back and now you can crush it and do all the things that you wanted to do. Does that make sense?
Offering help to people who need it most and being an example to others
Oh, it does. You know what’s funny is whenever I’m out in the field, whenever I’m just cleaning, moving, whatever it is, I get the best ideas. Then I’m like, I just can’t wait till I get a day or I don’t have anything on my plate where I can just sit down, I’m in the office and I can’t do anything. My mind is just stuck, right? It’s like those thoughts, that excitement, that motivation is gone.
Hey, we’re coming up to the end of our time here. I want to make sure that we touched on everything Is there anything that we left out? Anything else you want to talk about or touch on?
The last thing I want to say is sometimes you got to have a breakdown in order to have a breakthrough and if that’s what it takes for you, that’s fine. Keep your head up. And what you do during the hard times, what you do during the winter, what you do when it’s snowing or raining or storming outside during the painful times will really show who the f*** you are because if you only hustle and you do things when it’s sunny or you’re motivated, like you have to get in control of yourself with your emotions and the people around you. Become an encourager of the people around you, the people that you love. If somebody that you love is going through a really hard time and they’re putting it all on you, someone else’s lack of planning is not your responsibility. Everybody has their own karma, their own karmic debts they have to pay. And the best you could do if you love somebody is to stand guard at the door of your own mind. Don’t let negative s*** inside of you from other people, but also encourage them.
Be like, “Listen, you got to get angry.” You got to say that to them like “I see you going through this and you deserve better than this.” And if you get angry right now, then that’s a higher vibration than sadness, than apathy, than depression. Don’t let those people walk on you. You can do this, you’ve got this. Now, go do it, right? And check up on them, like become the leader of people around you and really, really, really care because if you really, really care about the people that you say you do, then why would you let them sit there and hurt themselves? If you really loved yourself, why would you let people hurt you. If you really loved your marriage or relationship, why would you sit there and keep tormenting each other? Sometimes you got to put your foot down and raise to a new level and say, “You know what, this stops right here right now. We’re going to start treating each other better. I love you and I know that you love me. And we’re never going to get anywhere if we just keep going around in circles, so let’s just step our game up and go somewhere. Let’s do something. Let’s set an example.” That’s what I’m talking about.
How to find Keith
I love it, man. That’s great. Where can people go to find out more about you? You’ve got a YouTube channel. You want to tell us how to get there?
Yeah. Just type in Keith Kalfas on YouTube and all my videos pop up. Go to KeithKalfas.com, that’s my website. I’ve got like books and courses and all types of stuff that you could check out, you could buy, which I think is super, super fun, I love doing that. But yeah, I also have an event coming up called The Marketing ROI Live Workshop. Just go to KeithKalfas.com, check me out, go to my YouTube channel. Check me out.
You said you’re wrapping up a new book. Is that ready?
Yeah, I’m on Chapter 8. I’m still thinking the title for it. I have to test out some titles but the book is basically how to make your small business highly visible online with internet marketing and social media marketing strategies, the brand is called Your Marketing ROI, and the book is not only a compilation of things that I’ve learned but also interviews with entrepreneurs that all do 6 and 7 figures, real-world tactical actionable advice that you can put into your business to get real results. So look out for the book in this coming spring. You could buy it on paperback, e-book, Kindle, and then it will also be on audiobook and Audible.com so you can listen to it while you work. A real book made by a real service business industry owner. It’s just going to be a great book, man. I don’t see a book out there like this, so I’m the one who’s going to make the book, I’m doing it and I’m doing it in a heart of service because I just think that it needs to be out there.
There are so many people that don’t understand internet and social media marketing and they’re pulling their hair out. I don’t know, I think I’ve been really fortunate to bump up and rub shoulders with all the people that I have because of the opportunities that came from my YouTube success and so I’m using this information. I’m like the sneaky ****, dude. I’m getting there and getting all the information.
And people are going to go on my YouTube, they say, “I love the YouTube videos, Keith, but you have to stop the cussing.” Well, please pray for me, man. I’m trying to stop cussing, I got a problem.
I’m going to be praying for you, man. Yeah, for sure this has been a great, great time. I really appreciate it, guys. KeithKalfas.com, check it out. I’m going to put links in the show notes here at TheCleanersBlueprint.com, so we’ll get you connected with it and all the different ways you can connect with Keith.
Man, thank you so much for taking the time. I know last time we chatted you had so much on your plate. You really carved out some time for us to chat today so I really appreciate you’ve dropped a ton of nuggets here and delivered a lot of value, man. Thank you so much.