[quote style=”boxed”]I think out loud. When I have an idea, I’ll share it with anyone who will listen. I feel that collaboration is a key function to success and innovation. I’m not too afraid of people stealing my ideas. If they execute quicker than I do, then they deserved it more.[/quote]
Derek Wyatt’s passion for marketing dates all the way back to his high school days, when he was vice president of his school’s local DECA chapter. Immediately following high school, he spent three years in college before being offered a high-profile, multi-unit, retail management position. At the time he felt that he couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
Over the next ten years, he was honored with numerous awards for expense reduction and financial performance. His original love for marketing carried forward in his retail career, and he adopted the philosophy that even big box retailers can operate and pivot with ease like their smaller competitors.
Derek’s life motto is, “Never give up!” When the opportunity was presented to him to finish his bachelor’s degree, he immediately switched gears and went back to finish up school. Now a graduate of Portland State University with a B.S. in marketing and minor in psychology, Derek has been fortunate enough to be able to display his marketing skills in the automotive, sports and food industries.
During his time working and consulting with entrepreneurs, Derek noticed there a lack of education surrounding some of the most basic business practices. With the help of a serial entrepreneur friend, he set out to develop CAKE (Consulting And Knowledge Exchange). CAKE’s primary goal is to educate micro-businesses and early-stage entrepreneurs with the basic information they need to help their businesses succeed.
What are you working on right now?
Currently I’m working on a local meetup group for early-stage entrepreneurs called CAKE: Consulting And Knowledge Exchange.
Where did the idea for CAKE (Consulting And Knowledge Exchange) come from?
This past year I built a friendship with Graham Talley, one of the owners of Float On, which is the west coast’s largest Floatation Tank center. Graham is a serial entrepreneur, and we would “geek-out” together to discuss business practices and marketing. The stuff we were talking about was information other people should have been receiving. With about a month of planning, we decided to go live with CAKE on the first Wednesday of 2012. Ever since then, we’ve been sharing scrappy business tips weekly.
What does your typical day look like?
I wake up around 6:30 a.m. and start my day. I spend most of my working day online managing social media communities that after work I’m avoiding the Internet (but that never works). Depending on the day of the week, I’m either rushing home, meeting with my business partner for CAKE, working on my 3rd degree black belt at Dragon Brand Martial Arts, or attending a meeting for the Portland Chapter of the American Marketing Association. Oh, and on Wednesday nights at 6 p.m., I host our weekly CAKE events. When I get home and the family is asleep, I crack open the laptop and finish a little more work until about 1:00 a.m.
I worked in retail for over a decade. Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows that there is very little chance of having a weekend or holiday off. I do my best to cram most of my activities, projects and groups into the traditional work week. I try to hold the weekends sacred for friends, since I don’t see them much during the week.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I think out loud. When I have an idea, I’ll share it with anyone who will listen. I feel that collaboration is a key function to success and innovation. I’m not too afraid of people stealing my ideas. If they execute quicker than I do, then they deserved it more.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The rise of startups. I’m not an economics major by any means, but I think the dot-com bust was primarily due to too many companies starting up and seeking funding without proper revenue models or organizational processes in place. This time around I’m noticing a huge influx of entrepreneurial meetup groups, incubators, accelerators, etc. that are helping people get on the right track (and hopefully stay there).
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I had an extensive career in retail before I went back to school, so it would be easy for me to pick any one of the jobs I had related to that. However, the one that I will go on record saying was the worst was my time spent as a Home Depot Home Services Consultant. My car was packed to the gills with samples of roofing, actual windows, gutter displays and siding samples. I would chase loose leads (given to me from the stores) all over the Portland metro area to sell over-priced merchandise backed with a strong name and warranty. I fared pretty well. In my third month, I was the top salesperson in the region. In the process, I packed a lot of miles on my car and would go weeks without a paycheck during the winter months, because few people wanted their windows ripped out of their home at that time. Go figure!
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would continue my schooling after community college and apply for internships. I’m a fan of education and didn’t realize its impact on my life until ten years after high school graduation. Not everyone is cut out for school, and sometimes the true education doesn’t come until you’re out in the workforce, but for me college made a positive impact.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Start small and grow as you’re ready to grow. If possible, try to start your business while holding down a day job. If your home expenses are taken care of separately from your business, you’ll have one less stress in your life. Sure it might add quite a bit to your workload, but if you start small you’ll only accomplish what you can handle.
What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
My skill set only covers so much. For example, I’m a horrible graphic designer. If I need an image made, I’ll have a professional do it. I’m a huge fan of the barter system. If I can trade marketing consultation for a website, graphic or ad layout, I will. It only costs my time and helps keep money in my business instead of flowing out of it. I’ll barter marketing consultation for pretty much anything.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I have an idea for a pretty awesome mobile phone app, but I want a cut of the money and don’t know who to turn to for help. If you’re an experienced app developer, contact me.
Anyways, a free business idea is a laptop case or briefcase that unfolds into a mobile office. If I want to move my laptop from one coffee shop to another, it’s quite an ordeal to unplug cables, pack up the laptop, corral the cords, etc. If someone were to make a case with a built-in cooling pad and an easy access cord hole, I’d buy it. Basically, I just want to unzip the lid of the case, unfold two flaps, and be in business without having to remove my laptop.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I have a whole vision for changing the food industry as it relates to what can be bought with public assistance and what can’t. It all begins with corn and it’s presence in everything. Nutritional food is too expensive, which leaves cheap, processed foods as the main alternative for people with restricted budgets.
Tell us a secret.
I have to censor myself constantly. I tend to speak my mind freely, which often gets me in trouble. Life’s too short to be offended, but apparently I’m the only one who sees it that way. So I spend most of my day biting my lip for the sake of other people’s feelings.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Dropbox: It’s fantastic for sharing files among a group. I also love their new, automatic upload when I take pictures with my camera phone.
Google Apps: I use Google everything–email, calendar, drive, search… the list goes on. I bow to my future electronic overlords. I can’t operate without you.
Hootsuite: This is probably the single most important tool in my life. I monitor about 30 twitter accounts with it.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The Way of the Peaceful Warrior” by Dan Millman. It’s a great book that helped me realize that everything has a purpose and I need to live in the now. Too many times people dwell in the past or focus only on the future, which leaves them missing life as it happens!
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
Aside from myself and my projects/clients?
@Hubspot: I believe the team over there is on the cutting edge of inbound marketing analysis.
@mixergy: Founder @AndrewWarner only tweets from that account once a day, to share his daily interviews. Get Mixergy on your radar and follow them every way you can!
@JoeRogan: Who knew you could learn so much from that UFC/Fear Factor guy?! He’s the reason I got into floating, and his podcasts explore things that most people don’t openly discuss.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
The last time I watched Tosh.0. There’s something appealing about watching crazy moments caught on camera. I liken it to a modern day (and funnier) America’s Funniest Home Videos. I’m pretty sure if you can sit through an entire episode of Tosh.0 and not laugh, we can’t be friends.
Who is your hero?
Vince McMahon! He took his father’s localized idea and built it into a worldwide empire. When competition was fierce, he rolled up his sleeves and got involved in a hands-on way until he was able to buy his failing competition. He’s guided his children to effectively carry on his empire. I liken him to a more fit Donald Trump with better hair.
Who have been some of your mentors along the way?
Both of my parents were business owners/managers. My dad passed away when I was seven and my mom did everything in her power to ensure that I understood what it would take to survive in this world. Through her guidance, I developed a strong work ethic. I’ve been working since I was 11. It began with odd jobs and yard work, and then I graduated into being a bank teller during high school. I’ve never had a professional mentor. I take every opportunity to learn something from everyone I meet.
What got you interested in martial arts?
I was heavily bullied around the age of 15. There was one kid in particular that I would avoid like the plague. I started Judo because it was the cheapest martial art in town (I paid for it myself) and learned enough so that the next time he pushed too far, I pushed back with a vengeance. I enjoyed the boost in confidence and the feeling of security. I dabbled in various martial arts since then, finally settling on Taekwondo and Jiu Jitsu and then blending them both together into my own style of MMA.