Ryan Blair is the New York Times bestselling author of Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain, self-made multimillionaire and serial entrepreneur who established his first company when he was twenty-one years old and has since created and actively invested in multiple start-ups. Now at age of 38, he has founded and sold numerous businesses for hundreds of millions of dollars, runs global healthy lifestyle company, ViSalus, and is a venture capitalist.
BusinessInterviews.com: What inspired you to launch your business?
Ryan: What inspired me to start ViSalus, were the two entrepreneurs, Nick Sarnicola and Blake Mallen, who brought me the idea. I could tell that they’d done a lot of work—securing the intellectual property, creating a product that I loved (I was using it every day), crafting the sales materials—and I knew that joining forces with them, based on the skill, passion, and intelligence they’d shown me, there would be no better business partners. At that time I was also going through a health transformation, so the health and wellness industry was appealing to me. Also, entrepreneurship had changed me, so I knew there was no better way for me to earn a living than to teach entrepreneurship to the ViSalus distributors and make products that benefitted people’s health and wellbeing. Simply put—my inspiration was great people, and great values.
BusinessInterviews.com: Do you have any recent success stories that you’d like to share with our readers?
Ryan: One of our biggest success stories recently is the acquisition of Neon energy drink company. The founder Dakota Rea came to me with a successful network marketing business that he’d built by himself at the age of 25, with some concerns about his infrastructure and stockholders. I acquired Neon in 2015, and in less than six months Neon has gone from zero to a million in sales, and is on its way to becoming the next billion dollar brand. I’m also very proud of the recent acquisition of Go Bites, as of January 2014. This was a product created by an entrepreneur who is a valued employee within our supply chain. The product has a lot of opportunity in the snack category, and personally, I love them. (Now I’m hungry!)
BusinessInterviews.com: What has been your biggest challenge as a business owner and how have you met that challenge?
Ryan: One of the biggest challenges I’ve found as a business owner is hiring the right employees, firing the wrong ones, and making decisions as it relates to humans, quickly. Knowing that this is one of my challenges, I’ve started utilizing a “good to great” test in order to help me identify problem employees faster. I ask myself, “Would I be pleasantly surprised if they left me for a better opportunity? Would I rehire them for another position in the company? Are they unhappy here?” I know that if an employee is unhappy, I’m doing them a disservice by keeping them. As for hiring, I have started using strengthfinder.com to find people who have the strengths to augment my weaknesses, and I now recruit for values, instead of hiring people who just have great interviewing skills.
BusinessInterviews.com: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you/your Company?
Ryan: I am most excited right now about our international expansion into Europe and Eastern Europe, the new products that we are heavily investing in, and our marketing and advertising initiatives. Also, our affiliate VC fund, HashtagOne is currently ramping up its investment activities, and we’ve made several deals in the last five months that are very promising.
BusinessInterviews.com: Where do you envision your company in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
Ryan: I envision that in five years ViSalus will be a multi-billion dollar company, and in twenty years, I hope that my son will have a role within it.
BusinessInterviews.com: Have you had any mentors or role models that have influenced you? Describe the impact.
Ryan: One of my most influential mentors is Bob Goergen. His biggest impact on me is that he taught me what it takes to be a CEO, and how to do things right. I’ve also learned a great deal from John Maxwell about leadership. Coach Dale Brown has been like a father to me, and taught me how to generally love people, stand up for the little guy, and to have great values. John Wooden taught me how to aim to play at the highest level possible, and he also gave me my mantra “Go Pro”. Now, every time I sign a book, I inscribe it with his passing words of wisdom that he gave to me before he died.
BusinessInterviews.com: Do you consider yourself successful and by what means do you measure success?
Ryan: I am very successful by most standards. I’m a successful entrepreneur, a bestselling author, an investor, mentor, and father. Most of these things are measured in numbers, but in the case of my son, it’s by the wonderful relationship we have, and by his progress through life as a child with autism. For all these not-so-humble things that I’ve just mentioned, I also have many things that I’m not great in. That is why I work with people who help me see my blind spots and hire employees who augment my weaknesses, so I can focus on my strengths. I am only 2% of what my full potential is, and potential is our greatest asset. My goal is to realize as much of my potential as I am able to in this lifetime, God willing.
BusinessInterviews.com: How do your competitors view you?
Ryan: As for my competitors, I don’t spend one minute thinking about how they might view me. I’m already highly competitive as it is, and I’ve made the mistake of focusing on this before. Instead of expending energy on the competition, I now spend my time working to enhance my strengths and that of my company.
BusinessInterviews.com: What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs and business owners? What do you wish someone told you?
Ryan: I wish someone had told me that I’d be a success no matter what. That if I just continued to work hard, learn, surround myself with great people, and take calculated risks, I would be successful. If someone had told me, “Don’t try to save your way to success, just apply that formula,” when I was 20-years old, I probably wouldn’t have made as many bad short-term decisions as I did. Confidence is the most important thing you can have in the business world, and you only win that the hard way. You have to surround yourself with those that build you up, not drag you down. Since nobody told me this when I was younger, I make it my job now to tell others this, and serve in this role for the other entrepreneurs that I invest in.
BusinessInterviews.com: What’s the biggest risk that you’ve ever taken and how did it turn out?
Ryan: The biggest risk I’ve ever taken is buying back ViSalus from its parent company Blyth in a $148 million dollar transaction in 2014. We are coming up on our one year anniversary, and we’ve made a ton of progress, and we’ve also had the freedom to do things we weren’t able to prior—however we aren’t out of the woods yet, so please check back with me in a couple years to find out the true outcome of that decision.
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