Zechariah Uses His Pizza Business Experience To Coach Others In Following Their Passions

ZechNewman_©kellietrenkleZechariah Newman has two different businesses. He has one business where is a franchise owner and he owns and operates two pizza places with 30 employees between the two stores. So those are kind of bigger businesses.  But in addition to that he has a second coaching business where he helps people find their passions and get started in business. And he has some really interesting ideas about family, and balance, and getting what you want out of life in the midst of a lot of competing priorities.

I call myself a mixture-preneur because  I’ve got these two separate things going on, but how I got into the first one, which was the pizza restaurants – our places are called Figaro’s Pizza – my dad actually opened his first Figaro’s Pizza when I was three years old, and when he went to open it my mom’s father told him “Who buys pizza? No one buys pizza. That’s never going to work.” Kind of one of the positives that I’ve inherited with my dad is you go out and do it no matter what other people say. So growing up he told me “You’re never going to do this business. It’s too hard.”

But then when I was in college my fiance and I were about to get married, I had no full-time job, I had a bunch of part-time jobs as a regular college student – I was a secretary at the psychology department, I worked at FedEx Ground doing packages, and then we lived in a Christian co-op and I was the head resident so I got free rent and food stipend. But I was about to get married and I was thinking how am I going to do this? How am I support to support someone with this? My wife was getting her master’s in special education, and a couple of months before that my dad said, “Hey, there’s a store for sale. Should we check it out?” And so I checked it out. He thought I was further along in college, but what ended up happening is I ended up dropping out a term and a half short of getting my degree, and bought our first restaurant.

Naively we bought June 1st of 2004 and June 27th my wife and I got married and left for two weeks on our honeymoon. And I was like “everything will be fine.” I came back to a mess. Sometimes ignorance is really truly bliss, because when we bought it there were seven employees, and a new owner runs things differently, and so some of them liked it, most of them didn’t. They liked the way the old guy did it, so I was reduced to three employees I think, and now I don’t even know what I’m doing in this business, I only have three employees, I was living an hour away because my wife was finishing her master’s up at U of O up in Eugene, and we are down at Myrtle Creek. Normally people fight a lot in their first year of marriage, we never fought. But its because we never saw each other.

I started doing that and after three years we opened our second restaurant and bought the building there and did all that and actually one of my biggest mistakes was in opening that restaurant. We went too quickly and didn’t trust, or didn’t really follow up with the contractor and, long story short, he took us for about $40,000 to $50,000. I thought I was going to lose my business, because it drained our accounts down.

This all happened about six years ago when my oldest was born, and then all of a sudden the questions of “What am I here for?” started to bounce around in my mind, because I think no matter what we do sometimes we kind of reduce it to just the job. So I started thinking I’m just a flipping pizza maker, and that’s how I started looking at my job. Anyways, self discovery took a few years, but what it really boiled down to was that I liked to restore things. And the word “restaurant” actually means “to restore the soul”, and that’s the part I love about it. You know the feeling of a full belly and you’re sitting around with family or friends that truly is restoring to the soul.

And so at that time I read I read Michael Hyatt’s platform and so I started the blog. I write, coach and speak all on restoring significance to the journey and chasing dreams – specifically entrepreneurial dreams. So that is up to the current time.

Meredith: So my question is I mean I know that running a restaurant is hard work and most restaurants actually fail. My grandfather actually owned a used restaurant supply place and so he was in pretty good business because restaurants were opening and closing all the time and you’re selling and buying the stuff all the time. So you’re doing that and you’re coaching, and you’re blogging and you have three children under the age of six. How have you managed to do all of that?

Zechariah: Great question. I wonder some days. I also marathon run so that’s the other thing… but that one is for sanity. I’m a very type A, so Sunday and Monday are my “days off”, but I usually fill them up with things. I try to live one day not doing anything, but honestly I struggle with that…

Meredith: Just for the record no matter when this podcast is being aired I want you guys all to know that it’s being recorded on a Monday.

Zechariah: That’s right and I got another one later today, so day off -quotation mark – because this is fun for me. This isn’t work for me and that’s where I think if you’re doing something you’re passionate about…balance…I hate the word balance – I’m not sure that makes sense but people always talk about balance. To me that’s a failed logic. I want everything of my life to flow out in a certain way. So when I do that it’s all hitting on all cylinders. I’m able to be the dad I’m suppose to be, the husband I’m suppose to be, and doing the different things. But when I try to focus on balance I get overwhelmed really quickly.

For me instead of focusing on time balance is living out priorities. So for me personally I’m a man of faith. God is number one to me, number two is my wife, number three are my kids and everything else flows after that, and if I keep those a priority, I honestly don’t even have to focus. But yeah there are definite times – the week before last, I’ve had some turnover in my restaurants which when you have minimum wage employees you have those seasons of turnovers, and I worked 70 hours that week in the restaurant. So writing paused, coaching paused, and I didn’t do any speaking engagements. I had to re-prioritize everything. And so yes definitely a short term and long term different ways to do things. So when my wife knows that I have this staff turnover and I’m going to be in the restaurants a lot this week, she is okay with that, because she knows the two weeks before that we were on vacation alone together for a week.

Meredith: You help small micro businesses and you have what we would call in the micro business world a “real” business. How does that scale the lessons that you learned with a larger business with multiples of employees and a payroll to meet and actual equipment and things? How does that scale down to someone who’s just starting out in something that’s maybe more information based or online or smaller?

Zechariah: That’s the beauty of having my hands in a bunch of different things because you are right – they’re all different animals. When I started my blog six months I wrote twice a week 500 word posts for six months. I had seven followers at the end of those six months. Five of them were related to me and one worked for me. So I only had one person after all that work, where with a brick and mortar bigger business the moment you open your doors, whether you’re going to fail or not, you have people coming in. I have all these different stages which I think helps, because I had to be a different person when I had three employees – I had to do everything. And now with 30 employees I don’t have to do that.

It’s a different cycle so I guess what I’m getting at is having different phases I think helps me relate. To be able to go “Hey, no, I know having an information thing it takes a while”. SEO sounds great but Google doesn’t know you exist for a year. It takes time and all these back-links that you have to form before you ever get traffic. That was actually one of the reasons I focus on people’s dreams Because that’s something that’s never is fulfilled. I think we all have new dreams and when we reach one dream we get to another and so it keeps me connected in that way.

Jasper: So tell me about some of the people that come to you wanting that help, some of the people that you coach in terms of business. Where do they come from? What stage are they at? Give us some few examples of the kind of people you help and what kind of questions they come to you with.

Zechariah: Usually, most of the time they come to me because they are overwhelmed, they have no idea where they are going to go or what they are going to do. Honestly for a while I didn’t coach. It was something I didn’t want to do because I thought “I’ve never coached before how am I going to do this”?. But I put the thing up on my site and sure enough I had three people the first week contact me wanting coaching. And the first gentleman I talked to owns a marketing company, and he wasn’t making enough to pay the bills but he didn’t have any more time for more clients. And for me the answer was easy because I wasn’t in his situation, and the answer was that he needed to raise his prices. But he said “I can’t raise my prices. What if I lose the guy?” Well then you can have more time to actually get someone to help pay the bills, and it looks so obvious but to him I wasn’t.

That was so simple and I think that what’s great about coaching in a lot of ways. A lot of ways it’s simple or it’s something we know we should do and just need someone to force us do it.

Favorite Book: How To Win Friends and Infuence People by Dale Carnegie

Favorite Resource: Youtube & Facebook

Want to get a free audiobook version of the book recommended by this week’s guest?  Click here to download it.

ZechNewman_©kellietrenkleGuest: Zechariah Newman – Figaro’s Pizza and Zechariahnewman.com


Zechariah has owned and operated two Figaros Pizza restaurants since 2004, growing sales by three times initial annual sales. He writes and speaks on restoring significance to your life and finding and pursuing your calling. Also Zechariah coaches entrepreneurs and wantrepreneuers to succeed in their businesses.


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