Meet Joe Magee, a husband, father, and entrepreneur. An avid surfer and snowboarder, Joe recently sold a company and is now considering what the next phase of his life will look like. He finds importance in breaking down obstacles and goals into manageable pieces and seeks to minimize risk as an entrepreneur. Here’s his story!
Who are you and what are you working on right now?
My name is Joe Magee. I reside in Hermosa Beach, California, and I am a father, husband, friend, and founder. Over the last 10 years, I’ve personally founded three companies and was also one of the first few employees at two or three other companies. I’ve now been “building companies” for over a decade.
Currently, I’m not actually working on anything specific, but I am thinking about a lot of different ideas. I recently transitioned out of operating at Rallybound, the company that I sold in the summer of 2018. We sold Rallybound to a group composed of a San Francisco private equity firm and a Texas family office belonging to Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys. As of December, I’ve transitioned from a general manager to a purely advisory role at Neon One.
These days, I’m surfing when there are waves and skiing when there’s snow. I also spend time running in the hills of Los Angeles and enjoying life with my wife and two kids.
What have you done to get you to where you are now?
From the time I left high school, I’ve done a couple of things that are still applicable today and that I hope will be applicable in the future. First, I try to put myself in other people’s shoes. When people have business problems, personal problems, or any type of problem, I try to understand their challenges as best I can, and to have empathy for them. I think that that has served me well in my capacities as a husband, father, founder, and friend.
Secondly, seeking out challenges and applying creativity to their solutions is also something that I’ve employed and felt really deeply about both personally and professionally.
What are your hopes or plans for the future?
I hope that technology continues to advance our culture and society and lift individuals up as opposed to destroy, sow chaos, or tear things down.
Are you still thinking about the global supply chain?
Yeah. I co-founded Rallybound almost seven years ago. As I think about what I want to dedicate the next decade of my life to, I want to work on something that’s both challenging and meaningful. The global supply chain–from how consumers get their goods to how organizations and businesses get resources, and the transition of those goods or resources–is something that’s continually fascinating and humbling as I dig into it.
My dad has been in air cargo for almost four decades, and I have some friends here in Los Angeles who operate logistics companies. The more I dig in, the more it reminds me of my previous industry, nonprofit, where technology is lagging, and there are disparate systems and manual processes. I think we’re just in the first few innings of how software is going to be modernizing and revolutionizing our global supply chain.
What does growth mean to you?
I think that people unnecessarily overcomplicate very simplistic ideas, especially in business. I think that to grow is making another dollar, becoming more efficient, or increasing resources or capacity. There’s obviously a lot of blocking and tackling that goes into doing those things day in and day out around an operation, especially at scale. But as someone who’s motto is “making something out of nothing,” I’ve approached life with the mindset that to grow is to make your livelihood, your well-being, your organization, or your operations better than they were historically speaking.
There’s such an enormous responsibility placed on individuals, especially when you get sucked into media or tech echo chambers. People are doing amazing, incredible, large, expensive, money-making things, which we can all aspire to do. But on an individual level, growth is just trying to take one step forward. It’s taking the one step that isn’t going to cause chaos around you or be detrimental to your health, family or job. There are very small and simple things that you can do to make your life better. I think when you look at it that way, it’s not as hard.
How do you think about overcoming obstacles?
When you encounter something that’s hindering your growth, breaking it down into a narrow set of options seems to always be my default mode of operations. If you’re trying to build a million-dollar business, a million dollars is a lot of money and a seemingly unreachable goal. But if you break that down and try to make $10, then try to make $100, and then try to make $1,000, that’s much more manageable. So in terms of obstacles, I think I’ve always taken the approach of taking the most narrow, calculated move I can, and then I’m able to break that problem down into much more simplistic ideas. Because if you try to tackle something all at once it’s going to be insurmountable.
That’s how I think about both business challenges and personal challenges. I have this refrain lately that I would not wish starting a company while concurrently having two babies on my worst enemy, because those things were so incredibly hard. To this day I think that’s going to always be one of my biggest successes. When I began it was crazy and chaotic; there was a lot of pressure on my wife and me and our family. But I believe that if you persevere, eat healthy, exercise, and have outside hobbies that you can focus on, then those challenges or obstacles, whether personal or business, don’t become all-encompassing, and they become just another obstacle to overcome.
How have you been helped along your journey?
Fortunately or unfortunately, I’ve never been the person to have a formal mentor. The flip side of that is, there are so many people that have helped me in my life that weren’t necessarily trying to help. For example, my family just showing up and being there has been an amazing support system. This is especially true as I think about starting my next venture (solo founder) because you need an outlet you can use to get away from things. I’ve found that having people I can express my frustrations to and let some steam off through surfing or snowboarding has been one of the most helpful things for me. I think the people that really helped me did so by simply showing up. I guess the saying that 90% of the job is just showing up is right in this context!
Have you ever had a make or break moment where you had to risk it all?
You know, that’s, that’s a hard question. There have been a lot of make or break moments, but I don’t know that I’ve ever gone to the degree where I’ve “put everything on the line.” In some respects, this might sound odd coming from a founder, but I’m a little risk-averse or calculate risk very carefully. Maybe this is part of the success, but I like to have confidence that I’m going to be able to deliver way before I jump off that cliff without a parachute. I think along the way, when there have been those moments that are inflection points, you can feel the importance in the moment, but you really only realize how important it is years down the road.
What advice would you offer someone reading this article?
Considering the question of “How do I grow?”, I recently finished a chapter in my life and am starting a new one; it’s a blank slate. That can be really intimidating and cause a lot of stress. It’s something that I’m living through today. Goal setting is especially important in this phase of my life and I’ve found that if you think narrowly and start small, making manageable goals things become a lot more possible. The small and manageable goals aren’t frivolous but are steps along the process. The first small goal is not an accomplishment but goal #20 is a great accomplishment. Try to break it up and have small wins when you’re trying to “grow” and whatever that is, whether it be a challenge, whether that be a problem, whether that be a thing that you’re working towards, break it down into small, manageable bites. That way you can actually make progress.
In November, I just ran my ninth marathon. I’m really passionate about an organization called Back on My Feet. They go into a skid row of Los Angeles and bring in running shoes and running clothes. They ask people who are homeless and dealing with addiction to just get up on their feet and run half a mile. It’s so empowering because it helps people (1) become healthy and get exercise, and (2) just making that small accomplishment can really change someone’s life. It’s a really simplistic idea in terms of goal setting and getting back on your feet, but I think it’s incredibly powerful and effective.