What Is Truly Possible In Entrepreneurship with RT Custer
Happy Friday Feels, Tribe! Welcome back to The Jenn Kennedy Show! Today, I’ve got an incredible guest on the show who is going to help you redefine what’s possible in your business. This man has built one of the most unique businesses I can think of from the ground-up in just a few years, and he’s been incredibly successful. I know you’re going to love him and be as inspired as I am, but before I introduce him, let me ask you a few questions:
What’s your “why?” What motivates you to get out of bed every morning and get to work? What are you so committed to that keeps you hustling day in and day out to make your business successful?
One thing I always teach my clients is this: Make sure you have two “whys” — one is for yourself and your family, and the other is for your impact. If you have those two whys firmly in place, you’ll be ready for anything. You’ll find yourself able to overcome any obstacle on your way to success because you’ll continue to have a reason to press forward.
RT Custer has had multiple whys throughout his business career, and that’s okay! In his quest to build the amazingly successful Vortic Watches, his whys have shifted and changed — but they remain strong. In just a minute, we’re going to get into the whys that keep RT going and why he never has to worry about the “how” — he just does what he sets out to do.
This interview is inspiring, informative, and fascinating! I met RT Custer through a Mastermind, and he’s just been blowing my mind ever since. So without any further ado, let’s get started!
Who Is RT Custer?
RT Custer is one of the founders of Vortic Watches, one of the most unique watch companies you’ll ever hear of. They find old American-made pocket watches and repurpose the insides to create truly one-of-a-kind luxury watches. And because they’re repurposing old pocket watches made by American companies, their timepieces are also fully American-made.
Vortic Watches has grown into a seven-figure business in just a short period of time, but guess what — it began as just an idea born out of a golf course conversation. RT, his friend, and the other co-founder of Vortic Watches were out on the course one day, just chatting, when they hatched their idea — who knew it would become such a special and lucrative business?
I’ll let RT share a little more of the story behind Vortic Watches in a minute, but before we move on, I have to mention a few of the other things RT does. He’s a true family man, and he strives to model a strong work ethic for his two sons every day. He’s also the co-host of the podcast and YouTube show, Products Worth Talking About.
In each episode, RT and his friend Tyler take a look at different consumer products and the people who make them. They look at everything from the quality of the products themselves to their marketing, packaging, and every other element that makes a top-quality product great. They’re continually uncovering the best new consumer products, so make sure to check that out!
RT is also the creator of the Social Stick — a handy retractable stick that extends to exactly six feet to aid with social distancing. RT realized that the importance of “six feet of social distancing” seems to be the only thing we can agree on, so he invented a clever product that helps people to measure that specific amount. Of course, in the Kennedy household, they’re more likely to become “Social Swords,” but they’re still an incredibly helpful tool!
RT is an inspiration to me, and I believe he’ll be an inspiration to you, too. He’s creating one-of-a-kind timepieces and leaving a beautiful legacy for his kids — and he’s truly passionate about that work. So without any further ado, let’s dive into the interview!
Leaving a Legacy and Creating an Impact
When RT started this business, he was operating more or less on a whim. He and his friend had a fun and kind of crazy idea, they glued some watch parts together to make a pitch video on Kickstarter, and they just tried to make it work as best as they could. They didn’t know what they were doing — they only knew that they wanted to create unique, luxury, and fully American-made timepieces that would be cool consumer products and that they wanted to make money.
“My ‘why’ was: I want to build a big company [and] make a ton of money. I don’t know why that was my why because I’ve never had a lot of money. I’ve never had, you know, super nice things. … I’m slowly upgrading just like you are, right?” - RT Custer
When RT was just starting out as a recent college graduate with an interesting idea, that why was enough. He wanted to create a big business and use it to generate money. But then RT started having children. He realized that he could pass on his mindset and his wealth to his children, and his why started to shift.
“What I’ve realized [is that] … I want to build a brand and the legacy that I can give to my kids.” - RT Custer
As a dad, RT is interested in creating generational change for his family. He wants to leave behind a legacy of a brand with a beautiful story and a wealth and abundance mindset for his children. That why motivates him to keep striving to make Vortic Watches the special company that it is.
But it’s not the only why RT has. Remember — it’s important to have two whys: one for yourself and one for your impact. More and more, as his company continues to grow and have an impact on more people, RT finds himself motivated by the impact he’s having on his employees.
“I hired an assistant a few months ago, and two weeks in, she thanked me for her paycheck, and I’ve never had anyone do that before. … And so just those little pieces of validation that you get from the people that you work with all the time, it was just like, ‘Oh, that’s why I do it.’ I built a brand that someone wanted to work for and with, and she loves her job …” - RT Custer
Today, RT has more motivation than ever before. He’s working to leave behind an enormously positive legacy for his kids, and he’s working to give his employees the opportunity to work at jobs they absolutely love.
What’s your why? What motivates you to get out of bed and immediately start hustling to build your business bigger and better? I promise you that if your whys are firmly in place — even if they shift and change — you will never run out of motivation to keep striving forward.
It Takes Arrogance
“Okay, Jenn,” you might be thinking, “That’s all fine and good, but my ‘why’ is not going to pay my bills, and it’s not going to make things any easier when things get tough.” I see your point, but I’d like to challenge you.
One of my first business coaches gave me this great piece of wisdom, and I’ve been repeating it for years — if your why is strong enough, the how will reveal itself. Think about that for a second — if you are strongly rooted in your why, and you start taking messy action, the how will reveal itself to you.
Here’s a great example: A few years ago, RT realized he had to raise his prices. With the amount of time it takes to create one of his beautiful refurbished watches, he knew he couldn’t produce enough to keep up with demand at the current price point. However, he fundamentally believed in the story behind his product, so he found a way to make it work.
“So we’re going through this pivot, and so I read Start with Why and Building a Story Brand. … I think I read both of those books in a month, and I gutted all the texts on our website — every piece of content I had written on our emails and our social media — I just, I scrapped it all. And I said, start with why.” - RT Custer
As a result, RT completely redesigned his brand to tell a story — a story about American history, and a story about himself and his business partner and their desire to create these beautiful watches. He didn’t know how he was going to do it — he just knew that he had a strong why. He started taking action, and he trusted that he’d eventually figure the rest out.
You may be thinking, “That seems like a little bit arrogant,” and you’re not wrong. It does take a little bit of arrogance to step out and take messy action.
“One of my friends … was considering calling his new coaching company … “Arrogant Bastards,” and I love that name. … His point and his messaging … was [that] you have to be an arrogant SOB if you want to be an entrepreneur, especially a consumer product entrepreneur. … The arrogance of me not knowing what I was getting myself into kept me going because I saw the goal.” - RT Custer
RT didn’t know what he was doing, but he had a goal and a why — that’s all he needed. Was it a little arrogant? Yes, but that’s what it takes to start a business. You have to lean into your confidence — even over-confidence — to take that first messy step on your journey to success.
Don’t Be Afraid to Branch Out
How many of you have ever felt like you were in the groove, you’re focusing on your business, and things are going well… and then you get another great idea? You haven’t lost your passion, but maybe you’ve discovered something else you want to pursue, too!
That’s exactly what happened to RT this year. He realized that in this crazy pandemic we’re experiencing, we need something to help us measure our distance from other people and stay a safe six-feet apart. That’s how he invented the Social Stick.
“I found a flagpole made in China … I sent … an email and said, ‘It looks like you sell these flagpoles, and they’re about … 170 centimeters. Is there a way you can make them 183 centimeters?’… I ran a bunch of numbers … and I ran it past [my wife,] Lindsay, and she initially was like, ‘That’s a lot of money. Are you sure you want to risk that on this?’… I was like, ‘It’s gonna work. Like I have never been so confident that people would buy this thing.’” - RT Custer
RT stumbled upon an idea, found a way to execute it, and saw it through. He had to put a lot of money on the line to do it, but now he’s making it back in spades — all because he wasn’t afraid to follow his instinct and pursue this new side venture when it popped up.
Tribe, I just want to encourage you — if you stumble across a good idea, go for it! Don’t be afraid to diversify! You never know where an exciting new side-venture is going to take you. RT’s Social Stick business is incredibly successful, and he just does it alongside his existing business. He’s helping people to maintain the safe social distance, and he’s making money while doing it — sounds like a worthwhile endeavor to me!
Get Clear on Your Why, Then Take Messy Action
Tribe, I hope this episode inspired you! I know it inspired me. RT is doing incredible things in the world — all fueled by his desire to leave behind a strong and positive legacy for his kids and create a lasting impact for his employees and customers now. He’s not afraid of taking messy action — and look where it’s taken him! His businesses are incredibly successful, and I know he’ll be one of the top players in the watch business for a long time to come.
So ask yourself: What’s your why? Get crystal clear on that, and then start taking action. Remember — if your why is strong enough, the how will present itself to you. Don’t worry about the next steps — just take the first one. You’ll be amazed at the success you can reach when you just start taking action in confidence.
If you loved this episode as much as I did, I’d love to hear about it! Please share a screenshot on Instagram. And don’t forget to tag RT, @rtcuster, and me, @thejennkennedey, and tell us what your biggest takeaways were!
Also, if you’re interested in more individualized coaching, please check out my Impact to Income Academy! I am dedicated to helping entrepreneurs grow their impact and scale their income, and I’d love to work with you!
Until next time — have a good weekend, Tribe! Congratulations on crushing another week!