#BeBetter Podcast with Michael Kurland

Michael Kurland Shares Gratitude for 7 Years in Business

Michael Kurland reflects on how gratitude, giving back, delegating, and building authentic relationships have all helped to grow the company that he founded.

Portrait of Mike Kurland

BeBetter is more than a mantra. It’s our mindset.

—Michael Kurland

Branded Group

22. Michael Kurland Shares Gratitude for 7 Years in Business


As an award-winning CEO, Michael is committed to leading with purpose, giving back to his community, and living a healthy lifestyle.

Michael launched Branded Group in 2014 and has led its year-over-year exponential growth and cultural transformation. His clear vision to #BeBetter has resulted in deep and long-lasting client and partner relationships, innovative facility maintenance programs that drive client satisfaction, and a respected position in the industry.

Podcast Transcription

Welcome to another episode of the BeBetter podcast. I’m your host, Michael Kurland. Today, we are going to try something new. We’re kicking off Season Three. It’s coinciding with our seven year anniversary. I am going to do a solo podcast and we’ll see how this goes. Welcome all guinea pigs and enjoy the ride. Season three is about gratitude and I really wanted to reflect on our seven years in the business. How could I not feel anything but gratitude to make it to seven years? A lot of businesses don’t make it that far and a lot of businesses during the pandemic haven’t survived. I’ve got to say I’m very grateful to be in the place that I currently am. We launched Branded Group seven years ago and we had that vision to BeBetter.

It’s our mantra – BeBetter. It’s very simple, but it’s what’s carried us for seven years. We’ve accomplished so much. We’ve grown our business. We’ve improved our operations. We’ve given back to the community, secured multiple awards. We’ve established ourselves as a leader in the facilities management industry. One of the things that sets us apart is putting a purpose over profit. I look back on the BeBetter mantra and I am definitely grateful to Jon Thomas. You know, it’s funny, I’m the marketing guy, but I’m giving thanks to Jon Thomas for actually coining that phrase. So thank you for that.

I’m really humbled about what we’ve accomplished. I can tell you it’s not been easy, but it’s been worth it. We faced many challenges during our growth from having to man the emergency cell phone to jobs not getting completed as fast and quickly as we would like because we had growing pains. But we’ve always stayed the course. We’ve always fought our way through the challenges and learned more about ourselves and the industry.
A successful business needs to be profitable, but I’ve found fostering the relationships is way more important to me between my customers, my colleagues, and my employees. It’s what I’m very grateful for – the relationships, getting to know everyone, getting to build those relationships, getting to meet the people and this podcast is even taking it a step further.

It brought so many new people into my life that I would have never had the chance to meet and not just meet, but have a great 30 or 40 minute conversation with and learn new ideas, exchange ideas. So I’m grateful for having the ability to grow this podcast and meet all of the people that I’ve met along the way. Another thing during the last seven years that I’ve really grown into and I’m grateful for is empathy and vulnerability. I’ve learned that letting yourself be vulnerable and transparent gives your team permission to also reciprocate. If I was a hard-nosed CEO, a hard-nosed owner that expected perfection and never showed the error of my ways, Branded Group would be a much different place to work and probably not where we are today.

I’m thankful that I was able to learn about being vulnerable and learn that empathy was a great thing. I actually said it this morning. I really think it’s why I’ve been so successful in business is because of the fact that I am empathetic and I do know that when I hear what someone’s going through, whether or not I it’s something I agree with. I try to walk in a day or a mile in their shoes and put myself in their place. I don’t always think I can understand exactly how they’re feeling, but I do feel that just changing the mindset and putting myself in that position, at least humbles me to understand that people are going through so many different things on a daily basis that don’t have anything to do with work.

When you can start realizing that there’s more to life than that, you can start opening up and people will see when you’re open and vulnerable that they’ll reciprocate that vulnerability. For 2021, I think empathy is the word. We’ve been through so much as a society, as a country, as a nation. I think if everyone just added a little bit more empathy to their daily routine, to their thought process, we’d be in a much better place. You can do that by volunteering, scheduling more one-on-one time with your connections or picking up a tab. I’ve had a couple of things in the past couple weeks and maybe it’s not quite empathy, but I’ve been trying to touch base with almost all of my employees via a phone call, just to say hello once the new year came in.

We’re about five weeks in and I still haven’t made it through, which means we have a lot of employees, but also I still have some work to do. The other day I was getting some Starbucks and I can get lost in my thoughts and hanging out ordering my latte. Some guy paid for it in front of me for just no reason just to, I guess, pay it forward. Anyway, these are things, little things that you can do to try and raise your emotional intelligence for 2021 and we can all use a little bit of that. I think that’s what makes me a very good CEO and owner.

I think, like I said, when your team can see your human side, they can see how things have impacted us and when you can have those open conversations. Don’t be scared to talk about the pandemic and the fact that you don’t know what it holds or civil unrest and how it makes you feel. I think that that’s helpful to humanize you as a CEO. To some people that are newer to Branded Group. I’m they’re scared to knock on that Zoom door. So creating that culture that encourages empathy, compassion, and wellness is what I’ve found makes it right. A group or place where people want to work.

The next thing that I’m really grateful for and the next thing I really want to touch on during the seven-year journey is self-care and wellness. I am a huge proponent of it. I’ve hammered it home throughout the podcast. I’ve hammered it home throughout the seven years at Branded Group. The life of an entrepreneur is chaotic. Long days, lost weekends. Sometimes it’s easier to eat that cheeseburger, to drink those extra beers or whatever your vice may be to comfort you in your downtime. But that all can lead to burnout and you can’t give what you don’t have. When you’re running your company 24/7/365 and you’re not making your health a priority, you have to stop and ask yourself the question, what are you running this company for? If it’s be successful, and I’m sure we all want to be successful, but is it more so to have a comfortable life? I think so. That’s one of the reasons why I started my own company was to have my own business, and to lead the lifestyle and be comfortable.

What’s the point of working so hard to lead this comfortable, successful life, if you aren’t around to enjoy it and your loved ones are missing you? I take it very seriously. I had a weight loss journey on my way from New York to California, and lost over 50 pounds over the course of a year. I’ve managed to keep most of that off. I will say Christmas wasn’t kind to me, but I can deal with an extra five pounds that are going to be shed rather quickly. Also working out and eating right. These are things that you need. I live by the mantra that there’s four things in life that are very important. It’s eating right. It’s journaling, it’s meditating and it’s working out. If you can do those four things, you should be happy, you should be successful.
We’ve all been dealing with alot this past year. I encourage you to make sure that health, if it isn’t now, put it to the top of your priority list and make sure you schedule that time to get that workout in and make sure you schedule a time to meal prep if that’s what makes sure that you don’t stop at McDonald’s on your lunch break. Make sure you also focus on your mental health. This has been a trying year, a trying year for a lot of people because they’ve been isolated. I can only imagine not being with a loved one for the last 15 months and being locked in your apartment and doing your daily job and the only connection you really have is a Zoom call. That’s going take its toll.

There’s some sort of PTSD that you may start experiencing down the road and we need to take that seriously. So please make sure you’re meditating. Please make sure that you’re reaching out, you’re having phone calls with your loved ones, your mom, your dad, your sisters, your brothers, your friends, and if you need help and you need to talk to someone, there is nothing wrong with calling a therapist or getting yourself someone to talk to you. I’ve done it numerous times in my life and I’ll definitely do it again. There’s no shame in that. So I really am grateful that my health, my wellness, my mental health has been able to be maintained through the last seven years.

The next thing that I really like to touch on is giving back. When I launched the business, my vision was clear and I wanted to create a company that put people and purpose ahead of profit. In doing so, I aimed to fulfill my passion to give back to my team, my clients, my community, and our BeBetter mantra in mind. I set out building an organization that would continually strive for excellence. So this was important. We were making a profit, even in year one, we made a profit, but I felt empty inside. If you’ve listened to the podcast, you’ve heard this numerous times in conversations, and I wanted to do more. The biggest vehicle, the biggest tool I had to facilitate that was Branded Group. I started the One for One program to start donating hours to Habitat for Humanity through our employees, through the program for every service call we completed. It gave everybody a little bit of skin in the game.

Our vision is to build a conscious business that inspires future humanitarian leaders. That was a vision that was devised by myself and my team at the time that we went through the process. I take that very seriously. When you interview at Branded Group, giving back is very important to the culture and it’s not going to be so much expected, but it’s very much encouraged. Over the last seven years, we’ve volunteered over 500 hours to rebuild a restore over 13 Habitat for Humanity homes in Orange County, California, and Suffolk County, New York. We’ve also led multiple bi-coastal build projects at these locations on the same day, which are very fun, very fun. I’m very proud of those. In 2019, we distributed almost 7,700 pounds of food and raised more than $2,400 for Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County.

I think those stats are really important to tell and I wanted to make sure we touched on them. We also launched our first ever virtual 5k in support of Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County. If you are interested in learning more about our give back, please check out our initiatives at https://www.michaelkurland.co/growing for good.

So in closing I just wanted to say, I really appreciate all of you tuning in. listening, making the podcast a part of your week. Every CEO knows that he or she would not have achieved success without the support of their team, mentors, friends, and even former managers and coworkers. I’m extremely grateful for all those who have played a part in my personal and professional success. Some provided their expertise, some provided support and others pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and try new things.
Over the past six years, Branded Group has grown from nearly two to over 90 employees in eight states. We’ve moved from 900 square feet to over 1,350, which we don’t use, but hopefully that day will come when we’re back there. I miss all of you guys. I miss standing around the water cooler hearing the stories and because of the pandemic, we’re now a fully virtual workforce.

Our service offerings have expanded to more than 120 clients and we’ve created a nationwide vendor network of over 15,000 partners. I wanted to say thank you to all of our vendor partners, all of our clients and all of our employees, anyone that’s helped me along the way. You know who you are, mentors and past employers, managers. I know it was probably a handful to deal with, but you had a hand in creating this. The past seven years have shown me and my team that when we put purpose before profit, we can all BeBetter. Again, thank you to everyone who made this success possible. I’m looking forward to the next seven years, and I’m looking forward to shaking some of your hands in person in the near future. Until next time…

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