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How to Break Out of Job Jail and Start Your Own Business – Part II

Crazy Man and Entrepreneur David Mayer with Bill Walton

As seen in Forbes.

Welcome back!

This is the second part and conclusion of the story of crazy Dave Mayer of Clean Bottle and how he broke free from job jail.

(Oh yes, and how you can do the same.  :-)

If you have not seen Part I, please go there now so you have a clue on what we’re talking about.  Okay?

I will wait….  :-)

Are you back?  Good.  Now let’s continue with…

Key Step #3:  Start your new business while you’re in jail.

By now, you better have a pretty good idea of what you want to do when you get out of job jail.  But wait a minute.  Why wait until you break out to start?  Why not start now?

Great idea.  In fact, this is what the majority of first time entrepreneurs do.  Believe me, there is no knight in shining armor gonna ride up on his white horse with money bags slung over his saddle with your name on them.  You know — cash to start your own business?  That’s a fairy tale for most my friend.

So, in other words, you’ve got to keep your day job to keep the cash rolling in (as if you have a choice anyway, ‘cause remember, you’re still in jail).

But that’s okay.  You can do it.  Millions of guys and gals just like yourself are in the same boat.  And Dave too.  Do you think once he had his “aha” moment on Clean Bottle he just up and quit his job?  Of course not.  He’s got a wife.  Had a kid on the way at the time.  And I’m sure a mortgage to boot.

So how in the world did he do it, and how can you do the same?

Well, instead of me continuing to run at my mouth, I am going to let Dave explain it:

“So I figured out a business idea I could be passionate about.  And of course I had figured out my areas of strength and weakness.  Since there were all these things to be done, I knew what I should focus on myself, and what I could basically hire (outsource) other people to do.  And that’s what I did.  I hired (outsourced) people to design the product and I contracted with the source in China to build the product.  Since I am gifted in marketing, I focused on marketing.”

Okay stop for a second here.  Do you see what Dave did?  And this is a hugely important point:

Dave knew his own skills and focused on those areas, while delegating the other stuff he wasn’t as good at, and maybe didn’t even like, to others.

Your ability to work on only those things of super high value where you excel, and find other people you can partner with, or hire, or beg, to do the rest, is a make or break deal.  It is flat-out a key to your success.  Don’t ever forget it.

Dave also wanted me to share this with you:

“If you want to develop a product or start a café or something, you can do a lot of it without leaving your job.  I mean we had sold like $500,000 in products before I ended up leaving Cisco because I had said to myself:  What are the sales milestones I want to hit?  Who were the customers I want to sign?  What is the profitability I want to reach before I can quit?

I would take all this to my wife every 3 months —  “look, honey, this is what we do.  Can you let me quit now?”  So finally she did.

The key point would be it doesn’t have to be binary.  It doesn’t have to be that you are either working at your job or being an entrepreneur.  It can be both.  If you work during the day, there’s still morning and there’s still evening.  Just like if you’re taking a business course at school or playing on a softball league.  I was choosing to spend my time working on my new business.

Also, you can hire a college intern for $10 an hour to help you.  It’s pretty surprising how cheaply you can get a lot of stuff done.  You’re then free to do the important stuff.  And I guarantee whatever business you start; whether it’s consulting or developing a product or starting a restaurant, you can still do both for a long time.

This makes it a much less risky proposition for you because you can just go ahead and start your business while you’re working.”

Great stuff Dave.  Seriously.  This is a guy who did it.  You might want to listen to him…  :-)

Key Step #4:  Break out of jail day and never look back.

Yippee.  Now for the day of reckoning. You’ve been dreaming of this day for how long?  Feeling a wee bit nervous in the pit of your tummy?  That’s okay.  Press on my friend.  Reach for the doorknob to your bosses’ office; step in; and deliver your joyful news:

You’re gone.

Yes, you need to be kind and do it with grace and humility.  Have a bite of cake at your going away party (do they still do things like that in companies?).  And let your heart jump for joy as the door hits you on the behind on the way out.  Turn around and say:  “Bye-bye job jail.”


There’s not much more to do during this step.  Why?  Well, ‘cause you already did the hard work silly!

Now don’t get me wrong.  Still a lot of hard work to do.  Ah, but pause for a moment.  Celebrate this day.  Although you are probably scared to death still, even with all your planning and your own company started, you did it.  You escaped job jail.

Will you do me a favor?  When you reach this day, let me know?  I want to hear about it.  Seriously.  If your story is compelling enough, I may even write about it.

But at the very least, I’m gonna give you a big virtual hug and slap on the back.  Well done my friend.

When I asked Dave what it was like for him on his last day of job jail, he told me this:

“When I walked out the door, it really felt like I was going from one world to another.  I was thrown out of the nest and left to fly on my own and fend for myself.  It was my dream to always strike out on my own and now I was doing it – but it was also very scary at the same time because there would be no steady pay check, no safety net.  Now each decision I made had real consequences.  It was exhilarating and scary at the same time.

But I was ready.  No one dreams of being a spectator when they grow up.  People don’t say “my life’s goal is to be the best fan I can be.  I can’t wait to sit in the bleachers and cheer my heart out.”  People want to be in the game.  They want to be the ones scoring the touchdowns and making the big plays.  Being in the game is scary – you could get hurt, you could fall on your face, you could fumble and mess up and everyone is there to see it, but it was what we were meant to do.

In my job working at a big company I felt like I was a spectator.  Leaving that day felt like I was actually running through the stadium and onto the field for the first time.  It was really like life was just beginning.  I was now in the game.”

Need I say more?  Except this:  Way to go Dave.

Key Step #5:  Once free, stay free by being bold and tenacious.

Now things are cooking.  You’re rocking along as a new entrepreneur.  How does it feel?  Man, it should feel great!  But do you put on the brakes?  No.  Keep trucking.  You’ve got to keep being bold in your moves.  Keep being creative in your decisions.

Now this is one area Dave absolutely nailed.  I love ya Dave… but boy, you’re nuts.

Running around in a bottle suit at the Tour de France?  Crazy.

If you’ve never seen this, you’ve got to check it out.  Short clip on Dave inside his bottle boy suit running up and down the hills of France.

Why is this important to you as an entrepreneur?  Because guys like Dave, who are true entrepreneurs, think and act different.  Yes, just like Steve Jobs.  Always thinking different than everyone else.  Making bold moves.  Not afraid of failure.  Never giving up.

Do you see this?  Do you see why this is so important?

You simply cannot succeed today without being different than every other Tom, Dick and Harry out there.  You must strive to be different.

Yes, just like Dave.

Why do you think Bill Walton is such a huge fan of Dave?  Go and read Bill’s email again.  Here are some of the words he uses to describe Dave:  “Passionate visionary.”  “Brave.”  “Bold.”  “Creative.”  “Daring.”

I asked Dave about his first encounter with Bill and he shared this story:

Entrepreneur David Mayer with ex-NBA star Bill Walton

“I knew Bill was a cyclist and saw him on the floor at a Warriors game.  I was like, well – nothing ventured, nothing gained.  I thought to myself, I’m not trying to solicit him or anything.  I just want to give him some bottles.  So I went up to him and said, “Hey, Bill did you catch the Tour de France on TV?” He said, “Yes, of course.” I said, “Hey, did you see the giant water bottle running around?” He’s like, “Yes, the Clean Bottle.  I love that guy.” Then I said, “Hey, that’s me.” I showed him a picture of it and he couldn’t believe it.  That’s why I knew I had to have a picture because otherwise he’d think I was some crazy guy.

He said, “Oh, send me an email,” and I sent an email and we just got to talking and sent him some bottles.  I mean it’s unbelievable how supportive Bill is.  I just got an email the other day where he’s out in a bike shop in California and they didn’t have the Clean Bottles and so he’s selling them on the Clean Bottle.  He emailed me and said, “Send them a sample right now.”  And wow, for him to get in the bottle costume on national TV.  He actually popped out of the giant green bottle right in front of everybody on “The Shark Tank”.  It just warms your soul there’s a guy like that helping me.”

If you read this story, and then read it again, you will see my point here.  Do you see it?  Do you see how Dave is thinking and acting differently than most people?

Bingo.  If you get this point; then you understand the core of entrepreneurship.  Apple, and it’s founder Steve Jobs, had the slogan “Think Different” as part of their brand for many years.  Would you argue with their success?

Combine this with pure tenacity and you’re on fire my friend.  If this is you; thinking different + tenacity; I want to know.  You’re a star worth backing.

Conclusion?  Now it’s your turn…

You can do this.  You do not have to be stuck in job jail anymore.  Dave and I are helping you break free — right here, right now.

Will it happen overnight?  No, it won’t.  But that’s okay.  You can start today.  Go to Step #1 and start there.  Just work your way through each step.  One step at a time.  And remember this —  reaching your dreams usually happens with many small steps all connected together.  It’s like each brick on the yellow brick road.  Small.  Connected.  But when put together, leads to where you want to go.

When I asked Dave to tell me how it feels to be out of job jail, he told me this:

“I feel like I’ve swallowed the red pill from movie the “The Matrix”.  You know, the pill that makes you see how cool things could be when you’re on the outside?   It’s incredible.  You hear these stories about working for yourself;  that it doesn’t really feel like work.  Well, it’s true.

I just really feel sorry for people who want to do it, but never get up the courage to do it.  Because I feel like there are a lot of steps you can take to mitigate the risk, as I shared before.  At the end of the day, you just don’t want to be looking back in regret.  You have one life here and you just got to go for it – that’s what it’s all about.

And I’m doing it.  Now I can work from home and have lunch with my wife and kids every day.    You know, it’s true what motivational speakers say:  Make your own life.  You have the courage to just go out there and do it, you definitely can.  I feel like I’ve made a life I would have never been able to have if I didn’t have the guts to try to branch off on my own.

Hey, you have a dream and you’re going to go for it.  You’re not going to take no for an answer.  You’re going to find a way.

Clean Bottle has definitely had its ups and downs but I feel like I’m just in the zone and the glove just fits.  It’s the best feeling in the world.  And no, I would not go back.  Ever.”

There you have it.  Good stuff to help you on your path to breaking free.  Do you have more questions?  Have your own story of breaking out?

Love to hear from you.  I will help you however I can.  Why?  ‘Cause job jail stinks.  :-)

Okay, do you and I need to hook up?

My name is Eric.

I’m a husband, father & life-long entrepreneur…

My email is: eric at mightywisemedia dot com.

Shoot me yours right here and let’s connect, okay?

You and I can then chat about where you are as an entrepreneur!

Can’t wait to connect with you.  :-)

Look forward to connecting with you! :-)

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About the Author: Eric T. Wagner is a husband, father and life-long entrepreneur. After starting multiple businesses, Eric is now focused on helping other entrepreneurs find the path to success in business and life. You can also catch his gig on Forbes or connect with him on Google+.


  1. Be bold… Everyone else is doing everything else…

  2. Even us seasoned entrepreneurs can learn from Dave…go where we are uncomfortable, because most of the times it ends up being very rewarding!

    Thanks for sharing Eric!

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Howdy Chris. Yes, Dave’s got some good stuff to share. Especially in the being “bold” arena…

      Thanks for sharing Chris… :-)

  3. No matter how exciting it seems to quit a job and start a business – you’re right on in that there’s no “get out of jail free” card – and nothing feels more like jail – not even a bad job – than the stress of your expenses far outweighing your income. And sales under duress typically don’t go well.

  4. Eric

    Part 2 was just as enjoyable as part 1.

    Working solo, I’m not out in the mainstream world as much as I used to be when I too had my occasional detentions in “job jail”
    But when I do get out and observe other people going about their day to day, I’m stuck with the feeling of how unhappy and detatched so many of them seem. It’s soul destroying.

    Imagine what the world would look like if more people were doing what lit them up.
    Here’s to helping people remove the ball and chain :)

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Yes Jackie.

      That ball and chain gets so heavy for people. I’m with you and all for helping folks break from that bondage.

      Anyone? :-)

      Thanks for sharing Jackie…

  5. Im of the old Rohn school of thought where it is absolutely possible to work full time on your job and part time on your fortune. If you do it right, you’ll be able to bust out of jail with that wonderful feeling Dave described.

    Profits and wages are two totally different things.

    P.S. Talk about coverage of his clean bottle design on Versus! Great marketing. Its such a brilliant idea, too, so that definitely helps!

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Thanks Jason. Great feedback and me too — love Rohn… :-)

      Good lesson here: We should all be looking to jump into our own “bottle boy suit” to rise above the noise.

      Embarrassing? Maybe. But so what? At least we’ve ceased being like everyone else.

      Okay Jason. Let’s see what you’ve got… :-)

  6. Eric – what an awesome and inspirational story. Dave is truly the epitome of what entrepreneurship is all about.

    You see, I dont think entrepreneurship is for everyone but for those who are willing to be creative, be different, be bold, be passionate, have a vision and build their own dreams (not their bosses dreams) this is what you get.


    Great read my friend. I am always inspired by stories like these. Thanks for sharing it!

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Thanks Hector.

      Agreed. For entrepreneurs, and guys/gals that want to be, Dave is a great example.

      Appreciate your comments my friend… :-) Eric

  7. Eric,

    Great wrap up to the story. I’m definitely impressed by his gumption regarding the tour de France and it was a nice move to connect with Bill Walton. I’ve found myself doing similar things (but on a smaller stage at this point) as I see that’s the way to break out from the pack.

    Thanks for writing up this inspiring story and for getting Dave’s input as well!

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Howdy Tom. Thanks for your comments.

      Dave helps us all see what is possible if we just go for it. His bold moves are inspiring for sure.

      Good stuff my friend… :-) Eric

  8. Hi Eric,

    Very interesting read. I’m just starting my consulting business and yes, I’m in the job jail still. It’s probably gonna be a few more months before I get to quit without fear, but the idea of that day is in part what keeps me going :)

    Thanks for the inspiration :)

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Hi Peter. Thanks for sharing here.

      I’ve seen your stuff, so if anyone can bust out of “job jail”, it’s you.

      Keep trucking my friend.

      Oh, and let me know if you want me to bring the get-away car… :-)


  9. Awesome tips, awesome tools, Eric — I feel there’s an economic shift away from “employee mentality” happening. Glad you’re showing a way :)

    The clean bottle/Bill story is really powerful, Dave does act different than most people.

    I quit my retail job 8 years ago, ZERO back up plan, living on my own, winging it.

    … and never looked back.

    Were there challenges? Yeah, more than most people are ready for ;)

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Thanks Jason. Appreciate it.

      And hey, keep plugging away my friend. Looks like things are on the “ryze” for you… :-)

      And yes, being a “true” entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure…

      :-) Eric

  10. I starting earning my own money in 1996 because I was sick of eating frozen burgers and I wanted to be free to choose who I worked for and when I worked. There were times when the only freedom I had was to choose which 15 hours of the day I worked or alternatively between Solitaire and Minesweeper (these were pre-YouTube and Angry Birds days!), but one thing that people don’t realise is that there is and never was such a thing as a secure job. The greatest advantage I have over wage slaves is that I can’t get fired. You have no idea how liberating that is!

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Thanks Mike! Seriously, thanks for sharing. Takes guts to break free from the frozen burgers of job jail. :-)

  11. Great post Eric, very inspirational!
    What I love most about no longer being in ‘job jail’ is the fact that you can take crazy risks, there’s no boss to tell you no!
    Keep inspiring others to get away from that ‘no’ and move towards a positive future!

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Thanks Gemma. Appreciate it.

      And yes, it’s fun to be in charge of “risk”. Just like Dave of Clean Bottle, he can run all around France dressed in a bottle boy suit if he darn well wants to! Why? ‘Cause it’s his deal. It’s his show. :-)

  12. Hi Eric! Your article’s second part is really encouraging. I really do believe that more and more people are trying to break out of job jail to claim their own niche in the business world. After all, who wouldn’t want to have their own schedules and appointments without worrying about any boss? I just hope more entrepreneurs could have that courage to break free and start young so that they could have more than enough time and energy to have progress in their businesses.

  13. This article was just amazing because I am starting this journey now. My last day is the 31st of this month and I am overwhelmed with so many emotions. I am excited as well as nervous and anxious. I know it’s all going to come together in the end and I believe in myself. This article was just another push of encouragement. Thank you!

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