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March 3-7, 2026

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Leadership Metrics with Brian Hess: From Revenue to Reputation



Brian Hess, the dynamic Owner of The Pavement Group, Top Contractor School, and One Key Media, takes time out of his incredibly busy schedule to join host Taylor White of Ken White Construction on the podcast today to discuss his remarkable journey from construction to becoming a tech-savvy entrepreneur. Emphasizing the importance of creating a strong company culture and balancing family life with business, Brian’s insights on authentic social media engagement, effective leadership, and the value of building meaningful relationships are both inspiring and motivational. 

Recounting the transition from his construction background to entrepreneurship, Brian highlights the diverse roles he has embraced. Along the way, he stresses the importance of authenticity over vanity metrics in social media and focusing on genuine content to build meaningful connections. Our very special guest also shares strategies for managing a growing business while maintaining a strong family presence, emphasizing the need for effective leadership and a supportive team. Through personal anecdotes, he illustrates the challenges and triumphs of business growth, underscoring the critical role of networking and long-term relationship building. As you will hear, today’s episode with this truly multi-talented industry leader is absolutely jam-packed with valuable advice for anyone looking to succeed in the construction industry and well beyond. 


  • Brian’s journey from construction to entrepreneurship

  • Authenticity in social media

  • Building a strong company culture

  • Balancing business and family

  • Effective leadership

  • Navigating challenges and triumphs

  • The value of networking and relationships

  • Lessons learned

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Episode transcript: 

Brian Hess: I tell our team here all the time, I will sacrifice followers, likes, and comments for authenticity. I'm not necessarily worried about every person in the world wanting to follow our journey. I'm looking for the right ones. And I think that that's one of the challenges of social media right now, is it's very noisy with people that may or may not be doing it the right way, may or may not be telling you the whole truth about their journey, because it's ugly, right? And so for me, man, it's been an interesting journey, because I would argue that from a metric standpoint, we don't have as much success on social media as others, but from a revenue standpoint, we're lapping people.

Taylor White: Welcome back, everybody, to the CONEXPO/CON-AGG Podcast. I am your host, Taylor White. As always, this podcast is brought to you by our good friends over at Komatsu. Thank you very much. With us today, I have somebody who– I got a long list here. He's the host of his own Brian Hess Show, the owner of The Pavement Group, owner of Top Contractor School, and owner of 1TEAM Media. I think he needs to find more stuff to do to keep himself busy. Brian, thanks for being on here.

Brian Hess: Thanks, brother, for having me, man. I appreciate it.

Taylor White: Yeah, that was a mouthful, as I said at the beginning when we were just chatting, I am so interested to figure out what you're all about. There's a lot of stuff to kind of dive into and ask, but if you could summarize what you do for our audience, could you do that for us?

Brian Hess: I'll first list a couple of the things that aren't necessarily always on the list there, but I've got five children, so I've got a daughter that'll be 12 here in a few months, all the way down to a newborn that's just about six months old. So five kids, man of faith. Everything is built on a strong foundation there. And this all started, man, with me working for other folks in construction. And I just always felt like there was some innovation missing everywhere that I was. So I was a technology guy and kind of got drag into the construction field. I grew up around construction added in my family, but I was selling cell phones. I was running teams that sold cell phones and mobile devices in the small to medium business world. And in the small to medium business world, construction was our primary target. And so what I did for years was solve technology problems for construction companies. And I got recruited away by one of my customers to help them grow their sales team and grow their company. 

And literally, man, as soon as I walked into this industry, my dad was a steel worker growing up, and so he spent 43 years at us steel. And as soon as I walked into the industry, man, out of corporate America and into this, I was like, “Dude, this is home.” These are my people. I love being part of this. And so as I learned construction and I saw the gap in innovation, I was like, “Man, how do I do this?” Because I'm not an equipment operator. That's the one thing I didn't grow up around. I know how to do pretty much anything in construction you could think of. But I've never operated equipment and I didn't have any money to buy the equipment. So I'm like, “Well, how do I do this?” And then I came across an opportunity to do some projects for a customer that didn't require equipment. We were subcontracting everything out to local contractors, and I was like, “Well, shit, man, I can do this, right? I know how to do this part. I know how to market and sell, and I know how to manage the jobs, and I know how to create a customer experience that's unmatched.” And so that's kind of how I got into construction.

So I started The Pavement Group and Top Contractor School at the same time back in March of 2018. And so just about six years old, it's been unbelievable growth. We're well on our way to be at a nine figure company. We have a shot at crossing that threshold here in the very near future, and it's been incredible, man. My biggest goal, I was just talking about it this morning on the podcast, was my biggest goal was to create a culture where people really love to come to work and they could be proud of what they were doing. And I can't think of a better way, man, to be able to take what we do at The Pavement Group, we've got relationships with a lot of the largest brands in the country and in the world as far as being able to service their parking lot portfolios or roadways. And so we bring those large relationships that are sometimes hard for the smaller contractors to secure for a variety of reasons. Those large companies want to have a handful of relationships to contractors instead of hundreds across the country, because it's harder to manage. And we're able to bring those relationships to those smaller contractors that maybe couldn't get them otherwise. And so that helps the local contractors kind of elevate their brands by having their equipment and trucks on those properties. And there's nothing better, man, than growing with a contractor that's a couple million dollars a year and watching them get into, you know, eight figures, multiple eight figures alongside of us. And then Top Contractor School obviously helps those companies grow and scale their businesses through that process as well.

Taylor White: That's crazy. Everything you just said is wild. I mean, 2018 to now reaching a nine figure business, that's wild growth. What would you attribute to being your most success at growth? Just leadership. And what would you contribute to that? That's crazy. Congrats.

Brian Hess: It's our people, man. When you find the right people, I always say you can't get to the wrong place with all the right people. And the thing that I'm probably most proud of, we've had zero people quit this company in six years. And so we've only had, I think, 12 or 13 that aren't with us for other reasons. But zero people have decided to leave here. And that means a lot to me. Being able to create a culture where people really enjoy coming to work every day. This construction still has its moments. It's still tough. It's still weather and equipment failures and plant breakdowns and all the things that we deal with on a day to day basis. But if you build the right team of people, and they love coming to work every day, the results become undeniable. 

And so as we've gained some steam, and I was just talking about this this morning, too, I'm like, “What was going to happen in 2020 on their bingo card?” Nobody, right? But if you handle those scenarios right, I believe that 2020 really solidified our culture. It didn't break it, it brought us together. And having the right people, having the right vision and having people buy into that vision, it's like, man, we can be something different in this industry. We bring hospitality and customer experience to construction and that's something that's really needed. We all need to do a better job in our industry of treating the customer really, really well, having great communication, having visibility and collaboration and transparency in the process. And I didn’t see that a lot in construction. And so that was our mission from the beginning. And there were a lot of people that I connected with over the years of being in construction that believed the same thing that that was really missing. And so a lot of those people are here with us today in order.

Taylor White: To do what you did, though, you personally– I guess I obviously, business is a team effort, but you need to have the right skills as a leader as yourself yo break into a market where you live and where your business is and be like, we're starting up a business and then now here we are reaching a nine figure business. You have to be a high achiever. There are certain aspects of your life. There are certain characteristics that you have to have in order to succeed at those things. And it seems like you have a lot going on. How do you manage your time? Split up between? Like this morning, again, like I was saying, and you're saying you were just live streaming on Instagram. You did a podcast this morning. I imagine your crews are out working as well. You also have Top Contractor School. What I'm really interested in, and I think that's trying to figure out you as a person is, how are you managing your time? Additionally, on top of that, you have five kids and a six month old. Like, that's crazy. I have two kids. I have almost a-year-old and a three-year-old. I have two businesses. It's crazy. How are you managing your time?

Brian Hess: I think that we way underestimate what we can actually do. And I think that we take it from such a macro level. Because if you look at my life today, you would think it's crazy. It's impossible to do that. And I make the comparison or analogy to juggling, right? Nobody starts out and says “I'm going to figure out how to juggle seven malls.” They just start juggling a few, and then they go to three, and they figure out four. And through time, nobody could go from 0 to 7 , but they could easily go from juggling 2 to 3 to 4 . And so that's kind of what's happened, man. I kind of joke around, in the beginning of my career, I used to think I was busy. You're like, “Man, I'm super busy. I got so much stuff going on.” And it goes back to the people that I already said you got to have the right people around you to be able to do it. You have to become less important in the day to day of everything. And you got to be able to hand off those skills and have a lot of trust in other people to be able to manage it all. And so you become more the visionary and more the person that's kind of steering the ship. 

So the podcast is a good example. Like, I think a lot of business owners, man, are missing the boat on not having media as part of their strategy, because that podcast, people could look and say, “Well, how do you have 30 minutes to do a podcast every morning?” I think this morning was episode 730. But dude, it's a way. And I didn't realize this when I started it. You start and end up in different places. Like, dude, it's a way to coach your team. If you have the right message on that podcast, you're not just doing a podcast, you're coaching your team in the process. And if you're a valuable enough leader, your team's actually going to listen. I'm not delusional, dude. They're not going to listen five days a week for 30 minutes. I hope they're working sometime. But I also know that on their drive home, they're going to see a title of a show, and they're going to be interested. And so that's my ability to coach every member of my team for 30 minutes a day. It's an opportunity for me to pour into the construction industry indirectly, because we don't talk construction on the Brian Hess show every day. We might give examples of what we're going through in business, but that's not our focus. Our focus is to build better families, have a stronger faith, have better finances, build better businesses, have happier lives. But in the process, man, I'm doing that for my whole team. I'm doing that for anybody that wants to tune in. And so I believe that's a great investment of time. It's a great investment for my family. My kids have been on the podcast. They listen. The kids in their school listen to the podcast in the morning as they're getting ready to start their day. And so the reach of that is, who knows, right? It's something that lives forever. So it's a great investment of time.

I've learned how to juggle these things over time, man, and it's not easy everyday. Today, I double booked lunch. I had to reschedule one of those appointments because it wasn't on my calendar. Those things happen, man. And I would just say, give yourself grace. If you're trying to do a lot, it’s going to be less perfect. But if people understand– I always use this quote. One of my buddies gave me this a long time ago, “Busy people understand busy people.” So if somebody doesn't understand that you don't have time for something or your time is stressed. it's probably their misunderstanding of how busy people actually operate. And so it's not perfect, man. And it's hard to manage some days. But I also believe that we are capable of far more than what we think we are. And if we can test those limits, which obviously I'm testing them. There's days that I come home and those four kids that are up and mobile, I got four, six, nine and 11 right now, and they want to go play baseball in the backyard. And I'm like, “Holy shit, man.” I love my kids, but some days it's the last thing you want to go do because you had a long day. But at the end of it, what example am I setting for them? Am I going to show up for them, or am I going to be the dad that's too tired all the time? And so how we're viewed at work, how we're viewed at home, is a result of how well we manage our time and how we show up for people. And leadership is about sacrifice. It's not about you. And so at the end of the day, how often do you actually live up to that? Because none of us are perfect. We're going to fall short sometime. But the percentage of time that you actually live up to that is going to define you as a leader.

Taylor White: Yeah. I love whenever you said, busy people get busy people. Yesterday, same thing. We just acquired a construction project management company. Trying to secure work for that company has been very top priority. Yesterday we had a big meeting with a big client, and it was going really well. And I had to essentially text my next meeting being like, “We got to reschedule. This meeting is running longer than I expected.” And it was really nice because he replied back and he's like, “Dude, I've been there. I get it. Let's meet up tomorrow. I'm free around 2:00.” And just getting that response back, so when you said that, relate really well to that because I totally love that. When you're working, busy people get busy people. He's like, “Don't worry about it. I get it. Stuff happens.” Rather than being like, “Are you kidding me? You told me that–” It was so nice to actually deal with that. So that's a really strong point. 

And you also talked about managing a family, and everything you're saying is you're very self aware. And that's what I try to constantly think of. How can I prove myself at home as well as business? Because I'm young, I'm 28, 29 years old, trying to grow a family business, trying to grow a new business with social media. We have all this stuff. And I like that you talk about not just construction, and you kind of dive into the family aspect a lot, too, because I know a lot of people that listen to this podcast can relate as well. And I actually have a perfect example. And, I mean, I'm pretty much an open book. There's nothing I like holding back. But yesterday was my wife's birthday, and yesterday went from the highest of highs. In the afternoon, we had internally something pop up that was just like– These past three months have been crazy. And internally, it was just something that was like, “Are you kidding me? This is wild.” So I went. I didn't have a birthday card, didn't have a gift. I showed up a little bit later than I should have. And it really sucks because my wife understands that stuff and she gets it. But as a father and as a man, I'm trying to be better. How can I properly manage business as well as family? And I guess my question to you would be what advice would you have for people that are trying to chase and go after all this stuff? And being a business owner, work does come home with you. And when people say, “Family first, family first,” you're right, 100%. Family is the overwhelming goal of why we're doing it. But guess what? Business takes priority sometimes over family. And that is a crazy thing to say, but it's true. There's that time when your daughter's talking to you, but someone's calling you, and you go, “Hold on, honey,” and you take the call, that is taking business over family. So how do you manage those two things?

Brian Hess: I think, man, I always use the analysis or comparison of when you look at a lawyer's business card that has the two scales on it. And so, like I always say, balance is when those are perfectly level, but the reality of life is that they're not. And so you got family on one side and business on the other. And our goal is to keep swaying between where it's not totally lopsided one side or the other. But, dude, family is the most insecure position we have as a husband, as a father. Business is way more controllable than that. It's just much easier to feel like an achiever in business. I always say, being a dad is the most insecure position I have. It's the one I'm least educated at. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of information out there to help us master that craft. Been around since the beginning of time, but nobody's figured out how to master it. Lots of people have achieved much higher in business than anybody could achieve as a parent. Arguably, it's like, “Well, who's the best parent?” Nobody knows. Nobody knows what's right and what's wrong. How is it right to raise your kids? Nobody knows. 

So for me, man, the only advice, and this is kind of cliche, but it's the thing that I've found most useful. It's try to be where your feet are as much as you can. Because to your point, dude, you're not perfect. Anybody that says they're not answering a text message or they're not answering a phone call when it comes in at night, you're probably not a high achiever in business. You just got to choose when you're going to do it, and you got to choose. One of the things that I've really changed in the last couple of years is I'm not going to document everything that I do with my kids. I kind of fell into that trap of social media of if I'm out playing baseball with my kids, trying to film that, it kind of takes the special nature out of just playing baseball with my boys. And so I don't do that anymore. So I'm trying to find ways to be more present.

Taylor White: More present. That's the word. Present.

Brian Hess: Documenting everything, dude, has been a huge game changer with that for me. Because frankly, dude, I'm past the point in my life, I'll be 45 years old here in a few weeks, I don't really care what other people think of my life as much anymore. It's like, I'd like to show people, because I'm trying to be an inspiration. I'm trying to show people that you can do a lot of things, but at the same time, dude, that's not the number one priority, that's down the list of priorities. The number one priorities are my family, my businesses, the people that I'm responsible for in my life. Those people out there in social media have to come after all of that, or we're just being a fraud. And so at the end of the day, we can't be as worried about showing people as we are actually living in the way that we're trying to tell people to do it.

Taylor White: Yeah. One thing that I actually stopped doing was posting my daughter and my kids on the Ken White Construction page, rather, I think sometimes it's good to show, “Hey. It's about family and we're doing some family stuff.” But that's one thing that I definitely stopped doing, was posting about family as well, too. So I do relate with that. One thing that is fun and tough, it's interesting that you said, because I know you're talking about family when you say, “I don't care now, at this point in my life where I don't care what other people think.” And I agree with that, and I'm with you on that. That's my motto. I don't care what else somebody thinks of me. But you're in the world of social media as well, too, where our success on social media is dictated by how much other people like us. So that's kind of a slippery slope, right? Because the best form of growing on social media, obviously, is to be authentic, be true. Don't try to create some falsehood of who you are, who you think people want you to be. But at the end of the day, if people don't like Taylor White, Ken White Construction or Brian Hess, they're not going to follow you. So there is a sense of validation that you need from other people where it does matter what they think. So with social media, you kind of ride that fine line of what other people think, but I also need to give people what they want as well, too, to find success on social media.

Brian Hess: It's a really interesting dynamic for me, man, because from the beginning of my social media journey, I was trying to appeal to a different audience than everybody else, right? Because for me, it was a method to build relationships. It was a method to find clients. And in the beginning, dude, somebody was trying to tell me, “You got to be on Instagram to get–” I'm like, “How the hell is a Fortune 50 company going to find me? Who's from a Fortune 50 company going to follow a construction guy on Instagram.” And the conclusion that I came to, man, was that the content is more important than the metrics. Like, what am I putting out? Because I'm sure you can relate to this. If you're storytelling the real stuff about the business journey, it's not that attractive. People don't actually want to hear the real truth. And so I tell our team here all the time, I will sacrifice followers, likes, and comments for authenticity. I'm not necessarily worried about every person in the world wanting to follow our journey. I'm looking for the right ones. The people who want to come on the journey with us, the ones that want to do it the right way, the ones that are willing to hear the truth, and they don't turn us off because we're saying something that's not as good of a headline, but it's the real stuff. 

And I think that that's one of the challenges of social media right now, is it's very noisy with people that may or may not be doing it the right way, may or may not be telling you the whole truth about their journey because it's ugly, right? And so for me, man, it's been an interesting journey because I would argue that from a metric standpoint, we don't have as much success on social media as others, but from a revenue standpoint, we're lapping people. And so what is most important, it's like those relationships that are really going to bring value to your life, that are really going to create lifelong relationships and friendships. Those are the ones I'm looking for. And so just think about it this way. The masses, not that it doesn't matter, but the masses aren't going to move the needle. It's the certain people that are the right fit for your company, the right fit for your friendship, your relationship, your family, those are the people that you're looking for. That's kind of how I've told myself is like, it's not that I don't measure it, man, because anybody that says that is also not telling the truth. Because I want to know what we're sharing is actually connecting with people. But I don't get obsessed over it because I think that a lot of that is vanity metrics. And I'm not saying it doesn't matter, but I would encourage those people who are starting out on social media, focus more on being real and authentic and playing the long game of building real relationships, than trying to get the most likes and followers that may or may not matter. I have friends, man, outside of construction, that have huge followings, but they can't put 100 people in a room if they have an event. Well then, does it really matter? Are those followers really producing anything in your life? Is it really making a difference or having an impact? 

And so I don't think there's a right or wrong answer to it, but that's how I've managed it over the years. I'm just going to try to tell the real story as much as I can. And even that's hard to do, man, because I just said it this morning on the podcast. We don't share a lot of the really brutal stuff that happens in business. Number one, because it's somewhat confidential. Number two, I'm not looking for anybody's sympathy. This is the path that I chose. So I'm not looking to share my sob story of what I'm dealing with this week or next week with anybody. And so social media is always going to be a prism of reality. It's like everything's kind of bent and duplicated or accelerated versus reality. But our job is to do the best we can at telling the truth and being real with people, and hopefully that brings the best people with us on the journey.

Taylor White: Yeah, that's an interesting take on it. And it's almost like, perfect timing for me to hear that. When I first started social media, our business was so different. Five years ago, I was on the tools, had a goPro. I was operating machinery. I was plowing snow in the wintertime. I didn't have kids. We had four employees. You can't build a business in the trenches. So now I'm in the office more. We have 20 something employees. I have kids, I have a family. I got stuff. I got to be home sometimes. So what I'm really struggling with right now is exactly that, right? It's like, okay. My last YouTube video, for instance, it didn't get as many views as we definitely should or normally would have gotten. And that's because it was more of in the comments, literally, with Tell Trell, because my audience grew and was like, “Damn, there's this guy.” He's got a bunch of cool machinery shows, the machinery, the job sites. And then my last video was my filmer hanging out with me going from site meeting to site meeting to in the office to a site meeting to work out at 3:00 to a site meeting. And the comments were like, “Hey, dude. Show us some construction stuff, because we don't care about this.” And it's true. And it's like, “Okay. Well, then maybe my content's not for that guy.” But it messes up my mind because I'm like, I built this following based on people seeing the black equipment and the crazy stuff on site. But now as my role is changing, I'm struggling with the long form content of what can I show? What can I like? Today I have this, then I have 11:00, and then I have a 12:30. Then I have a 02:00 in the city. I have no time today. 

Brian Hess: Super exciting.

Taylor White: Exactly, exactly. And it's not like I'm going to bring these clients to a meeting. If I showed up with a film or put them in their face, they're like, “Don't put me on camera.” This is weird. They're confidential phone calls. So that's what I'm really struggling with. It's interesting hearing that you're right, because if they don't want to watch it, then I just need to find the right people to carry on with us through this journey. But it's a struggle because when you see those numbers not hitting where they used to or where you want them to, it messes with your mind a lot.

Brian Hess: Well, I think for you, man, if I was to give you advice, it's like maybe somebody on your team that's still in the field takes that piece of it. And then you continue showing the rest of the journey. So it's almost like the same channel can serve two purposes because I struggle with that a lot, man, because I'm kind of like a dude that came from a white collar industry into a blue collar. My background is blue collar. My dad was a steel worker. Dude, I'd put my work ethic in against anybody that's in the construction industry. I don't relate to everybody well, I'm not looking for that, dude. I'm at this point in my life that’s like, well, who would be your friends in real life? You probably don't have a lot of dudes that are out drinking beer five nights a week in your life anymore because you have two kids and a wife who had a birthday yesterday. All the stuff that's going on in your life and dude, the reality is, as you continue to rise through your own life, dude, the air gets thin and people aren't as interested in the boring stuff. 

If you looked at my schedule, bro, you'd feel better about yours. It's pretty boring. But the end result is what everybody claims to want. The end result is, yeah, everybody, it sounds super sexy to say you have an eight figure or nine figure company, but it's not sexy what it takes to get there. And so people aren't as likely to watch that. It's why, frankly, dude, people that don't have a real business are more interesting to watch because they're doing the stuff that is oddly satisfying, I think my kids call it, or whatever that type of content is. But this is our life. And so if I'm not being real online and I'm not sharing my own journey, successes, failures, challenges, etc., then I'm just a fraud. And there's enough of those out there. I'm not interested. 

Taylor White: Yeah. What made you what made you want to start? Whenever you started The Pavement Group, 2018, what was it like? “Okay, I need to get on social media, share what I'm doing.” What made you want to get on?

Brian Hess: Easy answer, man. So we are a nationwide company. So we did business in 45 states last year. And so the challenge that you have being a nationwide company is simple. It's like, how do I market to the whole country? And the answer is, you can't. On a normal, traditional marketing strategy, you don't have enough money to be on Google. You don't have enough money to advertise on Facebook or Instagram in every single market. And so how are you going to do that? And the answer was, organic was the only way. And so, for me, I was watching people that did content, and I was watching people that had podcasts. And so that's why I do my podcast Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. Eastern live every day. And so. And the reason was I'm like, “Well, how the hell am I going to reach the whole country? I better do it more than anybody else.” And I better be present more than anybody else. I better scale content and frequency and consistency more than anybody else if I'm going to try to reach the whole country. And so when I go back to 2018, man, I had several people that were telling me social media was the way and I had all the reservations. I was like, “Dude, I don't want to put my family out there. There's a bunch of crazy people online.” I thought all the same things that everybody else did, but I was like, “You know what? I'm going to give it a shot because I feel like this is the only path that I see to marketing success.” 

And so it was like probably five or six months in, man, a major retailer, one of their facility managers hit me up in the DMs on Instagram and said, “Hey, would you like to bid on all of our projects in Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey and Virginia?” And I was like, “Well, hell yeah.” So, five months in, it had produced nothing. And so I get this one guy that hits me up on Instagram, which was the total opposite of what I thought would happen. I didn't think any of those people would be on that platform. And so at that point, I was like, “Okay, maybe this is going to work. I'm going to double down on it. I'm going to do more. I'm going to keep going.” And as I did, I learned that I was building all these relationships with contractors that ended up being part of Top Contractor School that I was helping in the ways that I knew, like sales, marketing, leadership. A lot of people in the trades just end up owning businesses because they were good at the trade and then they own a business. And so I learned that I could be a great compliment to those people because they had what I didn't and I had what they did not from a knowledge perspective. And so literally, man, that was the path, the only way that I saw to reach the masses. 

And as I was doing it, I figured out there wasn't anybody in construction doing it the way I was doing it. There were plenty of people that had the equipment and the cool trucks and all that kind of stuff, but there was nobody kind of showing the blue collar slash white collar side of it. And so I would go back and encourage you, man, to keep sharing that because I think it's something rare in our industry. The reason it's not being watched is because it's not usual yet. It's not the usual, but it will be. Because if we're doing a good job of leading people in the right direction on social media, everybody's companies are going to grow, man. And so they're going to need the advice that you have now in order to get to that next level. They're going to watch the equipment stuff for entertainment, and they're going to watch the rest of your stuff to grow their businesses.

Taylor White: For education. It's interesting when you say that, because you mentioned earlier, you probably don't have many friends that are out drinking five nights a week. And you're right, my friend's circle is very small. My wife actually bugs me all the time because when I say friends, she goes, “No, friend.” It sounds mean, but we poke fun at each other. But my circle is really small. I have one or two really good buddies, and they're both business owners as well, too. We can relate to a lot of stuff. And it's interesting that when you said that, I would encourage you to keep what you're doing, because I think it's at the start. And I have this group of guys that we went down to Montana in the wintertime and they own some excavation companies in the states. And it's really cool because we're kind of in this group chat. There's four of us, and each one of us, at least once a week, has something crazy going on. We're like, “What do you guys think of this? What would you guys do?” So on Monday, my thing of the week was like, “This is where I'm struggling.” I'm the content guy, and every single one of them was like, “Dude, keep showing what you're doing. We find it interesting to watch. I get that those guys didn't find it interesting, so keep doing that.” And it's really nice refreshing hearing what you're saying, because you're the type of guy that I would essentially try to talk to and keep in my circle, because you get it. 

And what I'm trying to say is, what? How do you value people that you bring into your circle? Do you value it? Do you have people that you're kind of bouncing ideas off as well, too? Are you kind of constantly observing, like, “Okay, I asked somebody for advice. Who am I taking advice from? What have they done? Have they done what I'm trying to achieve, and what are they telling me to do?” I think that's super important, who you take advice from and who you let in your circle.

Brian Hess: Yeah, I'll give you an example, man. So number one, the Top Contractor School folks have really become like family. And from a value standpoint and a principal standpoint, we're very selective about who gets into that group and who is part of that, because we get together four times a year, there's a lot of influence back and forth. We all know in the construction world that influence can go one way or the other. It's a really great sounding board. We've got a board of directors there. I've got a chairman of the board there. Those are people I really trust from a family standpoint, from a financial. I know a lot about their businesses. There's no secrets there. On the flip side, I try to go to places. I just happen to be wearing the shirt today. But I went to the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting, and that's a place that I wanted to go to because I wanted to network there. It's like the construction industry. There's a lot of great people in it. But I think we're missing the boat, man, if we're not getting outside of that, if we're not going to events of people that are at the next level. And that's how I view the Berkshire shareholders. 

And so I was sitting at dinner. The whole city of Omaha gets taken over by this shareholder meeting. It's crazy. Every restaurant sold out. So I'm sitting at a bar, in a steakhouse, eating dinner, and the guy that I was with strikes up a conversation with the guy across the bar. And just so happens that this guy is 67 years old. He sold his business to Warren Buffett seven years ago, owns a steel company, one of the largest in the country. And since then, I've kept in contact with them. And so my goal is to surround myself, to your point, with people who have been there. And what I figured out since I left the shareholder meeting is that their business model in his business is literally almost identical to our business model at The Pavement Group. We just buy different goods. And so I'm always scanning the world for those people because to your point, man, when you get to this level, it's like, how many people have been through some of the things that we're going to go through? You don't want to take advice from people that just have a hunch that that's the right way to do it. And, and by the way, dude, that guy, just for the listeners out there, that guy had lunch with Warren Buffett that day that I'd met him. So that's somebody that has been there and done it, has checked a lot of boxes. He stayed there for over an hour chatting with me after he finished his dinner. He didn't have to do that. But that's what's out there in the world, man, if you're looking for it, are those connections that you can make. And so my job over the next few years here is to continue sharing my journey with this guy. It's not to become a pest and try to jam my way into his life, but it's like, how do I stay in contact and how do I play the long game of building a real relationship with a guy that I admire for his success and what he's done? He's a second generation guy. His father owned the company. That's an interesting part of construction, like the family business factor of it. And so all of those things are things that I'm looking in the world for all the time. But i've also been able to build something that has created a lot of stability in being able to get answers from people that I trust. 

And it doesn't mean because we're at this level of revenue and somebody else isn't, doesn't mean that they can't give you advice there, there are certain problems that you need somebody that's been there for. There's plenty that you don't. And so it's about sorting through those things and really having people around you that are willing to tell you the truth that gets harder as you get more, more experienced, more well known. People don't always want to tell you the truth. And so I value those people that are willing to give me the bad news to tell me the truth more than anybody in my life because there's not a lot of them. And I just continue to scan the world for those people that can be assets to me or to you or to anybody else that I come across. And they say your network is your net worth. And I don't believe that's just a financial thing. How full is your life? And I think you're measured a lot by the friends that you surround yourself with.

Taylor White: I totally agree. I always judge somebody by– Not judge, but always look at somebody like, who do they surround themselves with? Because I know a lot locally, I'm talking successful people, that surround themselves with people that I'm like, “Really?” And it's an interesting concept because it's like, “Well, maybe you just like being the biggest guy in the room, right?” Those are the guys that have those big egos and what. But I always judge somebody by the questions that they ask. Because I'm someone who, if I had an opportunity to sit down with that guy, I'm asking them about what time do you get up in the morning? What do you do for stress? Do you work? Do you do this sort of stuff? I want to know how do you manage your life and do all this to find success. So it's always really important, I find, to ask the right questions and don't be afraid to ask questions. And I have guys ask me about social media or growing their family business, and they're like, “Sorry for asking this.” And I'm like, “Don't worry about that sort of stuff,” because you need to ask questions. You need to ask the questions, because if you don't ask, you'll never find it.

Brian Hess: No question, man. And I would say the other thing that social media has done that's a negative is it's made people try to accelerate relationships too fast. You need a lot of relationships, but you got to be willing to play the long game in those relationships. And this gentleman's a good example. It's like I know how busy this guy has to be, right? And so I'm like, “Man, maybe I could stay in contact with you via email and just kind of keep you up to date on what we're doing.” And so I'm willing to put in years of work in order to secure that relationship. And so I think that's way underestimated what it actually takes to build some of those relationships, because social media has become a way where you can fire off a question to anybody, and it can be answered quickly, and sometimes that's a bad thing because you're kind of teaching people that it's okay to just fire off questions. And for me, when I started Top Contractor School, it's kind of how it got formed in the first place. I was like, “Man, I just want to help people.” And then I was like, “Well, shit, man, I can't help everybody.” I can't answer everybody's DMs or everybody's phone calls without kind of structuring that in some way. And so I think for people out there, really, really do your research on who you would like to interact with, and then put some serious effort into those relationships because they become really valuable, man. 

There's a guy in the excavating world down in DC who's become like a brother to me, man. And it's been three or four years, right, of building our relationship. And I met him online, but he didn't try to jam himself into my life. It was over time, he came to my house for New Year's. He's been to my house for a ton of holidays. He was from DC, I live in Pittsburgh. And he brought his son every year for Memorial Day for the last three years to my house. And so that's how you build relationships, and that's mutually beneficial. That's not a one way street. I'm not just helping him, he's helping me in a lot of ways. I called him this morning to bounce something off of them. And so really, that's something that I think people need to do better and be more intentional with is, who do you really want in your life? And it's not just the guy that's famous on social media. It's like, what's behind that? Are they going to be able to help you for the next five years or ten years? And so social media, a lot of times now is like, who has the coolest content right now? And you can miss the boat big time in your business life by paying attention to the sizzle and not the substance.

Taylor White: I love that. Yeah, very good. And I want to end there almost, because it's like everything that you just summarized, I hope that every business owner that's starting something right now listens to, because you summarized very well. The value and the key of relationships and playing the long game. Don't lose your patience. Keep putting in that work. And understand when you're trying to build a relationship, because I've done it in the past and you learn from your mistakes, is you overturning for that relationship. You're sending too many messages. You're this, you're that. And it's like, “Okay, whoa, dude.” Because then that's too much. But I really value everything that you just said, and I value you coming on. I really appreciate it, Brian. I’m sure a lot of people can have some awesome takeaways from today.

Brian Hess: My pleasure, man. Thanks for having me and look forward to getting to know you a lot better. And anything that I can do for anybody, man. I say be intentional with your DMs, but by all means, if I can be of service to people in any way, I'm always available to do that. Or somebody on my team is available to help in some way, shape or form as well.

Taylor White: Appreciate it, Brian. This podcast has been brought to you by our good friends over at Komatsu. Thanks for coming on again. Take care.

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