Interview with Eric Tubbs, President of Iron Light Labs

Interview with Eric Tubbs, President of Iron Light Labs

Eric Tubbs is the President of Iron Light Labs, a non-profit dedicated to equipping purpose driven organizations to change the world.

After helping to build his retail automobile company into a $55 million a year business, Eric sold his shares to his brother in 2016 to pursue his passion for helping others flourish and understand the benefits of human empowerment. Prior to accepting his current role at Iron Light Labs, he held the role of President of Think Freely Media and served on its board of directors, as well as the board of The Sam Adams Alliance.

Eric co-owned and managed automotive retailer Tubbs Brothers, Inc. until 2016. In 1993 he created Uniquest, Inc., an innovative tech startup before that was a thing. Early in his career he worked in the automotive supply industry as an International Sales Manager for Long Manufacturing and as an Account Manager for Walbro Corporation. In these roles he served clients in the Asia Pacific region, Europe and the United States. He has a bachelor’s degree with a marketing major from Northwood University.

Eric has three adult children and divides his time between residences in Denver and on Lake Huron in Michigan with his wife Penny.

Where did the idea for Iron Light Labs come from?

Eric Tubbs: We saw that a lot of non-profits were doing great work, but it often did not reach the right audience. Iron Light Labs is helping nonprofits cost effectively learn to use the right message, from the right messenger on the best distribution channels to achieve their goals.

We test and identify the best ways to reach new people and introduce them to the ideas we know improve lives. We then share our proven strategies with purpose-driven organizations from across the country.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Eric Tubbs: As with most entrepreneurs, there is no typical day. Usually, I am either working with our marketing team to develop methods of reaching new people, speaking with other organizations about how we can help them or reaching out to foundations and individuals to determine if they are interested in providing support.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Eric Tubbs: We use emotionally compelling content to bring attention to issues that matter. Storytelling and humor are good examples. We frame all our work using the SCARF model of social threats and rewards. A big part of our mission relies on experimenting with marketing techniques that are not traditionally used by the organizations we work with. For instance, humor is often overlooked as a device to educate audiences, but it can be extremely effective.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Eric Tubbs: Using digital tools in innovative ways to elevate people and their stories to excite and inspire those who are not already engaged.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Eric Tubbs: Getting up early. Have a structured routine, as if you were going to an office even if you are not.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Eric Tubbs: Be more persistent.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Eric Tubbs: Most people don’t really want to be free.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Eric Tubbs: Ask one more question-that can be the difference between success and failure. Don’t shy away.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Eric Tubbs: Getting people together face to face to launch our idea. That turned out to be a game-changer.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Eric Tubbs: Just one? Not being persistent enough. When you are at a crossroads and want to stop, look for a new path. We knew there was a demand and we never stopped looking for a new way to fill it.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Eric Tubbs: I have been thinking about building an app that gives step-by-step instructions for residential cleaning, including custom photos of each room, etc. Cleaning is a high turnover business, and it is frustrating training a new person every month.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Eric Tubbs: Merino wool base layer for mountain skiing. It’s the only thing I’ve ever found that keeps me warm on the ride up even if I worked up a sweat on the way down.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Eric Tubbs: Crowdcast. A lot of people use Zoom for training sessions. We use Crowdcast. It is much more fun for users.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Eric Tubbs: The E Myth by Michael Gerber. The original is over thirty years old, but the lessons still apply. Many entrepreneurs fail to successfully make the transition from being a practitioner to running a successful business. This book points out the potential pitfalls and how to avoid them.

What is your favorite quote?

Eric Tubbs: “Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done”.
Robert A. Heinlein

Key Learnings:

Eric Tubbs:

  • Persistence is a key attribute for entrepreneurs.
  • There is no substitute for face to face interaction.
  • Just because you are good at what you do, it does not mean you will be good at turning it into a business.

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