This week we're sitting down with David Carpenter, who IS Upspyre: dedicated to helping businesses make plans to succeed. Listen to this week's episode to hear his story and why dependability is the most key skill in running a business.
Produced by Blue Fish in Mobile, Alabama
David Carpenter: I'm David Carpenter and I am upspyre.com.
Marcus Neto: Awesome man. Well, welcome to the podcast, David.
David Carpenter: Thank you. It's great to be here.
Marcus Neto: Yeah, I was actually quite surprised when you mentioned to me the other day that you were interested on being in the podcast that we hadn't done that before. I'm just really surprised that hasn't happened yet. So I'm glad to have you here.
David Carpenter: Well, it's kind of payback because I was the first podcast that you were a guest on and yours is the first podcast that I've been in.
Marcus Neto: That's great. That's awesome, yeah. Well, the way that we kind of operate is we'll go through and kind of get the story of David. So tell me a little bit about you. Where are you from? Where'd you go to high school? Tell us about college experience, are you married, just give us some of your backstory.
David Carpenter: Okay. I was born here in Mobile, a matter of fact, at the Old Providence hospital, which is in the process of being torn down, I understand, and was taken home down to the Belcourt neighborhood on the South side, right off Duff and Island Parkway. lovely little and neighborhood. And when I was five years old, my mom and dad enrolled me at University Military School, and anyone that has not lived in Mobile for a time, will say, "Well, what in the world is or was University Military School?" Well, today's known as UMS Wright. UMS originally for University of Military School.
Marcus Neto: So that's what University of Military School? I did not know. Well, see now I'm a transplant, so it's okay that I didn't know that, but wow, I did not realize that it was-
David Carpenter: Now you have the secret knowledge to make you a true Mobilia from hereon now.
Marcus Neto: Is that all it takes is knowing all of that?
David Carpenter: That's it. Wright was a Julius T Wright of course founded it, and Wright was a girl's school and it was down here on Dolphin street, And then they moved out to the campus on University of Boulevard, that was st Luke's or that is st Luke's now. And then the UMS was all boys military until the year I graduated. Long, long time ago.
Marcus Neto: He's stating himself folks.
David Carpenter: Yeah, that's right. President Lincoln was our high school graduation speaker, and-
Marcus Neto: Yeah, is that the four score?
David Carpenter: Yeah, that was it. That was it, I was there. Yeah. And, and I'm not a day over 39, but I went to UMS. This is the last class in the military, which was an interesting thing in and of itself. And from there I left Mobile, went to college in Montgomery at Huntingdon college, started there and was working one summer down in Panama city beach, Florida, and a church group from Wetumpka Alabama came and sang. And there were two girls with amazing voices. Of course, I was the PA and lighting guy for a group called Two by Two from Huntington that sang at this place called Noah's Ark. Isn't that clever? Isn't that clever? But these two girls came in saying, and one of them I absolutely fell head over heels for and so did my roommate.
David Carpenter: But he was the kind of guy he fell in love about every three months and then fell out. I'm glad to report now that many years later, he's been happily married for quite some time, but we didn't know if he'd ever stick with one girl, but he broke up with her before Christmas of that year, and after Christmas I called her as was my habit. We just became good friends and called her after Christmas. I said, "Hey, let's go out and get some Chinese food." And she said, "Oh, I'd love to. I was hoping you would call." And we went out that night and got Chinese food and we've been going out to have Chinese food every January 19th now for 41 years.
Marcus Neto: That's amazing. Yeah, you're in my BNI group. And so I remember you saying that this past week and around the table, everybody was like, "We can't even remember our anniversaries half the time, let alone the day that we had our first first date." So that's pretty cool.
David Carpenter: The first time I told her I loved her was on February 25th, so just in case you wanted to know.
Marcus Neto: All right, so she listens to this, you're getting extra brownie points. And to his credit, he's not looking at his phone or anything. These are dates that he has memorized. So yeah. So you're married, you told us about high school, college. I mean, would you characterize yourself as a good student?
David Carpenter: No. When I was in high school, I almost failed speech class because I love tech. I love to do the PA and the lighting and everything in the auditorium, I was over the people that cleaned the pool, I was what they called the projection crew. They would show films at night and knew how to operate all of that. So my senior year I had a lot of leeway and being able to go and do other things and miss classes. And the class that I chose to miss with speech class, and it came down right before graduation and the superintendent called me in and he said, "You're not going to graduate." I said, okay. He said, "You haven't done your speeches." He said the speech teacher says you're going to fail.
David Carpenter: So I stayed after school one day for about two hours, and did six speeches to an empty classroom. And I think I got a D minus and I don't know why?
Marcus Neto: In the skin of your chinny chin chin.
David Carpenter: Yes.
Marcus Neto: So I've heard the story, but our audience hasn't, the story that you tell about that and the irony of what you have done as a career. So just as kind of that backstory piece, tell people what your experience has been.
David Carpenter: Well my first career was ministry, and started my studies at Huntington college up in Montgomery, and my mom and dad and I were up there for a weekend, middle of the second semester of my senior year, I'd already taken the entrance exam and the Dean of the college saw us in the hallway and he says to my dad, like, I'm not there. He says, "Oh, Mr. Carpenter," he said, "Would you be so kind? Could you step in my office a minute?" And we step in this office and the insight I was getting mahogany paneling and a big desk that's big enough to be a dining room table for 12 or it looks like something that would hold up the casket of a head of state, although it looks like it's about to hold up mine when we went in there.
David Carpenter: And he walks over behind the desk and we sit down, and he picks up a folder off the top of this imposing stack of folders and it's got my name on it. And my dad looks at me out of the corner of his eye, like, "Bud, you are in trouble." And he said, "Mrs. Carpenter." He said, "I was looking at your son's entrance exam." And my dad said, "Okay." He said, "What about it?" He says, well, he said, "On the math and science section of this entrance exam," he said, "Your son made a perfect score." My dad said, "Okay, how is this a problem?" He said, well, he said, it's not a problem. He said, I mean, really our entrance exam, you're not supposed to be able to get a perfect score on any section, but he did somehow. But he said, I think he would be a great architect.
David Carpenter: He said, if he wanted to teach mathematics on the college level, I think he could do that and would have a successful career. He said, the field of computer science is a new thing coming out, and he said, I think he's going to really amount to something, and he was right about that. He said, I think he'd do very well in that field, but he said anything to do with public speaking, never. And fast forward to today and-
Marcus Neto: you've had a career from in several decades long speaking in front of people.
David Carpenter: Yeah, about 20,000, some odd speeches, college classes, graduation exercises, rotary clubs, chambers of commerce, seminars, everything.
Marcus Neto: Yeah, it's amazing. It just goes to show like sometimes people say things to you and they may not know just how badly you want something. So there's something intrinsically inside of you that you know you really want to do that thing and so you're going to do whatever it takes to get the skillset, to do that item. In this case, public speaking.
David Carpenter: I think it was subconscious because I really thought, "Well, I'll go into ministry because this is the direction I'm pursuing." But I think that when I get out of college and get all my degrees and everything and I'm done, I think I want to be an assistant pastor, not a pastor because assistant pastors don't really have to have a sermon once or twice or three times a week. They don't have to speak as much, I said I could probably do it once every six months when the pastor is on vacation. But that's all I have to do. That'll be okay, But don't be the one up there talking all the time.
Marcus Neto: Little did you know.
David Carpenter: little did I know.
Marcus Neto: Well, take us back to your first job and this is not your first job after college. This is your first job flipping burgers or cleaning toilets or you know that job. Were there any lessons that you still remember from that?
David Carpenter: First job I ever had was when I was in high school, it was here in Mobile. It was as an extra and close encounters of the third civic.
Marcus Neto: Okay. So finally somebody, I can't believe it. I had heard stories that the civic center was used and that there was a house over 181, down near the Walmart that was used in the filming of that as well. But I've never met anybody that could tell me anything about that.
David Carpenter: Yeah. And there was some filming done. Matter of fact, the first day I showed up for filming, it was at the dairy queen. I don't even know if it's still there or not, but a dairy queen on spring Hill Avenue and-
Marcus Neto: I don't remember. I don't know if there was one there still anyway either.
David Carpenter: But that was the first then and I actually did not have a social security number so I had to get my social security number and send it in to Columbia Pictures so they could write me up a paycheck.
Marcus Neto: Wow. That is so cool.
David Carpenter: But I was in there. And if you know, if you watch the director's cut or one of the longer versions of that movie, and if you know exactly when to look between, you can see me in there.
Marcus Neto: That's too cool.
David Carpenter: Then most of my scenes got cut. The whole thing at dairy queen got cut.
Marcus Neto: Wow. Well what do you, I mean going back to that, just because it got cut doesn't necessarily mean you didn't learn something from it. I mean, what were some of the things that you took away from that experience?
David Carpenter: I think the biggest thing is showing up. Somebody said one time the greatest ability is dependability or availability, just show up. The business group that you and I are in. What's the key to success in there? The first key to success in there, just showing up. Right? I said, "Well, I just really feel like I need some spiritual help, but I need to get in church." Okay, what do you do? Show up with consistency, and it's amazing how things go your way.
Marcus Neto: Well, so tell us about Upspyre and give us a little bit of information around how you started that business.
David Carpenter: Well, about 10 years ago, it was actually the fall of 2009, the economy had tanked and I took a 50% pay cut. If that's never happened to any of our listeners, in a way, I wish it would happen to you because it sure will change your perspective on a lot of things. But what I was doing at the time was not going to meet my needs, not going to meet my family's needs. We had downsized, we had moved, we had lived in company provided housing. We moved into a smaller house and it was a 700 square foot trailer that was not even originally designed to be a residence. They'd added a bathroom and a kitchenette and my wife and I and three teenagers moved in there. We went on a, I'm old and I'm not politically correct, but food stamps, I don't know what you call it anymore, but we were on food stamps, we were on Medicaid, whichever one's for poor people. But I like to say we weren't just poor, we were PO, we couldn't afford the extra OR, we were just poor and broke.
David Carpenter: And I said, okay, and before the gig economy really kicked in, I started a side gig and got into a multilevel marketing company, marketing legal and identity theft protection plans, I still do that today. And it's one of those things, again, it built up over time and became a very comfortable residual income for me. It's something that I enjoy doing, something that help people. And so I started to build from that. When we moved back to Mobile in 2013, which was one of the best decisions that we ever made, at the time my dad was 91 years old and my mother was 85 and she was in full time care for dementia. And my dad was basically taking care of her. I mean, she was in a care facility, so she would sleep long periods of time at night. But he was getting ready to go out in the morning, feeding her breakfast, feeding her lunch, and just taking care of her. And as an only child, I knew it was time for me to come home and help take care of mama.
David Carpenter: So we were in the st Louis area at the time and came back to Mobile. And when I did, I started looking for some things, I came in with no job, no promise of a job, began to work my business that I had, went full time with that, that was doing well. And then I started to use the skills that I had learned of helping churches. And it wasn't long before I took a small church up in Washington County and became a pastor there. I was there for a couple of years, had a great time but it was about an hour and a half drive from where we live here in West Mobile to get to Washington County. And I guess you would say my epiphany was we were driving up there, we would drive up on Sunday morning, get there in time for the services, and then after the service is where they had a little house there, we would go back and have some lunch, take a nap, have Sunday night service, drive back after Sunday night, and repeat the same thing on Wednesday.
David Carpenter: Well, we were driving up there this hour and a half drive, and on the way, my wife looked at me and she said, "You need to be doing more than this." She said, "You need to be speaking to more people than this." And it was a great church, great people, but it wasn't long before I resigned and started Upspyre to do speaking and coaching. I had been invited by John Maxwell to be a founding member of his John Maxwell team a number of years before. And it just wasn't the right time, but I always had that in mind. And so in 2017, I joined the John Maxwell team and took his training and certification thinking that all I wanted to do was speak, and found out that coaching is an even more focused and intensive way to help people. And that's what I'm all about is helping people.
Marcus Neto: Oh man. It's incredible. So it just goes to show that sometimes you're going down a path and there's just a slight change that you make. So, I mean, you were already speaking, you were already acting pastor for a church, but just making some slight changes and then the whole different world opens up to you in that same realm.
David Carpenter: Well you just keep walking the path, I think there's one of those kind of one of those rules of the universe that we kind of get enough light for the next step or so.
Marcus Neto: I use that illustration all the time. So it's the lamp unto my feet-
David Carpenter: Yeah, a light to my path.
Marcus Neto: Yeah, I'm sorry path, and so it's that whole idea of like as a business center, you may not have all the information, you only have the information that you can see from the lamp that you're holding, which is I guess is a parable or proverb or something I've always forget in the Bible-
David Carpenter: Psalms.
Marcus Neto: Psalms. Okay. So there's that idea because if you knew all the information, oftentimes you would run scared away because there's all kinds of scary stuff in running a business. Now, do you remember that first sale that you made either as a John Maxwell consultant or selling, not the idea of selling yourself into a pastoral position, but selling like a speaking gig or something like that that made you think, "Hey man, there's something to this."
David Carpenter: There's one I remember that was very early on that someone called me. I didn't market myself to them, I had not learned and I'm still not, I don't think I'm a great marketer.
Marcus Neto: I know somebody that might be able to help you with that.
David Carpenter: Yeah, I think they are helping me with the same, www.upspyre.com U-P-S-P-Y-R-E
Marcus Neto: Let's not get ahead of ourselves, there's time for that.
David Carpenter: But they called me and said, "I think you could help my employees." And as a business owner, you have a group of employees here, you walk through the work room and you say, "Hey guys, we need to pick up the pace a little bit. Hey guys, we need to be a little bit more intentional on what we're doing in this area, in that area." They're like, "Yeah, yeah, that's what Margaret just says all the time." But we get together, and I talk to your employees and I tell some funny story about some group of employees in another business in a galaxy far, far away that have done some stupid thing that really messed up the business and they lost her job over it and it's like, "That is really funny, that was really stupid. Boy, I never want to do that." It's like, "Oh, we are doing that." And somehow that third party validation, when I say it, instead of you saying it, when they hear somebody else come in and say it, they're like, "Oh, I get it now."
Marcus Neto: No, it's really cool. Now, if you were talking to someone that wanted to get started in running their own business, what's the one bit of wisdom that you would impart to them?
David Carpenter: One of my favorite words, if not my very favorite word, is the word growth. Growing businesses are led by growing leaders, and you will only grow according to the books you read, the people you meet, the podcast you listen to, the seminars you attend, but you've got to be intentional about growing yourself. The late great Jim Roan is absolutely one of my heroes and his mentor, Earl Shoaff taught him you got to work harder on yourself than you do at your job.
Marcus Neto: Yeah, lead by example.
David Carpenter: Yeah.
Marcus Neto: Yeah. Somebody had a very interesting situation just recently where there was a high school student who shall remain nameless, but she came and interviewed me and one of her questions she had, and she did an excellent job. I mean, I literally was like, "Man, I just need to hire her and have her do these podcasts, but I enjoy them too much so I'm not going to do that." But she had this question that she asked me, which was, what's the hardest thing that you've learned about running a business? And I said, "Well, people. People are the hardest thing." And then it was kind of along the lines of, there was a followup question where it was kind of along the lines of like, how do you seek out additional information or educating yourself? And I was like, "No, that's a lifelong thing. That's just something that has to be part of your inner drive. It's like this desire to find out new information about what it is that you're doing because that's what sets you apart from all the other people."
Marcus Neto: So it's like that old adage of, "Well, I don't care if you're a garbage collector, just be the best damn garbage collector that you can be." Well, you know what I mean? The way that you become the best garbage collector as you read articles on efficiencies and process and stuff like that about how other people that are doing a better job than you are handling the trash and all this stuff. And so even within our realm of advertising, like I'm big on setting up processes and understanding inefficiencies and figuring out ways that we can streamline things, and give a better product for lower dollar amounts and stuff like that because it really makes a huge difference. But it's all through that education that always takes place
David Carpenter: Yeah. When you stop growing, you start dying and nobody wants to die.
Marcus Neto: Mm-mm (negative)-I'm going to live to be 200 years old.
David Carpenter: I've always said that I want to live to be 86, but I do reserve the right to change my mind when I get 85 and a half.
Marcus Neto: Yeah, exactly. Let me take it to 87. So if you look to the business world, is there one person that motivates you, like you see them on the front cover of magazine or something like that and you pick it up and take that home with you?
David Carpenter: I mentioned a minute ago, Jim Roan, he's been gone for almost now quite a few years, but his influence lives on and he influenced so many others. Tony Robbins picked up a lot from Jim Roan, Darren Hardy was a Jim Roan disciple, so many legacies. His legacy has lived on. And of course I would have to credit John Maxwell. So many people that are so great, Zig Ziegler is very inspirational to me, but you can hardly copy Zig Ziglar, you can't be as funny and clever as Zig Ziglar, but John Maxwell has, to use an expression is kind of put the jelly on the bottom shelf where everybody can get it and he is duplicatable, he's copyable and I love that about him.
Marcus Neto: I always refer to 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. It was a book that I read early on in my adult life and really kind of formed some level of who I am because I recognize that there are different types of leaders, that when we look to leadership in the world, oftentimes we think, Oh, the president or something along those lines. And between that and Bill Hybel's book, Courageous Leadership, it was very influential because through Bill Hybel's book, I recognize that I'm an entrepreneurial leader, I'm not a managerial leader. I can't manage stuff, that's why I hire people that are good at managing things because I'm the one that needs to be going out and getting work or meeting with people or networking and stuff like that and starting coming up with new ideas of things that we can do where other people are sometimes reigning me in, but also the things that we do take on, managing those. But it's just, I love his 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, and highly suggest that anybody pick that up and read it.
David Carpenter: If you're familiar with Christian leadership, Dale Moody is a name that has been around a long time.
Marcus Neto: A Moody Bible.
David Carpenter: The Moody Bible Institute and Moody church in Chicago.
Marcus Neto: It was Billy Graham's, he was an alumni from Moody, wasn't he?
David Carpenter: No. Billy Graham actually studied at Bob Jones university and then he went to Wheaton college.
Marcus Neto: That's right. But somebody really reputable went Moody though. I don't remember who it was. Was it Bill Hybels?
David Carpenter: I'm not sure.
Marcus Neto: Anyway, tangent! We don't need that.
David Carpenter: There was one of the pastors there that had access to a lot of Dale Moody's letters and personal papers and things that are not generally publicly available. Did some research on him because it's been 120 years since Moody passed and was trying to reintroduce who this man was to the people at Moody church and he did a recording on there. And he said the reason that moody was the great leader that he was is because basically, and had to have other people look at this, and agree with him that he was OCD. But he would go around from one thing to the other and one thing to the other and his strength was finding other leaders to take these ministries and these programs and all these things that he started and make them successful. And that's exactly what he did.
Marcus Neto: Finding key people to fill those roles.
David Carpenter: Yeah. And that's what leadership is.
Marcus Neto: Yep. Now, going along those lines, because it kind of fits in perfectly. Are there any books, podcasts, people or organizations that have been really helpful in moving your business forward?
David Carpenter: Books, I would have to say I'm Good To Great by Jim Collins, was very foundational for me. I got a hold of that not long after it came out and just so much terrific information in there. And he's written a couple of sequels and followups to that. But that's a book I highly recommend. People, I think I've pretty well named out my most of my heroes, and people. Zig Ziglar I was thinking of the other day, I was quoting him, one of his quotes, he said, money isn't everything, but it's right up there with oxygen. Nobody but Zig can say that. And podcasts, honestly, this was the first podcast that I really got hooked on.
Marcus Neto: Very cool.
David Carpenter: So this is a big bucket list thing for me actually being on the podcast.
Marcus Neto: Yeah, there you go.
David Carpenter: But I listened to this one, it was of Ivan Misner's podcast, I listened to Bob Burg, the Go-Giver podcast, and John Maxwell's podcasts, I listen to that and Karen and Katie, I listen to theirs.
Marcus Neto: Yeah, no, that's really cool. What is the most important thing that you've learned about running a business?
David Carpenter: I go back to growth again, on that you've got to keep growing, you've got to keep learning, you've got to bring new skills to the marketplace, you've got to find new ways to bring value to people, you've got to exceed the expectations that people have a view. You have a pretty well known and respected company here and people are going to have higher expectations of you than they do of others. So the key is there's got to be the constantly find ways to Excel and to exceed those expectations.
Marcus Neto: Yeah, for sure. Well, tell us how you like to unwind.
David Carpenter: You know, I love life. I heard somebody say about me one time, I was in a crowd and a wonderful lady here, a business owner here in Mobile. And they were talking about me and they didn't know I was kind of listening into what they said, and she said something about me. She said, "Well, who wouldn't want to be him?" And I said, "Well, I don't know because I sure want to be me. I love being me. I love doing what I do, I'm not nervous now, I'm sitting here, I know people are listening in, but I'm enjoying talking to you. And when I say something off the wall, look over and see if Evelyn makes a funny face or whatever." But I enjoy doing what I do and being who I am. I do believe that when you work, work hard, when you play, play hard. I'm 60 and I think of myself as 40, but when I go on vacation I act 20. We went to Tallahassee last summer and we did a zip line obstacle course. 60-year old people are not supposed to do that. But-
Marcus Neto: That just depends on their outlook. 60 is the new 40, 40 is the new 20, 20-year olds still don't know what they're doing. I just offended everybody in that demographic, which is half of my staff but now I am my kid. But so tell people where they can find out more about you. And I'll say this, you offer business coaching, you speak in coaching, you do speaking in engagements, and can help in a number of different respects surrounding those things. So where can people find out more information about your services and offerings?
David Carpenter: I have a wonderful website managed by bluefish. It's called Upspyre.
Marcus Neto: Yeah. Paid endorsement.
David Carpenter: Yeah, but no, it's upspyre.com U-P-S-P-Y-R-E. All my contact information is there. And just go to upspyre.com and go to the services page, it'll tell you about all the different things I do. I have a whole toolbox of stuff that's just for the purpose of helping people and that's what I love to do.
Marcus Neto: That's awesome. David. Well listen, I want to thank you again for coming on the podcast, to wrap up, any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share?
David Carpenter: Yes. I have thought about what to say in this moment and the thing I most want to say is to thank you for doing this podcast. This is a great thing for our city and for our area and thank you for the love that you have shown to Mobile and all you do to help make it the great place it is.
Marcus Neto: Man, I really appreciate that. I was at an event last night and it was for fuse project, which I'm on the board for. It was our lip sync battle and Freddy who works for fuse got up on the stage and he was basically hyping up the crowd and he kept saying, do you love Mobile? And everybody was like, yeah. And he's like, "No. I said, do you love Mobile?" And everybody really, yeah, getting louder and louder. And I was like, there's just a passion about Mobile that there's like this current that's rising where there's still some of the naysayers that, "It's always been that way, it's always going to be that way kind of thing." But I think there's a community of people that see something in this area and are really kind of passionately taking it on to kind of tell other people about the wonderful things that we enjoy here. And I like to think that we're kind of a part of that.
David Carpenter: I cohost on Gulf Coast Life podcast, Andy Wood often steals, I think this comes from Texas, but he said that you might not have been born in Mobile, but you got here as quick as you could.
Marcus Neto: Exactly. Well listen, I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey as a business owner and entrepreneur. It's been great talking with you.
David Carpenter: Thank you.