Shawn Nelson: “The Blessing Is the Mission”

Wed Jul 08 10:00:27 EDT 2020
Episode 88

Lovesac was the fastest-growing furniture company in America in 2019 according to Furniture Today. Shawn Nelson can’t be certain if the company he founded would still be in existence if he hadn't served a Latter-day Saint mission, but he doesn’t think it would be. After all, it was his ability to speak Mandarin that made fulfilling the company’s first big order possible. But Nelson says his mission also taught independence, mental toughness, and how to build relationships of trust—all skills he has since used to build his business.

For missionaries...the blessing is the mission, the blessing is the experience. Sadly, I worry that I took a lot more than I probably ever gave because it blessed my life in so many ways.
Shawn Nelson

Website for Shawn's company: Lovesac.com

Website for when Shawn won the contest: Virgin.com

Shawn's youtube channel: Youtube.com

Show Notes: 
1:17- A Giant Bean Bag
10:42- A Mission in Mandarin
15:04- Everything Else is Dust
19:34- Highs and Lows
24:43- Sharing the Gospel Through YouTube
30:45- Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
36:40- What Does It Mean To Be “All In” the Gospel of Jesus Christ?


Morgan Jones 0:00
In 2019, Lovesac was the fastest-growing furniture company in America. The company started with a giant, foam-filled bag but has since expanded to become a publicly-traded company on NASDAQ, selling in the hundreds of millions. Today, we talk with the founder of Lovesac about how the company likely never would have gotten off the ground if it hadn't been for the fact that he could read Mandarin, a language he had learned a few years earlier as a Latter-day Saint missionary. Shawn Nelson founded Lovesac in 1998, and currently serves as the company CEO and a member of its board of directors. In 2005, Shawn won Richard Branson's reality television show, "The Rebel Billionaire" on Fox, and continues to participate in ongoing TV appearances. Shawn has a Master's degree in strategic design and management.
This is All In, an LDS Living podcast where we ask the question, "What does it really mean to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?" I'm Morgan Jones, and I am so excited to have Shawn Nelson with me today. Shawn, welcome.

Shawn Nelson 1:15
Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Morgan Jones 1:17
Well, I have been looking forward to this conversation. I had the chance to have a phone conversation with Shawn last week and have been looking forward to this ever since. So, Shawn, thank you so much for being willing, and I'm wondering if we could just start out by having you quickly summarize, for those who are not familiar with your story, the beginning of your company, Lovesac.

Shawn Nelson  1:42
Sure. The whole thing started, really, 25 years ago. 1995, I was 18 years old, watching "The Price is Right," bored out of my mind, 10 days out of high school, sitting on my parents' couch, eating a bowl of Captain Crunch, and I had this dumb idea, like, "How funny would that be to make bean bag this big? You know, by the TV, like the whole floor." And I got off the couch, drove down to JoAnn Fabrics on 33rd South in Salt Lake City, Utah, and bought seven yards of tan and black vinyl and cut it up and sewed it into a baseball-shaped pattern. My girlfriend's mom helped me finish it, because my sewing skills were limited to my seventh grade home ec level. Anyway, I put a zipper in it, began stuffing it with—I couldn't buy enough of those beanbag beads from, like Michaels crafts or whatever, so I looked around the house and found my parents' packing peanuts from their Melaleuca business, old mattresses, those foam pads we go camping on with a bungee cord around them, chopped them up on a paper cutter, like in strips, the kind you chop paper in straight lines with and then turn them the other way and cut them into squares. Anyway, that was the best stuff, and if only I could find more of that and old blankets, whatever. So three weeks later, I finally have this thing stuffed. We'd take it to the drive-in movies, we'd take it camping—everywhere we took it, everybody wants one. They're like, "That's the coolest thing," because there were five or six of us on this thing in the back of a truck or whatever.
Fast forward, that year I turned 19, so that winter I went on a mission for our church and was called to Taiwan, an amazing opportunity. I learned Mandarin Chinese and spent two years teaching the people in Taiwan, doing service and all those great things, and I got really great at the language. I worked extra hard to learn how to read and write and take it to the next level. I came back two years later having forgotten about this thing. I wasn't yet called a Lovesac, it was just this giant, not-bean-bag thing. I was going to the University of Utah, dating again, getting back into real life, and my friends were going to the drive-in movies. So I said, "Oh my gosh, I have this thing," and we pulled it out of the garage. We started using it and everyone wanted one again. So three or four months later, neighbors had seen me drive up and down the street with it so many times and they kept bugging me to make them one, so I said "Okay, okay, okay, I'll make you one. But if I'm going to do that, then I've got to charge you, so now I need a company, now I need a name." And it was like "love, peace, hate, war, hippie beanbag, love bag, Lovesac—oh, that's cool." I paid 25 bucks at Utah state tax commission, registered the name Lovesac in 1998, and we were off to the races.
This was a side hustle in college as I went to the University of Utah studying Chinese and business, and after a few years of that, I actually had the opportunity to move back to China, took an internship in Shanghai, China, and put the Lovesac away. Although my friends who were helping me run the business at the time kind of kept things going on a trickle while I was in China working, again using my language as a management training consultant. I came back again in 2001 to finish my last semester of school and was going to close the little company down because it never made any money. You know, it was us in a van selling these things to friends and family and their friends. We were manufacturing them out of the back of this furniture company in downtown Salt Lake City where they let us use this foam shredder thing, it was really a grain grinder they'd had for years and we got it working, and that kind of made the business.
But we were going to wind it down, because it never made money and I had this job waiting for me back in China—like my dream job, speaking Chinese, traveling all over the country in China. So finishing up that last semester, we gave it one last shot because everyone we told that we were gonna close Lovesac down, they said, "No, you can't close Lovesac!" So we took it to a trade show and got discovered by Limited Too—now known as Justice, the little girls store in the mall—they wanted 12,000 little Lovesacs for Christmas. They placed the order sight unseen, not realizing it was me and some buddies and like a grain grinder, kind of like a wood chipper shredding foam, out of the backroom of this furniture factory. But it was 12,000 piece order, so they FedEx me this piece of blue fuzzy fabric with little silver specks, and they said it has to be this fabric, and it has to be super cheap, 12,000 units.
I flew off to North Carolina to find the fabric. I found it, but I couldn't afford it, couldn't meet their price. I'm looking around this fabric booth at the biggest fabric show in the country, and this guy's got all these fabric samples behind him in these boxes—I'm about to give up, by the way, thinking, "Look, I'm a college student. I'm a waiter. I'm waiting tables every night, paying my way through college. I have no business buying 30,000 yards of fabric, and no money either." But he said, "I'm a direct importer, you're not gonna get it any cheaper." But there are these boxes with Chinese writing on them behind him, and of course I can read it. And it was the address of the fabric mill that makes this blue fuzzy fabric with little silver specks in it, so I couldn't give up now.
I got a credit card on my way to Shanghai, China, walked in the 32nd floor downtown office of this fabric mill's sales headquarters, and I said hi in English. I said "Hi, I'm Shawn. I'm here for Limited Too, and I need 30,000 yards of this stuff." They said "Yeah, no problem. It's five bucks a yard." I said, "No, no, no, no, I need it for like half that." And they started talking amongst themselves in Chinese about how much it cost to make this stuff, so I knew that they could hit my price. I knew they could do it, because I'm sitting there listening and they were just talking right in front of me. Finally, after two or three days of negotiation, I got the price down to where it needed to be. They were going to cut them and sell them and ship them to me with our logo on them, and I had to stuff them. So I flew back to United States, credit carded our way into this old factory, having twisted my client's arm to give us a $65,000 deposit to get started on the order from China, and we were off to the races.
Let's fast forward. We got that order done, that's a whole story unto itself. It was messy and difficult and crazy and hard. On the heels of that, no other companies wanted to buy our stuff. You know, I hadn't been out selling, I had been in the factory trying to get this order out, so we scrambled before Christmas. All of the furniture companies in the west—RC Willey, American Furniture, these big furniture companies people know—rejected us. They thought it was stupid, our name was stupid, our product was too expensive, too big, whatever. So we opened our own store at the Gateway Mall in Salt Lake City, who originally rejected us, presuming we were just a fake little company, but they let us fill a space in their mall over Christmas and the Winter Olympics. It just exploded. We couldn't believe it. People were buying these things right off the floor at the Gateway Mall. The company grew and we began franchising, and it's just a crazy story, up through 5, 10, 20 locations.
We moved our factory to Mexico, I lived in Mexico, actually I met my wife while I was living there. I was back in Salt Lake visiting our headquarters in at some Lovesac event, and I was introduced to her. She was a UVU student and I was already graduated, somehow we started a family right through all of this. Then, just when we were at another roadblock, needing venture capital to grow the business past 20 locations, I was invited to participate on this reality TV show with Richard Branson, kind of like The Apprentice. Richard Branson's quest for the best, 16 contestants fly around the world to do these business challenges, Fox primetime reality TV. Fast forward, I passed 11 episodes, and I won. I won a million-dollar investment on TV. I was made Richard Branson's sidekick, his President of Virgin Worldwide. I traveled the world working with his CEOs, even as we were trying to get Lovesac funded.
We raised venture capital—they had the bright idea to Chapter 11 our business, which was painful and ugly and embarrassing, so we could emerge with no bad locations. We started over with fewer locations. We actually relocated the company to Connecticut, I moved my wife out there. We had all of our kids over the next 10 years in Connecticut as we grew the business on venture capital up through private equity to where it is today, 90 locations. We're now a public company doing hundreds of millions in business having invented this really cool couch product. Now I'm in my 40's, I have four children from the ages of 12 to 6, and we're now living in St. George, Utah, because my wife's family kind of migrated here from Salt Lake in the time that we were in Connecticut for 11 years. We were wanting to be closer to them, and now I commute back and forth. So, long, crazy ride, somehow stayed active as a member of this Church all the way through, through thick and thin; the highest highs; the lowest, ugliest lows. And it's been an amazing adventure.

Morgan Jones 10:42
Yeah. Well, Shawn, I've been taking some notes as you've been talking because I want to make sure that I hit all of the important parts here. Let's go back for just a second to your ability to speak Mandarin. It's amazing to me that you saw that on the box, were able to read it, and then follow it and then that ability to speak Mandarin served you all the way through in developing this company. So I'm interested—many entrepreneurs have talked about the benefit of serving a mission in the entrepreneurial world, and I think many times it's because they're not afraid of rejection. We're used to knocking on doors, we're used to people telling us no, but what role has your mission played for you as an entrepreneur, and what kind of gratitude do you have toward that experience, especially in its ability to teach you Mandarin? For giving you an opportunity to learn that?

Shawn Nelson  11:46
Yeah. Well, obviously, in my case, the language has been pivotal and it continues to be. It's kind of a funny story how Mandarin Chinese, the ability to speak, or at least listen to it, paid into the actual creation of this company. Without it, I don't think it would have happened, it certainly wouldn't have happened the way it happened, because we began sourcing overseas at a very, very early stage. Like, way earlier than most companies could ever dream of because of that. I was not afraid to operate over there, I was not afraid to fly over there, I was not afraid to try to do business over there even though I used English at first. And, by the way, one of the funniest moments was a year later—we had now done millions of dollars in business with that supplier that we started with—and over a steak one night when he was visiting in the United States in my best Chinese, I said to him, "You know that I speak Mandarin, right?" And I had to say it almost like two or three times, because it caught him so off guard because we had always spoken English, and I could just see the last year of his life rewinding in his mind, like, "Oh my gosh, what have I said in front of this guy?" So, funny story on the language for sure.
I think it goes so much deeper than that though, to your point. Being a missionary trains you in 100 other ways, it just makes you tough. You have to live in a strange place at a young age and do it on your own. I think there's something extremely powerful in that, and you're not a tourist. You're not there for two weeks or two months, I mean, it's a long chunk of time. At the time, it's a tenth of your life. And so it's a huge blessing. And you know, it's funny, I mean, for missionaries, that the blessing is the mission, the blessing is the experience. Sadly, I worry that I took a lot more than I probably ever gave because it blessed my life in so many ways. Teaching you independence; teaching you mental toughness; teaching you how to get along, even with people you don't necessarily wouldn't choose to get along with. All of these things matter in business and in relationship-building. Languages, things like that. And, you know, the language is a lot more than just like "Oh, I speak Mandarin. I can do business." To be honest with you, you can do just find in business speak English, but it's really about building relationships.
So the combination of the things you learn on your mission overtly, how to build relationships of trust, combined with te opportunity to speak someone's language and get to know them intimately. I'm the only client of most of my suppliers in Asia that they can even be friends with. They've sent their kids to me for the summer for internships, because we have that kind of trust, and everyone else to them is just a white guy doing business, and I'm a personal friend of theirs. So when push comes to shove, and you need millions of dollars of support at different times, at least in my evolution as a business person, you need someone to take a risk and just say, "Look, I'll pay you later, whatever it may be," that's really where the language—and, frankly, forget the language—relationships matter. For me, the language has fostered those relationships and that all came from the mission.

Morgan Jones  15:04
Absolutely. I think that's so interesting, and such a good point that you touched on. Sometimes we underestimate the value of somebody just feeling like you're their friend, and that you have gone out of your way in the past to be a friend. But I think sometimes we don't think about the fact that, to have a friend, you have to be a friend and cultivate those relationships. Shawn, another thing that I wanted to touch on, you mentioned that your family was just getting started in the middle of all of this. I feel like some people may feel like, "Well, I can't have it all, and I can only focus on a career. I only have a limited window to build a career." So I'm wondering what you would say to someone in that position, maybe trying to weigh out, is starting a family worth it and doable in that phase of a startup? And how has that decision blessed your life?

Shawn Nelson 16:11
Yeah, I have a number of friends who—maybe intentionally, I'm not sure, or unintentionally—put it off, and put it off for a long time. In fact, in some ways, I wouldn't say I've been jealous of them, but I've been able to appreciate the idea that, because they've made a ton of money and had a lot of success, they've been able to put in the hours and have the freedom to do that. But the struggle that they went through as they face the uncertainty of not having a family, I'm sure that they've maybe watched me from afar and maybe felt some envy about the opportunity to have kids, and do that at a young age and whatnot. And now they're, thankfully, having children. And they've already kind of made it and I feel like I've kind of struggled for two decades with business, and with family of course. But that's life.
I think my best advice would be—it comes back to something that I live by and I've even spoken to with my oldest children and they know this phrase, it's kind of one of my, I'll call it "Shawn-isms"—on the back of my wedding ring, the inscription reads, "everything else is dust." There are six black diamonds in my wedding ring—and it's been remade as I've gotten older and appreciated this phrase—but it represents the six people in my family, my immediate family. It's a reminder. I love stuff, I love the pursuit of success and whatever, but it's all just dust. All of it, everything. The only thing that's not is, frankly, family. I think that it can't be and shouldn't be put off for really any reason. I think there is a path to success, even with the difficulties of managing relationships and marriages and children, and I think that we're expected to rise up to that.
By the way, sometimes it can't be sped up. Sometimes people's timeline is just different, and it takes some time before they're able to find a companion or have children, and that's okay, too, I think. But being open-minded and being honest with our intentions of always putting what matters first, no matter how painful it is overall. And look, there are days and periods of time where you have to dig in and work hard and focus. I'm away from home quite a bit when traveling, so there are moments where that's the reality, but where is your intention? Is your intention to always, overall, put that first? If that's the case, then things will fall as they may, and you'll be blessed. And one way or another, it doesn't matter, we're all gonna end up in the same place anyway. So we try and have success on this earth and whatnot, but in the end, it doesn't even really matter. Everything else is dust. As long as we can feed our family, we can get by and get through it without sacrificing what matters most, then who cares?

Morgan Jones  19:34
Yeah, so well said. Thank you. Another thing I want to touch on is, you mentioned that you have experienced some pretty serious highs and lows over the course of your career. And you mentioned at one point having to file for bankruptcy, is that right?

Shawn Nelson 19:52
Yeah, so not me personally, but my business. I had just won a reality TV show. I was (at least a Utah) celebrity for a minute, right? People knew my face and my name, and I was on the cover of a lot of different magazines and whatever, on TV all the time, radio and then the next thing you know, Lovesac is Chapter 11. And look, it was the right move at the time, at least in one playbook of our venture capitalists. I mean, it's arguable there were other ways to handle things. But it was embarrassing and demoralizing and public, and also hard. A Chapter 11 reorganization is like, I called it "my MBA in a box." It really is a hard thing to manage through, because you don't go away, you manage through it and you reorganize the business and you emerge stronger, and that's what we did. And we did it successfully, but talk about embarrassing. And I was married at the time and we had no children, and my wife and I muscled through it together. It certainly wasn't without issue and wasn't easy on us, on me, on her. But here we are.

Morgan Jones 21:06
Yeah. I wonder, Shawn—I think that, many times when we're going through these really low points, that's when we really turn to God and recognize the Lord helping us. So my first question—this is twofold—is, how has the gospel helped you in those low times? And the second part is, how do you make the gospel a focus when things are going really well? Because I think sometimes that's the even harder part.

Shawn Nelson 21:39
I mean, whenever things get hard, you really do see where your instincts are. And I think people either turn away to attempt to find solace or comfort or some kind of distraction, or they turn toward it. Obviously, I think we need to try to make those decisions ahead of time, that we'll turn toward it and turn to the Lord for help, as opposed to finding distraction in other ways, the world's ways. I think that, like you were saying, we already talked about on this call, building relationships ahead of time. Because nothing's more annoying than the person who you haven't heard from in years all of a sudden hitting you up because they want some kind of discount or whatever. But if you have an active relationship with that person, then it's natural to want to help them, and I think the same is true in a pretty parallel way with our relationship with God. Not to say he doesn't always love us no matter what, of course, but our ability to get spiritual and temporal help in the times we need it most comes from the strength of that relationship in times of peace. And that's the hardest thing to do.
I just think that comes back to just a little bit of discipline and habit. The things that I teach my children: let the first thing that hits the floor in the morning be your knees, and simple habit. Like, we can wake up and grab our phone, turn off the alarm and then start looking at Instagram, or we can—I'm gonna be really specific—you can lay there on your side or on your back and now read the scriptures. You know, it's, it's backlit, it's a touch away. It's, I mean, you know before you know, I used to wake up freezing in the Believe it or not humid mornings of Taiwan at 5 am to do that scripture study and Isn't it cool that we can now just do it in the comfort of our bed, you know, and that's done, but it's like the little things like that, that allow that underlying, you know, heartbeat of our testimony to be strong enough to pull us through all The times the good and the bad. And I just am a firm believer that we just have to stay a little bit vigilant. It doesn't have to consume you. But it has you have to stay vigilant.

Morgan Jones 24:10
Yeah. Such such a good example and I think it is it's like such a little thing. But how many days do I catch myself just scrolling Instagram, and then I'm like, "What the heck are you doing, Morg? Like, start reading your scriptures, do something that actually matters."

Shawn Nelson  24:10
And we all do. But you know, I think that we live at a time where it's never been easier if we if we just make a few choices. It's just a little bit of discipline to keep those you know, testimonies. Keep those embers alive, you know?

Morgan Jones 24:43
Yeah, beautifully said. Another thing that I loved checking out as I was prepping for this interview is your vlog, and you really have opened your world up to anyone who wants to watch on YouTube, which I think is super cool. I wondered, why has it been important to open your life up in that way? Why did you want to do that? And have you felt that you've had an opportunity, in any way, shape, or form, to share the gospel through your business and your entrepreneurial endeavors?

Shawn Nelson 25:17
Yeah, thanks. You know, I'm a creature of instinct. I follow my instincts, and as the internet and all of this social media had been evolving over the last few years, I came across vlogging as a thing. And I had flirted with the idea that just seems so weird and like, it hasn't been some amazing success in the fact that, it's not like I have some huge following and I make money on my YouTube channel. I'm not even interested in making money on my YouTube channel. But one day, I just started doing it. I'd thought about it for a year or two. In fact, the vlog is called "Get Off the Couch," and the book I'm writing is called "Get Off the Couch," because as I told you my story, none of this would have happened if, when I have that idea for the giant bean bag in my head, I hadn't got off the couch right then, driven down to the fabric store, and bought the fabric. So that's my kind of life ethos on this earth. So I got off the couch and started making a vlog one day, I did it every day for almost a year. I edited it myself every day, and it was exhausting. I just kind of did it because I felt like I should.
That's, by the way, the reason I kept doing Lovesac all those years when it was just in my parents' basement. My mom would ask me, she'd come down and see me on my hands and knees, cutting out fabric, knowing that I could make more money doing this or that. And then, by the way, hanging it up and waiting tables till 11 at night to actually pay my way through school. She said, "Why are you doing this?" I said, "I just feel like I should." So I've always followed my gut instincts. I started making a vlog and the answer is, I don't know where it's gonna lead. But I'll tell you a few interesting outcomes. Like I said, it's not about being commercially successful. I don't care. But you know, one, it's turned out that, yeah, people watch it and I get evidence that all the time on my social media. People direct message me or whatever and mention things that are very personal, and I don't hold back. I talk about my religion, I talk about my family, I just talk about what I believe. I don't filter too much to the good or the bad, I just kind of let it roll. Most of its focused on entrepreneurship, but it's just my life. And now it's more focused on my philosophy and stuff like that.
My point is, it's turned out to be an interesting recruiting tool for Lovesac, because people get an unfiltered view into, what a company looks like on the inside and what the founder or the CEO behaves like. And that, of course, influences the culture. So I think maybe it's turned people off. And by the way, I'm happy about that. I don't want people to come to my company who don't want to be in this kind of company or environment or this kind of leadership, because they're not gonna be happy anyway. I don't want them to find that out a year later. At the same time, I want to attract people that do fit into our culture and can abide by my leadership or whatever. So that's been an interesting thing.
Another interesting outcome—it doesn't matter if I affect millions. Like on a mission, it only matters if I can affect one or a few. I had someone just recently, who actually does work for me, mention one of my vlogs, specifically something I had said in it, that changed his whole life, according to him, and the way he behaves, and the way he thinks. It was really the thing where I was talking about how, my personal belief, of course, it stems from my religion, is that sometimes there's too much emphasis placed on children in a marriage. Like in the sense that, "Oh, I love my kids, and that's the best part," as if to infer that I put up with my wife. And I believe that when you have the blessing of the knowledge of eternal families and eternal marriage, the thing that matters most is this one person who was a stranger, and is not a blood relative, will be the person—I'm going to say it crassly—that you're stuck with the rest of eternity, so that is the relationship that matters the most. And by the way, your children will go on to be somebody else's stranger and eternal companion, so it's kind of weird. My point is not that I don't love my children, but my point is that that's an example where the world's way of approaching things and the world's good beliefs are not always the same as the better or the best beliefs or understanding of what's true and eternal.
Those true things can resonate with anyone, a member or non-member, and I think, when applied, affect them for the good. So the opportunity to share that in a way that wasn't even religious, overtly. I wasn't really pontificating on religion as much as I was just what I believe. Obviously, it's rooted in my religion and my testimony. And to have to have a person tell me that it's changed their family, it's preserved their relationship, it's changed everything. I mean for me, that makes the whole year—and now it's been many years—of editing and dealing with a vlog, which is a very taxing sort of side hustle for me, worth it. All of it, to me. If it never does anything else, it was worth it. And I think, what about the people that I don't know about that maybe have gleaned something useful from it? So that's something that's been very satisfying for me.

Morgan Jones  30:45
Yeah, so cool. My last question before we get to our last question—so the second to last question—is, what advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs, maybe specifically within our faith?

Shawn Nelson  31:03
The advice I would give to aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly those who share our faith, is always to go for it—with an asterisk, okay, it's easy to say that. My overall philosophy, as you know, is get off the couch. You have an idea, get up, get off the couch, and make the bean bag. I did not commit to Lovesac as my future until I had been running Lovesac for like, five years. It was a side hustle. It was something I just did. And like, the same thing with the vlog—by the way, maybe the vlog will turn into something bigger. I don't know. But it's okay if it doesn't, and it's okay if it does. But I got off the couch and started making the vlog; I got off the couch and started making the bean bag. So I'm a big proponent of just taking action. People talk, talk, talk, talk, "oh, I have this idea." And you don't have to go do it all but do something. That's my number one, Shawn-ism: do something. Get off the couch, make the bean bag, see where it goes. And it's okay to just slow-play stuff. It's okay not to, you know, leap off a cliff in order to see if you can fly. Just start getting close to the edge, just do something.
But at the same time, the asterisk I would provide is twofold. One, follow your instincts to the good and the bad, in the sense like you may be getting promptings or feeling instincts to not pursue something for whatever reason. The second asterisk is, not everyone should be an entrepreneur. Everyone has good ideas. Just because you have a good idea or an interesting thought doesn't mean you should be an entrepreneur. If everyone was an entrepreneur, then I wouldn't have anyone helping me build this company, and I need hundreds of people to help this company be what it is. I want this company to succeed, obviously not just for my own financial success. I mean, I really think that Lovesac brings something great to the world. We have this design philosophy called "Designed for Life," which is all about sustainability, which is totally unique to what we're doing, that we evolved into over time.
My point is that all of this good can come from many, many people contributing. So you don't have to be an entrepreneur to be a success. You can join or support an entrepreneur, like me, or someone who happens to have that makeup and help them be a success as long as it's something worthwhile and useful and good and has a purpose. I think sometimes entrepreneurs are, sadly, so celebrated and so venerated that we all aspire to that, but we've got to be honest with ourselves. Is it for the right reason? And do we have the makeup to be successful in that way? Or might we be more successful on someone's team? And I think both should be equally celebrated and respected.

Morgan Jones 34:17
Yeah. Your answer is fascinating to me because it kind of goes counter to what I would have thought, which is probably why I'm not an entrepreneur. But I think I would have thought that you need to commit 100% to an idea, but rather you're saying, it's good to kind of just dip your foot in and try different things. So that's kind of the opposite of the idea of going all in, right?

Shawn Nelson  34:49
No, there will be a point—and the point came for me, where I had to go all in. I worked and I waited. In fact, I met the guy who made the neon sign for the Gateway store location on my last day of waiting tables. Six months before was the day that I opened my factory to make that order for that big client. In other words, there came a moment in time where I had to go all in, both feet, no turning back, and I've never had a safety net since. I've never had a side hustle—I'm a real estate, side career, whatever—once I made that decision. But my point is, I didn't make that decision until I was many years into Lovesac as a thing. So whether or not you go all in on day one, there is an all in point, and you'll somehow know when that is, and it's okay if it never comes. It would have been okay if I closed up Lovesac and didn't pursue it, and I almost did that 100 different times. And I still could have had a great life and great kids and a great family. And by the way, it doesn't even matter. But now I'm doing this, and I'm going to make it great, and it will be a good force in the world.

Morgan Jones 36:09
Yeah, I love that. And I think it's cool, because the point that you made that it still would have been, it would have been fine if you had decided not to. I think sometimes we don't recognize that, even those things that maybe don't end up being some big thing can teach us a ton, and you would have learned a ton up to that point. So I love that. It's so interesting to hear your perspective, because I've talked to friends who have entrepreneurial ideas, and I never know which avenue to encourage, so this is really, really helpful for me to hear. My last question for you, Shawn, is what does it mean to you to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Shawn Nelson  37:01
I love the question about being all in. I think for me, it's about being honest. It's about being honest with yourself. Sadly, I think people—not just with the gospel, but in many things in life, same thing with their businesses—they apply other people's way of doing things, or they apply the lens from which they think they're viewed by others as the measure for their commitment or the measure for their success in the gospel or in business or in life. My point is, I think that we all know when we are honestly doing our best, or making an effort at least. We all know when we're kind of living in a shady way, or maybe just in a lazy way. We live with all this guilt as LDS people sometimes. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we sometimes feel guilt if we're not going to the temple enough, or if we're not reading the scriptures enough. And by the way, that guilt's fine. Having a little bit of motivation to do better is a good thing. I think it can drive you to do better. But at the same time, it can also just eat you alive. So I just think recognizing that a little bit of guilt helps you work a little harder, but not letting it consume you and giving yourself a break, just being honest with yourself. Like I said, are you trying? Are you waking up and saying your prayers and making an effort to read your scriptures? If you skipped a few days, or you skipped a week, just move on. Get off the couch, like I say. Start today, do a little more. I think if we just are honest with ourselves, the combination of a little bit of guilt, and a lot of unconditional love for ourselves—as the Heavenly Father would offer to us—and also for those around us, be a little easier on people. We're all so hard on everybody. We're so critical of everybody for everything. Let's just be easy with ourselves, easy with others, and honest. And even if we slip a little bit, if we're honestly trying to get back on track, I think that's okay. I think we'll make it just fine, and I think that we can be a little bit happier, easier on ourselves, easier on others, but still active in the gospel of Jesus Christ and progressing. As long as we're progressing, we're not going backwards, and I think that that's okay. For me, that's being all in.

Morgan Jones 40:11
Very well said. Thank you so much, Shawn, and thank you for giving of your time and sharing your thoughts. They've been incredibly enlightening for me. So thank you.

Shawn Nelson  40:21
Thanks for having me. I appreciate the opportunity.

Morgan Jones  40:27
A huge thank you to Shawn Nelson for joining us on today's episode, and thank you to each and every one of you for your support of this podcast. We also can't forget to thank our buddy Derek Campbell from Mix at 6 Studios for making us sound good. We will look forward to being with you again next week, but in the meantime, please stay healthy, everyone.

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