IAM1648 – Co-founder Teaches Others How to Pursue Entrepreneurship

Podcast Interview with Cody Berman

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”: Cody's journey is so motivating, especially how he was so open about the true path of entrepreneurship and how there are things that fail and don't go as well as you expect but that's exactly how you reach success.

Check out premium content in the CBNation Library at and pick up our eBook to hear some of the best lessons at

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Cody Berman Teaser 00:00

It's okay to quit something, and that might seem counterintuitive and you know you're working kinda like the freelance course. I literally worked hundred-plus hours on that course, recreating videos. We paid a decent amount of money to get the videos edited, to get everything together, and just, it wasn't popular. And that's okay.

Intro 00:18

Are you ready to hear business stories and learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and level up your business from awesome CEOs, entrepreneurs, and founders. Without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresh values your time and is ready to share with you the valuable info you're in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:44

Hello. Hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and we're doing something a little bit different this year with some of our episodes we're repurposing some of our favorite episodes around specific topics related to entrepreneurship. This month we're focusing on entrepreneurship and community.

Us. We, our, together, and we're gonna look at entrepreneurship and industries in different types of entrepreneurship and ultimately what that really means. But we're also gonna delve deeper into the importance of community networking niche communities and how that supports being a CEO entrepreneur and business owner.

So sit back and enjoy these special episodes around entrepreneurship and community.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I am C E O podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Cody Berman of Gold City Ventures. Cody, it's awesome having you on the show.

Cody Berman 01:31

Yeah. Thanks for having me, man. I'm excited to dive into everything business today.

Gresham Harkless 01:34

Yeah, absolutely. You're doing really phenomenal things in the entrepreneurship world. And what I wanted to do is just read a little bit more about Cody so you can hear about all those awesome things. And Cody is a co-founder of Gold City Ventures. He is also the co-founder of the Financial Freedom Summit, owner of Fly to FI, and co-host of the FI Show.

He left his corporate banking job at age of 22 to pursue entrepreneurship full-time and now teaches others just exactly how to do the same. Cody, are you ready to speak to the I am CEO community?

Cody Berman 01:58

I am ready. Let's do this.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 01:59

Awesome. Let's do it then. So to kind of kick everything off, I wanted to rewind the clock a little bit here, a little bit more on how you got started, what I call your CEO story.

Cody Berman 02:06

Yeah, I mean, the first time I kind of knew, and I know in that intro there, I left my corporate-making job when I was 22, but rewind a couple of years. My mom actually handed me the four-hour work week by Tim Ferris, and I'm sure a lot of people in your audience are familiar with that book. It just revolutionized the way I thought about business, your time, and your money.

I was like, wow, you don't have to, you know, work at this job making X number of dollars per hour, you can build a business, you can invest in assets. Things that are, they're gonna pay you to do nothing essentially. And so once I kind of get that idea of your time and your money don't have to be linearly related, I was just hooked.

And that's what kind of just spurred the entrepreneurship bug. Started building businesses. Some succeeded, and some failed. And that's. How I'm here today.

Gresham Harkless 02:47

Yeah. I love that you, you said that phrase, you know, your, your time and your money don't have to be linearly I guess on the same line, so to speak.

And really you can understand that if you're able to build like businesses or even systems, it allows you to, to make so much more money than your time, what it would normally allow for you to work at a job or even spend time, you know, freelancer, whatever that might be.

Cody Berman 03:05

Yeah, I mean that was revolutionary and it wasn't like, I know you can eventually, you can make a lot more money doing that type of stuff cuz when you're an entrepreneur, when you're someone who does build the system or build a business or invest in real estate, whatever the thing is, whatever that asset is that you're building, usually it's not very big from the start.

Like when I started, I was making a couple of hundred dollars a month, which I was making more at my day job, which is in commercial real estate lending. But just knowing that I could at some point scale those things up to more than that. That was just like I could taste the freedom and it was a crazy freeing feeling.

Gresham Harkless 03:33

Awesome, awesome, awesome. So I wanted to drill down a little bit more, and hear about some of the ventures, and the things that you're working on as well too. Could you take us through a little bit more about your business ventures?

Cody Berman 03:40

Yeah, I mean, I guess I'll just kind of quickly sweep through some that have failed, some that have succeeded.

So the first one I ever started actually was, I don't know if you've ever heard of disc golf before.

Gresham Harkless 03:48

Disc golf? I don't think so.

Cody Berman 03:49

It's like ball golf, except you're throwing plastic discs into chains. It's the same thing. There are 18 holes, there are drivers, there are putters, and there are midranges. Like there is, it's pretty much the same thing.

It's just different utensils for the sport. So when I was 19, I actually founded and co-founded a disc golf company. We manufactured the discs and that was my first taste of entrepreneurship. Don't spend as much time on it now as I used to. But man, I learned so many lessons, like building websites, marketing, pricing, like how to, you know, how to actually have a profitable business, made so many mistakes.

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Lost thousands. Made thousands. I mean, it was just a crazy learning opportunity. Fast forward past that one, and I kind of got really immersed in the financial independence community. And I know at the beginning you mentioned like Blog, which is Fly to FI, Financial Independence, trying to teach people how to hit financial independence fast.

The FI show, the financial independence show, I just got so immersed in that community. There are all these amazing entrepreneurs, people retiring from corporate America at 30 and I'm like, whoa. Like they're real people doing this. And so I kind of decided to go that way, start writing, start podcasting in that niche, which yeah, that, that was just a whole rabbit hole. I went down.

And now today, So I still got the blog, still got the podcast, although I don't spend as much time on the blog anymore. Ended up meeting a lot of cool people in the community, and that's kind of, I'm sure you've, I mean, just from having a podcast met so many amazing people actually linked up with this girl, Julie Berninger, who is the other co-founder of Gold City Ventures, which you introduced me.

In the beginning, we just started building side hustle courses. We had both made tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars online at that point doing different types of side hustles. And we're like, you know, let's combine, and let's create something that we can give to the masses.

So we don't have like the one friend who's like, how do you get started? And then someone a few months later, how do you get started? And you're just reiterating the same story over and over again. So I ended up actually launching three courses simultaneously, one on freelancing, one on blogging, and one on creating and selling digital downloads and digital products.

Freelancing one failed miserably. I spent hundreds of hours on it. There was just wasn't the right marketing angle. Maybe it was too broad. Don't know, but I just, like to say that because it wasn't just like a smashing success right off the bat. The blogging course actually we probably had for nine months, and then there was just so much more demand for that digital download-selling digital products course that we ended up just tabling those first two courses and using all of our efforts to run that one Digital Downloads printables course.

Let's see, what, what other stuff was I doing? The Financial Freedom Summit was another thing you mentioned, and we can definitely just dive into literally wherever you want after this crash, cuz I'm sure I just unboxed a whole can of worms. So I went on a book tour with this guy, Grant Sabatier, right after I quit my corporate job, we drove around the entire country and did over 80 events, went to 33 states.

It was crazy. But after that, we just saw the demand for people wanting to get together, talk about personal finance, talk about business entrepreneurship, and how to achieve financial freedom, and ended up creating the Financial Freedom Summit. And so that was slated to happen in person in St. Louis in May of 2020.

As you know, COVID had other plans for a thousand-person event. Yes. But we did end up having a virtual event later that year and we are still pushing, hopefully in 2021, late 2021, or early 2022 to actually have that really big in-person event. Cuz I mean, just, I mean after, especially after Covid, just like people are missing out on the comradery, networking, meeting other people.

And I guess the most recent side hustle is I'm actually, so that same guy Grant that I went with the book tour with. He had a website, millennial money that he sold to the Motley Fool pretty recently and they hired me on as their content manager in December of 2020. So depending on when you're listening to this, it's, I've been in that role for a couple of months.

It's awesome meeting a lot of new people. But yeah, man, got my hands super full, and real estate's another thing I'm in, but, I'll let you, you know, I'll let you ask whatever questions about whatever business you want.

Gresham Harkless 07:17

Yeah, no, I, I definitely appreciate you for, for sharing all that, and, and I appreciate you for being transparent as well too because I think so many times, you know, people don't realize that even from that first business.

I, appreciate you drilling down and talking about the things that you learned because I think so many times people think people flip a switch and then they become successful, but there's definitely a progression to it. And even if things don't go the way we want them to go, there are often some seeds that we can kind of learn from to help us in the next venture and the next venture and the next venture.

Cody Berman 07:41

Oh yeah. Yeah. I mean, I would never even be close to where I am if I didn't just start that first venture. And even like there are businesses I tried to create and failed. Like I tried to create a tutoring business when I was in college. I tried to create like a custom clothing line when I was in college too, and just like got into the weeds and it was just too much for me.

So definitely not all smashing successes, but once you pile those failures, like if each failure is just like an inch and you have a hundred failures you're gonna be standing pretty high after you learn all those lessons.

Gresham Harkless 08:04

Yeah, absolutely. And, I'd started a tutoring business as well too, and it's definitely not something I talk about now.

So it's definitely not a smash of success, as you said. But it's so funny like there's a quote by, I think Robert Kiyosaki said it, where he says, you know, nine out of 10 businesses fail. So he decided to start 10 businesses because he knew that nine would fail. And again, it gives you that inch of progression toward where you wanna be.

Cody Berman 08:22

Yeah, I couldn't agree with that quote more. I think like a lot of people will ask, you know, what's the number one thing you need to learn? What skills do you need to harbor to be a successful entrepreneur? It's just getting up from failures, man. Like if you can't handle failure, then you will not be a successful entrepreneur, cuz you will fail so many more times than you're successful.

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But if you can take those failures and craft them, learn lessons from them, and then iterate and make your businesses better and you know, create that next awesome business. , that is how you're gonna be a successful CEO successful business owner, and entrepreneur.

Gresham Harkless 08:50

Yeah, absolutely. I appreciate you for sharing that.

And so I was gonna ask you for what I call your secret sauce. And this could be for yourself or your businesses or a combination of both, but do you feel it's that ability to be okay with the failure or even understand that that is the way to success? Do you feel that what sets you apart and makes you unique?

Cody Berman 09:05

That's definitely one of them, but honestly, I think my secret sauce is networking or giving before I get that is something that has really stood the test of time. Me leveling up my businesses, and leveling up myself as an entrepreneur. A lot of these businesses that I'm talking about, like the Gold City ventures, the Financial Freedom Summit, going on that book tour, that guy, I am a giver before.

I'm a getter, definitely when it comes to business. If I see someone who's successful, if I see someone who I wanna work with, I approach with, Hey, how can I help you? Like I'll help you. I'll do this thing for free for you. I just wanna learn like dude or girl, whoever I'm talking to, like, you're crushing it.

I just wanna learn from you. I wanna work with you. And that's honestly how it kind of unfolded for those two things. I had reached out to that guy, Grant Sabatier, who I won the book tour with. He was crushing it. He retired at 30. And I'm like, dude like just let me help you. Like I'll literally work for you for free.

Now we're good friends. He's hooked me up with multiple different ventures, like starting companies together. Super cool.

Gresham Harkless 09:55

I appreciate that. And I wanted to switch gears a little bit and I wanted to ask you what I call a CEO Hack. So this could be like an App, a book, or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Cody Berman 10:05

Outsourcing is something that I was so hesitant to do cause I'm, I'm very perfectionist type of entrepreneur. Like I always want everything to be perfect. I'd spend, when we first started podcasting, I would literally spend four hours editing my own podcast and it would be like a 45 to hour-long podcast.

I'm like, this is insane. But I was just like such a perfectionist. I've slowly started to let those perfectionist tendencies go. As, I don't know to who to attribute this quote, but done is better than perfect. And that is the truest thing ever. But man, I started outsourcing in a lot of my more successful businesses like outsourcing email, outsourcing social media, outsourcing editing, and outsourcing content creation where it makes sense.

But once I started getting those systems in place, I was like, why didn't I do this three years prior? Like, if you can give someone solid instruction if you can, you know, record a video using some screen share software, show them exactly what you've, I mean, people are pretty smart. They pick things up pretty fast.

And kind of like I was saying before, if you do want perfection, you're not going to get it. But you will get 99% of the way there, and if that can free up 10, 20, 30, or 40 hours a week for you, you can be more productive, you can focus more on the high-value activities in your business or whatever the thing might be.

Man outsourcing has definitely changed my life and maybe just so much more effective, allowed me to kind of step outta the business, and look from a 30,000-foot view instead of being in the day-to-day and not being able to focus on the more visionary things. I forget.

Also, another cool, I can't attribute to, but it was saying you can't see the label on the jar. If you're sitting, if you're standing inside, if you're always constantly working, you can never kind of see what the outward look of your business is and you can't iterate and change that and you know, be a visionary and focus. , as you said, the marathon. You, you're focusing on the sprint cause you're just trying to get this stuff done week after week after week. So outsourcing is 100%.

Gresham Harkless 11:43

Truly. Appreciate that, that hacking. And so I wanted to ask you now for what I call a CEO nugget. And that could be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be something you would tell a client or if you happen to a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.

Cody Berman 11:54

Actually, I was gonna do the failure one, but I have a better one. It's okay to quit something and that might seem like counterintuitive and you know, you're working kinda like the freelance course. I literally worked hundred-plus hours on that course, recreating videos. We paid a decent amount of money to get the videos edited, to get everything together, and just, it wasn't popular and that's okay.

Like you need to learn to know when to quit. You know, some people could take this the wrong way, but there are, I'm sure your audience, there's a lot of entrepreneurs, a lot of CEOs o business owners, people who just don't want to give up on that idea that they thought was gonna be a million dollar idea, and it just isn't, for some reason, the way you packaged it, the audience just isn't there.

It's not the right time for this thing. So knowing when to kind of hang up the towel is, that's a superpower. If you can kind of figure out and pivot and figure out like how you can actually make money, how this business venture, this product, or this service, this idea can be successful, man, you're gonna save yourself so much time, so much energy working on something that it's a dead end. There's, there's nowhere to go.

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Gresham Harkless 12:49

Nice. I definitely appreciate that. And so I want to ask you now my absolute favorite question, which is the definition, of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different quote unquote, CEOs on the show. So Cody, what does a CEO mean to you?

Cody Berman 13:00

I think being a CEO is, you know, being a leader, not in that you can tell other people what to do, but you know, show people, like, I think the best way to teach is by example, 100%.

So even if you are outsourcing, I mean, you already have to have developed an awesome system yourself and you record it and you send the instructions out, like whatever that might be. So in order to be successful in. What I think it means to be a CEO is, you know, be a leader, but be a leader by example.

Don't be a leader because you can just tell other people what to do and hopefully it works out. But be a leader because, you know, you are, you have all these tried and true methods. You're the one who's, you know, taking in these failures, developing the right systems, and then, you know, turning those into a successful business or a successful venture.

Gresham Harkless 13:34

Yeah. And, when you're a leader, you are, quote-unquote, being the change that you. In the world and you're not just, you know, hoping to, to create that. You're actually doing that yourself and people are kind of emulating what you're doing because you're creating that energy. So I think when you tap into that, not only does it affect us as leaders, but it also affects so many people that we come across with it come across as well too.

Cody Berman 13:52

I think even being like the CEO of your life, and I'm just thinking of some examples of, you know, you've really do have to embody whatever you're teaching. Like if you, I know so many of us have had a health teacher in middle school or grade school, whatever, that's overweight and that smokes and like.

You're not gonna take advice from that person cuz they're not healthy. Or like, if you're, if you're hiring a personal trainer and they're, you know, super overweight or really, really skinny and you're trying to like bulk up, you're probably not gonna take advice from them cuz you know they're not embodying what they're trying to teach you.

Or, you know, someone who's teaching you SEO and they don't have any successful websites or a history of knowing anything about SEO, you're not gonna hire that person. So, I really do think the proof is in the pudding.

And if you do want to be a leader, if you wanna attract other smart people, if you wanna collaborate and create a successful business, create these networking partners, you really have to walk the walk and talk the talk. I think that's so, so important in business.

Gresham Harkless 14:38

Yeah, and I think it's something that we all should kind of take, keep in mind as well too. I think I, I read something or I know he came to speak to a class I was into Kevin Plank, who started Under Armor, and he said, when he first started Under Armor, he said you know, he was outta shape.

And he started to think like, okay, I'm selling, you know, all of this fitness stuff, but I'm outta shape so I have to get my butt. In line, so I can make sure that I am, a perfect steward for what it is that I'm creating. So I think that's right in line with what you said is, you know, be what your preach and, and be what you say that other people should do as well too because people are watching and following you if you're perfectly in alignment.

So Cody, truly appreciate that definition. I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is just pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you can let our readers and listeners know, and of course, how best they can get ahold of you and find out about all the awesome things that you're working on.

Cody Berman 15:20

Yeah, so I mean, like I mentioned before, I do have my hands in a lot of different buckets, but I guess since you are listening to a podcast or watching this YouTube video, wherever you're coming from, definitely check out my podcast, the FI Show, the Financial Independent Show, where I know you talk a lot about business entrepreneurship.

We talk a lot more about personal finance, and obviously, we do tie in entrepreneurship and whatnot, but it's really interesting to hear people that are retiring in their twenties or thirties or just doing amazing things. So definitely check me out on the FI show, Fly to FI. My blog is kind of my hub where you can find the courses, you can find the Financial Freedom Summit, and all that other stuff.

Guess that's enough. I won't throw 10 URLs in here. To make it easy.

Gresham Harkless 15:51

Yeah. Well, I would definitely appreciate that, Cody. We will have the links and information in the show notes just in case we could put those other eight on in the show notes. We'll definitely do that as well too. But I'm always reminded of the quote success leaves clues, so I appreciate you, for providing a platform for those people to kind of understand and hear about the success of others so that they, they can implement that and put that into their businesses and into their lives.

So, truly appreciate you again, my friend, and I hope you have a great rest of the day.

Outro 16:12

Thank you for listening to the I am CEO Podcast powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 media. Tune in next time and visit us at I am CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Don't forget to schedule your complimentary digital marketing consultation at This has been the I am CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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