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IAM1736 – CEO Helps Businesses Build Meaningful Relationships

Podcast Interview with Rick Elmore

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”: In episode IAM894 of the CEO Chat podcast, host Gresham Harkless interviews Rick Elmore, the Founder and CEO of Simply Noted. Simply Noted is a company that uses proprietary technology to scale handwritten communication, helping businesses of all industries build meaningful relationships with clients, customers, and employees.

In the interview, Rick discusses his background as an entrepreneur, sales and marketing expert, and former college and professional football player. He also shares insights into the challenges of starting and growing Simply Noted, the importance of building meaningful relationships in business, and the benefits of using handwritten communication to stand out from the competition.

Additionally, Rick provides advice for entrepreneurs and business owners looking to build meaningful relationships with their clients, customers, and employees. His CEO Hack was hiring a personal assistant.

Overall, the episode provides valuable insights into the world of entrepreneurship and effective strategies for building meaningful relationships in business.

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Rick Elmore Teaser 00:00

Most people overestimate what they can do in a hundred days or six months versus what they can do in two or three years, and that is the truth. So anybody who's listening to this, persistence and consistency will always prevail over that short-term burst of energy.

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 00:45

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories or topics or as I like to call them, the business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners, and what I like to call the CB nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month we are focused on our greatest asset; talent management and hiring. Think from great resignation to the great renovation. And if you disagree with me, maybe these episodes might be especially for you. Life and especially business has changed. It has forced those that are within organizations to look differently at talent and how it's being managed.

When we talk about change, think about it, we have to realize that business as usual is no longer here. That's evident in attracting and retaining clients, but also in setting up people within organizations to succeed. Think onboarding, think DEI- diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. How it is working from home and even going back into the office.

Things are different in this month, we are going to explore these topics by featuring CEO hacks and CEO nuggets, but also interviews that focus on these changes and how organizations can make sure they care for and attract the most valuable asset, their people. Sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I AM CEO podcast.

Hello, hello, hello, this is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Rick Elmore of Simply Noted. Rick, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Rick Elmore 02:15

Thanks for having me. I'm really excited to be here.

Gresham Harkless 02:17

Definitely. I'm excited to have you on as well. And before we jumped in, I wanted to read a little bit more about Rick so you can hear about all these awesome things that he's doing.

Rick is an entrepreneur, sales and marketing expert, and former college and professional football player. As Founder and CEO of Simply Noted, Rick developed a proprietary technology that puts real pen and ink to paper and scale handwritten communications, helping businesses of all industries stand out from their competition and build meaningful relationships with clients, customers, and employees.

Founded in 2018, Simply Noted, has grown into a thriving company with clients of various sizes across the country, including hospitality, real estate insurance, nonprofit, franchise, B2B, and many others.

Rick, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Rick Elmore 02:59

I'm excited. Let's go.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:00

Let's do it. So to kick everything off, I wanted to hear a little bit more on how you got started. Could you take us through what I call your CEO story and what let you get started with the business?

Rick Elmore 03:08

Absolutely. So my journey, you know me, I have a twin brother. We grew up in California. We got football scholarships to play at the University of Arizona. Growing up middle-class family, both really small business owners. My mom owned a medical billing practice and my stepdad was a contractor, but I kind of always just wanted to get into entrepreneurship at some point in my life.

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But, after college in 2010, I was lucky enough to play in the NFL for three years. I was drafted in 2011, and then when I got done just like many athletes, their life has been structured for so long, I didn't know what I wanted to do. So I just looked around, saw what other people did and that went through the similar transition that I did when they got done. A lot of people that were similar to me got into medical device sales because it was competitive and it still fed that competitive spirit that we still had in us.

So, was doing it for about five years. I knew I wanted to do something else, so I went back and did my MBA in 2017. I still have a couple of semesters left, but left because of what I'm doing now. I had a marketing professors going over some marketing rates, lecture one, one class period. And when they ended the lecture, after going through all these nominal success rates and marketing through email and direct mail and cold calling and all these things, everything was just so small. They ended the lecture, kind of half-heartedly joking, saying handwritten notes had a 99% open rate.

And I was just like, yeah, there's no big deal. Or, that's a no-brainer, but who has the time to sit down and do it? Nobody these days even knows how to sit down and pull together an envelope and a stamp and a card and put your thoughts down on paper. It's actually a laborious thing to do and you mess up and there are just so many things about it.

But yeah, long story short, I worked with a cohort classmate of mine. Found technology from basically all over the world, South America, US, China. Glued stuff together, brought it here, worked with mail houses locally and basically developed a robotic writing technology that holds a real pen and puts your words down on paper to scale really easily. So, yeah, that's, I guess the quick two-minute overview.

Gresham Harkless 05:12

Nice. Absolutely love that. And especially I remember every time I got a gift when I was a kid my mom forced me to write a handwritten note to everybody who gave me a gift. And it made a really, big impression on the people that got it, but also taught me how important it is to give thanks for what you have.

I think you have been able to take something that is laborious, that takes a lot of time and be able to scale that out and create a solution for something that a lot of us want to do, but may not have had a way before you to be able to make that happen.

Rick Elmore 05:41

Yeah, absolutely. And that's the thing. We all want to do it, but we live in 2020. It's a digital era. We all have cell phones, my phone goes off every 90 seconds with an email or a text message or a Facebook update or something, right? That it's just impossible to find the time to do it.

I know people wanna do it, and that's really why we're here. We want to help companies, we wanna help people, and bring that personal level of communication back into the world. What is old is new again. Everything comes back around. And I really think that handwritten notes are something that really can be used not just only in business but in people's day-to-day lives.

Gresham Harkless 06:19

Yeah. Absolutely. Could you drill down a little bit deeper and take us through the process and how exactly it works?

Rick Elmore 06:23

Yeah. So, we are a software company, a robotics company, an e-commerce company. But really the heart of what we do is we wanna make it efficient for companies to automate sending thinking cards or birthday cards or holiday cards.

And how we do that right now is through software applications such as Zapier or Integr Mat. Or our robust restful API companies can take our API and use our API any way that they want to send handwritten notes. APIs can get a little brain numbing for some folks, but essentially it's just our service broken down into a code for other software to use it how they want to use it.

So, that's how we are scaling our business through software and the software sends in orders, and then our robots both fulfill them. So, that's really the deeper part of what we do.

Gresham Harkless 07:11

Nice. Absolutely. So people can have their existing software that they might use and be able to connect that at API and still get that win-win opportunity.

Rick Elmore 07:17

Yep. Yep. Absolutely.

Gresham Harkless 07:19

Awesome. Awesome, awesome. What would you consider and this could be for yourself personally or your business to be your secret sauce, a thing you feel sets you apart and makes you unique?

Rick Elmore 07:26

On a personal level, I think my drive for anything that I do is relentless and it's pretty daunting how hard I work and how passionate I am about what I'm doing. When people see the amount of time I put into this or the energy or just what I've done to build Simply Noted over the last two and a half years, it's pretty yeah, I would say exhausting. Yeah, I would say personally it's my drive. It's something that I can control, attitude and effort.

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But like on a business or software side, something that's really helped me be successful is understanding what technologies are out there. With my sales background, we weren't really taught that, and we were just taught to go out there and talk to people and build relationships, which is a very important part of the business. You need to have the ability to build and maintain relationships.

But since becoming an entrepreneur there are software out there that make life easy, software like Zapier or Integral Mat. You really can integrate those types of platforms into your guys' sales processes and make things a little bit more automated so you can scale your outreach or scale your follow-up or scale your prospecting. So, I would say understanding what tools are available to you and then really diving deep into them and understanding how to use them.

Gresham Harkless 08:33

Yeah, that's definitely huge. And I was gonna actually ask you because I heard you mentioned having the routine, as a college and professional athlete, if you felt like that kind of led into or fed that competitive spirit that you had as far as like having that relentlessness for being able to build and grow this and to learn all that technology and skills that you need to help the clients.

Rick Elmore 08:51

It absolutely does. I would say when I played football, I loved working out and competing, but something that like lit my heart and my soul on fire was past rushing and getting to a quarterback and getting a sack, and I played outside linebacker and I really loved it. It's hard to put into words. I bet everybody has that one thing and when I was an athlete, that was it. When I put my hand down in the dirt, it was me versus that guy. He either beat me that rep or I beat him that rep. And I hated losing.

Since becoming an entrepreneur, I was figuring it out for five or six years when I was in sales. But since I've figured this out I have that same passion and that same fire, my heart is on fire. My passion is relentless. I love what I'm doing and I believe in the purpose of what we're doing. When you have that behind what you're doing, it makes it really easy to go and work 12, 14, 15 hour days and do it seven days a week because I love it. I literally dream about what I'm doing. We're so involved with developers and engineers and what we're doing.

Like, I'll wake up at two and have to go write down thoughts because I'm literally that invested in what I'm doing and I just love it. This, we started tinkering around in 2017, but I'll be in the office or our warehouse at midnight and just staring at these machines. I have no software background, no robotics background, and if I can do this, anybody can do this and it's pretty awesome.

Gresham Harkless 10:06

I appreciate that. I wanted to switch gears a little bit and ask you for 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?

Rick Elmore 10:16

Something I've really started leveraging recently is personal assistance and platforms like PeoplePerHour or Fiverr and really offloading a lot of that busy work. Because early on, we still are an early-on-like stage company. We're only two years in and you really got to be aware of where your finances are going and you got to be able to manage the people that you work with.

So having platforms like I would say Fiverr or PeoplePerHour.

Gresham Harkless 10:41

Awesome. Now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. This could be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be something you would tell a client or if you have to hop into a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.

Rick Elmore 10:53

So when I first started this company, one of my business partners is someone I've known since I was eight years old. So, my business partner came out from California to help me start this. So I've had a lot of support, but I remember promising him, I was like, give me 100 days and this company will be completely different than what it is today.

I guess the little nugget I'd like to share, is that most people overestimate what they can do in a hundred days or six months versus what they can do in two or three years and that is the truth. So anybody who's listening to this persistence and consistency will always prevail over that short-term burst of energy.

And I'm just passing last month, two years, full-time doing this, and we are just like starting to get over some really big like mountains and big humps. Oh my gosh, for me, patience is something I've had to learn to do, especially in entrepreneurship because you have to coordinate with so many people and if one thing breaks you have to get this guy involved and it's just hard. It is really hard.

So, I guess the nugget I would share is patience and don't overestimate what you can do in a hundred days or whatever. Yeah don't underestimate what you can do, but estimate what you can do in two years. So, yeah, that's something I would definitely wanna go back and tell myself for sure and anybody who's thinking about starting this journey.

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Gresham Harkless 12:04

Definitely. Appreciate those nuggets. Now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. We're hoping to have different quote and quote CEOs on the show.

So Rick, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Rick Elmore 12:15

One thing I've learned recently because our team has grown is, as a CEO you think that you're gonna run your own business and you're gonna be your own boss. But really as a CEO you just become a servant of people. You become somebody that is constantly thinking about your employees or your clients and you're really just working for them.

I thought when I was leaving the corporate world, I was like, man, I'm gonna get away from this. I'm gonna be doing my own thing, I'm gonna be able to call the shots, but the further you get into it, if you wanna build the right type of business and build the right type of camaraderie or the right culture, the mindset is, your people first, and your clients, and you're putting yourself on the back burner and you really do become like what I need is last.

So, I would definitely, go back and tell myself or anybody who's doing this for the first time if you're doing this because you think you're gonna be able to call the shots and you don't have to deal with headaches and you can just fire people and it's easy. No no, run the other way. Stick to what you're doing because this isn't for you because becoming a business owner, you have to work even harder for your people and you have to work even harder for your customers because if you don't, your people will leave and then you won't be able to make your product or push out your product or sell it or you'll lose your customers.

You won't have the money coming in. So, you're gonna become a servant of people. That's for sure.

Gresham Harkless 13:25

Yeah, absolutely. That raft definitely will flip over if that is your mindset. Simon Sinek has this book I think it's Simon Sinek Leaders Eat Last and that hits home with the servant leadership that you talked about, is that so many times you realize that you're giving of yourself to so many different aspects of what it is that you do. And that's how you know you're able to be successful.

So Rick, truly appreciate that definition and I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is 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 you and your team are working on.

Rick Elmore 13:55

Yeah, I'll just give these four words that meant a lot to me in college. It was passion, desire, perseverance, and strength. If you can find those four things and hold onto those four things, no matter what you're going through, you can get through it. In college, it was really hard. I played for four coaches in four different years or in four years. I had to earn my starting spot every single year.

Some days when you're doing those 12, 14, 16 hour days and you're getting beat up mentally and physically on the field a lot of people quit. I came in with 32 guys my freshman year. I think we graduated 12 or 13 of them. You get those thoughts about quitting and if it's a sport or in life, you just got to remind yourself why you're there. Find the passion for what you did in that. For me, it was past rush. Desire for me, I wanted to go to the NFL. The desire for somebody else may be you may wanna get a promotion or you may want to go start your own business.

Perseverance is just with anything, right? You got to push through no matter what. You're gonna have obstacles, big waves that you're gonna have to go through in that little thinking by yourself. Then strength, that's something I've always held myself accountable to be as mentally strong and physically strong. Because if I can do those other things I felt like I can do them mentally pretty easily.

So yeah, I would say passion, desire, perseverance, and strength. Find those four things in your life and I feel like those words can guide you. Then, yeah, if you guys want to check out Simply Noted, it's just We're releasing tons of updates. I'm all over LinkedIn. I do a pretty decent job on LinkedIn trying to engage with people that reach out to us. But yeah. Yeah. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it. This was fun.

Gresham Harkless 15:22

Definitely. I appreciate it as well too. We will have the links and information in the show notes and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Outro 15:28

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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