BookshelfClosing OutI AM CEO PODCAST

IAM1962 – Young Advisor Passionate about Comic Books

Podcast Interview with Dylan Schwartz

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

In this episode, the guest is Dylan Schwartz, the youngest-ever advisor to the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide and the founder of Dylan Universe Comics. Since the age of 11, Dylan has been collecting, buying, selling, and attending comic book shows around the country. Comics have become an integral part of his life and always find a way into his daily routines.

Key Points:

Background: Dylan started out in the comic book world at a young age, quickly developing a strong passion for the medium.

Dylan Universe Comics: The business focuses on buying, selling, and trading comics, and aims to offer customers a wide variety of comic books to cater to their diverse preferences.

CEO Hack: Dylan shares his tips for managing stress and maintaining focus, which include taking a deep breath and stepping away from tasks that require significant changes.

CEO Nugget: Dylan's advice to fellow entrepreneurs is to be proactive because, in the end, it's all up to you to make things happen in the business.

CEO Defined: For Dylan, being a CEO means being a leader who can see things on a bolder level and implement strategies to guide the business towards success.

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Transcription:

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Dylan Schwartz Teaser 00:00

So basically I buy comic books that serve the functional purpose and I resell them because now mostly on eBay shows to direct customers, I feel a lot want list orders. They say, Hey, I'm looking for X men number six. Do you have that? And I say, yeah, I do have X number six and I send them pictures and I sell them that way.

Intro 00:20

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of.

This is the I AM CEO Podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:47

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, topics, or as I like to call them, the business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, business owners, and what I like to call CB nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month, we are focusing on finishing it out, fighting the good fight and closing out the job. I think just as important as it is to start something, it's even more important in how you conclude it or finish it out. So if you think of the different things that you can finish out, it'd be everything from a project, it could be from a day, it could also be from a business in and of itself and it could also of course be for the year. So when you think of finishing out, I want you to really think of these episodes because what we're going to really focus on is the last question that we really ask, which is defining what it means to be a CEO.

All the creative, innovative, and I think truly insightful questions that we received from this question is really what we want to highlight during the show. But of course, we want you to enjoy the entire episode and think about how you're going to finish things out and how you're going to finish things out strongly. So 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 Dylan Schwartz of Dylan Universe Comics. Dylan, it's awesome to have you on the show?

Dylan Schwartz 02:19

Thanks for having me.

Gresham Harkless 02:21

No problem. Super excited to have you on. What I want to do is just read a little bit more about Dylan so you can hear about all the awesome things that he's doing. Dylan is the youngest ever advisor to the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, which is sold in bookstores around the world.

Since age 11, he has been collecting, buying, selling and attending shows around the country. Comics are Dylan's life, and his day always has an aspect of comic books in it. Whether it is making up more comic books, boxes, or pursuing the next collection, comic books will always have a special place in Dylan's heart.

Most recently, he has cracked the code with his team on running a business with efficiency in college. Dylan, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Dylan Schwartz 03:00

Yes, I am, Gresham.

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Gresham Harkless 03:01

Let's do it. So, to kick everything off, I wanted to hear a little bit more about what I call your CEO story. What led you start your business?

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Dylan Schwartz 03:08

Yeah, so it all started that one day in October when I was 11. I was curious. I really didn't know what I wanted to do that day and I just thought, maybe I'll go check out the attic. I've never really been in there before. It's always forbidden so I just decided to venture and I stumbled upon a box. It was just a dad's comics and I just started reading them and I'm like, this is really cool because a lot of most books when you're in elementary school, they don't have pictures anymore. You really start doing that around like kindergarten, first grade, they really like reading like chapter books and he said pictures, but the themes weren't basic.

Like I really like. You could understand something. It's advanced. It's complex. It was so I can understand, but I had pictures. So it was like, yeah, I like this. I loved art. I loved history and that really worked well together because these were comic books. Comic books are an art form, but these were old comic books so that the art and the history really mashed up well together. You really see the shift from this turning into a business is I would hunt at garage sales, flea markets, estate sales, and like old stuff.

I eventually solidified that to just comic books, but I was at a coin show and I saw the same coin, exact condition, two different prices. One guy had it for three and one guy had it for 30. So I'm like, is that guy too high? Or is that guy too low? Then I started filling the gap and I'm like, Hey, maybe I could, maybe I'm good at this. Then I like comic books and that's what's I did.

Gresham Harkless 04:39

Nice. I definitely appreciate that because I always appreciate anybody that's able to take something they're passionate about and then be able to build it into the business.

I wanted to drill down a little bit deeper. Can you tell us a little bit more on exactly how your business works? I know you say you cracked codes, I wanted to hear a little bit more about that code as much as you can tell us.

Dylan Schwartz 04:55

Yeah. So basically, I drilled up all the inefficiencies where I'm in class and I'm like, Oh wait, we got to get these auctions launching. Oh wait, I have to grade all these comments. I have to say, Oh, it's a 6 out of 10 and really just trying to figure out how to communicate, what to do when I'm really offsite and not in my warehouse for over 90% or more than 95% of the time that this is an operation.

So it's pretty hard. So I really just work with my team on ways to communicate better. Really you need to have a team that acts and is loyal and willing to do what you want them to do. And you can know, Hey, I can count on you to do this because if you're doing everything and you're a CEO and you're doing everything, that's not efficient. You're not running your business. You're running day-to-day paycheck to paycheck. That's not good. You need to walk away and it still flows.

Gresham Harkless 05:53

Absolutely. So, I guess for your business, how exactly is your business structure? What are the services? How do you like serve the clients that you're working with?

Dylan Schwartz 06:01

So basically I buy comic books that serve the functional purpose and I resell them because now on mostly on eBay shows to direct customers, I feel a lot of want list orders. They say, Hey, I'm looking for. X Men number six. Do you have it? And I said, yeah, I do have X Men number six. And I send them pictures and I sell them that way.

But most people who have comic books, they just have them to read. Now this market has exploded because everyone likes Marvel movies and Marvel movies are good. So now all of a sudden we have a huge fan base and I'm buying and selling. That's the gap. That's the gap because Yeah prices have gone up. So everyone's happy.

Gresham Harkless 06:39

Absolutely. And you're definitely happy as well, which is the important part. I think I've heard Gary Vee mention, I think it's arbitrage. Is that the correct word?

Dylan Schwartz 06:45

Yes, it is. That is the right word. Okay. Actually, one of the most competitive industries for arbitrage, like stock market when you're trading, it's fast. But it's regulated. This is not regulated.

Gresham Harkless 06:58

Yeah, that makes perfect sense. So essentially cause I know he mentioned it, like you even talked about, like you're going to maybe a yard sale or something, you see something and then you can see exactly what it may be selling for. So you understand that maybe it's a good price.

Just like stocks is if it's a good price to buy it, or if it's overpriced and maybe you say, Hey, I'm not going to buy it. But you understand that.

Dylan Schwartz 07:18

Right.

Gresham Harkless 07:19

Nice, nice, nice. Now I wanted to ask you for what I call your secret sauce. This could be what you feel distinguishes you or your organization, but what do you feel makes you unique and sets you apart?

Dylan Schwartz 07:28

I'm willing to put in the time because I'm young and hungry. Most of the people in this industry are between 40 and 50. There's an older age group that's really between 60 and 70. But there's not many young guys doing this full-time dealing. So I'm young, I'm in college, but I'm willing to put in the time and just like boom, boom, boom.

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Just putting in those hours and everyone's a lot of the older guys are like, oh, I don't want to do this because I like to work. So the fact is that I'm willing to work really, really hard. I work close to 80 hours every week and it's the summer. So I'm working super hard when I can, when the fall starts, I'll be working close to two hours a day, which is like 14 a week. Maybe we'll go up to three hours a day, but that's a big difference. So I'm willing to put in those hours.

Gresham Harkless 08:17

Yeah, that makes perfect sense. I think it goes back to what you were talking about before, because it's like, when you have your team in place as well, you're not just working hours, like on a treadmill, you're actually building and putting bricks and a platform in place.

But when you put in that extra time during the summer, it's not as if you lost it when you go back to school.

Dylan Schwartz 08:34

Right I'm more like building bazookas to that. When I'm that first day in class, it's like press button, boom. Not doing anything.

Gresham Harkless 08:42

Exactly.

Dylan Schwartz 08:43

That's what I'm doing.

Gresham Harkless 08:44

No, I love it. I love it. I definitely appreciate it. I wanted to switch gears a little bit and ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be an app, a book or a habit that you have, but what makes you more effective and efficient?

Dylan Schwartz 08:57

You have to take a deep breath and walk away on any big decision. That's not day-to-day. So anything that's process changing, anything that goes against like your ethical code or you're not sure like you got to think about you got to take a step back and think about it really don't be hasty.

It's so underrated. Everyone's Oh, chill out, take a deep breath. That's really, really the most important thing you can do.

Gresham Harkless 09:25

Is to take that break. Yeah.

Dylan Schwartz 09:27

Take a deep breath back out. Think about it. Is this what I want to do? Does this make sense? You really got to do that when you're innovating, otherwise there are multiple different paths and you could go down the wrong one, but you don't know it's the wrong one.

Sometimes you have multiple paths and you do one way, it doesn't seem right, do another way, that might seem right, you don't know. When you cross that bridge, you really got to think about it so that you can put your all in because sometimes it's not that illuminated. Sometimes it's really, really hard to figure out, is this going to work? I don't know. You got to think about it.

Gresham Harkless 09:59

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I think sometimes too that we're always under the pressure that we have to decide now today. But sometimes we can take that break. We can sleep on it. We can take whatever time we need to actually figure out if that's the right decision and that's in alignment with our business and where we want to go and so on and so forth.

So I appreciate you for sharing that. Now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. This is a word of wisdom or piece of advice. Or if you can hop into a time machine, what would you tell your younger business self?

Dylan Schwartz 10:27

It's all on you. So if you know that when the Titanic is sinking, if you don't do anything, that's your business. So after you finish watching this podcast, guys, you should think about that and figure out how can you make this business work? How can you make this? This is really almost like a parallel to the hit by a bus thing, but it's more than that. You have to be proactive. Be working to make your business work without you not just like working Proactively thinking how can I remove myself from this business?

That's something I really learned when I was thinking Oh, I'm going to be going back to class in the fall. What am I going to do?

Gresham Harkless 11:07

Yeah, and a lot of times people will say okay the business would just take a back burner or go on the back burner but in reality you can continue to grow but like you said It's all on you to be able to figure out what you want to do and then do the work in order to make that happen. Because I think there are a lot of people that just say oh It's just going to happen that way. But in reality, you always have an option.

Dylan Schwartz 11:26

Right. You can all, you can find, you can increase volume. You can work on thinner margins and scale up. You don't have to just put it on the back burner. I was told by many people, Hey, just put on the back burner. Yeah just do it after college. I'm like, no, no, no, there's got to be another way.

Because if you think of it, who will? So that's the attitude you have to go off of if you're the CEO. If I don't, who will? Because no one else will care about it as much as you do.

Gresham Harkless 11:53

Absolutely. And especially in this day and age with so much technology and tools that we have out there is definitely a way to systematize, to create processes, to do all those things, to have those things in place so that you can be sitting in class and still having your business running and creating revenue for you.

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Nice. 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 a show. So Dylan, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Dylan Schwartz 12:19

I'm the leader, and I got to figure out, Hey, what does, what do I need to accomplish? You should know that before you wake up in the morning, you should know that before you go to sleep, you always know, what do you got to do? What do I got to do to make money? What do I got to do to increase connections or whatever you got to do? You got to know what you got to do because no one else is going to tell you what you got to do.

Sometimes if you're friends with someone in a slightly different niche, they might guide you a bit. But you really got to sit down and think about what do I got to accomplish? Okay, how am I going to accomplish it? What people, what tools, what technology, what am I going to use to accomplish it? Then you have to do those things and you have to just constantly update and get updates on what you have to do. Make sure that those people who are supposed to be doing them are doing them. You're like the manager. You're like the coach of the team, but you're still working. You're working on your own project at the same time. Then this will happen.

You have to all of a sudden stop what you're doing, take care of something else. You're the VIP and, you're the leader. You gotta do everything, but you're not physically or thinking of doing everything, but you're seeing everything on some general or broader level.

Gresham Harkless 13:35

Yeah. That makes perfect sense. You have the the maestro in front of an orchestra. Where you see everything and you understand how everything's flowing together. Sometimes when somebody might be playing the wrong key, you might have to jump in and play that key for them.

Get another person in place. But it's important to understand and be able to do both of those things, but you're not stuck in that exact same or with that exact same instrument to where you can't see the course for the trees. Nice.

Dylan Schwartz 14:00

It's double action. You have to be working on what you have to be doing for whatever your project is or whatever. Only me, the ceo can accomplish, but also you need to be ready to stop that immediately and jump to a million different things whenever they come up.

Gresham Harkless 14:22

Absolutely. Dylan, I truly appreciate your time and I appreciate all the awesome things that you're doing, but 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.

Then of course, how best they can find out about all the awesome things you're doing and how get ahold of you.

Dylan Schwartz 14:37

Yeah. So I would tell all those CEOs out there to stick with it. You're going to want to throw in the towel so many times, which on a broader level is good because that means that you're being super creative.

If the world is saying, and it's challenging for you, if you rise from the ashes and you really prevail and your idea works good for you, you've made it. You're going to want to throw in that towel so many times. The fact that you get up with a new idea and say how about this way? That's how you're going to succeed.

Gresham Harkless 15:10

Absolutely. I think that's a great reminder. Pivoting is not necessarily failure. If you decide to take a different route or go a different step, that does not necessarily mean that that is failure. So it's a great reminder and I appreciate you for sharing that with us. For people that want to reach out to you, what's the best way?

Dylan Schwartz 15:25

They can visit us at www.dylanuniversecomics.com. They can also see us on YouTube. Our channel ID is Sell Comic Books Online with Dylan. You can see us at shows around the country, and you can also check out some of our auctions on eBay, which is the idea is Dylan Universe Comics.

Gresham Harkless 15:44

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Thank you so much, Dylan. We'll have those links in the show notes as well, but I appreciate your time. I appreciate you for rocking and rolling and putting in those 80-plus hour weeks as well. I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Dylan Schwartz 15:56

All right. Thank you.

Outro 15:57

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast, powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and everywhere you listen to podcasts. Subscribe and leave us a five-star rating.

Grab CEO gear at www.ceogear.co. This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.

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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(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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