The Company We Keep

On this episode of THE COMPANY WE KEEP podcast, host Jason Pearl gets real about failure – specifically his own. He talks about how failure is universal, but it's how we get back up that really determines the type of person we become.

Show Notes

Connect with Jason on Social Media:

Have a question or want to talk to Jason about a specific topic? Or maybe you just talk about the Bills?

Show Highlights: 
(00:00) Introduction
(05:05) High School - Didn’t Make The Team
(10:17) College - Family Troubles
(12:30) Wells Fargo - The Only Job I’ve Ever Had Disappears
(17:40) HSBC - Taking A Step Back
(20:20) Let Go - When I Thought I Was On The Team…Then I Suddenly Wasn’t
(24:01) Making Lemonade
(27:07) Recap

Here’s a little advice: Embrace the failures. Use the struggle to strengthen your drive and channel your energy for action and movement in the right direction. Success is a state of mind. It's something that you commit to. It's something that you identify. It's something that you choose to do. And it's something that you have control over. Success isn't about a bank account. It's about a mindset.

Mentioned On The Episode: 
St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute

What is The Company We Keep?

Jason Pearl is a second generation entrepreneur, bootstrapping business owner, loving husband, devoted dad, and raging Bills fan. He tosses aside the idea that you can't have it all and devotes his life to proving it wrong. Grab a cup of coffee and join Jason every Tuesday morning as he dives into topics to help everyday business owners and entrepreneurs think differently about growth and success, and how to achieve a better balance in both business and in life. He’s also shining a giant spotlight on some very smart people in his inner-circle that have helped ignite his success along the way.

All right. All right. Welcome to another episode of The Company We Keep podcast. I'm your host, Jason Pearl, really looking forward to bringing this episode to you guys today. Again, just a quick reminder, this podcast, The Company We Keep, it's for everyday business owners. It's for entrepreneurs. It's for anyone looking for high growth, both in business and life.

We like to help people talk differently about growth and how to make sure you achieve the balance that you're looking for. We know success is important to you. I know success is important to me, and this is all this episode is all about failures, right? So, we're going to be talking about failures and how important it is to have failures and to have struggles in your life and how five specific failures that I had in my life, I think really are the main reason why I'm as successful as I am today. We talk a lot about success on this podcast. And again, I want to remind everybody of two things. One success is individual to you. Don't let anybody tell you what success is.

The second thing is success is a choice. We had an episode earlier this season where we talked about success is a choice. So, once you figure it out. What success means for you, then you choose every day to become successful.

In today's episode, we're going to be talking about what it is to struggle, what it is to have failures in your life, and how those moments or those situations or those events in your life can actually be a blessing. They could actually be a benefit. They can actually make you stronger and make you more successful. And I just wanted to take some time to just have a discussion about that today, because I think it's critically important for everybody that's out there listening to understand that this is not a podcast about perfection. This is a podcast about trying to help people have more success to work with others out there and give them maybe motivation, give them ideas, or give them a perspective that is going to help them in their everyday life. I'm not talking to just the elite of the elite. The people that we feel are untouchables.

Like the Bezos' of the world or the Elon Musk's of the world and things like that. I want to talk to everyday people that are out there grinding and hustling and doing their best to be the best business owners, entrepreneurs, high performers, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers, sons, all that type of stuff.

Just trying to talk to the everyday person. And I know for me that there was a time in my career that I just didn't want to listen to the gurus. I didn't want to listen to the experts or the influencers, because I just felt like man, like A, I have no way to relate to these people because they almost seem perfect.

I have no way to think that where I'm at in my life, I'm going to be able to ever achieve what they're achieving or I'm ever going to be able to rise to that level. To be as successful as they are in part of that was just because I think we live in a world where you often hear people say that you get to see everyone's highlight reel.

You look at social media pictures, that's everyone's highlight reel. That's not them falling down. It's oftentimes not their struggles or their disappointments or their failures or their mistakes it's their highlight reel. And don't get me wrong there's nothing incorrect about celebrating the highlight reel and sharing it out there. I know I do, and I enjoy doing it. But it's a highlight reel.

So just getting real with you guys that have been with me for the last seven weeks, or maybe you're jumping on for the first time you've ever heard The Company We Keep podcast. This is going to be episode eight. I'm super excited that you're here and I'm just ready to get real. I'm ready to get raw, and just spit out some truth that I know has happened in my life. And the one thing I'll tell you is that in my life I've had struggles, I've had disappointments, I've had failures, I've had mistakes, and It hasn't always been easy. I've had a wonderful life, and I've had a wonderful support system around me, and I've had some really great people speak really great things into my life. So, I feel very blessed to have those opportunities, but I've also had my own list of failures and struggles.

A lot of those were on me. And I just wanted to share that with you guys, because as we talk about success, I think it's important to hear both of those. I'm no different than you guys that are listening, we just may be in different seasons. And that's okay. I could be in a season of success right now, and maybe you could be in one of the valleys, and I could be at a peak, but the bottom line is that with a certain action, you can get your way back to the peak or get your way back to the top or to have whatever success you've defined in your life. You can get there. And I want you to realize that, and I want you to realize that seasons can change. But they change with action.

There are going to be five things that I talk about today. I'm going to lay out five, what I'm calling struggles or failures that, made me who I am today.


We're going to start way back in high school. I went to a private all-boys high school here in Buffalo, New York, actually, technically Kenmore, New York. St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute. At the time that I attended, there were a little over 800 young men that were attending that school St. Joe's is phenomenal academically. It's a wonderful institution in Western New York. Super proud to be alumni, and really enjoyed my time there.

But that being said going to a school like that, especially being a guy like me, that I was really into sports, really wanted to play sports at the high school level, and really wanted to achieve success in sports.

When I showed up my freshman year of high school, I was five feet tall with sneakers on. And I had aspirations to play hockey at St. Joe's. At the time St Joe's had six hockey teams within the high school, two freshmen, two JV, two varsity teams.

During my career at St. Joe's the hockey program was really good. And I could be exaggerating, but out of the 800 or so boys that were there at the school, probably 300 of those played hockey. It was very competitive, and it was a situation where you really needed to be a very good hockey player to play at any level, let alone the freshmen level, yet you had to be extremely talented to play at the varsity level. So fast forward into the summer before my junior year in high school, I was starting to hit a growth spurt. Like I said, I was five feet tall when I showed up at high school and I grew a little bit in my first two years, but I think I went into the summer after my sophomore year in high school, probably about five, three.

So, to be a puck-moving defenseman at five three playing against young boys that were significantly larger in height and weight in strength than me, it was a little difficult to compete. And I dedicated myself the summer before my junior year of high school to working out, to spending a ton of time in the gym to make myself faster, stronger, more agile, more effective at all the skills you need to play hockey.

I went to a gym in Snyder, New York that was run by some hockey coaches. Was there every single day for at least 90 minutes, six days a week. My parents were super dedicated to driving there, cause I wasn't driving at that time. And I improved. I got bigger, I got stronger, I got faster.

My eye-hand coordination was better. I just, I just improved a ton. In addition to that, I also had a bit of a growth spurt. I grew I think another five inches that summer. So, I went from maybe five, three to five-eight, so I felt okay, I'm starting to arrive, I'm stronger. I'm faster. I'm more agile. I'd always been a smart hockey player; the physical end of my game was always a little lagging behind. I was never the most skillful hockey player. So, when I went to tryouts, cause when you're a junior, you really want to play varsity.

At that point in time, all my friends that I played hockey with were really good players, and I knew that they were going to make varsity and I wanted to make varsity and play hockey with them. Go to tryouts, have a phenomenal tryout getting tons of accolades and compliments from the coaches.

Jason, you're doing great. You're doing awesome. Wow, you grew, you're stronger, you're faster. Proud you put all that time and work in, in the gym this summer, it really shows. Fast forward to when they post the names of who makes what team. I really did not have any thoughts that I'd be making the top team the Federation team, but I really thought that I'd be on the varsity B team. And names go up. They're posted and I don't make the varsity team. And my name is next to the JV team. I am devastated. Devastated because I worked so hard. I put all that time and effort in all the compliments from the coaches made me think I was making the team, and I didn't make it.

And I was bummed, and I was bummed is the wrong word. I was devastated. I was embarrassed and devastated, and I remember having a conversation with my father and, I'm sure he was upset too, because he knew he was driving me every day, seeing the work I was putting in. And, I said, dad, I don't think I'm gonna play hockey.

And he just looked at me and he said, listen, son, you make whatever decision you want. He goes, but you have to make a choice to give up. And after you put all the time in, do you really want to give up. And I said, I, dad, I'm a junior, I shouldn't be playing JV. I should be playing varsity. And he said, Hey, whatever you think you should be playing you're on one team right now.

And it's the JV team. And you have a choice if you want to play if you don't want to play. So ultimately, I chose to play reluctantly and had an amazing season. I captained the team. I was the leader of that team and I was playing with freshmen and sophomores. And they looked up to me and I really embraced the leadership moment of that time.

It was the, actually the last year I played hockey in high school. I did not play senior year. But yeah. I'm so proud of that and so happy that I actually did it because I learned a ton from my coaches, learned a ton from the players, and just learned that I needed to swallow my pride and I needed to focus on developing as a leader.

And in my mind, that's a lot of where some of my leadership skills started coming from because when you're a leader, swallowing pride is a very important thing to do. There's nothing wrong with being proud of yourself if you've achieved something but being prideful in everything that you do oftentimes comes with its consequences.

So, during that failure and that struggle I learned how to be a leader. And I learned what it was to swallow my pride and be humbled in a situation like that, and still take action to try to succeed.


So, another example that I want to fast forward to is probably four years later maybe three and a half years later. I've talked about before that I went to college to get a business degree. And my plan was to go in and work in my parents' business. My parents had two businesses that were pretty successful, and I just thought, hey, I'm going to go get a business degree and I'm going to do what I've always wanted to do, which is, be the son of two entrepreneurs and just start in the family business and continue to build the legacy that they started. As I've talked about in other episodes, my parents got divorced when I was a sophomore in college and within about a year of that, they sold their businesses, which meant that I no longer had an opportunity to work in the family business.

And again, the devastation of parents splitting up and things of that nature, I often talk about I thought we were The Brady Bunch and then The Brady Bunch was broken up and, all of those things. And obviously, there are reasons for everything at the moment. I didn't realize that this struggle that I was going to go through was actually going to help me.

But it did. What it actually did is not having maybe that easy button to just go from college into a job, and not have to really work for it because of the fact that my parents would have probably just taken me in. With me no longer having that opportunity, it forced me into action.

It forced me into being aggressive with my job search and it forced me into an opportunity to say hey, I got to go make myself a career. I have to go find a way to make myself viable to an employer and prove to them that I'm viable for them to continue to pay me. What I did is I spent the rest of my last few years of college, really starting to focus on things like that.

And I worked really hard, and I was, I ended up getting a job offer right at the end of my senior year to get into the management training program of Wells Fargo. At the time it was probably a top-five bank in the United States. I got hired in the management trainee program of Wells Fargo Financial, which is a consumer finance division of Wells Fargo.

And it was the opportunity that I needed to just get out there. Through the struggle of, not having the straight path I thought I was going to have, it forced me to really focus on what I wanted and work hard and to make choices, and prove myself. And at that moment in my life, I think, you know what I had to do to fight after that job and interview and really show up the right way to get a job offer was an important life lesson to have.


So fast-forwarding to the third failure or struggle in my life that I wanted to talk about is it actually stays with Wells Fargo. I spent the first 10 years of my professional career working with Wells Fargo. Within nine months of me starting out of college, I was promoted and moved to Syracuse, New York as an assistant manager.

Nine months later, I was promoted as a late 23-year-old to run my first branch as a manager in Northeast, Ohio in a small town called Warren, Ohio. So, 18 months into my career, I'm in a management position leading and managing people. Throughout that, I spent 23 months there grew that branch really significantly got transferred to Rochester, spent five years in Rochester.

As a senior branch manager with the top branch, basically in the Northeast, had a great team around me, had a ton of fun. But throughout those five years, there was another progression that I was trying to make, which was getting a district manager position within Wells Fargo. And towards the end of the five years, I worked in Rochester for five and a half years, I worked in Rochester.

I'd been passed over a few times for district manager positions. And I was getting down on myself and I was wondering why I was never making that next jump. And then finally it came. I finally got an opportunity which I considered my dream job and a dream market, got promoted to be the district manager of Northern New Jersey.

So, I was put in charge of a number of branches in New Jersey, which at the time was a booming market for real estate. It was a market that was 30 to 60 miles outside of New York City. It was a cool post to have, it was a really cool opportunity. And I just kinda thought I had arrived.

I'd moved a ton in the last 10 years. And my wife at the time in my young daughter, Isabella, I think she was like three at the time. We were really excited for the next opportunity in the way it all shook out is, so I got the job offer in I believe in late February, early March and I commuted back and forth from Rochester to Northern Jersey for about four months.

So lived in hotels for a while we were trying to sell our house and then get down to New Jersey. Was just loving everything I was doing, was really happy with the move and the promotion, and just loved everything about my career. And I just kinda thought this is what happens, right? You work for a company, you spend 10 years climbing the ladder, you arrive in a leadership position, and then I was just going to keep climbing, and then, life was, again going to be very straight-lined. I was going to work for Wells Fargo for 30 years. I was going to retire. I was gonna have a nice 401k and all that was going to be fine and good.

So fast forward to about four months into my district manager career. We finally find a rental in New Jersey at the time because the real estate market was super crazy then, and we didn't want to buy anything yet. Find a rental. We sell our house in Rochester and I move my wife and my daughter, 138 boxes that United Van Lines helped me move, and about 14,000 pounds worth of all of our belongings was moved into the garage, into the rental house that we had. It was the weekend of the 4th of July. And so, the 4th of July, I actually think fell on a Monday. So, we move on Friday and Saturday and on Sunday. Monday's 4th of July, we go out to dinner and we celebrate our new life in New Jersey, myself, my wife and my young daughter. Fast forward about 10 hours later after we go to bed, I wake up to a phone call from my former boss basically telling me that, Hey, like things aren't looking good. Wells Fargo Financial, the division we work for is actually going to shut down and it's gonna get molded into the retail bank. And I don't know what I mean for any of us, but I wanted to give you a heads up because basically what he was saying is if there's any chance you can get your house back in Rochester, get your house back.

The DDA transferred on Friday the Friday prior, and I was in a situation where I didn't know what was going to happen. I woke my wife up, told her she was like, what are you talking about? And sure enough, the next day at noon, we get a phone call, Wells Fargo Financials’ closing down. We're going to move this whole division of the company into the retail bank.

And there's going to be potentially situations where people aren't gonna have jobs. At the time I had, I don't know, maybe a hundred employees, something like that. And as the leader of this district, my counterpart was about 20 years my senior in New Jersey. And I was not going to be able to retain my leadership position in New Jersey.

So, there was some kind of conversations about where I could go. They were potentially trying to figure out if they would be able to move me again someplace else. But my future now, 10 years after being part of this bank that I was so proud to be a part of and had a lot of success with,

I had a choice, the make, and really well, I didn't have a choice to make. They made the choice for me. Like you have to move, or you have to leave. So, they basically gave me a Blackberry Bold, I spent the next six, seven months closing down all the offices I had. I was the last employee in that district. Everyone else got positions. I did not. And so, I was faced with this opportunity to have to figure out what I was going to do with my life. Again. At the time my wife was staying at home, raising our children. I had a three-year-old daughter, and I had no idea what I was going to do.

It was very scary. It was very scary. It was the only professional job I'd ever known. And I knew what I had to do is I had to figure something else out. So, we started a regional job search. My wife's from Syracuse, I'm from Buffalo, we lived in Rochester, so we started a regional job search. And I just had to overcome the fear of putting myself out there again, just like I did in college, and be like, okay, now what do I have to do?


Where do I go? What am I good at? You start questioning yourself. This is my only professional job. What am I going to do? Fast forward to, transitioning from like this third struggle or failure into the fourth one, I got a job opportunity to move back to Buffalo, to be like a sales consultant for HSBC, another large international bank.

But there was a catch. The catch was, I basically had to go from being a district manager, being in charge of six to eight different branches and over a hundred people, to being an assistant manager at one branch. And then potentially having some opportunity to consult with some other branches.

And at that moment in time, I had a choice, I had a choice I had to sacrifice to make sure that I could support my family. If I'm being frank, I was embarrassed to go from the position I was into the position I had to take over. Going from a high-level senior leader to going to basically not even the full leader of a branch was not what I wanted. But I had to sacrifice with my family, or I was going to have to be prideful and say I'm not going to take this and I'm going to put up a stink. And I had to swallow my pride again and I was humbled, and it wasn't easy to do that.

But in that moment of that struggle, I actually started to meet some dynamite people. The actual branch manager that I worked for was just an absolute dynamite lady, and had been in the bank for, I think 30 years at that time. Her name was Nancy Garah. She has since passed, but I had learned, I learned so much from Nancy.

She's just a wonderful human being and God rest her soul. And then I met some other really strong leaders. Guys like Charlie Mendola who I worked very closely with, a guy by the name of Eric Hepkins, who is now leading a really large credit union here in the Western New York area. Michael Anderson, who also is a senior leader of a very large bank here in Western New York as well. And I just met some really good people, and just started working again. I had to get back to my core and just start working again I started getting used to having to prove myself all over again, but I did, and I started climbing and got more opportunities, and even in the short time I was there, in that humility, it freed me up to just be like, all right, Jason, you got to get up every day and you gotta perform at your job.

And if you perform at your job, good things are gonna happen. I just kinda kept saying that same thing to myself and it works. I got some other opportunities within the bank, climbed up a little bit. And I was only there, I think a little less than a year and a half. Before I got headhunted to take over the next position that I'm gonna talk about.

Although the struggle with going in and taking a lower-level position and swallowing pride and sacrificing and being humbled, gave me an opportunity to get back to my hometown, get back to my roots, and restabilize my professional career. So even though it was a struggle, there were benefits there.

And again, the final thing I want to talk about is the last position that I had. It was, I got headhunted to run the sales and growth and marketing for a family-owned financial services company, and it kinda got me back to my roots. It was a few million-dollar company, and they had plateaued and sales for a few years and they were really looking for something different. Went through an interview process, built a business plan of how to help them succeed. And lo and behold, I get the job. Spend the next close to five and a half years growing the business and doing a lot of really good stuff.

We opened up a couple of new offices locally and, took the business, and started seeing multimillion-dollar growth in my tenure of running the sales and marketing side and the growth side of the business. I talked about this, maybe referenced it early on in this podcast, got some ownership in that business which to me was like the top of the mountain. Even though it wasn't my business, it was the closest I could get to what my parents did, being entrepreneurs and all those things. So had a great opportunity to get some ownership in the business and continue to lead.

And as that happens again, felt like the top of the mountain, we're going to grow this thing, it's going to be great. Fast forward, six months later, you get to the top of the mountain, you think you get to the top of the mountain, and then the path changes again.

In May of 2017, I had a meeting with the people that ran the company that I was part of the ownership group with, and they let me go. They fired me. And it was not something I saw coming and was not something that I was expecting. I'd given five and a half years of my life kind of growing this business, making the business a lot of money.

And certainly, there were struggles going on internally with some leadership things and things like that. Still think pretty highly of the company, but I just was not in their plans moving forward. So, I was asked to leave and given a small buyout and that was it.

And I found myself at 37 years old after rebuilding my career, rebuilding the opportunities that I had in front of me, and being successful in three very different organizations. And I just kinda thought like, all right what is next now?

Like now this is no joke. I'm 37. My wife is no longer just staying at home. She's taking a job part-time job as a children's pastor at a local church here. And I've got two children. Both my daughters are born at this point in time. And again, this is four years ago, one daughter was five and the other daughter was 10. And it was a scary moment. I'm the leader of my household. And economically the leader of my household as well. So, it was a scary moment because I had to figure out what I wanted to do next. And in that struggle or in that failure, of being terminated from a job that I thought I performed very well at and grew the business very well, but things happen, right? There are ideologies that are different. There are things that happen that made us misaligned, and I had an opportunity at that point in time to say what do I want out of my life? And I'd been leading people since I was 23 years old.

So, for the last 14, 15 years, I'd been leading people and leading companies and getting growth out of every position that I was in. So, I had a choice to make: do I wallow in my sorrows? Do I allow my career to be controlled by other people? Or do I decide to just do something on my own? And I decided within about 24 hours of my termination that it was time for a change. It was time for me to fully take control of my life. Humility and being humbled with something that happened again to me and I, in my mind I, 100% believe that it was God's way of just showing me that he had other plans for me and that I needed to be humbled to be able to see and achieve what I was about to go into. Within 30 days, Nacre Consulting was born, and the rest is history.


In those struggles and in those failures, in, in that kind of shock even, I had a lot of decisions to make a lot of soul searching. A lot of things I had to think about and work through, but ultimately, it was a blessing.

I have an extremely close friend, Ian Grace, who I met in college. Really successful guy, love him to death. Think of him as a brother. He always tells me that I'm the best lemonade maker that he's ever met.

And he says that "When life gives me lemons, I make lemonade." And I always laugh when he says that, and he's got like a thick downstate accent when he says it, but I never really thought of it that way. He encouraged me to just keep surviving and, and at that moment like I never thought that I was making lemonade. And in the moment of all these struggles and all these failures, I really never thought it was making lemonade.

I just thought I was surviving. And I'm not trying to make my struggles, like the end of the world. I'm just sharing with you guys. Like I know that there's a ton of privilege that I've was born into and that I have been able to achieve based on what my parents built for me, and the opportunity to go to college, and the upbringing that I had and things like that.

So, my story doesn't deserve a medal. I'm not looking for that. I'm not sharing these stories to be like, Oh, Jason, you're great, like way to go. I'm just sharing it because I think you guys are going to relate to this. I think you could probably easily think back and be like, oh yeah, I remember when I screwed up or I struggled here or like this failure happened or whatever.

And you're going to understand I'm a real dude. I'm just like you. But the difference is that I'm trying to make lemonade. I'm trying to survive and I'm trying to continue to do things that move me forward. And if I can do it, you can do it. And that doesn't mean you have to go start your own business.

That just means that wherever you find yourself in this season, if you feel like you're riding the struggle bus, you can get out of it. And it just takes some action. There's a lot of personalities or influencers that talk on the camera that make themselves sound better than they are, make it sound like they're perfect.

Perfection is not a real thing. Life is not a straight line. Whether it's business, whether it's personal. Struggles, failures, adversity, all of those things make you stronger. I'm not trying to be cliche. I'm just telling you that it's real, that this is real life, and real-life is not a straight line.

My message to you guys: embrace the failures. Use the struggle to strengthen your drive and channel your energy for action and movement in the right direction. Success is a state of mind. It's something that you commit to. It's something that you identify. It's something that you choose to do. And it's something that you have control over. Success isn't about a bank account. It's about a mindset. And you can do the same things that I do or that all these other successful people do with the right mindset. So maybe you have to reassess what success means to you. And maybe that's homework. Maybe that's something you have to do. And that's great.

Even in the struggles, I made a ton of mistakes, a ton of them, but when I started being more accountable to myself, and more accountable to my dreams, and more accountable to my wife, and my family, and my kids, and myself, and my faith, all of those things, when I became more accountable, I became a better person, and I became more successful.

If I can do it, you can do it.


I hope this is encouraging to you. Cause I know it's encouraging to me, even as I say it, because I need the encouragement, just like you do. I share this stuff because I think it's important.

You may believe in me, and I appreciate it. That, but I believe in you. Because if we surround ourselves with the right people, we will succeed.

If you're enjoying this podcast, I love it if you hit the subscribe button. I'm so happy that you joined me for this episode. I'm just pouring out my heart in this microphone today. And I just appreciate you listening. That's what this podcast is all about is just trying to connect and what we discussed today. If you want to engage, check out and engage with me. Love to hear from you.

I'm honored that you decided to spend some time with me today. Thanks for keeping me company. This is The Company We Keep podcast. I'm Jason Pearl. Until next time I'm out. Peace.